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Faux-tographers poser-ing for the camera companies

Or, how not to spend $3,000.

Casual SLR owners today have dirt-cheap digital sensors capable of recording an image as useful for most purposes as their medium-format film predecessors a generation ago. Democratization of the Bayer array robbed the competent amateur of a valuable in-group marker: No longer can he assume that a bow of similar craft assures him he has met a man of commensurate abilities.

Spend a week in Tuscany or New York with a DSLR and ask a few passersby at random to take your picture. You will be lucky to get 1 in 10 printable shots (even if you pre-focus). Now spend a second week, but only ask passersby carrying SLRs to take your picture. Maybe you won’t have to pre-focus but I guarantee your odds will not be much better.

As DSLRs are now point-and-shoots for the tech-obsessed, heavy glass has become the only way to separate the Maya from the Cherokee.

So imagine my surprise when a faux-tographer carrying a massive f/2.8 Nikkor zoom had absolutely no idea how to use a fixed-focal-length lens. I know I can’t afford a varifocal worth buying, but I would know how to use such an arrow if I could.

I may be obstinate in my insistence on the superiority of primes, but at least I will never be accused of poser-ing.