ePz's 16 Days Of Xmas, Plus A Prize For Everyone On Xmas Day! Enter The Prize Draw Today!

Early adopters, Beta testing, and pound-power


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
...Read More

Early adopters, Beta testing, and pound-power

4 May 2021 6:52AM   Views : 582 Unique : 375


One of the running battles in photography at the moment is between the die-hard DSLR users and those of us who have found new possibilities in mirrorless cameras – but this is just one skirmish in the war between change and the status quo. There are plenty of others, over the years.

For instance, although many French cars used front wheel drive from the Fifties onwards, the Mini was regarded as eccentric by the big, American-owned car companies in the UK. Into the Eighties, Ford and Vauxhall regarded the British Leyland stable of cars as a technological wrong turn, which they were not silent about. Then, one by one, new models appeared that owed more to the Maxi and Maestro than to the Viva or Cortina in their engineering.


Camera shops in the Eighties were full of last year’s brand as user after user read a new review offering a few more lines per millimetre or an extra mode and ‘upgraded’ – to an extent this continues today, making a year-old camera a very attractive proposition: just run in, and with 100k more actuations in it, or more.


And sometimes, there are disasters when a new model has a basic design flaw in it, or there’s a missing feature. Much as I love Sony’s Alpha 7 range, I’d tend to suggest that new users buy the first generation, with their lack of image stabilisation and relatively-undeveloped ergonomics. Similarly, Canon users will find the original EOS R a less attractive proposition than its later siblings, because of – erm – the lack of image stabilisation and weird ergonomics…


In computing, there’s a thing called Beta testing – this is where users can volunteer to use the latest hardware and software in return for helping to find and iron out the problems with it. It’s a good deal until you get rid of the old hardware and then the payroll doesn’t run just before a bank holiday.


Occasionally, companies are guilty of getting the ‘early adopters’ – the geeks and fashionistas who must always have the very latest – to do the Beta testing. In the Sixties and Seventies, it was conspicuous that many savvy motorists waited a year or so after a new model hit the market before they’d consider buying one. Nowadays, this may be addressed by big deals with hire companies or other large-scale buyers.


And hire is the reason that the technically-superior Betamax videotape system died on the vine in the UK. For whatever reason, the big rental companies plumped for VHS, and the market veered away from the Sony system. Eventually, steady development made VHS work just as well, I think – and then DVDs happened. You have to laugh…


Recent blogs by dudler

Focus scales

If you’ve been taking pictures since before autofocus arrived, you’ll be very familiar with focus scales – they are one of the primary controls on an old-school camera, and just one more of the things that you really needed to get right. With autof...

Posted: 27 Dec 2022 7:01AM

Porcelain processing

People commented on the look in my last post and it seems like a good idea to share the secrets for Christmas. I learned the technique several years ago: a model’s boyfriend told me about it, and a website that described it in detail: I tried it, l...

Posted: 23 Dec 2022 10:47AM

You develop your own films don’t you?

If you have your own darkroom, or if you use film cameras regularly, there are always a few people who mention the attic. As in ‘Grandpa’s cameras are in the attic. I don’t even know if they have film in them!’ This leads me to ask if I can have a l...

Posted: 16 Aug 2022 11:17AM

Choose your pond

There’s an old saying about being a big fish and a little pond. Do you want to be the most important person in a small organisation, or are you content being a relatively small cog in a big machine? It’s the same in photography. With relatively mo...

Posted: 3 Jun 2022 2:25PM

Graduated filters

This is for Hannah, and anyone else who has come across the casual way that a lot of togs talk about one or two types of filter that landscaper photographers use a lot: graduated filters and neutral density filters. A graduated filter is one that i...

