A challenge

The other day I overheard a kid - I'll call him Jack - who was eagerly awaiting the delivery of a new camera. It was an entry-level DSLR. And he said:

"I hate my friend right now. He says I won't be successful in photography with my D40. It's too small."

Oh dear. Listen kid. It's not your camera that's important. It's your eyes and brain behind the lens. Take a look at this ...

... three photographs taken using a tripod from exactly the same spot. They were taken one after the other, within the space of a few minutes, using three different cameras:

  1. A 7-year old, 3 megapixel Point and Shoot: Pentax Optio 330
  2. A medium-level 6-megapixel DSLR: Nikon D70s
  3. A top-of-the-range, 12-megapixel DSLR: Nikon D3
Can you tell which camera took which photograph? (Warning. The photographs are not necessarily in the same order as the list.)

The answers are in the comments section.

Did you get them right? Even if you did, I think you'll agree that it was pretty difficult. You had to look closely.

In other words, if you want to take photographs for your family album (though statistics show that 77% of photographers never print their images), photos to to e-mail to friends, photos to put on your website or on Flickr, even photographs to hang on your wall or use as wallpaper for your computer, almost any digital camera will give you excellent results. The images above prove that.

But, if that's the case, why does anyone buy an expensive camera (apart from wanting to impress friends)?

Because there is a difference in image quality, though you have to look hard.

If you are taking photographs for your own pleasure, most cameras will do a great job. But if you're intending to sell them they have to be the best possible quality. Whilst image taken with a 3mp point-and-shoot may look fine on your computer screen, it won't look so good if blown up to fit an A3 poster.

Here is a section from each image blown up to 100%. They're arranged in order of quality now, the 3mp point-and-shoot at the top, and the Nikon D3 at the bottom (I'd like to put them side by side, but can't seem to do it on Blogger):

See the difference? It's not huge, but it's significant.

So, Jack, don't worry what your friend says. He's a dweeb. Get out there with your D40 (a great camera, by the way) and take some stunning pictures. You're the key to beautiful images.


Alistair Scott said...


The top Image: Nikon D3 (12mp)
The middle image: Nikon D70s (6mp)
The bottom image: Pentax Optio 330 (3mp)

Did you get them right?

PhotoVince said...

Yes, I did, mainly on color reproduction and the overexposure of the tower... but it was hard given that all images showed pretty much JPG artefacts. Still, I agree that the camera is of secondary importance way beyond your creativity and understanding of the photographic process. I often take creative pictures with my cameraphone as well, working around its non-zoom, non-image-stabilizing, microscopic lens, 2MP sensor limitations... Hope the boy you mentioned is reading this or getting similar advice!

Alistair Scott said...

Congratulations PhotoVince. You've got an expert eye.

But, as you say, it's hard.

Thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

I could tell the Nikon glass from the Pentax but I did have the D3 and D70 reversed. I was mostly going by the color balance of the two Nikon images and preferred the tonality of the D70 image.

I used a D40X for much of my travel work and love it. it is small, light and very functional.

Nice post.



Alistair Scott said...

Thanks for that comment Jerome. Yes, the D40x packs a great punch for its size and weight. I know someone else who has got one and she loves it.