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Some Random Rattlings in my head

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by Djarum, Apr 29, 2010.

  1. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    First I'd like to say that I am not, or don't believe to be, any sort of authority on camera equipment or on photography. It is actually quite the opposite, I'm still learning and humbled by those who do great photography.

    I'd also like to mention why I purchased the EP1. I purchased the EP1 because my old faithful Panasonic FZ3 was starting to fail. For those that are not familiar with this camera, it is their second or third generation superzoom point and shoot camera. What I was looking for, even before mFT existed, was a camera that was portable, flexible, produced quality images, and most important, would inspire me to take more pictures and eventually lead me to taking better pictures.

    Now, with that out of the way, to the thoughts rattleing around in my head.

    I was over on the "other forum"(starts with d, ends in w) and I was reading some various posts in regards to the mFT system. There is still a good bit of discussion about various things that mFT does not "compete" with when it comes to larger sensored cameras. Noise, Shadow noise, dynamic range, depth of field....and on and on and on.

    In the astronomy community, the saying goes, that the best telescope is the one that you will use, and use often. Is this not the case in photography also? Isn't the best camera the one that we are willing to take with us and take pictures with? Isn't photography about capturing the best image we can with the equipment we have? Isn't good photography about understanding the limitations of the equipment we have to produce the best quality image we can?

    I've gone around to some of the local art galleries and I always find myself in the section of the gallery that has photographs from local artists. Everything from architecture, landscape, street photography, and documentery are presented. When I see a photo I like, I like it for whatever vision the photographer has that presented to me this image. Some photographers have the equipment mentioned under the picture that they used, others do not. The equipment does not change whether I like the picture or not. I don't look for blown highlights. I don't look for shadow noise. I look at the photograph.

    So I'm left rather perplexed. Does noise, blown highlights, or depth of field matter? Or isn't it the end result, the photograph as a whole what really matters?

    Some of my best photographs have blown highlights. Some have shadow noise. And these are all from my old dated P&S. I've also seen photographs, while having less noise and higher dynamic range, that aren't very good either.
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  2. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    In the end, all that remains is the image.
    Makes no difference what fstop, shutter speed, camera, lens PP etc...
    It's the image that matters.
    So if you make an image and like it...it really doesn't matter about the above list and more. All that matters is that YOU like it. If it achieves a goal that you have for yourself, good, if not, try again.

    There are to prominent ways to view an image.
    First is to look and ask, "How"?
    Second is to ask, "Why"?
    If you are a member of the first group, then continue worrying about fstops, cameras, lenses etc.
    If you are a member of the second group...then go make photos......
    • Like Like x 4
  3. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Streetshooter is right as always. It's the image.

    I'm no pro, but I'll share my journey a bit.

    I had film SLR way back, then went point and shoots (film then digital). I decided I wanted to get more serious, and then went through close to 20 cameras in 2 years (2007-2009) looking for the "perfect" option. That's almost one new camera every month =:-o

    I think, in general, it's a learning process. Each new camera would help me learn technically about some other aspect of photography (shutter speed, aperture, DOF, aspect ratio, etc.). When I got my first DSLR after 15 years of point and shoots , I suddenly "discovered" shallow DOF, and then I went on to think it was the hallmark of good photography. But the more I checked out library books on great photographers (yes, I'm still old school -- I prefer books) the more I realized DOF was only one aspect. So many pictures from these great photographers would be ripped by the DPR crowd (myself included up to maybe 9 months ago). No shallow DOF, blown highlight, missed focus, etc. etc. etc. Yet they were undeniably compelling images.

    In the end, it's a lot easier (and in some ways more fun) to shop for the next piece of kit than it is to admit to yourself that you're not looking or thinking about what you're shooting. And in my experience, having a high speed DSLR with AF actually makes it even easier to "spray and pray" and accidentally, as opposed to intentionally, get a good shot. But the keeper rate is like 1 in 100!

    I think a testament to the Oly EP1, at least for me, is that fact that I've had it since November, sold my 5D about a month ago, and though I still check the marketplace and FredMiranda for grins and giggles, I have had very little compulsion to buy anything else.

