How Many Megapixels is Enough?

As the camera companies continue to churn out cameras at an alarming rate (considering their business seems to be decreasing dramatically) it appears as if the “megapixel wars” have begun anew. What seemed to be an end to the battle as everyone settled into the 24 (ish) megapixel area, has turned out to be nothing more than a temporary cease-fire.

Megapixel count is nothing more than a marketing ploy (for the most part) by the camera companies to entice you into buying the latest model because it’s “just that much better”.

They, and the gear shills on YouTube would have you believe that while two years ago 24 megapixels was fantastic, now it’s horrible. You NEED whatever the new number is.

Let’s look at some of the newer (ish) cameras for a minute:

Nikon Z7 – 45.7 MP

Canon EOS R – 30.3 MP

Canon EOS R5 – 45 MP

On the other hand:

Nikon Z6 – 24.5 MP

Canon EOS R6 – 20.1 MP (!) Not sure about this one.

Sony A&III & A9 – 24.9 MP

So, now we are all over the map with megapixel counts with the manufacturers having you believe that a premium camera has to have a higher megapixel count, it just has to, and if you are not using it, your photography will suffer. Unfortunately, too many people fall into this trap.

Resolution, in the form of megapixels, costs money. As businesses the camera companies want money. The best way to get it is to introduce a new product with MORE POWER! Resulting in folks who haven’t entirely thought this through shouting “take my money!” just to have the latest and greatest.

There are reasons to buy megapixels, but there are more reasons not to. For instance most of the newer cameras are being marketed as pseudo flagship models and carry a premium price of at least $3k USD or more, and then you are buying into an entirely new lens mount, and most are only offering premium lenses so far. That’s a lot of money. Then there is computer power. It takes a lot of processing power to work with a 45MP image. So you can probably plan on spending a few thousand more on a new, upgraded, computer capable of efficiently handling large files.

Of course there are reasons to buy megapixels. If you are a wildlife or action sports photographer, you can crop in to a long shot without loosing resolution – cropping is the primary reason to have a natively high MP count, even for commercial work. I sure hope you are doing paid work though, as you are about to drop around $10k USD for a camera with a couple of lenses and a new computer.

Don’t talk about ginormous enlargements. Those have been made billboard size forever with low resolution and work just fine because they are meant to be viewed from a long distance. We could talk about print quality, but very few people print their work nowadays so that argument really doesn’t hold up. Besides, you can get great images and prints from fairly low megapixels as we’ll see shortly. Most people post their images online at low resolution. The fact is though, you can get a really good 8”x10” print from a 3 MP camera.

There was a point around 2008-2009 that National Geographic magazine, which you have to admit in known for superb photography, stated the the minimum resolution for publishing digital images was 8 MP, and now, they don’t even have a statement regarding megapixels in their guidelines.

Having said that, it’s really a question of how many megapixels you want, not how many you need, and that’s just a matter of preference.

Now lets look at some images. We’ll start at the low end.

Taken with a FujiFilm Finepix S3000 at 3.3 MP circa 2008

Salton Sea CA 2009 – Fuji Finepix Copyright 2020 used with permission

Taken with a Nikon Coolpix L11 at 6 MP circa 2008

Grand Canyon 2007 Nikon Coolpix L11 Copyright 2020 Jim Rush

Taken with an Olympus eVolt 500 at 8 MP circa 2009

Olympus eVolt 500 Circa 2009 Copyright 2020 Jim Rush

Any of those photos are highly useable both on the web and as prints up to 8″x10″. Admittedly they may even work for larger prints, but I’ve never tried. Though I am tempted to try an A3 print with the 8MP image just for fun.

Moving forward about 10 years:

Taken with a Canon EOS 50D at 15MP circa 2018

Canon 50D, EFs 18-135 copyright Jim Rush 2020

Taken with a Sony A7II in 2019

Sony A7II FE 50mm f/1.8 Copyright Jim Rush 2020

I don’t  have any photos with higher resolution but the internet has plenty if you want to compare. Obviously there is a notable difference between 3 and 24 MP, but not so much between 3 and 8 MP, or between 15 and 24 MP. Even at 3 MP details are still sharp. The question is, is this an attribute of MPs or advances in sensor technology? Would the 6 MP images be similarly sharp as the 24 MP image with current sensor technology?

