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photography: gear acquisition syndrome « Previous | |Next »
April 17, 2012

I've been caught up buying a new digital camera to replace my first digital camera---a Sony DSC R1--- which had been stolen in Melbourne last November. I'd decided that digital photography had improved to the point where it surpassed film at the 35m level, and so I wanted to step up in image quality.

Given the rapid obsolescence of digital technology---digital cameras are like computers--- my decision was to buy a camera body that I could use my Leica lenses with. That would then allow me to change camera bodies when needed and to keep the expense of the continual digital upgrade down. I intensely dislike the upgrade treadmill we are on with respect to computers, software and digital cameras.

MelbourneFLsale.jpg Gary Sauer-Thompson, Flinders Lane, Melbourne, 2011

It boiled down to a choice between a Sony Nex-7 and a Fuji X Pro-1. I spent a lot of time-- too much time--- on both various websites reading the reviews and the comments by the gearheads and frequenting camera shops to hold the cameras.

In doing so I became aware of the technological culture of photography. This wasn't just the gear acquisition syndrome--the urge to acquire and accumulate lots of gear --and the endless discussions over the comparisons with different lenses, at different apertures, the sharpness and “characteristics” of each lens, as well as the flaws and strengths of the different camera bodies.

The culture was one in which the technology determined the photography. Photography was the gear not the picture produced by the camera. Photography had been put in the box--the frame of technology, as it were, and not as a visual art. We often think of technology as the "application" of a particular machine or tool--the camera---technology as an instrument, a means of getting things done.Doing the job for the client.

But what if this standing of human beings to technology, this orientation to the world, this instrumental way of thinking is misleading or wrong?

What I saw on those blogs and websites is that we are enframed by technology. We photographers are a set of raw materials, a "standing-reserve," to be used by the multinational digital camera industry. They've got us on a treadmill. They too are on a treadmill--enframed by technology.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:33 PM |