Common myths in digital photography

Camera and prints

Some say that best camera is the one that’s with you. Some are stuck in megapixel race. Some will spend a fortune on expensive cameras and state of the art lenses. Others will just use their smartphone. What all of these have in common?

The Myths

More megapixels mean better camera and imagesWrong!

Megapixel myth boxWhile it’s true that with bigger megapixel count you can crop your images much more and possibly extract tiny little details and still print well, megapixels alone won’t do much. You need to pair it with a modern sensor technology and a set of high quality lenses. And those can be very expensive. More megapixels also mean that your images will require more disk space, high capacity memory cards and faster computer. The camera shake or a missed focus will be more pronounced because the detail that is being captured by the sensor is extremely high. High resolution sensor demands high quality standards in all other aspects of photography.

If you’re mainly producing your images for Web and social networks, you won’t use 1/4 of those megapixels. In fact, many photo apps that you have on your smartphone downsize all of your images when saving! Even Photoshop Express does this (unfortunately)! Suddenly, an 8 mpix smartphone camera becomes 0.78 one (1024x768pixels) and you don’t see the difference! Because 0.78 megapixels is enough for the screen and social networks, that’s why.

Simply put, megapixels used to be relevant many years ago. Not so much because of their low MP number, but because sensor technology was so underdeveloped back then. Don’t buy your new camera solely based on the megapixels count. They are all good now.
That being said, some branches of photography do need the highest possible MPs out there, but those are highly specific needs and demands. If you’re not sure whether you need more MPs or not – you don’t.

Professional camera makes better imagesWrong!

Weird photographerHow many of us heard or even said “Wow your images are great, what camera do you use?Inspiring images have very little to do with the camera itself. For portraits, it’s all about expression, mood and posture. Professional photographer Chase Jarvis made a book based on his iPhone images. He even used Lego camera for a challenge to prove that inspiring pictures mainly come from the skill, experience and good communication.

Then why are the pros using big bulky cameras and spend fortune on their equipment? – I can hear you asking. Obviously there’s a catch.
Respectable professional photographers are the masters of certain genres. They don’t shoot all of it. You won’t see good wedding photographers shooting architecture or tennis matches. Certain genres require specialized gear, usually special high quality lenses and big sensor cameras.

Timing on the photo shoots is very tense and limited, sometimes is less than 10 minutes! Pros have to work under extreme pressure to obtain great results as fast as possible, with absolute confidence that their gear will work on assignment in all conditions. That’s really expensive. Add the fact that today’s competition is very strong, using everything latest and greatest for some is the way to stay in business and be relevant.

So, someone without skill, inspiration and dedication won’t make any difference with a $10k gear or a smartphone. You just won’t see it. It’s the person behind the camera that is making all the difference. Think of all blockbuster movies you’ve seen in the past 10 years. All were taken with extremely expensive equipment. But you remember only those that were worth it, with fairly original story and good interpretation. So there you have it.

Creativity, practice, the “eye” that can anticipate and capture the right moments and the ability to execute these things together matter much more than the gear. Don’t blame your camera – most of the time it’s you. The good thing is, technical and compositional stuff can be taught if you want to practice and stretch your boundaries.

You can do everything / fix later in PhotoshopWrong!

Superstition Adobe PhotoshopA very common mistake or a typical misconception – “oh, it’s just a Photoshop“. Oh no it isn’t. While Photoshop is the most powerful tool for photographers and can create wonders, you cannot recreate things that simply aren’t there – like bad posture, bad facial expression, missed moment, out of focus image, incredibly poor lighting and exposure, etc. Nope. Those fundamental principles are either there or not. No amount of time and skill will make a crap image feel beautiful.

Photoshop serves mainly as a tool to make your good images great, to correct obvious mistakes and distractions, to play with the colors & contrasts and apply your signature touch and effects, to take your quality work to the next level and make it more professional. You’ll notice that in most Photoshop cases, you’ll deal with the quality work, not “make that crap shine”. That’s why you should always prepare for the shot and know that the main limitation that is often undervalued in post production is your time.

Retouching can be very exhausting and incredibly time consuming. Some stuff even require great experience and skill to make it right. A simple things, like messy hair or a busy background can make your work so frustrating when you have tons of images to edit.

Let’s imagine that you made 10 great portraits of your kids. They look amazing and cheerful. But look at their long hair, it’s messy and allover their faces. And their clothes, look at those wrinkles and stains! Sure you can retouch them. How much time will you spend? Let’s say 30 minutes per image. That’s 300 minutes for 10 images or – 5 hours!
Now imagine that you’ve combed their hair and gave them something new to wear before taking their portraits. You spent 10 more minutes initially. But now you wouldn’t have to meticulously retouch their hair and clothing. Suddenly you saved at least 15 minutes from each image. That’s two and a half hours less! Ouch! Does it make sense now?

If certain photo had been amazing, once in a lifetime, you would have tried to fix every possible flaw, but that would’ve been an exception. When you have many good or okay-ish images to retouch, there’s no point wasting your time in something that should have been fixed initially. Especially if/when you are on a deadline! Always spend more time preparing the shot than using “fixing it later” mindset for Photoshop.

Hope I have cleared some of those superstitions and misconceptions. Have you found 4th or the 5th myth maybe? Or have something more to say? Feel free to comment and ask questions below.

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