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  #1  
09-11-2012, 11:04 AM
mileslehmann mileslehmann is offline
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What is the most lifelike and real when it comes to sharpness &skin tone HD camcorder for 100 - 300? New? And what can you get that is perhaps better second-hand on ebay ? Something that is plentiful on ebay ?

I am going to save up between 200 and 300 pounds for a sony HD camcorder. I was wondering if anyone can suggest what they think is the best camcorder for that price?

What I want is pretty simple. The most real life like HD video picture quality for around that price. Does anyone here have any suggestions or own a camcorder that you can recommend for lifelike videos? Is there any kind of hand held HD camcorder which you would say is pretty much the same type of tv picture quality as one of the big thousand pound camcorders but just without all the fancy stuff ? I think perhaps with all the amazing things today there might be such a camcorder no ? The best one for closest colour contrast ?? You know how sometimes something not so pink can appear VERY pink with HD camcorders hence would want to avoid this and get what anyone thinks is the best with capturing realistic life like colour?

Hence if you can suggest what you think is very life like or what you think it by far the best bet for a lifelike camcorder capturing good skin tones, detail, sharpness and just overall realism would be most grateful for advice. Any advice as I am likely to buy something which is 'just' expensive thinking it must be the 'best'? And filming indoors is a must.

My budget is 100 - 300 (double that and you roughly have dollars!)

But would much rather buy a camcorder second-hand if I will get a much much more real picture ? If so what type of camcorder could i get second-hand that are plentiful on ebay or elsewhere ? And roughly how much do they go for second-hand.

I am looking for the best picture and all the other stuff does not interest me - whatever it is. It is just picture which is up most of importance and not if it has 30 different fade out modes!

Would be grateful for advise and links to anything.
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  #2  
09-12-2012, 05:21 AM
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The most lifelike is anything that perceives images similar to the human eye. That requires something with an iris (aperture control), for depth perception, and has a large sensor capable of a wide array of lighting conditions. In the high-end studio world, that's expensive film/film-like cameras with interchangeable lenses. Your 35mm film cameras from Panasonic, your RED cameras for digital. There's quite a few, but given the costs, not much use in creating a list here.

The next best thing available to consumers are digital SLRs, which do decently with lighting and apertures, though tend to be hobbled by rolling shutter, due to how the cameras capture images. These are, after all, still image cameras shooting video, as opposed to video cameras. These work fine for tripod-mounted work, in most conditions, but are horrible for handheld shooting. And by horrible, I mean unusable schlock that gives you a headache to view. It's "jello-vision".

In review:
  1. Large sensor (i.e., "full frames" body)
  2. Low-light ISO performance
  3. Interchangeable lenses with low f-stops (low f-stops = large apertures)
However...

In the $600 / 300 range, you're looking at sub-SLR non-professional options. That removes the high quality glass, as well as the higher-end low-light sensors. And at that range, most cameras are going to give you flat slightly-fuzzy quality. It's not going to be lifelike at all -- it's just going to be a typical home movie recording.

A Canon SLR, second-hand, would still exceed the budget.

Check out pricing on the T3i/600D, 7D and 5D Mark II, for example:
In USA, sometimes KEH has deals, too. In UK, I've bought gray market and used items from Microglobe.co.uk and been pleased.

... and then you still need lenses, beyond just buying the camera body. Also noting that most "free" kits lenses are rather lousy on Canon bodies especially. You'd do better to buy just a body only, and then invest in 2-3 quality lenses for ultra-wide (-20), normal (50-100), and distance (200+). Lenses, of course, easily double or triple the budget, beyond just a body. We've also not discussed quality tripods, which adds more, too.

Though I clearly prefer Nikon SLR cameras for shooting still images, Canon has less quirks for the video aspect of SLRs. The biggest one being the time limit on how long you can shoot. My D3s is awesome, but that 5-minute limit on HD recordings is a bit of a letdown. And the sub-HD quality is so-so at best, because the encoder is clearly not optimized for the lower resolutions. Plus bitrate is a bit insufficient.

