Gear Gear Gear Gear Gear....
It's all I've seen and heard lately. The whole world of photography seems to have (more so than ever before) turned into a war of new cameras and lenses. It's fascinating to watch the manufacturers trying to outdo each other, devising new technologies and flamboyant launches of new cameras. What does it all mean though?
I love printing my images - but I know other people aren't so keen on printing these days, with most photographs only ever seen on the internet. In reality, most images are viewed on mobile phones and tablets. These are marketed to us with higher and higher resolution screens, but there seems to be a serious lack of putting things into perspective.
When I print an image I generally print around 300mm x 200mm, sometimes slightly larger. A typical image from my modest DSLR cameras can easily be printed to A3 or larger in size at 300 pixels per inch resolution. That produces a super high quality print, the way I feel my images are best viewed. Occasionally I might print a canvas, but even then, the resolution can comfortably be dropped to 200ppi without loss of image quality, and a canvas of around one metre on the long edge can easily be produced.
I use two cameras, A Canon 70D and a 7DmkII, both with near identical APS-C 20.2MP sensors in them. These are pretty modest sensor specifications by today's standards, with 26-50MP more typical of current DSLRs. However, my cameras produces images that I can print larger than I need at full resolution, and far larger than any digital device I own.
The image below demonstrates an uncropped image from my Canon 7DmkII with some of the highest resolution screens available (within reason) and some of the more common ones.
I enter a lot of competitions, both at club level and national/international level. The accepted 'industry standard' image size used to be 1024x768 pixels, but with modern technology in image projection, this is now 1600x1200.
It begs the question, therefore, what is actually important for taking pictures?
Image quality is largely determined by the lens. The ability to frame an image is largely determined by the focal length of the lens. The ability to capture fleeting action (important to me as a wildlife enthusiast) is determined by frame rate at which the camera can shoot.
When it comes to colour science, sharpness etc. while different brands may vary, it tends to be about personal preference rather than any clear 'winner'. If you are using a decent camera, this isn't really concern (and colour correction is easy in post-processing anyway)
Noise is an issue - there is no doubt that a full frame camera will control digital noise better than a smaller sensor, and that noise is one area where technology continues to improve - but then using an APS-C or a Micro Four-thirds sensor gives you an additional crop factor, which is ideal for wildlife. Many photographers prefer to use an APS-C sensor camera for this reason. My Canon 7DmkII offers a 1.6 times crop - so my 100-400mm wildlife lens is equivalent to 160- 640mm.
The latest 'breaking photography news' is that the new iPhone XS will render real cameras obsolete. This is, frankly, utter nonsense. The phone uses little tricks like taking multiple images simultaneously and combining them mimic a bigger dynamic range. It can detect foreground images, cut them out and add artificial blur to the background - claiming to offer different apertures in post-production. It's laughable really, that all of this is being captured on a sensor the size of a maggot's eyebrow. The results might be impressive for a mobile phone camera, but they are a million miles away from the images even the most basic DSLR or mirrorless camera can produce.
What is my point? I've done my usual trick of rambling on and on and on - I do have a point...
Gear hysteria is a sales gimmick to make us spend more and more money. Even the most basic 'proper' cameras on the market today can produce images as good or better than we will EVER NEED to produce. Sure, if you want to shoot product photography for billboards, you might need something a bit more specific for that purpose, but realistically, how many of us will EVER print anything larger than A3, or perhaps a canvas for the wall? Next time you read the endless spec sheets of the latest camera on the market, have a think about the features that really benefit you.
As I mentioned, I have two cameras. I probably don't need two cameras, but here's why I want to keep them both: -
Canon 70D - this camera is ideal for me doing landscape photography and photographs for work. The tilt and turn touch screen is invaluable for landscape photography - I would REALLY miss it if I didn't have that. Autofocus speed, frame rates and noise handling are generally irrelevant - I'll shoot at ISO100 and manual focus much of the time anyway.
Canon 7DmkII - I use this primarily for wildlife and macro photography, because it is fast - 10 frames per second is as fast as you could really want for any wildlife - and it is rugged and waterproof - I don't want fear of damaging my gear to stop me from getting the shot. The autofocus on the 7DmkII is incredible, and it handles noise pretty well for an APS-C sensor - I can get away with ISO1000 or 1250 if required.
Do I want another camera - not really. I mean that honestly. These two cameras are ALL I need, and they will do me fine until they break or wear out.
Lenses - now that's a different story altogether.......