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Category Archives: Daily Post
We are living in a golden age of photographic technology that continues to drive an almost insatiable series of new developments and capabilities in our cameras. These advances are offering an increasingly wide array of new, high quality camera choices for photographers. And increasingly these camera choices include new smaller and lighter image-makers. It’s a great time to be a photographer! All this available technology complicates our choices of what camera gear to own, even for experienced photographers. Every indication is that these choices are going to become increasingly difficult in the next few years.
The Market is Squeezed
All in all, it’s an increasingly winning market for photographers. The array of technologically advanced cameras and gear is amazing. We’ve never had so many great choices. The camera market is being squeezed seemingly impacting every product from top pro level gear to the entry level point and shoots.
Today anyone with deep enough pockets can consider almost everything from a full sized DSLR to a simple point and shoot not to mention the ever greater quality of images from the cameras in our phones.
The breadth of this enabling technology has been driven by new improvements in sensor capabilities and increased processing power wrapped in ever smaller forms. Many of us have an 8 megapixel camera in our phones that’s our everyday carry around camera, the one we almost always have with us.
In fact, overall global camera sales are expected to fall 4.3 percent this year to 115.2 million units, according to market researcher IHS primarily due to the increasing sales and use of these camera phone eating into the traditional camera market. According to IC Insights, camera phones were outselling traditional digital cameras by a ratio of 6:1.
This competitive environment is shaking up the traditional camera industry forcing manufacturers to find new ways of meeting the changing demands of consumers if they want to remain viable . Smartphone cameras are pulling and shifting the traditional camera market to the point where capabilities are being squeezed into smaller sizes.
There is a related movement at the top of the market towards smaller micro four-thirds and cameras with APS-C sensors. These smaller cameras are increasingly attractive to keen amateurs and even professionals. Serious camera consumers are squeezing product lines to something that’s more than a camera phone but without the heft and bulk of a DSLR. Some, including many top photographers, are moving or considering moving completely to these smaller cameras or adding them to their collection of camera gear for more options and versatility. The major manufacturers are scrambling to define and adjust to these new market pressures.
The Traditional DSLR
Professionals will be using DSLRs for many years to come. Recent product announcements by Canon and Nikon of additions to their product line show their commitments to a continuous evolution of the big gun cameras in the industry. The advances in sensor technology, processors and the embedded software in the cameras make them increasingly capable and complex. They can do a lot for photographers who know how to use them to their full capabilities. The learning curve for them is steep and long but for those who need these cameras they are an essential tool for studio, sports and action photography.
Heft & Bulk
Check out the sizes and weights of some of this new gear. These big DSLRs require a physical commitment if you’re going to carry them around. A new Nikon D800 body weighs in at 900 grams (32 oz) for the body alone. A Canon 5D Mark III weighs 860 grams (1.9 lbs). And the camera body is only the beginning of the weight considerations. Add in a few lenses like a 17-24 (35oz/1kg), 24-70 (32oz/902g); and 70-200 (50 oz/1,430 g), the trinity for Nikon shooters. Add common accessories and your bag can easily approach 20 pounds or more.
Keep your DSLR
You may want to stick with your DSLR if you’ve invested a ton of money in your gear or don’t want to go through a potentially stressful process to sell your camera body and lenses to move to a new system. You’re likely going to take a hit with accumulated depreciation on your camera body unless it’s a recent purchase or a brand new model with high demand on the used market. Top quality glass will hold its value much better than cheaper, lower quality glass. But accept the fact that you’re likely to lose some money on any switchover to a new camera system. You could consider the loss as a downpayment and investment in your new system if you’re determined to move and you need the money to buy new kit. If you do decide to sell, be cautious in an auction site like eBay and a payment service such as PayPal. Read the terms and conditions of your total transaction from the initial listing to delivery and the final payment transaction. Fully understand and use the protections these services offer and recommend. Beware of scammers. They are small minority but they are present and if you’re not careful you can get burned.
You also need to consider how you use your current gear. Shooting wildlife, sports or other action photography isn’t going to be suited to a micro four-thirds system or a point and shoot camera. Generally these cameras don’t have the fast autofocus capabilities of today’s DSLR. What you love to shoot is going to drive your needs in a camera system. You may want to keep your DSLR for your primary shooting style if it demands one.
