Photographs by Kang

Food Photographer living in London producing delicious material, and other related documents.

A camera guide for you

This is what food blogging looks like. Today, he is trying an experiment, by training his antiquated film camera on a plate of cheese and fruit all the while bobbing to tunes streamed from the internet to his touch sensitive media device that can also make calls, sometimes. Once he exhausts his roll of C41s, a 19th century design, he will digitise the developed negatives, ready then for digital publishing. Welcome to the 21st century. The freedom and availability of the world wide web has encouraged a whole generation to express themselves and it has given rise to the consummate amateur in a bid to announce his average punter’s opinion to the anyone who cares to listen to the broadcast. And boy, did he shout at the top of his lungs. With the advent of Web 2.0 architecture, it brought cheaper and sleeker tools to this very amateur publisher who sometimes thinks of himself as an independent voice, raging against the very system which had chewed him up for so long. The 21st century has also opened up the world of photography and decoupled the learning curve and the burden of developing costs to endow the end user with more image processing capabilities than ever before. Respect for good light is essentially a thing of the past now, as a sleuth of new cameras, equipped with highly capable digital sensors which can quite literally see in the dark. Now, everybody can be a photographer.

An Introduction

People often ask me what camera I use, often I will say that I shoot with a Nikon D700, but that does not really tell you much about my picture making abilities, because photography is much more than just a choice of camera. You’ve got to think about subject matter, framing, composition, quality of light, direction of light, post processing methods, lens choice, depth of field and so goes the list. All of these decisions impact one another when in pursuit of the perfect exposure. Even if you achieve personal perfection, it is a largely subjective state. A technically perfect image might not be an aesthetically pleasing picture, in which case, it just means it’s a bad photograph, or is it? Subject matter trumps technical quality. While it means that a superstar photog like say, Chase Jarvis will be able to grab startling results with his iPhone (good enough to publish as a photo book) it doesn’t mean that the iPhone is his camera of choice (various accounts suggest that he is also, very much a Nikon man). A camera is a tool which helps to get the job done. The better the tool, the easier and quicker the job can be done. But it is the photographer who makes the photograph, not the image making machine. Once you get your head around to that, you’ll realise that the best camera is actually the one you have on you right now.

Still, that’s the romantic way of looking at a craft, realistically, gear is just as important as skill when it comes to making photographs. If I had my way, I’d shoot with a Hassy 503CWD everyday. If I had my way. But the tension that photographers have with regards to gear/skill is a debate that rages on everyday. Would Dan Winters still be able to make his painterly portraits with a 35mm camera instead of his 8×10 setup? The best camera just simply isn’t good enough, if you have the thirst for achieving perfection in photographs, then it is only natural for your mind wonder about the latest technology floating about in the ether. Sometimes, I think of ‘upgrading’ as a way to buy into technical quality, but never asthetic quality.

And so I thought I would present a little guide to purchasing cameras, in case you ever wondered about the diverse range of products out there which a generation of bloggers might use to create their sumptuous photography. Whether you are a budding food blogger, or just someone wanting to learn abit more about cameras, this guide should prove to be a suitable introduction into the different types of formats available in most consumer driven economies. I’ll try to keep things fun too, let’s begin shall we.

Single Lens Reflex Cameras

SLRs have a long history with photo enthusiasts throughout the ages, some of the world’s most well-known photographs have been made with classic SLRs of their time, namely the Nikon F.

The Nikon D700. Digital camera with full frame sensor equivalent in size to 35mm film

Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras are by far the popular choice amongst food bloggers, if not professionals in general, not to mention the weekend Robert Frank wannabes. The way SLRs work are such that you see exactly what the lens sees. I know this seems like an intuitive and obvious design, but you would be surprised at the vast array of camera technologies out there which does not abide by this philosophy, some of which I will speak about later in this guide. In every SLR, lies a mirror box which deflects light from the lens into a glass penta-prism which then bounces the image the lens sees, to the viewfinder and then finally to your eye. From there, you are able to see what the final image looks like, then it is just a matter of framing and focusing before deciding to squeeze the shutter. When that happens, the mirror flips up to allow light to pass through to the shutter, which then opens to allow light to pass through to the film/sensor. When the photograph is exposed, the mirror flips down again. You can usually hear the ‘mirror-slap’ everytime you make an exposure… to some it’s music, to others (like myself) it’s equivalent to cow-fart, we gearheads prefer our cameras to be dead silent, so we can ‘blend-in’. Much of the bulk of an SLR camera is down to this inherent mirror-box/penta-prism design which takes up much of the space inside an SLR, see the large head on the camera? That’s where the penta-prism lives.

