Archive for the Editorial Category

We’ve Moved!

Posted in Editorial with tags , on Monday, January 25, 2010 by Miserere

by Miserere

  

Dear Readers,

We’re moving the blog to its own host and domain name. This will allow us to customise the blog to our needs, and hopefully make posting easier for us. From now on all new content will be published on EnticingTheLight.com.

Please update your bookmarks and RSS feeds. Anyone clicking through to any articles in the (now officially) old blog, will be redirected automatically to the new site. In fact, if you’re reading this, you already are on the new site. Did you even notice? 😀

Keep coming back for more articles, humour, and general Photography talk. If you don’t, we’ll miss you.

Cheers,

  

    –Miserere and Peter

  

  

Happy Birthday, EtL!

Posted in Editorial with tags , , on Saturday, December 19, 2009 by Miserere

by Miserere

  

Oh…how time flies…they grow up so quickly… Yes, gang, EtL is 1 year old today!

The statistics on blogs are not very optimistic, with some sources stating that 60-80% of blogs are abandoned within the first month. Looks like I beat the odds—and that always feels good.

During this year we’ve published 152 posts and received over 156,000 visits, with readers leaving 1,065 comments (OK, I’ll admit, some of those are mine). I’ve written some comedy, conducted interviews, philosophised about Photography and given you my opinion on interesting technology being introduced; I also pointed you towards interesting blogs and photographers I chanced upon during my web travels. Of course, I showcased some of my own Photography every now and then, lest you think I’m all talk and no click. Peter Zack wrote some great tutorials and thinking pieces for us all, and Sean Leahy took us behind the scenes at Grand Central Terminal.

Our busiest day, with 3,784 visits, was Thursday, September 10, 2009. Curiously, no article was published that week. The most viewed post was Peter Zack’s The Most Important Images of the Last 100 Years, with almost 11,000 visits, followed by my Canon S90 review, Part 1, with some 8,500 visits.

In this coming year I would like to interview more photographers—I think we can all learn much from them. I want Peter to share more of his knowledge with us. After Sean’s contribution, I would like to publish other people’s adventures with Photography, so if you have a story to tell, please e-mail me and we’ll see if it can get published.

But most of all, I hope that you guys keep coming back to enjoy what we have to offer at EtL. If you have requests, let me know! I’m all ears (or eyes, if you write me).

So here’s to another year full of ideas, Photography and laughter.

Cheers!

  

  –Miserere

  

PS: If you’re wondering what my first (real) post was, see here. And the very first post of all time, the introduction, can be found here.

Epithets

Posted in Editorial with tags on Thursday, May 28, 2009 by Miserere

by Miserere

  

I bought a piano; nobody called me a pianist.

I climbed a mountain; nobody called me a mountaineer.

I caught a fish; nobody called me a fisherman.

I bought a car; nobody called me a racing pilot.

I started a blog; nobody called me a writer.

I calculated the tip at a restaurant; nobody called me a mathematician.

I made a sandwich; nobody called me a cook.

I cleaned a wound; nobody called me a doctor.

I bought a camera; and suddenly I’m a photographer.

Why?

The Time Has Come for a New DSLR Paradigm

Posted in Cameras, Editorial with tags , , on Tuesday, May 26, 2009 by Miserere

by Miserere

  

Let’s face it, DSLRs have made it as far as they need to go in many aspects. Nobody is discussing whether digital is better than film anymore (OK, most people aren’t), nobody complains about having to wait 5 seconds for the photo to be taken after pressing the shutter release, and nobody needs to take out a second mortgage in order to buy a damn good DSLR. Speed, IQ, ergonomics, resolution… The average APS-C, four-thirds and full-frame DSLR has them in spades. Despite the constant complaining typical of our species, the vast majority of photographers now have a DSLR that is as good as they need it to be.

But it can still be made better.

