lens vs. image sensors in digital photgraphy

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by aniramca, Dec 9, 2006.

  1. aniramca

    Scott W Guest

    The answer to this is pretty simple, many of use know the photos was
    want to take and have over the years found that our equipment/film has
    limited what we could capture. It really has to do with one's
    mindset, are you setting off to take good photos or do want to capture
    image of what is around you? If I am trying to get a good photograph
    of a whale that is some distance away no amount of artistic eye is
    going to help, I will need a longer lens. If I am shooting in low
    light no amount of artistic eye is going to help if I am stuck shooting
    with a f/3.5 lens and ISO 100, I need a faster lens and a higher ISO.

    Scott W, Dec 10, 2006
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  2. aniramca

    smb Guest

    Well, actually, under many conditions that $150 camera can be every
    bit as capable of photos that are as good as that $5000 camera. Some
    of the technical differences are only obvious at high magnification.
    Where the expensive camera comes into its own is in extending the
    range of conditions where you can get technically good images.

    Absolutely. But someone with a low budget need not feel he is doomed
    to making mediocre photographs. I'm thoroughly convinced of the 90%
    / 10% rule, whereby the camera contributes 10% to the success of any
    photograph. The 90% comes from who is using the camera.

    I don't know if you know of the legendary photographer Ernst Haas, but
    I'm reminded of a remark he made to someone who kept asking him about
    the Leica cameras he used in his work... his response was something
    like, "Leica, Schmeica, the only thing that matters is in your head."

    Yes, very true. But IMO that's just a matter of using the right tool
    for the job. Tools always get better, as do the expectations of
    those using them.

    But back to the $150 vs $5000 camera... anyone who has not mastered
    the craft of creating interesting photographs with the lesser camera
    will be woefully disappointed with his new expensive camera. The
    images may be a bit sharper and better exposed, but will the content
    of the images be improved? Hardly. If someone can't get down the
    basics of lighting, composition, decisive moment to press the shutter,
    etc with a normal lens, they won't get much of an improvement using a
    wide angle or telephoto or all the megapixels in the world.


    smb, Dec 10, 2006
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  3. That's simply comlete BS, _unless_ you specify that you are not allowed to
    print larger than 4x6". And don't care about the vast majority of what are
    considered "good photographs".

    Which was KR's claim.

    Basically, it's an extremely stupid straw man argument. If you want flash
    snaps of your parties, and won't be printing much larger than 4x6", a P&S
    camera is exactly the right tool. Doh! How stupid can you get?
    Right. The better camera only comes into it's own if you actually care about
    the images. For example, if you think deer-in-the-headlights expressions
    with horror-film eyes are "good photos", then P&S onboard flash is even
    better than the 5D, which doesn't have a flash.
    There are a lot of things current P&S cameras can't do. They can't take a
    decent portrait with the background blurred out of focus. They can't take
    available light portraits, they can't do bounce flash. The list is quite
    long, actually.

    About the only thing they can do is take P&S record shots. (Which is a very
    useful thing, especially if that's what you need.) But "good photography" is
    largely out of their range.
    In those days, the alternatives were also 35mm film cameras, and had similar
    properties to the Leica. Both Nikon and Canon made rangefinders, for
    example. (Although the Rollei TLR was the main alternative in those days.)
    Right. But the $150 P&S camera is the right tool for only one job: P&S
    record shots.
    If someone actually understands what good photography is about (i.e. has
    seen quality portraits, landscapes, architecture) and wants to do that kind
    of work, they'll instantly see vast improvements in their work by getting a
    5D plus the appropriate lenses.

    Practicing with a P&S won't do them any good at all, since it simply can't
    do the work.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Dec 11, 2006
  4. aniramca

    smb Guest

    Sorry, you're wrong. Well, you're right that an expensive camera
    will let you do more things and will give you more ultimate quality,
    but you're totally wrong that a P&S camera is not capable of good
    photography. Check out this gallery to see what a P&S can do in the
    hands of someone who understands photography beyond what you can read
    in the consumer photo magazines:


    Absolutely superb work by any standards, all done with a now-obsolete
    3MP P&S. I used to own one of those same models, and I can vouch for
    how good a lowly P&S can be if you know how to use it beyond the idiot

    If you think holding a 5D in your hands will somehow make you a better
    photographer, you're fooling yourself. However, in the right hands a
    better tool has more potential. But it's still the person holding the
    camera that makes the picture. If you think you need a $5000 camera
    to make good photographs, go for it. The camera companies thank you
    very much. :)

    smb, Dec 11, 2006
  5. aniramca

    Jeff R. Guest

    What he said.

