PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Please do not be offended by the tone of this post. My only intention is to try to help those who are caught up in this to their own detriment.
You’ve all seen it. The tribalism that occupies most camera forums in today’s world. The fans of one brand of camera shred those who use a different brand. When you really think about it, well it’s just mind-numbingly stupid.
Who cares what brand camera you use? Why does it matter to anyone but you? How – EXACTLY – does my use of Olympus or my friend’s use of Canon threaten you if you use something else? How?
Where does all the hate come from and who actually has time for this stuff?
I decided to do some investigation and I came up with a few plausible reasons for this. (But they are still silly.)
Now this is just a theory – so I could be wrong (words you will never hear from a fanboy!)
1. They need confirmation bias to feel good about their own decision to buy brand – XXXX. If you decide to buy a different brand, you have threatened their need for confirmation.
2. It creates a sense of belonging and that is something all social species crave.
So why is it a bad idea to take sides in the camera wars?
A. It leads to decisions that aren’t based on fact or reason.
B. It’s a waste of time and energy.
C. It ignores one big elephant in the room – i.e., rooting AGAINST ANYTHING is bad karma and fills you full of negative energy that not only doesn’t help you in your photographic pursuits, it causes you physical illness.
D. It is driven by decision-making that is based on loyalty, not logic.
E. It is driven by fear.
F. (And this is the big one) If taken to its logical end, tribalism (fanboyism) leads to the demise of other brands, which in turn leads to a reduction in choice, which in turn leads to a slowdown in competition, which in turn leads to less innovation, which in turn leads to fewer choices and finally, leads to higher prices,
If we wish another brand out of business, we just hurt ourselves. Imagine that there was only one camera brand left – YOUR BRAND. At first you may be happy (in a tribal sort of way) because your team won. YAY! But wait, how long would it be before your brand decided to come out with a new camera body or lens? What would be their incentive to spend research and development money on something new when they could just sell what they already have? After all, there’d be no competition. You wouldn’t see any advertising from them because again, no competition. Stagnation would set in and you’d quickly find yourself using the same gear you bought 10 years ago.
IS THERE A CURE FOR THIS TRIBALISM?
YES! Go out and make pictures instead of sitting on the couch engaging social media attacks against the other team. Check yourself and see what happens when you do something magical like ROOT FOR THE OTHER PHOTOGRAPHER! Root for EVERYONE. What’s wrong with EVERYONE doing well? How does that hurt you? Seriously … tell me … how???
If we all work together and all step up to the challenges we face as ONE TEAM, then we’re much more likely to find success than we are if each goes his or her own way. Think of it as a SUPER GROUP – a SUPER GROUP of photography lovers, not CAMERA lovers. Belong to that.
In a time where all the traditional norms are being questioned due to the pandemic, why not use this as motivation to change things? We can all belong to the PHOTOGRAPHY team, not the camera brand X team.
You can still find a sense of belonging in the photography community if you use a different brand of camera than I do. At the end of the day, those of us who are serious about our photography are out there trying to make great images; to make art; to tell stories with our cameras; to protect memories. The great pictures do NOT yield a “I wonder what camera they used to make that shot?” question. The great pictures cause people to feel something, to emote, to be taken to another time and place and to SEE a defining moment, captured by a camera and lens driven by the mind of a thinking, feeling photographer. Cameras (of any brand) are really just time machines. They transport us to a moment that someone thought was worth keeping, protecting and sharing.
I say all of this as a brand ambassador for Olympus. I am grateful for the support I get from Olympus. I love my Olympus camera and I advocate for it because I know how much it has helped me grab great images. But it has never occurred to me that my camera is somehow better (or more importantly somehow makes ME better) than anyone else because that’s just silly. It is not at all productive. It’s not smart. It’s not edifying. It doesn’t help. It doesn’t advance the art form I love. And it just doesn’t make any sense.
If you use a different brand of camera than I do, good for you. I always tell people to buy what they like and can afford. Buy the camera that you will actually take with you and use. If it’s Olympus, I can help you with the gear. If it’s anything else I CAN – and will- STILL HELP YOU WITH EVERYTHING ELSE that is photography. I.E., seeing, composing, editing, sharing, printing, posting, publishing, your photos, etc.
I have been writing about photography on the Internet since November 2, 1998. My first site was called Photofocus.com. Perhaps some of you know it. I sold it to my pal Rich Harrington years ago. But I have still continued to write (either for that publication) or for others and have done so every week for the last (approximately) 1,100+ weeks.
I started Photofocus many years ago when I could have picked nearly any URL I wanted. After all, 21 years ago, lots of people considered the Web a “fad.” I picked Photofocus deliberately. NOT – “CAMERA FOCUS.”
Yes the tools matter, (more or less depending on the photographic genre you practice) but they don’t matter as much as everything else.
To close this out I will share (as I have many times before) the old Kodak Gallery Commercial (Live Forever). PLEASE watch this video. It talks about the things that are important. . . the PICTURES.
(Gallery commercial – long version)
(Gallery commercial – short version if you don’t have six minutes to spare)
I am rooting for you, no matter what camera brand you use. Hopefully you can in turn root for each other.
P.S. And now a word from the photograph’s point of view: ““Keep me. Protect me. Share me. And I shall live forever.”
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