While it is true that DSLRs have come a long way and are better than we are photographers, there are still some problems that camera brands have not tackled, or even acknowledged. What I will write in this article is nothing ground-breaking, and no statues need be erected in my honour. I did not come up with all the ideas, many of which have been whispered amongst digital photographers for years—all I’m trying to do is put everything in one place. I do this with the hope that you will agree with what I’ve written and that when you forward this article to your photographer friends, they also will agree and forward it further, until somewhere down the line an executive of a big camera brand will read it and get his arse into gear. All we need is one brave company to do this, and the rest will follow suit.

I hereby declare it is time to enter a new era in DSLR design. How? I’ll tell you in one word: Modularity.

  

The Way Things Were

Let me tell you a little story: Once upon a time photographers used to have the ability to change how their photos looked by using different films. If they were going to shoot sports under a cloudy sky, they might pick an ISO800 B&W film; if they were going to shoot landscapes, they might choose an ISO50 Colour film. I know we now have this ability built in to our DSLRs with sensors of varying ISO and post-processing techniques, but in designing sensors that are jacks of all trades, we have sensors that are masters of nothing. I admit that they do a lot of things very well, but many of us wish they could do them even better, without compromises.

There was also a time when high-end cameras had interchangeable viewfinders, plus a whole host of focusing screens and motor drives to suit your particular needs at any given time. The point of these cameras was that they were customisable to suit each photographer’s individual needs. A fashion photographer has very different requirements to a sports photographer, and both have very different requirements to a proud dad or mum snapping away as the kids grow up.

Given today’s economic crisis, I strongly believe the modular approach would save money for both the camera companies and the photographers. On top of that, it would give us better cameras.

Let’s see how this would work.

  

Sensors

Maybe the most important part of the camera, the sensor is in charge of collecting those valuable photons. Sensor technology has come a long way since the days of 1MP digital cameras, and now is the perfect time to make them modular. Such a sensor would be interchangeable and would go into your camera in a similar way to the battery. But what is the purpose of an interchangeable sensor? The same as the purpose of an interchangeable lens: To adapt your equipment to the subject you are shooting. While sensors such as the latest all-around 12-15MP ones would still be available, there would also be specialised sensors for those with particular needs. Four likely options spring to mind:

  • Low Light: This sensor could be 6-8MP for APS-C (12-15MP for full-frame) and offer big pixels with circuitry optimised for low light shooting at high ISO. It would probably have a base ISO of 400 or 800 and be capable of delivering exceptional IQ at ISO12,800, and usable images from there upwards.
  • High Resolution: Landscape, fashion and architectural photographers would love one of these sensors. They would probably only go up to ISO800, but on the plus side they would go down to ISO25 or 12. They could also offer 14-18MP for APS-C (25-35MP for full-frame), allowing high-resolution photographs. Needless to say, they would be optimised for extremely low noise and exquisite tonal transitions.
  • B&W: Believe it or not, there would be a market for this type of sensor, not to mention an aftermarket of colour filters! A B&W sensor would have the advantage of not needing to mask individual pixels with red, blue, or green filters, therefore doing away with interpolation, which is how current sensors obtain colour information. Such a sensor would need less pixels to obtain the same resolution as a colour sensor, so it would likely perform very well in low light while still delivering great resolution.
  • Infrared: Like B&W, the demand might not be huge (although wedding photographers might flock to it), but this could simply be a B&W sensor with an IR filter on it. A firmware module would have to be supplied with it to ensure correct auto- focusing.

Smart camera manufacturers would offer discounted kits with maybe two sensors and one body, or a “professional kit” comprised of the camera body and all the available sensors. Of course, you could buy your camera with just one sensor and buy another sensor later on if you thought you needed it.

 

Bodies

Because camera bodies would be modular, we would have hardware options to fit every pocket and need. Given that they wouldn’t contain a sensor to make them obsolete within 12 months, they would have to be robustly built to last the long years they would be in service. I imagine each company would have to decide on the sizes of bodies they would offer; maybe small, medium and large for the wealthier companies, while the more modest companies would maybe just offer small and medium. However, it should be possible for each size to be spec’d to the pro level—camera companies need to realise that just because you want a pro-spec’d body doesn’t mean you want to carry a brick in you hands. Likewise, just because you have large hands shouldn’t mean you have to spend extra money to get a larger camera if all you need are entry-level capabilities.