You will notice that I have not talked about digital SLRs yet because digital and film SLRs are essential the same design. The way you make the photograph is the same, it is simply that the recording medium, the film, has been interchanged with a digital sensor. SLR designs encompass a wide range of cameras designed to work with a wide range of film sizes, though let’s keep things simple and limit this part of the discussion to just the 35mm format. We’ll leave the larger formats to latter part of this guide. The 35mm format has a 3:2 ratio and it physically measures 36mm x 24mm. You’ll see why this dimension is important in a second.

Now, I assume you are mostly interested in digital rather than film, you want the beef on the latest digital stuff. There are several major brands out there including Pentax, Olympus and Sony who build great consumer SLRs, but most tend to fall in either the Nikon or Canon camp. Why you say? In the film days, the Nikon F was the professional’s choice primarily because of their sleuth of sharp and fast manual lenses. Nikon were also one of the first companies then to build very use-sable wide aperture, wide angle lenses such as the Nikkor 35mm f1.4 AIS for example – the photo-journalists choice. Eventually, Canon started building their EOS system and today their professional ‘L’ range of lenses have surpassed the Nikon cannon. It doesn’t stop me from buying Nikon though, more on lenses shortly.

In the digital world of SLRs, there are two terms you need to be familiar with : cropped sensors and full frame sensors. The latter is simple : a full frame sensor is equivalent in physical dimensions to a 35mm film negative. This is significant because it allows you to use the lenses as they were originally intended. The size of a film/sensor affects depth of field (how much in front/behind the focus point is in focus) and this is the key factor which compels users to buy into SLR systems : so that you can isolate subjects from the background, by blurring it out. Ironic don’t you think? The more money one spends, the blurrier the photo becomes… The larger the recording medium, the less the depth of field, the more accurate the focusing needs to be, to produce a good exposure. So in short, full frame cameras allow you to nail that striking look, with a higher degree of background blur using the equivalent lens/aperture compared to a cropped frame camera.

So what is the deal with cropped sensors then? Well, a cropped sensor basically means that it is smaller than a 35mm sensor/film. Usually about 1.5 times smaller, it is otherwise known as the APS-C format. The cropped sensor leads to a cropped field of view and changes the way your lens sees things. A 24mm lens is no longer 24mm on APS-C, it becomes a 36mm lens (1.5 x 24mm). The sensor only sees the centre cropped bit of the image projected by the lens and not the entire image which it is capable of projecting. While you lose out on perspective, what you gain is a cheaper camera. A full frame camera will set you back about at least £1800, very few companies make full frame SLRs, three to be exact : Sony, Nikon D700 and Canon. In the cropped sensor world, there is an abundance of choice and they start from as low as 300 quid. If you ask me, a Canon 400D will give you pictures equivalent to the 7D… 90% of the time. The only tangible differences are perhaps down to ruggedness in body construction, ie plastic body versus magnesium alloy.

Coming back to the mirror box conundrum again. The sheer size and noise an SLR camera makes is, in my opinion, it’s biggest problem. Sometimes, I feel like a pap on a dinner table. Try aiming a D3x attached with a 24-70 f.2.8 (plus hood) at someone, I guarantee that the first few seconds of facial expressions will be… interesting.

So here’s my recommendations if you want to buy an SLR system

Budget You will hardly go wrong with the cheapest SLR choices from all the major manufacturers. There is currently no such thing as a ‘cheap’ full frame camera, so all budget choices are equipped with APS-C CMOS sensors. Sometimes you will find older bodies which utilise CCDs instead, such as the Nikon D40, go for it. The differences should be minor, but I personally prefer CCDs, they make cleaner, less plasticky pictures.

