Boys’ toys and PIXEL POWER!

How to make a photographer drool.

I can’t say I’m a fan of Top Gear, but there’s something about it that draws me back, resentfully, to watch each week. Usually on catch-up TV because every week I tell myself I won’t watch it and then crumble by Wednesday and sit there chortling like a.. a Mexican with jumping beans in his sombrero. Is that suitably non-PC?

It’s so stupid. The cars they review are far beyond the means of all but the most disastrously failed banking CEO. The humour is laddish and xenophobic (I’m half German and one more joke about BMW satnavs only being able to find Poland and I’ll be writing a stiff letter to the BBC).

The photography can be brilliant, but usually it has a Photoshop-on-acid look which I think has become self-mocking and clichéd. In fact, why do I watch it at all?

But I digress. The reason for my mentioning TG at all (oh look! same initials as me. I only just noticed that) is that I sometimes wonder if a similar format could work for a TV-based camera review show. It could still be called Top Gear, though I think the BBC might have a lawyer look into that, but it would also share other values of the motoring show.

Boys toys with eye-watering price tags being reviewed by paunchy middle-aged men trying to be laddish. Overuse of colour filters and vignettes. Shiny things. They could have the star with the reasonably-priced SLR to see how quickly they can shoot around a track(tor). Sorry about that joke, it physically hurt to write it.

BMW mini cooper

Cars and ham-fisted vignettes would still feature strong in new show.

Then there’s The Stig: “Some say he can view a photo on flickr without commenting on the bokeh; others that he once ate memory cards with milk for breakfast.”

Three presenters, all male of course because just as women don’t drive they also don’t take pictures. They’d be boorish and full of themselves, though quite where we would find such personalities among British photographers, I’m not too sure.

And of course the real stars of the show would be the cameras. The reviewers would mostly concern themselves with testing the difference between the likes of a Hasselblad H4D-60 with 50-110 zoom lens at just over £35,000 and a Leica S2-P with 70mm lens bundled in at £20,500 (and some spare change). Provided you have to be royalty or a dictator to own the gear, they’d review it.

Naturally they would review more modest cameras, but anything much under £1,000 (no kit lenses included) would get a brief and patronizing mention during the news section, except for the Fuji X100, which would have them drooling over its Leica-like shape and handling. Oh yes, handling would definitely be mentioned. As would power, drive and manual control. “MORE PIXELS!” shouts a presenter as he presses hard on the shutter release button.

Quite how you spin a Canon 1D MKIV until smoke comes out the back I haven’t quite worked out yet, but I know it would be fun to watch. Damn it. I’m a fan of Top Gear, aren’t I…

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  • Martin Cameron February 14, 2011   Reply →

    What a great idea!! I suppose there would also be a regular feature about a good solid reliable camera which is virtually indestructible? Perhaps the good old Zenith B could be taken through tropical jungles, hurricane storms and dropped off buildings, then given to a camera tech with a magnifying glass and screwdriver set to see if it could be made serviceable again. I’m sure it would last for at least one series! Get your proposal to the Beeb before someone else does, including the suggestion that you are the main presenter (TG’s TG!!)

    • Glass Eye February 14, 2011   Reply →

      I like the idea of the Toyota/Zenith test-to-destruction piece. You could test it against a digital camera to see which one still works after being dunked in the sea.

      I do a rather passable Jeremy Clarkson. Is it coincidence his initials are JC? I need a bigger gut though. And a huge chin. And an ego the size of Gibraltar.

  • Laura February 14, 2011   Reply →

    Excellent post! 🙂 Love the idea. I have the feeling that digital photography has open a whole new market to electronic manufacturers, such as Sony/Samsung. Despair no more the photography-challenged! The camera will take the photo for you! By the way, I’m a woman, I’m Mexican, I have a Sony A350 and a I love it :)but I dream of 120mm Yashicas, sigh.

    • Glass Eye February 14, 2011   Reply →

      Ah the Yashicamat 😀 Lovely camera. I hope you realise I was making a dig at Top Gear when I brought up women and Mexicans 😉

      • Laura February 14, 2011   Reply →

        Of course! see, for a Mexican woman I’m pretty intelligent 😉

  • Ken of London February 14, 2011   Reply →

    Music score could be done by Bokeh T Gander and the 1D’s

    Its late, its the best I could do.


    • Glass Eye February 15, 2011   Reply →

      Ken, I could ban you from commenting for that 😉

      • Ken of London February 15, 2011   Reply →

        I was wandering if we should start calling you “Nice Bokeh Gander” or NBG for short.

        Has a certain ring to it. 😉

        • Glass Eye February 15, 2011   Reply →

          That’s it, I’m blocking you now 😉

          I didn’t even know what the heck bokeh was until I looked at flickr. I’d never heard that word in 20 years of being a photographer. I won’t start using it now!

  • David Robertson February 15, 2011   Reply →

    Great idea!

    I’m a Mamiya RB67 man myself – bullet proof with loads of torque. For weekend spins, I’m rather fond of my Silvestri. Hopefully, you will have a regular vintage/retro spot!

    As for Top Gear, I won’t watch it. I refuse to watch anything where J Clarkson makes an appearance because of his anti-cycling stance.

    • Glass Eye February 15, 2011   Reply →

      Retro of course – testing a Zorki 4 against a Nikon D3x. That’d be good for a laugh and some jokes about Russians.

  • Ken of London February 15, 2011   Reply →

    I first stumbled over Bokeh whena student of mine, a very brilliant student I might add, was agonising over a new lens to buy for wedding work. This was in recent times so was still film 😉

    She showed me her research and it had got down to 2 lenses one had slightly better bokeh than the other and I was like WTF? It turns out it was Japanese thing she had stumbled across, as you know it is just a way of looking at the out of focus area of a image and describing it in a measurable way.

    It is a great way of measuring this facet, but every wanker and their mate thinks its waht true high level ‘togs say to one another over beer at the end of a shoot –

    “Nice bokeh today mate, well done!”

    “Yer, you think so, really, thanks, I have trained hard and studied hard to reach that level of bokeh, the client will be well pleased.”

  • Paul Drabble November 7, 2011   Reply →

    Whoa BRILLIANT! I’ll volunteer but you’ll have to decide whether I get to be the photo equivalent of Clarkson, Hamster, Captain Sensible or the The Stig….

    • Glass Eye November 7, 2011   Reply →

      Let’s face it, hate him as we all say we do, we all want to be Clarkson.

      • pauldaviddrabble November 7, 2011   Reply →

        We started our Careers on the same newspaper… Sadly at different times so no cosey Clarkson old pals story and my claim to fame crashes and burns

        • Glass Eye November 7, 2011   Reply →

          Bath Chron? Or Portsmouth News? I’m not sure I ever knew that! We could still take the mick out of former colleagues…

      • Ken of London November 7, 2011   Reply →

        Only if I get the same pay cheque

  • Ken of London November 7, 2011   Reply →

    Oh WOW I see my stipend has doubled since last discussion, things are looking up 🙂

  • Jas Gibson November 7, 2011   Reply →

    Cool idea……

    Could say how over rated the Hasselblad 500CM etc were and what a lovely bit of kit the Nikon F2 was though abit of a ‘Dingo’ (like me) in the looks department……

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