With me playing with film and large format again, it got me thinking about the emotional worth we invest in our tools. This can cut both ways - believing that without a certain set of tools, we are unable to make great photographs, or blaming our tools for the quality of work we do. Am I retrying large format film to achieve a quality not possible with digital? I don't think so, other than possibly being able to make bigger prints. Am I more efficient? Hardly! Is a ground glass really all that much better than a 3 inch LCD? You must be joking? Could it be that I simply like messing with view cameras, that the process is as important as the result? Absolutely?
But here's the rub. Does the equipment have an impact on our creativity? Might well be. If I spend 4 hours taking a dozen pictures, which I could have done in 20 minutes with a digital camera are the individual images made better? Probably not. But what about all that extra time absorbing the scene - noticing the light, checking the composition especially carefully before wasting film? Don't know.
Who has not at some time seen an amazing photograph in a newspaper. Given the tonalities of newsprint (ain't got none), and resolution of the 5 pixels per inch line screen (just exaggerating here), just about any damn camera could have taken the image and it would still be recognizable as a great photograph.
Is someone who likes messing with cameras just a hobbyist by definition? Does caring about your tools prevent you from being or being considered as a serious photographer?
We do need to be comfortable with our tools - it's hard to be creative when you are cursing your camera. The right tool doesn't have to be the best tool, or the fanciest, or the most expensive. It doesn't need to be the fastest (and might even benefit from being slower). Wonderful images have been made with rickety old cameras mounting horrible lenses and exposing low quality film (or cheap point and shoot digitals. It helps if the person using said camera isn't letting dreams of better tools get in the way of making the best use of the tool that's in front of them.