Posts Tagged ‘manual’

Divine Right

24 January 2010

Dear J-

I’ve been reading a lot about cars and cameras lately, not that I’m in the market for either, but it’s something to hone research skills on; when you start re-hashing the same old articles, though, that’s when you know you’ve passed beyond mere research into obsessive stat-wanking and obnoxious hair-splitting concerns. One of the common arguments that pops up in both areas is the missing-feature screed: well, the [thing] would be perfect if only it had [this]. For different people it’s different things, of course, until you get them all herded up in the same direction and moving as some anti-Frankenstein’s Monster mob toward the same goal.

One of the websites I frequent in fact, The Truth About Cars, has the common thread of how every car could be made perfect (for that readership, at least) if it was diesel-powered, light, sporty, standard shift, and had a hatchback of some sort; never mind that those are precisely the features that fail to move cars off lots. Like some sort of quixotic quest, the comment threads are filled with gearheads rubbing their hands with anticipation and glee: it’s free to write “I’d buy that in an instant” and another thing else entirely when the money comes out on the table. Likewise with lenses, everyone in the Olympus camp is looking for (or so they would have you believe) an affordable 300 or 400mm lens because although you can get there with a teleconverter in the existing lineup, they want to be able to slap that converter on to those base lenses. Never mind that no one can articulate precisely why they need one of those (one sample photo — woman in a bikini — I think comes closer to the truth than we dare admit), but how dare the company lose business by not offering something like that, right? Funny, though, a lens just like that (the Sigma 135~400 was on sale for a few years and never got much traction; there’s lots of excuses not to buy when the time comes around which is why I’m sure the companies think we’re all crying wolf for a particular product that history’s shown doesn’t move.

Everyone knows I have no particular love for companies, knowing them to be amoral super-citizens lusting strictly after money; on the other hand, their nature (business is in business for the business of making money) makes them easily predictable; the legions of folks howling for one thing or another has found a sort of echo chamber on the Internet, where it’s easy to find like-minded niche thinkers (like how Thom Hogan would be pleased to find Papa Nikon dropping a black & white-only digital body with manual controls into his stocking year after year; considering they’d sell maybe a thousand of them in total, I’m not holding my breath) making it seem like the numbers must be for you. It does take courage to think up new products, but I can’t help but hear whines of entitlement lately.