Friday, 10 March 2017

Not just the specs

I was recently asked for an opinion on a camera purchase. They didn't want to change careers and become a photographer, they weren't interested in impressing there friends with the latest thing. What they wanted was a camera that took good photos and was easy to use.

That's what often gets overlooked, ease of use. The specs are often pushed but they are just a place to start. Stats aren't everything, in-fact, for most people they aren't the most important factor in getting the  images they want. Ease of use and how well the specs are implemented is usually more important.

As an example if you had to go through 8 multiple choice menus packed with esoteric jargon to take a photo, you probably wouldn't bother. That's an extreme example but it illustrates a point. that usability is valuable. In today's market the differences are subtle, but still important.

I'd like to finish with a real life example of 'specs aren't everything'.
A while back someone asked me about a new camera. They didn't know much about cameras and were going on a  'bucket list' vacation, so they wanted "good pictures". They had seen a DSLR at a big box store and where asking about lenses and accessories and how long it would take to learn how to use.

They had a myriad of other questions  before they took the scary leap into "expensive professional cameras" at least that's how they saw it.I tried to give them all the info and talked them through a few things & showed them some stuff on my camera & they looked stressed, like really stressed. So much so I thought maybe they should go with a really good point and shoot. That might be a little less scary,  so I said there are other options, what exactly they expected to do with this new camera, or better yet what do they expect it to give them they're current camera couldn't. As soon as they started speaking I realized I should have started with those questions.

Stop the Action
They currently had a generic but decent compact point and shoot. They had been at a family BBQ and took a few snaps of kids running around and they where blurry, a relative with a DSLR got clear photos of the kids.  The thought then went like this "I'm going whale watching , the whales are moving (like the kids), therefore I need a DSLR to get clear pics."   A reasonable but not entirely actuate conclusion. I asked "do you shoot on Auto?"  "I don't know, what's that mean" was the response. That's when I finally clued in.
"can see your camera for a second" 
beep beep bepp,
"here go home and take some pics of the kids and let me know how they turn out."
Next Day: "I took some pics of the kids on the trampoline, not blurry at all, everyone on facebook said they where great."

Problem solved.
They had asked me about a camera, but what they really wanted to know was how to get a pic of a whale that looked good on facebook. This person was about to spend $1000 on better specs, when they had all the specs they wanted. The only thing missing was a few choices.