March 12, 2006 09:29 – Is Photography becoming too technical?
Having started my “career” in photography at the tender age of 13, way back in 1980, I remember thinking that things seemed so complicated to start with.
F-Stops, shutter speeds, ASA (ISO) ratings, double exposures, depth of field and the “wet” darkroom all took a little getting used to, although it was still great fun.
Nowadays, as a full time professional photographer, I spend quite a bit of time online and in photography forums researching digital cameras, lenses, software and new techniques and I am constantly bewildered by the amount of sometimes unnecessary technical jargon.
I feel for any newbie’s to digital photography as there seems to be added pressure to be able to manipulate your images beyond recognition before they are deemed as “quality”.
Books and websites are now packed out with technical data, facts and figures that are really not so important when starting out. It is all too easy to become confused and put off by thinking that you need to know all this…you don’t, not for now at least!
It all started when digital technology hit the mainstream buying public and even more so when Digital SLR’s became more affordable to the masses.
Everywhere I go now I see arguments and discussions for;
- The amount of mega-pixels necessary to get a good shot.
- Noise (or grain) issues from digital sensors.
- Dynamic range is a favourite, probably because using the term sounds like you know your onions!
- Purple fringing or chromatic aberrations.
- The “crop factor” of a camera’s sensor.
- Menu layout, buffer and start up times, image stabilisation the list goes on.
What many people need to realise is that all of the above is simply irrelevant when beginning as a photographer. It is still mostly irrelevant as you progress too, and you only really need to fully understand these things if you intend to sell your images or services.
The point of my ramblings is to let people know that all you need to do is this;
- Understand the basic principles of photography. Exposure, composition and lighting.
- Know how to upload and “develop” your images digitally using even basic software, to the point where they resemble how it would have looked if your old film lab had done the job.
- Print, show online via a website or email to friends, family or clients.
- Simply go out and enjoy yourself.
If you can put a camera to your eye, see a good picture and know how to capture it as you see it, you are half way there.
As testimony to much the above, most of the large professional stock libraries in the world only accept original, unsharpened, un-manipulated images no fancy stuff.
(Smaller designer-based stock agencies including Microstock companies are partial to both original photographic files right up to heavily manipulated digital images).
All you need to do is take your Digital SLR camera, lenses and accessories and go out and have fun. Enjoy getting “back to basics” and learning the true art of photography and worry about the rest later.
The following may be of use to those who have just bought or about to buy a new DSLR (Digital SLR). It will hold you by the hand and walk you through all the need to know areas of digital photography at grass roots level.
All the best and good luck with this fantastic hobby!
March 24, 2006 11:43 – The importance of research when buying a camera!
This is just something I want to get off my chest and at the same time, try to get across to people the importance of your own due diligence and research.
When I upgraded from the Canon EOS 10D to the EOS 20D, the upgrade in image quality was amazing. Whilst the 10D was (and still is) a great camera, the 20D excelled in quality at high ISO’s, dynamic range and colour rendition…I love this camera.
Even when I bought the EOS 1D Mark II for weddings, commercial and stock photography, I still found that the 20D outperformed in certain areas. The Mark II had some noticeable noise in underexposed areas, although it is an absolute powerhouse in every other respect.
The quality I was getting from the 20D with my portraits, product photography and stock images was fantastic, with particular regard to clarity of colours and light, topped off with a pin sharp finish. Everything about its simplistic “usability” was fine with me too. I tend to shoot aperture priority or manual and don’t really fuss with too many technical aspects; I don’t need all the gizmos and gadgetry that tend to confuse many people.
My only gripe was the sensor size and the files it produced.
The larger stock agencies that I submit images to such as Alamy, require file sizes of 48MB and up, this meant, with the 20D, interpolating (increasing) the pixels by up to 180% using Genuine Fractals. Whilst the quality is pretty good at this size, I simply wanted better.
I had been looking at upgrading to the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark II for a while as it throws out 50MB RAW files, but constantly argued with myself as to whether the cost of this beast could be justified. Just as I was about to order it the Canon EOS 5D was announced…wow!
It had everything I loved about the 20D from a manageable and lightweight size, simplicity of control but now had a full frame, 12MP sensor…this is exactly what I had been waiting for. I am glad they kept it simple and even glad that they removed the built in flash. I never use it and feel that it compromises the “robustness” of a camera.
I started to read reviews and liked what I read. I flew back to the UK at Christmas and tried my brothers new 5D. The screen was amazing, the viewfinder took me back to the days of professional film SLR’s and the quality of images blew me away. To top it all, I only need to interpolate by an extra 16% to reach the required quality for stock images.
Perfect! So I ordered it last week. Whilst it was winging its way here (after some issues with my bank finally got sorted) I read some more reviews, including one in particular (I won’t mention names because that is not what I am about).
I can’t make out whether the reviewer had recently had a falling out with Canon or just wasn’t that much into photography (it is an electronics site…a very popular one too). The review expressed concerns at the lack of new features after the 20D amongst many other things that I won’t go into here, and gave the camera a “below average” rating.
Needless to say the reviewer received a few heated comments from readers and users of the 5D who disagreed with many aspects of the review. One person said “If it ain´t broke, don’t try and fix it” which really made sense to me.
All I wanted was to put a full frame sensor in the 20D with a few more megapixels! The increase in screen size, addition of picture styles and more professional “look and feel” were just bonuses as far as I was concerned.
If I had relied on this review, I may well not have bought this camera and opted to shell out thousands more for a camera which only just produces slightly better images.
The review website has even changed their initial ratings on a few products which totally threw me. I probably won’t take too much notice of their reviews in future.
The whole point here is that everyone is different in what they want, like or need from a camera. Most reviewers online are excellent and give an impartial review and look at all the pros and cons from many angles.
There are so many of you now looking at buying a new DSLR or upgrading to a new one, it is important to do plenty of research beforehand. Read at least 5-10 reviews from people like Fred Miranda, DPreview, Steve’s Digicams or Photo.net and make your own mind up.
Go to a store and feel it in your hands. Does it do what you need it to do, will it get the job done? Does it “feel” right? Do you like it?
If you are going to fork out a large chunk of your hard-earned cash on a camera, make sure you get the one that is right for you and that will last at least a few years.
I will write a full review on the Canon EOS 5D at All Things Photography once I have used it for a while.
I feel better now!
All the best,
All Things Photography