My new 18-300mm lens arrived today and I took a couple of shots in the garden. Quality seems pretty good. These are cropped photos but not adjusted in any other way.
I'm talking about sensor size here, and size does matter.
Every digital camera has at its heart a chip, called a sensor, that registers the light captured by the lens. The size of this sensor varies with the camera and relates back to old 35mm film days.
A full frame (FX) digital camera has a sensor measuring 36x24mm i.e. 864 sq. mm.
A cropped format (APS-C) camera has a sensor size of 23.6x15.6mm (Nikon) i.e. 368 sq mm or 22.2x14.8mm (Canon) i.e. 328 sq mm.
Comapct cameras have various sensor sizes but a reasonale quality camera size would be 8.8x6.6mm i.e. 58 sq mm.
A Fuji bridge camera sensor is typically 6.4x4.8mm i.e. 30.7 sq mm.
A quick glance above shows that a full frame sensor is over twice as large as a cropped frame sensor and that other sensors are tiny in comparison. So you should buy a full frame camera for best quality images, right? Well, yes and no. The size of the sensor must also be combined with other factors such as the number of megapixels on the sensor, angle of view of the lens used, and filters and software algorithms used to clean and condense the image.
The more megapixels you have on a sensor, the better the image in theory. However there is a balance between the number of pixels on a sensor and the spill-over of light between those pixels. Too many pixels creates distortion of the image resulting in "noise".
The lens and sensor combination are also important. A 100mm lens on a FX camera witll give a certain zixed image. If a 100mm lens is used on a smaller APS-C sensor the same image covers more of the sensor giving an equivalent magnification factor or 1.5. This means only the sharper central portion of the lens image is captured thus improving quality.
For the most part full frame (FX) camera use less megapixels than APS-C cameras to give a good image. However, current high-megapixel APS-C cameras probably produce equal quality images when viewed at lower magnification.
It is only at really high magnification for large prints that the noise from all those tiny megapixels becomes obvious.
So what does all this mean? Well with a smartphone, compact or bridge camera, you are never going to get the quality of a DSLR. The small sensor size combined with a small lens just gives average results.
Professional photographers tend to use FX cameras for several reasons other than sensor quality. They need the faster professional lenses and the rugged build quality that comes with FX cameras. Professional landscape photographers use even larger format cameras to ensure maximum print quality.
However, if you are just an ordinary keen amateur like myself then a good APS-C (Nikon DX format) camera is more than adequate for all but the most discerning photographer. And the camera is only part of the story... a good camera requires a good lens. But the best sensor is the photographer's eye for a photo.
I have mentioned some good photographic books in the TIPS page. I can also recommend two more as detailed below.
MOOSE PETERSON'S GUIDE TO WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY (Lark publications) Author Moose Peterson
This is a great book for aspiring wildlife photographers. It is written in a clear, easily understood style. Chapters cover Equipment, Making the Subject Pop, Getting Close Physically, Photographing Birds and Photographing Mammals. For those who do not know, Moose Peterson is a renowned wildlife photographer who has many photos published by National Geographic and Audubon. His advice is no-nonsense and easily followed.
LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY FROM SNAPSHOTS TO GREAT SHOTS (Peachpit Press) Author Rob Sheppard
If you would like to improve your Landscape photography, as I do, then this is an ideal book. Again a no nonsense style with plenty of illustrative photos. Chapters include Equipment, Seeing As Your Camera Sees, Light, Composition, Perspective, Space and Depth of Field, Sky, Connecting With A Landscape, Black & White Images, HDR and Traditional Darkroom Work On The Computer. Rob Sheppardhas written many books and is the former editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine.
Two great books which are readily available on Amazon.
I get points from my bank to spend on various goods, days out or vouchers. So I cashed them in for £160 worth of Amazon vouchers. I put these against the new Nikon 18-300mm lens which is ideal to use as a single lens when travelling. The good news is that there is currently a cashback offer of £70 on this lens from Nikon thus saving me £230 off the total price, i.e. around 40%. These lenses aren't cheap and do have compromises in image quality but I think it will suit me fine. The lens should arrive this Wednesday, so I hope to post some results at the weekend.
