lens vs. image sensors in digital photgraphy

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

  1. aniramca

    smb Guest

    No, I've not missed the point or ignored anything. The pro on the
    cruise simply did a poor test, so the results simply don't prove
    anything. Plus, we know nothing of his abilities had he used a better
    camera. So the results are meaningless. We didn't even see actual
    examples of images to see what he considers "good" vs "really sucks"
    images from that cruise. It's a good anectdote, nothing more.

    The rest of what you say I've also said, in that you must choose the
    right tool for the job. If the camera limits you from what you want
    to do, then that particular camera is obviously the wrong tool. You
    had no business taking a cheap p&s to the Al Gore gig if you wanted to
    get nice sharp closeups of him. Why didn't you take the better gear
    in the first place?

    Remember, I didn't say that a p&s was just as good in *all*
    situations, I said it was just as good in *some* situations. For some
    photographers, that's all they need. In some cases the p&s can be
    even better than the expensive dslr if it means getting a shot or not
    getting one at all. If a novice has that artistic ability and finds
    that he/she isn't getting the results expected, then he/she will
    quickly find out where the limitation is. It's part of the learning

    Regardless of how your gear limits you, the results you get from it
    are 90% your efforts and 10% the camera's. That has nothing to do
    with saying you could get better results with different gear. That's
    why good photographers tend to gravitate toward better gear as their
    abilities improve.

    I started out with a 1909 vintage box brownie with a waist-level
    viewfinder that was less than an inch on each side. Talk about
    limitations! But I still learned how to compose a photograph with
    it, and used that camera to its full capability. That's what first
    sparked my interest in photography. I did the same thing with other
    cameras I've used over the years, getting better gear when I was at
    the point that I felt I was being limited. But I know it wasn't the
    gear that made me better. The gear just made it easier for me to
    achieve what I wanted and gave me more options to experiment.

    Look, if you want to give your camera all the credit for the nice
    pictures that pop out of it, that's fine. But I know better. More
    expensive cameras never made me a better photographer, it was the
    desire to learn, practice, and a passion for the art that did that.

    I just recently entered some 8x10 prints into an art show /
    competition. Three I made using an obsolete 3 megapixel dslr and an
    off-brand lens, and one with a state of the art 10 megapixel dslr. Two
    of the ones from the older camera won awards, including best of
    category. The one from the 10MP camera didn't win anything. Go

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for nice camera gear. I've got some, and
    I plan to keep it! :)

    smb, Dec 17, 2006
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  2. aniramca

    Paul Rubin Guest

    Better cameras might not make you a better photographer, but even a
    lousy photographer will get some good shots now and then. If good
    equipment can increase the odds, what's the problem?

    Anyway, some of us do photography to get a straightforward record of
    events and don't care about producing fine art. Again, cameras with
    less shutter lag, that can operate at higher ISO, that have faster
    lenses, etc. can help with that considerably, independent of the
    photographer's skill.
    Paul Rubin, Dec 17, 2006
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  3. aniramca

    smb Guest

    Note how you referred to yourself three times in the above paragraph.
    You are giving yourself the due credit whether you realize it or not.

    Again, right tools for the job at hand. Once you realized that a
    300mm lens was the right tool for photographing a shy subject, you got
    a better picture. But the lens didn't take the picture, YOU did. Pat
    yourself on the back, you deserve it.

    If you think otherwise, then why didn't you get the best camera and
    lens that money can buy to get that picture? After all, more
    expensive = better camera = better pictures, right? Again, you chose
    the right tool for the job and your results showed it. I don't recall
    what camera you used, but you could have easily gotten it with an
    entry-level dslr and an off-brand lens. The differences in image
    quality from camera to camera are not all that significant for most
    purposes these days.

    I don't think you don't understand what I said about the relative
    importance of the camera and lens. Under *some* conditions, a p&s can
    be every bit as good as an expensive dslr. I didn't say under *all*
    conditions. Part of the skill of being a photographer is
    understanding what conditions require what gear.