As a professional it also might be strange for your clients to see you shooting with something other than a full size DSLR. Their perception of you as a professional may well be shaped by the gear you bring to to the shoot. Your clients expect to see the traditional big camera to fit their perception of professional gear. Of course you know that the camera doesn’t dictate the quality of the shots you’ll give them but your customers come to you with an expectation of the gear you’ll have for their event and they want the best. The best to them is what they see other professionals use. They pay for that look unless you’ve set some expectations at the outset and tied the quality of your results to the gear you’ll bring. They expect you to have something more professional looking than Uncle Harry’s camera at the wedding even if they don’t know the difference. They see size as an indication of professional gear.
The pure processing power of a DSLR provides capabilities that are not always found in today’s smaller cameras. They are in some ways, computers. The autofocus capabilities in DSLR cameras is nothing short of amazing. The ability to quickly focus and lock on to moving subjects is something some of us absolutely need to have to pursue our primary interests in photography. Also, the high ISO offerings are increasingly stretching the ability of these cameras to shoot amazing images in low light even without the fastest lens.
So, the big gun DSLR’s in the industry are going to be around for a long time and professionals and avid photographers are going to continue to use them because they are great tools for those who need to stretch the capabilities of their gear to the maximum to get the shots they want. Lots of influential people are also invested in this gear and help drive new development and technology to meet their demanding needs.
There are new alternatives to a traditional DSLR that are worth looking at. You’ll likely make some compromises in capabilities and features but those may outweigh the benefits of smaller gear.
Most of us would rather have all this capability in our pockets or in a small lightweight bag rather than in a heavy oversized backpack. Unfortunately, we’re not quite at the point where the technology available in a DSLR are completely captured in smaller camera packages yet. We’re seeing indications that camera makers are on the path towards DSLR capabilities in these more compact sizes that may eventually allow us to carry the capability of today’s best DSLR’s in much smaller sizes. They may even fit in our pockets but we’re not completely there yet.
Until we get there completely, there are new cameras coming to market that offer capable features if your need for a smaller camera size can’t wait for DSLR capabilities.
Considering Smaller Gear
Photographers are increasingly recognizing that the new, smaller cameras coming to market give them possibilities for images that can rival the quality of images one can get from a DSLR. These new cameras and the technology in them are offering fresh options that deserve investigation. There are accomplished photographers reaching for these cameras to use in their daily shooting. At the Google+ Photographers Conference earlier last year there were a number of people using a variety of smaller cameras like the Olympus OM-D E-M5, Sony NEX-7 and Fujifilm X-pro1. From personal conversations, I surmise that these cameras are complementing other cameras in these photographer’s kit but that most haven’t yet replaced their DSLR.
But photographers are starting to recognize the increasing capabilities and promise of these smaller instruments and want to own and use them. They are also increasingly hopeful these small cameras are morphing into something that’s going to be so good that they could one day replace their bigger kit.
Many pros are shooting full frame DSLR’s and want to stick with that format. There are currently only a few small cameras that offer full frame sensors in a smaller package.
Of course there’s the Leica M9 and the newly introduced Sony RX-1. The Leica has offered a full frame Kodak CCD sensor since it was first introduced in September 2009 and recently have announced the Leica M with a new, full frame CMOS sensor. The new Sony RX-1 camera is currently coming to the market sporting a 24 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor with an ISO range between 100-25,600. Many professionals and prosumers are likely looking at these new cameras. Manufacturers of these smaller cameras are also able to eliminate the need for a mirror and the complex assembly around a mirror eliminating the resulting mirror slap and vibration when taking a shot for these smaller cameras. But many would argue that small cameras don’t need to be full frame to be their primary camera of choice.
There are many APS-C sensor cameras on the market that are recognized as outstanding. These smaller sensor cameras crop images from a full 35mm format essentially increasing the focal length of their companion lenses by 1.6x for Canon EOS cameras and 1.5x for Nikon, Sony, Fuji and Pentax. So the focal length of a 50mm lens on a full frame camera will be an equivalent 75mm on a Nikon DX body.
