Mind your life memories: Why owning a real camera matters

By Shawn Knight
Jun 15, 2015
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  1. mind camera photography digital camera dslr photos slr digital slr

    Google recently said it best: photos are more than just pixels. They're moments in time we'll never want to forget. Memories fade but the images you capture with friends and family last a lifetime.

    Consumer digital cameras were just starting to come around by the time I hit high school in the late ‘90s. The technology advanced quickly and by the early 2000s, you could get a point-and-shoot digital camera with image quality that’s superior to what today’s mobile devices are capable of for less than $200.

    I was probably one of the only kids in my school with a digital camera, not because they were overly expensive, but because teenagers back then simply didn’t care about taking pictures. This was largely because technology didn’t yet play a key role in the lives of youth the way it does today. Facebook and Instagram simply didn’t exist at this point.

    Read the complete article.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 1,514   +676

    Susan Sontang wrote an excellent book "On Photography" where she discussed the importance of photography to the human race. By far, it is the most relied upon means of proving our experiences, where we've been and what we have done. I still maintain my old 35mm film cameras along with several 4x5 and 8x10 view cameras that I use from time to time. The benefit of the old cameras, other than MUCH better control is they are slow. Very slow, with some photo's taking up to several hours to capture a single image. The benefit is time. Taking more time causes the photographer to stop, think, compose, and create images. Anyone can learn to use photoshop, but the swings and tilts of a view camera take years to master, as you can clearly see in any Ansel Adams photograph. The skills of a good darkroom technician also surpass the digital programs because of the range of manipulation. Certainly PS and other programs are faster but in creativity, faster is rarely better.
    Julio Franco and H3llion like this.
  3. madboyv1

    madboyv1 TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,322   +263

    I personally have a full kit revolving around a D700, and I really need to get more use out of it. it's been too long since I've taken anything worthwhile with it. :(

    There's actually two probable reasons for this. The first one is the matter of convenience. A "proper" dSLR, even with a single super zoom lens (say 28-300 or something in that range) is still fairly bulky even when camera bodies are getting smaller and lighter. Trying to travel around that packed venue with even just this could be cumbersome, let alone hundreds of people doing it. A camera/video equiped smartphone, though quite inferior on average, is just easier to carry and simpler to use in that situation for the average person.

    The second reason could be related to the "house rules." This quoted example is a sporting event, and all sporting events have media coverage and rules governing access. Some venues allow liberal usage of higher capacity camers and lenses, but many have limits to what you can bring. These limits are often related for security reasons (lol), attendee experience protection (eg blocked views from the blockhead that does not know any better, or having too big of a footprint with all your gear), or more commonly, for brand/marketing/media control (they want to control who has "access" to high quality images/video). It varies widely from place to place, but often one or more of those reasons will be cited when the gate won't let you in with that 70-200mm f/2.8 or 300mm lens. I've even seen and heard of super-zooms scrutinized because of their size and range, and without that a phone's crappy digital zoom will likely fair better.

    That being said point-and-shoots are so much more capable than they were 10, even 5 years ago that you can get away with those at least and still get good quality images.
    Julio Franco likes this.
  4. Agree completely, good quality pictures are important and smartphones just dont cut it, but.. I dont feel to carry my DSLR to every single event in my life, so I took the middle of the road approach and bought the Sony RX100 M3, it's like 90% of the quality of my nikon D5200, more than enough for everyday snapshotting and miles ahead of any smartphone, especially at night
    Arris and Julio Franco like this.
  5. Good article...I personally feel there's a place for both quality cameras and simple phone cameras. Using a DSLR for something like Instagram is a waste of time. I blame services like Instagram for lowering the expectations that many young adults have today of photo quality and what makes a photo worthwhile. With the advent of "filters" that blow out color like HDR does, peoples idea of a good photo has changed from quality and clarity to unrealistic color and blur effects. Only on sites like Flickr and Tumblr can a photographer showcase their work...but even those sites are flooded with HRD and blurry images all getting "liked" while clear and natural color photos hardly get a second look in many cases.