    And regardless of what gear you use, YOU are by far the most important
    contributor to the success you get in using it.

    Here is an interesting article that illustrates this, with lots of
    links to support what he says:


    Then again, there are those who think he merely plays the part of
    Chicken Little for political purposes, and his documentary is based
    on junk science regardless of how many people were duped into paying
    to see it. Very recently scientists were warning us of global
    cooling. Now global warming is the fashionable thing to scare people
    with. Let's not forget that the planet has undergone multiple periods
    of global warming and cooling in its history, long before people were
    driving in automobiles or generating electricity. Here's an
    interesting perspective on the big picture:

    But that's a different topic for another forum, so I won't belabor it
    here. The more appropriate issue would be, would Al Gore take better
    photos with a more expensive camera regardless of the mean global
    temperature? ;-)

    smb, Dec 17, 2006
  4. aniramca

    smb Guest

    You're correct, the percentages are not absolutes. I could just have
    easily said 1% / 99% or 20% / 80%. It's not measurable. The
    point is to illustrate the fact that the photographer has by far the
    most imact on the success of the image regardless of what camera he

    smb, Dec 17, 2006
  5. aniramca

    smb Guest

    There's nothing wrong with it, because that's a big part of the hobby
    aspect for some people. If you are displaying your work with the
    intent of helping other photographers learn, I'm all for it. If
    someone likes what I've done and seriously inquires how I did it, I'm
    happy to share. But I don't advertise those technical details up
    front. To me it just says, "look at the nice camera and lenses I

    If you're showing your work for its own sake, what's the point? Most
    people could care less what camera was used or what the f-stop was.
    No, but they will likely consider you to be a gear head if you insist
    that a more expensive tripod will make you a better photographer. Some
    photographers have the attitude that you aren't serious unless you
    have the best Gitzo legs with an expensive Arco/Swiss Ball Head. Me, I
    just use what works for me. :)

    Again, you are referring to the technical aspects of an image, which
    is only part of what makes a picture good or bad. IMO the biggest
    value of a tripod is that it forces you to take the time to compose
    the image and think more about what you are doing. Maybe it makes you
    think to wait for a different time of day when the lighting is better.
    Maybe it makes you stop and contemplate how changing the camera
    settings would change the overall mood of the picture instead of just
    getting that grab shot. Etc. That results in better content as
    well as better sharpness. I highly endorse using a tripod wherever
    and whenever possible. Even when using a p&s !!!

    You aren't a gear head if you say that you need a tripod and a macro
    lens on a decent slr camera to get really good flower closeups. But
    you are a gear head if you say you need such and such brand and model
    of each of these things to do so; or if you say a more expensive model
    of each will guarantee better pictures.

    smb, Dec 17, 2006
  6. aniramca

    acl Guest

    Yes, I'd say that whoever believes that has never tried anything really
    difficult in his life. My experience, and reading books about this,
    leads me to believe that most worthwhile (=that take a lot of effort
    and give satisfaction to at least the person doing it) results are
    obtained by a process of refinement through something like trial and

    And, to add to this thread, in my job, my equipment is basically a pen
    or pencil. Almost every time I pass outside a bookshop/stationery shop
    I buy a pencil. I have a huge collection of pencils, pens and
    mechanical pencils. If I go to work and forget to take my current
    favourites (two, one with a 0.5mm lead and one with a 0.7mm lead), I
    basically cannot work. Literally. I go back home, get them, and return
    (7km cycling each way). I know for a fact that I am not unique in this
    (but not everybody is like this, either).

    I also have an elastic band which I put around my arm when I am doing
    heavy calculations (it helps me calculate better, really!), but that's
    another story :)
    acl, Dec 17, 2006
  7. aniramca

    smb Guest

    No problem whatsoever. As they say, even a blind pig finds an acorn
    now and them. Note I never said that "bad" equipment was as as good
    as "good" equipment. A good p&s can also increase your odds over a
    "bad" p&s. You don't have to buy a professional level dslr to
    increase those odds.

