Olympus is running a new advertising campaign at the moment called “Get A Real Camera” which has stirred up a bit of argument over what a “real camera” is. I’m a Olympus user and I love my E-30 DLSR. It’s a really nice piece of kit but at the end of the day I’m the one taking the photograph, ultimately I wield the power on if the shot is great, good or just plain awful. Thus to me, every camera is a real camera.
The advertising campaign Olympus is running aims to sell the new PEN series of compact cameras and targets mobile phones as being not “real” cameras. Here are some of the example taken from the Olympus_AU twitter feed.
Now I’m not going to bag the campaign out. It’s clever, it hooks people in and is assured to stir up a response thus resulting in even more eyes on the products. In other words the campaign does exactly what it is designed to do. The argument however that you need a “real” camera to take great photos is bunk.
The Dirty Secret
A few weeks ago I was taking some photos at the local gardens when a family went past and the father said to me “my daughter wants a camera like yours”. We talked for a little bit about what I had, what it cost and he turned to his daughter and told her she would need a lot of money to get into photography. That’s when I decided to tell them the dirty little secret about photography – the gear doesn’t make the shot. You do.
Time and again we have seen people challenge the notion that you need a “real” camera to make awesome photos. We’ve seen war reporters win awards using photos taken on iPhones, we’ve seen entire weddings shot on camera phones that look fantastic and even detailed macro photos taken with a camera phone with minimal modification.
Do camera phones have the same sensitivity, feature sets or focusing range as DSLRs or even point & shoots? No. Does that mean every photo you will take with it is rubbish? Absolutely not.
Talk to any professional photographer and they’ll tell you that one of the top peeves in the profession is being told this “That’s a really good photo, you must have a really good camera”. It enrages them. The camera is merely a tool. The person behind the lens dictates how it behaves and thus how the photo ends up. There are plenty of people running around with high-end cameras and lens that take lousy shots simply because they haven’t grasped the basic concepts of photography.
Horses For Courses
I’m not saying camera phones are perfect but I am saying they are a real camera and can be used to take amazing photos. For those looking to get better at photography look at working on principles first, then gear. To many people have dropped hundreds or thousands of dollars on “real” camera gear only to be disappointed that their photos don’t seem to mystically improve because of it.
The Olympus PEN cameras in my opinion are great cameras but they won’t magically make your photography better. Only the person using the camera can make that happen.