Portability v Quality are we obsessed by size?

Started Jan 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
jsmiller Contributing Member • Posts: 825
Re: Portability v Quality are we obsessed by size?

ianbrown wrote:

I guess it much depends what type of photography you take and this will most likely determin if you can get away with a smaller package.

Exactly! What is final use intended for your images? Very good prints up to 16x20 can be easily obtained with images from very small cameras, but if you stare at big enlargements on a monitor, you will likely find faults in the images. So what, unless that is ultimate goal. I have recently gone a bit overboard and bought three new cameras: a 5D Mk III, a OM-D, and a Sony RX-100. They give me three levels of portability and capability. Image quality must always be judged in terms of the end use, and for many a phone camera meeets their needs. The Sony RX-100 meets at least 60% of my needs. Its IQ when exposed correctly is fine for prints up to 16x20, and I believe I could go twice as big if I needed to. It fits in my shirt pocket. But in very low light or when a long FL lens is needed, it fall short. The OM-D is still a relatively compact camera with higher IQ than the Sony, but for me its chief adanvatages are working at higher ISOs and long focal lengths with a camera that easy to carry around. It coiuld meet as much as 80% of my needs. The 5D III is a stunning camera, with capabilities I haven'y even begun to tap. It can produce extremely high quality images in challenging situations with ease, but for me it is a camera for use or outings when photography is the central goal. I don't just carry it around on casual outings.

Having been at this for more than 45 years, I am used to working with the limitations of any camera. All three of the cameras listed above are capable of giving superb results if they are used with understanding. If I had to pick only one, it would be the OM-D, as it combines considerable flexibility, excellent IQ up to ISO 1600 (and higher if your uses don't require the ultimate IQ), and great portability. But I find owning all three a real advantage for my uses. It is often overlooked that for prints up 14x17, just about any recent camera can give very fine results in capable hands. My first digital camera was a Nikon Coolpix 950, with 2 MP, and I have several nice 11x14 prints hanging on my walls that were from images taken with it.

So, yes, the type of photography and the final display mode of your images should be two of the main considerations in picking a camera. I know several people who just liked the idea of of owning a DSLR camera, but who use it in a way that a much smaller camera would have done just as well for them. My approach has been to pick a camera that I think is all I need, but if and when I find its limitations prevent me from getting a significant number of images that I had wanted, I consider an upgrade. With the 5D III I may have gone too far, but it sure is a pleasure to work with such an advanced and capable piece of equipment. That can be part of the motivation as well.


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