I was recently reading some comments on B&H regarding Canon's newest lens offering; the 40mm 2.8 pancake lens with STM auto-focusing technology. However, this isn't an article about the lens or the advancement in technology or even the incorporation of film technology into still photography. It is an observation on the mentality of the consumer comments regarding the lens. In particular the lack of intelligence portrayed in some of the post by what should be informed consumers.
While this is a departure from my normal style of article I thought I'd try a topic that would initiate conversation. So let me give some background first. I was reading an article posted on B&H's web site in their "Learn in Depth" section. As I mentioned above it was regarding Canon's upcoming release of their new 40mm prime lens. You can read the article here; "Canon’s New EF 40mm f/2.8 Pancake Lens Doesn’t Waffle on Quality", by Boyd Hagen.
Several things caught my attention but the first was the lack of knowledge about one's own gear from the commentators. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but if you own a dSLR shouldn't you know if you have a full frame or a cropped frame sensor? After all, this has a major and direct influence on the kind of lenses you can purchase.
The same goes for the type of lens mount the camera uses. There were too many, "does this lens fit on my Canon insert model here ," posts. After all, most camera manufacturers have standardized mounting systems and they don't tend to change all that often. Canon changed theirs from their FD mount to the EF mount so long ago I can't even remember. Maybe I'm just too involved with my equipment.
Also, regarding cropped sensors, shouldn't the owner of a crop sensor camera be aware that a 40mm lens is not 40mm on an APS-C sized sensor? I would think that would be something a camera owner would learn really early if they read their camera manual. Again, am I just biased because I have been around SLR's for so long? Granted not everyone may have the ratio differences committed to memory, but they should at least be aware that there are issues.
Then there is the person who asked if the fixed 40mm prime lens could zoom. I loved the response, "to zoom in, step forward, to zoom out, step backward." I found myself shaking my head and chuckling, both at the wit of the response and the lunacy of the person who asked such a question publicly.
Not that I'm indifferent to beginners, just that I can't understand how people fail to understand some of the most basic aspects of their equipment. "Maybe they're only a casual photographer," you say, or perhaps, "they're just starting out." That may be true, but you would think a quick check in a manual or online before putting up a rookie remark to a photo site would seem prudent.
It could be that I have been so far removed from the 'newbie' stage that I forget what it's like not understanding some of the most basic of features. Maybe what I think is basic really isn't so basic to others. Perhaps I'm too old fashioned and I'm more book-bound and all this open sharing on the internet is too spontaneous that people post without giving thought.
As an analogy, I feel like an observer watching someone walk up to a 'do not enter' sign and they ask if they can go in that way. As if the sign never existed. A little fore thought and, well, you get the gist. Maybe the overall picture is that we as a society rely too much on others to give us an answer that we become lazy to seeking out the answers ourselves with a little research and study.
In retrospect, as I try to put myself into the mindset of a beginner I start to wonder how many features are on my equipment that I really don't have a full grasp of. I'm sure someone who knows the answer to my questions would probably shake their head and chuckle knowingly at me, thinking to themselves, "what a bone brain".