Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Unit 205 D1 Photo Imaging Equipment - Camera Formats

Photo Imaging Equipment & Materials
Camera and formats
It's essencial to have the right equipment for the job and there are a few things you should think about before spending your cash.. probably the biggest debate is whether to use film or digital?  I think realistically there is little choice now and it's digital every time, digital cameras offer more flexibility, and prevalence thank the film equivalent, I think if people are still using film now it's because for nostalgic reasons and not for sound reasons... most pro photographers have woken up to the reality and now use digital in all formats, Film cameras are now increasingly more difficult to source, the film itself is being steadily phased out and as a result of lack of demand getting more expensive, with fewer and fewer people developing film too.

To this end my equipment overview will be of a mainly digital bias with a bit of film thrown in to pacify the film stalwarts out there. the cameras basically do the same thing the images are just recorded on a different medium, when the shutter opens on a film camera the image is captured on a light sesitive film which then needs to be developed to see the image, in digital cameras instead of a film there is a sensor which captures the light falling onto it and concerts the information into a binary code and is stored onto a digital storage card, the image is then veiwed on a pc, image viewer or if avliable the screen on the back of the camera.

It's obvious different cameras do different things and there is no perfect camera, but some cameras will do a better job than others especially when it comes to quality and speed, unfortunately for most of us it always comes down to cost what you can afford at the time. I will only say this once.... always, always go that extra bit, yes it will stretch your budget but if you don't you will regret it and will end up getting the one you wanted in the first place.

Most cameras nowadays offer a lot of useful technology, but there are a few things that you should look out for. You need to have a reasonable pixel count to enable you to print to at least A4 size I would say a minimum of 10 megapixels, the next thing that's important is a good autofocus system along with manual focusing, good exposure system and a usable ISO range.

Digital Compacts
When you are first starting out most people buy a digital compact, the second thing they do is look for the biggest pixel count possible this is ok up to a point, digital compacts sacrifice quality and have minimal control options and most importantly a small sensor size. They are great for the point and shoot photographers, this is what I started off with and it wasn't a month gone before I was ready to bin it and upgrade.

This is a typical point and shoot compact camera, this is an Olympus FE230, I bought it mainly because of its Lithium batteries and it's 12 megapixel sensor, for it's type it was quite good, Built in flash, separate viewfinder, aluminium case zoom lens and very portable, the problem with was all the controls were in menus which were difficult and fiddly to use, their was no depth of field and poor colour reproduction, on the plus side the macro facility was excellent. It cost me about £119 and I kept it for 6 months the only reason I would have one of these type of camera now would for portability as a backup camera on a travel shoot.

Bridge Cameras
A bridge camera is exactly as it sounds, a bridge between a digital compact and a consumer DSLR. They have all the attributes of a digital compact but have larger sensors, they still have a built in lens and generally (not always) have the ability to shoot in a RAW format, there menus and controls are better and more accessible .
This was my next purchase, a Fuji film Finepix S5700 with a 10x zoom, all the controls were accessible via dials on the top of the camera. You had the option to use full auto or get creative with manual shutter, aperture setting. This camera was very easy to use, still quite compact, good colour reproduction, unfortunately it used AA batteries so it had to go, as it wasn't a bad camera I gave it to my sister who still has it to this day, still going strong

Consumer DSLR
Consumer DSLRs  are the most popular kind of camera for the amateur enthusiast. they have optical through the lens viewfinders allowing for more accurate composition and again larger sensors, the sensor sizes are a APC or cropped sensor which allows higher quality and resolutions, most are built to a good standard, the bodies are generally of a plastic shell which is better quality than the bridge types of cameras. all have the option of shooting in RAW, depending on what brand you have will depend on what RAW format you will have, they are all different. you have the option to change lens to suit you creative mood, every thing from wide angle to telephoto. they have built in flip up flashes of reasonable power, higher ISO ratings better, faster auto focusing systems. All the controls are readily available via buttons and dials on the external body.

This is the Canon EOS 450D, my next camera, the blurb says 'it's for those who want to go beyond snapshots' and for once it's right.

This camera has a 12 megapixel sensor, a 3.5 frames per second continuous shooting, live view mode,integrated cleaning system, a 9 point auto focus area.

