The devil you know: thoughts about switching to a new system
Why is that, there is so much difficulty among photographers switching to a different camera system? Why do we find it so crucial sticking to “our investment” in one system and resist so much even the idea of investigating an alternative?
It might be that, especially for professional use, getting accustomed with a new system is, in fact, trading time for money (see a relevant discussion on that). But is it so difficult, with today’s cameras, at least?
Speaking for myself, I’m pretty confident that I could get my hands on a system I’m virtually ignorant about (in my case, let’s say Pentax), on Monday morning, and be able to use it in a professional job next weekend. Since I hardly consider myself the most technically proficient person on Earth (to the point that I may sometimes require instructions opening a can of tuna), I find it difficult to believe anyone having trouble with such a transition. Given, of course, one invests some time learning what’s needed and focusing on the essentials. Which may be too much to ask in the heat of battle, but not particularly important if there is no deadline or strict time-frame involved.
So I believe it’s mainly a psychological matter above all else. People try to embrace the safety of an established situation vs a brave new world. Let’s be blunt about it: it’ in human nature to avoid risk. People will stay with a sub-optimal job, endure through a shitty relationship and tolerate corrupt political leaders, instead of actively doing anything to change the situation to their (true) advantage.
I’ve stumbled upon this video on YouTube, from the great guys at Veritasium, explaining about “risk taking” with a common example:
The other significant psychological parameter is belonging in a team. This is one of the most important survival instincts for every social animal; it’s also the root of all racial, ethnic and social discrimination and injustice in the History of the Human Race. For us photographers, this is the cause of the –often irrational- “my camera is better than yours” argument. Because, admitting it most certainly isn’t, if every parameter is considered, is akin to acknowledging weakness and embracing uncertainty.
The final deeply rooted human characteristic relevant to our conversation is conformation to norms and authorities. Again, this is a basic survival asset: just imagine the real life dangers a child should have to face if this aspect of psychological “wiring” was missing. Incidentally, this is where religions and governments come from.
All the discussion above is pertinent to the photographic world, as it is with so many more aspects of our daily experience. It is, in my opinion, of extreme significance to the “younger players” in the industry, namely all the mirrorless companies. They’ll have to persuade people switching over the established DSLR players and rational arguments, in general, won’t do much work. They’ll have to play the game on its own terms.
- Downplay the risk element; highlight technical viability and future evolution, also call attention to overall economic strength where applicable (e.g. Samsung)
- Play the “team” card; create active communities emphasizing the merits as well as unique characteristics of such systems. People congregate around the winners; having something exceptional to throw on the table is imperative.
- Create and maintain authority type figures; enforcing gear visibility in the hands of highly competent photographers though the social media, is a sure way of increasing confidence. In a sense, promote the argument that “the new standard” is here to stay.
I would very much like to listen to the readers’ opinions on this matter, as well as, perhaps, personal stories switching to different photographic systems. Cheers!