“It’s a nice day for a ride..” said the guy who had pulled up on ageing but insanely clean Harley.

Earlier that day, I had taken the bike for a spin round to a spot on the lake. The chap came up to me and we chatted about the bike for a bit then he asked about the Panasonic. It turned out that the guy was a keen photographer. After talking for a while it became clear that his view on mirrorless cameras was not the same as mine  “the lenses are not really for the professional yet” and the Sigma lenses “just cannot be trusted but, they ain’t bad for third party lenses”…

With one eye on the weather and wanting to get home, we talk photography for a short time. I let him play about with the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 and the S1R for a while, we talked about bikes, then we both made our way on the road.

During my ride home, all I could think about was the condescending tone of how the guy said… third party lenses…. what does he mean about the mirrorless camera are not good enough to work with professionally? Anyway, I was nice enough to him at the time but was not really up for a long talk about photography… I just wanted to catch some cool light over my bike, which I failed at, because A: it was cloudy and raining and B: this guy wanted to talk to me.

I woke up this morning and that chap’s words still rolled around my mind. I love Sigma glass. I have been using them for years. Yes, historically they had some build quality worries but these days Sigma make some of the worlds best glass. Yes, in some ways they are not as mainstream in the sense of both a camera & lens manufacturer, but this concept of ‘third party’ manufacturers being inferior in terms of build quality to Canon or Nikon just isn’t there anymore, in my mind anyway. That reminds me.. I really need to have a play with the new Sigma FP camera.

In the interest of being clear, I have done work for Sigma in the past, but this article is not just about Sigma. If anything it is about brand snobbery. Way back in the day when I started using the Fujifilm X-Series, I had the same reaction. People saw me with the Fujifilm and said that a pro-photographer could not work with an APS-C sensor. Let’s remember that when the APS term was coined, it stood for Amateur Photographer System. My point is that time moves, technology moves and the terms we use sometimes stay the same but have different meanings.

The team at Panasonic were kind enough to loan me an S1R so that I could have a look, make some thoughts and report back. However, I already have had the feeling that people look down on the Panasonic as people used to look down on the Fujifilm cameras. I am sure in time this will change in time as the S-line of cameras are proving very capable and will silence the brand snobs and critiques in no time. In some ways, the guy who was talking to me while photographing my bike used the term ‘third party’ in the sense of, not Nikon or Canon. He was dismissive of the Panasonic from the very start. He had his 5d3 and a 24-70mm, I mean why would he want to have a hold and look at the S1R.

The L-mount arrangement could prove very interesting for Sigma, Panasonic and indeed Leica. If Sigma is able to populate the lens range quick enough, the L-mount system might have enough momentum to really make a serious challenge and dent into the current mainstream trends. As a final thought, I know that brand loyalty is important. Just as important as the investments that you have made in your trade or hobby. But, don’t put things down just through a lack of knowledge. There are very few bad cameras out there today, open up your mind and look beyond the brand that you think is right and see what else there is. 

They say the best camera is the one you have with you, which is half right, but having a camera that is right for you is key too. Photography is not about always having to pay for the most expensive cameras or the newest version of a lens.

 

Older-gen cameras are awesome too. They might not have the fastest auto-focus, but they let you put the money in the important places – the lenses.

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