The psychology of equipment

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by JDP, Apr 26, 2007.

  1. JDP

    JDP TPF Noob!

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    Am I the only one that feels they take better pictures when they have better gear not because the gear is superior to other gear, but because it gives them more confidence?

    Take lenses, I have the Nikkor 50mm 1.8. Great lens, for sure. But I consistently take better photos when I'm using a heavier piece of glass, such as the 17-55mm f/2.8. I'm not sure if it's just that I've *used* that particular lens a lot more, but I think that when I have it, it feels more right to me.

    Just something I was mulling about in my head. Just like I feel I take better pictures when I'm in a crowd then not. I have a thing against crowds, I hate them. They make me uneasy. With the camera in my hands, I have to focus on what I'm doing, and take 'slices' of the scene in - so because I concentrate and pay more attention in a crowd, my shots tend to come out more refined.

    I don't know, just some random thoughts from me.
     
  2. MPowerM3

    MPowerM3 TPF Noob!

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    I can appreciate that. But I feel I take better pictures when I am one with the subject I am taking pictures of (my Zen if you will). I was given the chance to drive and photograph a Mercedes Benz CL 500 and just couldnt find my Zen, wasnt comfortable with the angles of the car (its a boat). But my old M3, and my neighbors Porshces, even dads Jag (I have a thing going with cars) I find I can shoot better cause Im in the zone if you what I mean.

    But I do not feel as comfortable with my 50mm then my walk around 17-85 IS.
     
  3. RMThompson

    RMThompson the TPF moderators rock my world!

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    Hmm I think we all have our "place" where they feel the most comfortable. For me, its with a tripod and a model, and nothing else. No people watching, no one interrupting us, just a nice big room, some lights and my camera.

    Of course I just got my D50, so I need to make that the new "place"
     
  4. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    There is definitely some psychology behind gear and this is found in almost everything. Better equipment takes better pictures, better computer parts helps you play games better, better guitars or amps help you play better... the list goes on and on.

    It's a placebo effect that you create with the idea of "this costs twice as much, so it should be better" and then you suddenly find yourself doing "better".

    This happened to me with my bass guitar amp. I had a little cheap thing, and when someone sold me their combo and I started playing on that, I found myself playing better, things were easier, and it sounded "better". Of course the sound came from the improved hardware, but the playing couldn't be caused from a bigger magnet and cone speaker or a more powerful amp, it just doesnt work that way.

    I think the deal is that we feel more comfortable using better things, and our expectations of the items cause us to naturally perform better.

    Very interesting topic. (I'm a psych major :thumbup:)
     
  5. blackdoglab

    blackdoglab yeah I'm easy.... but I'm not cheap

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    O.k., so my qualifications are only a basic psychology class and one on abnormal psychology, but I think it may be possible to correlate personal traits to camera and lens use. What kind of personality uses Nikon, Pentax, Canon, Minolta, or Olympus? What are the underlying traits of a Holga user? Why do some of us love Russian and Soviet while others deplore it wholeheartedly? Are some people predisposed to use 35mm, medium format, large format, or digital? What kind of equipment do people with severe mental illness use?
     
  6. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    hehe, way to get a little deep
     
  7. blackdoglab

    blackdoglab yeah I'm easy.... but I'm not cheap

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    Yeah, I tend to read a wee bit too deeply into something, but i think that's my anxiety talking.
     
  8. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Don't worry about it. If you persevere there will come a point where you find you get a kick out of buying the cheapest, crapiest camera you can find and delight in being looked down on by equipment geeks with a 'Blad - because you know that your pictures will still be better than theirs ;)
     
  9. Eric Piercey

    Eric Piercey TPF Noob!

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    I call it the self sustaining feedback loop and it applies to everything.

    VERY basically- so it will be read and not skipped:

    The the feedback from whatever one is doing effects the continuation of that behavior in direct correlation to how it is perceived.

    Example:

    Singing in the shower... you sound really off key and it's unpleasant to your own ears. Your singing is a negative stimuli. Think of it as a shock or as punishment. What happens to the singing behavior? It's diminished.

    Conversely, if you sound good, you're encouraged/rewarded.. and the behavior continues.. ie volume goes up, attemts to stretch out a little vocally... body becomes more relaxed.. the voice sounds even better.. brings pleasure... more relaxation.. less inhibition... more singing.

    Applies to everything we do all the time. Driving, eating, singing, shooting pictures... everything.
     
  10. panocho

    panocho TPF Noob!

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    I do agree that feeling comfortable with your equipment will help you taking better pictures. Wouldn't say that a better equipment, though. To me, it's rather the one that you feel nice with, but not really because it's better.

    Take for example a Canon EOS 3 and a humble Nikon EM. I guess one could say that the Canon is a better camera, but I would feel more comfortable with the EM, and thus would preferably rely on it to go and try to take some nice pictures.

    Whether the photos that I'd take actually would necessarily be better than the ones from the Canon, perhaps that would be too much to say, but I would definitely trust more in myself with the Nikon than with the Canon in my hands -and I am NOT trying to start another silly canon-nikon discussion! :x
     
  11. DSLR noob

    DSLR noob TPF Noob!

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    I hope so. I will be shooting a 20D with L lenses for yearbook next year. (a loaner form the YB teacher). Maybe my pics will improve.
     
  12. xfloggingkylex

    xfloggingkylex TPF Noob!

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    While this is a very true statment and a perfect example of operant conditioning, it doesn't really apply to the idea of better gear "taking" better pictures.

    What the OP is talking about is a perception that with better gear you perform better, but there is absolutely no proof of better quality, unlike your shower example where correct pitch is obvious.

    To fit this into what you were talking about, there is a superstitiou side of operant conditioning that basically states you have a stimulus (in this case you new, better camera) and you take a picture, and the result is good on the first try (or maybe just better than normal, less noise, sharper focus, or maybe the picture was just easier to get, ie quicker focus, better metering). You will immediately attach the quality picture on the first attempt to the new camera, thinking that IT is the reason for the picture.

    This is seen very often in sports, when a football player makes a touchdown because of his "lucky socks" that he realizes were inside out after the game. From then on the player may wear his socks inside out because of the superstition that it increases a behavior (winning).

    Again, I'm really sorry. I'm currently taking a behavior modification class so all I have been learning about is operant conditioning, punishment and other ways to modify behavior.
     

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