It’s remarkable how much this strange hobby / profession of photography is dominated by equipment when in theory it should be about creativity. Such a huge amount of time and energy spent obsessing about rumours of new gear, arguing about it when it is released, buying it (on credit), discarding it soon after for the next new thing, and yet the actual impact on the presumed end result - photographs - is actually minor if not zero. That new Wonderblitz X-Pro-1000 Titanium with its 30 Megapixels will show AWESOME sharpness and DOF at pixel level… but actually, nobody cares except the owner. Not even even other photographers, less they feel insecure with their 29 Mpix X-Pro-999. And for everybody else who might be persuaded to look, well it’s still a pretty dull photo of a cat. The whole subculture just seems to be an extended, extreme form of retail therapy. And therapy of some kind seems to be desperately needed by the denizens of the rumour site, 43rumors.com, which just leaked photos of the long promised miracle machine from Olympus which will merge the (big, heavy) four thirds system with the (small, light, but a bit limited) micro four thirds system. The comments on those posts could provide material for at least several psychology PhDs.
Which is a very long-winded way of getting to the point of what is, in fact a post about gear. It’s really a pity that this partial information has been leaked, devoid of any context or presentation from Olympus. The camera looks quite interesting, although the design seems crippled by a brief to make it look “retro”. I guess retro sells, but I’m not convinced it is a good idea in this case. This rumoured OM-D E-M1 looks too big for micro four thirds lenses, and too small for four thirds lenses. All in all it looks like what the French describe as a “usine a gaz” - a gasworks. A bunch of components loosely held together with knobs and dials seemingly at random all over the place. The silky smooth, mould-breaking ergonomics of Olympus’ fabulous E-1 are a distant memory these days. But anyway, it still deserves to be presented as the manufacturer intended, not by some sleazy rumour mongerer, out to snare clicks on his adverts.
But these days I’m only really tempted by gear that can help me make photography significantly better or easier. By better I mean that it opens up opportunities, not that it provides 2 squillion megapixels on the head of a pin, and AWESOME IQ at ISO 3245643000. One of the key features of my Olympus E-5 is the rugged, fully orientable swivel screen, which lets me make otherwise near-impossible compositions. The new camera, apparently, loses that feature. Of course it adds all sorts of check-list features, like HD video - which, c’mon, NOBODY really uses, and other fluff.
More and more I’m finding that new gear releases just make me value what I already own more. And that photographers who I actually admire would be bored to tears, or just baffled, by this post.