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Monday, 19 November 2012 16:20

Does camera snobbery focus on looks not results?

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I'm not surprised that a survey of more than 1000 non-professional DSLR camera users conducted by Sony found that almost two-thirds always or usually leave their cameras in auto mode.

For some time I've been amazed by the number of high-end cameras I see at tourist spots and social events that are apparently being used in point-and-shoot mode.

Before I'm accused of techno-snobbery, I freely admit to using a very small subset of the features available on my family's compact digital camera.

The bulk and complexity of a DSLR strikes me as being overkill given the type of photos being taken (largely happy snaps) and the amount of trouble most people seem to be prepared to go to.

Sony's survey backs that my impression. 72% purchased a DSLR for family photos and fun, and 65% of those aged 18-29 regard their DSLR as a status symbol even though the photos are largely seen in low resolution on Facebook, etc.

One third of users admit they don't know how to use their camera, and three quarters said classes, advice or professional guidance was needed to go beyond auto mode.

That probably says something about the quality of the manuals that come with the cameras, though I do have some sympathy with anyone who points out that the owner's manual that comes with a car doesn't teach you to drive.

Sony's using these results to suggest people should consider system cameras such as the NEX range instead of DSLRs, which are said to give DSLR quality plus the benefits of interchangeable lenses, but in a smaller package at a lower cost and with simpler operation.

If you want to take photography seriously, that's fine. But I'm going to be much more impressed by the photos you show me than the equipment you use.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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