1. Nikon D3000 body only £339
2. Canon EOS 1000D body only £319
3. Sony Alpha A230 body only £329

Mid-range This is a contentious category, I debated as to whether I should include this because I feel that in the digital world, there is no such thing as mid-budget bodies. I have made photographs using a D40 (200quid) and D700 (1700quid) which are at times difficult to tell apart, and that’s comparing a cropped sensor versus a state of the art full frame one. Semi-pro bodies use ‘advanced’ cropped sensors, they build them with better viewfinders, and more rugged shutters as well as a much tougher body. But in terms of the picture making element, the sensor, the differences as I said are slight. Going from a cropped sensor to a full frame is another matter altogether because you gain benefits with regards to a change of perspective and so forth. But if it’s between a high end and low end cropped sensor body, I think it’s really a just matter of personal preference. Oh but they shoot video too…

1. Nikon D300s body only £1100
2. Sony Alpha A550 body only £700
3. Canon 7D body only £1250

Pro. Congratulations. You have money to spend, wow. The best digital 35mm full frame format SLRs money can buy as follows:

1. Nikon D3x 24 megapixels, body only. £4800
2. Canon EOS 5D Mk II 21.1 megapixels, body only. £1600
3. Sony A900 24.6 megapixels, body only. £1900

…. and I shoot with a Nikon D700, body only £1700. Take your pick, if you have 2k to splash, all cameras in this category are awesome. If you fail to make a good photograph, you can’t blame the machine.

You will have noticed that I have only recommended you buy a ‘body only‘ camera. What about the lens? Well first of all, forget about bundled zoom lenses – they suck. Don’t believe what the camera guy says, 18-55mm cheap zooms are just that cheap zooms. There is a reason why pro level £1200 24-70 f2.8 lenses exists, and also the reason why professionals use them. NOW, here’s where the real excitement begins…

The importance of Lenses

There is a rule of thumb when it comes to splurging on system cameras. Save as much as you can on the cheapest body but spend as much as your budget will allow on the lens. Think about it, the lens is the first bit of kit that comes in contact with light.

It is also the only physical medium which light must travel through in order to reach the sensor/film. So therefore, the lens then represents the ultimate bottleneck in a picture making machine. Slap a poor lens on a sophisticated full frame camera and you will be depriving the benefits of that detail monster. You might as well buy a cheap cropped frame body. Hence the arguement, lenses : ultimate bottlenecks. 90% of my food photography is shot using just one focal length and one lens. The Nikkor 35mm f1.4 AIS, fully manual, 1960s design. Hard to believe? It’s true. None of my lenses are longer than 4 inches and long lens envy is a myth. Unless you are a sports photographer needing to nail a portrait shot of Becks from half a mile away, you will not need a 400mm. Traditionally, lenses were made in one focal length only. We call them prime lenses. Lenses which have the ability to change it’s own field of view are known as zooms. You can think of zoom lenses as a bunch of primes lenses in various focal lengths in one neat package. If zooms are so convenient, then why do primes still exist? Well prime lenses are much easier to design which means higher image quality that almost always trumps zooms (save for a few exceptions). And prime lenses have much larger apertures, much larger.

The lens aperture is denoted by it’s f number. The larger the aperture, the smaller the f number and the thinner the depth of field (when shooting at largeaperture/lowfnumber). This leads some photogs to use the expression ‘wide open’ when it comes to creating images with a shallow depth of field. Opening up the aperture, effectively allows you to blur the background out and isolate the subject from the background by keeping only the subject in focus. The quality of the blur is something photogs obsess over early in their hobby, the term which describes the unquantifiable quality of the blurry bits is called ‘Bokeh’. An example is the photograph above, just look at the bokeh (forgive the pun).