 

Hardware

Here comes the interesting part, the bits and pieces that you can buy to customise your camera. If you’ve ever bought a computer online directly from a manufacturer (such as Dell or HP) you’ll know exactly what customising means. You don’t buy a computer, you buy the exact computer you need. You pick and choose every component and spec that goes into it, from the processor to the hard-drive speed. This makes sense because a user that just wants to surf the internet and write letters in MS Word has very different needs to a user that wants to play multi-player online games.

Here are some of the hardware pieces that could be available, divided into two groups: those that come pre-installed into the camera body from factory and those that can be changed by the end-user.

Factory installed:

  • Shutter: A professional photographer would need a heavy-duty shutter guaranteed to deliver well over 100,000 shutter actuations, while for an amateur 100,000 is probably more than enough and they could do with an average shutter mechanism. Maximum shutter speed is also determined by the type of shutter, as are frames-per-second (fps)—some people require 10fps, some are happy with 3fps.
  • Image Processing Engine & Cache Memory: How fast can the camera process images? That would be determined by this component. The speed is also linked to the shutter mechanism, as a shutter capable of 10fps (frames per second) requires a faster image processor.

User installed:

  • Sensor: As discussed earlier, this will be the major factor in determining what type of photography you have decided to focus on.
  • Focusing Screen: Some current DSLRs allow changing focusing screens, while others don’t. All of them should, as the needs of somebody who shoots mostly in auto-focus are different to those of a wildlife photographer who uses manual focus with very long lenses. Focusing screens should be available for every need.
  • Viewfinder: Cameras such as the Pentax LX boasted a wide array of different viewfinders to cater to every photographer’s needs. Let’s bring this approach back!
  • GPS: Used to geotag your photos with the geographic coordinates of the place they were taken from. Especially useful for landscape and adventure photographers. It could be added to a grip, or there could be a dedicated space in the camera body for it if using a large body.
  • Bluetooth/Wireless: Imagine being able to download your pictures to your computer without the hassle of USB cables or taking the card out of the camera. Imagine being able to upload your photos directly to your website or blog without the need of a computer. How about shooting tethered to a computer…only doing so without a physical tether?
  • Wireless Flash: While we’re talking wireless communications here, why not include flashes? The Strobist movement has gathered momentum over the last few years and many amateur photographers are no longer afraid to take their flashes off-camera and link them via 3rd party radio transmitters. Camera brands are missing out on so much revenue by not having proprietary radio controllers. Wouldn’t it be so much better if the radio emitter was inside the camera or additional grip? Wouldn’t it be nice if you bought a flash and the receiver was inside it? I know they have optical communication at the moment, but radio is more advanced and practical for many reasons.
  • Grips: Some people want the grips for extra battery life, while others would prefer to insert hardware into it (GPS, Bluetooth/Wireless, etc.). Make both camps happy by offering a grip with an adaptable chamber inside..

 

Software

The stuff you cannot touch, yet makes your camera work. Up until now there has only been firmware, which is basically your camera’s operating system, and it has always been controlled by the camera companies (except in the case of CHDK, a firmware hack for Canon P&S’s). The time has come for software to also enter the DSLR vernacular.

  • Firmware: Camera companies could come up with new and/or improved capabilities they could sell as a firmware upgrade. Remember that much of a camera’s IQ and image “look” depends on the firmware. Firmware development is much cheaper for a camera company than creating a whole new camera, so their return on investment would be very high. Plus, more people would invest in new firmware than in new cameras.
  • Applications: If camera companies would allow it, users could build their own applications for their cameras, just like those currently available for the Firefox browser, the iPhone or the BlackBerry. Why do I have to think of obvious things like this? Seriously, the first camera brand to allow users to create and share camera apps will sweep the market. Let me repeat that:The first camera brand to allow users to create and share camera apps will sweep the market.
  • Soft Buttons: Each photographer is unique. The same way we all have different shaped hands or favour one eye or the other, we all have preferences as to button positioning on the back of the camera. Because it is not feasible to manufacture camera bodies with different button layouts, there should instead be three or four buttons located close to the right-hand thumb that could be assignable to whatever functions the photographer wants.

