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Now that Allan and myself have both upgraded our cameras, I found myself wondering about the strange incremental changes that improving such equipment makes in your own perceptions. …

I went from a slow and soft standard zoom to a faster and sharper lens, and, yes, I can see the difference. But not all – not many in fact – of my new pictures are masterpieces of clarity (which just goes to show that holding the camera steady is the most important component of a sharp picture). Neither are some of my older pictures that much blurrier either. The change is real, but it is not profound.

This is always the way with high end equipment in my experience, particularly camera and hi-fi equipment. You pay a lot more for a small increase in quality. Now, you feel assured that this small increase places you in a category beyond that possibly achievable with the low-end equipment, and indeed this is so. But does that necessarily translate into a better experience?

The answer is no. The reason is clear to me. Any act – such as taking a photograph or listening to music – is dependent on so much more than the equipment involved. The setting, events occuring at the time, your mood and emotional involvement – all these play more of a role than any focus on the technology involved.

This is why I have very little patience for the technology-centered crowd who will passionately argue the worth of one piece of equipment vs. another and yet seem to completely ignore these other factors. It does seem to be a male thing; perhaps some men are less able to recognize the emotional component of what they do, or at least be able to articulate that aspect.

I know that I hold some photographs taken on the most primitive equipment or an experience of music heard on the tinniest of reproducers in higher regard than most of what I have done or heard on much better equipment. So why even bother upgrading? Partly because it does appeal to the 'new toy' aspect of my personality, partly because it involves learning new skills, and partly because it does reveal details that were hidden before. These are not negligible pleasures. But they are no guarantee of transcendence! 🙂

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