We live in a photographic age that is causing us to redefine camera systems well beyond our previous, and simplistic, two dimensional view. It wasn’t that many years ago when many photographers only considered two factors. The camera body. And, the lenses associated with it. In the past some cameras were bought more because of the lenses that could be married to it, rather than specific attributes of the body itself.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
Advancements in computational photography, and software that incorporates artificial intelligence, are redefining the elements that constitute camera systems.
At the very least we are now appreciating that camera systems need a third dimension so they can operate more effectively. Like a three legged stool, the software we use has become a critical component in our overall camera system thinking. We need to proactively consider our photographic software as an integral part of our camera system,
Given the size of the sensor in our camera, software now enables us to use our equipment in lower light conditions than we previously thought was possible. As the artificial intelligence incorporated in our photo software programs continues to advance, so too will the functionality of our gear.
I can remember reading comments from online ‘expert’ reviewers that stated Nikon 1 camera gear could never be used beyond ISO-800. After experimenting with my software, I discovered that I had no trouble regularly pushing that equipment to ISO-3200. That ISO level eventually became just part of my normal operating range. Those additional two full stops of shooting latitude gave me a huge amount of increased functionality in terms of how I used my Nikon 1 camera gear.
When I bought my Olympus kit back in June 2019 I heard the same assessment about M4/3 sensor cameras being limited to lower ISO values. I quickly learned that I could push my gear to ISO-6400 on a regular basis. Not only that, I discovered that if I did a proper job with my base exposure I could push my images to even higher ISO levels.
It is important to remember that we’re discussing the impact of modern photographic software and how it is helping to redefine and broaden the perceived limits of our camera equipment. This is true regardless of what equipment we happen to own.
As photographers if we are not considering our software as an important and integral part of our camera system, we are doing our craft a great disservice. We need to investigate software options and find whatever program best suits our needs, and works well with our chosen camera gear. The software we use is as important as the camera in our hands, and the lens that is attached to that camera body.
Computational photography is a fourth, critical consideration when weighing our options with a camera system. It represents a potential fourth leg to a camera system that provides even more overall functionality and creativity.
There has been much discussion about the decline of the dedicated camera market and why so many people have abandoned cameras for Smartphones. Some of the most frequently mentioned reasons are size, weight, convenience, and cost. One of the biggest factors is often overlooked. Abject boredom.
Like many people I’ve had an ‘on again… off again’ love affair with photography. At times my creative juices have flowed freely and I’ve been consumed with photography. And at other times… I couldn’t have cared less about photography.
When I look back at my experiences with digital photography (I never enjoyed the film days at all so I’ve written all of those years off completely) I’ve had some incredible highs. And some very deep lows. My ‘lowest of the low’ moments I’ve had with digital photography occurred when I was using full frame DSLR gear.
I fell prey to all of the hype about full frame. I drank the Kool-Aid and invested thousands of dollars in that camera format. The novelty of using full frame gear wore off very quickly. All I was able to do was create similar images to what I had in the past… but the files were much better with more dynamic range and colour depth.
I found the gear large and cumbersome to use. The fundamental problem was that using full frame gear bored the hell out of me. There was no mojo to be found in my body or brain.
I appreciate that we’re all different and many photographers have had a much more positive experience with full frame gear than I did. My lack of inspiration and creativity when using full frame equipment was fully my responsibility. I just never felt connected to my full frame kit. It always seemed to get in the way of what I wanted to do, rather than enable my creativity.
Selling all of my full frame gear in July 2015 and using Nikon 1 kit exclusively saved my photographic life. If it wasn’t for Nikon 1 gear none of you would be reading this website today. And, none of you would have seen any of my previous articles when I was on the writing team at Photography Life.
For me a camera system’s true worth comes from how inspired and creative I feel when I use it. Being able to do things that I couldn’t do before is where I find continual sparks of inspiration. Those sparks fire consistently when I take advantage of computational photography functions and other technological advancements like IBIS performance.
I would much rather follow my inspiration and capture a handheld macro image only using one hand, rather than wasting my time setting up a tripod to support heavy, bulky full frame gear.
I love observing nature and seeing an image in my mind. Then using computational photography a few moments later to create that exact image with 100% confidence.
To leverage our creativity, and to get the best return from our investments in camera gear, it is important to redefine camera systems to include four components. Camera body. Lenses. Software. Computational photography capability.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. Most images were produced from RAW files using my standard approach in post. Images created from out-of-camera jpegs and crops are noted. Images were resized for web use. This is the 1,176 article published on this website since its original inception in 2015.
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