 

Lenses

This element of photography has always been interchangeable, and it’s brought many good things to photography…so why not follow this example and make just about everything else interchangeable?

 

But…Can It Be Done?

There might be people thinking that the problem with this crazy idea is that camera companies will not make enough money if we, the photographers, are able to keep bodies for so long. I disagree. By making the body semi-perennial they are free to invest more R&D money on more important things…such as sensors and improved firmware, which they would still be selling and making a profit on. In fact, they could make the same profit, while photographers spend the same amount of money, and yet we the photographers would be happier and better equipped because we would have a single camera with various sensors to allow different styles/types of photography.

I believe sensor technology has reached a point where it is improving slower and slower, and photographers are no longer requesting more megapixels, but better megapixels. Like I said above, a lot of what makes those megapixels better is the firmware and image processing engine, so I could imagine sticking with the same physical sensor for a few years while upgrading the firmware to gain improved IQ, processing speed and functionality. I’d rather pay $200 for a firmware upgrade than $1000 for a new camera I don’t really need. Wouldn’t you?

Another money-earner for the camera makers would be lenses. Yes, lenses. With more money in their pockets because the latest upgrade cost $200 (instead of $1000-1500 for a whole new camera), photographers would be much more likely to spend that money on lenses. I predict that the possible (yet unlikely) loss in profits from camera sales that would come about from modularising DSLRs would be offset by the increase in lens sales.

Of course there would be engineering challenges, but challenges always bring about improvements. As it is, I feel the current DSLR market is reaching stagnation and could use a reboot.

 

But…Should It Be Done?

Yes. This is why: I want a camera that does exactly what I want it to do and doesn’t do the stuff I don’t care about. Some of this stuff is hardware, some of it is firmware. I know I’m not alone. Whenever any brand releases a new camera the forums are inundated with complaints about features left out or included. It is true that you cannot please everyone all the time, but if DSLRs are made modular in hardware and software then the number of people camera brands can please will undoubtedly increase.

 

If you think this idea makes any sense, and if you have something to add to the list of modular hardware, then leave a comment below expressing your support for such an initiative. I have hopes that maybe one day some influential camera company executive will read this article and think “hmmmm…this guy has a point!”

One can only dream…

The More Things Change…

Posted in Editorial with tags , , , , , , , on Monday, May 4, 2009 by Miserere

by Miserere

 

     “Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

    –from Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll

I recently visited Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (better known as the MFA) to view their latest exhibition Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice. For better or for worse, I always admire painted Art through the eyes of a photographer, and what a treat the exhibition was for this photographer’s eyes.

“Every artistic technique, style or method we use today was invented many centuries ago.”

Despite the fact that these marvellous painters lived in the 16th century, I was able to recognise just about every trick in today’s photography book being used on their boards and canvases. Because you see, there is nothing new under the Strobe, and every artistic technique, style or method we use today was invented many centuries ago. This is one of the reasons I cringe whenever somebody says that using Photoshop is cheating. Adobe created Photoshop in order to give graphic artists a way to keep up with the times. As the Red Queen pointed out to Alice, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.

Let’s examine a painting from each of these masters so I can explain what I mean.

 

Tintoretto

Tintoretto - Self-PortraitTintoretto – Self-Portrait c. 1546

Take a look at Tintoretto’s self-portrait above; now there’s a snooted strobe if I ever saw one. What else did Tintoretto use? Localised fill light. Look at his left eye, notice how the white and pupil are exactly the same brightness as his right eye? There is no way you could light up his left eye that way while at the same time leaving the skin around it in shadows. But Tintoretto had a message to convey: He was the best painter in Venice, and you’d better believe him. I’m sure the first thing you noticed about this painting were his eyes. In fact, it’s very difficult to stop staring into them. This is the look of someone who is very sure of himself and unafraid to stare back. But this effect (this message) would be broken were not both eyes equally illuminated. When he painted this self-portrait Tintoretto was 28 and vying to be Venice’s #1 painter during the Renaissance—he knew damn well he couldn’t appear meek or humble. Kings, Popes and Emperors did not commission works of art from such men. Do you think he got his message across?