    I agree completely. If that's what your goals are, and if that will
    help you achieve them, then that's fine. It's another example of
    using the right tool for the job at hand. But regardless of what
    camera you use, it is YOU who control it. It may have auto focus and
    auto exposure, but you have to be in the right place at the right
    time, you have to determine the angle of view, and you determine when
    to press the shutter.

    smb, Dec 17, 2006
  8. aniramca

    Paul Rubin Guest

    A dslr (low shutter lag, faster lenses etc) may increase the odds more
    than any p&s (including good ones) possibly can. Think f/1.4 at ISO 6400
    in a dim nightclub.
    Actually, determining when to press the shutter can itself be a
    significant burden. Sometimes I shoot events with a video camera, not
    because I want video but just to get rid of the burden of deciding
    when to press the shutter (simplifying "point and shoot" into just
    "point"). And even deciding when to start taping with a video camera
    can be a significant burden at an event where things can happen with
    little warning (it takes a few seconds for the tape to load after you
    press "record"). So I often just let the camera run continuously even
    when it's hanging from my shoulder pointed at the sidewalk. Then if
    something starts happening, I can just lift it and aim without having
    to start it running, because it's already running.
    Paul Rubin, Dec 17, 2006
  9. aniramca

    Scott W Guest

    Well in fact I think a p&s needs a tripod even more then a DSLR does
    since it can't shoot fast. A tripod is very much like being able to
    shoot at higher ISO or open a lens to a lower f/number, it extends the
    range of light you can photograph in. And since we all push the limits
    of the light we photograph in the tripod will make the photographs
    better partly because they will not suffer so much from motion blur and
    partly because it is often interesting lighting when it is getting dim.
    But why is it ok to say a tripod will help someone's photography but
    not a camera that allows for a higher ISO or a more open lens?
    I would agree brands don't make much of a difference, although there
    are some pretty amazing cameras if you are willing to spend enough,
    which I am not, at least not for now.

    Scott W, Dec 18, 2006
  10. aniramca

    Scott W Guest

    It matters a great deal whether he or she is using good balls or tennis
    balls, even more so for someone who has not yet learned to juggle. We
    start people off with just one ball, throwing it from hand to hand,
    anyone will do better with a good ball compared to a tennis ball. The
    tennis ball feels awkward and it takes work to make it do what you want
    it to. Is this really much different then a point and shoot that takes
    its on sweet time between the time you push the shutter to the time it
    takes the photo? Who would not take better photos with less shutter
    delay? What is fun to watch is when I give someone a DSLR who has
    been shooting with a point and shoot for a few years, the grin they get
    as they push the shutter and feel the camera respond to them. And if
    in the past you shot with a film SLR, as a whole lot of people did, it
    is like having an old friend back.

    Scott W, Dec 18, 2006
  11. aniramca

    smb Guest

    What you're doing is defining the conditions and then setting the
    rules based on what you've defined. Of course a camera with less
    shutter lag will be better if you're taking pictures of action. But
    for static subjects such as scenics, it doesn't make a bit of

    It's also true that p&s cameras differ among themselves in terms of
    shutter lag. To lump them all together as being "bad" isn't fair.

    When I used my old p&s I found it very easy to get around the shutter
    lag. All I had to do was press the shutter halfway to focus and set
    exposure. Then when I saw the facial expression I wanted, press it
    the rest of the way and the shutter tripped instantly. It really
    wasn't that much of a handicap, you just have to know how to work
    within the tool's limitations.

    smb, Dec 18, 2006
  12. aniramca

    smb Guest

    True, if you do a lot of shooting in nightclubs. But on a bright day
    outside, there is much less of a difference. Again, choose the right
    tool for the job.
    But choosing when to press the shutter is a huge contribution to what
    the photographer brings to the table. It is a skill that some people
    overlook, and many people miss completely.

    smb, Dec 18, 2006
  13. aniramca

    smb Guest

    I explained that. A tripod forces you to slow down and compose your
    pictures more carefully. That helps you to focus on the content of
    the image, which is even more important than the technical aspects. A
    tripod will help in almost all situations, while a higher ISO and
    faster lens will help you get pictures in lower light situations. The
    best single way to improve your photographs, imo, is to use a tripod
    every time you can, even in bright sunlight.

