There are no ethical camera brands, study finds – Buy used instead

Apr 26, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

There are no ethical camera brands, study finds – Buy used instead

Apr 26, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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“Ethical consumerism” is defined as a type of “consumer activism”. The idea is that the concept of voting with your wallet to convince companies to adopt a more “ethical” approach to their product creation and general operating procedures. Supporting small-scale manufacturers and local artisans, protecting animals and the environment.

One such UK-based organisation on the topic is Ethical Consumer, which has been around since 1989 and rates companies based on how ethical they are. In a recent study of camera manufacturers, however, they found that there isn’t a single ethical camera manufacturer out there, recommending to boycott the lot and simply buy used.

The study was released at the end of 2019 but seems to have only recently been noticed by the photography world, where it was reported on by Inside Imaging. The two overarching means by which they’re testing the companies are its conflict minerals policy, which they say contributes to poor workers rights, pollution and funding armed conflicts, and its toxics policy, do their products contain potentially dangerous toxic chemicals?

On these grounds, they found that none of the companies they looked into was “ethical” by their standards, although some companies did far worse than others. Samsung (do they still even make cameras that aren’t inside smartphones?), Panasonic, Fujifilm and Canon, for example, all scored below 5 out of a possible 20 points.  Sigma scored the highest with a mere 9 out of 20, followed by Hasselblad, Pentax and Ricoh (they’re kinda both the same company) tying for second place at 7.5 out of 20.

As well as the points mentioned above, manufacturers were knocked off points for other factors, too, like if they make and sell items that can be used for trophy or sport hunting, like gun sights or binoculars (that’s Nikon lost a few, then). Whether they manufacture equipment used in government surveillance (which is most of them) was another thing that would drop their point count down.

Ethical Consumer specifically suggest avoiding Samsung, Nikon and Leica, and if you just want to avoid companies with ties to trophy hunting or surveillance, you’ll want to look at Sigma, Hasselblad or Olympus. And if it’s action cameras you want, they say to go for GoPro – although the report doesn’t include any GoPro competitors, like DJI or Insta360 (who is also a Ricoh competitor).

On the “vote with your wallet” principle, though, they recommend avoiding all of them and to buy used equipment instead. Send your money to previous customers rather than the manufacturers to force them to change their ways if they want more sales.

You can read the full report here.

Personally, I’ll buy what gets the job done. New or used. How about you?

[via PetaPixel]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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6 responses to “There are no ethical camera brands, study finds – Buy used instead”

  1. Martin Gillette Avatar
    Martin Gillette

    Again, please stay away from politics. We get enough of that elsewhere. Can you just do the DIY Photography like it says in your damn title? Must we have politics in EVERYTHING!!!!!!

  2. Arthur_P_Dent Avatar
    Arthur_P_Dent

    Binoculars can also be used for bird watching, newsgathering, stargazing or plane spotting. As Isaac Asimov pointed out, technology has no moral dimension.

  3. kj Avatar
    kj

    I hear that nearly all dictators and those who oppress large populations of people use pencils and paper to draw up their plans and write orders for their underlings to carry out. So Ticonderoga should be classified as an unethical company !! Maybe HP should also be classified that way as well since those same evil people use printers in the commission of oppression against innocent people and defenseless animals. And don’t even get me started on how the hunting supporting companies use printers to communicate.

    Now that I think of it, Shouldn’t this “Ethical Consumer” organization stop using the internet since its known that the internet supports groups who hunt. How can they ethically support using tools (internet, computers, etc) that are used to promote hunting and human oppression ???? I say we force them to pull down their website because it gives money to hunting promoters via their ISP’s, computer purchases and web hosting sites.

    Lets get off this ‘holier than thou’ garbage and drop these self-appointed guardians of ethics groups. Use some common sense folks. Ah, I think I see the problem …

  4. John Beatty Avatar
    John Beatty

    I understand where this is going and about but like another poster has said, can we just use our crayons and color within the lines of DIY…

  5. Ron Zielinski Avatar
    Ron Zielinski

    Ethical Consumer is nuts. Everything is getting political. Leave the camera companies alone. Go live in a forest by yourself if you don’t like civilization.

  6. Toy let Avatar
    Toy let

    This is a fabrication, a parody of a trend even. If you were at all serious about this topic, you have to appreciate the irony of using the proverbial devil of ethics to spread your message. We really need to cull people to try to start problems like this. This divisiveness this guy is moral superiority is truly just warmongering from the soul of a firey instigator. You can take your cancel culture, your revision is history and your conflict and just end it with yourself.