Saturday, March 22, 2014

Thought of The Day: Nokia Lumia 1020 and Pentax 645D (I Said What?)

I said something a bit crazy in yesterday's post. I'm really surprised that I've yet to receive any flack from it, but it's still early. I basically said that the $7,000 body-only Pentax 645D isn't really any different than the $100 (with a two year contract) Nokia Lumia 1020 cellphone camera. Well, the exact quote is below.
There were two photographers doing a photo shoot with a model.... They both had Pentax 645D medium-format digital cameras. All I had was my Nokia Lumia 1020. Interestingly, the 645D and the Lumia 1020 have the same number of megapixels. Aside from interchangeable lens, the only real advantage of their cameras over mine is dynamic range. They paid probably 70 times more for their camera than I did for mine, not included whatever they spent on lenses. The 645D is in no way 70 times better than Lumia 1020. It isn't even seven times better (although there is no doubt that the 645D is better than the Lumia 1020). The lesson: often expensive cameras, while certainly good, are not a good value.
It's true that the two cameras have almost identical resolution, so they both have large files for large prints. The Carl Zeiss lens on the Lumia 1020 is sharp, and, while it cannot be interchanged like lenses on the 645D, I think it could go head-to-head with Pentax's line of lenses.
Forgotten Folding Chair - Cuddy Valley, California
Captured with a Nokia Lumia 1020.
Where the 645D outperforms the Lumia 1020 is dynamic range, color depth and high ISO. The 645D has a two stop advantage in dynamic range, a four stop advantage in color depth, and a massive advantage in high ISO.

But those things are not as important as they may sound.

First, while dynamic range is certainly greater on the 645D than the Lumia 1020, the Nokia camera's dynamic range is still on par with Fuji Velvia 50 film, the standard film for landscape photography for years and years. So, yes, the 645D beats the Lumia 1020, but the Lumia 1020's dynamic range is still perfectly acceptable.
Tumbledown Door - Cuddy Valley, California
Captured with a Nokia Lumia 1020.
Next, high ISO isn't all that big of a deal because very few people are using the 645D for street or sports photography. The vast majority of images captured with the 645D are with a low ISO. So the high ISO advantage of the camera is mostly anecdotal.

Third, color depth is a highly overrated measurement. It actually has to do with chromatic noise, which you won't notice unless you are very closely comparing 100% crops. If you are making mural-sized prints, the 645D has an advantage. Otherwise, this is no big deal. Also, if the image has been converted to black-and-white, the playing field has been completely leveled.

Finally, and this is the big one, equipment has very little to do with the outcome of an image. Vision and creativity are far more important than cameras. A photographer with vision can create photographs that are equally great with the two cameras.

My point of this post is not to bash Pentax or praise Nokia. The takeaway here is twofold: expensive cameras are often overpriced for what you get and cameras are not all that important, anyways. So it does not matter if a $7,000 camera was used or a $100 camera. Great images have nothing to with how much a camera cost.

No comments:

Post a Comment