Home Forums Let’s Talk Photography Equipment and education… yes they matter!


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    Got into a Facebook argument today (it was somewhat hilarious) about choosing a photographer who knows what they’re doing instead of looking for a bargain. The funny part was all the local fauxtogs got defensive though I had never mentioned a specific one in my post. All the good photographers were agreeing with me. One fauxtog said that having education in photography or expensive equipment were not necessary, they were “added bonuses really” and that she knows many people like this, including herself! who do amazing work. (Let’s just say her work is HORRIBLE but I didn’t tell her that.)

    So I did a little experiment today. Good thing my brother was home from college for the weekend, he was a cooperative subject.



    How did the point & shoot get his jacket off?


    While I agree with what you are trying to convey, I’d like your experiment to go one step further.  Why not shoot with intent with all three cameras, maybe using the same lens?  To compete more fairly with the point and shoot make it the most normal lens you own.  Maybe a 28 (or wider)or 35 Also I know some “pros” that shoot with the mark11 on full auto without intent and their photos are downright horrible RAW or not, full frame or not, more pixels or not, beautiful expensive lens or not…Yes, equipment does matter, and I wouldn’t start a business with a point and shoot(mostly because of print and finishing limitations) but I don’t think it matters as much as you think it does.  Shooting with knowledgable intent seriously out weighs equipment, or work flow preferences.

    RAW shooting is more of a workflow choice than a matter of quality.  While I would most definitely shoot RAW/jpeg if I was a portrait artist, or event photographer and heavy editing was required to save or tweak images.  As a serious amateur, I  prefer shooting and working with jpegs.  Shooting jpeg allows me to work with my camera more closely, do the majority, if not all of my editing before I click, and forces me to get my exposures, WB, and all my in camera work, right on the money, each and every time.  Quality is not lost by shooting jpeg, just some data needed for serious editing is.  For what I do, and they way I shoot, I find shooting RAW very redundant and unnecessary.  The only time I shoot or work with RAWs is for my family photos.  I shoot RAW/jpeg just in case I have a winner that I didn’t nail.

    I think if I was to set up a shot, I could get a good compelling image and convey the feeling I was after with any camera.  My camera choice, and lens choice makes it easier for me to achieve and insures that I can finish my photograph as a large piece suitable for sell, vs say, a P and S, but that is all.


    Another consideration with your experiment… Both the rebel and the point and shoot images were processed, I think actually using a jpeg from the markll would be a more accurate comparison.


    It’s more of a statement than an experiment.  The ELPH has a 5 mm – 20 mm – F/2.8-5.9 lens attached.   At 5 mm hyperfocal distance is a foot.  Even at 20 mm and f/2.8 the hyperfocal distance is 15.5 feet.  You could get a blurry background by having your subject at perhaps 6 feet and the background at 200 feet, if you opened the lens to f/2.8 and zoomed it to 20 mm, but I’m not sure if you can get f/2.8 at 20 mm or if it would only give f/5.9, which would bring the hyperfocal distance to around 7 feet, so everything will be in some degree of focus.

    The 18-55 kit lens seems to shows up a lot for the photos linked here.  There is more capability than with a point & shoot, but changing lenses is where the creative control comes from and while they might spring for the 50 mm f/1.8, the likelihood of them seeing the value in a collection of lenses that each cost more than the body, is small.  The APS-C sensor causes a tendency to shoot from further back, so there is not as much benefit of the big aperture as you see with the same lens on a full frame body that lets you get that little bit closer.

    It’s been demonstrated by many people that if the object is to take some cheap camera and turn in a good creative photo of something, anything, it is possible.  If conditions are added, certain distances, certain subjects, bad ambient light, and so on, then it gets harder to deliver with cheap gear.  The point here seems more that the cheap camera fits the value system of the owner, as does the entry level dSLR and also the better gear.  Those shelling out thousands for body and lenses appreciate why they are spending the money.

    The same applies to work flow and editing.  If the ELPH owner only has an ELPH, they probably have no idea what a raw file is and Lightroom at twice the camera’s cost or Photoshop at five times the camera’s cost is going to be out of the question as well.  I think even the ELPH comes with Canon’s editing software, but you have to install the software and it is not the most intuitive to use.

