We’re All Just Dating...

“There are plenty of fish in the sea, so don’t settle for a shark” ― Kalvin Valentine

I finally figured it out. You’re all dating your cameras, not married to them. 

The switching, sampling, leaking, updating phenomena are no different than dating different women or men: you’re looking for perfect. You won’t find it, of course, but you might find something that’s not only just good enough but that you can live with without regret. 

Camera Web sites are like dating advice sites (only possibly more contentious). Camera stores like B&H are like pick-up bars. All the various subjective ratings you see have their basis in the old “she’s a 10” scale you used in high school. Those of you who move from system to system are basically promiscuous. 

Unfortunately, there’s no evolutionary advantage I can see to treating cameras like potential mates. That said, there’s a lot to be said to sticking with what you’ve got, learning it inside out, and optimizing your use of it. Miss some settings with the latest model you’re dating and you might not even get the advantage(s) it potentially has compared to your last camerafriend. 

Of course my tongue is firmly in cheek once again. And yet, there’s something true about all this gear acquisition syndrome (GAS) stuff being a lot like dating. We date because we’re looking for a best fit to our desires. There’s a lot that’s personal in GAS, believe it or not. I’ve seen people who will prefer A to B simply because of the way it fits in the hand, or because it looks good to them, and not because it has .00001 percent better X, Y, or Z. 

Thing is, like mates, we tend to take our gear everywhere with us, so we’d darned well be prepared to live with their idiosyncrasies and small flaws. We need to be “in sync” with them, not out of sync. I can easily say I’m fairly in sync with Nikon DSLRs because I’ve been living with variations of them for decades. Throw a Sony Alpha DSLR at me as a camera, and I might not be quite as in sync. 

One funny thing is how long it took the Japanese camera makers to realize that a hump in the middle really was necessary to win over a lot of long-time camera owners. You can certainly make mirrorless cameras without an EVF hump, as a few have shown (Sony A6300, for instance), but it’s amusing to watch all my old-fogey buddies pooh pooh such cameras immediately simply because “they don’t look right.” At this point, a camera has to look and work like a camera to get much resonance with the over 40 crowd, because all the previous camerafriends they’ve dated were that way. 

True, the Japanese thought that they were branching out into new markets, specifically catering to women and the millennials. But both those groups are less interested in looks than convenience when it comes to cameras. They want to date a Facebook-ready camera, not put up with their dad’s Nikon DSLR workflow. 

So the relevant questions for GAS turn out to be the similar to the ones you might ask your date. Seriously:

  • What was your family like growing up? (is there consistency in product updating?)
  • What’s your biggest goal in life right now? (where does the camera maker see its gear getting used?)
  • What’s your favorite place in the world? (what photography are you really relevant for?)
  • Who’s your best friend and what do you like about them? (what accessories work with you and what do they accomplish?)
  • What should I know about you that I’d never think to ask? (what can you do that’s not obvious to me?)
  • Who’s your role model and/or who had the biggest influence on you? (who are your real competitors?)
  • What is one job you could never do? (what is the one photo you can’t take?)
  • Do you think it’s the little things or grand gestures that count most? (how easy is it to configure this camera to any given situation, or do you just want me to set Auto Everything?)
  • What skill or talent do you wish you had or were better at? (in the next iteration of this model, what are you likely to add?)
  • If you had a superpower, what would it be? (there must be some feature or capability that sets you apart from the rest of the cameras)

Hope for love, pray for love, wish for love, dream for love…but don’t put your life on hold waiting for love.  ― Mandy Hale, The Single Woman


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