    For example, I have a D200 and I'm quite happy with it. But if I
    spent the money on a D2Xs, would I become a better photographer? No,
    not all. At the same time, if I used a D70 or a D50, would I be less
    of a photographer? No again. Once you get to a certain point, the
    more expensive cameras simply offer more features, better convenience
    and higher durability. The image quality differences become very

    If I were to use a good p&s, would I be a lesser photographer? No
    again, but I would limit myself as to the types of pictures I could

    smb, Dec 18, 2006
  14. aniramca

    ASAAR Guest

    Doing that with my old Canon Powershots wasn't ideal. It did
    reduce the delay, but the delay that remained was still noticeable
    and still too slow for shots of moving objects. According to Imaging
    Resource, Canon's A610 has a prefocus (half press) shutter lag of
    only 0.015 sec, nearly an order of magnitude quicker. Ricoh is also
    supposed to have very short shutter lags.
    ASAAR, Dec 18, 2006
  15. aniramca

    Scott W Guest

    Note at all, to me it sounds like you are setting the conditions and
    the rules. You said the camera contributed very little to a
    photograph, but it is becoming clear what you should have said was that
    under very limited conditions the camera contributes very little to the
    Well now why does it matter if we are talking about a good p&s or a bad
    one, after
    all it is the photographer and not the camera that matters, right? I
    mean if that is the premise, that the camera makes little difference,
    it seem a bit unfair they you now want to use a good point and shoot.

    Right there is nothing better to get a candid photo of someone by
    pointing a camera at them and holding it there. If you want to live
    with the shutter lag fine but there is no way you can tell me it does
    not make a huge differance, I do shoot with both a point and shoot and

    Scott W, Dec 18, 2006
  16. aniramca

    smb Guest

    I've always said you must use the right tool for the job. That's a
    basic condition that goes without saying.

    For example, it is not setting conditions and rules to say that a
    mechanic must use a wrench instead of a pair of pliers to tighten a
    bolt, even though the latter could do the job. What you seem to be
    saying is that since an air-powered wrench can do the job faster than
    a box wrench, he will be a better mechanic if he just buys an
    air-powered wrench. However, the mechanic still has to know which
    bolts to tighten, and why. The "better" wrench may make him
    better-equipped, but it won't make him a better mechanic. In fact,
    sometimes his old box wrenches are perfectly adequate for some jobs,
    and sometimes they even work better.

    So yes, given the conditions you are working with, and assuming you're
    using the right tool, the camera contributes very little. But first
    we have to be comparing apples to apples.

    A p&s with a long shutter lag is a bad tool for photographing action.

    A p&s with less shutter lag is a better tool for photographing action.

    A dslr with very small shutter lag is a good tool for photographing

    A professional level dslr with zero shutter lag and 5 fps shooting
    speed is an excellent tool for photographing action.

    However, not all photographs are of action, so any of the above could
    be fine, depending on the situation, the subject and the end use of
    the photograph. Wonderful pictures are made all the time with all of
    the above, just look at the online galleries out there.

    What you're saying is that the camera is most important because you
    couldn't get good results with a p&s taking action pictures or
    closeups of geckos. That means one of two things: 1) The camera you
    were using wasn't suited to those kinds of pictures, or 2) You were
    unable to use that camera to get those pictures, even though another
    photographer may have been able to. A more expensive camera enabled
    you to get those pictures. Again, two things: 1) Your new camera was
    better suited for those kinds of pictures, or 2) The new one was
    easier to operate or more automated in some way so that you could
    concentrate more on getting the image instead of trying to use the

    And walking around with a big dslr and zoom lens around your neck is a
    way to not attract attention to yourself and get good candids? :)

    This was just an example of how you can use a tool even if it has
    limitations. I wasn't saying that you should always use a p&s for
    candids. But if that is all you have, it is a way to work around the
    limitation. It's an example of how the photographer provides the
    greatest input into the success or failure of the picture.