    Another issue I run into from time to time as an owner of a Pentax DSLR is people asking why bother when camera phones take great photo's. I usually have to show them the difference before they see the advantage of a dedicated camera and understand the trade off involved in jamming a camera into the back of a phone vs using true quality multilayer optics and a large high quality photo sensor.
  6. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 861   +353

    I "grew up" with photography back in the early 60's. At the time, my dad was a photographer/ad manager for the local newspaper. Countless times I would "help" him in the dark room rocking the developer & stop tubs with the negatives, watching him enlarge, crop photos and the like. Got my first camera when I was 12-13, and have been taking photos for over 38 years. Bought my first film SLR in 1984, moved to a digital SLR in 2010. Back in the film days, you would TAKE YOUR TIME pressing the trigger because each press of the shutter button costs MONEY. For the film & the developing of the negatives. Now, with unlimited memory, people don't think, before they shoot. Sometimes, it irks me to see people with dSLR's. They NEVER take the things off of the green (A) auto mode! I'm the opposite. I never use the green auto mode. Mine stays in manual mode, unless I'm in a hurry, then it will go to shutter or aperture mode. Also, I shoot everything in RAW mode. I prefer to "develop" my own photos, over using what the camera software thinks is best.
    What's really sad with digital, is the demise of the "camera store". The one in my city, had been around with the same name since 1888, and closed this past May. (New owners opening 1/2 the size this weekend). I have been in that store countless times over the last 30+ years. Their prices are higher than online, but the customer service was priceless. Plus, back in the film days, the employees knew me, I knew them, and they knew my needs. I almost always like my photos to show up a little more on the warmer side, than the cooler side, so they would adjust that accordingly. Try that in a one hour film place. Now, most people don't create photographs, they "take pictures".
    I hate the phrase, "dslr quality" when I hear that. People think pushing more megapixels equates to a better photo, not understanding that what amounts to a pinhole sensor would ever come close to the image quality, DOF etc, to that of even an 8-10mp dSLR. The physics isn't even possible.
  7. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,156   +598

    I take my Lumix Z58 when we travel - - a full function handheld that sits on by belt unobtrusively.
    The 4x optical zoom (with 3x more digital) and the PAS system allow low light photography w/o flash, which is mandatory in most museums (many times it's a preferable color pallet too).
  8. MoeJoe

    MoeJoe TS Maniac Posts: 363   +174

    Phone cameras are convenience.

    A real camera can't be replaced.
    p51d007 and Julio Franco like this.
  9. Back when I was in High School - Graduated 1987 - my parents bought me an old Minolta SLR film camera, luckily I took it places with me just to "Learn the basics" because at that time, there was no PROGRAM - it was Aperture and Shutter Priority. Well let me say that whole world of photography got me a job at a local film processor for 9 years, working the lab. Got to see MANY awesome photographers and always bent their ear and asked "Oh wow, how's you capture that?!" and through many people and even a Fuji Lab training course (anyone guess the primary and secondary colors and filter purposes?!) I have a lot of training, and have been using SLR's since then. Currently I have two Olympus DSLR's E-520 and E-450 - because of the four thirds imaging there is less edge distortion and it's used in many commercial photo studios. But the best part, you can get two lens outfits for around $750 or less. Yeah I have a smartphone but for stuff that really matters, Give me my E-520/450, I can trust that works on any setting, versus this app for this filter, this app for the color and editing. Excellent Article.
    Arris, p51d007 and Julio Franco like this.
  10. See the bright side, people are so used now to smartphone photography that they get DAZZLED by real photographs
    I have a musician friend who is a selfie lover, I went to his studio with my DSLR and took some well planned pics of him mid performance, posted to facebook, now I feel like a pulitzer prize photographer, a mountain of likes and compliments on them
    Arris and p51d007 like this.
  11. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,156   +598

    AH Yes, Minolta SRL 101 - - still have mine, albeit it's never used any more. I quibble as the 101 had pure manual shutter and aperture controls and that's where you learn the HOW-TO.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
    p51d007 likes this.
  12. Very nice article. I have to agree with the writer; the shots I can get with my Canon Kiss X4 DSLR are a thousand times better than any thing I can do with my phone. Setting the f-stop to get nice focused close-ups with blurred backgrounds is something that doesn't work too well on my phone, as it should not. Frankly, if you say things like 'I don't know how to use a DSLR', you don't know what you're missing, but you probably don't care.
    p51d007 likes this.
  13. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 820   +246

    I started teaching many years ago... and back then, camera-phones couldn't cut it (I teach Kindergarten, and photos are part of the curriculum - children need to see themselves in the room!)... so I invested in a DSLR... I use it all the time...

    BUT... I recently purchased the iPhone 6+, and I have to say that I've used my SLR less and less... Smartphones are rapidly closing the gap between "crap" and DSLR quality... I have some excellent photos (and videos) taken with my iPhone that simply weren't possible - even with point-and-shoot - a few years ago.

