What’s the best camera to buy?  What’s the best Photoshop plugin for photography? What’s the best CS4 tutorial? What’s the best lens for the Vivitar 110? What’s the best iPod for the dollar? What’s the best car? What’s the best truck? What’s the best soda? What’s the best flavor of ice cream?

I think you get the picture…so many questions on “What’s the best____” and almost without fail, the answer begins with an “It depends…”

We all want to get the best value for our money, and it pays to do research before you buy.  No one likes to over spend, or buy something they end up not liking, or even worse, deal with the dreaded customer service lines or phone calls.    Without meaning to sound all grandfatherly (I am only 40 years young…), I distinctly remember a time when we could think for ourselves, and when we formed our own opinions.

This is not to say that seeking the opinions of professionals and/or experts is not useful, because it is.  If Scott Kelby says some photography product or Photoshop plugin is just totally cool – I am going to take a look at that product.  He knows his stuff when it comes to these subjects, and yes, I would consider him an expert.  Am I going to ask him what he thinks the best way to tape drywall is in my basement?  Of course not!  So, seeking expert advice is always a good thing.  But there is a danger in seeking the advice of “experts”.

The danger is that it is so easy to claim oneself as an expert anymore.  Anyone with $10 and an hour can purchase a domain/hosting and set up a website claiming they are an expert in duct tape applications.  People will flock to this site, asking questions about how to apply it in all sorts of circumstances.    What’s the best way to affix bubble wrap to a window?  What’s the best way to tape a package for shipping?  What’s the best way to adhere flashing to an airplane kitchen galley?

Anyone can purport to be an expert, but you need to exercise some common sense in deciphering who is qualified to render an opinion.  Additionally, it may help to exercise a little judgement of your own.  No one likes to make a decision and be wrong.  Being wrong is no fun.  I am wrong on many things, and while I may try not to be wrong – that is something that will never completely happen.  But you know what?  When I make a decision and I am wrong – I usually end up learning more from that than if I take the advice of others and the decision is wrong.  Why?  Because the blame is shifted from me – “That’s not my fault,” I say, “Joe Schmoe told me to do that…he is wrong.”

The thing of it is, whether Scott Kelby or Joe Schmoe tells you something about anything – you need to make up your own mind from time to time.  It’s important because if you don’t make your own decisions, whether it be about dry-walling, duct tape, or photography – your learning curve will never amount to much.  Learn from experience!

Happy shooting, and we’ll see you back here again tomorrow with the Best Blog! 🙂

P.S.  Don’t forget, the best contest is going on right now on Flickr – Circle themed photos are being accepted through Jan 29th and the winner gets a free copy of Photomatix from the folks at HDR Soft.

5 thoughts on “What’s the best ___?

  1. What’s the best camera? The one you’re using right now.

    What’s the best lens? The one that suits the scene.

    What’s the best Canon Blog……? Hmmm….we’ll have to ponder that one (hey, I owed you a zing).

    This is a great post Jason. For my part, my equipment decisions have been based on the reviews of others in part, but in larger part through my own personal experience. Why do I shoot Canon? Because a Canon Digital Elph survived multi-month hike along the AT and kept working years after. Others may have different gear experiences that are just as good, and for them, the equipment hanging off their own neck is the right choice!

    Hooray for personal responsibility!
    .-= Rich Charpentier´s last blog ..In Camera HDR….I just learned about this! =-.

  2. Good article and food for thought.

    I like to write articles on my blog that asks my readers, “What is your _____?” – Favorite lens, favorite photo from 2009, favorite landscape photography location.
    .-= Greg Taylor´s last blog ..Top 5 Favorite Photo Spots =-.

  3. Excellent post, Jason! And even more broad than making decisions, I’m increasingly under the impression that the idea of personal responsibility for one’s choices and actions is becoming a rare commodity; everyone is a victim of someone or something else…
    Thanks for a good reminder on the value (to me) of my own opinion…

  4. Very good point Jason. It is so easy to get caught up in gear and products as people are saying is a great item, when in fact they could be getting something in return for that endorsement. You never hear anyone say the best tool for photography are your eyes and head, but yet these are the tools used to capture the scene in front of you at that time.

    Someone may say that this is the best this or that, but in reality the best thing you can do is be persistent and grow your skill level. As you grow you will find out what you do need, and you know what sometimes that item is even able to be rented.

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