 

Titian

Now let’s take a look at the following painting by Titian. Brief interlude: Please recall how you looked at this image the first time, where your eyes went first, and in what direction they moved over the canvas. I’ll try to guess this direction further down.

Titian - Venus with a MirrorTitian – Venus with a Mirror c. 1555

Here Titian has made use of a localised unsharp mask in the face area. Click on the image for a larger version, and hopefully you’ll see what I mean, although this reproduction does not do justice to the original canvas measuring 124.5 x 105.5 cm (49″ x 41.6″). Titian paid fatherly attention to Venus’s face and hair, while the rest of her body is soft and unfocused by comparison. The same way photographers use shallow depth of field to draw attention to a particular person in a crowd, Titian draws the viewer to Venus’s face by making it sharper than the rest of the canvas. However, he goes one step further in his attempt to manipulate the viewer. Have you noticed the strong diagonal composition in this scene? Starting at the top-right corner and moving towards the opposite corner we find Venus’s face in the mirror, her bellybutton, and finally her leg under the robe leading out of the frame. Notice how the cloth over her leg is again sharp? However that which is wrapped around her left arm is unfocused. None of this was by chance—Titian wanted to control how you saw the painting, and probably succeeded. Titian - Venus with a Mirror and composition marksThis is how I’m guessing you looked at it (see blue arrows in painting to the right): Starting with Venus’s face, you followed her gaze towards the mirror, then you moved down the diagonal towards the bottom-left corner, lingering on the luscious material of the robe before being released from Titian’s grasp, at which point your eyes were then free to move around the canvas, so to speak. Was I right?

Why did Titian decide upon this particular composition? Why is Venus’s navel precisely halfway between her reflection and the corner of the canvas? I’ll leave these questions for the reader to figure out.

 

Veronese

Veronese - Portrait of a ManVeronese – Portrait of a Man c. 1551-53

Is there anything strange about this painting? You probably answered “no”. Imagine you’re back in the mid 16th century in front of this gentleman and you want to take this photograph using just your camera (be it digital or film). You wouldn’t be able to do it. If you exposed such that the face was as bright as it is, his clothes would have been brighter, plus the scene outside would have completely blown out due to being too bright. There is no camera capable of rendering both the outside and inside of this scene in one single exposure because the dynamic range is too wide. A photographer taking this portrait would have used reflectors and/or strobes to bring up the brightness of the gentleman in order to compensate for the light outside. On top of this (s)he would have snooted the face to increase its brightness and make it stand out. If no snoot was available at the time of shooting, applying some localised exposure increase in Photoshop could achieve a similar result.

 

Concluding Thoughts

What these artists accomplished in their paintings is nothing different to what we, as photographers, attempt to capture with our photographs. Both painting and photography are limited by the tools available to the artist, which is why we need to work around those limits to get our message across. In most cases, all a painter or photographer wants to do is show a scene in the way that you would have seen it had you been their. While these 16th century artists knew nothing about the human brain and how it processes reality through our senses, they did understand that memory and vision are selective. That is why Venus’s head is so sharp while the rest of her body isn’t, or why Tintoretto’s eyes are so bright, or why Veronese’s gentleman has such a bright face—the artists wanted us to focus on and remember Venus’s face, Tintoretto’s piercing stare, and the anonymous gentleman’s features. Anything else on the canvas was secondary.

“It has never been the artist’s goal to reproduce reality, but rather to transmit the emotion reality evokes.”

A camera can capture a scene literally, but that’s not how human vision works, nor memory. Because of this limitation in our perception (or is it an advantage?), we, as artists, have to manipulate images in one way or another, either before or after shooting (or both!), in order to reproduce, not reality, but our vision, both literal and metaphorical. After all, it has never been the artist’s goal to reproduce reality, but rather to transmit the emotion reality evokes.

