Written by 10:45 pm Analog

Game-Changing Features

Everyone has a different idea of a revolutionary or game-changing feature. The idea that matters to one may not matter to another. The real question is at what cost do these features come.

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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