Comparative Analysis Paralysis

Gear “Versus” Overload

In November I wrote a post comparing  Color and Black and White film. I used the term “versus”, but “versus” could have been replaced simply by “and”. A commenter pointed this out and I agree with them. The intent was to encourage others to try more film, not choose one or the other. In retrospect “Try More Film” could have worked as a title also.

Versus indicates there will be a winner and a loser. The world is rife with such comparisons outside of photography. Coke vs. Pepsi. Android vs. iPhone. Ford vs. Chevy. Not touching sports or politics. Photography has more than its fair share. DSLR vs. Mirrorless. Crop vs. Full Frame vs. Medium Format Digital (partially touched upon here). Film or digital. Brand battles are a constant and frequent drumbeat. I have tried many. My only brand beef ever has to do with the company itself, not the product or other users. No image capturing format, film or digital, has ever made me a better photographer. There are reasons I have not tried large format yet, but none of these reasons make it a bad choice. I will very likely try it one day. I never understood the desire to superimpose hero/villain narratives over inanimate objects or the users of those objects. Or the need to berate that which we do not personally use to validate our own choice. Discussions of this versus that can be good as intellectual calisthenics when they remain lighthearted, but such discussions seem to go dark far too often. As I have stated before …comment sections are a badlands where ne’er do wells do dwell.

If we are all honest with ourselves, except for the most keenly specific, professional applications, most any modern digital camera will work in near any situation regardless of brand or sensor size.Near any film camera will keep me entertained regardless of cost or format. There are cameras I may prefer, but very few I can think of could be categorized as unusable or not fun.

Quibbling over details misses the point of casual photography.

My main point? Have fun! Try different gear and techniques. Make images. Repeat. Recently I used a lens that produces amazing results on a relatively small micro four-thirds sensor.  It created a much better subject isolation than I expected. When stopping by the local camera shop a friend, Manu, had a legend of his on hand, the Pentax 67. He had a lens that in his words was “largely comprised of fungus.” Even a bad 67 lens, riddled with fungus, is still a very good lens even if not the sharpest focuser. Medium format cameras are quite handy for subject isolation and I am all for nonsensical comparisons so back to back sample photos was a go.


6×7 medium format film on the left, of yours truly, and micro four thirds, of Manu, on the right (edited to match the exposure and color). Who won? Were you not paying attention? We both did. Why? We had fun!

Don’t allow anyone to put down your choice of gear, or let your lack or abundance of experience get in the way. Don’t allow any article or press release to convince you that you need the latest released gear, now with Retsyn and rich Corinthian leather.

Roll around in the used bins via dedicated markets (ahem, KEH, cough), local camera shops, and the used sections of others. Some of my favorite cameras cost $50 or less. You might be pleasantly surprised. And you will likely have some fun and make some wonderful images also.


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