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Jan 25

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It’s not about the camera

As the Nikon rumour mills start churning on the potential D300s and D700 replacements, the D400 and D800 respectively, something occurred to me: cameras are now geek toys. Toys that get upgraded with something faster and better every two to three years. Back when film was the preferred way of capturing an image, product refreshes happened at a much slower pace. Much of the limitation was down to the film. With digital, that has changed. CCD and CMOS sensors adhere to Moore's law and improvements are noticeable with each new generation. Even high-end smart phones boast cameras with at least 5 megapixels these days and some are even capable of 720p video recording. The imaging processors found in the cameras also get updated with each new refresh. Functions you used to have to do on your computer (ie: cropping, red eye removal, sharpening and other artistic effects) can now be done in-camera. The camera can now even remove chromatic aberrations and increase the visible dynamic range of an image. All of this has happened in the span of roughly 6 years (if you consider the Nikon D70 as the first true consumer DSLR). The question is, does everyone need the latest and greatest? I'm guessing for the vast majority of us, we don't need the latest, we just want it. Heck, even I drool over cameras like the D7000 Does the latest help improve the quality of your images? Probably not. If you list any one of the following reasons as to why you need to upgrade, then you probably don't understand your camera.
  • More megapixels means I have better cropping options - If you had to crop your images after you took them, you probably need to visualise your shots more or just get up closer to your subject.
  • But that 8fps camera will mean I'll never miss a shot! - Ever heard of the phrase 'the decisive moment'? If not, read more here. Anticipation is part of the fun of photography, if you just took a machine gun approach to things, where's the fun in it? Granted, some applications do require fast shutter speeds, such as sports. But in everyday photography??
  • My AF is too slow - Along the lines of anticipating, you can always pre-focus. Thanks to a friend, I had a few opportunities to photograph F1 cars going full blast and even my D70s had trouble coping. The easiest way to solve the problem was to pre-focus at a particular point of the race track where I knew cars would go by. Thereafter, it's just a matter of getting your timing right.
I'm definitely missing a few more here... but you get the idea. I've been using my D70s for 4 and a half years now and I still get stumped over how to properly combine its many features every now and again. And this is with the advantage of looking at images immediately after I've taken them. For me, the technical aspects of photography were made vastly easier to understand with digital. However, I keep finding myself hitting a brick wall in terms of creativity. And I suspect, many of us hit that wall once in a while. Perhaps, the solution is to just keep taking pictures and studying them to understand what has happened to create those images. A new camera will probably spur you on to take more pictures, but if you've hit the creative wall, then a new camera will only take you so far if you don't understand the fundamentals in the first place. But Nikon, please don't stop coming up with great cameras! 😉

Permanent link to this article: http://blog.stillworx.com/2011/01/25/its-not-about-the-camera/

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