You don't need a better camera!

Discuss cameras, settings, composition, or anything related to photography - cactus or other subjects.
DaveW
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You don't need a better camera!

Post by DaveW »

Camera megapixels keep increasing, but do we need to upgrade to the latest camera for extra megapixels since most if not all of our images are simply emailed, shown on the Web, or projected by digital projectors at clubs?

A computer monitor has a resolution of about a 4 megapixel camera and a digital projector even less, often only the equivalent of 1-1.5 megapixels. Therefore any camera over 8 megapixels is more than adequate for our usual usage even if the images are cropped, all those extra megapixels are simply wasted and probably simply create a noisier image:-

“Camera and projector companies lie to us to get us to buy more stuff from them. They list camera resolution in impressive megapixels to exaggerate meaningless differences in resolution, and projector makers do the opposite and list pixel dimensions to hide the dirty fact that there is almost no way even to get one megapixel out of a digital projector.”

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/digital ... r-myth.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The above link is a bit out of date but projector resolution has not increased very much since then. However I still prefer the brighter digital images on screen to the old club slide shows.

http://hockomockdigital.com/content/pdf ... ection.pdf" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: You don't need a better camera!

Post by WayneByerly »

With the prevalence of "smart phones" these days, and the number of available "clip-on" lenses available (particularly macro lenses), I would think that you could get VERY reasonable photos if you have a smart phone AND buy a clip-on macro lens for about $10-$15 ...

If you are interested in photography, but don't want to spend a bunch of bucks, go to some place like Amazon, search for "clip-on phone camera lens", and look at some of the photographs taken by these lenses that are SO readily available. I think you will be quite surprised at the quality.
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DaveW
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Re: You don't need a better camera!

Post by DaveW »

I gave a talk with digitally projected images at our club using my WXGA projector 1280 x 800 pixels and it's resolution is still only around 1.5 megapixels (XGA even less). Even a smartphone is "overkill" at that type of resolution and remember no matter how many megapixels your smartphone or wonder camera may have you will only be seeing about a 4 megapixel image on your computer screen because it is the method of reproduction with the lowest resolution that determines the final image, not what you take it with.

The the resolution of cameras with high megapixel numbers can only be really used in large prints and not onscreen. Also to get the quoted resolution of your camera it would have to be on an extremely steady tripod with no ground vibrations and using a cable release to stop you shaking it because you will get nothing like that resolution hand holding it. I would doubt smartphone users would get anything like the quoted resolution since they are hand held, and those resolutions are usually obtained in artificial laboratory conditions (a bit like vehicle emission levels, or miles per gallon quoted by the manufacturers!)

However sensor size can make a difference since all images have noise or faults on them, therefore the more you enlarge the original image the more you enlarge the faults so they become more visible. That is why an image shot on a lower megapixeled large sensored DSLR compared to a high megapixel smartphone image enlarged to the same size often looks better and less noisy (grainy).

However it is surprising compared to modern high megapixelled smartphones and cameras, how low megapixeled the image on screen at your local movie theatre is now they have gone digital and remember that is spread over about a 30 foot screen, let alone a 24" computer monitor:-

"The Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) specification for digital projectors calls for two levels of playback to be supported: 2K (2048×1080) or 2.2 megapixels at 24 or 48 frames per second, and 4K (4096×2160) or 8.85 megapixels at 24 frames per second.

Although there are four times as many pixels present in a 4K image than a 2K image, many movies are digitised at the 2K resolution and their special effects are also rendered at that resolution. It is very difficult to ascertain which movies might be produced using 4K resolutions, and there probably would be little to no benefit to viewing a 2K movie on a 4K system over a 2K system."


http://www.biggarlittlecinema.org.uk/digital-1.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

The following image is taken on a 10 megapixel Nikon D200 on a tripod with a cable release, which you are viewing at around 4 megapixel resolution on your computer screen. How many more camera megapixels do you need for the Web?
violaciflora.jpg
violaciflora.jpg (91.4 KiB) Viewed 9384 times
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mmcavall
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Re: You don't need a better camera!

Post by mmcavall »

ok, so my cell phone died after 3 years, and I need to buy another one as soon as possible.
My old cell phone had a very bad camera (5 MP, I think), so one of the only features I would like to improve in my new cell phone would be the camera.

After some research, I found two good options, one with 8 MP, and the other with 13 MP.

The 13 MP cell phone is considerably more expensive...

