Are Camera Geeks Obsessive People?


Since I’m one myself, I get the impression that we camera geeks are a lot more obsessive than people who pursue other hobbies. We have raging debates here about “which is better” when the difference may not even be discernable to the naked eye. In fact, this may be the only place in the known universe where photos are closely examined as 200% crops to search for defects.

We seem to feel that better specs are vital in order to take better photos. And we hold this belief despite the fact that many award winning photos were taken with some very ordinary cameras. And some very horrid photos were taken by some very fine gear. It’s alarming how much effort we devote to debating specs and how little is spent talking about photography.

Many camera geeks are obsessed with specs. Lightening up a bit wouldn't harm the quality of the photography, or would it?
Many camera geeks are obsessed with specs. Lightening up a bit wouldn’t harm the quality of the photography, or would it?
Many of us will refuse to buy a camera that was touched by human hands after it left the factory. We demand, and expect perfection. Some feel a camera must be heavily discounted, or perhaps sent off for “refurbishing,” if another customer held it and peered through the viewfinder. Because it has lost it’s virgin status.

Despite this, we still buy shoes that were tried on before, and marry women who might have been touched before we met them.

There also seems to be an urgency to replace gear whenever something “better” becomes available. Even very minor upgrades are met with some folks placing “preorders” at full list price. People who buy a new car and use it for 10 years wouldn’t dream of using a camera for more than 2 years.

We even debate the merits of $200 filters for our $250 lenses. And why they are worth the price over a $12 filter. While others tell us that no filter at all is actually better.

People who never actually make a print seem obsessed with creating image files that are capable of being enlarged to billboard sized prints. Which raises the question: “why is this important for you?”

And then we have folks who seem to feel you have made a serious blunder if you purchase any brand of camera other than the one they own. When the truth is… they all work pretty well. In fact for most of us, our cameras are capable of producing better photos than we are.

Investing time in learning how to use what we already have might produce better results than buying a newer camera would. Of course, this really depends on each individual, but I suspect it applies to a lot of us, myself included.

Do master mechanics fret this much about nicks and fingerprints on their tools?

Do fine artists worry more about having the latest brushes — or making great art?

This article first appeared on Martin’s photography blog Decent Exposures.

  • PWL

    Hmmm….so are you saying being a camera geek is a sign of mental illness? Would I be better off taking up a, uh, much healthier avocation, such as basket weaving?

  • Nah, Martin’s point is to not get distracted by gear, to not be obsessive about the tool and a picturing machine’s elusive perfection, but to focus on what matters: photography.

  • bepcun

    But why not to be distracted by gear? Maybe we can make a clear distinction and live with it? A camera geek doesn’t have to be a photography geek. As the name implies, a camera geek is about cameras, and Yes, camera geeks tend to be crazy and obsessive. If you are on the other side of a coin, a photography geek, you don’t even need a camera to be crazy about pictures, you just need camera to record a picture that you see.

  • Wouldn’t that be a fetish?

  • bepcun

    Maybe it would be a fetish to be both camera and photography geek at the same time? ;-)