Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Technology is great but is it necessarily a good thing?

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Hi Pentaxian friends.

Technology is great but is it necessarily a good thing?

During the past two to three years, I have acquired quite a collection of new Pentax lenses. From the DA 10-17mm to the DA* 300mm and almost every lenses in between. I also started collecting the Limited lenses. I have enough lenses for just about all possible situations . Yet, I found that my photography enthusiasm has fallen several notches. Could it be because I have too many choices? Honestly...I believe so.

Every time I go on a shooting trek, I take all the lenses I can humanly carry and still complain to myself about which lenses I should have brought instead. I believe that having so many lenses and choices does not help my photography...instead it complicates it.

So, for a while anyway, I decided to put all of my zoom and telephoto lenses away. I will limit myself to carry a maximum of three lenses with me. I will carry a wide angle, a normal lens and a small telephoto. Instead of taking a powerful telephoto for photographing distant subjects, I will walk or drive closer. Who knows what I might see while physically getting closer. I know, you can't do that for sport photography without being trampled by players, but I personally don't do sport photography.

Will I use Pentax best DA* prime lenses or the Pentax DA limiteds? Not necessarily. I own dozens of older Pentax "A" manual focus lenses that are still superb in quality. Since I'm sort of going back to the basics, I won't be using the autofocus. The "A" lenses are manual focus, but the K-7 and other Pentax DSLRs will acknowledge when AF is achieved with a beep and the green hexagon illuminated in the viewfinder. A small red square will also briefly appear to show where the AF point is located, on most Pentax DSLRs. My eyes also play an important role. What I see is what I want to get. Using AF is sometime misleading the DSLR into focusing on another spot in your scene. Manually focusing gives you a better chance to focus exactly on the desired part of the scene. I like to use the focus point in the center, and recompose if necessary. It's going to be a slower operation, but maybe that's what we all need to do...slow down and compose. Will IQ suffer? I don't think so.

Pro lenses do last longer, can take more of a beating and usually are f/2.8 and faster. However, low cost or older lenses take good pictures as well. They may not endure the handling demanded by Professional Photographers, but they render great images quality as well. The usable ISO of today's DSLRs is so much better than what was available with film cameras. The fast lenses are not as crucial as they were once.

All Pentax DSLRs use APS-C sized sensors. When Full Frame lenses are used, the image circle is much bigger than what's needed for the smaller APS-C sensor. Since glass effectiveness or accuracy tends to be less on the outer edges of any given lens, only the middle portion of Full Frame lenses hits the sensor, making every shots within the sweet spot of the lens used. Therefore, better IQ is achieved when using a Full Frame format lens on an APS-C sensor, although it is cropped. Who cares about the cropping, what you see in the viewfinder is what you get afterall. When post processed with Photoshop, 90% of image quality can be fixed, if needed. This is today's "darkroom" and I see nothing wrong in fixing image quality with Photoshop or other software.

Today's DSLRs are great technical achievements, but too much automation can hinder one's creativity. I you use a fully "Auto-Everything " DSLR, where does the hobby and craft of photography goes? What happens to the careful analysis of a scene and the meticulous composition?

I think this approach will get me back to the groove and my pictures will improve. It's easy to take the path of least resistance, but the outcome is usually proportional.

Thank you for reading,

Yvon Bourque
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