    Finally, there is posing, but if you are not going to bother with the details of photography or editing, why bother with posing?  Or, composition?

    Previously the family of a subject in a photo we were criticizing  jumped on here and essentially said, they did not care about the quality of the image, they were helping out the photographer, who was a nice person.  So, perhaps it is about the relationship and expectation instead of about the quality of the photo?


    IHF- I kind of get what you’re trying to say, but I think you missed part of the point of my illustration/experiment. For one, I cannot use the same lens on all three cameras. Obviously a point-and-shoot you cannot change the lens. The Rebel kit lens will not work on a full-frame camera as it’s an EF-S mount lens. I have, and do, often use my Sigma 70-200 lens on the Rebel, and yes, it does improve the quality over the kit lens (I actually bought it to replace the kit zoom lens, the EF-S 55-250 f/4.0-5.6 because I was sorely disappointed in the lack of sharpness). But when you put a telephoto lens on a crop sensor body you must increase your subject-to-camera distance to get the same DOF compression, therefore, the further you are, the more risk for camera shake and clarity issues which I have noticed myself. The Sigma lens works seamlessly on the full-frame body.

    As for intent, you can get a great image on a cheaper camera and with an ok lens if you really try. Heck I know I have. But the point I was making again is that a person who doesn’t feel the need to invest in better equipment may also be the type of person who doesn’t care about all the little things or take extra care in posing, relation to the subject, composition, etc. Not to say they always are this type, but it’s more likely. Just like Cameraclicker suggested.

    Also I used to think shooting in RAW was somewhat unnecessary, but once I started doing it, I realized how huge of a difference it makes. Whether I’m shooting in Jpg or RAW, I still try to get the image right in the camera. I don’t just haphazardly shoot with the knowledge that I can just fix everything later, because you can still only fix it so much without it looking weird. Sometimes I don’t set my white balance for the setting in-camera though, so that is probably the only thing I fall short on because I know how easy it is to fix in Lightroom. Quality is lost. Even the sharpness of a photo is lacking slightly when I shoot in Jpg. I think you’re saying that the image from the Elph and from the Rebel were processed because they were shot in Jpg right? So the camera “processed” them? None of the images above had any processing after downloading. The RAW image was exported as a Jpg right away.

    Cameraclicker- you pretty much hit the nail on the head with your interpretation and that is exactly what my illustration was trying to show.



    no, I didn’t miss your point at all.  Like I said, I completely agree with you.  I just found myself wanting more.  Show me what a p and s can do, a rebel, a markll.  It just made me feel like it should be expanded upon, after all it’s a very complex subject with so many different variables at play.  I like that you were able to simplify it, and make a legit statement with it, but at the same time it interested me enough to want you to go further.  This is just me, being too serious, as usual lol. It doesn’t take much to get me going.

    I’m glad you discovered RAW and it works for you.  In no way was implying that you are a sloppy shooter.  I was just trying to explain, I enjoy having as much control as possible behind the camera vs behind the computer.  Wether software compresses a RAW file to jpeg, or if the compression happens in camera, it still has to happen.  Unless you do not edit at all, and print yourself, that RAW data has to be compressed and converted to jpeg, tiff, or dng.  I started out working solely with RAW, and slowly but surely found that jpeg was by far the better option for me and how I shoot, minus a few exceptions, missed exposure or wb shooting family , or when I know I want a black and white and need/want more control over the conversion when creating images to sell.

    Believe me when I say, a high res jpeg starting out compressed from RAW data in camera, prints just as well as a high res jpeg that was compressed from RAW data by software.  As long as both were processed properly and with care, they can be printed for billboards if need be.  (That is, if your camera is capable of that size) Quality is not lost, only data that is sometimes very necessary to keep, and other times not necessary at all.