Centuries later we continue this noble struggle, and while the physical tools or the workshop may be different, the methods are exactly the same—because the more things change…the more they stay the same.

Are You Getting Your Message Across?

Posted in Editorial with tags , , on Friday, April 17, 2009 by Miserere

by Miserere

 

     There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept.
    –Ansel Adams

Here is an image I posted a couple of weeks ago, and it’s the reason I started ruminating about the topic of the message.

Miserere - Madrid Templo de Debod

I had the camera in my hand and was walking around the park. Suddenly, this little boy started racing his bike in front of me and I immediately knew what I wanted from the shot. I barely had a second to lift the camera to my eye, zoom, increase ISO, compose and manually focus before he disappeared behind some bushes. Sadly, I missed the focus, but I believe the message still comes across sharp and clear nonetheless: Youthful enthusiasm, determination, unadulterated joy, fun…these emotions are all there, and I captured them—that’s why this photo is important to me.

When you are out with your camera and are on a mission to take photos, do you know what you’re after? Do you have an idea of what it is you want to shoot or do you just drift aimlessly, camera in hand, until you come across something that makes you want to photograph it? Ansel (and many other classic photographers) advocated the idea of Visualization. In this rare video, Ansel Adams himself explains what he means by this term (courtesy of Marc Silber, do visit his site!). In short, you should have a clear idea of what your message is, and then use your technical knowledge to imprint that message on your image.

But herein lies the beauty of Photography: No matter how clear your message or idea was, and no matter how well you think you’ve shaped that idea into an image, there will always be someone who sees something else in your image. Sorry for quoting Ansel again, but here is the point:

     There are always two people in every picture:
the photographer and the viewer.

    –Ansel Adams

Photographs are a type of Rorschach test, telling you as much about yourself as about the photographer.

“Art is nothing but the transferral of emotion through physical means.”

In light of this you might be asking yourself, then why bother with a message at all? The answer is: because you care. You have to, there is no other way around it. Photographs, though taken with a mechanical contraption, are subject to your desires and will. Even if you just take the camera out and wave it over your head while holding down the shutter release firing off a few dozen aimless shots, you still have a motive, a reason why you decided to wave the camera around. When you take a photo you might not always know or understand why you took it, but somewhere in your subconscious lies the answer, and there is some sort of emotion attached to it. For this reason someone else’s photograph can elicit an emotion out of you when you see it. This might not happen immediately, as some photography, like many other Arts, can take time to be assimilated—but it will happen eventually. Art is nothing but the transferral of emotion through physical means. A photograph made without emotion conveys no message.

Next time you go out taking photographs, think about what you’re trying to say, what your message is. I can guarantee you that your photographs will be better because of it. And when you show them to others, ask them what message they receive. Don’t be upset if it’s not the same message you intended—as long as your photography is eliciting some kind of response from the viewer then you are doing something right. The lesson here is this: Have something to say, and say it loudly, even if nobody can hear you.

Justifying 15 Lies about Photography

Posted in Editorial with tags , on Sunday, March 15, 2009 by Miserere

by Miserere

 

Some time ago I wrote a post titled 15 Lies about Photography. I thought I would explain why I consider each statement a lie.

You can fix it later in Photoshop
A bad photo is a bad photo. Sure, Photoshop can help you fix some exposure mistakes if you weren’t far from the mark, or remove a lamppost from the bride’s head, and maybe even paste in some open eyes if someone in a group blinked…but couldn’t all this be avoided if you were a better photographer? The only things you should have to fix in Photoshop are genuine mistakes, and the more practice you get with your camera the fewer of these you should make. Use fixing in Photoshop as a last resort, not a standard tool.

