Can you claim to be a great photographer when using modern high tech gear ?

Messages
736
Name
Brad
Edit My Images
Yes
#1
A random question really but if using the modern high tech camera with all it auto functions do you feel you can claim to have taken a great photo when the camera has done some of the work for you ? Is photography now just down to composition ? Would you say a photographer achieving a great result using a vintage film or glass plate camera is a better photographer as he has to judge light thus shutter speed aperture and focus ?

No shouting please
 
Last edited:
Messages
23,123
Name
Phil
Edit My Images
No
#2
A random question really but if using the modern high tech camera with all it auto functions can you claim to have taken a great photo when the camera has done the work for you ?
Seriously?

My cameras have been left alone all week, and they haven’t managed to take a crap photo, let alone a great one.

The ‘quality’ of a photograph is dictated by the subject, light and composition. And the best cameras in the world can’t choose any of that.

I’m struggling not to say it’s a stupid question if I’m honest.

Technology makes taking great photos easier (allegedly), but taking great photos still takes planning and work. And I speak as the owner of 5 modern dslr’s, and several other ‘auto’ cameras, and I don’t think I’ve ever taken a ‘great’ photo, is it because I’m completely useless?
 
Messages
1,216
Name
Brian
Edit My Images
No
#3
Being a great photographer has nothing to do with cameras. It is about being able to visualise an image and being able to use the tools you have (because that is all cameras are) to create that image.
 
Messages
14,091
Name
Nightmare
Edit My Images
No
#4
Do high tech cameras book all the travel? Do they transport themselves to the location and compose a shot? Do they make the final edits?

I guess that would be a no, no, no, and no. Until you have a freak AI running around terminator style it will still be a no.

Pass along your "high tech" gear to a layman and see what they come up with. I don't think I need to continue.
 
Messages
6,020
Name
Terry
Edit My Images
Yes
#5
I am not sure there is a direct relationship between great images. "Great"Photographers or the kit they use.
"Great" photographers seem to have more luck than the average man in the street, or even compared to hard working professionals.
But very few "Photographers" of any kind, make great images very often.
Mostly, the best they can guarantee is a competent result.
 
Messages
1,560
Edit My Images
No
#6
With modern, automatic cameras it's easier to get sharp, well-exposed pictures without thinking too much about it. There are endless numbers of sharp, well-exposed, completely forgettable photos all over the Internet. Magnum's Costa Manos, talking about his American Color series, mentioned the 'fool's paradise' of automatic cameras - "Taking good pictures is easy. Making very good pictures is difficult. Making great pictures is almost impossible." There's no particular virtue in struggling with a vintage system - do it only because you prefer it, or the process brings something to the image that would otherwise be missing. But mostly it's about where you are standing, when you click the shutter, and what you are trying to communicate, as it always has been.
 
Messages
2,953
Name
stuart
Edit My Images
Yes
#7
A random question really but if using the modern high tech camera with all it auto functions can you claim to have taken a great photo when the camera has done the work for you ? Is photography now just down to composition ? Would you say a photographer achieving a great result using a vintage film or glass plate camera is a better photographer as he has to judge light thus shutter speed aperture and focus ?

No shouting please
A camera with all its auto functions will take a decent quality snap . A photographer over riding all those auto settings can take an amazing shot . No amount of fancy cameras can substitute good light and the photographers ability to see it
 
Messages
11,953
Name
Keith
Edit My Images
No
#8
It has been proven many times, like in those old DigiRev challenges where they would ask a pro photographer to use only a cheap/crap/toy camera, there was even one who used a Barbie camera and another made out of lego :D and they still managed decent shots considering the limitations. Unless you don't see photography for what it is, an art, then you cannot seriously believe it's just down to the fancy gear.
 
Messages
2,901
Name
Simon Everett
Edit My Images
Yes
#9
All the automation does is the mental arithematic, or at least some of it.

One phrase sums it up: Great pictures are made, not taken. A camera takes a picture. A photographer makes one.
 
OP
OP
BADGER.BRAD
Messages
736
Name
Brad
Edit My Images
Yes
#10
If you were to get a laymen and tell him to take a picture of say a horse with a modern point and press and then give him fully manual camera and tell him to do the same I'm sure he would struggle to get a good result with the second. I'll grant you he's never going to take a superb photo unless by shear luck. I'm not trying to argue that a layman could take a photo of the quality of a professional but from a personnel point of view I feel I have achieved more if I get a good result from a fully manual camera all though I have to admit to having a better success rate with modern cameras, But that is probably down to the fact that I am a crap photographer that still enjoys it as a hobby ! I'd guess a professional would wish to make his life as easy as possible with all the mod cons.

and I did say no SHOUTING !
 
