We are the luckiest photographers of all time! We have cameras that can make images that were impossible to photograph just a few short years ago. I can’t even imagine what it will be like in another 5 years!
I just recently got back from travels to India where I took two Canon cameras with me, the older Canon 1 D Mark IV and the brand new Canon 1 Dx. Both preformed admirably. In my “normal” landscape photography I use a tripod 95% of the time, but in India I knew that in most temples, monuments, etc I would not be able to use a tripod. This meant if I wanted good pictures I would be hand holding my cameras. In the past this would have limited what I could shoot, but not today! With both of these cameras I was able to comfortable shoot over 6400 ISO and with the 1Dx I could even push it to 25,600 ISO! That’s a long way from the Kodachrome 25 I used when I started out in photography!
This made so many photo opportunities that would not have been available to me otherwise. One strong example is the portrait I made of the woman rug weaver lit by a single flame lantern at ISO 12,800! In another example, the night scene of Varanasi (4th image), I was standing in a moving boat on the river and still able to photograph at night!
Click here to see all the images big!
Most of you know I am a big believer in HDR imagery to gather the full tonal range of a scene. I found it absolutely necessary to shoot HDR in many of the locations I traveled including monuments and other buildings. By using these high ISO capable camera I was able to hand hold 3 bracketed shots at 2 stop increments to get full tonal images in very difficult lighting situations without the need for a tripod! If you look at the first two images on the page you will see two prime examples of what I was able to do.
So next time you are thinking about a camera purchase no matter what brand camera you use, don’t be as concerned about the number of pixels the camera has but pay more attention to how well the camera can perform under low light and how fast the frame rates is, allowing you to shoot 3 exposures for HDR in under a half a second!
We are truly at a time of “if you can imagine it, you can shoot it” It kinds of makes me feel sorry for all the talented photographers that have passed before us. I wonder what it would have been like if some of them had these capabilities. ( I can’t help but wonder what one of my idols, Ernst Haas could have done!) But I am also jealous of all those who will come after me and be able to create images I can’t even imagine today!