As you can see, for website and social media use, I am certain that anything 3 MP or greater is going to work just fine. Heck, even Adobe Stock sets their minimum at 4 MP for commercial use images. That should be all the information you need. 

Now, honestly, there are no new cameras for sale that offer 3MP. Most everything is pretty much 20MP or greater. At 20+ MP you are going to be in good shape for most anything you want to do. So choose your gear accordingly and don’t succumb to the advertising.

As a last point of irony, two of the most praised and popular digital cameras from the past, right now, are the Nikon D700 and the Canon EOS 5D. Both 12 MP cameras and both highly regarded by the so-called experts, who have stated all over the internet that they are even good for professional use. Thus the argument for lower megapixel and used cameras grows even stronger.

Remember, I am only discussing resolution via megapixels in this post, not features and benefits of newer cameras or really even sensor technology. The point is, make your decisions accordingly and that “more is better” when it comes to megapixels is just not true, so don’t fall into the trap.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Stay safe and see the world you own way.

Thanks for reading.

A Review of the Sony FE 50mm f/1.8

The “nifty fifty” is a lens that every photographer should have in their kit. What a “nifty fifty” is, is a 50mm lens that usually has a maximum aperture of f1.8-f/2.0. This spec lens used to come with just about every new camera purchase as a kit. Over the years it has developed sort of a reputation as being sub-standard. In most cases, nothing could be further form the truth.

Sure  across the board there are other more expensive options in every camera manufacturers lens catalog. In the Sony eco-system there are of course the Zeiss 50mm f1.4 and the Zeiss 55mm f/1.8. By all accounts better lenses, only marginally though, and both at five to eight times the price. Of course there are various 50mm options from third party manufacturers, most notably Sigma. Again at a much higher price point.

So lets look at Sony’s “nifty fifty” – the SEL5018F according to Sony’s catalog:

50mm focal length

Full frame compatibility

6 elements in 5 groups

7 rounded aperture blades

49mm filter thread

47 degree angle of view

Weighs 6.5 ounces or 186 grams

All in all pretty standard. Note this lens does not have built in image stabilization, or Optical Steady Shot in Sony terminology, because most of Sony’s full frame cameras have in body stabilization (IBIS).

This is not a critical scientific review so I will dispense with MTF charts and the like.

In my experience, the lens offers an acceptable degree of sharpness and good image quality. However it is somewhat subject to flare, so use a lens hood or your hand if needed to shade the front element.

There is, in high contrast situations, especially against a light background, a decent amount of chromatic aberration mostly in the form of purple fringing.

Also the focus motor is a little loud so this would not be an ideal lens for video as you would probably pick up extraneous noise during focusing. The lens does not have an external Auto/Manual focus switch either.

How does this lens compare to offerings from other manufacturers? My only basis of experience is with the Canon 50mm 1.8 STM which I used to shoot on my canon DSLRs then adapted to my Sonys before getting the Sony version. I found the Canon to be sharper and more contrasty, while having a better overall image quality, and for half of the price. However adapted lenses never work as well as native mount lenses in my experience and the Sony version is not that far behind the Canon in the mentioned areas, and Canon has had much more time to develop their lens.

So, is it worth it? Absolutely. If you favor the 50mm focal length and want a fast aperture this is a great way to go. If you are an APSC shooter, it is a decent focal length for portraits, though you might be better served by Sony’s APS-C version that does have built in stabilization and slightly better IQ – though at a higher price point.

Let’s look at some images.

So, is it worth it? Absolutely.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Stay safe and see the world your own way.

Thanks for reading.


RAW vs JPEG is an argument that has been debated pretty much since shortly after the advent of digital post processing software that allowed access to the RAW image data. So, once again, for fun, which is the better option?

I think JPEG can be, ultimately, the better format though with one or two small qualifications.

JPEG or .JPG files get most of their reputation as inadequate and inferior because they are considered by most self appointed experts to be a beginner’s format that no serious photographer would use, for no particular reason other than with this file type, you are letting the camera and its processor make basic editing decisions and the output is a highly compressed file with much of the original digital information absent. On the other hand you are also guaranteeing yourself a useable image at minimum. Truthfully, most beginning photographers actually do start shooting JPEG because it’s safe, also it is the default file format for most digital cameras in the full auto modes. This doesn’t make it a just beginner’s format, or any less usable in the final analysis. Many pro photographers use JPEGs and are doing so more and more.

