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Relative quality


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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Relative quality

22 Sep 2020 10:59AM   Views : 465 Unique : 292


It’s a topic that keeps coming up wherever two photographers meet. What’s the better lens? Which camera is easiest to use for sport?

It’s a controversial issue in most parts of our lives. We tend to think in terms of wanting ‘the best’ without thinking whether that’s what we want (what we really, really want…) and whether we’re prepared to pay the price for it.

For instance, the other day I was out for a walk with a ‘good enough’ camera over my shoulder – a Nikon D7000. 16mp, fitted with a wide-range standard zoom, and ten years old. It’s solid, pretty weatherproof, and capable of a decent stab at most subjects with no additional kit, and around £250 on eBay.

And it’s a camera that I’d not be likely to take with me for serious shooting (unless specifically challenged to show what it can do, of course). My Alpha 7 is smaller, lighter, and with better lenses, not to mention a sight more quality in the images, because it’s got nearly three times as many megapixels. But it did cost ten times as much…

And as I walked, I saw a car nosing out of a drive. A 70-plate Bentley, with an interesting dark matt finish, if I remember rightly. Purring, smooth, quite wonderful, and Not Exactly Cheap. I honestly wouldn’t want one, because I’d be so scared of scratching it, especially on British roads. Stupendous performance, but so compromised by the cost.

Undoubtedly, it does everything better than my own car: but.


So there we have some sort of personal definition, my own break-point. I love driving, but not as much as I love taking pictures. And this introduces the concept of ‘good enough’ which I feel is important.
And honestly, it’s not a cop-out. In everything, working out what is good enough for a specific purpose is worthwhile, and will often save you money: even if you decide that you want to buy the better camera (or lens, or car) because otherwise you’ll buy the cheap one and regret and replace it later.

Accountants talk about cost-benefit analysis, and that’s what you’re doing when you size up which model in a range to choose. (Hint for novices photographing professional models – pick one with loads of positive references, because they’ll be better value!) It’s not about picking something that’s reassuringly expensive. It’s actually about getting the best result, at a personalised level.


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dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
22 Sep 2020 11:00AM
Can you tell which picture was shot with what camera without downloading and looking at the EXIF?

No, I couldn't, either.
GGAB Avatar
GGAB 7 31 1 United States
22 Sep 2020 1:05PM
Many Major companies and products have grown huge by being "Good enough".
The question is, what defines "Good enough"?
GGAB Avatar
GGAB 7 31 1 United States
22 Sep 2020 1:25PM
I have a Canon M50 with the cheap kit lens I bought refurb for $300.00, a Panasonic FZ-1000 bridge camera I bough used for $390.00 that work great with images where the camera is stationary. There are some pictures of flowers in my Album "The Front Yard" taken with the M50 that I really like. There are some pictures taken with a Canon 6D MKII in the album as well.
I took the Panasonic to a Hockey game, focusing on the goal mouth. I started taking images when I saw a shot coming. I got some great shots of the puck getting past the keeper however I only got them because I pre-focused and held the camera steady.
Neither of the "cheap" cameras would do very well if I was panning following players or fast cars such as in my Album "Charlotte Motor Speedway".
My much more expensive Canon 7D MKII and 5D MKIV with Canon L lenses do very well following the players or fast cars.

It is a question of what you are shooting and the technical capabilities of the camera. Very often the technical upgrades simply make taking more difficult shots easier. High Speed and accurate auto focus is an example of this. Photographers took amazing action shots with manual focus cameras, however today's DSLR's make it easier.

At least those are my thoughts Grin
chase Avatar
chase Plus
18 2.5k 682 England
22 Sep 2020 6:32PM
Is 'good enough' not a very personal thing ? What is good enough for me will not be good enough for the next person and the next, and the one after that.
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
22 Sep 2020 7:42PM
It all depends on what you're doing, and for what purpose...

And some people take it far too far!

Don't we?
Robert51 Avatar
Robert51 14 12 147 United Kingdom
25 Sep 2020 9:45PM
Most great images that you remember are about the subject matter. So may be what is 'good enough' is the camera and lens it's taken on no matter what.
waltknox Avatar
3 Oct 2020 4:30AM
Beware of the psychological condition known as gadget lust. I have been lusting after several new camera’s and lens systems lately .....which harkens me back to the days when we were fooled into believing we must have the latest Television set or stereo system.Turned out that after you saved enough to finally afford the latest technological wonder it had already been long bested by another more advanced gadget.
Translated into today’s world now we are now led to believe we must have the latest $1500 or $2000 dollar Cell phone / camera gadget,
and we now see kids on public transport with $2000 Cellphones bulging out the back pockets of their jeans. Madness...
As already mentioned by GGAB I find a lot of my favourite photos on this site have been taken with very affordable older gear, it’ s not always about having the best gear in any hobby or profession ...a lot has to be said about having both natural and learned ability.
Carrying around very expensive camera gear
and storing it in my car or home makes me a bit nervous quite frankly ...
Of course I still lust after it all the same . Their is a wise old saying ...why buy it when you can rent it ....I am leaning more that way now towards the latest and greatest camera gear.
Great topic John ,
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
4 Oct 2020 7:10AM
There's a view that you should always wait a year after a new car comes on the market: let someone else find the weaknesses. and then, maybe, buy a slightly secondhand vehicle, maybe an ex-demonstrator.

The same is true of cameras - the price always falls when it's been on the market a few months - and there are then secondhand examples in mint condition, much cheaper than the first few sold.

A D7000 remains a good camera after ten years, its successors even better. Arguably, the later models are all the camera you'd ever need. But few of us have to make purely utilitarian choices, and can afford to pay more for extra fun with cameras and lenses. And flash. And tripods...

Hiring can be an excellent choice - and I await car-style camera leasing with interest!

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