Opinion Poll

Started May 14, 2013 | Discussions
Great Bustard
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Opinion Poll
May 14, 2013

In your opinion, based on the photos you see posted here on DPR and elsewhere on the net, what percent of the photos would have had greater impact if they had been captured with better equipment?

Please post the percent in the subject line, and any comments in the body.

By the way, it's clear that many would benefit from the operation of better equipment, for example, faster / more accurate AF, in that it would get them the shot that lesser equipment might miss.  However, this poll is about photos that were successfully captured.  How many people do you feel would produce photos that were more successful if they had been captured with better equipment?

What I'm asking is, for example, if a photo had been taken with an entry level Canon DSLR and the kit lens, would it have made a difference in the success of the photo if it had been taken instead with the Nikon D800 and a top tier lens, where by "success of the photo" I mean you would have paid for one, but not the other, or paid more for one than the other.

Nikon D800
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Glen Barrington
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In reply to Great Bustard, May 14, 2013

I believe we are at the point, technology wise, that the effectiveness of a photo simply CAN'T be degraded by technology issues.  Now we could ruin a photo by using the wrong equipment.  But quality equipment is available in all price ranges and even from the humblest equipment manufacturer.  The tech really IS that good.

I'm a firm believer in the idea that if your photos suck, it isn't the equipment at fault, it's you.

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john farrar
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Zero Pecent - quite right. NT
In reply to Glen Barrington, May 14, 2013

Glen Barrington wrote:

...the equipment at fault, it's you.

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BertIverson
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Yes zero percent ...
In reply to Great Bustard, May 14, 2013

I recently decided to dump my DSLR system in favor of RX100 because I concluded that MY photos would be no different when viewed on my 24" 1920x1200 monitor. (but some will be significantly better because I would not have had the DSLR with me to take the shot )

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Dennis
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Twenty percent
In reply to Great Bustard, May 14, 2013

Just throwing out a ballpark figure.

  • I'm counting camera/lens combos that can deliver shallow DOF as "better" (I know of regular people - non-photographers - who have upgraded to DSLRs just to get that out of focus background).
  • I've seen shots with ugly blown out highlights (blue skies with white blobs where there should be clouds) that would benefit from a camera that can record greater dynamic range.
  • And I'm guessing that a number of out of focus shots and poorly exposed shots could have been done by a camera that does Auto better. 

Mostly, though, the web just isn't demanding enough that better gear makes a difference any more.

Edit: your OP mentioned an entry level DSLR & kit lens versus something better.  In that case, I've seen sports photos and indoor action photos taken with slow zooms that would have benefited from a faster lens.  But mostly, the photos that would benefit from better gear were mostly shot with low end stuff - mobile phones or digicams.  Once you get into large sensor cameras of any kind, the benefit from better gear diminishes.

(I think the biggest impact comes from post processing - some people know how to adjust images for screen presentation and it shows).

- Dennis

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Great Bustard
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Follow-up question:
In reply to Dennis, May 14, 2013

Dennis wrote:

Just throwing out a ballpark figure.

  • I'm counting camera/lens combos that can deliver shallow DOF as "better" (I know of regular people - non-photographers - who have upgraded to DSLRs just to get that out of focus background).
  • I've seen shots with ugly blown out highlights (blue skies with white blobs where there should be clouds) that would benefit from a camera that can record greater dynamic range.
  • And I'm guessing that a number of out of focus shots and poorly exposed shots could have been done by a camera that does Auto better. 

Mostly, though, the web just isn't demanding enough that better gear makes a difference any more.

If the situation were extended to include photos printed at the size that you feel most people print their photos (please specify), would your answer still be 20%?

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Dennis
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Re: Follow-up question:
In reply to Great Bustard, May 14, 2013

Great Bustard wrote:

Dennis wrote:

Mostly, though, the web just isn't demanding enough that better gear makes a difference any more.

If the situation were extended to include photos printed at the size that you feel most people print their photos (please specify), would your answer still be 20%?

Probably.  I through that in because your original question asked specifically about what we've seen online.  For all of us taken together, print is even less demanding, because most photos aren't printed and of those that are, most are printed small.  But ... because people don't print with any regularity (and certainly don't go around sharing their prints like in the past) I don't see other people's small prints.  What I do see are prints in coffee table books, the occasional gallery, Photoplus Expo and the like ... in other words, if you were to ask about what I see that's printed, then I think the gear is more likely to make a difference because a higher percentage of what's printed is big, fine art or commercial stuff.

