Believe it or not, right after “Which camera/lens should I buy?” – one of the most popular questions we get at Photofocus goes something like this…

“I just bought a __________ (Fill in the Blank) and on one of the camera forums, I heard that it (take your pick)  ____________ a. had back focus issues b. is soft c. I got a bad copy – what should I do?”


Okay kids, it’s time for Doctor Bourne to diagnose your problem, and it appears that you’ve contacted the very dangerous epidemic that is passed from camera forum to camera forum. It’s called CAMERA HYPOCHONDRIA! (or LENS HYPOCHONDRIA – again – take your pick.)

The Internets – a well-known series of TUBES as one has-been politician once called them, are full of know-it-alls, pixel peepers, fanboys and trolls. And one of their favorite things to do is to talk smack about nearly ANY new camera or lens. LIKE CLOCKWORK, within a few days of ANY camera being released, I’ll be flooded with….

“Did you hear that the new _______________ has back focus issues?”

Again – Sigh…

People – relax! 98% of ALL cameras and ALL lenses are better than 99% of ALL photographers! Yes, VERY, VERY rarely, a camera may ship with extremely minor faults. It may even back focus by 1/10th of a millimeter. But even if it didn’t the chances are that it wouldn’t help your photography. Most photographers simply aren’t good enough to take advantage of a perfectly functioning camera. And most of these perceived ills are simply NOT THERE or not there enough to matter!

While you may indeed get a “bad copy” of a new lens, the chances are slim that it’s REALLY a bad copy. What’s WAAAAAAY more likely is, you got a good copy but your lack of self-confidence, your buyer’s remorse, and a troll named Ernie picking at your decision have all conspired to cause you to develop a bad case of CAMERA HYPOCHONDRIA!

Don’t worry – there is a cure for this and it won’t cost you a thing. Avoid the pedantic, pixel peepers who permeate the online camera forums. I hate to break it to you, but a guy named “Star Wars 198” who knew a guy, who’s sister dated a postal worker, who delivered a photo magazine to a man in New Jersey who said he thinks he saw something bad about YOUR NEW CAMERA is NOT – I repeat NOT an authority on the health and well-being of your new camera or lens or whatever!


This obsession with perfection can only happen in a time and place FULL of first-world problems. I’ve tested every new camera from Nikon and Canon since 1995. I have sometimes tested as many as a dozen copies of some of these cameras. I’ve likewise tested nearly 100 different camera lenses, and another 100 compact cameras from companies as diverse as Olympus to General Electric. In all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve seen ONE legitimate autofocus problem – with the Canon 1D MK III that was endemic to the camera system. I’ve seen ONE bad copy of a Sigma 300-800 lens and one bad copy of a Sigma 50-500 lens. THAT’S IT! Sure there have been a few other problems here and there, but nothing along the lines of the complaints I hear in the forums. Just because someone in the camera club says “That camera has back focus issues,” doesn’t mean it’s true. And even if it is, it probably won’t impact you.

We’re FAR too focused on our tools folks and not nearly focused enough on our subjects! The worst gear you can buy today is better than then BEST gear you could buy 25 years ago and yes, 25 years ago I was making good photographs and selling them to feed my family.

So it’s really quite simple. Yes, occasionally, and I mean very rarely, cameras and lenses have systematic problems that need to be addressed. (No need for you to send me an email assuring me that it was indeed YOUR camera that was bad.) In the extremely unlikely case where your camera or lens is truly impacted, you will soon enough hear about it from a reliable source and it will probably be resolved. In the mean time, relax, go out and shoot. Worry about the light, the expression on the model’s face, the leading lines through the composition. There’s far more danger OUT THERE than IN YOUR CAMERA.

And if all else fails, take two aspirin and call me in the morning!

This post sponsored by X-Rite Color and the ColorChecker Passport

Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. […] it buyer’s remorse? Is it fear of the troll? Whatever causes it, camera/lens hypochondria is a really big issue. Thecure? Avoid the Internet, no one wants to see photos of your computer screen, […]

  2. […] in den USA dafür sogar einen Begriff: “lens hypochondria”? Scott Bourne beschreibt in diesem Artikel, was genau dieses Phänomen ist und wie man es heilen kann. Und der Mann muss es wissen – […]

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