I used to use Myspace, a digital age ago now, and I used to visit the photography forums quite often. There were three debates that most posts would always come down to; Nikon vs. Canon, Film vs. Digital and Color vs. Black and White. To read these posts and arguments with some flaming by trolls, I really think put people off posting images. The film guys would jump on a digital image converted to black and white, while at the same time bashing digital for not being pure photography. Alliances were always made though, between film and digital users, when it came to their Nikon and Canon camps. The Color vs. black and white was less commonly seen yet you would always find one stating how Black and White photography was a real art form. After maybe six months visiting the forums I got bored of the constant bickering of posters and commenters along with the lack of moderation and walked away.
Really the arguments become pointless. At the time digital photography was still a new medium for many and film was the way most were used to using. Try and start the argument now and it would fall on its face. Digital is the more used photographic medium, yet film has a strong group of users who have bound together experimenting with it. Many photographers I know revisit film for a change of work flow and a change in medium can help feed their creativity.
Black and white vs. color really now has become an aesthetic choice. Although I would always argue that there is a different mentality when taking a picture in black and white as you are composing a scene with different elements in mind. When composing an image in color, I look for colors that complement each other in a scene as well as contrast between colors, all to force the focus of the scene to a particular point. With a black and white image, it is more about textures and contrast between them as well as the contrast between light and dark. I try to use the ideas of the zone system and having an array of tones from pure black to pure white. In the past the argument was over the purity of the photographic medium. This argument has more or less died as purity is more about how you edit than the way you shoot.
Nikon vs. Canon is still a thing. For the life of me I don’t understand why, it is similar to that of the IPhone vs. Samsung. Unlike a phone where you don’t really have to buy into a brand, in photography you do. When you choose your camera system you will be using this system for a long time maybe over several cameras, because you will be buying accessories for their brand that more than likely are not compatible with other brands. People I believe argue that one brand is better than another to reinforce to themselves that they made a good decision. Of course there are differences between cameras and some are definitely advantages whereas others are more negative. If I was asked, why do I shoot Canon? The answer would be that, when choosing my first digital camera I didn’t like the feel of the Nikon cameras and the menu layout and options.
Although I still don’t tend to enter forums that often I am sure that the Nikon vs. Canon debate is still raging strong, add to the mix Micro Four Thirds vs. DSLR and even motography (mobile or smartphone photography)not being real photography are debated strongly.
While surrounded by all these faux arguments is one thing that is being missed. What does it matter? If an image is good then it is good. One of things I like about photography is that there are so many cameras that can be advantageous in certain situations compared to others. For example a full frame DSLR with a sensor that can handle low light situations would be better for a concert than a smartphone. Micro Four Thirds would be a good choice if you are travelling due to its weight and size as well as the ability to change lens compared to a medium format digital format camera.
It shouldn’t really matter so much how a photo is taken, of course there are always interesting ways to take a photo and it is those that seem to rise to the top, for example the pin hole camera van. But if the final image is rubbish then who cares, it is just a foggy out of focus image. Photography comes down to in the end to the image, emphasized in my favorite quote, “The image is everything”. If in your mind a subpar camera or technique produced the image shouldn’t the conversation be about how the image was created and instead of petty flame wars in comment sections and forums.
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