Intro by Skip Cohen
I've written and said this many times before, but the best part of the photographic industry is the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft. Well, my buddy Mark Toal is back with a post for Luminary Corner and it's perfect for this time of year.
As a consumer, we're all thinking about gifts right now, and a new camera for a family member or good friend is often at the top of the list. Then, as a professional photographer, we're about to enter trade show season and more than likely you're thinking about new gear for yourself.
The following post ran on "Mirrorless Photo Tips" last month, and it's the perfect post to share here at SCU, as Mark hits a couple of important reminders about sensor size and megapixels. However, I want to add one more thought in general about buying a new camera.
Ever had new car fever? It starts out completely innocent; you're just curious about what's out there, but it grows until you decide your old car just doesn't cut it. Then it slowly eats away at you. When one single thing goes wrong, even a flat tire, it pushes you over the edge, and you're shopping for a replacement, new or used. More than likely you're going to be tying up cash, but all along the way you're rationalizing about your need.
New camera fever is often the same. Over and over again I've seen photographers convince themselves they needed new gear when they needed to focus more on developing their skill set first. Mark's two key points on buying a new camera today are perfect to remind you of two of the most important features.
Interested in finding more of Mark's work along with a stellar team of writers/artists? Check out Mirrorless Photo Tips with regular posts by Mark, Joe Farace and Mary Farace. Then, swing by the LUMIX Lounge. You'll never be disappointed with what you find!
by Mark Toal
I work a lot of sales events for Panasonic and talk to a lot of potential camera buyers. Most of the questions I get are about sensor size, megapixels and why shouldn’t I just use my cell phone?
Sensor size: Size does matter, but not as much as most people think. If you are a serious landscape photographer, need to make large prints and don’t mind the weight and size of the lenses go with a camera that has a full frame sensor. Most photographers I talk to don’t fit in this category. They are serious about photography but don’t print at all or don’t make prints larger than 13×19-inches. The sensor size of a cell phone or point and shoot camera is fine for what a lot of people shoot. If you don’t need a zoom lens and mostly shoot for social media a cell phone will probably work just fine for you.
Megapixels: Again this doesn’t matter as much as people think it does. I used to shoot weddings and portraits with a six megapixel Nikon D200. The images still look great and make great prints up to about 16×20. Some of my best photos are with a 10-megapixel Panasonic LX7 and I’ve made prints up to 20×30 inches.
Cell phones: A lot of photographers sneer at using a cell phone as a camera. (Joe just raised his hand.) I think that it’s just as much of a camera as your SLR or mirrorless camera, it just lacks a features like a optical zoom lens and viewfinder.
Note: To Mark's point about cell phones and the image above. We were on Siesta Beach with the most amazing sunset in front of us and storm front behind us, complete with a rainbow. All I had was my cell phone and decided to shoot panoramic. While you can see how beautiful it was, I hate the uneven horizon line and there's only so much you can do to clean it up. I didn't pay enough attention to keeping the camera at the same height as I panned the scene! Plus, a tripod and my LUMIX FZ1000 would have given me the ability to shoot a much stronger image!
Lens quality: Now this matters if you want sharp images with good contrast. If you’re looking for a camera make sure it has a good lens. I don’t think most cell phone have very good lenses but they are improving with every generation.
This photo of a street singer in Seattle is a good example of why you don’t need a large sensor or one with a high megapixel count. I shot it using a Panasonic Lumix FZ300 camera with a (6.17 x 4.55 mm) point-and-shoot size sensor and allowed me to zoom in for a tighter shot.. This image is a single frame taken from 4K video, which is eight megapixels.
My advice it to buy the camera that’s best match for what you want to photograph, not the one with the highest megapixels or largest sensor.
Image of street singer, copyright Mark Toal. All rights reserved.
Welcome to Luminary Corner. Besides being a recognized member of the professional photographic community, each post author is a member of Panasonic's LUMIX Luminary team.