Photographers Anonymous – Why I hate camera forums!

I just wanted to say thanks and tell you how much I hate you all. It may seem harsh, but as a member of Photographers Anonymous (PA), life isn’t easy dealing with this addiction every day…every Tuesday night we meet up, talk about our problems with photography purchases. Once in a while, a person slips up and they show up with a new body or lens, but we support them, we don’t judge, that’s what we do because we’re a family in it together.

But this isn’t about them, this is about me. This is about my problem…

I recently nearly spent a small fortune on new photography gear. This is largely as a result of the members here. Yes, I know, it’s easy to blame it on me, it’s my credit card, but it’s your fault and it’s time for you to take responsibility for your actions.

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All attempts to get support from the members on the local Fuji group in not buying the gear were useless. My first attempt occurred when I asked members whether I should buy the GFX, X100F or an X-T20 as a second body. Instead of responsible replies like ”don’t do it/you’ll hate yourself/think of the children/what would Michael Jackson do/that’s stupid when there is a new tax coming from the government”, I received responses of encouragement like “they’re awesome, you’ll love them! buy that! buy both! buy more! buy everything in the store!”. What I want you to ask yourself is if a friend came to you and said “Do you think I should buy cocaine or heroin”, would you really reply “They’re both awesome, get both!”?

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But as I was a responsible member of photographer anonymous, I contacted my PA Big Brother (he has a platinum badge because he hasn’t bought any photography gear in 2 years), I managed to gain enough emotional support to refrain from any further purchases. I did have a little slip up a couple of weeks later where I accidentally walked into a photography store thinking it was a hair salon and bought a 60mm Macro. With names of photography stores like Michael’s, B&H, Borge’s, Van Bar and Ted’s, it was an honest mistake. I walked in there expecting a new haircut and suddenly I have a whole lot of cameras and lenses in front of me. I didn’t even have time to cut up my credit card. I think these guys should be a little more honest about what they are doing instead of trying to fool customers into walking into the stores. Names like Camera Pro, “Cameras are us” or Camera Shop seem far more appropriate and less misleading. Fortunately, I had my PA big brother on speed dial as the credit card transaction was going through and he managed to talk me out of the store before any further damage was done but it was still a lens too late. At that point, I was doing well. I was headed towards a major milestone where I could proudly proclaim “Hi, I’m Athol and it’s been 1 month since my last photography purchase” but that’s the problem with life…just as you think things are going well, mother nature has a nasty habit of throwing you a curve ball.

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I was casually browsing the recent posts section on the local forum; despite the recommendations of my PA big brother; but I thought I was strong enough to control the urge at this point. Then it happened. A post about the new GFX camera. It’s just a post I thought, it’s not even available yet so I can handle this. But it was followed shortly by comments about how nice the Camera would be and before I knew it I was googling “Fuji GFX” and clicking the “pre-order”on an online shopping site. I didn’t have a 50MP camera body and if this camera was that good, it may be able to produce more winning photos for me, maybe even a Pulitzer. Yes, those evil competition wins that elude us so often were finally within reach by simply clicking that “Check Out” button. I had the talent, but not the GFX. I thought I didn’t have to worry about the GFX because it hadn’t come out, but there it was…the pre-order button. Who lets you pre-order something that isn’t actually available? That’s like selling air. Is it my fault for typing GFX into the search box on their site?

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From there it became a click frenzy. I was like a shark from Nemo with the smell of blood in the water, clicking wildly at everything that popped up on my screen. These camera places are incredibly sneaky. In the GFX pre-order screen, a popup appeared saying “people who ordered this also ordered a Fujinon GF63mmF2.8” and a whole heap of other things I didn’t have, and if they were buying those, they must be the ones winning the comps so I had to buy them. It couldn’t be an addiction if other people were doing it could it? Finally, I was at the checkout screen and things had taken a turn for the worst with mounting numbers that were getting higher and higher. I knew I needed help so I tried to phone my Photographers Anonymous Big Brother but he wasn’t answering (I later learnt he was also out pre-ordering a GFX as well). I went back to the forum for moral support hoping someone would tell me “You’re being an idiot”. Instead, the first post I saw is how was another post about how awesome the GFX was. I clicked on it searching for the answer, hoping for someone to say that the GFX had been discontinued and Fuji was no longer offering any new camera bodies for sale for the next 10 years but there was no such luck. All of the posts were positive about the GFX and the members even said I could sell my old camera because the GFX was so good I wouldn’t want it anymore. I was originally planning to keep it so in reality, they were saving me money. I was actually making a profit out of this, not losing money.

