Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Dumb Question

This may be a dumb question. But then I am pretty dumb about the subject of photography.

Our Photography for Bloggers 101 group writing project got off to a roaring start last week with many helpful suggestions and tips. Several of the contributors made the point that you don't need a fancy, expensive camera to take good shots for blogs. "Any old thing will do," wrote one of you. A simple point and shoot digital camera or an iPhone can take great pictures for your blog. The important thing is to always have it with you and have it ready to go into action.

OK. I get it. I really do.

But I also know that many of the bloggers whose photography I admire also do use more sophisticated cameras at times. Something with a "supermodel body" as one of you called it, and a variety of interchangeable lenses.

So, my dumb question is, "Why?"

What can you do with your fancy camera with three different lenses that you can't do with an iPhone? What kind of shots can you take with it that would be impossible to capture with a simple point and shoot camera? Are there some kinds of photos where the fancy camera delivers far superior quality than a camera phone would, and if so what kinds of photos, and exactly how is the quality better?

Sorry if that's a dumb question. I suspect the answers are obvious to those of you who have fancy cameras. So please explain for us photographic novices. It would be great if you could illustrate your answers with photos showing how the more sophisticated camera does things that my iPhone can't.

You don't need to write an essay (unless you want to.) A tip explained in a couple of sentences and a photo or two to illustrate it will be fine. Post your tip (or essay) on your blog and send me an email with a link to it. Full details at Photography for Bloggers 101.


Anonymous said...

What does the fancy camera have over an iPhone? Let me count the ways:
- Superior exposure control
- Superior metering control
- Superior focusing control
- Superior depth-of-field control (or lack of it [read about bokeh] - this is a function of focal length, aperture and chip size)
- Superior post-processing control
- Superior resolution
- Superior strobe control
- Not stuck with one focal length
- Not stuck with one aperture

Am I missing anything?

I'll continue addressing these aspects in the rest of the posts I have coming up - just be patient. :)

Tillerman said...

Thanks Mitch.

But those are all technical descriptions of what a more sophisticated camera can do. What I am interested to know is what those things all mean in terms of the finished products. What shots can you take that you couldn't even contemplate taking with an iPhone? In what ways are the photos higher quality (as seen on a blog) because of all those extra technical features of the camera?

I hope you and others will answer those questions in upcoming posts on your own blogs. I promise to be patient.

Joe said...

For me, it's simple, "zoom lens." You know, stuff that's far away can appear to by nearby. (for most mere mortals, a megazoom camera will work just fine....and you won't need 3 or 4 lenses.) (let's not turn into photo.net where people will trash you for mentioning the megazooms.)

Tillerman said...

If I knew what photo.net and what a megazoom is, I would be quite happy to trash you Joe for mentioning the megazooms. But I don't, so I won't.

But I would still like to know how you get all those young ladies to take their clothes off so you can take their photos with big fish.

Bruce said...

The difference is how your photos will come out. A dSLR will get photos that your I phone will not.

For sailing photos your iPhone will have a postage size boat in a large area of water and when you try to zoom the photo will get grainy. Where a dSLR with the right lens will take a great photo in the same spot.

In low light situations the dSLR will also get photos that just will not be clear when taken from an iPhone.

Tillerman said...

Thanks Bruce. That's just the sort of answer I was looking for.

Joe said...

Tilly old son, thank you for not banging me on the head concerning megazooms.

I wish I would read and edit my comments before posting them. It's so embarrassing see mistakes like "appear to by." Okay, back to the show.

People always talk about low light situations...blah, blah, blah...raw, raw, raw or is that RAW, RAW, RAW? The iPhone does pretty well taking photos of people frolicking at the bar. (take a look at facebook, full of photos of people doing all sorts of taboo things in low light) A draw back to the iPhone is the lack of a viewfinder. That big bright burning ball in the sky can make it hard to see what you want to photograph.

"But I would still like to know how you get all those young ladies to take their clothes off so you can take their photos with big fish." Have you seen facebook? No modesty my friend, no modesty.

Tillerman said...

There are naked ladies on Facebook? I must have the wrong friends.

Joe said...

Repeat after me, wahine surfers and kiteboarders!

I remembered seeing a post by one my favorite photographers, Kirk Tuck, that I think you might be interested in. Click me! Tidbit - "Not to enrage the creationists of photography who feel that all cameras are locked into whatever form they exist in now by some edict, I'd like to make the case that, in order to survive, today's big, hungry and macho DSLRs will evolve by co-opting the best features of their current predators and keeping the goofy and lovable features that marketers think we all want..."

