Game-Changing Features

AR-G3-1.jpgI was a commercial photographer for twenty-five years, so it should be no surprise that I still try to stay current on the latest photographic tools. My favorite site for staying in touch with new photographic developments is DP Review. They usually announce recent products milliseconds after their press embargos fall off.

So last Thursday when Panasonic was scheduled to announce their new G3 camera I checked out DP Review's site. DP Review did their usual thorough report on the new camera. I was sufficiently impressed that I went onto Amazon (through DP Review's website link) and pre-ordered one. Then I checked out DP Review's forums to see what others thought of the new camera.

Within an hour of the initial review forums already had upwards of 100 postings with titles such as "G3 NO-GO" or "Why I'm NOT Buying a G3." Most of the naysayers included one of the following "game-changing" non-negotiable reasons they couldn't buy a G3 - not small enough, too small a battery, no internal anti-shake, no external microphone input, or no eye-level finder sensor. Not a single one of these issues was "game-changing" for me. The one I found most ludicrous was that removing the eye-level sensor was an egregious issue. My G1 has this "feature" and I much prefer to use the button located right beside the finder to switch between the eye-level finder and the back panel LCD. IMHO the loss of the auto-sensor is no big deal. Other potential buyers felt differently...

Audiophiles often tout or dismiss a component based on a "game-changing" feature or attribute. For some people not having a balance control renders even the finest sounding preamp unusable. For others a component must use balanced XLR connections or it's a non-starter. As a reviewer I don't have the luxury of rejecting a component because of some feature it does or doesn't have. Personally, I need some way to control channel levels, but if a preamp lacks a balance control I can usually find some place else in the signal chain to adjust relative channel levels. I'd never reject a preamp because it has no balance adjustment.

I also prefer to use balanced interconnects for line level connections of more than two meters. But I'd never reject a component, especially a signal source, that only had single-ended RCA analog output. Many preamps with balanced outputs have both balanced and single-ended inputs.

Perhaps I'm too easy-going with too few "game-changing" restrictions to be a real audiophile or photophile. But I think that by locking yourself into self-imposed "no fly zones" in terms of features or ergonomics you artificially limit yourself and your world of possibilities shrinks exponentially.

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