Monthly Archives: March 2013
Laurence Tom is one of the pastors at Philadelphia’s Chinese Christian Church and Center. Increasingly, although he might try to deny it, he’s becoming kind of a big deal by virtue of his community organizing work and by doing things like presenting at the Justice Conference. He is also a most excellent neighbor and friend.
Shooting headshots for someone that I know well gives some interesting insights into how we all see photographs. I know Laurence first and foremost as a funny, easy-going, friendly, regular guy who borrows the lawnmower, watches my kids, and plays with his kids on the sidewalk. People who are seeing his headshot might see him as an intellectual, a leader, an authority. Do we see the same person in the same photograph?
We almost have to, because it is the same person. The photograph of course represents the person’s image, but how we see that image, no matter what the photograph, comes largely from what we know of the subject, or what we are expecting from the subject. Perhaps a photograph can guide those expectations to a certain extent (which is why having a good headshot can be very important), but we can’t deny the viewer’s role in determining the meaning of an image.
I love that one….
Need headshots? Social media sessions start at $75 and fuller sessions with printable files start at $300. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A highly valued former client and a highly valued friend recently got in touch with me, asking for camera recommendations. I told them what I know, and then Nikon has to go and change the rules of the game. Dammit!
I usually break these recommendations down into three categories:
DSLRs: great technical image quality, flexibility of interchangeable lenses, big, heavy, you have to carry stuff.
Mirrorless: pretty good technical image quality, flexibility of interchangeable lenses, smaller, lighter, you have to carry stuff.
Compacts: good technical image quality, you’re stuck with the lens, small, light, fits in a pocket.
The main reason that compact cameras (and your camera phone, too) suffer in terms of image quality is the size of their sensors. To make a long story short, the bigger your pixels are, the better they are going to perform. Small pixels get noisy and don’t do color well. They are bad in low-light, and that’s when people start popping up their pop-up flashes, and that’s when pictures start looking bad and people start wanting cameras that take good pictures. So if you have a full-frame sensor, an APS-C crop sensor, and a compact sensor that all offer 16 megapixels, the larger one if going to look the best every time. And this is why full-frame cameras are much more expensive (the D600, for example, is twice the price of its crop-sensor equivalent, the D7100…and don’t get me started about medium-format digital; I’ll get myself started in a coming post).
Up until today, you had to make a choice between camera size and sensor size. But the above camera, the Nikon Coolpix A, is a compact camera with a sensor the size of a consumer-grade DSLR. This is HUGE. And I believe that it will spark a trend toward providing cameras with ever-larger sensors, meaning cameras with ever-better technical image quality. Better tonal range, better dynamic range, better low-light performance, less digital noise, better color….
This advance comes with a price. The Coolpix A is listed at $1099, which is a really steep price for a compact camera. You can land a D3200 with an 18-55, 55-200, and 35 1.8 lenses for about the same price. But you’d have to carry stuff. And I’m not wild about a fixed 28mm-equivalent lens (that is pretty wide…too bad it couldn’t have been a 40mm equivalent). But sensor real estate is pricey, which is why compacts are under $500, APS-C cameras are over $500, full frame cameras are over $2,000, and medium format cameras are over $10,000. Price be damned! This is an important advance, and one that just might help people realize that their tiny-sensored phone camera is not the device to entrust your digital imaging to.
I am now officially waiting for a hypothetical Coolpix P7200, which will have manual controls and an APS-C sensor for under $1,000. THAT will be the camera that gets this serious photographer back into the compact market.
If you are looking for a camera that is small and “takes great pictures”, this one just might be it.