With the advent of cropped sensors, you will need to rethink your lens considerations as they will change the FOV of your lenses, reducing the effective FOV in most cases by the factor which I’ve used previously. Hence a 24mm becomes a 36mm and so forth. Let’s try to rationalise the numbers and see if we can categorise lens focal lenghts in 35mm format :

Wide Angle Lenses from 14mm to 35mm They have a wide field of view and they start from around 14mm which is equivalent to 114 degrees. Human vision is about 120 degrees. Normally, wide angles are used by photo-journalists who are close to the action and who want to capture as much information as possible. A 24mm is usually considered ‘wide’ and allows you to capture say the 3/4 of the subject matter standing 1m away from you, guesstimating anyway. A 35mm is ‘semi-wide’, if you shield off your temples with your hands, that’s roughly a 35mm, ok maybe a bit wider.

Lens suggestions
Full Frame : Nikkor 24mm f1.4G , Canon 24mm f1.4L , Nikkor 35mm f1.4 AIS, Zeiss ZF 35mm f2 Distagon T, Canon 35mm f1.4L, Sony 35mm f1.4G SAL-35F14G… and the Nikon 14-24mm f2.8G – stunner.
Cropped Frame … there’s no compelling primes to consider really.

Normal lenses 40mm- 60mm The ultimate normal lens is the classic 50mm. Some say it mimics human vision, and because it is so natural, others think it’s a weird focal length which is not wide enough, nor is it long enough. Either way, the 50mm is one of the least expensive routes into achieving striking bokeh isolating portraits.

Lens suggestions
Full Frame : Nikkor 50mm f1.8 AFD, Canon 50mm f1.2L, Zeiss ZF50mm f1.4 Planar
Cropped Frame: Nikkor 35mm f1.8G DX, Canon 35mm f2.0

Macro Lenses Ah yes, herein lies the true strength of the SLR system : Macro photography. It is one of the few systems which allow 1:1 reproduction and can reveal microscopic worlds. Macro lenses are specially designed for close-up photography, and particularly suited for food. They are extremely well corrected up-close and the closer you get, the more striking the portrait. So. The choices.

Nikkor 60mm f2.8ED , Nikkor 105 f2.8ED VR. -> The latter is superior.
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
Zeiss 50mm f2.0 Makro Planar

Telephotos These long lenses are primarily used to shoot portraits, longer lenses tend to produce a compression effect which appears to make subjects look slimmer. Not always of course, but say 70% of the time, you’ll find that people look more ‘flattering’ when portraits are shot with telephotos. This is also the reason why wedding photogs lug around huge white lenses. That’s usually a 200 or a 300 f2.8L if I am not mistaken.

As I said before, I’m not a fan of telephotos, but if you are obsessed with bokeh, do yourself a favour and invest in either the Nikkor 85mm f1.4 AFD or AIS (the above photo is shot with this), Canon 85mm f1.2L, Zeiss 85mm f1.4 Planar. These are all awesome lenses.

The Rangefinder

Now that we are over the overly long discussion about SLR, lens designs and so forth, lets now move to the other camera systems on the market. Forgive me if I get abit melodramatic in this section, but to me, rangefinders inject magic into photography, these are not mere tools, these are the optical equivalent of wizard wands.

Rangefinders are archaic designs. Popular in the beginning days when 35mm was the then ‘compact camera format’, we’re talking 20’s, 30’s and 40’s folks. Now, only a handful of manufacturers make them, mostly for film only. If you ever shoot rangefinders, I guarantee you will fall in love with the freedom that 35mm brings to the picture making process. Rangefinder cameras are much, much smaller than SLRs mainly because they do not have mirror boxes or pentaprisms. This also means that the photographer does not see what the lens sees. Instead the photographer focuses the image through a ‘rangefinder/viewfinder’ which sits on top of the camera, decoupled from the lens. That is to say that the you would not see what the camera sees, instead the viewfinder is literally just a window through which the photographer sees the world. Bear with me as I try to explain this.

