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16 June 2013

What does Value Equal?

I'm doing a cut and paste from a lovely email I got last night from my friend Greg, in the United States.  His thoughts are always well thought out and well put together.  As is his computer artwork!  This should give everyone food for thought, along with my previous post, called "Money for NOTHING, or Money for SOMETHING?".

So read his email, and tell me what you think. 
"I understand and agree with your perspective. You are very fortunate to be in the position of cultivating your relationship with a minority in the marketplace.

I have always used a fictitious equation to describe a mathematical "law." That is the law of "Value." The law reads:

                Value =       -------------

Unfortunately, much of the public substitutes the word "Quantity" for "Quality" in their purchase decisions/patterns. For them, quantity is a real, quantifiable thing and the result of the equation is equally real and can be compared among suppliers.
To these same people, Quality is subjective and they can't get a real answer from the equation. The subjective must be really strong to overcome the result of the quantity form of the equation in their heads.

There are exceptions, however, as sometimes quality can be quantified. For instance, with pet food, one can compare ingredients and recommended daily allowances in a quantitative fashion.

Your fortune lies in the fact that your clients give your quality the attention that it deserves"
 It all boils down to what we VALUE, and what we are prepared to pay for it.  So should it be?

Value = QUALITY divided by price


Value = QUANTITY divided by price

It's like thos dreadful retail outlets like Dollar King, or similar $2 junk stores.  Lots of items.  Terribly, terribly cheap.  BUT.....   terrible, TERRIBLE quality.  I'm not too highbrow to never shop in them, but for me, it's a thing on the fly, when the real shops aren't open, or when I just need to do something really really cheaply (ie - I'm on a tight budget, and I just can't afford to pay proper money for the kids Christmas cards and candy canes to give out to class mates when you are talking about 40 of them).  

And I'd like to point out that I've occasionally bought a water spray bottle from them, for $1-2, when I've been on the run, to use in my stallion attracting kit (or to use on my Bad Ass Maxie!).  Their water bottles fall apart in an instant, and if I relied on them, it would break mid photo shoot.  So what I actually find myself doing is paying $5-6 for one that I know will work for at least 2 days in a row!  

My approach to equipment purchases has always been the same.  I buy the best.  And I expect the best.  I've never once, in all my professional years, stooped and bought a lesser brand lens to sit in the coveted position on my camera.  Sigma, etc, lenses, are NOT for me.  

I may also cause an argument, or make some people raise their eyebrows, frown, and/or walk away from their computer shaking their head.  But I also don't think that these 'bigger' zoom lenses perform as well as their price tag suggests that they do, and I don't believe they can outshoot a prime fixed focal length super telephoto lens.  And by this, I mean zooms above 200mm. 

I know that some photographers think that they are good.  But I think that they are a compromise, and a lesser quality lens.  I know of at least 4-5 photographers who are complaining of poor focus with the D4.  But they all use the same lens.  My D4 doesn't miss a beat.  I will admit if you push it to the 11 frames per second rate instead of 10 it's no good, but we are all using it at the 10 frames per second,  and mine is fabulous.  It's the BEST camera I have ever owned.  But I use the prime lenses, the 300mm and 500mm fixed focal lenses on it.  I know at least 4 photographers complaining of poor focus with their cameras, and they all use the same lens.  I used one of these lenses one day, after having their virtues raved about, but I discarded it before the day was out.  It just wasn't sharp.  And I've recently I've seen far too many images produced by this lens which were not sharp enough to be good enough. 

I do not believe they are as good, or as sharp, as the prime fixed focal lenses.  Because essentially they are a compromise, designed to give you other options in addition to focal length, whereas the specialist fixed focal length telephoto lens is purely for use at that focal length.  That's just what I think though, and I'm prepared to be shot down in flames. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts. 
Black Caviar.  Nikon D4.  Nikkor 500mm f4 lenses.  Full frame.  Gun barrel straight.  Shot sitting down on the ground shooting up under the running rail, lens on monopod.  I am not strong enough to hand hold these large lenses, my 500mm lens borders on being too big for me anyway, but I love it.  Some of my friends can hand hold the larger lenses.  I cannot.
All Too Hard.  Nikon D4.  Nikkor 500mm f4 lens.  This image is almost full frame..  I've had to tweak the running rail ever so slightly as this wasn't gun barrel straight, but it wasn't far off. 
Black Caviar.  Last race and win.  Nikon D4.  Nikkor 300mm f2.8 lens.  ISO 1600.  Aperture f4

Nikon D4.  300mm f2.8 lens.

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  1. I think if one wants quality then one has to pay for it. Your photos are always crystal clear in that one can almost see the individual hairs on your subjects.
    One area where I think price distates quality is clothing. The cheaper brands just don't fit as well or look as nice.
    Having said that I do think the big names like Armani, Valentino, Dolce and Gabbana etc are grossly over-priced and over-rated.

  2. I think you're right Liz. And yes, I place a HUGE importance on sharpness, and clarity. I like to hope, with the support of the right people who go out broadcasting how great the images can work for them (ie - Arrowfield) that quality will prevail. But yes, you can't ever get stupidly vain about how much you ought to charge for the work!! As befits the fashion industry! But I agree with you, the right clothes work wonders, and I think in that instance, like photography, quality is everything.