Sunday, May 26, 2013

Entry Level

When it comes to tools painters have always had a distinct advantage over all other forms of visual art. You need a flat piece of something and a marker of some kind and you are off to the races

The interior decorators of the Lascaux caves used charcoal, roots and a bit of soot and made perfectly brilliant art.

Even when folks had stopped living in caves and had to pay rent the painters among us had it okay, sure they had to skip a lunch or maybe two, but they could get their equipment and still keep a roof over their head. Okay so a five story walk-up garret in the seamier districts of Paris isn’t exactly luxury digs, but it is a roof over the head.

Then along come the photographic process and things start to get a little crazy.

Painters took up arms about the “dabblers” getting artsy with images they just reproduced from nature or captured in a cityscape. They had no real talent just some technical magic.

And in fairness the painters did have a little bit of a point, the early photographs owed much more to living better with chemistry than they ever did to aesthetic sensibility.

But as the process matured and cameras and film became better and more able, the Eye of the photographer became more important than the machinery he carried.

And it is still that way today; wonderful images can be made with any camera if the photographer has the right Eye.

And this boys and girls is a very good thing cause with digital photography now the only process in the game you’d better have a really good Eye cause you’ll never get your hands on top notch equipment. It has been priced out of the hands of ordinary folks.

You have to be Donald Trump or a working professional photographer to buy an “Entry level” digital SLR.

I never owned a Nikon film camera; I always thought they were over-hyped, over-rated and over-priced. They were always good cameras and they did make wonderful images, but you could do the same thing with a camera that wouldn’t equal the gross national product of Costa Rica!

Boy was I naive. Those old Nikons, somewhere around five hundred dollars for a body and maybe three or four hundred more for a lens were too expensive, but their digital cousins have made that look like a cut-rate bargain. I just read an article in Popular Photography about the new Nikon D7100. It is an “entry level” APS-C camera, that means it doesn’t take full-frame images, but uses a small sensor to produce images that are a few pixels smaller and who could tell the difference once they are processed, homogenized and blenmderized through the latest Photoshop, (which costs almost as much as the Volkswagen you went off to college in), so what’s a pixel or two one way or the other?

Okay, let’s talk, to call a camera which does not offer full-frame images and costs one thousand, one hundred, and ninety-five dollars without a lens or fifteen hundred and ninety-five dollars if you want to actually take pictures when you pay your bucks an entry level camera is like saying the stealth bomber is an entry level aircraft which should be available to every citizen, whether they have a pilot’s license or not!

Can you afford that sort of thing cause I can tell you right now I couldn’t and that was before I became an indentured servant to the nice medical folks at Virginia Mason where they drilled a hole through my innards and charged me a ton and a half for the privilege of having a scope run down my gullet and getting drains put in various places where you’d just as soon not know there are places and then I have to travel back every three weeks to check those drains cause there is a very good chance they’ll get stopped up, back up the whole plumbing arrangement, get infected and cause me to bloat up like a puff-adder and have to be Careflighted back to Washington for a redo on the plumbing job and for this painful and expensive job they will carve a gigantic hole in my 401k and tell me it is all in my best interests and this is cheaper than an entry level camera which doesn’t even use a full-frame sensor.

How did we manage to make taking pictures either the app on our phones or a job for the few, the rich, the elite?

This to put it in a word sucks! Yes that was rude and juvenile and lacking in the barest bit of social niceties and not at all the sort of couthie thing a grown up person should be saying, but it ticks me off, cause I don’t think taking a descent picture should be limited to Ipricks or industrial equipment which only those with trust funds can afford.

How the heck did this happen? I used to think Nikons were overpriced, overrated and over-hyped and that was when they could be had for half a thousand bucks. And don’t even get me started on Canons! Now they cost what a mid-sized sedan did in the Sixties and they don’t even come with four doors.

Yes, I do know times have changed and this is a new century and everything costs more and gas is four bucks a gallon and there isn’t a thing I can do about the price-fixing of OPEC, but darnit all there is something I can do about cameras which cost as much as a root canal!

Don’t buy’em. Buy a used camera that is three or four generations behind the curve, but still has so many features Buck Rogers would be confused and he’s from the twenty-fifth century!

Make Canon and Nikon and Sony realize that there are a bunch of folks who use their products to make art and still have to pay the rent, feed the family, slave for doctor’s bills and entry level cannot start at fifteen hundred dollars!

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