    I foresee a future, within a few years, of no longer needing an SLR unless you are a professional photographer - your iPhone (or Galaxy, whatever) will suffice...
  14. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,189   +1,219

    Take your iPhone photos and put them on a real screen and then compare them to the SLR. Worse still get them printed.

    There is still a significant difference between the world’s worst DSLR and the world’s best phone camera. I don't see the gap closing anytime soon, using current methods it’s not possible.
    Arris and Archean like this.
  15. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 820   +246

    Try printing an iPhone 6+ picture... you'll actually find the quality VERY comparable to SLR at 4x6 sizes (which are the VAST majority of personal printed pictures)...

    Obviously, SLR is superior - but to the average user, not very much... and each year, the gap narrows... I suspect our children will be saying "SLR? What's that?"
  16. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,156   +598

    "Setting the f-stop to get nice focused close-ups with blurred backgrounds is something that doesn't work too well on my phone"

    This is known as depth-of-field control. Set a large(numerically small like f2.8) F-stop and a correspondingly faster shutter speed.

    Low ambient light is large F-stop + slow shutter.
  17. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 820   +246

    And how many average users do that? Even ones who OWN a DSLR?

    Yes, for pros, the SLR has a place... but very rapidly, you'll see that the average user has no need for one... not yet... but VERY soon!
  18. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,156   +598

    Not speaking of the HD stuff, just the point-and-shoot cameras that come with PAS (Program,Aperture,Shutter) controls - - in the price range $200-$300.
    Clearly not a SELFIE device :giggle:
  19. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 820   +246

    Actually, to quote those highly annoying Apple ads... "There's an App for that"....

    Lots of apps will mimic that kind of functionality on your smartphone... not to mention having photoshop and other apps there to edit on the fly... Think 5-10 years down the line when your phone will have virtually the same processor power as your PC - I suspect point-and-shoot cameras will simply cease to exist...
  20. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,156   +598

    Think of the history of film. 8, 16, 35, 70mm wide film provided more detail (just like 640x480 up to 1024x1080 monitor resolution).

    Every photographer starts with "you can't add in the darkroom what isn't on the film". Sure, we have Photoshop but the more you start with the better the end result will be.

    Think of ripping a CD - - why the different bit rates? Because you want more dynamic range in the results. Audiophiles with serious collections don't use CDs, they opt for analogue media like Vinyl platters or 8" professional mag tape.

    Why do we like live performances? The dynamics can't be duplicated.

    There's more to a picture than just megapixels.
  21. toooooot

    toooooot TS Enthusiast Posts: 28   +7

    But will they have the same lens? :)
    Arris likes this.
  22. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 820   +246

    Again... we're talking the AVERAGE person... and your argument basically proves my point... cause the average person DOESN'T use LPs or mag tape - they use CDs!!

    I understand that SLRs take superior photos - but not THAT much more superior... and the AVERAGE user barely notices now.... I HIGHLY doubt they will in 5-10 years...

    Lenses/sensors are also getting better and better - while size factors may preclude SLR quality in a smartphone NOW.... maybe not in a few years....
  23. Rippleman

    Rippleman TS Maniac Posts: 526   +142

  24. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 9,156   +598

    :giggle: So selfies == photograph? lol.

    IMO, never consent to being Average - - - leads to - - -> mediocre.

    Peace unto you.
  25. Squid Surprise

    Squid Surprise TS Guru Posts: 820   +246

    lol... not the same thing... I gave you specific information already --> You can look up stats to see how many people use CDs/MP3s vs. mag tape/LP --> I assumed you'd know already that it's WELL OVER 95%...

    As for cell phone cameras - while this is a projection, I think it's pretty clear that the users of cell phone cameras FAR outnumber those who use DSLRs... even for those of us who DO use SLRs, we probably also use our cells....

    The quality of cell phone cameras has increased DRAMATICALLY in just a few years... there is no reason to believe that this trend won't continue!! I know it's cheezy propoganda, but go check out Apple's "shot with iPhone" promotions... you can't deny the quality meets or surpasses that of point-and-shoot technology of even 3-4 years ago...

    3-4 years from now it will almost certainly exceed that - and with more and more R&D going into smartphones, and less and less into point-and-shoot, I see no reason to disbelieve that smartphones will completely take over that market (indeed, they virtually have already!).

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