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1. My hardware setup and why

Discuss cameras, settings, composition, or anything related to photography - cactus or other subjects.

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1. My hardware setup and why

Postby Christer Johansson » Thu May 19, 2011 12:47 pm

I have been taken pictures with cameras, on and off, for more than 25 years. The cameras I’ve been using is from many different brand names; Minolta, Canon, Nikon, Leica and Hasselblad. But they all have one thing in common; they are all SLR-cameras.

Back in the old days all images was on real film and the size on the negative frame was 24 x 36 mm and 60 x 60 mm (Hasselblad). In the old days you had to wait for a while to view the result, but now you can view it in seconds. In the old days you have to pay for every film, the processing and the paper copies; now you only pay for the hardware and the paper copies.

Today I use a DSLR, same type of camera but digital. I haven’t done this digital photography for many years, but I have learned things over the years (and still do).

My hardware setup today is:
    Canon EOS 60D - house
    Sigma 70/2.8 1:1 Macro - lens
    Canon 17-85/4-5.6 IS - lens
    Metz macro flash
    2 tripods - one for the flash and one for the camera
My camera has a 22.3 x 14.9 mm CMOS sensor and can produce pictures with a size of 18 million effective pixels; that is 5184 x 3456 pixels.

If you want to read more about Canon EOS 60D you can look here.

I always take my pictures in RAW-mode, which creates 20Mb files. I do that because then I can change everything when I convert them, except the focus.

I think of my raw-files as negatives in the old days. Give the negatives to a one-hour store and make copies and you will find out what you like. Give the negative of the pictures you really like to a professional that really know how to tweak everything, blow it up large and frame it.

The big different between compact cameras and the DSLR is the size of the sensor. With a large sensor you don’t get so much noise that you get with a smaller one. The other big different is that you can choose which type of lens you want to use. You can use an inexpensive lens when you walk around on a holiday and a high quality lens when you take macro pictures or close-ups on animals.

Let’s go back to the sensor size. I will compare my camera with a Canon PowerShot G12 that have 10 million pixels but is a so-called compact camera. It has a 1/1,7" High Sensitivity CCD sensor and produce pictures that are 3648 x 2736 pixels. The size of the sensor is 5.7 x 7.6 mm.

If you want to read more about Canon PowerShot G12 you can read here.

To compare the size of the sensors I have made a drawing, but it’s not in 1:1 scale of course. The yellow area shows the size of a full-frame (36 x 24 mm). The blue area is the EOS 60D and the green area the PowerShot G12.

Image

Lets do some calculations.

Canon EOS 60D/18 million pixels:
    22.3 x 14.9 mm = 332.27 mm²
    18 000 000/332.27 = 54 172.81 pixels/mm²

Canon PowerShot G12/10 million pixels:
    7.6 x 5.7 mm = 43.32 mm²
    10 000 000/43.32 = 230 840.25 pixels/mm²
It's a lot of pixels each square millimeter of the sensor has to create.

Some extra features with the 18 million pixels frame are all the crop possibilities. For instance, if I use my macro lens as close I can I get a 1:1 macro, but if I crop the image down to 3000 x 2000 I get a 1.5:1 macro in 6 million pixels. Or if I use my Canon 17-85/4-5.6 lens and take a picture over a nice landscape in focal length 17, then crop it down to 5184 x 2000 I get a panorama in 10 million pixels. When I take pictures of plants and flower I like to crop them down to square shape and then I still have 12 million pixels in that image. But of course, I always scale them down when using them on the net.
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Postby Loph » Thu May 19, 2011 2:33 pm

very nice write up man. i enjoy photography quite a lot as well, though am not so good at it. we jstu got a second dslr as our old cannon kiss has no video...we got the new, at the time, kiss 4 which has nicer specs for us.


how do you like the sigma 70mm? i have been eye balling macros for about a year now and lean more towards the cannon 100mm, but would love your opinion seen as we liekly take pics of similar things. i usually prefer lenses with some zoom, not fixed, which is probably why i have not bought one yet.
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Postby Harriet » Thu May 19, 2011 3:02 pm

Nice setup and write up. Your images are proof of your talent and good equipment.

