I greatly enjoy reading TOP. I hope you will pardon me for asking a question that may drive you to despair.
I was at Hikone castle last weekend and snapped the two pictures below, maybe a minute apart.
- The picture with the boat was taken using my Pentax K-7 and 21mm lens.
- The other picture was taken using my iPhone 5.
Both are JPEGs using the default settings. (No choice with the iPhone. "Bright" colors for the K-7.) The lens on both cameras have a similar field of view, and the shutter speeds for both pictures happen to be close.
What did I do wrong? I'd like the Pentax picture to look better than the iPhone. But even excluding the differences in colors and framing, details on the Pentax are not much better.
Should I have picked a wider aperture? Used a tripod? (It's really more of a weekend snapshot, so I would not use a tripod there. But I'd take that advice and maybe make the investment for other occasions.) Is the focus off? Would a better / newer camera address some of these issues? (K-5 IIs for the supposedly better autofocus, or a mirrorless to avoid the calibration problems?)
If there's no major issue with the photographer or the camera, maybe I will simply forget about a larger camera and use the iPhone full time. No point carrying anything else around if it can't help me making better pictures.
Thanks again for your website—and I will understand if you can't find time to reply.
Not a mystery really.
Most cameras will do well when the conditions are ideal, and for "lowest common denominator" uses (like small onscreen JPEGs, which are a great equalizer).
The better the camera, the better it will cope with conditions further and further from ideal, and the better more demanding applications (like large fine prints) will look.
In my own mind I think of this as the "center" of camera performance vs. the "edges." The "edges" are where the imaging system as a whole is stressed in any way—working at or near the limits of any of its various capabilities. I wrote quite a long article about this once, although that discussion is limited to lenses.
It just depends on your uses and your needs. If you will only ever take pictures outdoors in full daylight of medium-distant, moderate contrast subjects, destined for onscreen JPEGs, then (presuming you're happy with the results, as you seem to be here) the lesser camera should serve you fine.
Usually, it's frustration that indicates the need for upgrading—butting up against limitations. If you use your iPhone camera a lot and never feel the need for anything more, then you're fine. If you use it a lot and frequently find yourself frustrated or limited by it for one reason or another, then it's probably time for a better camera (or in your case, to get the Pentax out).
Hope this helps—
I would be very interested to hear your take (and Ctein's) on Adobe's new cloud-only licensing. I presume lots of others have sent this in, but wanted to make sure. One interesting place to read is Scott Kelby's site, which has just exploded with angry comments.
They're burning up the keyboards over at DPReview, talking about Adobe's new monthly pricing model for their Creative Suite products [...].
Why aren't you covering the Adobe furor?
Mike replies: Because it is a furor (aptly chosen word, good work) and I've been unwilling to open the floodgates of the furor into the placid precincts of TOP. I have other things I'd rather be thinking about.
Everybody hates taxes, and yet they have to be paid. We're all aware of "the Photoshop tax," which many of us have been paying uncomplainingly for years. On the surface of things, it looks like Adobe has just cruelly slapped loyal Photoshop users with a drastic and Draconian tax hike.
On the other hand, I have a good friend who was very bitter about the announcement of OSX—he thought it would break all his legacy software, be difficult and painful to implement, and so forth. He went around saying for some while that he was going to leave Apple because Apple had abandoned him.
Then he switched to OSX—and said "oh." He found it was easy to implement, didn't cause him any inconvenience, and that it worked much better than System 9. Oil was cast upon the roiling waters, and he's been using it ever since. So I think it's probably a good idea to fully understand what Adobe is envisioning here before damning them to the heavens.
