If you are easily offended, overly sensitive, or an internet-troll kinda person…this post may really not be for you. I recommend heading off to your favorite site instead. (What?! it’s not this one?)
A lot of talk has started stirring about the upcoming firmware update for the E-M1mkII. I try to ignore a lot of the talk that goes around online. I just want to comment a little bit on why, and why I recommend you do the same.
Rumors have killed excitement. Do you remember waiting to get a new magazine issue to find out all the latest camera releases? And to actually read about it? Now it’s like every site in the world has an opinion before release. A bunch of rumors have flooded before even pre-production models were sent to bloggers to play with in a canned scenario. People are making assumptions and opinions about something they have never even tried to see if it works for them. Rumors and leaks are a new fact of life…but I wouldn’t place any value on them or make any decisions based on them until actual release. You might read about a coming release and make a decision and then dismiss the value of it based on the general consensus. You would be surprised how many cameras or other goods in general I have ended up loving and finding to be the perfect tool for me, despite general lackluster fanfare or poor opinion by the online masses. Everyone has different standards. What you may think is demanding standards for an area might be meaningless to someone else in the same exact area. Everyone has different skill levels too. Be weary not to apply someone else’s standards to your own work. You are you. The work you do now and the tools you use should be judged and merited on how well it works for you now. And be mindful not to confuse your skills being the holdback and not your camera features. Sometimes its just not the camera. I know this well…we all do.
Updates are nice. They can add value to something we already have. They should not be expected, and certainly decisions should not be made based on anticipation of added features down the road. We are not promised tomorrow. Sorry to sound so cliche…but it is what it is. I remember I rented an X100 version one back in the day. It had all kinds of issues. Serious usability issues. The tool still served its core purpose for me though so I bought one anyways. And it worked for me anyways. I could live with the annoyances because it still got the job done better than anything else at the time. Fuji over time released a bunch of firmware updates and corrected a lot of the complaints. The camera operated much better and still does. I still have it. Does it still have issues…yes…but I still use it. It serves it’s role for me better than anything else. (And it’s a bayer sensor not xtrans!) Whole point here…whatever camera you are considering, go only by how it is offered on release. Extras may or may not materialize. And if they do, maybe not fully as expected. If my E-M1 never got updated from what it is today…i’ll still be using it in 3 years, etc… It will still do the same job. I have a workhorse Hasselblad H1 body from 90s. Updates? Gosh it’s almost a relic. Still performs its job like it did on day 1. Do I expect the new features from their newer models? No. I feel some companies are withholding features to have extra time working on them or use the public as a giant beta-pool. It’s like this constant rush to get a camera out by holidays or at the same times as a competitor. So then features are rolled out as they are finished. I hope this is a wrong conclusion…but if it is…how did we get to this point?!?!?!
Ship-jumping. We hear about people jumping-ship constantly. Well if company X releases this or that, i’m switching. I’m switching back only if X, Y, Z. Oh man…all those people are going to jump ship if so and so does X, Y, Z. You hear this all the time. I feel like we are in a pirate movie where two ships are side by side and the ropes are swinging and all kinds of swashbuckling is taking place. My gosh people. Really? Camera companies don’t care if you are switching brands. They made their sale. I wonder how many people honestly put their money were their mouth is. There will never be a mass exodus off a brand enough to hurt business unless a massive scale change in the landscape happens like when we went from film to digital. Canon and Nikon had masses buy into their systems because nobody else was doing digital well or affordably yet. In the mirrorless world, Panasonic, Fuji, Olympus, and Sony each have their style, their lens lineups, etc… Everyone’s quality level is also at the point where the masses are served well, and most pro applications are served well, by just about anything out there. It’s really true. How much do you need for magazine publishing? For internet publishing? For a brochure? Lenses, sensors, and print have all gotten to a point where you can get the job done well no matter what you use. (including phones! …wow…)
I think the problem is that cameras have gotten really good…but all the fun shiny toys are at the top. Or at least that is how the camera companies are presenting it. Prices are getting high for gear for most people that don’t derive a career income from photography or are affluent via other means. Boredom is also a huge factor I think. People seem to have short attention spans. The next shiny new is nice…but at current prices for top gear and the money you lose selling it…it is really hard to sample and play around. (That is why I wholeheartedly recommend Lensrentals.com… rent your gear for a month, have fun, and then give it back!) When you are invested in a lens system and have a workflow and muscle memory with a camera…why would you swap all that for a feature or two? Does it really change your work? Does it really make a material difference in the end product? I don’t care that the G9 is great and looks like an E-M1 mkII on paper. It doesn’t have a super control panel. I love that feature. It doesn’t have the button layout that i’ve learned to love and use daily. If I need a second body…I would buy another E-M1mk II so my batteries, color workflow, and settings would retain. That is much more important to me. Maybe not to you. Fuji put out a phenomenal new camera in the X-H1. I’m sure a lot of people are going to love using that…especially in IBIS. Is that enough to get me to switch? Nope…their lenses turn the opposite direction from what I am used to. And after 20 years…I like my lenses rotating a certain way.
Maybe people don’t invest the time into their gear anymore to really learn in and get it in them. Maybe people don’t use their gear nearly as often…so there is no connection and established coordination with their equipment. Who knows. Maybe people don’t take the time to asses themselves, see who they are, and sample enough gear to know what is right in the first place. Regardless, I would seriously ignore all the ship-jumping. Don’t worry…you certainly WON’T be left on a sinking ship while every else is on the gravy train. (or boat!) The ship just won’t be sinking. And if tragedy strikes…companies go out of business…remember Contax? Well…at that point you still have a wonderful camera that serves it’s purpose. And when it comes time that support is no longer available or it is finally time to reconsider…then it will be time to re-evaluate your needs at that point and make a new decision. Our needs change over time. I’ve been a musician my entire life. A few years back I sold off 4 amplifiers and 12 guitars. I started over. What I new as me…just no longer was. My tastes and preferences had changed slowly over time and I found I needed to update to suit my current needs. I settled on 2 guitars and 2 amps that make the most sense now. Best set up i’ve ever had as well. If I changed yearly I just would have gone mad. Time and experience changes everything.
At the end of the day it all comes back down to making images. We use cameras to make images. If you aren’t making the images you want…it’s because you aren’t making the images you want. Not because the equipment doesn’t exist. It is easier to play with gear than it is to make meaningful pictures. It is also easier to fantasize about the other side of the fence. It can also be more fun unfortunately. If any of you surf you no exactly what i am talking about. The waves 200 yards down the beach always look like they are breaking better than the ones in front of us. It’s really just an illusion. The pressure of needing to create, to leave something behind that makes an impact, and the desire to be better every day is tough. It also requires heavy introspection which is the hardest part. Why can’t we just be, and enjoy the becoming. Our options are bewildering today…we have never had it so good. Lens choices, sensors, accessories…everything has gotten amazing. The bleeding edge is exciting…but why chase it? I recommend if you are ever feeling that tug and that antsy feeling about new equipment…go sit outside and just watch light. See shadows and light play on a tree, on leaves, on city buildings and glass. Go back to what lit the flame of photography in you to begin with. Learn to just sit in those moments without needing to “capture” every thing. Photography is not Pokemon Go.
So those are my thoughts on these today. They may change. It is hard not to sit back and see the craziness in some of this. Then again…maybe we could all use a little swash-buckling in our lives. Who knows. Drop me a line below, what are your thoughts. I hope i’m not the old man on the porch! Lol. Then again, the old man on the porch wouldn’t use “lol” right?