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Author Topic: 1 Feb, 2008 - Quality vs. Value - When is Enough Enough?  (Read 33789 times)
dchew
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« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2009, 09:40:10 AM »
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Quote from: Ray
Do I buy an expensive, high-performance camera for such rare occasions?  

And the rest of the time we want the car to have traits of an opposing design such as high gas mileage or low noise (road!).  For example, I frequently reduce the DR in post-processing; my old default film was Velvia, which probably had the worst DR of the options available.

With film, we could on a whim go out and get negative film instead of positive, even though 90% of the time we would shoot transparencies.  Or we could drop in 1600 ISO film.  Those films were the same in every camera (assuming common formats).  Today's digital cameras all do this better than film did, but some do it even better than others; that's where the value/utility/cost equation comes in.

The issue is in the value of flexibility at the edge.  Current cameras are so much more versatile than they were just a few years ago.  Varying ISO, high DR, wide gamut, etc.  As Michael showed in the G10 comparison, most cameras will beautifully handle a variety of situations almost identically in print.  The added cost / utility is on the margin (for me): low-light moving subjects, high DR situations, really big prints...  

I think camera choice is so much more of a personal preference than ever before.  That's why asking a forum today, "Which camera should I buy?" get's so muddy.

Dave Chew

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OwlsEye
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« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2009, 12:24:02 PM »
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As usual, this was a very nice read. I, like others, appreciate the articulate and honest perspective that Michael takes when he authors his essays about gear and vision.
I read the essay earlier this morning, the discussion topic... "When is Enough Enough" has sat heavy in my head. Like many photographers, I have been everywhere when it comes to gear. I began with 35mm in the 80's, bounced around medium and large format photography in the 90's, and have fallen for the total control that digital has allowed in the current decade. Unlike many of Michael's workshop participants, the purchase of this gear does not come easy. I'm a biologist and teacher who also likes to add the label "photographer."

So, if money is a limiting factor, the question "When is enough, enough?" really matters. There was a time when a photographer could shoot with an old 500C camera and a few quality Zeiss lenses and they could produce the same level of imagery as another using a 503C or 6008i(Rollei) or (you fill in the blank.....). Unfortunately, this is no longer the truth. Today, how much you spend can really affect the final image output... In the past when I decided to buy an F100 instead of an F5, I reasoned that the additional cost would be better applied to the optics... as optics (and film) was the great equalizer. Now I find myself with a real predicament. Good optics (which I have) make great images possible, but the ultimate quality now lies in the computer (read as camera) that resolves that image. Not only is the camera now the deciding factor, but the difference in price between good and great now limits the possibilities. This is what I find very very sad! Here we are in a world of photographic possibilities where a $1300 (12-15mpx crop) camera is almost 3-times less than the next image jump ($3000 full frame), which is 2-times less than a high resolution full-frame, which is 6 times less than a medium format body & back. That $1300 crop body costs 1/25 (or more) as much as the P65+ described by Michael... Great images can be produced with that $1300 camera (note nearly twice the price of an F100 or Eos3), but it can never reach the possibilities that a P65+.

So, here is the question, are only the rich allowed to produce the best quality outputs?... this is sad, as there are some fine (less healed) artists out there that would benefit from the old days where the camera really didn't matter!

Apologies for the ramble... but the disparity between what is, and what is possible continues to trouble me.
cheers and good shooting,
bruce
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Nemo
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« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2009, 12:49:04 PM »
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Improvements we can expect in sensors:

http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/t...-keeping-t.html

Sony's first back-illuminated CMOS is here:

http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/News/Press/20...069E/index.html

Less is more? I don't think so...
« Last Edit: February 01, 2009, 12:49:48 PM by Nemo » Logged
douglasf13
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« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2009, 12:53:30 PM »
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Bruce, I think your post is right on the money, and it is very frustrating. I miss using my Hassies, but I'm not in the position to buy a new Leaf or equivalent. I tried older backs, but they are still cropped, and didn't provide anything more than my A900 IQ wise. I guess the main positive to it all is the savings from not buying film.
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Pete Ferling
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« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2009, 01:15:48 PM »
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Nothing was more of a leap for the money than purchasing a $7000 1Ds mark I.  Even so, five years ago digital was a dirty word, and in my job, having instant gratification and same day turn around (without having to grab the keys to visit the lab) was a huge deal.

Today I shoot primarily with a 40D, and still use that 1Ds whenever I need the extra 30mm for full frame for wides, etc.