The next evolution for the beginning photographer is that they start watching videos online and maybe, reading various posts and articles online wherein they discover RAW files and their supposed superiority. This a a pretty standard progression for a digital photographer. they really don’t understand fully what RAW files are and what to do with them yet.

The standard line of advice goes like this; if you are a serious photographer, you should be shooting RAW exclusively. If not, then, at least setting your camera to save RAW plus JPEG so that you have the RAW files in the future, for use when you become more experienced at editing. A bizarre thought process. Though at first it does seem sensible, but, if you think about it, It basically says – “start out shooting junk, then when you’re better, you can shoot big boy pictures” – this argument can break down rather quickly if challenged. Unfortunately the RAW file side usually wins just by force of numbers. Even though the winning argument is a bit of a fallacy as we will see in a bit.

The basic premise is that with film, the photographer has much latitude when printing the negative in a darkroom. RAW files give the digital photographer this same (or even greater) latitude. Which when approached correctly can give a degree of refinement to the final image.

What this doesn’t discuss is that most photographers in the film only era didn’t develop or print in the darkroom. They either didn’t like the environment, or the process. Darkroom work is a separate skillset from photography and a good darkroom tech was highly valued. Many photographers left their film at the lab and then went back to shooting. Obviously there were some photographers that developed and printed their own work but they were fewer than you might think. On the other hand there were  well financed hobbyists that did build and use home darkrooms. Does that mean RAW files are better suited to hobbyists then? Possibly but probably not.

In camera JPEG. Sony A7II , FE 85mm f/1.8. ISO !00, f/1.8 @ 1/1600. Slightly cropped for composition in Adobe Lightroom

When I, personally, first started shooting seriously with digital around 2007, there really wasn’t a lot of information on RAW editors to speak of software that would actually open the file was scarce and expensive. So, like many people, I was a JPEG shooter and happy. I was editing some in Photoshop Elements and overall, was pleased with the results. I still have two black and white prints matted, framed, and hanging in our living room from that time. Then I was away from photography for a while, and when I went back to it in 2013 I began to hear more and more about RAW files and the amazing latitude (especially regarding highlight and shadow recovery) you had when processing the image.

So, after a bit, I started shooting RAW and processing in Lightroom just like every other serious photographer, or so I thought. I have to admit that in the beginning it was interesting to spend time at the computer editing RAW files. The control I had over the image was pretty amazing. Of course I followed a pretty standard path and found that many (if not most), of my images were over processed (I’m being kind to myself here….) bringing  me back to the old advise that just because you can do something doesn’t me you should, and went back to a much more minimalist style of editing. Still using RAW files.

There was, however, a nagging thought in the back of my mind though, and it went something like this – I used to shoot and edit JPEGs .. mostly minor adjustments to exposure, contrast, and maybe a little highlight and shadow adjustment. A lot of what you might call minor “tweaking”. Why am I spending all of this time and computer power to end at the same result? Why am I not shooting JPEG? The answer of course was because I was too “serious” a photographer to shoot JPEG, of course. Serious images relied on editing skill. Wait… what?

Out of camera JPEG. Sony A7II, FE 16-35mm f/4 @35mm. ISO 100, f/8 @ 1/250.

It’s been said that if you shoot RAW, you are an editor and if you shoot JPEG, you are a photographer. I do believe that there is much truth in this. I prefer to be a photographer with some editing skills rather than the other way around I never was a darkroom tech. Why am I an editor now?

Then I started to think about it and, realized a few simple truths. First there isn’t any such a thing as a true raw data file. If there were, all you would see was a series of 1s and 0s on your screen, no image at all. The camera’s onboard processor has already interpreted those ones and zeros to form an image file. So when you open a RAW file in Adobe Lightroom, Camera Raw or some other program, it is already a processed image – just with more information and lacking the file compression that you get with a JPEG. Some cameras even offer a compressed RAW file option (hmm…..). So if we think we are dealing with true unmolested original data, we’re just kidding ourselves. Of course this is also where the argument about which camera’s so-called color science is superior. 