    Jeff R., Dec 11, 2006
  6. aniramca

    jeremy Guest

    There is nothing wrong with wanting the latest (and, hopefully, best)
    equipment. But we all know people for whom all the equipment in the world
    would not make them better photographers, and that is the group that I am
    critical of.

    Those are the folks that proudly display expensive cameras on their neck
    straps. We used to refer to them as the "Cameras As Jewelry" crowd, but now
    that cameras are mainly polycarbonate, that description seems somewhat

    That is the group for whom photography is, not the result, but the

    That is the crowd that tends to be attracted to newsgroups like this one,
    where they can recite specs from memory, and where they can put down those
    that have not kept up with the latest equipment.
    jeremy, Dec 11, 2006
  7. aniramca

    Bill Funk Guest

    *CAN* be. But they are only in certain conditions. In other
    conditions, the $5000 camera produces better pictures.
    If you want to limit yourself to those conditions where the $150
    camera does as well as thew $5000 camera, then *FOR YOU* the less
    expensive cameras is as good as the better camera.
    But those who continue to say the $150 camera is as good as the $5000
    camera don't make that distinction.
    Considering the subject matter, composition, decisions as to shutter,
    aperture, etc, yes, I absolutely agree. Never disagreed.
    But if the camera isn't up to delivering a decent photo, no
    photographer will get a decent photo.
    Yeah, and Bill Clinton said, "I never had sex with that woman..."
    Obviously, if all you want to see is a picture in your head, the
    camera doesn't matter. But, if you want others to see the same thing,
    you need a camera.
    And if the camera you have isn't capable of delivering the image you
    have in your head, but a better camera will, the camera matters, too.
    I'm not arguing that, and I think I'm being pretty specific about
    Bill Funk, Dec 11, 2006
  8. aniramca

    Bill Funk Guest

    The tool is important.
    If a surgeon tried to remove your appendix with a dull spoon, I think
    you'd object.

    Why some people try to make photography all about the photographer
    beats me. Without the camera, photography doesn't exist. It's the
    mechanics of the camera that enables the photographer to capture the
    image his creativity has imagined. If the camera isn't up to the task,
    the photograph the photographer imagined won't be realized.
    Bill Funk, Dec 11, 2006
  9. aniramca

    Jeff R. Guest

    IOW: "You take great pictures. You must have a really good camera."
    Jeff R., Dec 11, 2006
  10. aniramca

    Rich Guest

    Impossible. Unless you use some strange cut-off point for your
    valuation of "every bit."
    Rich, Dec 11, 2006
  11. aniramca

    jeremy Guest

    There is nothing wrong with that statement--it just means that the admirer
    does not understand that the camera itself was not the creator of that great

    But the folks that parade around displaying the latest "wunderkameras" but
    who cannot take a decent image, are the ones I am critical of. What is
    THEIR excuse?
    jeremy, Dec 11, 2006
  12. aniramca

    Jeff R. Guest

    But that's the point. The statement is fallacious for that reason.
    Great pictures can be taken with very humble equipment.
    Jeff R., Dec 11, 2006
  13. aniramca

    jeremy Guest

    I agree, but most people, especially those that are unfamiliar with
    photography, do not understand that. They assume that the camera was solely
    jeremy, Dec 11, 2006
  14. aniramca

    Jeff R. Guest

    Ahh! We agree.

    Jeff R., Dec 11, 2006
  15. ROFL. But exactly.
    What's funny, though, is that they've got it exactly backwards. The good
    images that have been taken with cheap cameras are invariably taken by
    people with extensive experience with serious cameras and brought that
    expertise to the small cameras. For example, someone who understands
    lighting will drop their G2 into several thousand dollars of studio lighting
    for the fun of it or in place of polaroids. And then some twit comes along
    and says "See, he didn't need that 1Dsmk2 after all." Great.
    Exactly, again.

    David J. Littleboy
    Tokyo, Japan
    David J. Littleboy, Dec 11, 2006
  16. aniramca

    Jeff R. Guest

    That metaphor is an order of magnitude (or more) exaggerated.
    A dull spoon cannot cut tissue. A cheap camera *can* take good photographs.
    Better to say "a sharp kitchen knife", perhaps.

    My daughter, seven years old at the time, took a brilliant series on
    kite-flying with her cheap P&S.
    Thousands of other anecdotes lurk beneath the surface.

    Rubbish again.

    Who gets the best results? The experienced master with a $10 35mm
    disposable, or the klutz with the 5D?
    Or do 5Ds have an "auto-compose" function?
    And an automatic spirit level to keep the horizon level?