A micro four-thirds sensor found on many of today’s smaller and lighter cameras sports an image that is equivalent to a 2x crop factor compared to a full frame camera. So its 50% smaller than a full frame DSLR sensor allowing the camera to be smaller and lighter.
The greatest advantage of these small cameras is their ability to deliver high quality images in a small size and relatively light weight. Portability is important to many photographers of all genres. Who wouldn’t want the best technology in a smaller, lighter package? This natural progression to high tech capabilities in smaller packages is not unprecedented. We’ve seen it in many other technologies over the past. In the 70′s, early GPS receiver technology was packed into trucks and man packs. Today, we carry GPS receivers in our smartphones. If history is any indication, in the future we’ll be seeing amazing advances in camera sensors, processing power and other unknown capabilities in ever smaller cameras.
Manufacturers and photographers need to challenge the paradigm that bigger is always better and more capable. We also need to change the perceptions of our clients who equate a professional shooter with their big DSLRs. Just keep in mind that no matter what the camera, our passion for quality photography outweighs all the new technology. Ultimately its all about the images we capture no matter the platform or gear we choose to carry. For photographers at all levels these new and coming changes are something worth looking forward to and adopting when they meet and perhaps exceed our needs.
Old Poway Park is a nice preserve for community events and family gatherings. Its also a great spot for family portraits, there are usually more than several photographers there leading families around the various prime spots to get their best shots.
What makes the park nice for photography are the number of big trees providing shade and nice light for portraits. There are also several areas with older structures that really provide a nice asthetic as backgrounds. The small gauge railroad track circling the park supports several different trains that come out of the museum on weekends providing rides for families for a minimal charge.
If you get a chance, stop by the park for a few hours and just enjoy the quiet of a nice green area with enough to keep the busiest family entertained for several hours and don’t forget to bring your camera.
Thanks for reading!
There have been a few excellent e-books that have recently been published that have peaked my interest in slow exposure photography. The one I have is from David at Flixelpix titled “The Long Exposure Photography ebook”
More to come on my experiences and experiments with this type of photography. I’m waiting on my neutral density filters from B&H which should give me more flexibility and opportunities.
Here’s what I shot today.
Thanks for reading!
Walking in downtown San Diego provides a lot of opportunities for good images. I hovered around the Santa Fe train depot and the local trolley stop at America Plaza.
While I tend to shy away from tourist locations, the waterfront offers some great opportunities for photography. I hope you enjoy looking at these images.
Thanks for reading!
Opening day on Poway Lake on November 21, 2012. It’s a big day for the local fishermen. The trout season lasts all the way through May next year.
Every year, the city stocks the lake with farm raised trout every two weeks. It’s a big deal. The lake is known for the size of the fish in the lake holding the record in the county for the biggest trout at almost 18 pounds.
I used to fish but now spend almost all my hobby time taking photographs. I tried out a new lens in my kit, a Zeiss 35mm Biogon f/2 wide angle. Up till now I’ve been shooting with my Leica 28mm, 50mm and 90mm.
I have to say this Zeiss 35mm is going to be on my camera often. It really came through at the lake giving me some high contrast black and white shots. The color saturation is very good too rendering a warm glow to the shots I captured.
Hope you enjoy these few images…thanks for reading!
I was lucky enough to have Veterans Day as a holiday. I know not everyone does so I won’t gloat. For me it was an opportunity to get out and take photographs…freedom!!!
Downtown San Diego was my destination. I thought it would be busy enough but not too busy since many government offices and banks were observing the holiday. My focus today would be on street photography. It’s still intimidating for me but when I can I take the opportunity to try to overcome my fears because I love the idea of capturing daily life on the street. Not all of it, there are subjects I won’t touch anymore out of respect for the people who are struggling to survive. They certainly don’t need me to amplify their plight. My personal credo is to always do right for my subjects. I don’t want to reflect anyone in a bad light, so to speak. I’m also not brave enough to push my camera directly in someone’s space. I’m definitely a standoff street shooter. I’m still capturing daily life but not too up close and personal.
