August 6th, 2011
Today I had one of those experiences where I was truly amazed at how ignorant I was about a very simple but common thing.
I was on a bike ride with a close friend and we started talking about photography. I never thought I was good at taking pictures, I just thought it was an easy thing to do. I actually hated hearing people talking about their “photo taking ability” because I thought it was such a joke.
Until today, I basically thought that all anyone had to do was buy a good brand of a digital camera for about $300 and and then just point and shoot. If it was dark, I used a flash (the light). If it was light, I didn’t. From a distance, many of my pictures looked not too bad so I didn’t realize there was a problem or that I had no idea of what I was doing. I knew they weren’t professional quality but I thought they were good enough and I never bothered to find out what the problem was.
My friend had an older 4.8 Megapixel camera and I had a pretty new Fuji 10.0 Megapixel camera. I thought that I could easily take clearer pictures without even trying because I had the better and more expensive camera. Wow. I was totally wrong. (We both were using the automatic “auto” setting). I thought that the auto setting meant that the camera did all the work for you and the person didn’t need to try.
We were taking “close ups” of the letters on business cards. It sounds like a boring and stupid picture to take but it’s actually quite fun and a great way to test the quality of a camera. A “close up” in camera language means a photo from a very close distance.
We put our photos on a large monitor (computer screen) and looked at them. His photos were WAY better and clearer than mine. I couldn’t figure it out. I didn’t realize that I needed to hold the button down half way and really look at the screen and make sure the letters were in perfect focus. I didn’t know that I needed to keep moving and adjusting the camera very slightly until I saw the letters perfectly.
When you take a photo from far away, it’s hard to see the quality. If you are taking photos of the letters of a magazine or business card, it’s easy. For my friend’s photos, we could “zoom in” on the computer and see the letters so clearly. “Zooming in” means to go really close and make a small part of the photo take up the whole computer screen.
On his photos, you could see each letter in very high detail. We could even see the glue that puts the ink on the card. For example, we could zoom in and see the letter “k” on the entire size of the computer screen. It just looked like a big “k” with little bits of glue. It was shocking.
Then we tried mine and they totally sucked. From a distance, the photo didn’t look too bad. It was just that up close, my picture was just terrible. It means that I didn’t really understand what Megapixels were and I just thought paying more money would make things better with no effort.
The truth is that having good eyes, still hands, and understanding how to use your camera is MUCH more important than the quality or price of the camera.
I don’t know this for a fact, but I believe that over 98% of the people who want to buy a digital camera for around $300 are just clueless. Most people know some of the top brand names and they know that the more expensive cameras are better. People buy cameras and don’t even learn how to use them. It’s weird. We do the same thing with computers too. We get a “good one” and then learn less than 1% about how to use it well. I’ve learned that I need to learn a lot more about the technology I am using if I want to really see the benefits. It’s not just about saving money, it’s about enjoying the benefits and not being a total fool.
I need to know more about cameras anyway because Add and I are working for Pivothead, which is the best mini hands free video camera ever. Click on the link and you’ll see what I mean. It’s really exciting. I love the logo of the guy in the backwards baseball hat too. I wish I could draw…
Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences regarding this or a similar story you may have. Who knows, maybe it’s just me who is completely clueless.
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