Try it Out For Yourself

Aix-en-Provence, 2015
Aix-en-Provence, 2015

Recently I got my laptop stolen in Paris from my backpack. It kinda sucked, but the “blessing in disguise” was that I was able to replace my (slightly) aging 11’’ Macbook air (2012 model).

I started to consider a few options: the 13’’ Macbook Air, the 13’’ Macbook Pro, and the new Retina 12’’ Macbook.

I then did the typical thing: Google reviews of the laptops which are written by “experts.”

I trudged through reviews on Engadget, The Verge, Cnet, etc— and became frustrated. All of their opinions contradicted another, and there seemed to always be pros/cons with each laptop.

Finally fed up, I disregarded all the reviews online and just decided to buy what I was interested in, and to try it out for myself.

I went to the Apple store in Aix-en-Provence, and picked up the new 12’’ Macbook Retina to try it out. I was happy to know that they had a 14-day return policy, so I could see if I liked the machine or not.

So the last two days I have been using the new 12’’ Macbook, and I like it a lot. Sure it isn’t the perfect device (it is a little bit slower than my 11’’ Macbook Air) and the lack of ports is a bit of a drawback. But for me, it works well. The majority of my work on a laptop is typing and writing (like I am doing now), and my priority is having the lightest and most compact weight (the 12’’ Macbook is surprisingly even lighter than my 11’’ Macbook air).

Everyone has their own preferences. No matter how many reviews of anything you resarch online (for a laptop, camera, lens, etc)— your experiences and preferences will always be different from that of a reviewer.

So for example, let’s say you’re interested in shooting with a film rangefinder. Sure you can read all this stuff online (even on this blog), but you will never truly know the experience until you try it out for yourself.

We are fortunate enough to live in a society that all of the decisions we make are (mostly) reversible. If you’re interested in a new camera for street photography, my suggestion is this: just buy it and try it out for yourself. If you don’t like it, simply return it. I know that offers very generous return policies (30 days).

As a general philosophy whenever it comes to anything in life, it is good to ask for the opinion and experiences of others. Sometimes it is good to have a starting point to base our own ideas upon.

However at the end of the day, experience is highly personal. If you have never been to Paris, you can’t simply ask your friends how their experience was. You have to go there and experience it directly for yourself.

If you’ve never shot film, you will never truly understand how the experience is for you, until you actually try it for yourself.

Do you have an idea for a photography project? Don’t ask what others think about your idea. Just try shooting the project. Perhaps after you’ve tried shooting that project, you can show others the photos and ask for their opinion.

Long story short: disregard camera reviews from others (including mine), opinions and experiences of others, and just try things for yourself.

Live a life of self-experimentation, and have fun.

16 thoughts on “Try it Out For Yourself”

  1. I love it how you are living in a fairytail World where you have all that time, resources and generosity from the retailers.

    The reality does not work that way. And returning stuff is a hassle and the next buyer of that camera has to deal with your ‘old’ stuff.

    The only real advice is: reviews, previews, hands-on’s, etc are guidance not a rule book. Educate yourself and see what fits your own needs.

    1. Absolutely! Living in a developing nation, where we don’t have the indulgent luxury of these ridiculous return policies, it angers me (and no, it’s not jealousy ;^) ) that you read some blogs (not usually this one though, I seem to recall Eric making the point of saying “buy from somewhere that doesn’t allow returns in an older post, heh) that encourage this reckless “buy it, use it, get buyer’s remorse or change your mind and send it back” attitude. This drives up prices due to wastage and creating a glut of “used product” and everyone suffers. DYR, try out in actual shops, use a friends, commit to a purchase, but stop buying and returning perfectly good stuff because you are a hopeless consumer whore ;^)
      This is *not* aimed specifically at Eric, although as stated he is contradicting an earlier POV, but mainly American blogs that promote this behaviour. (Ken f***g Rockwell lol)

  2. This applies to film scanners too! Make sure they have a return policy before purchasing one. There are a lot of really low quality film scanners out there.

  3. Børre Ludvugsen

    Enjoy your MacBook Retina. It’s a terrific machine, with the multi-adapter there is no problem with ports, and although somewhat slower than the others, it’s a full-fledged UNIX work station about the size of a current issue of the Aperture magazine and weigh marginally more. Just make sure you get one with all 8GBs of RAM and the biggest disk.

  4. If I had listened to all the nay-sayers and reviewers, I doubt that I would have ever invested in a Chromebook! For digital photography I live in Google+ with both my smartphone and my digital and film cameras.
    Despite all the negatives I have read (and many positives too), my Chromebook was, for me, a great choice. It may not have all the bells and whistles of other laptops but I have never regretted the purchase. Has it restricted what I can do? …… Nowhere near what the nay-sayers would have had me believe.
    To be honest, it is refreshing to read your article. There are just too many “sponsored” reviews on-line and even more from the fan-boy segments that just want to dis anything that they do not approve of.

    Each to their own. We all have different requirements.

    Great post Eric!

    1. designbynotice

      How are you post processing your shots on the chromebook? All of the solutions I have found have been limited, clunky and very time consuming.

  5. Alan Robertson

    I am impressed with how Eric mixes Sociology,Psychology,Philosophy,Travel and Photography into his Blog. He is much more than a street tog. Keep up the good work. It’s appreciated.

  6. When I bought my Fujifilm Finepix X100 just after it’s initial release here in Japan, everyone told me how crazy I am; “just get yourself a Nex”. But I bought it anyway. And it turned out to be a camera I really love.

  7. Eric, I am very interested to learn what flash you purchase to replace the one that was stolen. Keep up the great work!

  8. I just went in on a OM-D E-M1 and a MacBook Retina for travel and so far love the set up. Huge reduction in size and weight from my MacBook Pro 15″ and Nikon FF DSLRs, even with a single prime. The image quality is finally good enough to not make me regret not bringing my DSLR and the MacBook is fast enough for it to work in travel situations. Love the blog!

  9. Can anyone recommend a machine with a similar weight/size to the new Macbook, but without the terrible OS? (Sorry OSX lovers, but it hasn’t been a ‘Pro’ OS since Leopard. I still use my PMac G5 and Aperture 2, if it helps.) Something modern with good support for Windows 8.1 and Lightroom would be a good bet! Speed is not a significant factor, nor is storage space. Basically – an iPad with a keyboard and Windows!

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