New numbers

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New numbers

Last week it struck me that I'm seeing other people using new numbers, and sometimes I'm using them myself.

I maybe  should be paying more attention.

It started when someone wrote about shooting at 1/320. That's not a real shutter speed, as long as you define "real" as a number engraved in a dial.

Then I found myself shooting at ISO 1000. That's not real either. ISO speeds are 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, and 3200.

And then I looked at the aperture telling me the camera wanted to use f 7.1. What?

I was in a lawyer's office, shooting still portraits and video, on a Canon 80D and using a Lowell Totalite and two LEDGO 8x10 inch LED panels. The room was not as bright as it looked.

And my shutter speed numbers were too slow for good pictures, except those old numbers do not count anymore, thanks to stabilization. 1/20, 1/30, 1/50 are all useful on short telephoto pictures today.

Apertures too slow from yesteryear turn out to be OK thanks to better processing chips. The Canon 70 - 200 f4 works as well on a modern DSLR at ISO 1600 as a 70 - 200 f2.8 worked at f8 a decade ago.

In the lawyer's office, instead of just looking through the camera zooming to determine my focal length, I thought I'd do at least a little thinking.

I'm fine in doing the math to frame a head shot at 50 - 60 mm on a crop camera, when the camera it tilted to "portrait" framing.

Except that with so many pictures published on screens in horizontal cropping, the standard 100mm lens vertical shot is diminishing in importance.

And now we've got hero shots. Instead of a 7x10 vertical full page picture measured in inches we're working with 1980 pixels in width and no standard vertical height in pixels for people pictures. It's not often we see a computer portrait 1920 x 1080.

And now we're only using 1/3 of the frame, with a big unused area beside the face, running across two thirds of a screen. Or we must figure out how to fill that space.

And another numbers-related thought came to me the other day. I read that a person with an85mm lens was thinking of adding a 100. In the film days, you'd often want all the image area possible, and it was often a pain to get a cropped print. But today, grab the corner of a picture taken on an 85, and you can turn it into a 100mm crop (or close enough) with no effort.


Canon EOS 80D
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