Sounds familiar? I'm sure you've asked a question like this while going through a friend's photo album.
I did it many times, till I saw that angry American photographer, responding to someone over a photography forum.
What's wrong with this question? Well, I'll answer it with a few more questions.
Great presentation! What laptop did you use?
You sang well! What make is that microphone?
Great painting! From where did you buy those brushes?
Superb six! From where did you get that bat?
You are always punctual! What make is your wrist watch!!!
You got the point. Of course one never ask the above 'absurd' questions. But on seeing a gleaming photograph people tends to jump the gun and ask that proverbial camera question. Many photographers considers is as bad etiquette, some even feel insulted.
I was wondering why people ask this question. It is not that they wanted to discredit the photographer. This infamous question happens impromptu as a byproduct of the excitement (it's a great picture, because you had a great camera!).
I think by this question people are trying to accomplish two things in one shot - complement the photographer and trying to get a clue/secret how he/she took such photographs.
Someone said a good photographer takes good pictures irrespective of the camera (more about that in a later post). So next time when you see a great looking picture, ask the photographer what lense did he use, how did he manage to shot or even the camera settings chosen. Far better. You are appreciating the techniques the photographer decided, rather than outright giving an 'award' to that camera. This is how photographer discuss the subject among themselves. Remember, photographers love to brag about their lense collections!
The bonus. You will get a lot more clue than a standard anser, which is obviously the name of an already popular camera.
Of course somewhere down the line you can always ask that itchy question, "which camera did you you use by the way!!?"
Tailpiece: After going through Michael Freeman's "The Photographer's Eye", I find it even embarrassing to ask the exif or lense questions.
Freeman in his book never included any exif data to any of the photographs, and also explained why so. In photography the 'design' is the most differentiating factor than anything else, the camera included! That design happens in photographer's mind, long before that shutter button is pressed. I'm convinced.