    (And yes, by processed I meant in camera)

    as far as the loss of sharpness when you shoot jpeg (kind of odd, most notice it the other way around) I believe your camera has the ability to control sharpness, noise reduction etc when having it convert your data to jpeg


    I’m not really understanding the point of this “experiment”. You take poorly composed images with low end gear compared with “better” composed images with higher end gear. The results are not exactly earth shattering findings. You are establishing a fact that has already known to be true. Plus, who cares what the fauxtogs think?


    IHF:  This photo http://cameraclicker.com/galleries/g14/m/pages/2010-06-03_07-15-10_IMG_0222.htm was taken with a Canon G11, which I think of as a high end P&S.  It was taken as a raw file and cleaned up with the noise reduction in ACR.  I took it with my wife’s camera because my gear was in the overhead bins and her camera was in her purse on the floor, when the lights came on and I thought the effect was cool.  If she had a lesser camera without raw capability, I would have climbed over someone and got my camera from the bin.   Most of the photos in the gallery were taken with a Rebel T2i, the rest were taken with the G11.  Photos taken with the T2i were with a Sigma 18-250, Sigma 10-20 or Canon 50 mm f/1.8 II.  I took a Canon 18-55 and a tripod, both of which remained in my suitcase for the entire trip and returned unused.

    If shooting JPEG works for you, that’s awesome.  I shoot in low light and sometimes scenes that would benefit from HDR technique.  Shooting raw lets me process out the noise and/or process two or three times to recover data that in camera JPEG processing would throw away, so I shoot in raw rather than switching back and forth between raw and JPEG.  It is just personal preference.

    My page has some comparisons of macro capabilities from P&S/bridge cameras through dSLR with macro lenses, teleconverters and extension tubes.  And some comparisons of telephoto, but nothing like browneyedgirl89 did with portraits — I don’t do a lot of portraits and it never occurred to me.    The concept of what the average P&S owner will do with their camera compared to a mid level photographer with a Rebel or similar verses an experienced photographer with professional grade gear, is completely different to the concept of what can an experienced photographer do with three or four levels of gear, say cell phone through a 1Ds or 5D.


    It’s more an illustration than experiment. My target audience was actually people who are looking for photographers, so I had linked it to my personal fb page also. You’re right that I could do an experiment to try producing a great image with each camera, while attentive to composition and posing. But that’s because I know what I’m doing. The illustration is to show people that by hiring a bargain photographer, they may get someone who isn’t attentive to those things, or who has only basic equipment and lack of knowledge on how to use it to it’s full potential- thus producing the type of finished product like the first two images. Those of us on this forum do know the difference, easily, but the average joe consumer may not see it until someone points it out.


    browneyedgirl, it looks like the only demonstration you are ever actually trying to accomplish is that you are “better” than others. If you wanted an honest demonstration on equipment eliminate the variable of “photography education”. Same exact pose/angle/fstop/iso/lense/white balance (heck, customize it with each camera to better demonstrate the quality difference). You had no reason to do it the way that you did it other than to say ALL other people with a point and shoot or a rebel will be clueless (unlike YOU of course) and make these mistakess.


    Education is important, photography is a science. In fact, it is a science of light manipulation. This thread/site have driven themselves into a discussion of computer graphics. It doesn’t MATTER what file size you chose/program you edit with. What matters is that you know how to manipulate your camera to capture the light the way you want. If you can’t do that and are only concerned with the final computer generated product then you are striving to be a graphic artist, not a photographer.

    Also, sometimes people JUST want pictures/memories, not your “art” (you’ve called your photos “artistic” more than once.).


    Archy- did you not read the part where I was explaining that this IS an illustration of what a clueless person may produce vs. what a beginner who’s not entirely clueless vs. someone who knows what they’re doing? Not an experiment representing the ability of a certain camera/lens combo to produce a good image. That experiment would be carried out much differently. My point was that people who have sub-par equipment and no knowledge in the subject of photography/use of their equipment aren’t going to be able to produce high-quality end products. Thus, if one wants to have high quality images, it would be advisable to hire a photographer who possesses the right equipment and the right knowledge.