Fu•ror, n., 1. a public outburst, esp of protest; uproar. Late 15c., from M.Fr. fureur, from L. furor, related to furia: "rage, passion, fury."*
You’ve written at some length about the pros and cons (mostly cons) of editioning photographic prints (and I agree with what you say ). My main problem, and I’m sure that many other photographers have the same problem) is on pricing my prints. I am of the opinion that non-editioned prints are infinitely reproducible and therefore should be priced accordingly. I currently charge £75 (US$115) for an A2 sized inkjet print—is that reasonable? Am I shooting myself in the foot with this relatively low price—will people not take my work seriously because it is not 'seriously' priced? This really frustrates me! Sometimes I think that I should lower my prices as artwork should be accessible to everyone and other times I think that my prices are too low and people are put off by cheap artwork.
Any comments would be greatly appreciated!! Cheers,
Couple of issues:
1. You are not going to sell very many prints. No insult to you; the only reason I say that is that almost nobody sells very many prints. Therefore, why not make a little money on the rare occasions when you do sell one?
2. Marketing sells prints, not the picture, and not price. So spend your time marketing. And if you spend time marketing, again, why not earn a little money on those occasions when it actually works?
3. You've already said it yourself—people equate high price with high quality and low price with low quality; and, with "Veblen goods," high price with high value and low price with low value. Many people who are rich enough to have a nice photograph to frame and hang on their walls not only don't mind paying the price for a good print, they are actually put off by low prices. When I was an art student in the 1980s, there was a pretty firmly established custom: $250–$350 (£160–£225) was the accepted price range for "student prints," while self-respecting independent working artists charged $600 (£387) and up.
Let me ask you this. A friend in England a while back sent me a link to her "dream home," a former lighthouse keeper's cottage on the coast near Brighton. It was on a cliff overlooking the sea. She was groaning because despite being a modest cottage it cost something like £850,000—very far out of her reach. Then, when the property sold, she sent me a good-naturedly bitter note to the effect that it sold to Londoners who will only use it as a weekend getaway. My question is: How many people who can afford an £850,000 weekend getaway will find a £75 print to be a delightful bargain, much better than a £500 or £5,000 print? You would lose that sale JUST ON PRICE, never mind the picture or print.
Two suggestions on editions:
1. Consider an edition year. When you have a nice new picture, work hard to make your best print of it and run off nine copies or whatever. Label them "Image created 2013, First Printing 2013 in a recto signed edition of seven prints and two artist's proofs." Then you are perfectly free to run off nine more three years from now and label them "Image created 2013, Second Printing 2016, in an edition of seven verso signed prints and two artist's proofs." ("recto" is print-speak for "on the front" and "verso" is "on the back.") You'll never run out of prints to sell, yet the original "vintage" prints are severely limited. And Simon Robinson aficionados can happily disputate over which edition is really "best," which we humans always like to do.
2. Consider doing "real" prints and "repro" prints. The "real" prints must be large and very fine, hopefully superbly crafted in some special technique; sign and mat those and slap a price of £2,500 on them. Then, make a series of much smaller "repro" prints that are unsigned or signed on the back and sell those as "studio prints" to your friends and Aunt Hortense for £75. Make sure everybody who buys a repro print understands full well that they are not buying the "real" print, which is something very different and oh so much finer.
The first option requires you to be organized and consistent, but lets all your prints be uniform, in case that aspect of the second option doesn't appeal to your sensibilities. The second option allows you to tailor your prices to the economic strata of your potential buyers: a high-prestige print for people who don't mind that price and in fact want the assurance that they're getting really good, carefully-done workmanship, and a high value print for those who must stretch their dollars (er, pound notes). Same picture either way, but not the same print.
Hope this helps your thinking…at least a little. :-)
(Thanks to our many far-flung correspondents)
*Definition from Collins English Dictionary, etymology from Online Etymology Dictionary, both via dictionary.com.
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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Featured Comments from:
Justin Watt: "François, clearly the Pentax takes a superior photo. The iPhone missed the boat! ;-) "
Jonathan: "The main difference between the iPhone and a DSLR is that it's easier to whip out your iPhone on a busy street and photograph people without having anyone turn away or make a fuss."