When I go to my dentist’s office there are black and white photographs of downtown San Diego at the turn of the last century. These images are usually taken from relatively high vantage points over the streets of San Diego. They invariably show the first hints of automobiles sharing the avenues with people and horse drawn carriages. The men are typically dressed very conservatively in black suits, the women are in long skirts. I’m mesmerized and completely taken in by these photographs. They draw me to an earlier time. The early days of many technologies we take for granted today. What camera captured that photograph? Who was the photographer? Why did they take that shot? Today they’re marked as images from the San Diego historical society. I don’t look forward to going to my dentist. You know those times when you’re sitting in the chair, left for a few minutes in between some process in your procedure? You’re left with a few minutes to yourself. These images are on the wall right in front of the chair and so give me a few minutes just to stare into the shots. It’s one of those rare, quiet moments where I’m completely immersed in an image. There are even Ansel Adams images in their waiting room that I have time to reflect on.
These shots are my inspiration when I go out to the street to shoot. Can I capture a moment in history? Will this shot give a viewer in the far future a sense of what it was like to live in downtown San Diego at the turn of the twenty first century? Assuming these digital files will even survive the next technological evolutions. But I’m determined to print more and put these images on display the same way they’re visible in my dentist’s office. It’s interesting to consider your place as a photographer. Many of us are documenting life on the street. How many of our photographs will survive to future generations to show a slice of life as we know it today? I hope many of them do but sadly, I suspect many will not.
Many of us who started a Project366 on the first day of this year are quickly approaching the final marker. Today is day 311 for me.
This is my second Project366 and I have to say it’s going to be my last one. In my earlier, more adventurous times, the challenge of a photograph every day seemed like a good learning opportunity and a project kept me personally accountable. I was also committed to others who follow along on Flickr where I chose to share my project. It was a good learning experience, my skills have definitely grown and I’ve matured as a photographer in many ways. I’m increasingly selective in the shots I take but with a Project366, not as selective as I intend to be after the end of the year.
Taking the shot that I know works is becoming increasingly hard. My standards have elevated and are not nearly as low as they were when I began my first Project366 in 2010. Back then, one of my shots was of an empty “Good & Plenty bag on the sidewalk…yikes! I look back on that shot which is still up on Flickr with horror and wonder now what I was thinking.
While, I’d never consider a shot like that now, I still need to grab a photograph every day. The pressure to deliver is constant. There’s almost not an hour in my day that I don’t think about what great shot might be possible with the time remaining. My perspective is all wrong though. My job has to come first and when I can the daily shot rises to the top. The problem is that many of us have high pressure job responsibilities narrowing our opportunity to shoot. It really sounds like whining and a lame excuse doesn’t it? Well it is and it isn’t. The reality of making sure my non photography related responsibilities are done completely and to the best of my ability leaves my passion for photography on the curb for most of the day.
So, opportunities for an acceptable contribution to my project are mainly limited to the time I have after work. Generally that’s enough time but it’s still a challenge after a hard day. It’s a daily question as I make my way from the office to the parking garage and consider the commute home. What do I want to shoot to get my daily shot? Where should I go? Do I want to stray off the beaten path for a new and fresh location to shoot. How much time out my way will it be, how many miles? Will there be traffic? With the increasing price of gas I’ve also considered how much it might cost by adding an extra 20 or 30 miles to my trip home.
Now the upside is that I have some decent shots that I wouldn’t otherwise have. The project forces me to shoot and sometimes presents opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise show themselves. The downside, and this is more serious for me now, is that I have had to settle for some photographs that I’m not happy with. Even more chilling, I feel compelled to publish them on Flickr to be accountable to my commitment. While I don’t consider Flickr as my portfolio, I do want to move towards photographs that are more representational of my style which is increasingly social photography in black and white. I also want to put my best work out there all the time now. And that’s the crux, my project photos are not always my best work. If not for the commitment, they wouldn’t be posted.
So, this will be my last Project366. It’s been a great learning experience. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to shoot lots of photographs every day but needs a bit of a push to get out and do it. For me, I’ve had that experience and it did help to push me along.
My photography will always have room for improvement, I don’t anticipate the learning will ever end. By no means am I at a point where I can say I don’t need to stay sharp by shooting every day. I do. But there are days when my shots are just not good enough to share. But I’ll take a less stressful daily shooting experience and use it to improve my skills, technique and photographs.