It’s Time for Cameras To Become a Lifestyle Accessory

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Zeiss Milvus 50mm f2 Macro product images (7 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.0

In the year 2016, society and technology have made photography so incredibly simple and so incredibly good that really anyone can do it as long as they have a creative vision. A while, I wrote about how no one is making a bad camera anymore, and to be honest that applies to more than just dedicated traditional cameras. It also goes to point and shoots, phones, etc. Being a photographer doesn’t mean that you need a million lenses, lights, and high tech fancy gear anymore; it just means that you need a creative vision.

Photography has changed so much and the general public, who used to need dedicated cameras don’t really need them anymore. They’re quite happy with filters and effects that can be done with their phone and an app. Many don’t understand the value of pixel peeping and many don’t care about being able to shoot at an ISO over a million. Instead, what they indeed care about is creating meaningful images to them and to their social media followers.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Sony 28-70mm f3.5-5.6 product images (5 of 6)ISO 1001-180 sec at f - 4.0

With all of this said, the dedicated camera, like the watch, has become an item of luxury. Why wear a watch when you’ve got a phone that tells the time? Of course, don’t tell that to a watch snob; and surely don’t tell that to a camera snob–but it’s nothing more than just the truth. The general public and mass consumers care much more about the images that they can create than the device or tools that they’re using. They understand that they can do great things with a suped up dedicated camera with lots of megapixels, a sweet zoom lens, etc. But they’re satisfied with what they have just like folks back in the film days were. Years ago, people used to buy one camera and they’d keep it for years and be happy with them. These days, dedicated photographers upgrade every couple of years. Typical consumers upgrade their phones every couple of years too–and they love the cameras that come with them.

The camera as a luxury item should honestly be marketed as such: you don’t need a crazy DSLR or 42 megapixels, or a selection of more lenses than you’ll ever know what to do with. Again, you don’t NEED them; but you can want them.

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Samyang 50mm f1.2 product images (5 of 7)ISO 4001-125 sec at f - 2.8

Photographers don’t NEED a Leica to get the photos that the likes of Bresson created, but lots aspire to get them.

Cameras are a lifestyle product: some sit there and pixel peep until their eyes bleed and some just lust over creating images. The two sides never quite see eye to eye–one side is seen as antiquated while the other is branded as part of hipster culture amongst the people who talk about these back and forth. But no matter what side you’re on, photography is something that is very personal and important to all of us. How it’s done is also quite important and personal to us. To that end, the dedicated camera needs to find a way to survive.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not at all saying that photography is dead. In fact, I’m saying quite the opposite. Photography is more alive than it’s ever been with millions of images being taken and uploaded to the web each day. But instead, the camera is evolving; and it won’t be too much longer before it’s a dedicated lifestyle item meant for those that want to genuinely just create art.

  • bobw-66554432
    Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

    On a typical day I haul a backpack full of gear with me to work. several reasons, but the result has been that today, when I didn’t have all the gear to tote around I felt have naked and completely out of my element. So, for me it is a “lifestyle accessory”, but I’m not sure to what end other than exercise. I almost never get a chance to shoot anything, always seem to be in too much of a rush.

    However, I know that its always there when I need it…

  • Bruce Harding
    Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

    I think that’s true only for some cameras.

  • josh
    Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

    You know what I want? Not more megapixels and fluff.
    What I want is cameras that feel better, look better, sound better, are more solidly built. Made to last. Good to touch. More inspiring. Beautiful things in and of themselves.
    That’s what I want.
    And it seems unreasonable to me that one is expected to pay Leica SL (for example) prices to get such things.
    I’d be happy with the 5 axis sensor from the A7II , a great EVF, all video and superfluous stuff removed, and built like a 1960’s Mercedes.

    • Koczk
      Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

      I agree entirely. On that note, I recently purchased a Fuji x30 as a walking around, daily and travel camera. I cannot recommend it highly enough as an example of great design, solid build quality, and inspiring aesthetics. It may not be exactly what you are looking for in outright performance when you mention something like the A7II, but you may find the Fuji system to be worth exploring – a fuji x100t may be of interest if you are comfortable with an integrated prime.

    • vparikh
      Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

      I agree. I wish Nikon would just take the FM3a, and show a digital sensor in there. And the film advance lever would give you enough charge to take 1 image and store it to SD card.

      No auto focus, no screen, and the same optical viewfinder. No charging, supremely durable and would last pretty much for ever.

      I’d pay $5K for something like that.

      • ritmatt
        Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

        How about the Leica M-A?

        I like the idea of the film advance lever for a single-shot charge. Interesting concept!

        • vparikh
          Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

          The Leica M-A would be great, but as it being a range finder, it is limited to primes and really optimized for the 35-50-90 focal lengths. Hard to use any real telephoto. And what about Macro? I know Leica has the view finder now so in theory these are do-able but really, its a pain to use the back digital screen to compose and shoot. With the Nikon Fm3a digital concept, you have access to all those Nikor lens from the vast history of Nikon.

          Sooner or later – someone is going to do this – and I can’t wait. No charging, no chimping – a return to pure photography. Actually when Nikon was advertising the Nikon DF, I was really, really hoping they would do something like this. But alas, no luck 🙁

  • Ian Lindo
    Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

    “The general public and mass consumers care much more about the images that they can create than the device or tools that they’re using.”

    This is the one statement I overwhelmingly disagree with. Consumers care a *lot* about the phone they’re using to take pictures, and the whole iPhone/iOS vs. Samsung/LG/HTC/Android etc. is possibly an ever greater flamewar than Canon vs. Nikon or film vs. digital.

  • jds
    Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

    Because when I sell a 35″ fine art print for $600, my client doesn’t want iPhone quality, and my director wouldn’t touch it anyway. Stupid article. Oh, and I do copy work for painters who want to offer prints to their clients who can’t afford a five figure painting. These usually demand precision detail, and when photographing paintings four or five feet in size, they typically want the option of printing that large while retaining similar detail to the original piece when viewed up close. Again, stupid article.

    • KD
      Unknown Unknown Unknown Unknown

      I find your post overly harsh since I agree with both of you. It’s like writing a book or writing a twitter post, everybody can write. Decades ago photography was more art than lifestyle. Today it is more difficult to find art in photography and the unique. There is not much to gain from the technical side but a lot to create on the content side. And maybe out of topic, on the tech side I wish we would get modern analog cameras to put all these fantastic modern lenses on it to exploit film at its maximum, this smooth sharpness and unique colors of eg. Kodak portra. This could create a new genre.