Next I began to think that if you use JPEG and there is less information to manipulate, then you had better get it right in camera. Then came the epiphany –  this is exactly the same as color transparency (slide) film used to be. If you shot slide film you had better get everything correct in camera because there was no practical printing or darkroom process by which you could correct things like you could with negative film. Yes in the pre-digital days, the ability to successfully shoot transparency film was the mark of a true pro. Yet now we think of JPEGs (which can easily be compared to slides) as being amateurish. That is a serious flaw in the thought process.

Admittedly, in the early days of digital photography, JPEGs weren’t that good and photographers really wanted to get at the RAW data so they could process their own JPEGs. I would submit that now, JPEGs are exponentially better than ever and there is no practical reason to shoot RAW except in rare cases where you may want to shoot and save both to give yourself a safety margin for a specific image in case the JPEG shot fails. It happens.

Even Reuters (a kind of well known news agency) only accepts JPEGs from their staff photographers and stringers as part of an ethical position statement. By extension, this means that JPEGs are of a high enough quality that one or the world’s premier photo news services recognizes the quality of current JPEG output.

So, then, should we be shooting JPEG? Well it is my belief that, after shooting RAW for many years, JPEG is, day to day, the better format, for most photographers, for most uses.

There are caveats though. Most cameras now come with picture profiles (or something similar – it’s all in the name) that are not the same as the automatic “scene modes” you find on most cameras. Most of these profiles are adjustable to an extent, especially regarding vibrancy, contrast, and sharpness. You will have to experiment a little to find the sweet spot with these settings that gets you the result you want.

I would rather be shooting photos, or writing about photography than sitting in front of my computer or iPad editing RAW files when, in the end, my edits are about the same as the camera’s JPEGs, as compared by shooting JPEG an RAW at the same time.

So, in the end, for probably 80% of photographers 99% of the time, JPEG is the better solution.

Wait, what?

Ok so, maybe I was a bit overzealous at first. There are some specific types of photography where Raw files might be the better choice. For instance Landscape photography where you might use focus stacking or may be using HDR techniques. Formal portraits where you are going to do extensive editing to improve skin and adjust lighting. Wedding photography because you want the bride to look her best. Lastly high end real estate photography, architecture, or interior design because you are going to be blending several images in Photoshop. These are all examples of when you, as an editor, should have as much image data as possible available.

Essentially if Photoshop is your primary editing tool because of its power to change reality you probably would be better off shooting RAW. If you use Lightroom from start to finish you are in the 80% and that makes you a photographer.

If you are so inclined let me know what you think in the comments.

-stay safe, see the world your own way, and thanks for reading.

Single Image Sunday

December 26, 2017. Canon 50D/EF 50mm f/1.8 – f/8,1/50.

Sometimes photographs take on meaning after the fact.

This particular image was taken in December of 2017.

It was a semi-planned image in that I drove past the location a couple of times every week. 

I actually visualized the image as being done in the fog, but after being patient for a couple of months, we never had a foggy morning. So I ended up settling for a rainy day.

My focus was of course the lines and arcs of the bridge. I probably took a total of 30 or so exposures that day trying to get it just right. In my mind, I didn’t. So during post when I selected this image as the best, I let it go at that.

Sometime later when I was looking at the image again, was when I finally, really noticed the autumnal tree at the opposite end of the bridge.

That’s when the image took on a new life for me and became much more interesting.

They say every image should tell a story. I don’t know of that’s actually true, but I think this photo does. It’s the story of change, of hope, and of renewal. The changing of the seasons and the promise of better things.

Or maybe it’s just a tree and a footbridge.

Feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you think.

Stay safe and see the world your own way.

Thanks for reading.

FujiFilm – Exceptional Customer Service

Film is coming back! No, not really. It’s just still here despite the expectations of the camera industry, and, I dare say, even from the film manufacturers. 

Every once in a while I have the urge to shoot film. I really don’t go very far with it but I at least have a couple of film cameras and in the last several years, I have completed exactly one roll that was developed. Meh. Let’s just say it’s a low key level of commitment.

