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Old Jul 11, 2007, 1:34 AM   #1
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Hi everyone,

I was strolling along to my favourite bookshop but then there was a stand of quality postcards and printed photos that caught my eye. Not only were the colours beautiful, but the sharpness and detail were really high.

I checked their website and here is the equipment they use:

[align=center]All photos have been shot on film :[/align]
[align=center]Black & white film : Kodak TMAX 100,Fuji Across 100.[/align]
[align=center]Colour transparency film : Fuji Velvia 50 & 100F[/align]
[align=center]Cameras : in 35mm format: Nikon F4, Nikon F100[/align]
[align=center]in medium format (120 roll film) : Fuji 690, Mamiya RZ67 pro2.[/align]
[align=center]Scanner : Nikon Super Coolscan 8000.[/align]
[align=center]So does anybody know, if the EOS-400D is capable of producing such fine quality prints? I'd post a pic but the sample images on their website have of course, been reduced in quality. [/align]
[align=center][/align]
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Old Jul 11, 2007, 1:51 AM   #2
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Well the main limitation of the 400D would be on the size of print.

If you know what you are doing then yes the 400D should compare very favourably with the quality possible from 35mm film, it will be a step below medium format, but that will only generally be noticable at print sizes over 8x12.

Beware to some degree of internet comparisons performed by experts; what I mean is that experts will be extracting >95% of the maximum possible quality from both film and digital. They might conclude film is better for one purpose, digital for another.

Ordinary amateurs will be extracting only say 60% of the maximum possible quality, at which point it really becomes irrelevant whether you are using film or digital. The place to put one's attention is in making good pictures and learning to extract that 95% quality from the pictures you have rather than worrying about whether a 400D is as good as 35mm film.

A verysignificant percentage of the world's great photographs were taken on cameras that had a much lower image potential than the 400D.

Put it another way, you could spend $40,000 on a medium format digital setup from Hassleblad and there is no reason to suppose that your pictures will be as good as the ones you saw at the bookshop, even though that camera has the potential to produce images of higher quality than any of the equipment you listed.

Put it yet another way, buy the best equipment you can afford and then concentrate on learning how to use it to its maximum potential and forget about comparisons with other equipment. Once people are looking at your pictures and going "WOW!" then think about upgrading.


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Old Jul 11, 2007, 2:01 AM   #3
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so what is the 35% that amateurs miss?
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Old Aug 23, 2007, 1:59 PM   #4
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the missing 35%?

Try:

- no tripod
- improper lens use (i.e. too high, too low an f stop, zooms of only OK quality)
- poor lighting
- poor composition

The list goes on.

Listen to (or read about) any of the masters and they will tell you how long they waited for that perfect shot, or how long it took to set it up.

But the key diffierence is that 99% or more of pro shots are never seen by anyone but the pro. Think about it.
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Old Aug 24, 2007, 8:14 AM   #5
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I fully agree with the above comments.
You can take great postcards with almost any DSLR and any reasonable lens that is on the market.

Sure, there are pictures you won't get (fast action sports shots with a slow AF camera) but I'm talking about generals here.

And notice how that suggest "missing 35%" has nothing to do with the camera r (the tripod is "gear" but that is support gear and is camera model independent.)

A picture in bad light (not low or high light... "Bad light". Shadows across people's faces... just bad light) is bad no matter what gear you use.

I borrowed one of the best macro setups available (Canon 180 macro with the Canon twin light) to use on my 1D MkII N. Out of about 500+ pictures I took, I think I have maybe 5 that are "good" and only 1 that is "great". I would have done worse if I'd had lesser gear, but I still missed/blew a lot of images because of lack of experience (I normally photograph feathered wildlife.) That makes way more difference.

And as an aside, I have an 8MP camera. I can make great 11x14 prints, and some times (if I don't crop) I can make great 16x19 prints. And I have very high standards (I sell my work.) Needless to say, My 20D and 1D MkII N can make great postcards.

Eric
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Old Aug 24, 2007, 10:07 AM   #6
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I would venture to say that most of the time the differences between great shots and OK or poor ones are due to lighting and composition. Beginners blow composition (and backgrounds!), but lots of more experienced folks mess up lighting.

Regarding lighting, I always enjoy analyzing great shots. For outdoor ones, note the use of fill in flash if people or animals are a key part of the picture. Or note how often outdoor shots are done on overcast days or in the shade.

You can learn a lot from advertising pictures, just to use an example.
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Old Aug 24, 2007, 11:15 AM   #7
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To add on to what Klevin and Eric mentioned - the key to most great shots lies in understanding the subject. Every aspect of photography has it's own challenges and guiding principles. Shooting landscapes vs. architecture vs portraits vs wildlife vs sports. In many of these instances, accessory equipment is at least as important as the camera/lens (tripods, flashes, strobes, reflectors, shades, etc). But, most great shots ARE PLANNED. Very rarely do you stumble across them.

Take landscapes (common for postcards) - you have to decide what geographical composition speaks to the unique nature of the place. Then you have to visualize how the place looks in different seasons and at different times of day. Shadows are just as important as light - so where is the sun coming from at different times - how will the light play off the scenery. Then, of course, you have to be on-site and all set up with your gear waiting for that time to arrive - if it's sunrise and a hike is involved - you're schepping your gear in the dark with a petzl light on your head - maybe at 4:30 am. And, again the people that do this type of thing are watching weather reports - sometimes they want rain, sometimes they want clear skies. You also have to be cognizent of smog & haze levels. Sometimes haze is good sometimes it's not.

For location shots (think Colonial williamsburg, light houses, whatever) - again, having an idea of what makes the place unique - then deciding on composition and angle to coincide with what lighting affect you want - if there's water, do you want low tide, high tide or don't care?