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Then just as I was getting ready to put in my credit card details, I realised things had gone too far. Sanity needed to prevail. I was about to do a bad thing that I would regret for at least 2 days while waiting for the goods to arrive.

I called my wife and she managed to talk me down. We talked for a while, we phoned friends for support, it took nearly an hour of negotiating, but we got there slowly. We both cried.

This is my story, hopefully you can learn from it so you don’t make the same mistakes. Maybe some of you can learn to accept that this is a real problem and you have to be careful about what you say to people on the forum. Giving photography gear advice shouldn’t be taken lightly.

And if you do make the same mistakes as me, I can highly recommend a ThinkTank bag to put the mistakes in.

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Sorry Nikon, this is where you lost me…

I’m going to be honest and say I wasn’t an unhappy Nikon user. My D750 was great, the lenses were great, and the system was great. But I wanted a second body and I wanted that body to be mirrorless. I would have been great to have a mirrorless body coming from the same system as my DSLR but after waiting and hoping for Photokina, that didn’t happen, so I had to question how important DSLR or full frame was for me. The more I compared, the more I really that there was no longer a loss of performance moving to mirrorless, at least not for what I was doing.

I always said that when mirrorless offered a viable alternative, I’d consider switching. Sadly for Nikon, mirrorless now offers a viable alternative, but Nikon isn’t close. To put it into perspective, the race started 5 minutes ago, and the problem isn’t that Nikon started late, they’re still in bed sleeping.

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Their last announcement at Photokina was more than just a little disappointing, and I wasn’t the only one. I don’t think I saw many positive comments at all. For those who missed it, Nikon seemed to indicate they might consider, thinking about contemplating, potentially, maybe looking at mirrorless and they would continue to monitor it. Gee, thanks. I’m glad you’re monitoring it, but if I’m going to continue to invest in a system, I want to know they are doing more than just watching this space. I can watch this space and I don’t even manufacture camera’s.

So where did Nikon go wrong? Well, for starters, if your customers are waiting for you to produce a mirrorless, and we know there are a lot of them out there waiting for this, if you are actually developing a mirrorless, you may want to mention it. I know what you’re thinking…maybe they wanted to keep it quiet so the market doesn’t know what theyre doing for competitive reasons. No, 10 years ago if Nikon was doing it, it might have been a secret. Now the market actually thinks you an idiot if you’re not doing it. And if you’re doing it and not mentioning it, they think your marketing department are idiots.

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In the last 12 months, I’ve seen 5 Nikon amateurs/enthusiasts switch to mirrorless. They probably would have stuck with Nikon if they knew there was a mirrorless coming. Sure, we’re not professional sports photographers bu we’re not spending small sums of money either. We may not be buying 400 f/2.8’s but we are buying D810’s, D750’s and pro glass like 24-70’s, 70-200’s and 14-24’s. To put that into perspective, when these photographers go out and buy into another brand, they’re spending $5,000 – $10,000 to start with along with a another $5,000 – $10,000 over the next year or two. Maybe that’s not much to Nikon, but it should be, because when enough people start doing that, the numbers and up. This is the next generation of photographers that influence the youth who are buying and right now, we’re telling them not to buy into Nikon and Canon, because mirrorless is where the future is at, and Nikon and Canon aren’t the future.

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The reality is that Nikon should have been developing mirrorless a long time ago, they should have been there first. Journalists have been saying this for ages. The average mirrorless user at the moment doesn’t want the Nikon 1. They want something which is DX or FX with good glass, and while you may have the FX glass covered, you haven’t produced a decent set of glass specifically for DX in ages. In conjunction to this, you’re still missing a big piece of the puzzle…a decent mirrorless camera. Remember Nokia? That’s where you are going to be headed at a rapid rate of you don’t do something soon.

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In Short, Nikon, if your mirrorless project exists and marketing team is telling you to keep your mythical project secret, fire them, because you’ve probably lost a lot of business as a result of them. And if you aren’t developing a DX or FX mirrorless camera yet, fire your strategy team as well. They may have got you this far, but they’re out of their depth right now.

So where to for me? I sold my gear, at least Nikon still carries its resale value. Then I went out and got myself an XT-2, 16-55 f/2.8, 50-140 f/2.8, 23 f/2, 35 f/2, 90 f/2 and I’m pretty happy with the outcome.