The viewfinder shows framelines for the different focal lengths of the different lenses you snap on. So in other words, you can see what’s coming in and out of the frame. This is useful since it allows the photographer to ‘see the world’ and then choose to cut away which ever detail as he sees fit. Now in the centre of the viewfinder is what is known as the rangefinder mask. This mask shows a split image. When you point the camera at the subject, you need to focus the lens until the two split images align. When they align, the subject is then in focus. That’s right, manual focus only. Rangefinders require a higher degree of commitment from the photographer, but the completely manual nature of the camera does mean that you think about every exposure more and nailing the shot is all the more rewarding. You’ll find that over time, your basic knowledge of photography basics improve with time. You’ll find yourself estimate the intensity of light and you’ll think in stops and handheld shutter speeds, you’ll also build up a mental focal scale as you become adept with estimating focus distance…is it a 1m or 1.3m and so on. You become a ‘better’ photographer. Overtime, you’ll become baffled with the automation of modern SLRs, adjusting aperture, shutter speed and focus manually would be second nature.

Zeiss, Cosina Voigtlander and Leica currently still make film based rangefinders. In history, there has only been three digital models ever made: The Epson RD-1 (out of production) , the Leica M8 (phasing out) and the Leica M9 (the world’s first and only full frame digital rangefinder on the market). When one speaks about rangefinders, usually one is referring to Leica cameras. These legendary cameras are hand made out from their Solms factory in Germany, and the German engineering is so revered and precise that Leica cameras are said to be able to outlive their first owners. There is great mystique attached to Leicas primarily because they have been the camera of choice for so many of the worlds greatest photographers in history, particularly street photographers. Henri Cartier Bresson, William Klein, Robert Capa, Robert Frank, Garry Winogrand, all Leica men. The romantic idea of roaming the urban jungle with a compact camera and capturing the decisive moment revolves around the Leica. Handling one of these cameras is much like handling a jewel. The smooth shutter release button trips a discreet sound, a barely audible click, the result of the cloth shutter exposing the film – no cowfart of a mirror slap here. The film advance lever is silky smooth, nothing on the market compares, and the bright viewfinder is just breathtaking. Leicas are a joy to use, but more so than anything, Leica lenses are perhaps the most prized of all man-made optical jewels.

Leica lenses are said to produce creamy smooth bokeh, have excellent colour rendition and that they draw images so beautifully, some claim there is an indescribable ‘glow’, an x-factor if you like. This indescribable x-factor comes at a price. As an example, a Leica 35mm f2.0 summicron ASPH will set you back 2000 pounds. That’s Great British Pounds.

The two photos in this section was shot with the Leica M8 mounted with a 35mm f2 ASPH lens. Note the superiorly smooth bokeh, and then look at the overall aesthetic of the picture and then to the colour fidelity – it just produces sharp photos no? Part of the reason is also due to sensor design. Leicas use CCD sensors which do not have anti-aliasing (AA) filters in front of the sensors. The AA filter is a sort of ‘blur filter’ which is designed to minimise what is known as ‘moire’ patterns, artifacts associated with repeated lines and so forth. An AA filter is usually present in digital SLR sensors. The lack of one leads to clearer shots. Couple an AA-less sensor design with the super high-resolution Leica lenses and you have an impressive compact image making machine.

So what’s the catch? Well, for one, Leicas are horribly expenses. A Leica M8 (1.3cropped sensor) costs £2500, the Leica M9 (full frame sensor) costs £4850, and the lenses start at around £1200. Plus, the nearest focusing distance for all Leica lenses is 70cm. My 60mm f2.8 focuses down to 18cm. The picture above is about as close as I can get to the sushi with a 35mm lens. Yes there are macro modifiers which you can fit on to a Leica camera, but even then, it doesnt give you 1:1 reproduction, closer to 0.3x magnification, and the CCD sensors are bad at low light, really bad. I don’t use rangefinders to shoot food, they just cannot get me close enough. In spite of this though, I love shooting with the Leicas, the romantic idea of capturing the streets is too addictive to put down. After all, it is the way I have come to understand the medium : the art of document life today. With Leicas, its all heart, logic goes down the drain, along with your bank balance.

Point and shoots

Compact, sleek, desirable and practical. In the digital world, everybody has a point and shoot. Point and shoots are like rangefinders, without the rangefinder.

