Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Miami Show Scene

Miami has many interesting attractions to be photographed. Staple scenes that can be immediately identified with the area. South Beach, Little Havana, the beaches.

Almost any photographer can capitalize on these.

There are also plenty of events being conducted outdoors. Some of them feature great music-industry personalities. Most of these events are open to be photographed by anybody who is toting a camera and they feature some "ammenities" for the photographer:

Interesting topics
Many times these events feature celebrities. Musicians, Singers, Dancers, and other performers that are well known locally and on the media. Celebrities are almost a guarantee that your shots will be worth looking at. The atmosphere around the events is also worth featuring and characters appear spontaneusly, don't be afraid of shooting the crowd, they are in a public space.

"Studio" Lighting
The lighting provided for the event is usually bright enough for photographing, even with a f3.5 lens. The traditional technique for shooting a well-illuminated stage would entail measuring the incident light and sticking to it as it does not deviate that much during the performance. Proper adjustment for light fall-off due to distance is necessary though. With Digital, you can pretty much just experiment.

You'll blend in the crowd
With the Motley Crew out there and a handful of photographers also doing their thing, you won't stand out of the crowd that much and will let you concentrate on your work.

My own rebuttal

Some months ago I wrote about the differences of the APS-C sensor format and full-frame. Despite the fundamentals of all the arguments I presented in favor of the smaller format (smaller lens sizes and weight, same expected resolution and the benefit of Moore's law), I found one sustainable argument in favor of the full-frame sensor supremacy.

The arguments deals with the fact that for all things equivalent (same resolution, etc.) each individual pixel on the sensor is of a smaller size on the smaller sensor. In other words, each pixel on a 12-Megapixel APS-C sensor is smaller than each pixel on a 12-Megapixel Full-Frame sensor.

The first issue -which I addressed on my previous entry- is the amount of light that falls on the sensor. A bigger pixel gathers more light than a smaller one, so if Signal-to-Noise ratio is an issue the full frame sensor performs better, but in the case of a better technology where noise is reduced significantly and the material in itself is more sensitive, this becomes a non-issue.

One another effect is related to the imperfections on the lens surface that determine the sharpness of the lens. A smaller sensor captures images created by a smaller section of glass on the lens. It is presumable then that acceptable sharpness calls for more precisely crafted lenses when utilizing very small sensors. This is a purely optical issue.

At this time, I have not seen a good calculation of when this effect becomes noticeable, but initially it seems to be that a full frame sensor would be more tolerant to less-than-perfect lenses and would be capable of rendering sharper images.

My problem with this is that it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy since the leading camera and lens manufacturers make more high-quality lenses for full-frame (or legacy 35mm) cameras. In other words, better lenses are only made in the format that does not require them that much!

DX vs. Full Frame

If you have not figured it by this time, is because you have not searched on me on the Web. I am a photographer, and I take it quite seriously, but still, I have reptilian remnants of a techno-geek inside me, so sometimes I get caught in the "shop" discussion.

I have heard many times that the DX format that Nikon got into when they started with their D70 (and other manufacturers like Canon with their REBEL), is never going to replace the full-frame technology. My opinion is that this might be possible, but not because the full-frame is better, but because professional photographers were lead to believe this.

Here is my argument on why DX HAS TO eventually replace the full frame.

The main reason why you want a full frame sensor is because:

  • You can fit more pixels into the area of a full frame sensor. This would have a resolution advantage.
  • You can fit BIGGER pixels with the SAME resolution. This would have a illumination advantage, as each pixel captures more light and because of this the camera is capable of performing under low-light conditions.

The two reasons why you want to use a smaller sensor (such as the APS):

  • It is cheaper, making the camera body smaller, lighter and less expensive.
  • Because the area that has to be illuminated is smaller, lenses don't have to be as big (this is the real reason why point-and-shoots are so small!)

Now, let's take a look at the two alternatives. First of all and these days the investment that a Pro Photographer has, is much more in the lenses than in the camera body, so cheaper lenses lower the whole investment. This is also true for weight and handling. Heavier and bigger lenses will add much more weight and clumsiness to the gear than a bigger body.
So whenever we can reduce weight and size of all lenses, we should go for that. There are two ways of doing this. One is to come up with more refractive materials and the second is to illuminate a smaller area at the sensor. So let me ask you, When was the last time you heard about a radically new type of glass?

The D70 was released in 2004 with 6MP of resolution. Just recently, less than 5 years after, the D90 is on the market with twice as much resolution, and I-don't-know-how-much-better high-ISO performance.

The truth is the camera sensors and their Signal-to-Noise performance pretty much follow Moore's law, optics just cannot. Smaller sensors is the way to go...