Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

Started Feb 2, 2014 | Discussions thread
abelits Contributing Member • Posts: 773
Re: Your camera's a tool, not a jewel.

amalric wrote:

I would like to bring back the debate in topic. To me it is clear that present cameras are towers of babel - they have an excess of features which is disorienting - if you compare them to film cameras. Have they increased creativity?

To be fair, some features did -- for example, autofocus allowed photos to be taken in the middle of unpredictable action, high-sensitivity sensors allowed night-time and indoors photography in conditions that would require extensive preparations, lighting equipment, etc. that would distract the subject and alter the events. Even HDR given us photos of nature, images taken inside the buildings with bright windows with clearly visible landscape, etc. There are legitimate reasons and legitimate positive results that are based in some advances of camera and processing technology.

I think it was Ming Thein and excellent photog and blog author writing that an artist needs to limit its gear to what is strictly needed by his work, any excess reflecting negatively on the work. Artists have always known this, even choosing artificial limitations, to test their skill.

The photographer already has the strictest limitation of them all -- the reality. The camera won't record light that is not radiated or reflected by a real object. And viewer's expectation is that it's not just the image in the photographer's mind but the shape of something real, present in the world that he and photographer share, is reflected in the shapes he sees on the photo.

But how to capture it, how to select, emphasize, exclude things so they reflect something meaningful -- that's the task the photographer has to somehow solve, and if he really needs an unusual tool, there is no shame in using or wanting it. One just has to be aware that mere application of a complex tool or technique does not make the result interesting. At least not beyond the first use if the tool is extraordinary in its own right, but one is rarely the first to use something as common as a a feature of a camera.

I have a camera so complicated it took me months to get familiar with and that seriously limited my activity. Sometimes I wish I had a Leica, not for prestige, but because it has kept its native simplicity. Of course I don't have the money

It is debatable what is more complex -- design of a lens or design of a camera firmware that performs autofocus of those lenses, a simple-looking CFA demosaic procedure, automatic panorama assembly, or implementation of bracketing exposure with combining the images  to produce HDR. Simple things often have at very least plenty of math underneath.

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