So, concerning only the camera (ignoring all the other features of the cell phone), is an 8 MP camera sufficient to make good and quick pictures in the greenhouse under variable light? Is 8 MP really superior to 5 MP? Or I should choose the 13 MP?

(according to the posts above, 8 MP is totaly suficient, but I'm not sure if this applies to cell phones too).

thanks for any comments and sugestions!
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toadstar
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Re: You don't need a better camera!

Post by toadstar »

The problem with cell phone cameras is not the megapixels but with their small cheap lenses which are easily smudged and the limited sensor size. I doubt you would notice much of a difference at any of those resolutions. But for a quick and dirty shot, it'll do in a pinch.

There are plenty of nice stand alone digital cameras out there. Any point and shoot type released within the last ten years ought to give you a better photo than a typical cell phone camera. Used ones can be bought for fairly cheap.
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mmcavall
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Re: You don't need a better camera!

Post by mmcavall »

Thanks, Toadstar,
in fact I have already a digital camera, and I use it to take more special photos. But sometimes I have only my cell phone in my pocket and I want to register something.The problem with my cell phone is that is very hard to focus and take a good picture... that's the reason I would like something just a little better.
DaveW
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Re: You don't need a better camera!

Post by DaveW »

Afraid I have never used a smartphone, but the difference in quality used to be down more to sensor size than merely number of pixels. The reason being the more you enlarge an image the more you enlarge any faults on it. Therefore to fill your computer screen from a small sensored smartphone it has to be enlarged much more than from a larger sensored DSLR. The main thing you enlarge is the "noise" on a digital sensor which is the equivalent of the old "grain" in film photography, making the enlarged image look more grainy from a smaller sensor, all things being equal.

http://www.techradar.com/how-to/sensor- ... ed-to-know

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/ ... est-camera

Smartphones with larger sensors.

https://www.phonearena.com/news/These-a ... et_id64702

Of course all smartphones are a compromise, in order to improve one feature like a camera another feature may not be as good as on a rival, say battery life may not be as good. When smartphones originally came out you often got better call quality on the old "dumbphones" which were just designed for calls and texting than "all singing, all dancing" ones designed to surf the web as well, though I gather they are now as good.

As you say it's a question of good enough. There is no point in keep improving a camera's resolution if the means for reproducing it, the computer or TV screen, cannot show it. Once the camera gets beyond that point you will see no difference in the onscreen image between a high and lower megapixel one unless you want to crop the image severely. At the moment the only method of reproduction that can show all those extra megapixels are prints, and then very large prints, so unless you print out to large sizes most of the cameras these days are "overkill" for their present use.

http://www.techradar.com/news/how-2016s ... -to-a-dslr

In the past the difference between consumer and professional film used to be image quality. In general cheap consumer film was designed to produce over exaggerated colours to make a rainy week in Manchester, UK look like hot summer on the Costa del Sol. Whereas pro film was better for things like natural history photography where the colours were more subtle and natural. Therefore it depends on your eyes as to if you like natural or over saturated colours. On many DSLR's you can adjust colour saturation to suit, but I don't know if you can on smartphones?

A quote from one of the links above:-

"To my eye, smartphone images are sometimes so over-saturated and over-sharpened they look unnatural. In some cases, where portraits are “beautified”, they really are unnatural. However, very few people are interested in how the final image compares to the reality. They’d much rather have something that looks good. Exaggeration wins almost every time."

Its always a question of portability v. image quality. A camera on a tripod for static shots is always better than a hand held one, but few want to cart a substantial tripod around. No doubt smartphone users will tell you the best smartphone for your purpose, but I lugged a DSLR around Chile for three weeks, climbing up and down hills and took 1500 pictures. The holster type camera bag is often handy on those occasions.

As Toadstar says there are now many secondhand compact cameras on EBAY with larger sensors than smartphones that slip into a shirt breast pocket. In fact one of our party in Chile took all his pictures on one.
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mmcavall
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Re: You don't need a better camera!

Post by mmcavall »

Thanks, Dave, for your detailed answer.
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7george
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Re: You don't need a better camera!

Post by 7george »

Some smart-phone cameras, like my friend's LG do quite realistic images, esp. if you don't use maximum size of the picture. But I still prefer pocket size compact digital cameras when going out.

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SnowFella
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Re: You don't need a better camera!

