Op-Ed: Thoughts on SwitchingGear Talk
Last week, I posted Part V of my “Switch” series, which you can find here:
Previously, in the Switch series:
- Part 1: I talk our marketing VP into letting me go Nikon for a while.
- Part 1.5: which was mislabeled Part 0.5, in which I gawk at a violin.
- Part II: The Nikon gets abusive.
- Part III: CLS starts to look pretty good.
- Part IV: In which I return to Canon for a spell.
- Part V: The conclusion, in which you learn what I ended up with.
I’ve pretty-much laid out my reasons for switching, but I felt compelled to add some kind of postscript to that series. So, here it is.
Switching from one platform to another isn’t easy. It kind of forces you to take a hard look at the platform you have and, if it isn’t working for you, you have to be willing to say, “Yeah, what I have now doesn’t work for me.”
That takes a bit of humility to admit. It also takes a bit of firmness to say that a certain camera/computer/whatever isn’t working for you. It might work just fine for someone else. But it’s not working for you.
On Facebook and Twitter and G+, the reaction to this series was largely positive. There was the usual plethora of “Gear doesn’t matter” posts, of course (to which I say, “No it doesn’t – except when it does.“), but for the most part, folks liked the series and they were generally supportive.
I did, however, receive a verbal shellacking from some folks who know me personally and laid into me about this switch. The general consensus was that I was pixel-peeping, nit-picking, and just plain silly for even considering a switch. If, after all, Canon was good enough for Art Wolfe and Vincent Laforet, it should be good enough for me. Or was I saying that I knew better than Art Wolfe and Vincent Laforet?
It’s kind of difficult to defend yourself from that kind of line of questioning. World-class photographers around the planet use Canon (just as other world-class photographers use Nikon), and it’s pointless to say something along the lines of “Canon just wasn’t good enough, so I switched.”
The distinction, then, to draw here is not that Canon wasn’t good enough, but that the Nikon D800 worked better for me. It is a personal preference. And standing behind that preference takes, as I mentioned earlier, some bit of firmness.
I can riff about this for a while, but let me break it down into a few bullet points that came as something of a series of revelations for me over the course of this nearly 2-month-long experiment.
- Knowing what you like and standing behind it takes some level of self-confidence and firmness. It’s not always that easy to be assertive in a field filled with passionate (and often argumentative) people.
- It takes humility to admit that the system you’ve been with for years doesn’t work for you as well as that other system that you had the opportunity to work with.
- Don’t obsess over charts and graphs. Make your gear choices on things like ergonomics, features you feel you need, and whether you like the way the camera works.
- It takes an open mind to break out of a platform-specific mindset. Get out of your comfort zone. Rent a Canon if you’re a Nikon shooter. Rent a wide-angle if all you use are telephoto lenses.
- Admit it when you find yourself falling into gear lust. Happens to me all the time. Acknowledge it, revel in it, then move on.
These are some of my basic “lessons learned” from this experiment. There are plenty of other lessons, of course (locking down the D800 on a hefty tripod and using mirror lock-up for the sharpest images is another one), but these are the more ruminative principles that sprang forth from this experiment.
In the end, I went with the system that worked better for me. That’s what the biggest takeaway should be from this series, and that is what should define the criteria for your own gear choices.