As we all know more is better. More megapixels, more frames per second, more focus points, and so on. Today photography has become something to be quantified rather then created. It's true that a major portion of photography is math, lenses are designed to the laws of physics, and cameras are designed with a similar prospect now as well. More is better, everything in the next model has to be better then the last. Canon has learned this lesson the hard way with all the grief they are getting over the recently announced 30D, a direct and "minor" evolution over the 20D. The simple mater of fact is that most of you out there who are complaining about getting more and more are not really using it to any plausible effect. If you spend all your time in a studio shooting then getting quality of the highest order is paramount, prints have to be tack sharp and that's where 39 megapixle digital backs or even film (gasp!) stuck to Hasselblad's and other medium or large format cameras come in.
So image quality is great isn't it? We fork over massive amounts of money to have the latest and greatest modern digital equipment. Next year we will do it again or maybe the year after, depends on who comes out with what new innovation. It's the next step up, the evolution of our art.
How many of you print 30x20 inch prints?
A few months ago a friend borrowed my Canon 20D and my Canon 17-40mm f4 L lens to shoot some photos for a poster they wanted to do up as an add for their coming up exhibition. These two pieces of equipment are what I guess you could call mid range, the 20D while capable is not quite to the level of pro, and the 17-40 with stunning image quality and that all important L designation gets let down by a rather slow maximum aperture. So maybe not the kind of thing you would want to shoot a big poster in the studio right? After all its only 8 megapixels. Surprises come in all shapes and sizes I guess, a few days later they put up the poster they had used my camera to shoot, it was titanic, I have never printed anything out this big with this camera, or ever actually. The poster was about 1.5 meters wide and 4 meters tall. It was a picture of a guy sticking out his tongue and was taken quite well. You could count the hairs on his chin and clearly identify the fibers on his tongue; you could even see the little red blood veins in his eyes. It was shocking to say the least. Later I saw the original photo, nothing special, barely stopped down, not even shot in raw.
You get my point?
Here I do a lot of gallery exhibitions, 30x20 is the general size I print at with digital and 30x24 with film. That resolution comes in handy for me. Last year I made about three dozen large size prints for shows. At that size 8 megapixles is nice, a little more could be helpful (the details of hats, carpet, etc can look a little stressed when printed this large) so there are always alternatives, but if you are not a pro or someone who is very serious about photography having all that extra power isn't going to do you any good. Remember, resolution doubles after megapixles are quadrupled, i.e. 8mp is only twice the resolution of 2mp.
Ok anyway what I am saying is that its not always about having the latest and best of everything. Who said being modern is a good thing? There is such a thing as going too fast. This revelation came to me after I had moved on from a fully manual film camera to a automatic, then to an automatic digital. I didn't think so much about what I was doing, I told the camera where I wanted to focus but was not involved in the process as much, digital didn't make it any better either. Shoot first, pick and alter later. Why not just shoot it right the first time?
Which brings me to what I have been doing lately. Manual cameras with film. Devil talk in today's digital world. A friend lent me his old Zeiss Ikon camera a while back, it barely works, no light meter, only three working speeds, a fogged up rangefinder that I can't seem to clean, and it's totally misaligned. What a joy it is to make things simple and slow down. Thought goes back into my photos, it's like I have been removed from the hive mind and I am doing things on my own again.
I would like to speak about rangefinders for a moment. I love these things. Seeing outside the image that I am taking is something I never considered so necessary. I can see what's going on and what's about to walk into my frame before it does and I waste a shot. I love how quite and discreet they are, I love how small and simple everything is. By comparison these things are Stone Age technology, gears moving mirror elements and manual film loading. But I submit to you that these things are as modern today as any digital camera. How so? Because they can take the photo just as well as any digital camera, maybe even with some advantages over them.
Film is not dead, it's still a fantastic and in my personal opinion, superior way of recording. Digital is fast and convenient but I rarely ever see a digital photo that comes out of the camera looking as good as the photo that comes out of my slides. Even though quantifiable math states that digital is superior to film, I just can't agree. Film has a special look that cant be quantified. Colors invite you in rather then invade your senses. Tones and smoothness in prints from film to digital are substantial. And whats with digital and the color green? The green that comes out of Provia or Velvia makes digital look like old puke. Look here for instance [link]
or here [link]
a recent article put up on The Luminous Landscape, when I look at those shots side by side I keep thinking that digital green looks awfully yellow.
Ok so all this has come down to a point, slow down! Take the time to enjoy your photos, emerse yourself in the scene and be part of the world around you while you are capturing it. But most of all: Get off your ass and go take some photos rather then complain that your camera is only this or only that.
And finally to sounds like a total ass and a hiprocrit I have finally decided on getting either the Canon 5D or the Leica M7. Its going to have to be the Leica M7 and the 35mm summicron asph