More About Cameras

Canon Rebel T5
Photo credit: Chris Gampat

After writing my last post about cameras and Disney World, and why I feel it is so important to NOT rely on a camera-phone, I found myself pouring over my photos…and I was less than pleased. All my family pictures had been taken with point-and-shoot digital cameras, which are miles above a cell-phone camera, but they lacked the crispness and detail that I have seen in many photos as of late. I have over 20 years of experience in retouching and editing digital photography, but my experience in actually capturing great pictures to begin with was pretty much limited to random luck and chance lighting.

I bet you can guess what happened next…

Yep, I joined a Facebook Photography group and asked what a good camera would be to learn on that wouldn’t cost two arms, a leg, and my first-born child. Surprisingly, the responses were wonderful – supportive and kind, and honest about the different models I was inquiring about. After some discussion, I decided to throw out any preconceptions I had and go with the camera most suggested by those who had photography experience – a refurbished Canon Rebel T5.

The price was definitely right – $439 on sale to $299; and it’s a camera I can grow with as well as acquire new lenses and accessories for as I gain experience.

However, there is one thing I was NOT prepared for…to absolutely love it so quickly! I literally just took it out of the box, put in the battery and SDHC card, and started shooting with the auto settings on, and I LOVE this camera! It takes pictures WAY faster than a point-and-shoot even with red-eye reduction and flash, and it doesn’t feel overly heavy in my hands – something I was really worried about with any camera with a changeable lens.

You may recall that I wrote about how larger lenses are able to capture more light and generate a better image here. Here’s the difference between my iPhone, a point-and-shoot Sony Cyber-shot and the Canon Rebel T5 with all settings on auto. Please note that I did not use any zoom, have not edited any of these, and that I used a tripod for both cameras (and for distance with my iPhone). First, the iPhone image…

 

Flower - iPhone

And the Sony Cyber-shot

Flower - Sony Cyber-shotAnd now the Canon Rebel T5…

 

Flower - Canon

Now, you have to realize that the cameras were all the same distance from the flowers, and that the image sizes get progressively larger. The iPhone captures at 27″ x 36″, the Sony at 45″ x 60″, and the Canon at 48″ x 72″. The difference in where the camera sees the flowers to be is quite obvious, as are some of the differences in color.

Here are the same images – again, un-manipulated save for cropping.

Flower Cropped

And an even smaller sampling…

Flower Cropped Close

I did have to adjust the size of all of these images so that they would fit on the page, but the image sizes in relation to each other are accurate. I was extremely interested in the difference in the colors – DSLR cameras are said to take relatively “flat” images straight out of the camera, but in this instance, the color really pops, and the pinks and yellows didn’t get washed out at all as they did from the Sony and iPhone.

Now with my background in photo editing, there is RARELY an instance in which I leave an image exactly as it came from the camera…so here are the before and after editing shots from my new Canon Rebel T5.

Flower Original - Canon
Cropped, but otherwise unedited.

 

Flower Final - Canon
Cropped, and edited for sharper color.

And another example – a picture I took of my son this morning for the last day of school.

C before editing.
C before editing.
C after editing.
C after editing.

I know this article sort of sounds like an advertisement for Canon, but it really isn’t. There are many cameras out there better than a Rebel T5, but for a beginner, I think I was pointed in a great direction and can’t wait to practice with different settings before we go on our next trip to Disney World!

Camera-phones in Walt Disney World

Mickey MouseOne of the things we treasure most after being on a magical Disney vacation is the pictures we take while we’re enjoying all the wonderful experiences Disney has to offer. My favorite pictures are always the unplanned, candid ones that truly capture a moment – the first look at the castle, the first taste of a scrumptious dessert, or the first hug from Mickey Mouse.

There is one thing I see at Walt Disney World that makes me sad though – people using camera-phones for pictures during their special trip.

It’s one thing to take a silly selfie with a character or in some silly pose to post on the internet, but people, please don’t rely on camera-phones for important pictures! Something a lot of people don’t understand about using the cameras that come included on cell-phones, smartphones and tablets is that the pictures they take are really only meant to be viewed on a screen, not printed.

Size – First, lets talk image size. Camera-phones have limited storage capacities, and as such are designed to take smaller images than even an inexpensive point-and-shoot digital camera. Both my iPhone and Sony Cyber-shot digital camera are the same age…but the pictures my camera takes are nearly twice the size of the pictures my iPhone takes. Photos from my camera are 60″ x 45″, and from my iPhone are 36″ x 26.889″. When these images are reduced to print size, the pixels per inch are adjusted according to the amount of reduction. So, the bigger your image is before you reduce it for printing, the better it will look. Using my image sizes for comparison, my camera takes pictures at nearly twice the quality of my iPhone, and it’s just a cheap-o digital.

Lens – Another major difference is in the lens. Digital cameras often combine optical and digital zoom. After a little playing around, you will definitely be able to see the point where the optical zoom (where the lens actually adjusts) changes to digital (faked zoom). The quality found in optical zoom is miles beyond that of digital, and the cameras on mobile devices rely completely on digital zoom. When digital zoom is used, images tend to get very fuzzy and grainy looking.

Sensor – Now, here’s the really important part – sensors. All cameras have sensors that use light in order to create a digital signal. Common sense dictates that the more pixels a sensor has, the better the image, but in this case, size really does matter. The larger the sensor, the more light that can be captured, equaling higher quality photographs (especially in low-light circumstances). Camera-phones simply aren’t able to carry a large sensor simply because the whole goal of the device itself is to be small and compact. Try taking a low-light image with a camera-phone and you’ll see what I mean…it looks like a dust-storm!

Lastly, here are some of the more obvious differences…

  • Battery Life
  • Storage Capacity
  • Shutter Speed
  • Burst Shooting

Also, here’s a side-by-side comparison from my Cyber-shot and iPhone.

Photo Comparison

I did not manipulate these images at all – I simply cropped them and placed them next to each other so you could see the differences. At this size, you can easily see the pixelization you would see from any digital imaging device, but notice the quality of color shifts and the simple number of colors used in the shifts. Also notice the sharpness of the twigs in the nest. Take a look the color – the Sony Cyber-shot is almost identical to reality, while the iPhone made all of the colors cooler. Once you really take a look, the quality difference is quite obvious.

Now for the glaring difference…take a peek at the branch behind the word “shot”. You can see all the little dimples and textures of a wisteria branch. Now look at the other side. Nearly all the detail is missing because the image is just so grainy.

So, for the love of all that is Disney and the magic Walt Disney World brings to our lives…please get yourself a dedicated camera and leave the cell-phones for checking the wait time for Pirates of the Caribbean.