Thanks again for your thoughtful reply which I feel deserves some comments from my side. I had, for the sake of brevity, reduced my views to an extent which open them up to justified attack. I would like to defend against those.
Science and engineering is a big part of photography as a whole. But it is a small part of GOOD photography.
Some photographers are obcessed with the technical aspects. Some of them are really good photographers too. But in my experience, most of the really good photographers get a camera that is good enough and then they focus totally on making photographs.
Whether that part is small or not is of course open to debate, which I would rather not do in this thread. After all, we (mostly myself) started sort of a meta-debate on the general decision-making process as such, unrelated to the thread openers specific question. I hope he can bear with me though.
I completely agree with you, that throwing money at photography (or at a photographer) doesn't guarantee good output. Giving expensive equipment at the hands of a mediocre photographer doesn't miraculously make her/him poroduce better output. Quite to the contrary, I believe: the better equipment will make his personal deficiencies at the art much more obvious, leaving less excuses to hide behind. Some may consider this as daunting, others as a positive challenge. I see myself on the latter side.
On the other hand, giving a good photographer better equipment is very likely to make her/him deliver better output. That's what I'm aiming at. 8-) (Although I'm certainly not anywhere near being a good photographer yet.)
What matters is how you use the equipment and the strengths, limitations and character that is inherent in the equipment.
Thanks again for giving me these three great keywords.
This is exactly what I mean when I refer to reliably measured, comparable test results. These define the maximum, theoretically possible "profile" of a given piece of equipment.
The dxo website, which I've linked before, has opened itself up to the scrutiny of a peer review, by describing in full detail the applied standards and procedures when testing bodies/sensors and lenses. They claim, which I trust, that all devices are subjected to identical testing procedures. That's what I call "unbiased": The tester has no particular interest in any specific output. He reports what a defined test procedure results in.
At this point I would like to include a quote of a famous German scientist: Max Planck:
"An experiment is a question, science poses to Nature.
And a measurement is the recording of Nature's answer".
I have found that I still prefer the look of film. But I don't have the time to shoot everything with film. So I have bought digital cameras and lenses which produce an old school look and feel to the images. It's usually older gear from when engineers still had one foot in film photography.
Now, you can't really measure if a lens or a camera produces and old school look. But you can see it and other people can tell you about gear that, to their eye, produces such a look.
I'm quite positive, that we, after a couple of beers or so, would easily come to an agreement as to what constitutes an "old school look". Be it an amount of distortion, chromatic aberration, vignetting or any other type "deficiency" (=deviation from physical perfection). As an engineer I believe, those criteria can be measured, and thus reproduced. Being able to reproduce a trait makes you immediately able to predict, how well another piece of equipment will be able to reproduce the desired trait.
So, if you see other people's opinions as an expression of their experience, they may be quite valuable
No doubt about that. But at this point I refrain from digressing about the decision making process involving many differing and possibly contradicting sub-goals. Maybe we should open up a separate thread on this topic. The question of making optimal decisions does not only appear in this forum. And the procedure to follow is not confined to the realm of photography, either.
I've come to learn earlier in my life, that discussions with science-deniers are generally a waste of time.
That said, I still have this much for you:
I find it quite amusing, that you openly scorn science, engineering in general and figures in particular, yet see no problem in using digital cameras, computers and the internet, all of those, believe me, involved a hell of a lot of science, engineering and - believe me - figures. =8-)
Now go figure!