So, a while back (a year or two? Maybe?) I bought an Olympus OMG 35mm SLR. If nothing else, just to have as it was a camera model that I owned once in the early 1990s or so. I bought it then only because I got a good deal on it used with accessories. It was basically a consumer SLR but I kind of liked it and it was a fun camera to shoot, especially with the auto-winder attached. So I probably bought my current one simply for nostalgia’s sake.

It had some issues like needing the light seals replaced right off the bat. Which I did. There was a piece of – something – in the viewfinder and I figured out how to remove the focusing screen, pull out the debris and get it back together. The lens, a 50mm f/1.8 (what else?) Zuiko had some light hazing so I went after it too. I got the lens clean and then couldn’t figure out why the aperture was stuck when I reassembled it. Warning! – watch for small springs and detent balls when you take something apart. So after buying another copy online (see what happened there?) I loaded a roll of Fuji 400 that I bought at Walmart. Ok I get it. This might not be a film fanatics first choice and there are probably better emulsions out there but this stuff was, available locally, and cheap. Thank you. Besides, it was just a test roll to check if the new light seals did their job and if the meter is accurate.

I think it took me about a month or three to shoot all 36 frames. Then, of course, I dropped it back at Walmart for processing. Because it’s cheap. Again I am not looking for anything other than competent processing as a camera test. So I am sure it is good enough for my purposes. I was surprised to find out something though, I knew Walmart didn’t do their own processing anymore and sent it to an outside vendor. I just assumed they sent it to some commercial lab somewhere, likely the low bidder. Fine I am just looking for “good enough” right now. As it turns out they actually send it to FujiFilm for processing. Wow.

I know this because the worker at Walmart (once they located someone who actually knew they did film processing) used the wrong envelope. Fortunately the envelope had my phone number on it. The difference is, that the envelope that was used didn’t have any information about where to send the film back to once it was processed.

Then, A few days later, surprisingly, I got a phone call from a very nice and polite customer service rep called Tasha at FujiFilm wanting to know where I dropped it off so she could send it to processing and send it back to the correct location. First, this was a little bit of the “extra mile” in customer service. If they had not done anything the roll would have been written off as “lost” I’m sure, and I wouldn’t have really had any recourse except maybe spending hours on the phone stuck in automated call loop hell. Then the topper – she gave me the phone number and her personal extension to call back if I hadn’t gotten my film back in about a week. Then actually thanked me for answering my phone!

So – thank you to FujiFilm, and Tasha for the great experience! Just when you think the world has gone completely sideways, somebody restores a little bit of your faith.

Stay safe, see the world your own way.

Thanks for reading.

The Audacity of Printing Your Work

Recently I posted about the reasons, in my opinion, to print your work. As I was stumbling around the internet as I sometimes do I was startled by two things. First, over at the Phoblographer, I was rather stunned in reading a post regarding prints that, if you hang your own prints, It can be consider “elitist”. Well then? That’s interesting. 

Over on YouTube, one of my favorite photo channels is James Popsys. I recently came across an older posting of his on pricing prints for sale. In the video he hangs one of his own prints and sort of keeps looking over his shoulder as if it is watching him. The comments section has considerable conversation on how it’s wrong to hang your own work and, at the least it’s hard to live with because you keep seeing the so-called imperfections in the print or the image. I guess this is a coded way of saying that you think your photography is foolish. 

So, maybe I shouldn’t be exhibiting my own work? Nah … It’s in my home and I rather like it or I wouldn’t have hung it in the first place. By the way, my wife is a photographer too and some of her work is hanging as well. It’s sort of a friendly competition thing.

I suppose perhaps as a conciliatory gesture, I should hang other photographers work? I’ll have to look into that.

On another note, I don’t have a single photo book of my work, I have plenty of other people’s work in books, just not my own. It would seem to me to be more “elitist” to have a copy of your photo book than to hang one of your prints in the living room – as an example.

Perhaps, in the future I can refer to my prints as “Artists Proofs” and that will explain them better than … I just like them. Really, most of my prints live in archival boxes for preservation, which I suppose is the most elitist behavior of all – preserving them for posterity. Ted Forbes (a pretty respected YouTuber/Photographer) made a video a few years ago titled No One Cares About Your Photography. Maybe that’s true.

