If you look into a section of any digital photography magazine, you will see hundreds of ads offering bigger, better, and consequently more expensive Digital Cameras, packed with tons of features giving their readers an idea that a better camera will help them take better photos. This mindset has become so mainstream that we have gotten so used to “upgrading” our digital compacts and DSLRs that we never stop and ask ourselves: Are we really using our camera to the full of it’s potential ? and even more important:
Will a better digital camera necessarily make us better photographer ?
In order to test the impact of the modern technology on taking photos we have decided to face off two digital cameras that normally do not stand a chance against one another: one of the first phone cameras – the 0.3 megapixel Nokia 6600 VGA camera against fairly recent 10 megapixel Pentax K200D DSLR.
In order to be able to compare the photos, here are some technical details of both systems:
|Technical Details Comparison|
|Technical Characteristic||Nokia 6600||Pentax K200D|
|Megapixels||0.3 MP||10 MP|
|Max Resolution (pix)||640 x 480||3872 x 2592|
|Lens||3.5mm f/2.8||18-55mm f/3.5-5.6|
|Equivalent on 35mm||30mm||33mm|
The overall goal of the test is to take a series of photos of different subjects with both cameras set at same approximate focal length. Since it does not make sense to compare megapixel count, both photos taken with Nokia and Pentax will be resized to 320×240 and then evaluated according to the following criteria:
- The ability to compose images
- The overall sharpness of the image
- The colors in the final photo (tonal range)
- The creative freedom offered by the system
Please note that no photos have been edited (apart from resizing and cropping) to keep the same composition and aspect ratio in both compared images. The photos are displayed in the table below. I am sorry if some are not aligned perfectly, but it was freezing out here (Stockholm, -19 C) and my hands were partly numb.
|Nokia 6600||Pentax K200D|
If you look at photos, you will see that both Nokia and Pentax were able to deliver in terms of composition ability. The interesting fact is that due to the lack of Live View on my Pentax K200D, the Nokia provided greater composition freedom, as it was easier to manipulate and compose using Nokias LCD screen than the Pentax viewfinder.
In terms of overall sharpness and tonal range, Pentax was way ahead as expected since the photos were much sharper and the colors were richer, and it was more less prone to lens flare than Nokia. Also in terms of creative freedom, Pentax allowed much more manipulation and control over photo taking process, such as changing exposure parameters, changing lenses, using filters, and much more.
However, if you consider the fact that photos do look similar, we have proven the point that you do not necessarily need an expensive camera to take good photos. Taking great photos depends mostly on the photographer, and his/her ability to see the world, as well as on the knowledge, experience, and the passion for photography.
So what are main benefits of a better camera ?
1. Better image quality – (hopefully)
2. Robustness – Usually, better cameras are designed for more frequent use, and therefore usually much more robust.
3. Greater creative freedom – It will not make you a better photographer per se, but it will give you the options and features necessary to become one.
One thing I have learned after I have bought my DSLR: It made my mistakes more visible than my digital compact. Good photos looked great, and bad ones were just awful. In addition, there can be many more settings to choose from, which could be intimidating to a novice user. So my recommendation to all of you considering to upgrade your digital camera, ask yourselves this question:
Have I outgrown my current digital camera ? Am I using it to the maximum of its abilities ?
If the answer is yes, then by all means, DO upgrade. However, if the answer is no, maybe your money would be better spent investing in a good photography book or a course.
If you are committed to becoming a better photographer, we recommend you check out these articles:
Warning: These 9 Photoshop Techniques May Result In Great Photos – Creative Photoshop techniques advice illustrating the importance of the post production process.
12 ways to become a better photographer | Martin Bamford – Here are, in my opinion, twelve simple ways to become a better photographer. I’ve tried to keep this as simple and non-technical as possible.