November 2, 2018
The Magic of 4 Megapixels
Feature image shot with the Nikon D2h | 400 ISO | f5.6 | 1/320s
There’s been a lot of new gear hitting the streets these days, so I thought I would follow up my last post with an actual shoot with a 15yr-old Nikon D2h just to see what it used to be like.
I’m very excited to see Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, and Fuji releasing some great new hardware. Even though I’m a Nikon shooter, I love the idea that the competition is pushing the tech water level higher for all of us. It’s a win-win for everyone.
But let’s take a step back for a moment from the monster megapixel, high ISO, mirrorless euphoria we have all been on and ask ourselves:
How much do we need? How many megapixels, lens resolution, high iso, and dynamic range is “good enough”?
For each of us that answer will be different. Whether you’re a serious amateur, a full-time fashion pro, or an architectural photographer, your needs are unique. For me as a wedding photographer, I need a camera with latitude—Latitude in tonal range, resolution for cropping, and the ability to focus in very low, flat lighting. For me, the Nikon D5 and D850 are those cameras. The Z7 is a contender to be sure, but still a little behind when focusing in that soft, low contrast lighting as are other mirrorless lines, but that’s an article for another time.
I should say for context, I’m not a pixel peeper. I don’t care about looking at my images at 400% or shooting resolution charts. I shoot a lot—Nearly a million frames a year and make a living from selling prints off those images. If my clients are happy and my gear stays out of my way, I can capture images as they unfold in front of me and I’m a happy creative. Now I know that sounds a little hypocritical since I have the best in Nikon’s line and it’s fair to add that until recently, I owned a lot of Sony’s mirrorless gear as well. To be clear, I want the best of the best, I love gear, but I realize that pretty much any camera can do the job. It’s the old saying that “Its the Photographer, not the Camera”.
So why am I heading down this rabbit hole you might ask?
Well, I hear all around me talk of gear and only gear. It’s amazing how fixated most photographers are about gear. There are entire blogs on nothing but gear, and those blogs usually get the most hits. For the most part, gear doesn’t make you a better photographer or get you hired. So this post is kinda that anti-gear review LOL
If I can do a shoot with a 4mp, 15yr-old camera with a dirty old crappy lens, and make a beautiful, sellable image, I’m hoping we can put gear talk aside for a while.
The next time we sit down with our photography tribe and the gear chatter begins, change the subject to posing, client relations, marketing —or I know, how about art! Talk about how to see light and capture its amazingness on a landscape or a model in the studio.
The images shown in this post are from a very recent engagement session with my wonderful couple, Josh and Janel (much thanks for allowing me to share your images!) with which I shot the Z7, D2h, and D850.
Now I know what your thinking—No, I didn’t shoot the entire session with the D2h. These are real clients and I don’t want to take a chance of anything going wrong. The D2h is ancient in tech terms and has a tendency to randomly give me the dreaded “err” message. I can also hear a few of you wanting to see a side-by-side. Nope. This is really about what the D2h was able to give me. It’s pretty much the worst camera I could choose to shoot with, but nonetheless, it produced a beautiful set of images that are more than sellable at my usual 24” to 30” sizes.
So what’s the takeaway?
It’s up to you. For me, it’s all within the context of how good my current gear is and how little it matters whether it’s 50mp and 12fps or 24mp at 3fps, mirrorless or DSLR or what brand. Ultimately, gear just fills a need, so what’s yours?
Hey, Troy. I’m in the TWiP Pro group. Really enjoyed this article. I just bought a Fujifilm SQ 10 Instamatix camera. Why? I don’t know, man. I guess because of sentimentality for one thing. My first camera was one of those original Poloroid instant cameras. Anyway, this SQ 10 is a 3.7 megapixel camera.
I took a selfie with it of my wife giving me a kiss on the cheek. She put the instant print on her bathroom mirror where she’d see it every day. The little print was magic.
Everything isn’t about megapixels, as you said. Sometimes it’s just about creating something that is good for the purpose at hand.
Nice article. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Thomas! I could’nt agree more. It’s not the megapixels that matter it’s what the pixels capture. I really believe if we reduce the insatiable need for specs we might be able to focus more on the art and cretiveity that is photography.
The quality of the top photo emphasizes your point quite well. Your composition is what makes the photo. I probably would not have seen the shot, no matter how many megapixels I
used to capture the photo. It is a healthy reminder that gear is just one piece of the puzzle, and certainly not the most important piece. Keep writing,
We shouldn’t always be fixated about the gear, I guess though that it helps us get an image that we couldn’t get previously, or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. I was chatting with a friend the other night and mentioned I wanted to get a hold of a tilt shift lens, not because I need more kit but purely to try something new and see what I can make. That will be something I rent for a few days though.
Love these anti-GAS posts!
Over the last year, especially, I’ve gone from having pretty serious GAS to the point where I really don’t care anymore. I’ve got an original version 6D, which was the last in a series of body upgrades I did over the course of a couple years, and I’m super happy with it. The focusing system is kinda crappy, it’s not the fastest thing in the world, and the new stuff has a bunch of bells & whistles that’d be nice, but do I really need them? No.
I think all the non-stop focusing on the new mirrorless stuff wore me out, especially all the negativity about how Canon & Nikon’s new bodies were terrible disappointments, completely unusable with single card slots, etc etc. It’s really killed all the GAS I had and made me switch my focus to learning to get more out of what I have, and focus on what really matters, ie: “Am I happy with the images I’m getting?”. Instead of that shiny new camera body, I’d now rather put that money towards a trip to somewhere I’ve never been, or a course on something cool that I don’t know how to do.
Great posts, dude, I’m signing up to be notified about the next one 🙂
Thanks James. I appreciate the feedback and glad you can relate. Thanks for the feedback.
I agree Craig. Our proijects should guide us to gear. Thanks for the comment.
Well said Jim, Gear is just a tool. Thanks for the reply.