Even if it is true. There are people out there who will remember me for my photography. You don’t know them and I don’t expect you to. But perhaps one day one of them will look at a print of mine and say to the other “remember this one? Nana and PopPop had that on the wall in their living room”. I don’t think that is elitist at all, and it’s good enough for me.

let me know in the comments what you think.

Superfluous image of mine.

Stay safe, see the world your own way.

Thanks for reading.

Olympus – Camera Division Sale Update

Well it’s happening. The sale of Olympus’ camera business is moving forward, on schedule, as of this morning. If you remember, back in June 2020, Olympus signed a “memorandum of understanding” with Japan Industrial partners (JIP) to sell their camera division to JIP, with the finalization expected to come in September.

It’s here. What was referred to as the “New Company” in the June memorandum is now officially OM Digital Solutions Corporation. As of now the new company owns the entirety of Olympus’ imaging business. In January 2021 Olympus will transfer 95% of the stock, leaving them 5% ownership. Seemingly the very same structure that JIP made with Sony for their VAIO computers. Presumably 5% retention will allow JIP to use some of the trademarked names so the cameras can still be Olympus branded.

Accordingly there have been statements that customer service and repair will continue uninterrupted and JIP will continue R&D including fulfilling the current Olympus lens roadmap.

So far, all good news for Olympus users and MFT in general as recently Panasonic reaffirmed it’s commitment to Micro 4/3  with it’s Lumix branding despite its recent entry into the full frame space with the S series of cameras and “L Mount Alliance” with Leica and Sigma.

JIP will continue production in the Viet Nam facility also, seemingly without interruption.

The only thing to wonder about at, this point, is, what will be the future availability of Olympus cameras globally? If they follow the Sony VAIO model, they will concentrate on Asia, and to a lesser extent South America. Asia is definitely Olympus’ strongest market so, I see a real possibility of this happening, especially with the current need in the west to criticize MFT due to the sensor size, and the shrinking camera market and industry issues in general.

It’s not over yet, but if you are an Olympus shooter you can probably breath a temporary sigh of relief. As of right now, this venerable brand has a chance of continuing. At least in the short term.

Stay safe and see the world your own way.

Thanks for reading.

The Politicization of Photography Content on the Internet

The politicization of everything has become a thing. Especially in the United States. In our ever divisive and polarized society we have become mavens of controversy. This transcends the current President, and, in fact, pre-dates the current administration by decades. Only recently, though has it taken on such fervor as we see in present times.

Photography can and should be used as a social tool. In most cases an activist photographer can espouse his (or, indeed, her) view through the medium alone. Images can be confrontational and should be controversial. However if you are a photographer, a title for which the definition is becoming increasingly flexible of late, that is hosting a platform of some sort for public consumption, please stop intermingling your political views with your photography content. In my day-to-day life, I am confronted with enough opinion and news (often editorial opinion in disguise – for either side) to satisfy my need for updates on current events in the broad spectrum. Photography is, for me, an avocation and sometimes vocation. I pursue it and study it  mainly for pleasure and at times, for profit. I do not need to become privy to your particular political doctrine. On that note, let me assure you that this is not directed to any one set of political beliefs. I have unsubscribed from several YouTube channels on both sides of the spectrum, for being idiots.

Let me clarify a few things. Yes, this is the USA and we do have the strength of the First Amendment  regarding free speech and expression. You, indeed, may use your YouTube channel for whatever type of content you wish, provided it meets YouTube’s standards. However, I fully understand that I have a thing called freedom of choice. I have, and reserve, the right to not view your channel if I do not like the content. So If you’re thinking “don’t like it, don’t watch it” I already am aware of, and, indeed, have taken that step.

My issue is with content creators or “influencers” in a specific genre, in this case photography, switching gears to post blatantly political content sometimes with misleading headlines or titles. In this case, I am greatly disappointed and, if it is repeated enough, find the need to unsubscribe from a channel that offers otherwise lucid, intelligent, and entertaining content.

If you feel that, as a content creator, you have some sort of responsibility to voice your political (or religious for that matter) views, then please establish a second platform for that purpose.

