Some thoughts on Gear.
And no, I don't mean 'gear' as is pot if you're in London, I 'gear' as in all of the large and small widgets we all have in order to take the pictures we want. Anyone who's been taking pictures for more than a couple years has tons of stuff laying around that at the time they thought would be indispensable. And maybe at the time, it was.
Camera bags are like that. You're always looking for the ONE bag that'll do everything you want. Trust me, it really doesn't exist. I've got 4 or 5 bags in my closet that could hold my camera and a couple lenses and related junk for a short trip. In late 2006 my blue Tamrac shoulder bag I've had since the trip with my dad in 2004 started ripping and having holes in it. So in an attempt to get something that would last me, I bought a tan Crumpler shoulder bag which I used for about 9 months of the 365 portraits project. So if you met me out and about to shoot, that was the bag I was probably using. And I really like that bag, in fact I've become a big fan of Crumpler stuff despite their high prices, but my lower back has been bothering me, so in the late fall of last year I went and got a small Crumpler backpack. Thomas Hawk, who I met and shot in SF turned me on to the carry around backpack idea. And so far that has both helped my back and served me well on trips across the country and across the pond. Is it the perfect bag? For now. ;-)
My father used to say the old adage, 'buy the best, you'll never be sorry'. Which is ironic because my father used to buy generic sneakers from K-mart, but that's another story. And it seems that in any particular product segment there are the 'safe' choices. In cars, you can't go wrong with a Honda for example. Well in remote triggers (a widget that goes on your camera that wirelessly tells your flash to fire when you press the shutter), the Honda are called Pocket Wizards. Now, you can buy cheaper remote triggers (I own a set), but everyone seems to swear by these. Well the crappy plastic ones I had finally failed on me a few days ago so I went to B&H this afternoon and I bought a couple of the low-end Pocket Wizards (the high-end ones look like they are used to control NORAD, so I thought that was overkill for me). And I'll admit that in playing with them for 5 minutes, they work great.
The thing is, do they really need to cost $180 each? I mean, they don't seem to be built that much better than a couple of walkie-talkies from Radio Shack. In fact, that's what they resemble.
Here's one now. Not exactly Buck Rogers technology huh? Actually, maybe that's exactly what it looks like..
Then again, who cares what it looks like as long as it works. I whole-heartedly agree.. And it's a relatively niche market they're selling to, and I hear they last a long time. The thing is, getting back to my earlier question, do they really cost that much to make? And if not, why hasn't some other company come in and sold a good solid pair for $150 and steal all their marketshare? Maybe that's an idea for someone.
There are plenty of crazy things like that in the photo world. I can understand a lens costing $1000. There may be 15 pieces of glass inside the thing that all have to move in relation to each other and stay in alignment while doing it. That I understand. But then I see something like this while shopping for a $30 umbrella. Yes, that's a $4000 reflector. And while I'm sure it's nice and I'm sure it's the best one you can buy and I'm sure it's built like a tank and all that. Come ON! $4000 for a reflecting umbrella? Ohhh.. it's 'parabolic', as if they just cracked the mathematics required to converge light on a single point. Come on. Maybe if you're making half a million a year you don't care, but I just think some stuff is expensive just to be expensive.
Then again, this is all coming from a guy who owns $4000 speakers, so maybe I should shut up before someone writes and essay about ME!