The camera that took the picture.
Quite often someone sees a photograph of mine and the comment that follows is some variation on; “Hey that is a great photo, what camera do you use?” Different photographers take this question differently, some take great offense, others are more pragmatic.
The reason some take offense is because this is the equivalent of asking Michelangelo what brush he used to paint the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling. The analogy is exaggerated, of course, for effect. Even the most unrealistic photographer would hardly be likely to equate his latest photo of a butterfly or rosebush with the Sistine Chapel. The Mona Lisa, maybe, Sunflowers, sure, Guernica, almost definitely. But comparisons with the Sistine Chapel, why that would just be absurd.
I don’t take offense at the question. I sigh a little, if only internally, but I don’t take offense. And I will let you in on a secret, the camera does matter, so the question isn’t entirely unfair. It is likely that a good photographer with a crappy camera can take a good picture, but given the exact same scene that same good photographer will have an easier time taking a good photograph, and may take a better photograph.
A camera cannot produce a good picture without a triggerman to direct its point of aim. So when someone unwittingly implies that it is the camera that is responsible for the good photograph that they are admiring, it can cause a degree of irritation even if unintended.
The point is, a camera is a tool. Some tools are better than others, but the bottom line is no one looks at a nice house and asks the carpenter what hammer he used. So if you see a nice photograph, do the photographer a favour, don’t ask her/him what hammer s/he used.
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