In modern life, technology is advancing at exponential rates, and that is especially significant in the area of camera technology.
Only seven years ago, Charlie Sorrel wrote a Wired piece entitled, “Five Reasons Film Cameras Are Still Better Than Digital.” He claimed that “while film is almost dead, there are still some things that the old school does better.”
He then listed examples, such as shutter lag, battery life, viewfinder control, obsolescence i.e. frequency of launching upgraded digital cameras, and “noise,” which in the world of photography refers to picture quality and clarity.
Sorrel probably never considered himself to be a Luddite, and the claims he made for film cameras were valid at the time. But seven years have passed, and in the world of camera technology that’s the way centuries used to be counted.
There are now several new types of digital cameras on the market.
The Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera, which has an optical viewfinder for viewing the image through the lens and usually comes with a relatively large sensor. The mirror moves out of the way for exposure, allowing the light to hit the sensor.
The Mirror-less Interchangeable-Lens Camera (MILC), which is a different type of digital system camera. This type of camera provides an interchangeable lens mounting facility and does not have a mirror reflex optical viewfinder.
The Compact camera, usually equipped with small sensors, a fixed lens, and an electronic viewfinder (erg., a rear-facing LCD display). The smaller sensor has relatively poor imaging in some situations such as low light as it cannot capture as much light as a larger sensor.
The Fixed Mirror Sony (SLT) camera, which uses a semi-transparent mirror mounted in a fixed position and has a relatively large sensor and an electronic viewfinder. The mirror is used for continuous phase-contrast auto-focusing for still and motion pictures.
Professional photographers are divided in their use of these options, mainly because photography embraces so many different forms of the art that the decision about which camera to use is intensely personal. It is influenced by a number of factors, which can include subject matter, visual effect desired, and the limitations of each system. However, ultimately, the choice depends on how comfortable the photographer feels with the camera.
Marianna Digioia is a well known professional wildlife and nature photographer based in Monterey, California. Her specialty is photographing the outdoors, such as landscapes, animals, waterfalls, and fauna, and she travels the entire country to capture her special images.
Marianna said that she uses DSLR cameras exclusively, and argues their place in the world of photography is now firmly established. For her, there are a number of practical benefits provide by DSLR cameras. For example, the ability to be able to use interchangeable lenses for different tasks. Focusing can be manual or automatic and is activated by pressing half-way on the shutter release or a dedicated AF button.
Compared to the newer concept of mirror-less interchangeable-lens cameras (MILC), this mirror/prism system is the characteristic difference. It provides a direct and accurate optical preview with separate auto-focus and exposure metering sensors.
Marianna Digioia, as a professional photographer, has an opinion on smartphone cameras; and does she ever use one? We were surprised to learn that she did not reject their use out of hand.
“Yes, I admit it, I do use the camera on my smart phone to snap pictures from time to time. But the quality is not quite there, despite the amount of progress that’s been made with the technology. DSLR cameras will always be my first choice when I’m trying to capture an intimate moment between two Bald Eagles, or an expanse of plains in the Midwest.”
The fact is that, despite the advancement of smartphone camera technology and its ever increasing power, real digital cameras still offer the best image resolution — for now! It would foolish to predict what may happen in the future, and the day may come when a smartphone will rival the quality of a digital camera.
Until then, Marianna Digioia points out that her DSLR cameras are the best system for her special requirements.
“The images have inherently better resolution, and are definitely easier to manipulate and edit once they’ve been taken. They really bring out the warmth in the image that’s left out when you take a photograph with a smartphone.”
For non-professionals, smartphones can be appealing to use because they have big touch-screen LCD’s with intuitive controls. But for taking really great photos, you really need physical controls. To set your advanced camera precisely, nothing beats a manual focus ring, an exposure dial, or even something as simple as a responsive shutter button.
The social-media sites have created an explosion of images, millions, even billions, of pictures for the world to see. Browsing on the internet leaves the brain saturated.
That’s the reason we need to view the work of true photographic professionals, like Marianna Digioia, to help us understand and appreciate the beauty of a really great photograph.