In the place of an optical viewfinder, the shutter simply keeps itself open so light passes from the lens straight through to the digital sensor. That’s how you get live view on the back of the LCD screen. Remember we spoke about cropped sensors? Well, digital compact sensors are typicaly 4 to 6 times smaller than full frame sensors. The significant reduction in sensor size means a significant reduction in cost and size of the lens, overall camera size and at the expense of also overall image quality. It’s basically taking a 35mm negative and cutting out 80% of the picture. Think about all that information you throw away! The smaller sensors mean higher depth of field for equivalent focal lengths, so shooting at say f2.0 on a point and shoot will give you an equivalent depth of field of say f8 on full frame.

Technology is rapidly catching up these days, and manufacturers are able to pull out even the tiniest detail from the compact sensors. So much so that many foodbloggers have created very accomplished photographs using point and shoot cameras. If I were to invest in a point and shoot, it would have to be the Leica Dlux-4, Titan edition. It features a 1/1.6 sensor, which is about a 4.3 crop and it’s twin brother the Panasonic Lumix LX3 is basically the same camera but without the hefty Leica price tag. £399 vs £500. The other contender is the Canon G11 with a 1/1.7 sensor, a 4.5 crop and retails for around £400. The little brother the Canon S90 is slightly cheaper and smaller, utilises the same sensor, but the former is built more robustly, has a fold-out LCD and has a more versatile lens which focuses down to 1cm compared to the 5cm of the S90. But as I said, if I had to choose, I would get the Dlux4. Helen the World Foodie Guide uses it, and it gives fantastic results.

Large sensored Point and Shoots and EVILs

After about a decade of digital sensor technology, pros lugging around heavy and over expensive gear, fear of being heckled as a pap, photographers are now uniformly crying out for large sensor technology to be squeezed into more compact packages. The premise is simple really, why can’t we make point and shoot cameras with large sensors?

Well, we can now. Olympus and Panasonic are at the forefront of the large sensor, compact body philosophy. With the advent of a new sensor format known as micro 4/3, or a sensor with a 2x crop factor, this allows manufacturers to make cameras which rival digital SLRs in image quality. Professionals are already jumping on the bandwagon. Enter the Olympus EP-1 and the EP-2. They fall under the new moniker of ‘EVIL’ cameras or ‘Electronic Viewfinder with Interchangeable Lens’, that are much smaller than SLRs and comparable in size to digital compacts. Think point and shoot, no optical viewfinder and interchangeable lens ala an SLR. The premise is to put even more ‘professional’ imaging power in hands of the hobbyist. My dad’s friend who has been a photo journalist for about 25 years has thus far avoided going digital, until he saw the Olympus. His very first digital camera. And he isn’t alone. Thom Hogan has taken his EP-1 on his photographic journeys. The other player to embrace the m4/3 EVIL bandwagon is Panasonic with their GF-1. Same deal as the Oly EP-1 really, and both cameras are at the forefront of this brand new revolution which is taking the digital photography world by storm. Very soon, the idea of paps lugging overly large cameras will be a thing of the past. Sony and Nikon are both hard and work with their interpretation of EVIL cameras, though their output probably wont be ready till early 2011. There is another player in this large sensor, small body game though : Leica.


photo credit:leica camera

Pictured above is the Leica X1. It is the first point and shoot to utilise a APS-C sensor (in fact, some say the same Sony sensor as used in the Nikon D300). It has a Leica 24mm f2.8 elmarit lens (equivalent to 36mm FOV) and it is hand-built in Germany to a classic finish same as the flagship Leica M rangefinders. Leica lens quality, focuses down to 25cm (for macros), the shutter is completely silent, is great in low light. If I had £1400, this would be my food-blogging camera of choice. Discreet, sleek, unobtrusive and most of all excellent digital image quality. What more could you ask for? £1400 perhaps. There are whispers that other manufacturers are going down this path, so the next few months will be interesting to say the least. About the only other alternative to the X1 is the Sigma DP1 and DP2, but their FOVEON sensors aren’t exactly true 12mp sensors, it’s more like a very high quality 4mp. The future of foodblogging? You decide.