I still shoot with my FD cameras, and the MAM645 on occasion for the fun of it, and when I desire the response/look of film.  Yes, with some tweaking I could fake some of those looks, and there are many times where I'll pick a digital over the same scene shot in film.  Much of this is habit and all of it simply ignores the specs sheets and the eyes pick the winner.

I do agree with an earlier poster whom said clients don't care how it was shot, only how it looks.  That makes me my own best client then.

I could easily request a budget for a Mark III or go digital with my MF back.  However, upgrading today is more like a fix that needs a problem to justify it.  Right now, I'm getting 30" prints off of my 9800 that tells me I don't need to spend a penny more.
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Quentin
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« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2009, 01:55:32 PM »
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There is also portability to consider.  I have gone the A900 route, and with a Sigma 12-24mm, Zeiss 24-70mm F2.8 and Sony G 70-300 I have a high resolution system of far greater portability than MF digital or LF film and with focal length coverage from 12-300mm covering almost every conceivable shooting situation and all fitting in or about a Lowepro belt.  It's fantastic not to have to compromise and still be so portable, particularly as one gets a tad older.

Quentin
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pegelli
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« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2009, 02:19:45 PM »
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Quote from: douglasf13
Bruce, I think your post is right on the money

I think there's a couple of other points to consider:

1) In the film days the body does still matter. A more accurate and repeatable light meter was essential to get properly exposed slides. A smaller spot measurement area really helped to get better exposures as well. Ruggedness still determined if a camera kept working in the rain or being banged around. Exchangable ground glasses were needed for special jobs and at the end of the era a more accurate AF system is always better. So the question about "when is enough enough" was being asked then as well.

2) Isn't Michael in his essay trying to say something different really. There are certain job where the resolution of a MF back or the low noise of a D3 are needed, but when these high specs are not needed a G10 can produce similar stellar quality. So everybody for himself has to decide how much he want to pay for having the best gear for the extreme situations he finds himself in. The answer for this question depends on how much money he can afford and justify to spend, as well as how often he finds himself in that situation. No DxO graph can answer that question, only you can.

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pieter, aka pegelli
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« Reply #27 on: February 01, 2009, 02:29:46 PM »
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I suspect that it is a truism, when considering investment in tools, that for the price of the "ultimate", once can get 90% of the performance for about 20% of the price.  That last 10% of performance puts one on a nearly vertical cost curve.  Regardless of the actual shape of the curves, I believe the principle holds true.

When designing production lines, there is no value in improving machine performance beyond that required to match the performance of the slowest machine in the line; the limiting point.

The limiting point in photography is the final output medium.  The limitations are different for digital and film processes, but they exist.  Current inkjets and papers have a resolution that may be less than the camera & lens part of the chain.  I cannot speak to optical enlargers and photo sensitive papers but I suspect the situation is similar.  Digital displays are already far behind camera & lens capabilities regardless of film or digital.

My conclusions are:

1) - The world is different for business or pleasure.  Achieving the ultimate performance may be entirely justifiable for pleasure when the cost cannot be supported for any rational business decision.  Because I want it is justification enough.

2) - Digital images can potentially endure for eternity.  Fine art images ought to be the best possible because display technology will improve over time.  Business images (product shots, etc.) need only endure for a short useful life.  Their quality need not exceed intended display quality for the life of the product.

3) - Journalists will continue to thrive as long as there is ambiguity in the price - performance curves and as long as there are differences of opinion as to where one should reside on that curve or where equipment fits on the curve.

4) - Such discussions are a lot more fun than political discussions but about as useful.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2009, 02:35:17 PM by Farkled » Logged
Mark F
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« Reply #28 on: February 01, 2009, 08:08:17 PM »
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Kind of like the law of diminishing returns. Michael makes a very important point when he emphasizes that each individual user must judge what is right for him.  

Is the successful advertising pro using last year's P45+ back going to lose clients if he does not run out and upgrade? Will his work be any less creative? Only that photographer can decide if his clients will require the extra quality that the new back can provide. If his clients will notice and demand the extra detail that more pixels will give or if his work is consistently blown up to larger than 30 x 40, then maybe yes. But if not, then as a business matter it seems not to make sense to upgrade, even though we all want the latest and greatest.
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« Reply #29 on: February 01, 2009, 08:32:17 PM »
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Quote from: Ray
That could be the explanation and it certainly occurred to me, which is why I wrote earlier that I get the impression that many camera purchases are made on the basis of performance specifications only, rather than the usefulness of the tool for specific tasks and styles of shooting.