    Give yourself the credit you deserve.

    smb, Dec 20, 2006
  17. Scott,
    Give up. When your up against someone who calls global
    warming "junk science" there will be no changing their

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

    dj_nme Guest

    Roger N. Clark (change username to rnclark) wrote:
    I think you got your attributions wrong, SMB is the one stating that the
    photog is more important than the camera in the picture taking equation.
    Scott is the one arguing that a does-everything camera will take nice
    photos despite the operator.
    Unless Roger, your camera does take nice photos and you're just along
    for the ride.
    dj_nme, Dec 20, 2006
  19. aniramca

    J. Clarke Guest

    And when you are up against someone who is sure that is isn't there's no
    changing their minds either.

    What is certain is that in the short term (noting that the
    paleoclimatological evidence suggests a climate cycle on the order of
    120,000 years, not the 100 or so on which the argument for "global
    warming" is based) there has been a temperature increase.

    What is not certain is (a) whether that was caused by human agencies or
    is a natural occurrence and (b) whether attempting to reverse that trend
    is going to lead to desirable results.

    Take a look at the Antarctice Ice Core data at

    Note what happens in every previous climate cycle going back half a
    million years--there's a high peak followed by a precipitate drop. Not
    what happened at the last peak--it wasn't as high, the temperature fell a
    little, and then bounced around a mean for 10,000 years or so.

    Now, ask yourself, if in fact that stabilization is the result of human
    activity, then when whatever activity that might be is _stopped_, _then_
    what is going to happen? Is the temperature going to remain stable or is
    that precipitate drop going to happen several times as fast and possibly
    a good deal farther?

    And if you think you know the answer to this ask yourself how _sure_ you
    are that you know the answer and what the consequences would be if you are

    If in fact the temperature of the planet continues to increase at the
    current rate then certain unpleasant things will happen. The desire to
    prevent those is understandable. But if instead we get another
    glaciation, that also comes under the heading of "unpleasant things".

    A rule of technological survival is that if you don't understand a system
    that is keeping you alive, then don't mess with it. We don't understand
    enough about climate to know what any given human intervention will do.
    That being the case, we shouldn't mess with it. Now, you'll probably
    argue that global warming _is_ a human intervention--that may or may not
    be the case but if it is it is one that has been going on for a long time
    with no immediately disastrous consequences--we don't know what will
    happen if we stop it and we better damned well figure _that_ part out
    before we do.

    Now, you may come up with some argument about predictions by
    climatological computer models. The trouble with those is that they are
    based on a hundred years or so of data and as far as I know _none_ of them
    has demonstrated an ability to predict the kind of cycle that is shown in
    the ice-core data. And that being the case, we have no idea at all if
    they are actually considering all the significant factors.

    The paleoclimatologists have for a long time been arguing that rushing to
    "fix" global warming without fully understanding it is likely to be a
    recipe for disaster, but nobody wants to listen to them--they get shouted
    down by those who think that Something Must Be Done NOW even if it is the
    wrong thing. And unlike Victorian England where doing the wrong thing
    meant that you lost some soldiers, in climatology doing the wrong thing
    can mean the end of civilization.
    J. Clarke, Dec 21, 2006
  20. aniramca

    Scott W Guest

    But that is not at all what I have been saying. What I have been
    saying is very simple, if you give a person a better camera they will
    take better photos. I have seen this with every person I know who has
    gone to shooting with a better camera.

    And when I point out that I am getting much better shots with a DSLR
    then I was with a point and shoot I am told that it is not the camera
    but my skill in knowing I need to use the DSLR, how this can make any
    sense at all is beyond me.

    I still do a lot of photographer with a point and shoot, I get far
    better photos when I use the DSLR.

    But no where have I said that camera does it all.

    Scott W, Dec 21, 2006
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