Medium Format

So now that we have exhausted all the compact camera choices, what else is there? Well, a whole other level, that’s what else.

photo credit:hassleblad

In the grand scheme of things, the 35mm format is tiny. Think about it, it stretches only about 36mm on its longest end – that will never give you real detail and true description. What you need is to capture light on a much bigger canvas. Enter Medium format. Negatives measure to 60mm by 60mm and their digital equivalents are made to similar dimensions. If you want real detail, as I said, the key in is a big sensor. A much bigger one. As far as I know, pros use digital MF, albeit in a controlled studio enviroment to shoot magazine spreads, be it food or fashion. And as far as I know, billboards are mostly shot with digital MF cameras. Hassleblad is the leader of the pack, though there are alternatives such as Mamiya. Personally, this is next level stuff for me, I’ve never touched a MF camera before, but if I do decide, then I want a Hassy 503 CW. It is a true system camera which can be interchanged with a film back or a digital back. It shoots square images. Now if only I had another £10,000 lying around…

Film vs Digital

Beyond medium format, there are large format cameras, we would be stepping back in time to talk about them really, and they slow the photographic process down significantly, and it’s all film based.

Real photography. Art photographers mostly use large format film cameras to make their pictures. Andreas Gursky with his grand pictures, repeating patterns, macro social landscape photographs comes to mind, and my personal favourite are Dan Winter’s editorial portraits. Painterly, truly next next level stuff. As good as digital is, I don’t believe film will ever die, and I hope it never dies out because film still has a quality and a character which digital doesn’t quite yet seem to have managed. I feel that film stock produces colours and tone which are smoother, and just more natural. My film of the moment is Kodak Portra 400NC – for neutral colour. Perhaps we need to wait for the ghost in the machine to manisfest. Film is slower than digital, usually daylight balanced and fail in artificial light, much harder to master, but when you nail the exposure on film, it’s special. Ok then a little test, film vs digital. One is shot with a Nikon FM2 with a 50mm f1.4 lens with Fuji 160 film ; the other is shot with a Nikon D90 with a 16-85mm zoom lens set at 36mm. Which is which? Which is better? Does it really matter?

Film

So there is it, a foodbloggers’ guide to cameras. Hopefully I will have piqued your interest in not just cameras, but also photography in general, subtle as it is, they are not the same thing. At the end of the day, having gone through several thousand pounds worth of camera and lenses, I feel that getting bogged down with camera choices did not instantly improve my photography. Everytime I changed systems, I learnt the strengths and weaknesses of the system and adapted to the camera to best draw out it’s potential. But the same problem always presented itself. Was the light good, how shall I compose the image? Is this a good subject to shoot? If so, will it make an enticing photograph? No camera has been able to to take away from the decision making process every time I make an exposure, and I wouldn’t want it to either. I make the photograph, not my camera.

Posted on Thursday, April 15th, 2010. Filed under Blog, Camera Equipment, left.

Tags: , , ,

7 Responses to “A camera guide for you”

  1. Anthony Says:

    April 22nd, 2010 at 12:44 am

    Really great and comprehensive article! I’m jumping from DSLR to rangefinder myself and hoping to dive into medium format in the future too.

  2. marv woodhouse Says:

    April 23rd, 2010 at 11:26 am

    Great post really helpful,

    Question; in you opnion which is better value for the novice photographer/food blogger Lumix GF1 @ 649 with 20mm lens or LX3 @ 349? Id’ rather not get a DSLR as I like to take photos of restaurant food and I think a big DSLR will be too obtrusive.

    Also have you any tips for lighting; the main issue I have is I mainly cook in the evenings and I struggle to get good photographs when there is little natural light.

    Thanks

    Marv

  3. Kitchen Butterfly Says:

    June 7th, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    Superb summary Kang, as soon as my jar is fulll of pounds, not pennies, I’ll be back to read this again before I buy my body!

  4. Kang Says:

    June 21st, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Anthony – Yeah, I’m hoping to jump into Medium format sometime in the future as well. It’s a different ballgame altogether.

    Marv – Sorry for the lateness of this reply! I’d say go with the GF1 + 20mm pancake lens.The large 4/3 sensor will make a huge different imho.

    Kitchen Butterfly – Glad you found this useful…let me know what body you settle for!

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