You see, again, I have a day job. In the course of my day I am exposed to all sorts of people and, often, by human nature, various discussions regarding current events and politics. Between this and just dealing with “normal” job stress, I look forward to my own time and being able to consume photography, or other content as a method of relaxation. I do not want to be preached to, opined at, or politically educated. Especially when I am sucked into it by a deliberate bait and switch maneuver. Of course I don’t think that this applies just to photography channels. It applies to content in general. I know where to look if I want to find controversial and divisive content, and I can find the educational content of my choice, without any help thank you. I am pretty sure, based on some of the comments I’ve read, that I am not the only one that feels this way. I guess the creators can’t be blamed because YouTube, and social media in general, is really, at its core, just a popularity contest where – the one with the most clicks wins.

Again photography can, and should be confrontational and controversial. Photographers should not.

So I guess I would have to say that if you have a YouTube channel, Or other social media platform, that is not socially or politically oriented you need to reflect on who your audience is and what they expect. Also examine what your own core competency is and if your are engaging in the above behaviors, why you think you are so special that the rest of us might be interested in your opinion. Especially since we have chosen to invite you into our homes and lives, even if briefly. We all know enough, I would hope, not to discuss politics or religion as a guest in someone’s home.

Now, of course, let me ad some political content here.

Stay safe and see the world your own way.

Thanks for reading.

No, The 24-70mm is Not the Ideal Lens

Or, What is wrong with the 24-70mm lens?

The 24-70mm lens, especially an f/2.8 version is considered by some experts to be the most important lens in every photographer’s kit. It is also considered to be the middle lens in the so-called “Holy Trinity” of lenses, which is usually comprised of  a 12-24mm f/2.8 (or a 14-24mm f/2.8), a 24-70mm f/2.8, and a 70-200mm f/2.8. This, of course gives you all focal lengths from extreme wide angle to moderate telephoto in just three lenses. However the 24-70 is one of the most boring lenses out there and doesn’t offer any real advantages for most photographers. Even though most describe it as a “walk around” lens, implying that it should be your regular lens.

Everybody has their own personal taste in focal length and composition and I sort of touched on that in my last post. The camera companies however have, over time, settled on the 24-70 as being sort of standard, or possibly a 28-70 (18-50ish in APS-C). I think this is because it gives the new camera owner a chance to experiment with a variety of focal lengths.

However Most of the focal lengths in the 24-70, I rarely use. I tend to stick toward the wider end or the 40-60mm neighborhood. I think most photographers are the same to some extent. Most of what I have read online, from the photographers that use the Trinity lenses, most seem to spend the majority of their time with the 12(14)-24mm and 70-200.

My own, most often used, kit  (Sony) consists of 16-35 f/4 50mm f/1.8, and 70-200 f/4. Like a lot of people I stay at the wide end most of the time with the 16-35mm. Yes, for me, f/4 is fine for the type of shooting that I do, f/2.8 is not necessary enough to justify the added expense.

Now I do have the 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens that came with my Sony A7II, and did use it quite a bit, mainly because when I purchased the camera, the lens came with it and it (at the time) was the only full frame E-mount lens I had.

As I began to examine the EXIF data for some of those photos, I seemed to stay in either the 40-60 mm range or below 35mm.

Looking at the Sony lens library the only 24-70mm native offerings are the Zeiss f/4 and the G Master f/2.8. The Zeiss currently retails new for $799.00 USD and the G Master is $2198.00 USD. Talk About extremes. Of course as the Sony brand has matured, there are other, more budget friendly offerings from the aftermarket, most notably Sigma and Tamron. The Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 is $1298.00 USD and gives you wider focal lengths while still getting you into the commonly used 24mm and 35mm fields of view. For me, this lens hits the “sweet spot” in price, IQ, and focal range, and still stays in the native eco-system.

If I need a little bit longer, I can go to the “Nifty Fifty”. For portrait and some landscapes, I will break out the 85mm f/1.8, but I really don’t use it for that much and tend to view it (in my mind) as a strictly portrait lens. If I really need 70mm (or longer), I have the 70-200 f/4 that will cover it. Really, ultimately, I could leave the 50mm at home and be just fine with the 16-35mm and 70-200mm for 80%-90% of my photography. Remember, even if the lens zooms, you can still “zoom with your feet” to get the right composition.