However, I find it surprising that modern inkjet printers might not be capable of reproducing the greater subtlety and smoothness of tonal variation that are suggested on those DXO charts.

Perhaps we are back to the analogy of the Porsche or Maserati. Those cars are clearly of higher performance than the average Mazda sedan, but they don't necessarily get you to your destination more quickly or more safely. However, just occasionally they might. You're stuck behind a slow lorry on a narrow winding road. Suddenly, on a steep hill there's an overtaking lane, a window of opportunity, but it's a short lane and there's a car in front of you that tries to overtake first. But the driver is not in a Porsche and by the time he's overtaken the lorry there's only 50 metres of overtaking lane left, so you slam down your foot and your Porsche almost takes off like a plane.

Do I buy an expensive, high-performance camera for such rare occasions?  


I couldn't agree more Ray.

When I bought my 1Ds MrkIII (my Porcshe), I thought it would kick the arse off my 1D MrkII (my Mazda) however it didn't! It was more like a gentle spank.

To be far to the 1DS MrkIII, pixel peeping at 1:1 showed a larger difference than when comparing A2 prints but in the end making prints was  the reason I purchased the 1DS markIII not pixel peeping.


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JeffKohn
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« Reply #30 on: February 01, 2009, 11:20:17 PM »
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Quote from: barryfitzgerald
I know some folks stand 3 inches away from a wall print and want it to look great..

Back in the real world, not many people do that ;-)
On the contrary, I've found that many "regular", non-photographer types do just that. I guess it depends on image content, as most people have no interest in counting nose-hairs in a portrait. But show them a high-detail landscape and unless there's some sort of barrier preventing them from doing so, most viewers will step closer to get a better look. It's human nature to want to see just how much detail is there.

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Ray
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« Reply #31 on: February 01, 2009, 11:57:59 PM »
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Quote from: JeffKohn
On the contrary, I've found that many "regular", non-photographer types do just that. I guess it depends on image content, as most people have no interest in counting nose-hairs in a portrait. But show them a high-detail landscape and unless there's some sort of barrier preventing them from doing so, most viewers will step closer to get a better look. It's human nature to want to see just how much detail is there.

I agree. That's my experience also, assuming the subject is something they are interested in.
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pegelli
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« Reply #32 on: February 02, 2009, 12:46:58 AM »
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Quote from: DaveDn
I couldn't agree more Ray.

When I bought my 1Ds MrkIII (my Porcshe), I thought it would kick the arse off my 1D MrkII (my Mazda) however it didn't! It was more like a gentle spank.

To be far to the 1DS MrkIII, pixel peeping at 1:1 showed a larger difference than when comparing A2 prints but in the end making prints was  the reason I purchased the 1DS markIII not pixel peeping.

If you want your next camera to give your Mk III a real kick in the arse you'll probably have to wait buying a new one until the Mk VI or VII is out. For me that's one of the messages Michael is telling us in this essay series. Doesn't mean you should not upgrade with every step if you want to, it just means you're paying a lot for relatively small steps.
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pieter, aka pegelli
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« Reply #33 on: February 02, 2009, 03:49:31 AM »
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Disagree. People don't nose job photos, they admire and look at them! They don't peer into the corners, wondering if a sharper lens would do better.
Those who subscribe to big resolution= good landscape print, are sorely missing the point. A sharp print is fine, but that is not what counts, the "does it work" factor is the main element.

You could tear yourself apart wondering if you gear is up to the job, or work harder on getting "good shots", I know which I prefer..

Equipment has always been part of photography, however, there is an unhealthy obsession with it, from some folks.
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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #34 on: February 02, 2009, 04:06:23 AM »
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Quote from: pegelli
2) Isn't Michael in his essay trying to say something different really. There are certain job where the resolution of a MF back or the low noise of a D3 are needed, but when these high specs are not needed a G10 can produce similar stellar quality. So everybody for himself has to decide how much he want to pay for having the best gear for the extreme situations he finds himself in. The answer for this question depends on how much money he can afford and justify to spend, as well as how often he finds himself in that situation. No DxO graph can answer that question, only you can.

Very true.

One thing though, the G10 will only do a stellar job in those situations where the DR that needs to be addressed in the scene is reasonnably limited.



