About Thomas Fitzgerald

Thomas is a professional fine art photographer and writer specialising in photography related instructional books as well as travel writing and street photography. 

A Camera is more than the sum of its specs

A Camera is more than the sum of its specs

With cameras constantly being released, I have found that a lot of the commentary around certain brands and models revolves around comparing the tech specs. People argue about things like minute differences in dynamic range or noise response as reasons to pick one camera over another. But there's so much more to choosing a camera. 

As an example, if you were to go solely by the specs, and you were to believe what people say on blogs and on forums, then no one would be buying Canon cameras. And yet, Canon is still the number one camera brand, so either the vast majority of people are making some kind of ill-informed terrible decision or there’s more to it than what’s written on paper or typed on a screen. 

Recently I have been doing a lot of research into cameras for vlogging and what I've found is that despite the fact that in many ways, certain cameras from Canon lag behind their competitors in specs, many people still prefer them for the colour rendition, and when it comes to video, for the autofocus. The spec sheet people would have you believe that there’s no point in buying a specific camera unless it has 4K or Log or some other feature, and yet, lots of people still shoot with Canon for video. One review that I came across on YouTube made a great point about this: there really isn't any point in having 4K if it's always out of focus. 

I’m just using Canon as an example here. The same could be said about Nikon or Sony or Olympus. I’ve picked Canon to make my point because it receives a disproportionate amount of hate relative to its actual market position.

Former Canon users switching to mirrorless systems often makes headlines on the fan and rumour sites of various brands, such as Fuji and Sony, but doing my research, I have also come across a lot of photographers who tried Sony or Fuji or some other brand and switched back to Canon. They either preferred the look of the results they were getting with Canon or they preferred the ergonomics. For them, the differences in technical capabilities were not worth the differences in how they used the camera or the pictures they would get as a result. 

It's about at this point in the discussion that someone inevitably brings up the old adage of "it's not the camera, it's the photographer" to point out that a "real" photographer would be able to get great results with any camera, and therefore a “real” photographer would keep using the camera of X brand. (In other words, "It's not about the camera, so long for as I agree with you") 

But the thing is, for your own personal use, it sometimes is about the camera. If you don’t like how a camera works, you’re not going to enjoy using it, and you may find that as a result, your lack of enthusiasm translates into the picture that you take. Why should you continue to use a camera that you don't like just because "real" photographers should be able to use any camera? Shouldn't that adage apply in both directions anyway? 

If it seems like I'm focusing on Canon here, again, I just want to make it clear, that it’s just an example and I'm trying to make a wider point here: there's much more to a camera than its specs. Sometimes, a camera may not look or sound as good on paper, and yet, it may have things that make it special, or make it appeal to certain users which don't come across on paper. With Canon, it's often the colours that people prefer about the cameras, just as it often is with Fuji. 

At the end of the day, it's ok to not like a camera. If you find a certain brand or model more comfortable to shoot with and find that it suits your style better, that's ok. There's a lot of rubbish written on the internet at the moment about mirrorless being the only thing you should be using, and that the traditional brands are failing. If you read certain forums, all you hear is how Sony is going to take over the World while other sites might tell you how Fuji is better than every other camera maker. Dare to disagree and they throw the "real photographers don't care about the camera" trope in your virtual face. 

The same undoubtedly goes for every brand. Fans of various camera makers will use the specs of various cameras, or the DXO score to tell you that their brand is best. But it's all nonsense at the end of the day. So much of how you use a camera is subjective. It's down to what you like and what you don't like. It's down to your style of photography, and often even beyond that, there are things that just don't come across on paper. There is a growing discrepancy between the commentary on the photographic market and the realities of it. 

Getting back to Canon, and again, I'm just using this as an example. The 6d Mark II was universally slated for its specs or rather lack thereof. Loads of people, many of whom probably never even used the camera, all declared it one of the worst releases ever, and an utter disaster and so on. Yet, sweep away the commentary that is jumping on the bandwagon, and you'll find that it has a growing following of people who are interested in it for the results, not the specs. Specifically, while it may not have 4K and the best dynamic range, it's got two things that are appealing to vloggers in particular: it's got the canon colour science that people seem to love, great autofocus, and it's full frame, with a flip around screen. While the elitists in the photographic community may look down on vloggers, it's a huge and growing segment, and at the moment, the only company that seems interested in pursuing it is Canon. 

Again, I’m just using this example to illustrate the point. Actually two points. Like what you want, use what you want. It's ok not to like a camera, and don't go by just the specs. Ok, four points.

Here’s another example: I own quite a few cameras and I shoot with them all regularly. The camera I shoot with the most, and the one I like the most is my 7-year-old Nikon D700. On paper this is handily beaten by my Fuji X-Pro2 and my Sony A6000, and yet I prefer the D700 hands down. I prefer the ergonomics, I prefer the results, and I love shooting with it. The only downside that has me reaching for my other cameras is that it’s big and heavy. But if I were to believe what’s written on forums and fan sites, then there must be something wrong with me as a photographer because everyone knows that Fuji / Sony (depending on which fan site you read) is much “better” than my ageing Nikon. 

That may well be true on paper, but in reality, I just prefer it. It’s not about the camera? Well, sometimes it is, but just not the way you might think. You should shoot with a camera that you enjoy shooting with. Forget what the tech specs say. Forget what the internet chatter says. It’s ok to like a camera that some reviews pan, and it’s ok to dislike a camera that people online may rave about. A camera is a personal choice, and a personal matter, and you should use what works for you. Forcing yourself to like a certain camera because the internet says you should is kind of ridiculous. It’s ok for the camera you use to matter to you. For everyone else, all that matters is the results. 

Cover photo via Pexels

Help Support the Blog

I’m now on Patreon. If you like what I do here and find the information useful, then you can help by supporting me on Patreon. As well as helping keep this blog going with even more useful news, tips, tutorials and more, members also get special Patreon only perks. Stop by and check it out.

If you like this post then you can see more of my work on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. I also have a YouTube channel that you might like. You should also check out my other Photography Project: The Streets of Dublin. If you want to get regular updates, and notices of occasional special offers, and discounts from my store, then please sign up for the Newsletter.

You can also show support by buying something from my from my Digital Download Store where I have Lightroom Presets, and e-books available for download. If you're a Fuji X-Trans shooter and Lightroom user, check out my guide to post processing X-Trans files in Lightroom. I also have a guides for processing X-Trans files in Capture One and Iridient Developer. For Sony Alpha shooters I have a new guide with tips on how to get the best from processing your A6000 Images in Lightroom

This is why I love Luminar

This is why I love Luminar

Plans for 2018

Plans for 2018