Last edited:

TheBigYin

Staff member
Messages
22,569
Name
Mark
Edit My Images
Yes
#12
A random question really but if using the modern high tech camera with all it auto functions can you claim to have taken a great photo when the camera has done the work for you ?
The moment the Camera taps me on the shoulder, says "hey, i've got a great idea for a photo, get in the car, I'll drive..." I'll come around to thinking that way a little...


Is photography now just down to composition ?
No, same as it's always been for me, it's about pre-visualisation of an image, and taking all the steps I need to convert that picture in my head into one on paper - so it's pretty much about light and the manipulation thereof, with composition being a part of the remaining process, along with the "craft" side of taking a photograph.

Would you say a photographer achieving a great result using a vintage film or glass plate camera is a better photographer as he has to judge light thus shutter speed aperture and focus ?
Nope, he may be a better chemist if he's doing wet plate work, probably a better (or at least more practiced) mathematician if he's working out manual exposures for a fully manual camera - but to b honest with the exposure latitude of reversal film, extrapolating from the sunny 16 rule isn't exactly rocket science - especially with the larger format cameras you're post alludes to - lets face it, with landscapes on 10x8" you're going to be shooting at f/64 anyway, so just adding 4 stops to the reciprocal of your film's ISO isn't a terribly difficult calculation. Or, you could just use a lightmeter, which will just tell you how long the shutter needs to open... far from rocket science. It's all simple maths - far easier to learn than even a basic understanding of how to manipulate light...

Happy to oblige
 
Last edited:
Messages
4,968
Edit My Images
No
#14
If you were to get a laymen and tell him to take a picture of say a horse with a modern point and press and then give him fully manual camera and tell him to do the same I'm sure he would struggle to get a good result with the second. I'll grant you he's never going to take a superb photo unless by shear luck. I'm not trying to argue that a layman could take a photo of the quality of a professional but from a personnel point of view I feel I have achieved more if I get a good result from a fully manual camera all though I have to admit to having a better success rate with modern cameras, But that is probably down to the fact that I am a crap photographer that still enjoys it as a hobby ! I'd guess a professional would wish to make his life as easy as possible with all the mod cons.

and I did say no SHOUTING !
I can drive a manual car. Does that make me a formula one champion.
 
Messages
1,405
Name
Andy
Edit My Images
Yes
#15
I can drive a manual car. Does that make me a formula one champion.
Ahhh yes but modern cars are much easier to drive, so therefore by chance you may actually win at Monaco :rolleyes:
 
Messages
7,310
Name
Richard Alan Jones
Edit My Images
Yes
#16
Understanding what values to dial in for given parameters does not make you a great photographer. You can train any idiot to do that. Do you honestly think you're better because you turn a lens ring to direct focus to a particular point in an image as opposed to choosing and directing an electronically driven focus point by some other method (touch screen, joystick etc)? Do you use a light meter? because obviously some one who doesn't and just dials in numbers is a better photographer. Do you develop your own film? Because obviously you can only be great if you do, and then optically print the results yourself in a cupboard under the stairs of course. I spent a year developing films in chemicals I brewed myself, does that get me extra greatness points?

Photography is multi faceted. Turning rings and dials and pressing buttons is but a small part of it. If you want to use a basic manual camera then great, have at it and enjoy it, but if you think it's in some way going to add any value to your work I'm afraid you'll just have to dream on.
 

simon ess

Just call me Roxanne.
Messages
7,625
Edit My Images
No
#17
I love my Rolleicord. I take well exposed, well focused photos with it, all of which are crap.

I love my D500. I take well exposed, well focused, blazingly sharp photos with it, all of which are crap.

IMO, photography has almost nothing to do with kit as long as you have a tool of some sort.
 

KIPAX

Seriously Likeable
Messages
20,188
Name
KIPAX
Edit My Images
Yes
#18
Would you say a photographer achieving a great result using a vintage film or glass plate camera is a better photographer as he has to judge light thus shutter speed aperture and focus ?
erm I use a 1dxII and I have to judge light, shutter speed and focus amongst many other things..