There's a LOT of planning that's involved. Sports and wildlife is no different - your success depends in large part on your location - sometimes you're in the right place at the right time by accident but more often a good photographer places themselves in the right place because they understand the behavior of the animal and it's habitat or understands the sport at hand.

Anyway the list goes on. Having the RIGHT gear is important. But in many cases, RIGHT doesn't mean the most expensive. But it's experience with the subject matter and the ability to forsee the possibilities of a shoot and put yourself in that location for the affect you visualized - THAT is the key.

Or, put another way - a fool with a tool is still a fool. If I rented the gear Eric uses for birding there isn't a chance I'd get shots like he does. I don't understand the subject well enough. I wouldn't know where to go to find the birds he finds, nor position myself correctly nor have the experience to draw on to set proper exposures before the bird appears. Similarly if I gave someone else my sports shooting gear - if they're not a sports shooter they'll still get poor shots

Bottom line? Any DSLR on the market is capable of taking postcard quality shots. The key is in the experience and skill of the shooter who selects the appropriate tools for the job and plans and excutes the shoot well.
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Old Aug 24, 2007, 6:35 PM   #8
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I have this collection of books by "Life Library of Photography" 1971, and one of the is called "Special Problems". Some of Life magazines best photographers describe how much effort and trouble they wen't through to get the perfect shot. Here's one straight from the book.....

For a story on the nation's strained educational system, LIFE photographer Ralph Morse set his sights on a picture that flew in the face of good sense. He felt that the best way to illustrate the hectic job of a fifth-grade teacher was to show the teacher in several different places at once. This would have been fairly easy to do through multiple exposures if the teacher were in an empty room, but it seemed completely impactical in a roomful of restless students, who could not easily be kept from moving in the picture.
But after laborious experimentation, Morse devides a technique that brought off the illusion. He aimed his camera through a pane of glass that was covered by a mask made of several sections of black paper. Each section was attached to the glass by it's own piece of double stick tape - allowing the sections to be removed and replaced independenlty. Without changing the camera position, he made six exposures, removing a different section of the mask every time, so that each exposure caught only the portion of the schoolroom uncovered by that particular section. In between exposures, the teacher walked from one place to another; her course had been determined when the mask was made.
Most of the children did not have to remian motionless throughout, since they figured only the in the first exposure taken with the largest section of mask removed. But a few children appeared in later exposures, and they had to stay perfectly still. In these crucial spots, Morse placed students who were hand-picked for patience - since the complicated composition required three long minutes to make

Picture Caption: The same teacher appears six times in this multiple exposure, made with a view camera equipped with a wide-angle lens. Mounted in front of the camera on floodlight stands was a pane of glass to hold the paper masks that covered different parts of the scene for each exposure. Test showed that the best results were obtained if the glass was positioned four inches in front of the lens - equal to the focal length of the lens. To prevent ghost images - caused by reflections between the two surfaces of glass - two indentical shaped masks were used, one on the front of the pane and the other the back. The mask sections farthest from the camera had to be 1/16 inch larger to allow for bending of light by the glass


Outstanding howmany hours of testing, and prepartion went into one shot, or I guess 6, lol. I'll see if I can google the image, if not I'll scan it
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Old Aug 24, 2007, 7:08 PM   #9
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Ralph Morse: A Teacher's Tasks, 1954

sorry, poor scan
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Old Aug 25, 2007, 8:46 AM   #10
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JohnG wrote:
Quote:
To add on to what Klevin and Eric mentioned - the key to most great shots lies in understanding the subject. Every aspect of photography has it's own challenges and guiding principles. Shooting landscapes vs. architecture vs portraits vs wildlife vs sports. In many of these instances, accessory equipment is at least as important as the camera/lens (tripods, flashes, strobes, reflectors, shades, etc). But, most great shots ARE PLANNED. Very rarely do you stumble across them.

Take landscapes (common for postcards) - you have to decide what geographical composition speaks to the unique nature of the place. Then you have to visualize how the place looks in different seasons and at different times of day. Shadows are just as important as light - so where is the sun coming from at different times - how will the light play off the scenery. Then, of course, you have to be on-site and all set up with your gear waiting for that time to arrive - if it's sunrise and a hike is involved - you're schepping your gear in the dark with a petzl light on your head - maybe at 4:30 am. And, again the people that do this type of thing are watching weather reports - sometimes they want rain, sometimes they want clear skies. You also have to be cognizent of smog & haze levels. Sometimes haze is good sometimes it's not.

For location shots (think Colonial williamsburg, light houses, whatever) - again, having an idea of what makes the place unique - then deciding on composition and angle to coincide with what lighting affect you want - if there's water, do you want low tide, high tide or don't care?

There's a LOT of planning that's involved. Sports and wildlife is no different - your success depends in large part on your location - sometimes you're in the right place at the right time by accident but more often a good photographer places themselves in the right place because they understand the behavior of the animal and it's habitat or understands the sport at hand.

Anyway the list goes on. Having the RIGHT gear is important. But in many cases, RIGHT doesn't mean the most expensive. But it's experience with the subject matter and the ability to forsee the possibilities of a shoot and put yourself in that location for the affect you visualized - THAT is the key.

Or, put another way - a fool with a tool is still a fool. If I rented the gear Eric uses for birding there isn't a chance I'd get shots like he does. I don't understand the subject well enough. I wouldn't know where to go to find the birds he finds, nor position myself correctly nor have the experience to draw on to set proper exposures before the bird appears. Similarly if I gave someone else my sports shooting gear - if they're not a sports shooter they'll still get poor shots

Bottom line? Any DSLR on the market is capable of taking postcard quality shots. The key is in the experience and skill of the shooter who selects the appropriate tools for the job and plans and excutes the shoot well.


You can't beat the advice you recieve on this site. Well said JohnG
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