Radioactive Cameras

Photograph/Ali Al-Muallem

Photograph/Ali Al-Muallem

This story was originally published in February 2012.

Trying to learn photography, I have begun to read internet discussion forums. And boy can this be interesting! Not only does one learn about photography, but one can also observe human behaviour at its core. The questions people ask, the responses others give, and the general comments about this and that, can reveal quite a bit about these people and their psyche, intelligence, and personality. Here are some examples of what I mean.

What lens should I buy for my [insert camera of your choice]?

The answer here is always “That depends on what you want to photograph” whereby the person having asked the initial question responds something in the line of “A bit of everything”. Well, good luck in finding that lens which will do everything, like a 10-400 mm 1.4 tilt/shift macro lens. Good luck.

Sometimes, the question can be more poignant, at least when it comes to revealing the person behind the question.

I have just bought a Leica M9. What lens should I buy with it?

Here we have someone who spends 7000 USD on a range-finder with manual focus but has no idea what lens to buy. But hey, it’s fun to have the money that allows you to buy stuff without having a clue what to do with it.

And then there are all the questions about other peoples’ comments.

I have decided not to buy the new [insert camera of your choice] because I heard that it has slow autofocus / has the wrong colour / has the button too high or low or too much to the left / etc…

Yup, if someone have heard these things, then they must be true. Because why would anyone tell something untrue? And why do we need to know what someone is not going to buy? After all, there are many things most people shall never buy. But if such comments are commonly accepted, then let me announce here Radioactive Cameras and now that I am not going to buy the Pentax K7. In case anyone is interested in knowing this.

And then there is the opposite, i.e. comments about what people will buy together with some reason for it.

I am gonna get this new [insert camera of your choice] because it has more features than the last model. With this new camera, I can finally achieve some good photos.

No, you can’t! Just as I cannot write better with newer version of Microsoft Word, so you cannot take better photos with a later version of a camera. Different, perhaps, but better? Nope. There are also the pedantic photographers.

When I enlarge the photos taken with [insert camera of your choice] at 200%, I see that the images are not crystal sharp. This is crap!

Well, the problem with being a pixel-peeper is the same as being a Peeping Tom; one is wrongly focused… And talk about that, if one is that wrongly focused, how shall it be possible to get the complete picture? (Man I am getting philosophical here, all thanks to discussion forums about photography.)

In the line of these pedantic, there are also comments about cameras that do not exist.

I am considering buying [insert camera of your choice] but I suppose there will be an updated model out in six months. So I think I will wait. Or maybe not. What should I do?

Then there are the plain nonsensical.

Today I was going to order [insert camera of your choice] but it was out of stock. I just wanted to let you know.

Thanks for telling! We were really wondering… But the top one comment is this.

Are cameras made in Japan radioactive these days?

But of course, they are! Just like the German Leica cameras are full of mustard-gas because of World War I. This is too bad if you prefer ketchup.

Do you think these comments seem weird or simply ridiculous? They are, however, for real. As I said, many comments are really expressing more about the person behind the question or comment than about photography.

But discussion forums can, of course, help a lot too. Whenever I have some kind of problem figuring out a feature on my nice shiny camera, I can find the answer on these forums. This is great!

At the same time, I learn a lot about other photographers and Ali Al-Muallem their psyche. This is… interesting!

Tags: photography, cameras, funny, September 2011, Gabriel Fuchs, different strokes, columns