    In today's tech-obsessed internet culture, most of us start off in Streetshooter's "how" group. Frankly, it's not bad to spend some time in that group. You do learn a lot, and it does help your craft. But the question is do we stagnate there or can we graduate to the "why" group. DPR is a "how" kind of site. mu-43 seems to be more of the "why" crowd, as is FredMiranda (if you visit their forums, and not just their marketplace).
    • Like Like x 5
  4. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    taking photographs and being a photographer in my mind are two separate things

    A photographer takes photos for other people, generally for money. Of course they are going to require the tools they use to offer the 'best' results - what defines that 'best' is dependent on what their customer want - a sports photographer has a different set of criteria than say a medical photographer.

    If you are like me and am somebody who takes photos primarily for their own gratification, then the camera should be pretty irrelevant. Most cameras available today are capable of taking a clean well exposed picture, so the limiting factor is the person taking the picture.

    Until recently, my 'most interesting' picture on Flickr was one taken with a 3Megapixel Canon ixus about 10 years ago

    That being said, gear lust is hard to resist, and it cannot be denied that an M9 and a full set of Leica lenses has the potential to take the very best quality pictures - but it is only the potential - if you can't take a satisfying shot on a point and shoot then buying the Leica wont change anything - apart from your bank balance.

    I still have that original ixus, but haven't fired it up for years, I have a Canon G9 which i liked a lot, but again never gets used since the E-p1 arrived. I still have my Olympus 510 - and that will still come out if i want to play at being a sports photographer and I have a Canon 5D Mk2 - which was a reward to myself for having a good year of taking photos, and a desire to get that full frame look. PLus the video features appealed to me in a period of personal transition in which i might want to move into the world of being a photographer as opposed to someone who takes pictures.


    • Like Like x 2
  5. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    What happens with me is like this....
    I get a camera...then think about what I want to do with it....which is usually my own work first and money stuff as an after thought.
    Then, I do the GAS thingy fast and get it out of the way.
    Now, I start to work and only think about gear if I find something sexi for the camera....like the Le Hook quick release....

    Now, it's image time.... at this point the frustration of photography only appears in locations..... I can work anywhere. I have the camera, gear so it's down to locations....where is my next image?

    Once the images start happening, and they already did... I will not think about gear until the M9 is $500.00 with a lens....

    I have a friend that can afford anything and has everything....he makes maybe 500-1000 images a year....he's an avid techie and collector but photographer...hmmmm, maybe that definition needs redefining....

    I'm a shooter......that's it....
    • Like Like x 2
  6. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    I enjoy all the technology discussion, and the detailed lab tests are quite useful, but it's a bit of a bear pit over there.

    What we have here is a solid community... the home of m4/3rds. :2thumbs:


    • Like Like x 2
  7. vincechu

    vincechu Mu-43 Regular

    this is an interesting discussion and I have to agree its always very easy to get into camera gear lust mode and to look at the tech specs. But ultimately photography to me is about the final images.

    I think that in this day and age, technology has got to a point that most, if not all, interchangeable lens digital cameras (includes m4/3rds, NX10 + DSLRs) produce good quality, very useable images - with a little know how.

    IMO making a good photo isn't just down gear, it's down to skills and technique. For example the pixel peepers at that other place may complain about noisy high ISO's in lowlight but bring out a tripod and longer exposure time then problem solved.

    Hope you know what I mean, sometimes I'm pretty bad at getting my ideas out lol I guess I mean the latest technology/gear is just an aid to making good photos but not essential.
    • Like Like x 2
  8. vincechu

    vincechu Mu-43 Regular

    we sure do, group hug time lol:grouphug:

    I love it here :) 
    • Like Like x 1
  9. Bill Gordon

    Bill Gordon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    My remarks are very short....it isn't the camera that takes the picture...it is the person behind the camera!!
    • Like Like x 4
  10. cosinaphile

    cosinaphile Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 26, 2009
    new york city
    i wish the ep1 and gf1 had better dynamic range , but as was said, the best camera is the one you have with you , and one of those two machines is in by backpack or around my neck 98%of the time

    the ep1 is my favorite camera and i love using it the gf1 is a close second ...
    when those 2 are too much to carry [ rarely ] my ricoh gx200 or cx1 is on hand and never let me down

    i look and shoot... think ...adjust... look and shoot.....think ...........
  11. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    can't actually think if i have ever wished for more or less dynamic range... not even sure what it actually means in the real world... yes i do know it in theory......its the number of levels of brightness resolution from lightest to darkest

    but have never ever taken a picture and wished for more dynamic range... if my highlights are blown... then i overexposed.. if my shadows are dark and muddy i underexposed

  12. vincechu

    vincechu Mu-43 Regular

    You pretty much just summed up what I wanted to say in a fraction of the words :thumbup: lol
  13. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    Wow. Lots of responses. I don't know where to begin.