Post by SnowFella »

Guess I'm one of the "dinosaurs" that still swear by a DSLR and an appropriate lens, with emphasis on lens as a quality lens on an entry level camera will hands down beat a pro camera with a dud lens anyday!
Though on the other hand saying better and higher Mp going hand in hand isn't 100% accurate to me, in my mind a "better camera" is one with features that better suit what you shoot.
Now I have 3 DSLR's in the house, one 14Mp, one 16Mp and a 24Mp (all crop format sensors) and they all have their strengths and weaknesses depending on what I do.
The old 14Mp CCD sensor camera produces glorious shots with colour that's out of this world but as soon as I push past ISO400 it's horrible. Plus it's only got 9 focusing points and very poor tracking for anything moving. And it's got very limited manual controls and force me to go menu diving when I want to change anything
The 16Mp CMOS sensor camera is likely the best for straight out image quality but again the body features are poor.
The 24Mp camera is somewhat noisy even at low ISO (if I pixel peep that is) but the camera body and features beats the others hands down. Everything is a simple button press away rather than menu diving. And doing what I do nowadays, shoot little things with feathers rather than spines, the 8FPS it cranks out can't be beaten.

Mind you though, I've tested all 3 side by side from a tripod and unless I zoom in to shots taken at base ISO I can barely make out a difference between identical framed shots using the same lens and settings.

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Re: You don't need a better camera!

Post by DaveW »

Yes a bigger sensor is always better since you do not need to enlarge the sensor image as much for your final image size. Which means any faults on the image such as noise etc are not enlarged so much either. However, as you say, it is the lens that forms the picture. It used to be said in the past the camera was just a black box with a lens on so it was the lens that mattered. But in those days you could put the latest film in a twenty year old Leica. These days with non interchangeable sensors the camera is in effect the film, so unless you upgrade as far as is needed for your purpose you are stuck with the "film" = sensor that comes with your DSLR.

However the combination only has to be fit for the purpose you use it for was my point. If you never print out large prints and only post on the Web, then the new DSLR's are probably expensive overkill. That however does not stop us all illogically lusting after them, even if we would never use their full potential. I too date from the single purpose "push button" era SnowFella and hate having to go into menu's to use multifunction buttons whose purpose is set by menu.

The problem with modern DSLR cameras is just because a computer chip can provide 30+ functions the manufacturers seem to think they have to use them, since like more megapixels it is a selling point even if overcomplicating the camera through dreaming them up, knowing 90% of which the camera buyer will never use and so simply complicate the camera controls.

A friend of mine keeps buying the latest high megapixel cameras and uses quality lenses, but says he does not know why he does it, as he does not print out very large photographs. Saying when posted on the Web or when digitally projected he cannot see any difference in his images since it is the resolution of the projector or computer screen being the weakest link in the chain that determines the image you see. He says all he has really achieved with more megapixels on his sensor is much larger file sizes he now has to store on his computer hard disk, or provide extra backup storage for.

Like you I chose the DSLR for my purpose because of having detachable lenses since I want to be able to get close up and in your case fast motordrives or long lenses for birds. However though detachable different focal length lenses were superior to zooms in the distant past, once the quality of zooms exceeded the resolution of a computer screen they were good enough for most users and far handier than keep swapping lenses. Particularly with DSLR's where the sensor can get dirty when a lens is swapped and sensor cleaning is fiddly and something many do not want to attempt.

You can always prove in a laboratory or with pixel peeping that one lens is better than another, even the same lens from the same manufacturer, but in normal use these differences will be undetectable and as the old saying goes "if another lens is said to be better than yours, but if you can't see any difference don't worry about it".

It remains to be seen whether the mirrorless camera will take over from the DSLR. If they can provide a good electronic image in the viewfinder it should. It is not as shake free trying to focus on a rear screen holding it at arms length as in a viewfinder, which excludes extraneous light when your eye is pressed to it. Pressed against your forehead looking though a viewfinder steadies the camera much more than using a rear screen for taking pictures. Obviously getting rid of the reflex mirror would cut out mirror vibration and would allow much higher motor drive speeds, not having to flip a mirror up and down each frame.

As "still" cameras are now including video sequences, once single frames of video are good enough and equivalent to present motor drive shots, will we still need still cameras any more, but just pick individual shots from a video sequence when we need a still. Will SnowFella simply be videoing birds in future and just picking the best stills from his video sequence when needed. There is now not a lot of difference between a motor drive sequence and video, except frame rate and the available sensor resolution at the different rates. Will the still camera in future simply morph into a video camera?
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7george
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Re: You don't need a better camera!

Post by 7george »

Don't enslave yourself!
Don't enslave yourself!
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Sometimes just using of regular phone camera does the job.
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leland
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Re: You don't need a better camera!

