Some thoughts on keeping and using older cameras....

Started Aug 17, 2014 | Discussions thread
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PhotoHawk Contributing Member • Posts: 816
Some thoughts on keeping and using older cameras....

I have an E510 with the standard two kit lens outfit.  I still use it, not as much as in the past, but I still take perhaps a couple hundred pictures a month with it.

I have had the camera since it first came out in 2007.  I can't believe its been that long.   Anyway I've shot raw after the first year with it in part to overcome some of its known deficiencies - particularly noise and DR.

I remember using CS4 or 5 and working with the raws to get the look I wanted.  I am probably have average CS skills but in general it took awhile to deal with the noise where I wanted to and lift shadows or deal with the bland or blown highlights.   I generally didn't use it much above 400, 800 sometimes, 1600 rarely.  I generally try to shoot at ISO 100 to maximize the DR most times with -0.7EV which protects the high lights somewhat but can cause shadow/noise issues.

So fast forward to today, my normal workflow for those pictures I really want to shine is to use DXO 9 to convert them, apply the lens corrections as well as adjust the lighting.  Sometimes I may use the PRIME noise reduction but only on those that are really noisy.  This works extremely well on the E510 ISO 1600 photos.  Really amazing.  Anyway after using DXO I send it to CS6 as a 16 bit TIFF.  I then use the NIK plugins to apply some filters and use CS6 to clean up the photo if required.  Generally a graduated filter to correct a bland sky, a Tonal Contrast filter and the results are as pleasing as they are easy to do.  Finally I flatten, crop if required, convert from Prophoto to sRGB (generally), move it to 8 bits, use the NIK Output Sharpener and then save as a JPEG.  That is a simple example and I do other things but these are the common general actions.

I've developed this workflow for my more current APSC cameras but I've applied the workflow and tools to the E510 recent photographs as well as the old raw taken over the last 6 years.

So what of it?  Well looking back over the years I can see that older photographs when worked on with current modern tools more easily and more effectively address some of the problems I had before.  And these more modern tools provide more "use envelope" for the E510 if I can coin that term.  By "use envelope" I mean the range of situations I can use the 510 in and still be comfortable I'll get the shot I can work with.  The newer tools don't overcome everything - it won't make the E510 shoot in the dark like my K3 or K5 but it does add a fair bit to the range of situations it can be used.

The reason for the post is not to convince anyone that the tools I use are the best, but merely to point out that the end result of the camera workflow, including the use of an older camera, is becoming better with newer tools.  The answer to more capability for some may not lie in a new camera but with better post processing tools to more fully realize the image you can take with older gear.

One last thought - almost all the cameras over the last number of years are capable in many circumstances.  What we buy with our money is an expanded "use envelope" to match the cash we are willing to pay.  It may be less expensive to review the tools used rather than the camera itself.  And for those of us with the 4/3 cameras, they still take wonderful pictures - newer tools can extend their use and enjoyment.

Olympus E-5 Pentax K-5
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