You know the old adage that theres no such thing as a stupid question..... Well done :)
 
Messages
1,935
Name
Roger
Edit My Images
Yes
#19
Anybody can claim to be a great photographer, its whether anybody else agrees with you that matters!
 
Messages
12,127
Name
Toni
Edit My Images
No
#20
A random question really but if using the modern high tech camera with all it auto functions can you claim to have taken a great photo when the camera has done the work for you ? Is photography now just down to composition ? Would you say a photographer achieving a great result using a vintage film or glass plate camera is a better photographer as he has to judge light thus shutter speed aperture and focus ?

No shouting please
Have a look through the images on TP, then come back and tell us if you think expensive digital cameras will always take great photos. ;)

In the pre-automation days taking a picture required a bit more care and understanding from a photographer, but only a bit more. Wet collodion on glass plates were a technical degree harder too, but the actual image creation process wasn't much different. We are much choosier about technical quality these days than we were 40 years ago, when automation was effectively unknown, and images considered technically fine then would sometimes probably struggle to stand up now - that's one area where the gear has made a difference.
 
Messages
1,216
Name
Brian
Edit My Images
No
#21
Anybody can claim to be a great photographer, its whether anybody else agrees with you that matters!
I think anyone who claims to be a great photographer is automatically disqualified from being one :)

From all the books on photographers I have read the really great ones always seem to put themselves down.
 
Messages
303
Name
Chris
Edit My Images
No
#22
I have an electronic tuner I can plug into my guitar so that it's perfectly in tune - does that make me a great guitarist? (BTW - the answer's "no" as anyone who's heard me play will attest )
At best the technology can only help in creating a technically good photo - it's the human driving it that's needed to create a great photo.
 
Last edited:
Messages
23,123
Name
Phil
Edit My Images
No
#24
and I did say no SHOUTING !
No one shouted, but we pretty much all agree your premise is completely flawed.
I'm not trying to argue that a layman could take a photo of the quality of a professional but from a personnel point of view I feel I have achieved more if I get a good result from a fully manual camera all though I have to admit to having a better success rate with modern cameras, But that is probably down to the fact that I am a crap photographer that still enjoys it as a hobby ! I'd guess a professional would wish to make his life as easy as possible with all the mod cons.
You have no belief you’re a great photographer, but that’s down to you having no understanding of what makes a great photograph.

It’s a common misconception you’ll have seen in the many ‘what settings’ posts and debates. Great photographs aren’t made by ‘settings’ not ever! (The correct ‘settings’ should be a given)

Great photographs are a mix of
  • A narrative (whether a captured moment or a story built by a scene)
  • Good composition
  • Lighting that complements the above.
From a photographers perspective, we just need to operate a camera once we’ve got that lot nailed; it’s the least important bit, but we have to understand fundamentally how to do that. Using a modern camera makes that ‘quicker’ and some of them help do it more precisely.

It’s amazing how many noob photographers hear ‘correct exposure’ when photographers talk about lighting, which is symptomatic of how much they have to learn.
 
Messages
2,901
Name
Simon Everett
Edit My Images
Yes
#25
A good tip I was given years ago:
If you want to make a picture interesting, don't light all of it...

Of course, sometimes the brief demands that you do, but then throw in the odd 'arty' shot as well to go beyond the brief and watch the client change their mind. The 'client' can be read as 'viewer' too.
 
Last edited:
Messages
1,203
Name
Lee
Edit My Images
Yes
#27
The camera hasn't done ALL of the work.

Maybe a little bit of it if you are in Av mode I guess. And is it the Olympus that 'builds' a live long exposure on the screen as you are taking the shot to take the 'guesswork' out of it....? And if your camera has a bracketing feature/setting I guess it's doing something....

But that's all things that make photography a little bit easier. Or quicker. It's still the person who has to see the shot, visualise the shot, compose the shot, know what they want the 'finished' shot to look like, decide on the shutter speed, decide if a CPL is needed, decide how much DOF they want, decide if they want to blend two exposures, if they need to focus stack...... I had to do most of those things this morning :)
 

Nod

Krispy and Kremey
Messages
32,416
Name
Nod (NOT Ethel!!!)
Edit My Images
Yes
#28
"I am a great photographer and I use modern, high-tech gear."

The above is BS BUT I have claimed to be one so it's obviously possible... to claim to be a GPWUMHTG! :p
 
Messages
1,140
Edit My Images
Yes
#29
Are you a great photographer if, when looking at your photos, people say "You must have a great camera"?
 