Yesterday we set off to Exmoor in the hope of seeing some red deer. None were to be found. However, you never know what you are going to come across, which is why you should always have a camera handy. This Highland Cattle is a long way from home on Exmoor, but looked perfectly at ease in the fresh heather.
As you can see from my photos of garden birds, I supply various seed and peanut treats to encourage birds into our garden. We were treated to a bonus last night when a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker appeared and fed on the peanuts. Unfortunately I was inside the house, so I couldn't get a photo without disturbing it. If it returns, I will try to be more prepared!
I thought I would show you some useful equipment for shooting birds. I don't use all of it all of the time but only when I have the time to set up properly.
Firstly, all of my long lenses and the bottom of my camera are fitted with an Arca-Swiss Quick Release Plate. This allows the camera or lens to be quickly added or removed from the tripod.
The plates are available in various lengths and are fixed using a supplied allen key.
The tripod head is fitted with an Arca Quick Release Clamp which holds the plate securely in place. Simply clip the plate into the clamp and turn the screw. The vee-shaped edges of plate and clamp interlock securely, but slackening the screw allows for fine adjustment by sliding the plate.
I use a good sturdy tripod. This one is a carbon_fibre Gitzo GT2541EX. It's design allows me to slay the legs to any angle and the vertical post will also swivel to 90 degrees to facilitate vertical or macro shooting. Get the best, sturdiest tripod that you can. Cheap tripods are a waste of money as I have found out.
The head that I use on my tripod is a Ball-Head with panoramic rotation facility. (Manfrotto 488)
There is friction control of the ball and the head can swivel a full 180 degrees.
The panoramic facility allows the camera to be panned through 360 degrees and locked in place at any point. (the lever and dot at the base of the head)
As stated previously, this ball-head is fitted with an Arca Swiss Quick Release Clamp for quick attachment or removal of the camera.
Finally, for real convenience, a Gimbal Head (Induro GHBA 485-000) is fitted to allow a long lens to be securely held while still allowing it to be tilted up and down easily.
Again the Gimbal has an Arca Swiss Clamp fitted for convenience.
This, in combination with the ball-head panorama and swivel, allows full 3-way movement and control of the lens.
Other brands of tripods, heads and gimbals are available, but this set-up suits me and seems robust and secure.
Of all the fields of photography, Landscapes are probably my main weakness and they are difficult to capture a great WOW shot. Like many people, I fall into the temptation of trying to record the scene as your eye sees it. However, if you look at great landscape photographs and photographers, they don't record a scene, they convey an impression of a landscape. There is a big difference there.
Great landscape photographers, like the great landscape artists before them, such as Turner and Constable, try to capture the essence of a place, what makes it appeal to them and use form, colour, composition and light to convey a particular meaning or mood. The result is their visualization of a scene. The "technical" elements and combined with an idea within their head about what image they are trying to produce and mood or symbolic meaning they wish to convey. For example stormy skies give a moody, threatening feel to an image or a winding road conveys the meaning of a journey.
Simplicity is the key and many great shots reduce the landscape (or parts of it) to a few simple components.
Look at great landscapes (either photos or paintings) and try to learn what makes them great, not technically but in terms of meaning, message or visualization. I know I will in future.
This is a straightforward question, but one that is difficult to answer. Everyone will have a different reason. For me it is simple.
I AM INSPIRED BY GREAT PHOTOGRAPHS AND GREAT PHOTOGRAPHERS AND I WOULD LIKE TO INSPIRE OTHERS.
I may never take a truly great photograph, but that doesn't stop me trying. I try to improve each day and that is something everyone can do. I hope one or two of the photos in my galleries will inspire someone either to take up photography or to specialise in one particular field or just keep on plugging away to improve their work.
While out at Burrator Reservoir the other day, I was concentrating on the scene before me, as all photographers do. And took this shot.
However, when I had finished, instead of moving on, I turned around and was able to obtain this nice photograph. The moral of the story - ALWAYS LOOK AROUND YOU, up, down and behind you.
I am a retired IT professional. I use my spare time by travelling and taking photographs. I love wildlife and history.