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Sunday, 16 November 2008


Answering your question, I do carry DOF tables every time i shoot with a tripod. Handheld, i'm willing to accept some blur and shaken pics; with the tripod, it seems a bit odd (to say the least) not to take advantage of the gear i have...


More power to ya, if you can talk yourself into forgetting such details, but I imagine that most ppl who obsess over shutter blur have had really bad experiences at one point or another with a particularly important photograph, using very subpar equipement for the situation (ie: point and shot film or early gen digital, for indoor shooting without mr. flash), and thus are tramatized by it all.

Or they're just a gear head, and photos are just output to test equipement with.

Kainnon, the latter is the case, 100% sure.

Last friday i was glad to have my first exhibition started. You can see the pictures at my hp (http://www.flamelingo.net/).

What i noticed was that especially photog friends asked for equipment, how i processed the images and so on. One was astonished that i didn't use medium format for "such" pictures (actually all was shot with a OM4Ti, Fuji 800, some fast primes, often slow shutter speeds, mostly no additional lighting, almost never optimum aperture). Plus, Fuji 800 gets quite noisy when scanned with the consumer Epson V700. Plus, for the reasons above, many of the images are not 100% sharp.

But I didn't care and the output is fine imho. I better have good, warm, natural balanced light instead of "perfect" camera settings.

Threw done the gauntlet here did we not Robt and Michael??
Pretty unsettling for a Sunday AM after the election. Now if only some of those old Speed Graphics and Leicas had small grain ISO 800 available or a digital sensor.

I'm with you, Robert. I find that high-ISO noise also falls into this category too. At 100% most cameras have crappy ISO1600 performance. But reduce the file to 800x1200 pixels (which is huge by web standards) and they look pretty damn good. Print the pic on 8x12 paper and nobody can tell whether you shot ISO400 or ISO3200. More importantly, most people won't *care* what ISO you shot the photo at. If it's hanging in your living room, an observer will classify it as either sucking or being good, neither of which will depend on the ISO. Minimal blur won't influence this decision either.

Unless you're printing huge poster prints, most settings don't matter at all.

I think you are right! I do not use a chart for anything. I think that takes away from the creativity that the world of photography has. I read an article in Photographers magazine where a very established and decorated photographer of 35 yrs threw his rules away and said that only then had he discovered all that photography had to offer. So I would challenge some traditionalist to try the same. IT'S FUN TOO!!!!!

I try to make the best photograph I can using what I know in light of the limits of the situation I'm working in. I figure it's better to know things and use them to my advantage when I can than not to know them.

Whether the settings matter or not depends on both what kind of picture you are making and how you are presenting it. Pictures for the web or small prints that work well can fall completely apart when presented as a 20x30 print.

On the aethetics side, a blurred Ansel Adams landscape is pretty inconceivable. And there are photographers (Debbie Fleming Caffery comes to mind) whose excellent work is often built out of blur and underexposure. And I admire both aesthetics. What matters for Ansel Adams doesn't matter for Debbie Caffery.

Pixel peeping is an activity that is usually carried on completely out of a context of either presentation medium or aesthetic choices. It can be meaningful if the presentation and aesthetic choices lead to certain quality requirements.

Dear Robert,

Hear, hear!

People who REALLY understand this minutiae don't obsess over it.

Most of the gearheads don't understand. They've only grabbed hold of an elephant's tail and are engaged in heated arguments about the merits of various brands of rope.

Apropos Mike's column, I *do* peruse dpreview's reviews (pace Mark)... and I spend almost all of my time looking at the pictures. They tell me (a bit of) what the camera will actually do-- the geekfest verbiage doesn't.

(Subject to the ever-present problem of publication that sometimes illos don't illustrate what you hoped they would. So I read enough of the text to confirm that what I think I'm seeing in the photo is what I should be seeing.)

pax / Ctein

I don't know what the argument is here. I think the goal is to make the best, emotional pictures you can make. And have as much control over what you are doing as you can. Sometimes that's going to indicate pictures with some blur, other times you're going to want pictures that are insanely sharp. Neither one negates the other.

When I see a photographer whose pictures are blurry when I think there is no reason they should be, I find it pretty annoying. Compared to other things I've tried, photography is stupid easy. At least the technical aspect of it. Controlling sharpness is one of the basic parameters of photography. It's like knowing the different between their, there and they're for a writer. It might not mean a lot to you, but if your goal is to have your work out there, you'd do well to pay attention to it.

I do wish the new digital lenses would show depth of field scales. Or at least have a hyperfocal distance program to compensate if they can't put one on. Why did I buy a Pentax K10D? Because it was the cheapest, reasonably good digital SLR that still took old lenses. The rest- maga everything, whether or true or not, is mostly out of reach. I also finally came to realize, that when it comes to the net, most images are manipulated. I have tried to turn most of my so-called soft images into works of art. No more pixel peeping for me.

There are two kinds of photography: with tripod and without. The headspace is radically different, and dictates the technical approach.

What's a DOF chart?

I'm being silly here, but I take photos, I don't obsess over what can't be seen with the naked eye on 10 x 8 print. Its like HiFi, I like music, I can't be fagged with endless arguments comparing frequencies that only dogs and bats can hear.

I'll probably get verbally lynched for that last statement

I use an ancient Nikon D100 at ISO 800.

Ghastly, noisy pictures result on my computer, but when I get them back printed at 4x6 or 5x7 by the lab on Fuji Crystal Archive, they look rather nice to me. I have no doubt that the Fuji Frontier software cleans up the noise a bit before down rezzing, but so what? My prints look great, as a result.

Huge (19" and more) monitor screens bear more than a small share of the blame for this digital era phenomenon of pixel peeping. The film era equivalent would have been to ask for 16x20 proofs of every shot on a roll of 135 film, rather than a simple contact sheet.

Psst, I also selectively sharpen the eyes in my digital portraits if the picture is a bit soft, technically speaking. Amazing how often I get away with this...

I used to agonize over the quality of my film scans.

Then one day I asked the local lab to scan and print one of my rolls.

What is in the scanned files, viewed in my 19" screen, is downright ugly compared to what is in the prints.

Just to make sure I asked for a reprint of one of the scanned images, in a different lab.

As good as the first! Frontiers are amazing machines.

Folks: stop the pixel-peeping, go out and make some good photos, then print and ENJOY them!

I agree that if the print looks good to you at normal viewing distance, that's the final word.

However, just for fun, many years ago while working for a magazine that obsessed over these kinds of details, I took part in an experiment: how much coffee does it take to affect motion blur? I think I had 5 cups within an hour and by the 2nd cup, I was a bit shaky. By the 5th cup, you could see the results in the prints (shooting with a 50mm lens at 1/125 sec). I'd say you lose about 1/2 a stop per cup.

Very scientific, eh? :-)


Your experience makes perfect sense. I heard a doctor once talk about the benefits of afternoon naps. He said that it takes from 20-30 minutes for the caffeine in a cup to "kick in", and recommended that coffee drinkers have a cup immediately before taking their nap. By the time the caffeine kicks in and wakes them up, they will have had the 20 minute nap they needed, a happy convergence.

I live in Ottawa, Canada, and it's coolish here in the early morning for more than half the year, and that's the time of day that I often like to shoot pictures. Cool air, about 30-60 minutes after morning coffee, and lowish light, a not-very-happy convergence.

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