Long focal length lenses have a shallower depth of field
Nope, it’s all about the aperture. Let’s say you’re taking somebody’s portrait with a 50mm lens at f/4 and you stand 1m away from them (3.3 feet). If you wanted to take that same portrait with a 400mm lens you would have to stand 400/50 = 8 times further away in order for the subject to be the same size in the resulting photograph. I hope you’ll agree with me up to here. Now go to a DoF calculator and enter the values for these two situations. In the first you shoot that 50mm lens at f/4 from 1m away. In the second you shoot the 400mm lens also at f/4, but standing 8m away. You’ll see that the DoF in both cases is exactly the same. Hence, if the subject size in the frame remains constant, the only factor contributing to the DoF will the the aperture. (Please Note that different size films or sensors have different DoF, so the previous statement is valid only within a given film/sensor size.) CORRECTION: After some discussion in the comments section I went digging further and can now say that the above statement is only approximately correct. You can find the equations for calculating DoF here. They show that for high magnification, for example when working in the macro regime, the focal length has no impact on the DoF. Outside the macro regime, as magnification becomes smaller, the statement become falser (if that makes sense). In other words: As the distance to your subject increases, longer focal length lenses will have shallower DoF for a given aperture, when keeping the FoV the same. At portrait distances, my initial assertion is a good approximation.

Full-frame DSLRs are better than APS-C DSLRs
For what? Under what circumstances? At what cost? Despite what the media or some websites might have you believe, there is no such thing as the best camera—there is only the best camera for you. Your shooting style and your budget will determine what camera will be best for you.

Film is better than digital
This is true according to Ken Rockwell, but again, it all depends on what and why you shoot. If you want to make 16×20″ prints that have extremely high definition, then you should shoot an 8×10 film camera. If you want to take pics of your kids to e-mail to the grandparents, then probably film is not better than digital. Even Ken Rockwell said as you’ll learn when you finally get your digital SLR you’ll never want to bother scanning again. As of 2005 digital cameras allow most people to make much better images than film cameras. Yes, Ken did actually make these contradictory statements. It’s part of his charm.

Digital is better than film
Same reasons as above, except the other way around.

Film is dead
Not if you want to 16×20″ prints that are extremely high resolution (in which case you would use an 8×10 film camera). Have I said this before…? But in a sense, this actually isn’t a lie, because film is dead, but like you and I, it’s not going to die just yet.

Digital is dead
Again, according to Ken Rockwell, it is. Well it’s not. Sensor technology continues to advance with every year bringing lower noise, higher dynamic range sensors, while at the same time they become cheaper. Boys and girls, digital photography is here to stay.

I only take photos for myself
Sure. Tell yourself whatever you need to get through the SD card.

Real photographers shoot JPEG
I see a trend here. Guess who said that! Real photographers shoot whatever they damn well please, just like the rest of us.

The only way to make great photographs is by using the most expensive equipment (Corollary: you can’t make good photographs with a P&S)
Much of this assertion depends on how you define “great”. If a great photo is one of a football player stopped in mid action, then yes, you’ll need to spend many thousands of dollars. If a great photo is one that transmits an emotion to the viewer, then maybe you don’t need to spend that much. This photo was cheap to produce and it speaks to me. For me, it is “great”.

Miserere - Misty MorningMiserere – Misty Morning

I take pretty landscape and flower pictures, and that qualifies me to shoot a wedding
I do not wish to embarrass dozens of people on the internet, but I have read many horror stories of amateur photographers who agreed to shoot a wedding (usually for a friend) and showed up with their DSLR camera and kit lens. Then the next day they’re in the forums asking why their photos are all dark, noisy and blurry, and how they can fix them. There are many types of photography, and each require their own set of equipment, skills and techniques. Just because you’re good at one type of photography does not mean you will be good at another. Like Harry Callaghan said, a man’s gotta know his limitations. And that applies to women, too!

Real photographers don’t have websites
I’m not even going to comment on this one, but if there are any real photographers reading this, and they do have a website, please let me know!

The pop-up flash is useless
Only in the wrong hands. Use it as fill on those sunny days when you’re taking a portrait of your significant other and their face is in shadow. You’ll be happy you had it.

You need at least 12 megapixels if you plan to make 8×10 prints
I have made 18×24″ prints from a 6MP camera. They looked great. But mostly I’ve made 8×10″ prints from that same 6MP camera, and of course, they still look great. And it was a P&S; with files from a 6MP DSLR they would look even better.

Photography blogs suck
OK, maybe this one isn’t a lie…