Lust, Love, and In Love

Yes, I'm going to anthropomorphize hunks of metal, glass, and plastic, but we all do it, right?

Let's face it, we tend to talk about our photographic equipment with the same language we use about our significant others. That can run the full gamut of expression, but today I want to write about the positive side of that: how we express how well we like our cameras and lenses.

I thought about this as I was contemplating my yearly "get rid of gear" eradication program. I realized, for example, that I was still in love with some bits and pieces, but had just fallen down to loving others. As I considered this more and looked at how others were expressing their GAS (gear acquisition syndrome), I realized that we often go through predictable cycles.

For instance, when the design and marketing departments get their jobs right and announce something new, we often lust after it. We have to have it. It's perfect and does no wrong. Or at least we perceive it to be better than what we have and that it will do things we need doing. 

Once over the initial reaction and with the new gear in our hands, we often then hit the love phase. Yes, it's basically what we wanted, and we have a mostly positive relationship with it. Over time, though, one of two things happen: (a) love fades, or (b) love blossoms. 

For a "love fades" example, the Sony RX100—pick any of the seven iterations as your starting point—triggered a whole bunch of initial positive reactions among photographers. Many of those were associated with the "quality camera fits in shirt pocket" aspect of the RX100. Any serious photographer wants to always be ready to photograph, and here was a camera that was providing true carry-always ability. 

Then we started using the RX100 and the initial lust quickly turned to something else. Note that the six updates of the basic camera all tried to deal with one or more of the irritations that users reported, but some of those changes created new irritations, and now Sony is iterating things as a completely different beast (ZV-1). Worse still, a number of the most frustrating problems weren't dealt with by Sony (e.g. number of images/charge, terrible small controls and clumsy UX, less-than-20mp-capable results). The primary reason Sony could get away with that for so long was that all the other camera makers abandoned the serious shirt-pocket camera market. Thus, it was love it or have nothing.

Over time almost every RX100 user I know fell out of love with the camera (including myself). Most gravitated to something somewhat bigger in order to get past all the problems that Sony had presented us. Okay, our "better" replacements don't fit in a shirt pocket, but maybe a jacket pocket instead? 

Of course, as smartphones got more capable in photo ability, some just abandoned the idea of a dedicated camera completely and started using their iPhone/Galaxy/Pixel as their shirt pocket camera. And the more that happened, the more the camera makers ran fleeing from the scene. 

My current "love blossoms" examples are, as you'd probably expect, mostly Nikon gear. For example, the Z8 and Z9 pair. Here all the updating Nikon has done keeps refreshing the products in ways that felt like our love was being returned (oh dear, too much anthropomorphizing?). We started using the Z9, ran into some things that didn't feel or work right, and then Nikon went about (mostly) fixing those and adding more capability. Not just once, but four times now. It's difficult to fall out of love with someonething that seems to adapt to our desires and needs. 

Overall, the various camera makers all seem to be in different positions today in regards to this lust/love thing. Canon seems less desirable these days for reasons that are tough to fully explain, but abandoning the M system and not replicating those models in RF didn't help. The "no R1 but here's an R3" thing didn't play as well as I think Canon thought it would. And lenses? Don't get a Canon user started on that subject.

Fujifilm has parlayed into the more megapixels desires to achieve love. I call this the Trophy Wife of cameras syndrome, and it plays well with those that have aged along with their dedicated cameras.

You have to love Leica, otherwise you can't explain why you paid so much money for something that isn't quite as good at some things than less expensive gear. 

Nikon users are bifurcating in terms of their love: Z8, Z9, and maybe the Zfc/Zf users are still in love, while the Z50, Z5, Z6, and Z7 users are feeling neglected. 

The m4/3 crowd appears to have taken the "til death do us part" pledge.

Finally, Sony users are similar to Nikon users; some Alpha models are still being loved, while others are feeling neglected. Curiously, the former jealousy thing that Nikon users had for Sony models has now inverted, with Sony users now jealous about things they see in Nikon (particularly all those useful firmware updates).

I started thinking about this topic back around Valentine's Day (for obvious reasons) but given that cameras are mostly bought in this spring-to-summer and later Christmas holiday periods, I postponed the article to when you're most likely having these feels. (For those over 30, the term "feels" is Millennial slang for an overwhelming emotional reaction, which pretty much describes how most people justify buying a new camera these days.)

That said, here's the punch line: the last new Canon camera was launched in May 2023, the last new Nikon camera came along nine months ago, and the last new Sony Alpha was announced seven months ago. So most of you are probably pining for something, anything, to lust after. If you didn't pick up one of those recent Canikony cameras, you may be out of love with what you've got and looking for a new love. 

Ah, Spring...

 Looking for gear-specific information? Check out our other Web sites:
DSLRS: | mirrorless: | Z System: | film SLR: all text and original images © 2024 Thom Hogan
portions Copyright 1999-2023 Thom Hogan
All Rights Reserved — the contents of this site, including but not limited to its text, illustrations, and concepts,
may not be utilized, directly or indirectly, to inform, train, or improve any artificial intelligence program or system.