Probably not the answer you had hoped for, but it's the honest one.

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  #3  
09-12-2012, 06:34 AM
mileslehmann mileslehmann is offline
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With the greatest of respect you sound like the type of film person that would disagree with a topic I started on why a rented camcorder that is used for the bbc did not give as good an image as my Sony digital handycam COMOS CARL ZEISS digital camcorder gave a far more real video picture than the one used for the BBC when they make documentaries. I know that to be true and stand by it. The cheaper hand held camcorder gave a more real life like and sharp image than the 4 thousand pound camcorder they use often for tv. People will come down on me like a ton of bricks on a forum like this for stating this. Paying or more certainly does not mean a more real picture and I know it.

also i don't want a camera for shooting stills. You don't understand :-) If i follow your advice and do so I am sure i will be horrified at what the hand held camera videos/films ! I am not going to start with tripods etc as will be worse of. Thanks anyway.

If I am going to be talking to people that are full of hot air then I will leave. I know the type and that is the type that thinks that more money get the more real picture. I know its not true as i have done it. The handycam Sony hand held with comos lens costing about 500 in 2008 got a far far far more real picture than the HD Sony camcorder I rented which retails at over $4000. Odd but true. I got eyes and not full of hot air fooling around. Regards.
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  #4  
09-12-2012, 08:04 AM
tomr tomr is offline
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Have a look on youtube and see for your self what is possible with a dslr camera. I have used several dslr and have 7d at the moment and the videos look excellent both in auto and manual settings.

Here are two example from youtube I found quickly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xWF0q6zCslE
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfLpg4vzjVA

Just keep in mind if you go the dslr way that older models with video has no good auto focus system for video so you have to focus manually.
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  #5  
09-12-2012, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mileslehmann View Post
With the greatest of respect you sound like the type of film person that would disagree with a topic I started on why a rented camcorder that is used for the bbc did not give as good an image
I saw the topic. And I actually do not disagree with it.

Quote:
as my Sony digital handycam COMOS CARL ZEISS digital camcorder gave a far more real video picture than the one used for the BBC when they make documentaries. I know that to be true and stand by it. The cheaper hand held camcorder gave a more real life like and sharp image than the 4 thousand pound camcorder they use often for tv.
In the right circumstances, I see how this could be true.

Quote:
People will come down on me like a ton of bricks on a forum like this for stating this.
Most forums, yes. But not here. This site is the online presence of a decades-old media business (including video), not an amateur video forum. While what you say is uncommon, it's not impossible. It's a shame we don't have access to see what was potentially wrong with the rented camera. The theory of back-focusing is very likely, as surmised in the other thread here.

Quote:
Paying or more certainly does not mean a more real picture and I know it.
I concur. A lot of my video and photo methodology is sneered at by certain types of people online, but it's hard to argue the results. Tools just have to work -- they don't need to be costly, pretty or even easy to use. In fact, there's an entire ecosystem out there of photographers and videographers that are proud of their hacks/mods, jerryrigging, and other impromptu make-shift processes. I know several that work for entities such as Playboy, and we've even traded tips through the years. One showed me how to create an awesome light rig with $25 spent at Home Depot.

Quote:
also i don't want a camera for shooting stills. You don't understand :-) If i follow your advice and do so I am sure i will be horrified at what the hand held camera videos/films ! I am not going to start with tripods etc as will be worse of. Thanks anyway.
Oh, I understand video completely. And the suggestion for a DSLR is purely for video shooting -- not the still images. I would have suggested Nikon gear for stills, but I have to respect the quality available out of a Canon DSLR setup. It's as close to a studio 35mm camera as you'll get, without spending tens of thousands of dollars (minimum). It easily exceeds DV and other common consumer video cameras -- at least when tripod mounted. For something handheld, you'll want better gear.

