There's a saying that I LOVE that goes something like this: "Amateurs talk about cameras. Pros talk about glass (lenses). Masters talk about light." The gist of that saying is that as you get better in photography, you start to recognize the difference between a tool that helps you create a photograph and the actual ingredients of a great photo and you rely less on the camera and more on the part of the photo that comes from within yourself. An expensive camera is not a necessary ingredient to a great photo. Beautiful lighting is. A fancy zoom lens is not an ingredient. A beautiful moment of inspiration is.
All the time when I'm planning a session with an engaged couple or other client and we get to the part when we decide the time and place of the shoot, I almost always parrot this mantra: "I'll take good lighting over a beautiful location every time." Obviously I'd love to have both, but given a choice I'd rather have the proper ingredients to get the best result.
Ok last little rant and then I have a little challenge for you
At weddings, one of the most frustrating moments is when someone, who it seems has been shopping around some camera gear or has an interest in photography and a decent camera walks up to me during a lull and starts drooling over the $6,000 of metal, glass and magnesium allow in my hands. When they finally find their powers of speech, the first syllables are usually something like "man that's a nice camera, I'll bet it takes awesome pictures!" It's so frustrating! Do they think that all I am is a pair of hands that has had a nice camera fall into them? I appreciate what my camera can do, but without knowing how to use it it can't do anything more than the cheapest camera you can find will do.
Well, to fight that sentiment and to show that you DON'T need to spend a ton of money on camera gear to make awesome photos, you just need to learn how to use and control light and master the functions of the camera you already have, I brought two cameras to a newborn session this afternoon, both to test out the one I recently bought, but also to hopefully demonstrate a point.
The first is my workhorse. A $3,500 Canon 5D Mark III full frame DSLR with a $2,400 24-70mm pro lens on it. It has a massive image sensor inside that gathers a ton of light, enabling it to take very VERY high quality photos even in low light.
The second camera is my Canon G15 point-and-shoot camera. It's not even Canon's newest "G" model, there's actually 3 cameras in the "G" line that are better than this one, and I picked it up for $350 (90% cheaper than the Mark III) It has a fixed zoom lens and an image sensor that is the David to the Mark III's Goliath (see chart below, the G15 is comparable to the S90) It's a great little camera to have, mainly because I can't haul around the huge workhorse on a daily basis, but it definitely has serious limits, not to mention not having the same WOW factor :-)
I set both cameras to the same settings, ISO200 1/200th sec and f/2.8 and fired away at little Baby Hayes. Can you tell which camera made which photo? Leave your guess as a comment (no peeking ahead). I included close up crops for pixel-peepers so you can compare the sharpness.
The first photo are from the Mark III and the second is from the G15, but I was extremely pleased with the results from both! I'll admit, I was using some studio lighting that made it a little easier for the camera, but I found that the G15 was more than capable of producing great images and I'd be confident that I would not be overly handicapped if I was forced to use it in a pinch.
If seeing this just frustrates you because you feel that you'll never understand how to use your camera no matter how good it is, just drop me a line from my website. I've trained dozens of photographers of all skill levels and I offer lessons that will definitely improve your photography and make it more enjoyable for you.
© Brendon Pinola Photography 2015