Archive for the ‘Camera Gear’ Category
I’m out to prove something to myself… that even with an old point and shoot digital camera it is possible to take great pictures which rival those taken with higher end gear. Why the hell am I doing this? Motivation by seeing someone else’s sub-par work. Also, it doesn’t hurt when someone says that a piece of equipment is outdated junk.
Here are some photos I stumbled upon on Flickr, which I felt were quite good… subjectively valued by their framing, artistic merit, emotional content, and the vaguest of them all, sheer beauty:
Now for the fun part. These pictures come from two of the WORST digital cameras ever manufactured. Again- the pictures are absolutely beautiful and nothing bad can really be said about them… but the hardware is almost universally derided.
The first four photos were taken with a Polaroid i-Zone 550, a camera regarded as a toy. Its own user base tends to not really like it all that much. Not only a camera, it also comes with a built-in MP3 player, and unfortunately is good at neither task. Advertised as a 5.1 megapixel camera, it was shown to be a 3MP CCD that was upsampled to meet the specification- yet look at the nice shots that came out of the camera in this particular case.
The next four shots were taken with a Pentax Optio E-10, a camera known for its technical crappiness and generally hate-filled user reviews, and for its CCD imager chip randomly dying or batteries mysteriously being drained in abnormally short times.
Again, this is proof that the camera really does not make you a better photographer. Good tools help, but that’s all they are- tools. Many pixel-peepers today simply fail to grasp that.
I have to say I am hooked on pancake lenses. What are they? Well, they’re very flat compared to other lenses, hence the name. Other than their compact size, they don’t offer distortion effects like fisheye lenses, or tilt-shift lenses. The name just implies their diminuitive footprint and possible roots in the Zeiss Tessar lens package design. Now I’m motivated to start a little project that provides some centralized information about them.
I’ve got the first four lenses added into my “Index of Pancake Lenses“, a little database-driven side project that I just launched. I hope to add more in there as I get collect information and develop better understanding of lenses as a whole. Any hints/corrections/additional info are greatly appreciated!
Yesterday, Canon issued a recall on one of their flagship DSLR cameras, the EOS 1D Mark III. One of the problems is related to autofocus issues when not using the center focus point – which I don’t experience because I almost exclusively use the center point. There are a total of 45 autofocus points on the camera viewfinder, with 19 of them being selectable. The remainder are “assist” points.
The autofocus has had knocks on it because under certain conditions it totally freaks out – high temperature heat/haze in the backgrounds, and under low contrast conditions (such as a dancer wearing black against a black background). The EOS 1D Mark IIn, its predecessor, apparently did not have these kinds of issues.
The other problem which is potentially more serious and troubling are ‘ERR99′ messages that occasionally pop up and without real regularity. These cause the camera to become unusable until powered off.
Canon’s biggest problem though is that they are perceived as covering things up.
It’s a lot like when a Windows desktop would crash- you had no idea what happened, and like voodoo in the Microsoft way- with the reboot of the computer, and the waving of a dead chicken, everything would come back just fine. Some users have had to leave their cameras powered off for extended periods of time, while others just remove the battery to reset it, and everything is okay again. I have personally never experienced this problem, so I can’t comment on it.
Canon’s biggest problem though is that they are perceived as covering things up. Having some camera bodies out there that work, and some that can’t focus, and now finally acknowledging some that randomly crash makes this problem worse. In some ways, I wished that ALL of the cameras had failures so that it would be easier to clear the mess away and start over. Then they could issue a credit on current 1D Mark III owners towards the newer model. But I can’t
You’re probably here because of a random search. Well, i’m no expert, but i’ve got some equipment, and i’ve been shooting for only a little while. I’m probably the perfect person to offer an objective point of view! I’m a newbie too. Just like you, but the only difference is that I have some gear, and you don’t (yet).
Well, I want to help you. I want to help you save money, time, and frustration. So without further do, please allow me the opportunity to set you straight on a few things.
- The equipment DOES NOT really matter!
- Persistence and patience do matter, however.
- Being creative and curious helps a lot.
- Special effects are easy. Time consuming, but still… easy.
- Connections help more than expensive lenses.
The explanation for each of these points continues after the break.
Well, this is the long-delayed next part of my ongoing comparison between the Canon 1D Mark III and the Canon SX110. For those of you wondering why in the hell I am even trying to compare one of Canon’s premier digital SLR cameras versus one of their budget point-and-shooters, check out this posting in which I try to explain some of the insanity.
Can you tell the difference between output from the two cameras? (Comparison gallery is posted after the ‘read more’ button)
I was shooting a Kunqu Chinese opera some time ago and was at one point shadowed by someone using a nice midrange DSLR. He was copying my angles and at times I could hear the autofocus motor of his lens whining as it was right next to my head. It was also apparent that he was trying to shoot as many frames as possible by the way his shutter was machine gunning off a few shots… and then left to agonizingly wait as his camera’s storage buffer were being written to the camera’s memory card. I could hear him silently cursing under his breath. Was it at me?
This will be a bit of an ongoing comparison between one of Canon’s pro-level cameras (the 1D) and a convenient point-and-shoot camera that was purchased on a binge at a bankruptcy sale of a large retailer- the Canon SX110.
This is not meant to be a joke. It’s part of my way to try and be a better all-around photographer and get used to equipment from both professional and casual shooter territory. I’ll be posting more of these types of comparisons as time permits. It’s actually rather fun and isn’t meant to be a put down for the more expensive camera- and definitely not a situation where a rinkydink point-and-shoot is being fed to a tiger den.
I’m generally for the practice of pixel peeping, as long as it is done in moderation. In case you don’t know what pixel peeping entails, it’s real simple and roughly goes along these steps:
- Get two or more cameras that you want to compare. Let’s use one that you love, and one that you hate.
- Pick a subject to photograph, preferably a still life or something that won’t move much or change colors between shots.
- Set one camera up on a tripod, and take a shot.
- Set up the other camera to replace the first, using the same settings, and take a shot.
- Load the images from both cameras to your computer.
- Zoom into one section with high detail and compare the hell out of both images side by side.
- Linger around at step 6 or repeat EVERYTHING until you feel that the camera you love and always wanted to ‘win’ all along gets better results than the other one that you hate.
Okay, i’m being a bit sarcastic. But seriously, this is how pixel peeping usually ends up happening.
It’s not that pixel peeping isn’t without its merits, but if you have taken more pictures of $20 bills taped to a wall compared with actually interesting subject matter, you have chosen the wrong hobby. Perhaps chainsaw juggling would be a more suitable endeavor instead.
This and the EF 35mm f1.4L are my favorite lenses. If I had to choose only two lenses to use, it would be those two.
If you’re reading this you most likely stumbled here because of a Google search or something similar, and are looking for sample shots or a review. Welcome! Glad to have you here. I hope this post helps your decision making process. I’m not going to list the good and the bad like a typical review, because certain ‘bad’ things are actually ‘good’ the way things panned out.
Read the rest of this entry »