Thursday was a bad day for me. It kicked off with a acute dose of man flu and in review, am astounded I managed to get through at all. The day didn’t perk-up much as I then spent what felt like an endless time driving around Northampton General Hospital hopelessly trying to park so that my son could show up at his hearing test appointment on time. With these and many more mild irritants behind me I was at least looking forward to one facet of my day, attending my local universities photography course open day, more specifically, I’d been guaranteed a hands on demo by Hasselblad’s area sales team of their latest saliva inducing digital camera range, the H4D series.
And what a seriously wonderful piece of kit this camera is, like all cameras brandishing the Hasselblad brand previous, it simply oozes quality. The Rolls Royce of cameras, the measure that all other manufacturers must follow etc etc etc…but I’ve no wish to write a review. The issue that has continuously annoyed me for some years now (and judging by the photographers I met at the event I’m not alone) is this apparent mega pixel race we all seem to unwittingly be held in. This insane and down right deceptive obsession with the pixel count as a barometer of the grade of a camera and thus the photographer.
This isn’t as an assault on any one particular camera producer, at least Hasselblad aim their cameras at high end professionals whom would at least once in a while utilize all those 60 megapixels on a billboard poster or something as equally sizable, all camera manufacturers are at it! When did you last shoot a 48 or 96 sheet poster? When did you last do a print bigger than say A4? In fact when did you last do a print at all?
I’e been lucky enough to shoot for clients that have required billboard posters and exhibited in galleries with huge prints all whilst shooting under the acute gaze of top London art directors. After taking a break from the cut throat world of advertising but still frequently shooting commercially where the first-class quality is assumed, I’m scarcely ever asked to shoot a commission that will be printed anything bigger than an A4 spread in a brochure. In fact I took a quick look at my previous years commercial jobs and can derive that a good 75% of this work will not even go to print at all and will spend its days destined to be seen on your standard desk top computer screen at a measly 72dpi.
After shooting on just about every type and size of camera format over the years from a standard 35mm negative to a magnificent 10×8 transparency I now opt to shoot on a puny 12 mega pixel DSLR, unless of course when the job requires a specifically larger file size. Guess what? I’ve never had any problems or concerns about the image quality! What I have to do is use all my expertise and understanding acquired from years of photographic training and work experience combined with the unique ‘eye’ I’ve developed as a result, to capture files that are of a commercially engaging quality. The message I’m looking to hammer home is that these images would be no better
I frequently peruse through my trade periodicals and indeed lust over owning the latest and greatest camera gadget, but I strive to withstand the temptation to upgrade purely on the notion of attaining superior picture quality. Image quality is not dictated by pixel count or more precisely file size, that is a fact. There are numerous concerns affecting the excellence of the final photograph not least the actual proficiency of the fellow squeezing the shutter. If you take a moment to actually think about previous shots that have really had an impact then I doubt very much whether many of those shots were taken using what we would now call a top spec camera, even a fairly simple modern DSLR is capable of truly quite astonishing image quality.
Digital cameras have grown to be quite amazing in the amount of bang you get for your buck and have served as a great leveller in the way that photography is no longer only a rich mans past time. Chose your camera system (don’t agonize), buy a few good books and then get out there and play with it. Try to discount those elitist camera bores you’ll find on any online blog and definitely ignore the self serving camera manufacturers cries that bigger is better, it’s not!