- To Chimp Or Not To Chimp
by Jim M. Goldstein
Fairly recently I got turned on to the latest digital photography term getting buzz on the Internet, "Chimping". For those of you that are unaware of this term it describes the behavior of a digital photographer who is making monkey like noises when reviewing images on their cameras LCD screen. (Ex. Oooh! Hooo! I got the shot!) Viewing the "Chimping" video, created by Bert Hanashiro, which was posted on Sportsshooter.com is how most of my friends and I found out about the term.
During the video I couldn't help but chuckle. Likely a true sign of my photo nerdliness, I laughed at the inside jokes and fun being poked at excited photographers looking at their images. At the same time I couldn't help but be alarmed at the snootiness of some pro-photographers that felt a little too strongly about "chimping" and those that do it. In addition I became alarmed, not because I've been guilty of chimping in the past, but how I've also looked down at others chimping. No one likes to see the hypocrisy of his or her ways and I for one am no different.
Thinking about this a little deeper I realized, just as some in the
video did, that everyone chimps. There is no need to form a "Chimping
Anonymous" self help group. Everyone that has purchased a digital
camera has done so. Photographers delving into the world of digital
photography have done so not only for the net speed of getting ones
photos, but also to review their photos instantaneously ensuring they
got the one shot they were after. It is by design that digital photographers
can review images on the spot and has been a selling point by camera
makers since digital cameras came to market.
For experienced photographers "chimping" is silly if not unnecessary and for professional photographers it can put you at risk to miss the next great shot. The ironic thing is that every photographer before digital, was just as prone to rip open their prints or slide boxes to see if they got their shot on film before getting home or giving their work to an editor. The difference is that you could do it in privacy. To this day when I shoot slide film I invariably review the slides before I get out of the store, its simple human nature to be curious and look.
One of the many changes digital photography has introduced is this sense of instant gratification. Why shouldn't you be allowed to enjoy that element of your hobby/profession? What I've found others do, including myself, is justify the activity in different ways. Whether checking settings, editing as one person stated they were doing in the video, or "chimping" you're ultimately reaping the rewards of digital photography. Personally I check less to see if I got the shot I was after as much as I work to clear bad shots from my card to get more quality shots in. I tend to do this if I am shooting with a 1GB CF card or if I have 13GB of CF cards with me
. Ultimately a camera LCD screen is a good editing tool, but still far from great. The degree of resolution needed is not there to truly see the difference between shots, say for sharpness, even if you can zoom in. Even the fastest pro cameras take time to load the images and when you're trying to capture live action events (weddings, sports, etc.) you're putting yourself at risk in missing the action if you're off reviewing images. It is this later point that most photographers fear and mock others about. Should that be much of a surprise when photography is so competitive? After all it is the one shot that most people don't get that separates one photographer from the rest of the pack.
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