Quote:
The handycam Sony hand held with comos lens costing about 500 in 2008 got a far far far more real picture than the HD Sony camcorder I rented which retails at over $4000. Odd but true.
There's not necessarily a huge difference between a camera that costs 500 and one that costs $4,000. Generally speaking, you've just added some frilly features -- the ones you said you don't need/want -- and the ability to change lenses.

A DSLR and a Canon DV camera occupy my video bag.

That's the only way I'd be able to truly upgrade to a single camera is by spending $15k+.

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  #6  
09-12-2012, 12:14 PM
mileslehmann mileslehmann is offline
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Hi - thanks for the replies. I am sorry for coming onto this forum and ranting like without care for how I come across and not thinking about how to best get my point across unlike the people that reply.

I do know that I rented a sony camcorder and although it was used over a weekend on auto this camcorder that sold for about 4000 and over gave an image that was not as lifelike as my digital Sony handy cam with comos carl zeiss lens. The picture gets every tiny mnute skin pore on my face and even the nose hairs up my nostrils . It is a dvd camcorder from 2007/08 and retailed then at 500 about. The thousand pound HD sony camcorder did not get all the detail like this or it did but just not as lifelike and trying to work this out in my head and why has done my head in. Its a pity i can show you but you would easily see if i showed you both camera LSD monitors when on! I feared coming onto a forum and saying BUT the digital camera is giving me more of a lifelike and crisp HD picture than the thousand camcorder!! Who is going to believe that yet its easy to see at the click of a switch with both BUT when is used for the BBC as a portable ??? They would be better off with the portable although the contrast does make you look a bit pale the image is much more lifelike that the expensive.............anyway..........I am ranting again!!! That is what I have found as call me arrogant I would put my life on it!!! The expensive camera did not get my little nose hair nostrils so sharp and focus on my skin so sharply and although picture was still good it just lacked the realism, shadowing etc. The guy did say in the photo shop before renting the camera am I going to be using it indoors ? He said according to my friend perhaps best not use it on auto ?? But with such a great and expensive camcorder that they use for the BBC even I would still have thought auto on an HD camcorder would be good .............I best stop...so confused!!

-- merged --

Anyway this is what I am thinking of. I have 2 camcorders short listed. As said I don't have that high a budget but what do you think of these ? Please be positive. It says the Panasonic has instead of good or very good video quality that it has exceptional (meaning better than others for around that price - it think) picture quality and reviews say it is very real from those who have bought it.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B...=digitalfaq-21

http://www.ebay.com/ctg/Sony-Handyca..._Video_Cameras

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Sony-Handy...#ht_500wt_1203

The Panasonic does look pretty good to me. Remember I tried going to a photo shop and renting the expensive bbc camcorder and the result was not so great hence I tend to go more with these little camcorders as they are more real although I know you all wont agree.

Many thanks :-)

PS Did you agree that the most expensive bbc camcorder does not always mean the best picture but can often just mean add on's?

-- merged --

As for these HD cameras. When it comes to stills of people my advice would be to stay away and get yourself a good old fashioned art cool camera that takes FILM...Unless you want every single zit, dark patch under your eye, red botch and uncomplimentary detail to show up in all its glory. They are vile things for photography people. More pixels does not mean nicer pictures! If you have a hang over then these HD cameras pick it up in all its glory - people are so silly. Thanks :-)

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Sony-Handy...#ht_500wt_1203

http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B...=digitalfaq-21 - this look good

also there are some HD camcorders at the top of this page being sold or the link for buying them is there. Would like to look but wont let me as blocked

-- merged --

Just found some more Sonys here that look like the best thing I could get but really no idea what the best one for about 330 is ? Best picture qaulity I want and dont want to pay more for add ons like 30 different fade outs. As these and the Panasonic are the short list which would you go for by giving these a quick glance ?

