Isn't it amazing......

Started Apr 27, 2013 | Discussions thread
mosswings
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Re: Isn't it amazing......
In reply to fotolopithecus, Apr 27, 2013

fotolopithecus wrote:


I've been told that the improved sensor quality in recent camera generations has actually begun to slow down. Now folks look at slight improvements at 100% and shout WOW! incredible difference. If you doubt that just look at the DXOmark results for the D90 in comparison to any other DX camera, and note. Very slight progress since then in the real world. Of course we all love a new camera however slight the improvement, but perhaps we would do better to spend extra cash on optics, and buy new cameras every four, or five years as in the film days.

I guess it comes down to what your hobby actually is, photography, or gear. I'm a little of both, I love taking pictures out of doors. It's fun, and relaxing to me, but I'm also kind of interested in the gear. I'm not interested much in features, that's another hobby in, and of itself, but I'm interested in the technology that makes a camera work.

All you Guys under 40 will one day understand that two, and a half years is an eye blink, and that you start to get attached to your cameras. When I pass on, whatever camera I have will have to be pryed out of my cold dead fingers, of that I'm pretty sure.

Foto, you're showing your age  

Seriously, though, the photographic industry exists on our unwillingness to spend in areas that make a more significant improvement to the quality of our images - technical training, artistic workshops, travel expenses - that improve our ability to see.

That being said, more good data is more good if you're into the craft, and today's cameras are pushing us into a mode of photography that most of us may not be that comfortable with, particularly if we grew up in the film era. No question that you can look at DXO graphs and proclaim that there has been no progress, and to a certain extent you'd be right.  But then you can look at other metrics not so easily reported, and you can see that there has been.  But also that the nature of how we work with these ubermegapixel monsters is changing.

I could be considered one of the most miserly of the photographic set if your standard for equipment updating in the film era is every 4-5 years.  I owned just two DSLRs in the 20 years since my first Minolta, and the 2nd one for 15 of those years.  I got a decent lens set and spent my money on film canisters and plane tickets.  The magic was in those canisters, and I spent as freely on getting that magic as we do on new camera bodies in the digital age.  I, just like the lobster in the slowly boiling pot, just never felt the money slowly flowing out of my wallet.

In the digital age, this pattern repeated itself for me, but faster, because of the accelerated pace of change.  Now that bulk camera technology performance has settled out, I see that the equivalent "enabler" is the computer darkroom, powered by an acquisition device that can generate tremendous amounts of data that can be used in ways we could not conceive of in the film days.

We can now work with image files with enough data density to provide very low noise rendered images if we want them; to retain detail more easily, even while reducing noise; to sniff out and remove sensor artifacts with little or no visible penalty under most circumstances. If our subjects don't move that much, we can shoot a burst of images and average them together in post to pull stuff out of what would be mud in a previous era or a previous digital body.  If we're shooting low light sports, this doesn't count, but for the rest of us, wow.

The penalty we pay for this is a reapportioning of our time between the camera and the darkroom.  In the film era we could spend most of our time behind the camera, get the prints back from the lab, and enjoy; today, we are spending more and more of our time in front of the keyboard.  But in the film era the really serious photogs did exactly the same thing. It took a while for digital cameras to become capable enough that we could emulate the old film darkroom masters, but that's the unspoken bargain that we're now being asked to make - to embrace the digital darkroom.

Which leads me back to my initial comment - the equipment we need to upgrade now (and have always needed to) is ourselves, not just behind the camera, but in front of the monitor.

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