Personally, I don't print a lot (mostly in photo books) and I've had great results in photo books and calendars from almost every camera I've used (though low light shots have improved with better gear), but when I do print, it's anywhere from 11x14 to 20x30 and there, I saw a difference going from 7-year old 6MP (APS-C) to 4-year old 12MP (APS-C), and at that point, I was happy.  Since then, it's been features that have driven camera/lens purchases, not image quality.

- Dennis

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Lightpath48
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Less than 10%
In reply to Great Bustard, May 14, 2013

It's more about so many other things than it is about equipment. However, when changing cameras from time to time I've found that technical mastery came more easily because the cameras were better with focus and exposure. But what does it matter if the photo fails in subject matter, position, lighting and composition?

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Great Bustard
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Re: Follow-up question:
In reply to Dennis, May 14, 2013

Dennis wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

Dennis wrote:

Mostly, though, the web just isn't demanding enough that better gear makes a difference any more.

If the situation were extended to include photos printed at the size that you feel most people print their photos (please specify), would your answer still be 20%?

Probably.  I through that in because your original question asked specifically about what we've seen online.

You thought correctly.  I followed up with a question about prints.

For all of us taken together, print is even less demanding, because most photos aren't printed and of those that are, most are printed small.  But ... because people don't print with any regularity (and certainly don't go around sharing their prints like in the past) I don't see other people's small prints.  What I do see are prints in coffee table books, the occasional gallery, Photoplus Expo and the like ... in other words, if you were to ask about what I see that's printed, then I think the gear is more likely to make a difference because a higher percentage of what's printed is big, fine art or commercial stuff.

Personally, I don't print a lot (mostly in photo books) and I've had great results in photo books and calendars from almost every camera I've used (though low light shots have improved with better gear), but when I do print, it's anywhere from 11x14 to 20x30 and there, I saw a difference going from 7-year old 6MP (APS-C) to 4-year old 12MP (APS-C), and at that point, I was happy.  Since then, it's been features that have driven camera/lens purchases, not image quality.

Thanks much for your replies!

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Lee Jay
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Not quite the right question
In reply to Great Bustard, May 14, 2013

Great Bustard wrote:

In your opinion, based on the photos you see posted here on DPR and elsewhere on the net, what percent of the photos would have had greater impact if they had been captured with better equipment?

Generally, I would be inclined to assume that, if they were presented here that they were taken with equipment capable of capturing those images.

The question for me is, how many images did you miss being able to take at all, or at a quality worth presenting, because of the limitations of the equipment you were using at the time.

I generally don't buy better equipment so that I can get better pictures, I buy better equipment to get pictures I can't get without that better equipment.

Not great (Canon S3IS):

A little better (Canon SX50):

Much better (20D + 1,900mm focal length telescope):

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Lee Jay
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Dennis
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Re: Not quite the right question
In reply to Lee Jay, May 14, 2013

And of course, there are plenty of people who post things like your first version ...

But it does bring up a couple interesting corollaries:

- How many pictures would you have (posted, printed, taken, kept, etc) if you had better gear ?

- Dennis

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Great Bustard
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Re: Not quite the right question
In reply to Lee Jay, May 14, 2013

ljfinger wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

In your opinion, based on the photos you see posted here on DPR and elsewhere on the net, what percent of the photos would have had greater impact if they had been captured with better equipment?

Generally, I would be inclined to assume that, if they were presented here that they were taken with equipment capable of capturing those images.

Yes.

The question for me is, how many images did you miss being able to take at all, or at a quality worth presenting, because of the limitations of the equipment you were using at the time.

Indeed I did not spell that out, and should have done so in the OP, as I did intend that to be considered in the answer to the question.

I generally don't buy better equipment so that I can get better pictures, I buy better equipment to get pictures I can't get without that better equipment.

Not great (Canon S3IS):

A little better (Canon SX50):

Much better (20D + 1,900mm focal length telescope):

I would not consider these as examples that would apply to my question, as they display differences in operation (different framing as a result of being focal length limited).