Messages
3,048
Name
Fraser White
Edit My Images
Yes
#34
I don't think it's a daft question at all Brad,

I think modern cameras have taken away some of the 'craft' of photography in so much as a modern DSLR can be pretty much used as a 'point & shoot' camera and in a high percentage of cases a decent image will result especially with such powerful post processing software; this was never the case in the past. (30+ yrs ago).

Great photographs - no; that still requires the 'artistic' input from the person taking the photograph and no matter how clever the camera/software you can't make a photograph 'great' without the imagination of the human being IMO.

Take landscapes for example - I see hundreds of 'nice' landscapes these days but they all have the 'same ingredients' and are very boring after a while; then look at Ansel Adams and you still go 'wow'!
 
OP
OP
BADGER.BRAD
Messages
736
Name
Brad
Edit My Images
Yes
#35
I don't think in any way that I'm a great photographer, sometimes I produce a photo that is pleasing to me which as it's my hobby that is all I'm looking for If it appeals to someone else then I'm happy for them . For me personally I have a better sense of achievement using low tech gear with no auto settings, the fact I have had to choose the settings for myself adds that little more to the pleasure. My ultimate camera would be a an old mechanical camera but with a digital insert replacing the film. I haven't seen the Beckham book what is it ? Sometimes I produce a pleasing photo with my digital high tech gear (more often than with the low tech gear) but just don't feel that sense of achievement and almost become bored with it.
 
Messages
2,127
Edit My Images
No
#36
I don't think it's a daft question at all Brad,

I think modern cameras have taken away some of the 'craft' of photography in so much as a modern DSLR can be pretty much used as a 'point & shoot' camera and in a high percentage of cases a decent image will result especially with such powerful post processing software; this was never the case in the past. (30+ yrs ago).

Great photographs - no; that still requires the 'artistic' input from the person taking the photograph and no matter how clever the camera/software you can't make a photograph 'great' without the imagination of the human being IMO.

Take landscapes for example - I see hundreds of 'nice' landscapes these days but they all have the 'same ingredients' and are very boring after a while; then look at Ansel Adams and you still go 'wow'!
Yes... memo to self: stand on car roof! :D
 
Messages
4,578
Name
Dave
Edit My Images
No
#37
I don't think in any way that I'm a great photographer, sometimes I produce a photo that is pleasing to me which as it's my hobby that is all I'm looking for If it appeals to someone else then I'm happy for them . For me personally I have a better sense of achievement using low tech gear with no auto settings, the fact I have had to choose the settings for myself adds that little more to the pleasure. My ultimate camera would be a an old mechanical camera but with a digital insert replacing the film. I haven't seen the Beckham book what is it ? Sometimes I produce a pleasing photo with my digital high tech gear (more often than with the low tech gear) but just don't feel that sense of achievement and almost become bored with it.
When people look at pictures they don't give a toss what gear you used or how much you enjoyed taking it. A good picture is a good picture regardless of how easy or difficult it was to make. If you're doing photography for the experience use whatever gear you gain the most satisfaction from and leave the photographers to take the photographs.

Sorry if this appears rude but to me photography is about the pictures, not the gear or the process.
 
Messages
3,048
Name
Fraser White
Edit My Images
Yes
#38
I don't think in any way that I'm a great photographer, sometimes I produce a photo that is pleasing to me which as it's my hobby that is all I'm looking for If it appeals to someone else then I'm happy for them . For me personally I have a better sense of achievement using low tech gear with no auto settings, the fact I have had to choose the settings for myself adds that little more to the pleasure. My ultimate camera would be a an old mechanical camera but with a digital insert replacing the film. I haven't seen the Beckham book what is it ? Sometimes I produce a pleasing photo with my digital high tech gear (more often than with the low tech gear) but just don't feel that sense of achievement and almost become bored with it.
I am exactly the same Brad,

If I have had to do everything from start to finish the satisfaction is so much greater, hence I love developing films etc. With digital it's easy to review and correct exposure/composition etc on the rear screen but it misses the excitement of film for me. Yes it is purely a hobby for me as well so all about fun,
 
Messages
4,613
Name
Dave
Edit My Images
Yes
#40
Sorry if this appears rude but to me photography is about the pictures, not the gear or the process.
Not rude at all and I'm 100% with you too :)

Whereas Fraser's not being bothered about the photo I find very hard to understand - but. each to their own

Dave
 
Top