As is often the case here on 35hunter, the conversation around a post on one topic soon sprang off into other related areas, and gave me an idea for a future post.
Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how some of us seem to view cameras as tools, whereas others see them as toys.
In the tools camp, perhaps there is less of an interest in the spec of the camera, and little emotional connection with it. Instead, it’s just a tool to do a job.
But more than that, a particular camera is chosen and used because it’s the best tool for a specific job, ie to make a certain type of photograph, in certain conditions.
To use a more generic tool analogy, if you have a 10mm bolt to undo, you just need a 10mm spanner.
You don’t need seven 10mm spanners that perform the same task, just one quality one that will help you do it with the minimum of fuss.
By a similar token, as well as not needing seven other very similar spanners, in this particular scenario, a screwdriver or a hammer is next to useless.
So once you decide on a specific job, or required outcome, it becomes pretty straightforward to choose one camera that’s the best tool for the job – especially if your photography fills a fairly consistent and narrow niche anyway.
Those who see cameras as toys however have a rather different outlook.
In some ways it’s the tool approach flipped completely on its head.
Instead of “I want to make this particular image, so which camera is the best tool for the job?”, the thinking is more “I fancy using this particular camera today, to see what it can do (or what we can do together)”.
Camera choice comes before photograph, rather than photograph choice dictating the camera.
Also, perhaps there’s more of an attachment to the camera, it’s more like a friend or comrade in your photographic adventures, rather than just an inanimate tool.
The more general toy analogy might be a child who likes more than one Barbie doll or Action Man.
Some days they might want to play with the blonde Barbie in the swimsuit, other days they might want to play with the red haired Barbie in the astronaut outfit.
Another day a child might feel like getting out the firefighter Action Man with the blonde crop. The next day – or indeed later that day – they might fancy playing with the dark haired water ski Action Man.
The end game – and the overall act and enjoyment of playing – is much the same, regardless of the specific toy.
As long as it’s a toy they enjoy playing with.
It’s just that having only one Barbie or Action Man might limit the scope of possible games and the range of play.
However, on the down side, the child with 27 (or even seven) Barbie or Action Man dolls might end up playing with none of them because they can’t ever choose which one to play with, and are always looking for the next new one.
Regular readers might guess I’m more of toy guy than a tool guy.
I have reduced my once slightly out of hand selection of dozens of cameras down to single figures, but I still enjoy a range of different cameras to play and experiment with.
The only way I can see me leaning more towards become more of a tool kind of photographer, is by having one of each type of camera.
So perhaps one DSLR, one mirrorless, one compact etc. So there’s no duplication within each type, but across the different types there’s enough variety to not overlap by much.
Then if I wanted to use a DSLR, I would grab my one DSLR, not then have to choose between seven. And so on.
How about you? Do you see your cameras more as tools or toys? And what are the upsides and downsides of your approach?
Please let us know in the comments below (and don’t forget to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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