5 Myths about Digital Cameras

It’s late and Bedford PhotoCon 2019 is in full swing after the LARGEST PhotoWalk in Oklahoma history. I would almost push the boundary to say the largest in the central western region. The walks were divided amongst 5 leaders with about 300 photographers attending.

Did you read that correctly? Well, you clicked the link to read more, so don't leave me now. Let's talk about some photography myths that make me laugh and try to get some perspective. I hope you are laughing all the way to the end.

5 Camera Myths

Myth #1 - Professionals only shoot in Manual

We might need to clarify your definition of a professional, maybe it would be better to say, "craftsman" or “artist” or anyone that really wants great images. As you can imagine, this myth is false and probably the most likely cause for frustration among beginning shooters. Take a look at any "pro" level camera and you will see an array of shooting modes and more features than 90% of beginners even know how to use. If this myth were true, wouldn't the camera manufacturers just save some money and not include "amateur" features like Program Auto Exposure mode?

Just like automatic transmissions with a manual shift override, your camera has the same and each mode has advantages and disadvantages. It's up to you to work those features to get the best image in different situations. Of course, many find shooting in one mode versus another to work best for their style.

Find your favorite, use them all, use a few but just don't judge me when I switch to Program while shooting a paid wedding. The clients don't care so long as the image is clear and tells a story.

Myth #2 - Professionals only shoot Full Frame dSLRs

WOW! Really? If you are shaking your head in agreement right now, you already know you are wrong. Why fight it? Don't be a cropped sensor hater.
I really hate hearing aspiring photographers drooling over a full frame camera rig believing the quality of the captured image lies solely in the larger sensor. Did we never create amazing professional images before full frame sensors were affordable or even available? I own two "pro" cameras and 3 smaller sensor cameras. Check out my images online. Can you tell which is the "lower" quality sensor? Probably not without looking up the metadata, well neither can my clients.

If you want better images let's start by upgrading your lenses and then learning some lighting before eye balling the newest full frame top of the line camera. Remember, a $3,000 camera with a cheap lens is going to look more artistic (aka blurry) than professional.

Myth #3 - SOOC are the Best

In case you have been spending to much time in the film darkroom and not on the internet, SOFC means Straight Out Of the Camera. These posted images are a tribute to those shooters that avoid post processing because in camera is best or I'm so good it's perfect right in camera. Oh pleassssssssseeeeee! I'm saying that because your photography is so great that I would love photo

lessons on your private jet while escaping to the private island you rented just for the photo shoot with Elvis. I hope you are laughing a bit with my sarcasm. It was meant to be funny. Everyone knows that Elvis hated tropical weather.

All cameras shoot in RAW and either save that data directly to the card or sends it to be processed into a JPG and then saved to the card. We should always strive to produce the best images we can within the capabilities of our camera. Post-processing software is the bridge between what the camera can capture and what our eyes perceived. Don't short change your photography. If the image is great out of the camera, it can be amazing after just a little processing.

So let's stop the "look at me" bragging, posting cell phone images of the camera preview screen on Instagram. High-five me if you agree. Then let's take a selfie!

Myth #4 - There is one Correct Exposure

This kinda reminders me of when my wife says, "You didn't do this right!", which translates into "You didn't do this my way!" There is a right way, a wrong way and a my way. Please raise your hand if you have been here before. I thought so.

The camera meter has one job, one simple function albeit a critical step in the exposure process. Its goal is to read the reflected light of a scene and deliver a constant ingredient of the formula, 18% grey. Yes, the meter doesn't lie. It's never wrong. The camera meter is a technology wonder in delivery of 18%. Point it at a white wall...it's grey. Shoot a black wall...it's grey. Split the difference with a black and white wall... Perfect! Oh wait, sorry, it's grey on both sides.

Is that the correct exposure? I would answer that question with a question. Do you like it? Correct can mean completely opposite things for different people. So if you are happy or your clients are happy with the exposure, you have succeeded. If you want to learn about your meter and how to achieve 18% Zen, stop by my XPerience EXPOSURE presentation. Hecklers are encouraged to attend in the back of the room.

Remember, the correct exposure is in the eye of the checkbook holder.

Myth #5 - More MegaPixels Equal Better Images

I can't stress this enough, better images have many factors and the number of pixels in the sensor is probably one of the least important. Can we please stop beating on our chest trying to one-up each other in the megapixel race?

I'm happy to take my 12MP camera anywhere and make any size print my clients need without fear. In fact, my stock photography taken with an 8MP camera has been a best seller and one of the largest canvas prints ordered for a client to hang on the wall in their media room. It's still there after 8 years, looking beautiful and still a family favorite. I completely understand, with a daughter in college and two in high school, I would pay good money to return them all to the inquisitive years of youth when daddy meant "superhero."

OK, back to the evil megapixel. When you look at magazines or stare in awe at some the world's most intriguing prints. Do you ever wonder if the print would be more detailed if the photographer shot it with a 36MP camera?

Look at the photography in a magazine famous for inspiring countless teenagers to travel the world living the glamorous life of a professional photographer, National Geographic. I still just stare at the imagery and barely read more than the captions. In December of 2003, the talented Joe McNally shot the first all digital assignment for the magazine. At that time, the top Nikon camera in production was the D1X packing a whopping 5.3MP at 3 frames a second for $5,000. Somehow I can imagine Joe thinking, "OMG! This thing is awesome! I will never need more megapixels." and now he is probably shooting a prototype with over 50MP wishing for a faster Mac computer and larger digital cards.

I hope you are following along with me here. I don't want to say that pixels are not important, it's just not the most important thing. Remember, camera manufacturers want you to feel the need for that new camera and what better way to get your attention and raise the bar for chest beating at the next camera club meeting. Yeah, you guessed it...megapixels!

Let's spend more time learning, shooting and sharing great images instead of waiting for the next bigger sensor with the most megapixels to make us a better photographer.

I really hope you enjoyed the humor and appreciated a different look into 5 myths that keep us from being all we can be as photographers. Don't get caught in the hype, not everything you read on the internet is true. Maybe not even this article.