Professional DSLR
Pro DSLRs are solidly built and withstand heavy usage their bodies are usually more robust with most now being magnesium alloy which is light but extreamly strong making them ideal for heavy use, they have better weather sealing against dust and rain ingress.they usually have more advanced auto focus and exposure systems, the resolution will generally be higher as a result of have a larger sensor. The cost of these camera are considerably more expensive as you might have guessed,
This is my latest camera a Canon 5D MKII this camera was the first camera to include full 1080 HD video.  the sensor is equivalent to a film 35mm  this is called full frame.

Here is the full specifications :
  • Resolution: 21.1Mp
  • Sensor size: 36x24mm full frame
  • Sensor type: CMOS
  • Image size: 5616x3744
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Focus system: TTL-CT-SIR
  • Focus points: 9 point AF plus 6 assist AF points
  • Crop factor: 1.0x
  • Lens mount: EF (excludes EF-S lenses)
  • File type: JPEG, RAW, sRAW1, sRAW2
  • Sensitivity: ISO100-6400 (expandable toISO50, ISO12,800 and ISO25,600)
  • Storage: Compactflash
  • Focus types: One-shot, AI servo, AI focus
  • Metering system: TTL full aperture
  • Metering types: Evaluative (selective AF point), Partial (approx 8% of centre), spot (approx 3.5% of centre), centre-weighted
  • Exposure compensation: /-2 EV in 1/2 or 1/3 step increments
  • Shutter speed: 30sec-1/8000sec
  • Frames per second: 3.9fps (max 78 images in JPEG or 310 with UDMA card, max 13 images in RAW)
  • Flash: Hotshoe for external EX speedlite
  • Flash metering: E-TTL auto flash
  • Flash sync speed: 1/200sec
  • Image stabilisation: Lens based
  • Integrated cleaning: EOS integrated cleaning system with fluorine coating
  • Live view: Yes, 100% coverage
  • Viewfinder: Optical, pentaprism type with approx 98% coverage
  • Monitor: 3in TFT LCD 920,000dot (307,000px)
  • Interface: USB 2.0
  • Power: LP-E6 Li-Ion battery
  • Size: 152x113.5x75mm
  • Weight: 810g
Other professional cameras to look out for are the Nikon D700 or the Sony A900 again both are full frame 35mm equivalents.

The benifits for using these cameras as apposed to the lower format cameras I think is self evident, larger sensor = better quality whilst still portable and easy to use hand held

Medium format cameras
Medium format cameras are often viewed as a big step up from 35mm format cameras. the are certainly intended for the serious photographer. The fact is that there is still something impressive about photographs taken on a medium format camera that smaller format cameras can't match.

It's all down to the size of the image they produce, a 35mm image size is 24x36mm whereas a 6x4.5cm medium format camera is 42x55.1mm about two and a half time bigger, this is where size really does matter and when a medium format images is blown up it will be less grainy and sharper higher quality.

There are different formats found on medium format cameras, the entry level size is 6x4.5cm which is the next size up from full frame DSLRs. They are cheaper, smaller and can still be hand held, easier to transport and use.

Models to look out for are the Bronica ETRS (as pictured) or the likes of the Mamiya 645E and the Hasselblad H1.... the list could go on....

The next step for medium format cameras is 6x6 format. This format is a square photograph, thisis something that is very different from 35mm formats and could take some getting used to! you can crop the photographs to a more familiar rectange, this format is a favourite with wedding and portrait photographers.

Models to look ot for are the Bronica SQ-B, the Hasselblad 501cm or the Rolleiflex 6001. These of coures are going to be more expensive that the 6x405cm cameras.

Next in line are the 6x7cm medium format camera. the image size and quality is a huge step up from a 35mm format and is four and a half time bigger and one anad a half times bigger thatn the 6x4.5cm format giving a definate advantage over the smaller formats. The downside of these cameras is that they are heavy and expensive, they are mostly confined to the studio because of their weight, but some landscape photographers do use them, I'm not sure if I would want be lugging them around though. te benifit to using these cameras are again obvious higher quality which equates to better sales

Models to look for in this range are the Mamiya RZ67 Pro II (see below) or the Pentax 67II
If you are looking to use this format it is advisable to buy as little as you need to start  before adding to the sysytem. The second hand market is good, but be careful as some models, as you would expect, have had a lot of hard work so you will need to look carefully for wear and tear.

In the next installment...... sensor sizes.

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