My poor old Nikon D50 with only 6.1 megapixels pales in comparison!
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Postby Christer Johansson » Thu May 19, 2011 3:56 pm

Loph wrote:very nice write up man. i enjoy photography quite a lot as well, though am not so good at it. we jstu got a second dslr as our old cannon kiss has no video...we got the new, at the time, kiss 4 which has nicer specs for us.

how do you like the sigma 70mm? i have been eye balling macros for about a year now and lean more towards the cannon 100mm, but would love your opinion seen as we liekly take pics of similar things. i usually prefer lenses with some zoom, not fixed, which is probably why i have not bought one yet.


Thanks :)

Well, I will not lie to you! It took a while until I got use to the Sigma 70mm. In the beginning I thought that it was damaged somehow, but it just needed to be handled well. I think you can forget about the autofocus and need good eyes to set focus by hand, but that's the same with all kind of macros, IMO. I haven't tested the Canon 100mm yet, so I can't tell you if it's better, but if you want to take pictures of insects you should look for something around 150mm (or you will scare them). It's a lot of good equipment for you to buy, but the main goal is to learn to use it ;) I am still learning :oops:

Harriet wrote:Nice setup and write up. Your images are proof of your talent and good equipment.

My poor old Nikon D50 with only 6.1 megapixels pales in comparison!


Thank you :)

I still have my Nikon D70s (same megapixels as yours) and still using it! It's a good camera that I use for snap-shots (I have a big flash for it :) ). But I actually warn people that are used to compact cameras that if they buy a DSLR they may find it to heavy and big to carry around and leave it at home instead. In that case you've got zero images taken in zero megapixels :roll:

I use to carry around a Hasselblad, so a DSLR is like a compact for me ;)
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Postby Loph » Thu May 19, 2011 6:10 pm

thats good to know. I love "bug" shots, but not the flying kind so i find further distances incredibly irritating. i have a 70-300 mm that I almost never use because of the distance i must be. another reason i have held off the 100mm and no sure about the 70's.


unfortunately, my eyesight seems to be fading fast, so i tend to do the 5 pics of same thing kind of thing, or carry my laptop around and take them through that.

what is the quality like on your sigma, much distortion? i like 2.8, but dont come cheap.

But I actually warn people that are used to compact cameras that if they buy a DSLR they may find it to heavy and big to carry around and leave it at home instead. In that case you've got zero images taken in zero megapixels Rolling Eyes


thats so true. after i bought my first dslr, i had my old nikon cool pix prosumer i got to see if slr was for me or not. i used that for the "just to have a camera" type situations. now i just use my old eos body with a cheap lens for my carry around/water area shots.
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Postby Andy_CT » Thu May 19, 2011 8:48 pm

Christer Johansson wrote: But I actually warn people that are used to compact cameras that if they buy a DSLR they may find it to heavy and big to carry around and leave it at home instead.


I tend to see a fair amount of people nowadays taking pictures with their cellphones instead of their compacts. Carrying the compact appears to be too much of a hassle :shock: :roll:

I use a Nikon D40 which is only 6 MP (or is it 6.1). 80% or more of the pictures I take are considered "close ups" about 10 feet or less distance to subject. So most of the time for me MP count is largely meaningless, 6 is plenty. Now if you are an avid landscape, cityscape/architect photographer then you really need a full sized sensor with a bigger megapixel count to get the best out of it.

I really think the quality of the lens used is very important in getting the sharpest photos. I won't bore anyone with details but I only use prime lenses, I completely avoid zoom lenses.
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Postby iann » Thu May 19, 2011 9:08 pm

Impressive hardware.
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Postby daiv » Thu May 19, 2011 10:13 pm

Compact cameras for close-ups can produce images that rival much more expensive setups I think.