Posted: 25 Apr 2022 12:18PM


dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2063 England
4 May 2021 6:53AM
Down with the kids, or stuck in the Stone Age? Or possibly you're happy just to plough your own furrow?
kaybee Avatar
kaybee 19 8.7k 29 Scotland
4 May 2021 9:55AM
It is horses for courses and what you want out of the beast.
I loved my Minis (especially the one that had ben 'tinkered with' but there is a distinct safety issue with them in an accident.
I dislike the inconvenience of no built-in viewfinder in my Lumix but prefer its weight to the Nikon.
Without doubt I could buy a new camera that would mitigate both these problems - but there is nothing wrong with either and I see no reason to fork out and change to something 'new' just for the sake of change.
It would also mean having to 'learn' the new camera (fun in some ways and a complain pain in the tail end in others).
When one or the other finally rolls over and plays dead I may look into buying something, but I can't see it being new - it will have far more functions and complexity than I will ever need and no doubt have some form of 'built in obsolescence' which almost all modern appliances seem to have.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2063 England
4 May 2021 10:21AM
Wisely said, Roy!
Silverlake Avatar
4 May 2021 11:22AM
Presumably, you meant to say 'don't buy' the first generation of the Sony Alpha 7?
GGAB Avatar
GGAB 7 31 1 United States
4 May 2021 2:27PM
I will remain a DSLR user for quite some time.
I am comfortable with the Canon's I have that include Battery Grips.
I invested quite a lot in "L" Glass and the whole kit is better than I am.
From my perspective, why change at this time??
There may come a day when due to physical limitations I will need lighter/smaller camera's. When that day comes, I will evaluate my options and make a decision.

Regarding being an early adopter, typically I am not.
I work in software and know that typically the first gen. of anything has it's share of issues. It is also typically feature poor.
If possible, those issues and deficiencies are identified quickly and fixed via an internal upgrade or a next gen. model.
I don't need to have the latest greatest of anything.
whatriveristhis Avatar
4 May 2021 5:46PM
Personally, as things stand, I would only consider changing my camera to gain improved ergonomics. i did briefly consider going from the Fuji X-Pro 2 to the X-T3, as the latter features a significantly higher eye-point for the EVF, and as a glasses wearer i would very much appreciate that. It would certainly make life easier, but even accounting for a good trade-in ( my X-Pro is in pretty much mint condition ) that would still involve spending a few hundred quid. Is it worth it? ... Bugger that, I'll muddle along.
JuBarney Avatar
JuBarney Plus
12 36 7 United Kingdom
4 May 2021 6:09PM
Interesting blog and love your last image.
Acancarter Avatar
4 May 2021 6:49PM
John - whatever the ergonomics - as long as it isn’t crazy - I think you get used to it. Lots of features and menu settings probably won’t ever get used. It’s always interesting to have a walk or chat with someone who has the same camera. They probably have it set up differently! I have never regretted upgrading to the EOS R when it first came out. Only one thing I have to watch out for…my nose can sometimes alter the focus point, as I use my left eye (more lpmm and lower astigmatism) - no easy upgrade for that. Otherwise always a joy to use. It will keep me happy for years!
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.2k 2063 England
5 May 2021 3:48AM
Mike - I'd suggest the first-generation Alphas only for those on a budget, or with limited technical demands to make on a camera. Having said that... An A7R will still trounce any EOS 5D for landscapes and studio work, I think, and a number of early adopters were former Canon users who wanted higher quality at lower ISO. Later generations refined things so much...

George - for what you do, with reliance on high AF performance, sticking with your existing DSLRs is probably a sound move - though both Canon and Sony bodies will take the glass with adaptors, these may compromise the AF. (I'd welcome confirmation or denial from anyone who has used either route, though!)

Alan - it's clearly working for you, and meeting eyesight needs is a major consideration.

Andy - I always switch touch screens off on any camera that has them. I can imagine very few occasions when they provide any advantage for ordinary photography, and I have seen a number of people slowed down by making all adjustments through them, rather than using the buttons and wheels. I stand open to ideas about what they're good for.

You must be a member to leave a comment.

ePHOTOzine, the web's friendliest photography community.

Join for free

Upload photos, chat with photographers, win prizes and much more.