Wisbech car boot sale. Looking down. Olympus XA2 50p camera. Ilford HP5+ film. Scanned with a V500.

Online photography forums can be hazardous places.  Although you can find great advice and support there, you’ll also witness plenty of disagreements.  Indeed, those threads are usually the fattest, as different posters rip into each other over such merits as “is photography art?”.

I’m not that a good forumite, indeed, I’m a bit off them much of the time.  However, I think that I’ve observed a common root to many of the disagreements.  It’s simple.  There are many types of photography and photographer.  None are better or worse, however, their equipment, aspirations, and techniques are very dissimilar.  A nature photographer will be able to benefit from the longest and fastest of lenses for their bird shots, or incredibly expensive macro set ups for their micro-life.  A sports photographer will benefit from not only fast lenses, but from the latest cutting edge digital sensor with it’s low light performance – as would the concert or gig photographer.  The street photographer needs a small, un-threatening camera.  They might even be happy to use film for a medium.  The professional wedding photographer – well, they’ll need quite different gear.

The problem is that what is best for one type of photographer is not best for the next.  That’s where the arguments start, when they fail to appreciate that simple reality.

For myself.  I have little value of sharpness.  I don’t need the latest cutting edge gear.  I don’t need technical perfection.  My photographs are not (at least in my eyes) less valuable for lacking sharpness and detail in perfect exposure.  What suits my aspirations may not suit yours.

Rants and discussions

How big is my sausage, and Camera IQ

In a Wisbech pork butcher’s shop window. Pentax SP500 Spotmatic camera. Super-Takumar 55mm f2 lens. Rollei Retro 400S b/w film Developed in R09.

Photography forums can be awful places, where the worst behaviour, generated by the must-have-the-latest-upgrade marketing media hyped culture, really shows itself for what it is – an illness.  You get these ridiculous threads, where a gaggle of photographers, cut and thrust over the “IQ” of one digital sensor over another, or something equally as fetish-like, such as the sharpness of a particular lens, or the abilities of an upgraded image stabilisation system.  One of the favourite subjects, are the merits or otherwise, of a full frame sensor over an APS sensor.  It’ll often be found in the form of one model on Canikon DSLR, over a cheaper model of Canikon DSLR – “the sensor has greater IQ” or whatever.  Bullshit.

Sometimes I’m in awe of these giants in technical knowledge.  Clearly, they must be great photographers – clutching at the latest benchmark results from Japan.  I mean, this technology must cost a fortune.  How on Earth could anyone produce acceptable photography without this gear?  If I was to attend a meet with these guys, I’d need to hide my XA2 in utter shame.

I have no idea how the great masters of photography, over the previous 150 years, managed to produce wonderful photographs, without the latest full frame Canikon, image stabilised, quad core, dual bus, digital super sonic sensor.

What the feck is IQ in a photograph anyway?