Frustrations with Photography

There are some things about photography that have bothered me since i started seriously playing with the hobby. I wanted to take a minute to discuss some of them.

I currently have a Canon T3i, an upgrade over my first digital SLR, the Canon T2i, but still in the beginner Rebel line of camera bodies. I have a few lenses, including the 18-55mm kit lens that comes with most Canon bodies. I have probably taken over 50,000 photos between the three camera bodies that I’ve owned and in all those shots, I’ve run into the same issues over and over.

The first thing I wanted to talk about is image noise. My Canon T3i can take reasonable pictures that are noise free up to ISO 800, a value that is too low for most dimly lit interior shots. Pushing it beyond that point leaves me with files that I don’t enjoy as I feel a lot of detail is lost in the noise created. I experienced this with my Canon T2i, Canon 7D, and my current Canon T3i.

I’ve heard this is less of a problem with the Canon 6D and Canon 5D Mark III, but I haven’t the budget for either of them currently. I am assuming though that I would only get three or four more levels of sensitivity before I received equally noisy shots from those full frame bodies.

This is probably my biggest frustration in shooting. The only thing I can do to improve this situation is to use a wider aperture or add more light to the shot.

Trading Aperture for Depth of Field
Unfortunately, if I bump the aperture on an image, I’m trading more light for less depth of field. This means that I’ll have less of an image in perfect focus, but I’ll be able to have other settings be “better” for the shot at hand. This recently bit me in the butt when I was taking a picture of four of my nieces. I didn’t notice it at the time I took the image, but one of the four is sitting a little further back, and she is slightly out of focus because of this.

My focal plane was just too narrow to get all four women in the shot to be as sharp as I’d like. I could have changed other settings to get a thicker depth of field, but then I’d come against the noise issues or have to slow my shutter speed to where I might not have gotten the shot anyways.

Focus Speed/Accuracy
The other issue I have with all Rebels is their ability to focus quickly and accurately. I don’t understand why the system in the Canon 7D hasn’t been pushed to the Rebel line after all of these years, especially now that the 5D and 1D have such insane systems that could have been ported to the 70D or the next 7D Mark II.

It doesn’t help that I haven’t spent the time honing in the diopter in my viewfinder to help me make sure I have things perfect, and I also know that I should probably try to manually control my focus point, but it is still a point of frustration for me as a photographer.

Beyond all these little things, I still greatly enjoy photography and hope to continue spending time and money on it for years to come. At a recent family event, I got a few remarks on how nice it was to have someone taking shots so we have them for the future as there wasn’t much photography being done in the last two or three years and things have changed a great deal since then.

Of course, as I get better equipment, some of these issues will go away thanks to the advancements being made in lenses and bodies, as well as the slow improvement of my own skill.

4 responses to “Frustrations with Photography”

  1. Back in the olden days ASA 400 was the fastest film you could get, the trade off being that it had a significant red shift under natural and incandescent light. We always had to trade off depth of field for clarity. “Noise” was never an issue as the film captured what it saw and you were limited by the grain. Faster film was typically more grainy.

    I think we are asking digital cameras to do too much. If my eyes can see something then the camera should be able to capture it. When your camera was 100% manual your light meter told you everything you needed to know. You either threw on a flood light or went with a fill-in flash to improve the image or simply didn’t take the shot.

    There was an elegance and art to taking photos with full manual film cameras that we have given up in favor of more electronic gadgetry that gets in the way of rather than assisting in good photography. At least in the consumer grade products that I’ve had experience with.

    • My dad was a fan of film photography, but I never got into it. I am also not saying that I am creating any kind of art with my shots. I mostly just want to capture family, friends and events.

      I think that the old way of shooting would create a barrier for entry that I wouldn’t have any interest in overcoming and the technological aspects of digital photography have made things much more approachable, despite potentially getting in the way for someone with more skill. There are still light meters that people use and when shooting, I am giving an indication of what my exposure will be like.

      I also feel like the issues I’m currently running into are similar to the ones that you are mentioning: digital noise vs film grain and needing a bigger flash, fill light light or to just not take the shot.

  2. I remember doing some night photography on some 1600ASA, which I had the developer do a push to 3200. Guess what? Super grainy.

    The problem with photography is our eyes. When we’re looking around, everything we look at is in focus – we can only *actually* focus on about the size of a quarter at arm’s length, IIRC, so our eye is constantly refocusing and filling in the low-res details for us.

    A photograph on the other hand is static, and can’t change as our gaze shifts.

    Stupid physics. šŸ˜‰

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