Tillerman said...

Thanks Joe. Very interesting article at that link.

JP said...

I've just posted two pics of the same sailing boat this afternoon, one with iPhone and the other DSLR, both cropped the same. I can think of other reasons why DSLR is better (controls etc) but it hopefully shows what a proper lens can do compared to whats in a phone.

SoxSail said...

The three advantages of a DSLR are flexibility, accuracy, and control. The swappaple lenses allow me to from fisheye to zoom. The larger lenses catch more light; this translates to truer colors, higher fidelity, longer depth of field and less motion-blur. Lastly, the controls on the DSLR are often more numerous and/or ergonomic than on a point and shoot. This means more control over flash, zoom, focus, shutter-speed, etc. so I can get the picture the way I want it, or more often, take it ten different ways and then choose the best at a later date.

SoxSail said...

Two more concrete examples might be in sports/children's photography. 1) a delay between pushing the trigger and the actual photo being taken can cause you to miss a smile, splash, or goal. DSLR's tend to have near-instant shutters, as well as rapid-fire shooting. 2) a DSLR's larger lense and greater shutter speed control often allows photographers to capture moving objects better, and with less blur

Tillerman said...

Thanks SoxSail. I do relate to that issue about the delay when trying to capture pictures of children. i often try and take photos of my grandchildren with one of our "simple" cameras and the delay means I miss a particular expression or action I wanted to capture.

So is DSLR the way to go? What is all this I am hearing about mirror-less and micro four-thirds and even EVIL whatever that is?

O Docker said...


I am currently swamped at work and at home, but this was exactly the subject (or part of the subject) of a post I have been trying to write for the past three days.

Probably by the time I write it, everything I was going to say will have been said here.

But your blog has always been the best source for anything useful one needs to know about anything in life.

Tillerman said...

Except sex. And wine. And sailing.

Tillerman said...

And food. Except Marmite and mushy peas.

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

Mirror-less, m4/3, and EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder) cameras don't have a mirrors and optical viewfinders. They are smaller, lighter, have the ability to change lenses, and some use an electronic viewfinder. Great cameras! I have an Olympus EP-1 (m4/3) and have been eyeing the OM-D, Panasonic GH-2 and Sony A65. I'd love to get a full frame Nikon and Leica. But the wife would throw me into a volcano if I did, muy caro! I carry an Olympus XZ-1 around in my pocket and have an old E 510 for most of my sailing photos.

Bonnie just bought a Pansonic G-1 and I believe that "O" has one of the Pannys too. They're great for travel.

Keep Reaching said...

That is really stretching the definition of food.

Dutchie said...

On my Laser I am using an Underwater/waterproof Vivitar 8.1mp.Very handy camera in size and can take any weather condition.
Also comes in very handy when I am snorkling(in the drink).HaHa

Chris Partridge said...

I have a nice little Ricoh for boat pics. Much better pics than my mobile. A dSLR would do an even better job, but the Ricoh slips in my pocket and, crucially for a camera that lives in boats, it's waterproof.

my2fish said...

my thoughts exactly. maybe that would sound like food is I was proud to be English?

GBR 134 said...

I tried a more detailed post earlier but obviously screwed it up somehow. In Précis I am no photographer but the man in the shop convinced me to buy a DSL rather than another compact or crossover thus.

The MP figure which at 12 or more on a compact can sound so impressive is pixels per inch or PPI thus a 12MP compact has a very high pixel density per square inch but the photo processor that records the image is still tiny. A DSLR (mine is only 6 MP) has a hugely larger (physically) photo processor albeit with a lower PPI density. If you take the same scene on a compact and a DLSR and print the photo in small format the difference will be negligible. If you want to blow up a small portion of the image, say one laser out of 30, the drop off in clarity and detail as you expand the image (and thus reduce the DPI or PPI of the image) will be infinitely greater with the compact than the DSLR. To see this effect try blowing up Tillerman's avatar to full screen size and see how much clarity you have left.

Similarly with interchangeable lenses Electronic zoom is virtually worthless as it is the same as electronically blowing up a portion of the whole image with similar drop off in pixel density whereas changing to a long lens will maintain pixel density of the expanded image!

Well I think that's what he meant!

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