    I’m well aware I’m “better” than those who take blurry photos, use a point-and-shoot and call it fine portraiture, or set their camera on auto. Not saying those people can’t improve… but some just have no desire to, are content producing shoddy work for a little bit of money, yet still rave that they’re professionals.

    If someone wants just a basic bare-bones record of an event in the form of a photo, anyone can do that with a camera phone. But isn’t the point of hiring a photographer to document an event or a time period in life so that one may have an artistic representation of such event?

    Side note- I’d like to share this image I took with the same point-and-shoot I used for the far left image in this illustration. However, for this image I did not have the camera set on Auto. It was on the setting that offered the most control of this camera, the Program setting. I had control over the aperture only. It was shot in Jpg. As for quality, especially when zoomed in, it’s not nearly as sharp or nice as what my DSLRs offer me. I enhanced it a bit in Lightroom and Photoshop, as the SOOC was pretty bland. I don’t feel that this image was horrible. I paid attention to my composition and to what the subject was doing/the action. It was the camera I had available to me at the time, and it was raining. This is what an experienced photog can do with a simple point-and-shoot. http://www.flickr.com/photos/roxanne_elise_photography/6625823021/in/set-72157628691483073/


    The way you’ve composed and photographed the 3 photos are too different to be compared.

    No I don’t agree with you, I don’t think you need education.

    I would much rather Chase Jarvis shoot my wedding with a little point and shoot rather than anyone here with a 1dx.

    When a client hires you, they don’t hire you for the camera, they hire you for the person. Camera is a bonus.


    You make a lot of bold faced assumptions.  People hire photographers for events because they want to be sure that the event is recorded. Why rely on everyone else with camera phones when you can sign a contract with someone that guarantees you’ll have the day recorded and that you will have images to see. you can’t guarantee everyone is going to share their camera phone pictures later on.

    Art is entirely subjective. Believe it or not, some people don’t like van gogh, some people think rachmaninoff sounds like crap, and some people think artistic interpretations of their wedding have ruined a good moment. You have a picture on here where you claim you caught the bride’s dress in “beautiful bokeh”, to be  honest I thought it looked like crap. I’d much rather have a low quality photo of my husband making that heart melting face with nothing else in the frame whatsoever than have that much disruption with the bokeh. If we want to talk art, I might as well point out how little you understand it. Using that photo as an example, the eye is drawn to foreground objects (the bride) and warm hues (the cream of her dress). She’s also placed within the rule of thirds territory whereas her husbands face is in neutral ground. You botched that image, artistically speaking.

    In fact, in your example “illustration” you claim your third image shows education/equipment but I  honestly believe that narrow DOF is a huge cop-out for composition. Why even re-place you’re subject with such a narrow DOF, you wouldn’t be able to notice the branch placement above his head. Look at some real photography and note the wide DOF used. A real pro can give you good composition without faking out using DOF.

    I’ll say it again, this forum focuses hugely on digital imaging rather than real photography. Until understand the terms you use (aperture, white balance, iso) and  know exactly what the image will look like without even looking at the viewfinder, you won’t understand what you are doing behind the camera (trust me, it isn’t hard to do. I’ve taught 6th graders how to do it, it’s junior high physics).


    So, hire a photographer who to guarantee the event will be recorded? Did you ever think that by hiring a fauxtog, they might screw up royally and have the option on their camera set to “record without CF card” and end up with zero images? Keep in mind a photographer who pays attention to the whole thing- not just snapping a picture- will be more likely to provide what the client wants.

    Actually, I beg to differ… hugely. I guess you interpret art differently than I do. It’s called framing. (Also, I do happen to have images of the husband looking at her, not framed by anything, from that wedding.) The eye is also drawn to the part of the image in focus, and the line helps draw the eye in. I’ve had an artistic eye all my life. So saying I don’t understand art is a pretty bold assumption on your part- and a nasty one at that.

    In the third image, the branches are subtly framing him. I shot that image at different f-stops as well, but liked the narrow DOF best of all of them.

    Are you implying that I don’t understand what the terms mean and how the relate to the finished image? Wow…. You sound like some kind of troll, to be honest. Are you a photographer or even an artist yourself?

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