    Both are important, the user and the tool. The competent user will
    compensate for the inadequacies of the humbler tool, but the tool ain't
    clever enough to tell the klutzy photographer where to point and when to
    Jeff R., Dec 11, 2006
  17. No, I have not.
    There are Nikons on the above pages. Are you referring
    to other Nikons? I have the Nikon D50, D70, and D200.
    I do not have any Pentaxes yet (I would like to

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Dec 11, 2006
  18. aniramca

    J. Clarke Guest

    However a surgeon with a Swiss Army Knife, a couple of bottles of Scotch,
    and a Navy-issue sewing kit is far more likely to successfully remove your
    appendix without killing you than is a non-surgeon working in the best
    equipped operating room in the country.
    The point which people like you consistently miss is that even today's
    "crummy" consumer cameras are incredibly capable compared to what, say,
    Matthew Brady, had available to him. If one cannot produce a decent image
    with a point-and-shoot spending a hundred grand or whatever on a
    complete Canon system isn't going to magically give one that ability,
    anymore than putting him in the main OR at Mayos is going to turn some
    random person picked off the street into a surgeon.
    J. Clarke, Dec 11, 2006
  19. There is a big difference between film P&S cameras versus film SLRs,
    and digital P&S cameras versus DSLRs. The small pixel sizes in
    cheap digital P&S cameras collect so few photons the images are quite
    noisy. With film, the sensor was the same between P&S versus SLR.
    The differences are clearly shown here:

    Digital Cameras: Does Pixel Size Matter?
    Factors in Choosing a Digital Camera

    In particular, see the images in Figures 4 and 5.

    More here:

    A Photographic Image Quality Test Using the Moon
    (This test shows the images can be close.)

    I have another series of night photography images, taken a couple of
    weeks ago of Waikiki beach and the city with an S70 ($400)
    versus 1D Mark II ($4000). The S70 images at ISO 100 look
    about like the 1D Mark II images at ISO 1600. But the 1D II
    images at iso 100 are quite stunning. I'll add these new
    images to the pixel size web page when I get some time. Note, I did
    this well before I knew about the KR article. My opinion of
    that article and others on his site, are: KR is the Fox News
    of photo web sites: "fair and balanced."

    There is more info on performance differences between
    large pixel and small pixel cameras at:

    Digital Camera Sensor Performance Summary

    When P&S cameras have large pixels, like around 6-microns,
    then performance with DSLRs will be very close in many situations,
    including low light and high ISO.

    None of this implies one can't take great pictures with a digital
    P&S camera, just the camera will be a limiting factor in some
    situations, to effectively impossible in others. But when there
    is a lot of light and no need for speed with fast action, the
    current digital P&S cameras do very well.

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark), Dec 11, 2006
  20. aniramca

    Scott W Guest

    But what this misses is a rather large part of photography for most of
    us, we want to photograph those things that we want to photograph, not
    just those things that are easy to photograph. So you come with me
    sometime with a cheap point and shoot and try to get the photos that I
    want to get. So What if you can take a good looking photo with a 50mm
    lens, if it is not the photo that I want what good does it do me?

    I photograph to capture what is around me and what goes on around me
    and a better camera helps a lot with this. I photographed for many
    years with a film SLR mainly using one 50mm f/1.4 lens, just because I
    got good photos with this setup does not mean that better gear would
    not make a difference, and in fact it has made a huge difference.

    Here is just one example where I missed the shot where a better camera
    could have captured it.

    There was not a lot of light and I was out on a very small canoe in
    water that was not flat, the camera was already well past the ISO
    setting that it could handle and still get a clean image and yet the
    shutter speed was still too slow. With my DSLR this photo would have
    be very doable. So what if at a different time under different
    lighting I could have got a decent photo with the same camera, this was
    the moment in time that the camera was not up to the task of capturing
    it. I also have a number of blurry photos of whale when the light was
    getting low and I was fairly close to the whale, here again a better
    camera would have made all the difference. But my little point and
    shoot is waterproof so that is what I have with me in the ocean.

    And no matter how get a photo is from my point and shoot if I had shot
    the same shot with my DSLR it would be noticeably better.

    This is a photo of friends of my from the canoe club I belong to, they
    are about 2 seconds from crossing the finish line and taking first
    This is not an artistic shot, but it captures exactly the feel I wanted
    to capture, and it was the camera in large part that made it possible.
    What is more if I had a better lens I could have done better on this

    In this photo there was hardly enough light to read the menus, but I
    got the photo using available light.
    This is clearly not a photo of any worth other then me, but to me it
    captures part of an evening with friends at a rather well know pizza
    place in town. If this photos does not measure up to anyone standers
    for artistic merit that is just too bad, it is the photo that I wanted,
    and what is more 20 years from now it will likely have a lot of value
    to me.

    So if you are going to try and tell me the camera does not matter I am
    going to ask that you try and capture the photos I want and then get
    back to me.

    Scott W, Dec 11, 2006
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