Post by leland »

From what I have seen the new mirrorless cameras have reached critical mass. The prices are tolerable and the manufacturers are coming out with new lens choices. Those who want the newest and best are buying them and selling off their old equipment.

What that means for the rest of us is that there is a glut of perfectly good bodies and lenses coming on the used market.
The key is matching up the best lens for your body. After researching it on DXOMARK and other sources I have concluded that the Canon 35mm IS is the best walkaround lens for my SL1/100d travel camera so a used one is on my hit list for the next time I am in the US.

Mirrorless may be the wave of the future, but for the next couple decades DSLR users will be in hog heaven. Even full frame cameras like the 5dmk2 and the 6d are down in the usd500 range.
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Re: You don't need a better camera!

Post by DaveW »

The problem with mirrorless cameras for existing users is whilst we may change our camera body from time to time we tend to keep our lenses which actually (pre mirrorless) have retained their value more than the cameras. In the old days a Leica rangefinder camera or SLR film camera would be passed down through the family for years since it could still take the latest film, whereas with digital the sensor cannot be changed so if you want the latest sensor you need to buy a new camera. However do you really need the highest megapixel camera since most present methods of image reproduction cannot use all those megapixels unless you make massive prints, certainly not the Internet.

The disadvantage for most of us existing photographers is as a mirrorless camera dispenses with the mirror box, therefore the lens rear is closer to the sensor. That means to use older DSLR lenses you often need a fairly expensive adapter to move the lenses back to the old DSLR distance from the sensor, or buy a whole new suite of mirrorless lenses. Again very expensive and as yet not with the same range of focal lengths or macro options as with DSLR lenses.

I do not know about Canon etc, but Nikon has used the move to mirrorless to change it's lens mount to a much larger aperture, again needing an expensive adapter to use DSLR lenses on them.

If you are starting afresh or prepared to dump all your present equipment including cameras and lenses, then provided mirrorless has the lenses and equipment you need that seems to be the way of the future. I don't know about Canon, but Nikon is still bringing out new DSLR's along with their mirrorless cameras, therefore they evidently have not yet decided mirrorless has taken over and existing photographers will want to dump all their old equipment and start again.

As Leland says, mirrorless and the new lens mounts may for once mean DSLR lenses may start to depreciate just as fast as last years DSLR cameras did in the past. I still use my old 10 megapixel Nikon D200 since it is quite good enough for both web use and journal publication because I don't need to produce prints as big as a house door as with the newer "overkill" high megapixel DSLR's.

My Nikon D200 cost me £1,200, body only, new when it first came out. Now it goes for about £100 on EBAY and probably is a better buy than a new cheap compact camera as Leland says. However people always want to buy new lower quality equipment when professional or semiprofessional secondhand cameras are available at the same price range and quite good enough for our purposes.

Is 100 Megapixels still good enough for web use, remembering there is a 500Kb file size limit on this board and this original camera image was 1Mb, though reduced to only 101Kb here?

submammulosus  minor2.jpg
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A friend of mine is always buying the latest cameras but says to me if I move to a higher megapixel full frame DSLR body I will see no difference for Internet or digital projection use since the computer screen resolution, usually around the equivalent of a 5 Megapixel camera and for digital projection at clubs in the UK most projectors have only around a 2 Megapixel resolution, therefore that's all your going to get no matter how many megapixels more your top of the range camera has. He remarked all he found with full frame and higher megapixel cameras was much larger file sizes to store on computer but no better images on screen, be it on computer or projection screens. Mobile phones now have images quite good enough for web use and digital projection.
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leland
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Re: You don't need a better camera!

Post by leland »

Point well taken. The new technology is amazing, but overkill for most users. I haven't done a print in years, although I am overdue to do a few. I occasionally crop heavily which works better with the high megapixels, but better technique like using the right lens and a tripod will get the same result.
The camera market is strange. I happen to use Canon, as does my SIL, and I see them coming out with an ever increasing range of new cameras and lenses (both dslr and mirrorless) in a shrinking market! The end result will probably be Canon and maybe 1 other will dominate the market and drive the others away.

Youtube has been invaluable in investigating used cameras and lenses. While many reviews are superficial, a few like those of Chris Winters and Christopher Frost are quite meticulous in documenting their reviews. One thing I have noticed is that a given ff lens will perform differently on full frame than on crop. Some are better on ff while others actually are better on crop so it pays to watch several reviews that pinpoint these differences.
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