Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It’s The Photographer, Not The Camera

The following is a guest blog by Noah Feldman:

The old adage goes: more megapixels + larger sensor = better pictures. While megapixels allow us to make large prints and sensor size has it’s advantages, it limits our awareness of how great ALL cameras can be. The photo below was taken overlooking Odessa Gorge in Rocky Mountain National Park, with a Canon SD1000 Digital Elph. It’s about the size of a flip-phone, weighs 5 ounces and sells for $20 - $40 on ebay. The SD1000 has 7.1 megapixels and a 1/2.5” sensor size. A full frame camera’s sensor is about 30 times the size.

I consider this photograph one of my favorites that I’ve ever taken. I don’t want to like it. It actually frustrates me that it wasn’t taken with a better camera. Why? No logical reason. As camera nerds go, we want to be able to tell people about the expensive camera we took the picture with, the absurd amount of megapixels, the sensor size, the low light sensitivity, the ability to send pictures directly to Facebook via wifi and so on. The only remarkable thing about this camera is that it’s very, very shiny.

If you’re looking to buy a camera online nowadays you’ll be inundated with the eternal question, “which camera is better?” There are millions of pages devoted to comparing test shots, MTF charts, low light performance, etc. There are hoards of pixel peepers obsessed with the technical aspects of the camera and have forgotten that it’s merely a tool, a means to an end, the actual photograph.

I used to take guitar lessons from an amazing teacher and he would ask to play my guitar to tune it for me. The guitar cost $80 but when he played it, the guitar sounded like a priceless vintage instrument. The same goes for the Canon SD1000 Digital Elph and every camera like it: It’s the photographer that makes a photograph, not the camera.

To see more of Noah's excellent work, please visit his website.

Grand Teton Hiking

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