Thanks for the word "compact" by the way. My dad is a bit of a photography nut too - he has the Lumix DMC-GH2 and various lenses to go with it. I use the term "instamatic" to refer to all non-SLR cameras and it drives him crazy. :lol:
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Postby Christer Johansson » Fri May 20, 2011 1:53 pm

daiv wrote:Compact cameras for close-ups can produce images that rival much more expensive setups I think.


Yes, there are some very good compacts this days that will beat a bad expensive DSLR setup. You have to choose carefully and learn to handle a DSLR. I know people that bought expensive lenses and/or flash units but handled them badly and got bad results :roll:

daiv wrote:Thanks for the word "compact" by the way. My dad is a bit of a photography nut too - he has the Lumix DMC-GH2 and various lenses to go with it. I use the term "instamatic" to refer to all non-SLR cameras and it drives him crazy. :lol:


Well, the so-called compact cameras are not so compact any more - at least some of them :lol:
/Christer
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Postby Christer Johansson » Sun May 22, 2011 5:17 am

This is the digital cropping that still have megapixels enough to make a good printing.

3464 x 3464 = 11.9 Mpix
Image

2200 x 2200 = 4.8 Mpix
Image

PhotoBucket makes mine 640 x 640 by default, I might add :)
/Christer
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Re: 1. My hardware setup and why

Postby bananaman » Sun Jun 17, 2012 1:22 pm

I hate compact cameras, but I'm stuck with one for now.
Although mine's a compact, I'm gonna load CHDK onto the memory card when it comes out for my camera model.
CHDK is software that gives Canon compact cameras the functionality of a DSLR, just without the interchangeable lenses and the large sensor.
So it allows you to shoot in RAW, take super long exposure shots (like 1 hour long), and other cool things that compacts aren't programmed to do.
Hope this helps!
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Re: 1. My hardware setup and why

Postby DaveW » Thu Dec 20, 2012 5:02 pm

"My poor old Nikon D50 with only 6.1 megapixels pales in comparison!"

Depends what you use the camera for Harriet. If for posting images online a computer monitor screen only has the resolution of about a 3-4 Megapixel camera so unless you crop an image radically all that extra resolution goes to waste. A friend of mine did a comparison with two digital projectors and screens at a lecture. One showing an image from a fairly low Megapixel camera and one from a high Megapixel Pro camera and the audience could not tell the difference because a projection screen too has a similar low resolution to a computer or TV screen. Only if you are printing out and making large prints will you gain the advantage of more Megapixels, but seldom for Web use.

In fact a better quality lens with better image contrast and less distortion will do more for your on screen images than more Megapixels, since most of us have far more than we need. See:-

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/mpmyth.htm

Megapixels are also an area thing, not a linear one. So keep adding say 2 extra Megapixels to each new camera adds less and less increase in image quality each time. To get the same increase in image quality as from a 2 Megapixel camera to a 4 megapixel one the next step is not an extra 2 Megapixels to 6 Megapixels, but to 8 Megapixels, a doubling sequence each time. Therefore when you get to say 10 Megapixels going to a 12 Megapixel camera is virtually undetectable, any improvement in image quality coming from the later generation improved electronics and firmware associated with the sensor rather than Megapixel increase. To match the same image quality increase due to Megapixels alone from a 3 Megapixel Camera to to your 6 Megapixel D50 then the next step would be 12 Megapixels and after that 24 Megapixels, plus simply packing more Megapixels on the same sized sensor simply means more noisy images, which is why the ASP-C sized sensor line we have used since digital came in has pretty well reached its limit and to get more Megapixels the camera makers are stepping up to the larger full frame sensors so the photosites are not too small:-

http://www.dansdata.com/gz059.htm

Most of us already have far more Megapixels than we need, even if we crop images quite a lot. Better to go for a larger sensor than more Megapixels on the same sized one.
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