Fleas in the Lion's Mane | a Rant.


"Vous cherchez des puces dans la crinière du lion!” one of my french school teachers was wont to say when one of us would ask a pointless question, just to sound interesting; looking for fleas in the lion’s mane.

Someone pointed me to CNet’s review of the X100S this week. Thing is, I don’t really care about reviews unless they’re done by actual photographers, actually shooting with a camera and not spending two days looking at 500% blow ups of a brick wall or a cat’s whiskers. But the reason this review was mentioned was because of this tidbit: “f2 is close to unusable”.

Unusable. As in: cannot be used. Just forget about it.

When exactly did we become this stupid and anal? When did minute technical scrutiny take over image making and creativity? Is the lens tack sharp at f/2? Nope. Absolutely not. In fact to me it appears to exhibit the exact same softness as its predecessor. But here’s a thought: how about using this to… You know… Make images. Softness can be used as creatively as any other tool in our arsenal. People strap plastic lenses on DSLRs for Pete’s sake. You want dreamy? Go to f/2. You want sharp? f/2.8 and over. That macro shot at f/4 will get you the best of both worlds if you know how to emphasize the effect (hint: add a distant background in the frame). And if you want a great close-up shot of a bald eagle I suggest a telephoto lens — unless you only want to gripe about how useless that new 14mm lens can be.

But no… Let’s go with unusable and get a flame war going in the comments. Hot stuff.

I also stumbled upon a conversation regarding yet another image sharing service. It’s supposed to weed out “bad photography” based on certain algorithms, providing you with the very best stream possible. Ok. In the thread someone said something like “Just make sure I don’t get any images processed with VSCO!”… Yeah, and no Kodachrome or Fuji Velvia for me! Can’t stand those! Don’t care what the images are…

Sometimes I’m simply blown away. Who cares what we use? All that matters is the end result. Not the brand, not the software, not raw vs jpeg; just those final images. You can wreak havoc on a perfectly good picture with the contrast slider. And you can create something amazing with VSCO. Or vice versa.

Some people just seem to forget how incredible all these tools are. In the right hands everything is not only usable, but has a potential for the extraordinary. Stop looking at brick walls, stop making sweeping dogmatic dismissals of this or that based on nothing more than stubbornness or a closed mind. It’s all good if you’re willing to put in the effort.

Go be a photographer.

Shot with the X100S at f/2.