Thinking about buying a new camera? Maybe getting a new one for Christmas? A simple question, but one that assumes you know what you are doing. Plus it assumes that you are not simply upgrading, for the sake of it. How many times do people change their gear, because getting a ‘better’ camera will give you better images….
I’m using the Canon 1D MK4, bought in 2010 – but I see a LOT of people now who are more than happy with their mobile phones, or tablets for their images. Does this mean the death of the DSLR? I’d like to think not, but it is true that some newspapers have removed all their photography staff, and given the journalists an iphone or other ‘smart’ gadget. Maybe the ethos of ‘better images’ is starting to vanish, and we are experiencing a new boom of quantity over quality. The sheer amount of visual images on the internet now, through flickr, facebook, and so on, means that you are seeing far more poor quality images than ever before; and the sad thing is that the more poor quality things you see, the more you get used to seeing them, and the more you accept that as a standard.
That’s not to say there aren’t the great photographers out there – they are there, and they are putting an enormous amount of energy and skill into producing some outstanding images. I use Google+ and Flickr to share pictures I have made, and they are great places to experiment, and see what sort of reaction there is to new stuff that I produce. In the end analysis though, it’s still social sharing, and maybe it’s not as real as showing them in the ‘real’ world. What is the value of strangers ‘liking’ an image if they are not prepared to explain what it is they like?
Has the ease with which images are captured actually devalued their credibility? Have images become worth so much less since the advent of the mobile phone?
I ask myself this more often these days. For example – at a dinner I was shooting the other month, a chap came up to me and asked why I thought I needed such a big camera – he himself had his ipad mini – and was more than happy to show me his ‘brilliant’ pictures that he had taken with it. I’m not saying his images were bad, but he what he really wanted to show me was that I didn’t need the gear I had. Somehow though I think that if a ‘professional’ photographer turned up at his wedding with an ipad, he might be just a little underwhelmed !
The whole value of images is reducing almost on a daily basis – I get asked to work for free all the time “for exposure”, and that I should be grateful to be asked, because, after all, they could have done it with their compacts, or phones. (Try asking the plumber to come along for free – see how he or she reacts to that one…..) On the other hand, with the better cameras, and powerful software, why shouldn’t they try it for themselves.
My own thoughts are that photographers have to move with the times. I’ll confess to having taken images with my ipad, during a conference where the lens I had with me would not fit the whole lecture hall in. My fault I admit, for not having the right lens with me. The ipad image though was quite acceptable, and the client didn’t even bat an eyelid. I just added that one shot in with all the others, knowing that the images were only going to be used on line. The problems arise when a print is required and you can’t get the image quality.
I would say though that just because there are more people out there taking photographs, doesn’t mean that there are more ‘good’ photographers. I think there are about the same number of people producing good images as there were before – it’s just that they are somewhat overwhelmed by all the other ‘stuff’.
It’ll be interesting to see in the next year or so, where we go with the new DSLR type video cameras, from which you can capture one frame as a still. Why worry about taking individual images – video the whole event and pick your shot.
Next year’s technology could be worth looking at…..