On putting money into 4:3 gear ...

Started May 11, 2013 | Discussions thread
CharlesB58
Veteran MemberPosts: 6,520
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Re: YES!!!
In reply to Great Bustard, May 17, 2013

Great Bustard wrote:

But would the target audience care enough to pay more for the photo, decide to purchase the photo or not, or vote differently in a photography competition?  That's what I'm asking.  Myself, I think it would be relatively rare that the difference in IQ would make a difference, except for extreme conditions (keeping in mind, of course, that some photographers' photography is almost entirely in the extreme).

This touches on a couple of issues. First, anyone wanting to provide a professional level of services is going to think in terms of whether the target audience will notice a difference. That's a given, but one of the things that separates successful photographers from less successful ones is the willingness and ability to exceed expectations, even if it's not recognized. A musician will spend thousands on instruments and hundreds of hours rehearsing, even though most of his audience will never be able to tell the difference between his $2500 guitar and $3000 amp set up and if he had used a $250 guitar and $300 amp. But he can tell, and so strives for the utmost quality he can achieve because he knows there are those who can tell the difference and will let him know either way.

Which brings up the idea that those who will be paying for the photos, or judging them in a top tier competitions, will be looking for those differences in IQ that sets a "GWC" apart from someone who truly works on both technique and concept in order to produce the most effective images possible. Many "GWC" types simply seem to wander around hoping to find subjects and scenes worth photographing, and then hope their gear will assure them of a certain level of technical expertise. IMO, truly successful photographers put a lot of work into making images, not just capturing them.

Take the commonplace talk of high ISO performance and how it relates to taking available light photos. In many such discussions, people will on occasion speak about what pros use, apparently without realizing that many pros in fact use "artificial light" or augment available light in order to control things in a way which assures the best possible IQ. They will use techniques which make it appear as though the photo is "au natural", and the less informed assume they took the photo with a camera that has superior high ISO performance. Maybe. Or maybe photographers like David Hobby, Annie Leibovitz and others know how to use lighting equipment so subtly it looks like available light.

So the real answer to your question depends greatly on who is doing the buying or judging. From a professional standpoint, one hopes that a client recognizes a photo for both technical and aesthetic/stylistic merit. Most of the time this is true. My main client first recognized the style and aesthetics of my photos, and that is still what I get the most feedback about. But on occasion I do get people asking how I achieve the IQ I do, compared to their efforts with what are arguably newer, more capable cameras.

That throws in a new wrinkle: will a newer camera make a demonstrable difference for someone who isn't already at a technical level that has "outstripped" his older camera? Maybe. I can't wring much more IQ out of the E520, when making concert photos, than I currently do. But I know someone with a Canon 60D who "shortsells" that camera's capabilities by quite a bit, mainly because he lets the camera do most of the decision making for him.

(and let's not even delve into people who never go beyond using kit lenses)

Bottom line, IMO: all other things being equal, I agree it's rare that the deciding factor in whether a given photograph is successful is that it was made with the latest camera or not. Yet, in the end, it depends on who is determining the "success" of a photo. One of my most "successful" (as in popular and highly praised) is a rather fuzzy shot taken with a Kodak z712IS. The subjects-a young Meskwaki dancer carrying his infant son during a dance, both of them in regalia-is technically full of flaws, but the subject matter, and my good fortune in how I captured the moment, far outweigh the flaws.

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