Cheers,
Bernard
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A few images online here!
Rob C
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« Reply #35 on: February 02, 2009, 04:24:15 AM »
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Very nice shot, Bernard.

Rob C
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Ray
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« Reply #36 on: February 02, 2009, 04:42:08 AM »
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Quote from: barryfitzgerald
Equipment has always been part of photography, however, there is an unhealthy obsession with it, from some folks.

Especially from those who actually design the lenses and sensors. What can they be thinking of, when most normal people would be quite happy with a pin-hole camera.
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #37 on: February 02, 2009, 05:41:07 AM »
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Quote from: Ray
Especially from those who actually design the lenses and sensors. What can they be thinking of, when most normal people would be quite happy with a pin-hole camera.


This is the problem, some people take things to extremes! Please point out where I mentioned "pinhole" camera.

Like I said, some love the gear some love photography..some love both, only one really counts.
The article was about "good enough"..though in honestly, the only reason the G10 is there, is because it has 15 megapixels.

And back we go to the res debate..boring isn't it ;-)
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siba
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« Reply #38 on: February 02, 2009, 05:42:36 AM »
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It simply isn't true that clients don't care what equipment you use.

I agree that often a job could be shot with a "lesser" camera. If you're shooting alone and sending the files by e-mail then it may well not matter. But, I can't imagine that this is what most photographers aspire to. And, more to the point, most jobs aren't like that.

Art directors deal with hundreds of photographers, and the majority of the time they will start with the assumption that the job will be shot with a medium format digital back. If not then there has to be a reason. Photo editors at magazines pixel peep because it is their job to look at thousands of photos every month, and the graphics people who have to cut out my product shots have an easier job if the image is from 39MP than 21MP.

Many clients, ad people, in fact pretty much everyone nowadays, will have a dslr. Do you want to turn up to a shoot as the photographer and have the same camera as everyone else? It's your trade, you're a photographer, and choice of equipment will influence the way people judge you.

As Michael likes to say, it is horses for courses. But, it's not that any old horse will do. If you're a professional photographer then it's either a full frame quickest autofocus DSLR horse, or a medium format digital back horse - and ideally one would own both horses. If a photographer is not using one or both of these then it's because he can't afford to, not because he's happy shooting with less.

The issue in this thread is interesting as an absolute argument, and implying that the end product is all that counts when taking a photo is absurd.

Stefan
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barryfitzgerald
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« Reply #39 on: February 02, 2009, 05:49:33 AM »
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Quote from: siba
It simply isn't true that clients don't care what equipment you use.

I agree that often a job could be shot with a "lesser" camera. If you're shooting alone and sending the files by e-mail then it may well not matter. But, I can't imagine that this is what most photographers aspire to. And, more to the point, most jobs aren't like that.

Art directors deal with hundreds of photographers, and the majority of the time they will start with the assumption that the job will be shot with a medium format digital back. If not then there has to be a reason. Photo editors at magazines pixel peep because it is their job to look at thousands of photos every month, and the graphics people who have to cut out my product shots have an easier job if the image is from 39MP than 21MP.

Many clients, ad people, in fact pretty much everyone nowadays, will have a dslr. Do you want to turn up to a shoot as the photographer and have the same camera as everyone else? It's your trade, you're a photographer, and choice of equipment will influence the way people judge you.

As Michael likes to say, it is horses for courses. But, it's not that any old horse will do. If you're a professional photographer then it's either a full frame quickest autofocus DSLR horse, or a medium format digital back horse - and ideally one would own both horses. If a photographer is not using one or both of these then it's because he can't afford to, not because he's happy shooting with less.

The issue in this thread is interesting as an absolute argument, and implying that the end product is all that counts when taking a photo is absurd.

Stefan



So folks who pay for photographic services, are paying for "a nice set of lenses and a beefy camera" Huh Are they..
Most wouldn't have a clue what you are using.

I don't use a FF DSLR, I use 2 APS-C ones, and 35mm when I prefer to use that. They are all capable of better than email results!

It's pure nonsense to say you "NEED" a FF DSLR, you don't. It would be nice..but it is not essential.

If you want to say I am poor for using lesser gear, fire away..I don't really care myself, I just worry about what I produce.

The end product is what counts, sorry, that is so clearly obvious, denial is very unwise. Of course I will get better quality photos from a D3 at low light, but we come back to the same point again.."good enough"

The only absurd argument here, is to say equipment is more important than the end result. Some folks have a very odd way of looking at things.

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