Sunday, July 7, 2013

Megapixels to Spare

Over the past several months as I've been contemplating getting the new Nikon D7100 (to replace my D90), some people would ask me why?  What features, what advantages, what new capabilities would be available?

There are many reasons why I wanted the upgrade...this posting is about just one of them--megapixels!  The D90 had a 12.3 megapixel sensor, and the new D7100 has a 24.1 mexapixel sensor.  While this has a variety of advantages, the specific one that I had in mind was the ability to maintain a quality, low-noise image on those occasions when I needed or wanted to do an extreme crop.

The desire to do an extreme crop sometimes occurs when I have an average image that would otherwise be on its way to the trash can, but it does have one redeeming value, and that's that I can see a "picture within the picture".  This is a fancy way of saying that the original composure was poor, but in post processing a better composing is achievable.  Another example of when an extreme crop is desirable, is when you've zooming in on a subject to the maximum capability of your equipment, but the end result isn't as close as you would like...this is when a further crop in post processing is necessary.  And that was the case with this dragonfly picture.

I shot the image with my Tokina 100mm f/2.8 lens.  I was approximately 18 inches away from the subject.  The closest focusing distance of the lens is 12 inches so I want to give myself a little leeway to ensure I had a good lock on the dragonfly.  I had my camera set to a relatively high shutter speed for this rather stationary subject, using 1/640 second.  The camera was at an f-stop of 3.5 and ISO 220.  In addition, I was in continuous focus mode with a single focus point.  That's enough of the jargon for those who would be interested.

Once I got the image back onto my computer, I did the basic crop to get the more typical dragonfly picture one might see (which you can too on my website gallery at  I liked the image, but as I said, I wanted more of a close up.  That's when the advantage of 24.1 megapixels comes into play.  With a lesser quality image, if you crop is super tight you will have a "blurry" image because of pixilation...there won't be enough pixels to render a high-enough resolution image.  But in my case, I had pixels to spare.  You can almost think of it this way--if I cropped away half of my 24 megapixel image away, I'd have 12 megapixels left...the same amount as my old Nikon D90.  But as you can see, I was able to crop in even tighter than that and still retain a laser-sharp, low-noise (grain) image.  I've included a screen shot from Lightroom so you can see the extent of the crop.

If you have any questions or want to send me your comments, I'd always love to hear from you...


Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Fears (and most certainly The Joys) of a New Camera

There comes that time in every photographer’s life where he/she needs a new camera.  Ok, wants a new camera—fine!  But it quickly becomes a need more than a want…and soon that need turns into an outright obsession!  New features, new capabilities, new powers, new, new, new…nothing else seems to matter.  Your friends will say your old camera is just fine…ignore them.  Your family will point out how beautiful your pictures are right now and no change is needed…change the subject and suggest going out for dinner.
It’s a nearly irrational decision, quickly backed up and rationalized by you with arguments in favor making the acquisition.  You know what I mean…you’ve been there…I just got back from there—yes, a new camera has been brought into my family!!  Gigapixels, rapid fire shutter, buttons galour, menus upon menus of choices and decisions to make, thick fresh manuals to thumb through and hold like a new baby.  Yes, this is that first moment of inexplicably joy..unpacking and revealing…exposing to air for the first time…ahhh that new camera smell—does it get any better than this??

Uh oh…you start feeling that sugar rush high wearing off and the crash quickly approaching.  Now that you have all this newness, you need to learn how to use it…turn it on…and what do all these buttons do anyway!!  It should be just like your old one only better, right?  Wait a minute, that button isn’t where it’s supposed to be…and where is that menu item I used to be able to get to quickly?  And there are so many preferences and choices I had already packed into my old camera that the thought of doing it all over again just makes me want to take a nap…but I press on.  And the hardest part for any of us…working through that new manual.  It looked so beautiful at first…thick, crisp and unbent, containing a wealth of excitement.  Now it looks a bit like a college textbook…too thick, daunting, technical and dry.  But hey, that’s the price of getting a new camera, and I did pay for it voluntarily!
Well, there’s good news to report.  Book has been read, preferences have been set up, decisions have been made, picture of camera in manual matched up with description of the buttons and dials.  Ready to move forward and venture out into the world!
It's an incredibly empowering feeling to have an understanding and sense of familiarity with a new camera (or your old one for that matter).  There’s that certain confidence holding a precision engineered optical instrument in my hands and knowing that I can bring its capability to bear on just about any subject under just about any conditions.  Like a surgeon of light and color, this patient of composition is in good hands—my camera, like a scalpel, ready to cut into the visual world . 

On a slightly more serious note though, it’s critically important to have as complete a command as possible with your tools, so that their use comes naturally and as second nature.  This is important so that your attention and concentration can be on the thinking and application of creativity as you seek to capture the moment, the mood, the message of the scenes in front of you…so that others can experience what you have just experienced, and feel the same way.
(in case you were wondering...that new camera I now possess is a Nikon D7100...and I love it)

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