David Healey

We all like to be­lieve our im­ages have ‘qual­ity’, but how do you make sure you get the best out of the cam­era you are us­ing?

Amateur Photographer - - 7 Days - David Healey ARPS chairs the RPS’s Ana­logue group and tu­tors pho­tog­ra­phy at King Ed­ward VI As­ton and Handsworth schools. See www.face­book.com/groups/rp­sana­logue/

Look­ing at some pic­tures, my fash­ion-pho­tog­ra­pher col­league said rather dis­parag­ingly, ‘I think those have been taken on a phone’. The im­ages in ques­tion loomed very large on the walls of a cof­fee house. It was a sub­jec­tive judg­ment, but they were un­sharp (when viewed at close dis­tance), lacked a full tonal range es­pe­cially in the shad­ows, and were to our eyes un­invit­ing. Nei­ther of us un­der­es­ti­mates how good phone photos can be, if the pho­tog­ra­pher un­der­stands its lim­i­ta­tions.

For decades, the photo in­dus­try has pur­sued minia­tur­i­sa­tion and con­ve­nience: wit­ness the evo­lu­tion of Ko­dak’s point-and-shoot film cam­eras from 120 roll­film to Disk. Thank­fully, APS was not an even smaller for­mat than Disk, though if it had been based on 35mm film, it would have been an im­prove­ment on 35mm, and been more widely adopted.

How we as pho­tog­ra­phers record faith­fully the vast range of de­tail in any scene, let alone its bright­ness range, de­pends on many fac­tors, but I was al­ways taught that one of the most ob­vi­ous in­flu­ences is the size of the film or sen­sor I use. Minia­ture and sub-minia­ture film and sen­sor for­mats not only limit, among other things, the size of the sharp en­large­ment you can make, but also com­press the tonal (black & white) or hue (colour) range. The smaller the for­mat, the less in­for­ma­tion we can record, so the less we can re­pro­duce in the fi­nal im­age.

If sen­sor size made no dif­fer­ence, we would not have full-frame or large-for­mat DSLRs. Film thus has a qual­ity ad­van­tage. No- one at the height of the SLR boom in the 1970s and 80s was in­tro­duc­ing half-frame SLRs: full-frame 35mm was bet­ter, roll­film was in prin­ci­ple bet­ter than 35mm, and large for­mat was bet­ter than medium for­mat. Film to­day of­fers, nearly al­ways, a larger for­mat that than in APS- C or Mi­cro Four Thirds.

Com­pare the dif­fer­ence tonally and in terms of sharp­ness be­tween minia­ture (35mm), medium- and large-for­mat neg­a­tives on a light­box. Stu­dents can see it. Com­pare the photos taken on small sen­sors and large sen­sors for low light ca­pa­bil­ity, colour depth, sharp­ness, etc. We can train our­selves to look for th­ese. There are pho­tographs all around us, yet of­ten we do not per­ceive them. Also look at oth­ers’ photos and dis­cover tech­ni­cally why they dif­fer and what is the dif­fer­ence.

Do you have some­thing you’d like to get off your chest? Send us your thoughts in around 500 words to the ad­dress on page 53 and win a year’s dig­i­tal sub­scrip­tion to AP, worth £79.99

Part of Mamiya’s 6x7cm range, which of­fered a huge qual­ity ad­van­tage over 35mm in the stu­dio

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.