The outside world tends to think of the photography world as a bit of a meek and mild cocoon, and probably perceive our arguments to be like a low-rent debate – news in brief, at best.
But it’s not the case.
As anyone who has ever read the comment section of a review will attest, when things get going the docile nature of the artist is overridden by the passionate side of the artist, and that moves conversation away from civility and up to a place past Tamil’s Tiger, along the Shining Path, and beyond Hamas. And it is, perhaps, never as on display as when speaking about ‘value’.
When most photographers (and I use the term in the loosest of fashion to include those who simply just have affection for the arena) get on the topic of comparing cameras, it appears ’value’ is the fulcrum of the argument; the fallback point when ‘speeds and feeds’ comparisons have exhausted. The recent Leica M10 scores from DxO Mark are a good example to use.
There was much brouhaha lately when DxO released their findings and ranking for the Leica M10, and probably because we’ve become accustomed to DxO scores that seem to be in one-upmanship with the each other, each score being some manner of record – and the M10’s wasn’t.
It scored an 86, and that seems a strange thing to grab a headline but it did anyway, and due to how it was covered it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that it was, perhaps, a jab at Leica’s price point, and that was only supported in the commentary. But why?
Taking a jab at Leica’s price point is easy, if you’re the kind to go after low-hanging fruit; one to reach for the top of the platitudinal grab bag, or perhaps think it good sport shooting fish in a barrel. Those of that persuasion immediately feel the need to list all the other combinations one could buy for the same money, and then go on to list all the ways in which they’re technically superior with longer feature lists.
They’ll say, simply, it’s too expensive.
To which I would say, they’re wrong. Asserting that the M10 is too expensive is like asserting that, at $800 million the Mona Lisa is too expensive. Or, arguing that there’s no point spending your lottery winnings on the original Van Gogh ’Sunflowers’ when you can buy a life-sized print in the Louvre gift shop for $20, which sits right next to the Mona Lisa keychain for $5. Or that there’s no point buying a Rolls Royce Wraith when a civic gets the job done and has better MPG.
See how ridiculous that sounds?
Not all cameras are about straight-line utility, and are more about how they make you feel, and the process, and build, craftsmanship, heritage, and numerous other things hard to quantify. Arguing otherwise is a facile endeavor.
But because you are a learned and sagacious specimen who understands value is derived from more than just utility, and who embraces the fact that not every-thing is for every-one, you’ll no doubt arrive at the conclusion that the M10’s score of 86 isn’t a blemish on an otherwise beautiful apple.
Incidentally, I didn’t hear people crying when the touted Canon 5dSR scored the same… ;-).