Everyone has legs, everyone walks. Do some people walk better than others? You bet! Hundreds of languages would bear testimony to the thousands of rhymes alluded to mesmerizing walks of the damsels, ladies, princesses, queens…. I hope I don’t get sued by some overzealous feminists. I’ll throw in the gaits of heroes, warriors and princes for good measure….
Talking of walking, it occurs to me that some people can walk faster, as does, Usain Bolt. Excuse me, you say, isn’t Bolt a sprinter? I’d insist however that Bolt’s kind of moving his body at those amazing speeds is a kind of walking. Further, some people have mastered stunning arts, all thanks to their legs. Gymnasts, ballet dancers, ski-dancers, karate kids and kick-boxers are all a visual feast to watch (except probably the last two types who are best enjoyed from a respectable distance).
Why am I going mad with this legs thing? You see, folks, I am trying to pull an analogy. All I want to do is to juxtapose the legs with cameras that most everyone has in their hands most of their waking times these days. Yes, I am talking of those tiny holes in most mobile phones. Many of those mocams, to coin a word, are being put to service profusely. You see the point? Just as the accident of your having legs doesn’t make you a great walker (forgive me if you regularly kill dozens with that feat -pun intended), your ownership of a mocam doesn’t make you an Ansel Adams. The reason I am mad with this mocamtography thing (sorry for coining again) is that I stumbled upon this wannabe-learn-photography thing on the web address of a respectable institution where the writer had meticulously put images shot off a mocam, a point-and-shoot and a DSLR, neatly in a row, and argued that there really wasn’t any difference among the shots of these three at a smaller scale and you need to buy an SLR camera only if you intended to send your images to the National Geographic or something like that, which you obviously don’t.
He could not have been more wrong.
If you harbour even the faintest desire of learning photography, go get a DSLR. Hold it, you think, they don’t come cheap! But friends, just as money doesn’t grow on trees, photography doesn’t grow on mocams! Whoever said there are free lunches in the world?
Photography is capturing of Light in a controlled manner onto a photosensitive material such as a film or a censor as the digital SLR’s have. The light is controlled by two critical mechanisms called the shutter and the aperture. The shutter is like a curtain that has the censor covered and opens for a short determined period to allow the light to hit the censor. The amount of time may vary from an hour to 10,000th of a second or could be more either way. The aperture consists of a number of blades arranged to form circular openings of variable shape. The hole as it changes its size varies the quantity of light entering and hitting the censor in a given period. Because of the behaviour of light as perceived by various tenets of Physics, the size of opening of the aperture has significant impact on the depth of focus that an image would have. There is a third equally important element called ISO Sensitivity of the film/censor and together the three have the final say on how a photograph is going to look. However, since the advent of digital photography, the ISO Sensitivity of a censor can be changed on the fly, and we need to be less and less worried about it as compared to the olden days when one had to rush to a dark room, carefully take out the film and pop in a roll having a different ISO sensitivity. However, clean noise free images at high ISOs (think 6400 where 100 is normal) are the reason why those BIG DSLR’s with BIG Dollar price tags exist, apart form many other matters that you would eventually discover.
Following is a brief list of why absolutely you must have an SLR or a DSLR if you are serious about your photography. For the sake of simplicity, I will refer to the cameras simply as SLR and Consumer Cameras, with mocams only being a severely low rung adaptation of the latter.
1. Consumer cameras are Auto-everything. If this sounds great then they were invented just for folks like you! Go ahead and enjoy them. However, if you want to take control of your composition, think of an SLR which will normally allow you to take charge of the exposure, metering, shutter speed, aperture, ISO sensitivity and even the flash. In short, you have to decide whether you instruct the camera most of the time or the camera instructs you all the time!
2. Human eye is a highly complex organ which can dynamically focus at near or far objects in a twinkle, in different lighting situations. Cameras, although an imitation, are not that lucky. The act of focusing in a camera is achieved by the lens attached or fixed to it. Till date, no company has invented a lens which will work perfectly in every situation. SLR cameras, or Single Lens Reflex Cameras, being cameras with detachable lens system allow for switching the lens to your heart’s content, limited probably only by the size of your wallet. I have, of course, established and reputed companies like Nikon and Canon on my mind when I say that. Talking of lenses, SLR lenses also have provision for attaching critical filters like a polarizer.
3. With an SLR camera you are actually seeing the world through the lens and there is absolutely no shutter lag when you pull the trigger. On the contrary, the consumer cameras send a tiny replay of the scene on their LCD screens and have various degrees of shutter lags, depending upon their cost. The latter also have an annoying tendency of freezing for several seconds while they are struggling to save the file.
4. Thanks to the marketing blizzards, most consumer cameras are bursting with mega pixels today. However, their censor sizes unfortunately remain minuscule. This brings in serious picture quality issues like noise, over-processing and unreal colours.
5. Most consumer cameras have their apertures starting at F8 or more. It is the impact of the severe crop factor of their censors. You can forget about seriously isolating your subjects. Thus even if some models allow for manual control, the impact of aperture related controls over the image remains pathetic at best.
6. Due to the minuscule scale mechanisms of consumer cameras, low shutter speeds are required to compensate for the inherent small aperture openings in low lights. It makes shooting even simple objects difficult unless you use the on-camera flash, which may result in really flat and unsavoury images.
So, invoking my analogy again, if you would rather use your legs to just keep moving yourself around in an unconcerned way, you would be doing something very natural. However, if you want to accomplish better than that and thus be remembered, learn interesting uses. Lift yourself above ordinary pointing your mobile camera and shooting your subjects dead!
(Post moved from my other blog)