Lets look at some images:

Sony A7II, 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 41mm, f/6, 1/500,ISO 100
Sony A7II, 50mm f/1.8, f/7.1, 1/200, ISO 100
Sony A7II, 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6, @ 62mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO 250
Sony A7II, 28-70 f/3.5-5.6 @ 28mm, F3.6, 1/60, ISO. 200
Sony A7II, 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 @31mm, f/4, 1/60, ISO 125

As you can see from the information, three of these could have been shot with the 50mm f1.8 and the remaining two, of course with the 16-35mm. Of course some will say that I could have captured all of them with a 24-70, and that is true but I couldn’t do this;

Sony A7II, Sony/Zeiss 16-35mm f/4, @ 16mm, f/4, 1/60, ISO 5000

So in the end, I and many others do not find the 24-70mm to be a necessity and the funds are better spent elsewhere.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Stay safe and see the world your own way.

Thanks for reading.

From Telephoto to Wide Angle – an Evolution

Telephoto or Wide Angle. Which is Best?

When I first started this whole photography journey back in the 1980s just about every camera came with some version of a 50mm lens. What we now call a “Nifty Fifty” usually F/2 or maybe f/1.8 and sometimes even f/2.8 depending on the brand. Then, a 50mm was considered to be a “standard” lens because it, according to the experts, nearly replicates human vision, at least in terms of perspective and compression, and 50mm somewhat approximates the diagonal measurement of a single frame of 35mm film.

Of course like anything else, especially in photography, some of this is subject to debate. Mainly is the 35mm closer to human vision than the 50mm? And of course Pentax mixing it all up with a 43mm that they claim is the ideal.

Now, of course, the standard is to offer a short zoom. Something in the range of 28-70mm or a 35-80mm (18-55mm or 16-50mm ish for APS-C cameras since we are in the digital era)

All of that said, it remains that most cameras then were sold with a 50mm and though it has been a popular lens over time, I never liked the framing though I did warm to it eventually. My goal with almost every camera I’ve ever owned was to get some sort of a telephoto. Preferably a zoom. I quickly found that a tele would change the field of view and compression, allow me to take photos from a distance, and get in closer to things I couldn’t with a 50mm. I need to confess, in the early days it also made you look more “Pro”.

My first long lens was a third party 135mm f/2.0 prime in K-mount for my venerable Pentax K1000. It did open up a lot of creative possibilities for me, so I was hooked on the idea of teles. Regrettably I didn’t save any images from those days.

Fast forward a few years and I had begun to move into the, then, relatively new Canon EOS system, primarily for the autofocus. My first long lens in that system was, again a third party lens, a Quantaray 70-210mm f/4-5.6. A pretty standard consumer tele zoom in those days. For this unfamiliar with the brand, it was the Ritz Camera house brand made by some other manufacturer (possibly Sigma) and rebranded for Ritz. Easy to come by because there was a Ritz Camera in about every mall ever. Even at the consumer level I remember this lens was a little pricey, least for me. Since the Rebel camera I had at the time came with a 35-80mm kit lens, the addition of 70-210mm gave me quite a range of focal lengths. Eventually I moved up to a better camera and better lenses in the EOS system, where I stayed until just a few years ago when I switched to Sony (as many have). For the most part though, the long zoom was always a staple in my camera bag.

1990 Canon EOS Rebel w/Quantaray 70-210 f/4-5.6

As the years past I became more and more interested in wider angle lenses first going to a 28mm prime then the various wider zooms. Right now my most used lens is a Sony Zeiss 16-35mm f/4 which seems to cover most of my photography. I will confess I still own a long tele zoom – a Sony 70-200mm f/4 – and, yes, I own a “nifty Fifty.

2020 Sony A7II w/Sony-Zeiss 16-35mm f/4

I seem to favor the perspective at the wider end, but you do have to be careful about what is included in the shot as anything wider than 28mm potentially can add a lot of distracting elements to your photos.

All in all, I think that the switch to a wider angel comes from a maturing of my composition process. Zooming in to one or two elements of a composition can be a great technique to be sure. However sometimes it pays huge dividends to take a wider approach and include more in the image, giving more context to the photo.

Leave a comment and let me know your shooting preference. Wide angle or telephoto?

Stay safe and see the world your own way.

Thanks for reading