The release of a major new camera brings out all the drama.
Along with the uber-hype of the manufacturer, there are those that parse every specification looking for evidence of the product’s greatness or its obvious failings. Even before the camera has been used under real-world circumstances, everybody is ready to pick their corner. People don’t even wait for the bell to ring before they start throwing punches.
The announcement of Nikon’s new mirrorless system, the Z-series, is the latest manifestation of this phenomena, which will no doubt repeat itself numerous times as we get closer Photokina, the world’s largest photographic trade show.
It follows the usual routine.
There’s the rumor phase, where whispers about specs and features are posted and distributed across the web faster than a single flash burst. No sliver of information is too small to ignore and it’s enough to inspire lengthy blog or video posts. News of any feature or specification sends fingers flying over countless keyboards confirming one’s already firmly-held opinions of a product that has yet to see the light of day.
Once the product is officially announced, the manufacturer's marketing machine kicks into high gear. The showy live presentations, the unveiling, the polished videos and testimonies of name photographers speaking glowingly of a product pushes everyone’s heart rate up to the aerobic level.
And with that official announcement, the dissection begins. Comparisons are made. Judgment is passed. The worth of the new product is determined not merely on its promised capabilities but how it competes with another manufacturer’s product or more importantly the idealized version that many had hoped for and imagined.
Though such quick criticism of a new product may eventually be proved accurate or deserved, there is no doubt that such concerns are not always definitive or absolute.
Yes, there may be some aspects of the camera that may make it less than ideal for certain photographers. It may not be the (name your camera) - killer that some consumers hoped it would be. The camera may not provide photographers the perfect solution they had wished for.
But even the cameras that are considered “the best” of their generation have their failings, many of which are only revealed when photographers use them repeatedly on real assignments. As much as reviews may offer insight into the promise of a camera, nothing replaces living and using a camera over the span of weeks and months and years. Images produced during a press junket or during a single shoot day for a YouTube video doesn’t cut it.
I completely understand the desire to make an informed decision on photographic equipment. This stuff does not come cheap and we all want the reassurance that we are making the best choice for ourselves and our pocketbooks. No one wants to feel that they’ve made a mistake.
However, it’s important to have some perspective and to avoid the vitriol and absolutism that seems to pervade each new release. There is enough of that in the world already and it seems a shame to introduce that to a practice from which we derive so much passion and joy.