Are You Following Your Heart or Head?

It's a simple thing, really: if you're confused about what to do and are contemplating changing gear, do you know whether you're following your heart or your head in your thinking?

I've written about wants and needs before, and it's the same thing: 

  • Heart = want
  • Head = need

Thing is, how you evaluate how well something actually "works" for you after purchasing and using it depends upon which of those two you're following.

What I'm seeing a lot of lately is that people following their heart (wants) end up not fully satisfied. Whether that be sampling another brand, switching to another brand, moving from DSLR to mirrorless, or any other Big Change option, their heart (wants) compels them to act, they act, and then they find something wanting (ironic, right? ;~).

Those following their head (needs) rarely end up in that situation.

When Canon and Nikon both say that they'll continue to serve the DSLR user, they're actually considering that there are heart versus head decisions being made in their user base. A long-time DSLR user, for instance, would be generally satisfied with the capabilities of any current camera. The things that they still need are likely to be more in the DSLR realm. The trick is whether or not Canon and Nikon can figure out what those are and produce them in a timely fashion.

I'll use the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo as an example. The 5000 or so Canon and Nikon shooters that end up in Tokyo will be mostly DSLR-based. That's what they own, that's what they're used to using, that's what they know. For mirrorless to appeal to them at an event where they're on the line to produce images worth their cost of being there, mirrorless would have to do something special for them. Really special. That seems unlikely. A new DSLR lens might prove more useful to them. Even a new DSLR body that advanced the product they're already using might be more useful to them. This is one reason why everyone is predicting that Canon will produce a 1DXm3 and Nikon a D6: the timing is correct, and it's a natural extension for those user's needs.

When Canon and Nikon both say that mirrorless is the future and then provide marketing that tells you about how the new lenses will be better, or the WYSIWIG nature of the EVF is better, of it can shoot silently, and so on, they're catering mostly to the heart (wants). 

So again, let's consider the upcoming Olympics. Would Canon produce an RX and Nikon a Z9? Maybe. But why would the Olympics photographer opt for that? Faster frame rate, perhaps. Ability to track focus outside the central area, perhaps. Other supposed mirrorless advantages, not so much. In other words, some very specific needs. Thus, there's some opportunity for both companies to do something somewhat unheard of, and produce both a top end DSLR and a top end mirrorless camera simultaneously. I'd guess that Nikon would be more likely to do something like this, as they have the D1h/D1x/D100, D3/D300, and D5/D500 multiple announcement precedents, all of which worked well for them. Still, you have to consider whether or not that truly would get a top level shooter to move from DSLR to mirrorless at the last minute like that at an event that is so important to their clients.

Of course, the Olympics are not a problem most of us have ;~). Canon and Nikon have that problem because it's the biggest event where they see and interact with the greatest number of serious photographers, and it is fairly representative of their pro clientele. That interaction potential is one of the few reasons why I'd want to go shoot an event like the Olympics, by the way. The ability to stand out from the top pros with better access is not something that would likely happen for me at the Olympics. I'm happy sticking with smaller events and clients where I can stand out.

But let's get back to heart versus head. It's an age-old problem, and it comes up in everything from romance to work to toys. The real trick is to always understand which of the two you're following, and then to do a quick analysis of whether the other will be served well enough.

In other words, if you're following your heart, you don't want to be completely bolloxed with your needs. If you want Camera X because the marketing messages melted your mind, before jumping to the new mistress make sure that you can still do what it is you need to do. 

Likewise, if you follow your head, you need to make sure that you're still going to be happy, at least happy enough to continue on without second guessing yourself every day.

It's getting the balance of the two right that is always the problem. Pay some attention to both and know which one you're following and why and you'll be fine.

text and images © 2019 Thom Hogan
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