    Some of my questions were rhetorical, and I thought by the title of the post, they would have been obvious.

    But I do agree, its the image that matters.

    What I find interesting is, though, that there are people who will say an image is bad because of blown highlights, but someone else will say that the image is good regardless of the blown highlights. Pick anything out in an image that could have been different with a larger sensor and there will be those that will say the image isn't perfect. Is this the way photography should be analyzed these days? I personally feel no, but hey, thats my opinion.
    • Like Like x 2
  14. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    I have personally found that with a P&S, its next to impossible to balance both with harsh lighting. The EP1 for me has turned out better balanced pictures for me in that regards.
    • Like Like x 1
  15. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    I go with my gut on whether or not a photograph truly speaks to me. I don't care at all about whether the technical stuff is not 100% "right" if the image moves me. "Moves me" can cover a lot of ground. It does not have to be an emotional reaction, as in I can appreciate a very graphic representation and really think it's incredible, while I might fall in love with another for a completely different reason. Maybe it is emotional for me, but it doesn't have to be that I want the photograph to hang on my wall for me to think it is really good.

    There are plenty of extremely technically well done photos that leave me flat or that blow me away. So, as I said, I go with my "gut" or my initial reaction which is usually rather visceral.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. pete_t

    pete_t Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 24, 2010
    I agree - its the image that matters. However, we simply like thinking about and discussing the technical bits too - that's half the fun of choosing the next camera, lens or other gadget to buy!

    I think David DuChemin's strap line sums this up well - "gear is good, vision is better". But like many he too loves the gear and then that strapline becomes "screw vision, give me fast and shiny".

    Wish I had thought of that one. See his blog at PixelatedImage.
    • Like Like x 1
  17. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    i think as you move u the ladder with cameras that the metering gets better in working out how to get a better exposure... and of course the sensor resolves those levels better.

    but fundementally , balancing exposure hasn't changed since cameras began - its a basic function of the person taking the photo.

    There is no easy solution to the polar bear on the snowfield stalking the black cat in the coal cellar in the same picture

    • Like Like x 1
  18. Bokeh Diem

    Bokeh Diem Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Mar 14, 2010
    I shoot, therefore I am.

    Oh yeah, and kevinparis, your stuff just blows me away.

    Bokeh D
    • Like Like x 1
  19. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    Phila, Pa USA
    Yo Ed, can you believe this? I can't get a full scale print off my negatives no matter what I do....
    Ansel, listen, you should invent the Zone System. Then when you loose tones on the shadows or the highlights, you can say that it's below the Zone base threshold....
    Nobody will figure that out for years.....

    Ed Listen, I hear there's this guy running around Europe making photos with the little crappy german camera....lika....likea....something like that....
    Anyway, this guy named Andre' develops his film in a small tank....yeah, yeah...he's nuts...he uses 35mm movie film....
    What kinda tonal range....oooops, zone system scale could he get with that small film...

    I had the 3 S's over for a beer the other night...Strand and Steichen were thinking Steiglitz is crazy cause he only ever gets a 5 stop range in his prints......
    sorry, 5 Zones.....

    Anyway Ed...I gotta go invent something that will plague photographers for a lifetime..... I'm gonna name it Latitude or Dynamic Range...something but it sure works like the Zone system to me....

    So the old guys all sat back and figured that no matter what they did...all of them for 200 years, they ain't never getting 12 Zones on a print.....

    I rest my case....
    The above conversation was recorded digitally by Grand Pop Shooter a long time ago.....
    • Like Like x 1
  20. BBW

    BBW Super Moderator Emeritus

    All good stuff, you guys.:drinks:
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