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Lee Jay
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Re: Not quite the right question
In reply to Great Bustard, May 14, 2013

Great Bustard wrote:

I would not consider these as examples that would apply to my question, as they display differences in operation (different framing as a result of being focal length limited).

This is exactly my point, however.  I buy equipment because I was focal length limited, or aperture limited, or high-ISO limited, or wide-angle limited, or AF-speed limited, or whatever, so that I can get the shots I want.  I don't buy better equipment to get better shots, as we passed that a while ago, for shots within the performance envelope of the equipment.  I buy to expand that envelope.

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Lee Jay
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Great Bustard
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Re: Not quite the right question
In reply to Lee Jay, May 14, 2013

ljfinger wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

I would not consider these as examples that would apply to my question, as they display differences in operation (different framing as a result of being focal length limited).

This is exactly my point, however.  I buy equipment because I was focal length limited, or aperture limited, or high-ISO limited, or wide-angle limited, or AF-speed limited, or whatever, so that I can get the shots I want.  I don't buy better equipment to get better shots, as we passed that a while ago, for shots within the performance envelope of the equipment.  I buy to expand that envelope.

Good answer!  So, back to my original question, then:  what percent of photos are not taken or not posted because they are in that "expanded envelope"?  In other words, what percent of photos are in the envelope for the vast majority of people with basically any modern system?

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Lee Jay
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Re: Not quite the right question
In reply to Great Bustard, May 14, 2013

Great Bustard wrote:

ljfinger wrote:

Great Bustard wrote:

I would not consider these as examples that would apply to my question, as they display differences in operation (different framing as a result of being focal length limited).

This is exactly my point, however.  I buy equipment because I was focal length limited, or aperture limited, or high-ISO limited, or wide-angle limited, or AF-speed limited, or whatever, so that I can get the shots I want.  I don't buy better equipment to get better shots, as we passed that a while ago, for shots within the performance envelope of the equipment.  I buy to expand that envelope.

Good answer!  So, back to my original question, then:  what percent of photos are not taken or not posted because they are in that "expanded envelope"?  In other words, what percent of photos are in the envelope for the vast majority of people with basically any modern system?

Well, I can't answer the "vast majority of people" part, just for me.  For myself, if we assume the "standard envelope" is a cell phone, about 99.9% of my shots are outside of that envelope.  If we assume the "standard envelope" is something like an S100 advanced compact, then probably 90% of my shots are outside of that envelope.  If the "standard envelope" is a crop-sensor camera with something like an 18-135 on it, then something like 75% of my shots are outside that envelope.  If the "standard envelope" is a crop sensor kit with 18-250/300mm total range, then probably 60% of my shots are outside that envelope.

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Lee Jay
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Giklab
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Define successfully taken
In reply to Great Bustard, May 14, 2013

If it's a very good pic than what use is there looking for mistakes which would not be there with better equipment?

However, if you mean a well composed, framed etc. shot that would have benefited from a better lens (say, corner to corner sharpness) or a camera with better high ISO performance, then my estimate would be anywhere between 15% and 50%. Remember that more and more people take pictures with phones.

Having said that, I still think I get better pictures using "shitter" equipment, such as a travel zoom compact and a manual film camera with a prime lens. And I get to appreciate my DSLR even more when I pick it up again.

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brianj
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In reply to Great Bustard, May 14, 2013

Brian

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Henry Falkner
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In reply to Glen Barrington, May 14, 2013

You are viewing the pictures here at a reduced size that masks any technical imperfections created by artifacts even on the cheapest pocket P&S.

Henry

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Glen Barrington
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In reply to Henry Falkner, May 14, 2013

I fully understand that cheap cameras aren't as good as expensive ones.  I'm saying that even the cheapest are so good that they don't in any way interfere with the message that the photographer intended.  That is a different path completely than the one of arguing about the quality and nature of the pixels.

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nelsonal
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Re: Opinion Poll
In reply to Great Bustard, May 14, 2013

I have to think that my number would be under 5%.  If I'm understanding you correctly it's how frequently do I find pictures where I go that's a nice photo/idea pity they used that camera rather than a newer one?  Are you including lenses?

Of course I'm the guy who thinks slow triplets are in the running for world's finest portrait lenses, so I may be the oddball.

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