Link here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/mn/search/?_...nics&x=14&y=22

HDR-PJ200 High Definition Camcorder - black HDRPJ200EB.CEN 4905524856484 (Flash memory camcorders) by SONY
is that better than the Panasonic I was looking at here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Panasonic-V7...=10xxx10337-21
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  #7  
09-12-2012, 01:54 PM
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Rather than making 5-10 replies in a row, please edit your last reply (when you were the last person replying to the thread).
Otherwise it floods our queue, and makes a mess of the threads.

Thanks.

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  #8  
09-12-2012, 02:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mileslehmann View Post
But with such a great and expensive camcorder that they use for the BBC even I would still have thought auto on an HD camcorder would be good
Not really. High end cameras are meant to be used in fully manual mode, though most do come with automatic and semi-automatic settings. However, over the life of the camera, such auto settings are rarely (if ever) used by the professional demographics they're geared towards. I shoot my cameras in fully manual or semi-automatic mode -- never fully automatic. I'm much better skilled at proper exposure and other settings than a tiny microchip.

Quote:
what do you think of these ? Please be positive.
In all honesty, they're pretty much the same.

Quote:
The Panasonic does look pretty good to me.
I think you've answered your own question on which one to get.

Quote:
PS Did you agree that the most expensive bbc camcorder does not always mean the best picture but can often just mean add on's?
The most expensive camera simply means you paid more money. It doesn't necessary equate to quality or anything else. In fact, I'd even question the position that the BBC uses such cameras. I would image some low-end documentary-style footage is shot with them, but you'll largely find better cameras on various BBC sets. I've seen a lot of behind-the-scenes footage of shows, and I've never seen a low-end $4k camera in use.

Quote:
when it comes to stills of people my advice would be to stay away and get yourself a good old fashioned art cool camera that takes FILM...Unless you want every single zit, dark patch under your eye, red botch and uncomplimentary detail to show up in all its glory. They are vile things for photography people.
This is really just an issue of lighting. You can shoot blotchy, off-color crappy images both with film and in digital formats. Or you can shoot absolutely stunning images, either in film or in digital formats. One problem facing many digital camera users is that they're shooting purely in compressed JPEG, even in situations where uncompressed images would have been much better. Or at very least, less-compressed JPEG.

Quote:
More pixels does not mean nicer pictures!
More pixels just means more pixels. It doesn't equate to sharpness or quality.

Quote:
also there are some HD camcorders at the top of this page being sold or the link for buying them is there. Would like to look but wont let me as blocked
Not sure what you're referring to here.

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  #9  
09-13-2012, 12:33 AM
mileslehmann mileslehmann is offline
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My friend was telling that these cameras do a lot of processing a although all cameras need a lot of light to give the best picture -HD need more as there is more processing to do so HD won't give the most real result in certain light such as perhaps indoors. Depends on the camcorder but this might explain why my digital sony dvd handheld widescreen camcorder (it is bizarre to think this is not HD when the image is the most HD like image i have seen! ) gave a far more sharp image than the HD rented camcorder which is apparently used for the BBC sometimes. Perhaps the camera shop I rented it from misunderstood and although it might on a rare occasions have been used for tv filming this is rare or as you say you have never seen a low end camera on these tv sets.

I rented the over 4000 camcorder as I thought that would give me the best picture possible. It did not. It was good until I saw how much more real a video can be. I have no idea what people are paying the extra 3500 cash for when they buy these thousand pound Sonys! It seems a poor excuse that they say 'well you should not use them on auto!'.... IMO when you pay over 4000 then you should get a good auto also and although its best to use it in manual and to know what your doing I would for that amount of money want a good auto on the camcorder aswell!! Why is auto on these expensive camcorders not so great or just average?

I know what makes a good portrait picture and have practised to myself over the years. I have but a lot of these pictures on Facebook and one now has 43 LIKES which says to me they are better than I thought. This one is one I took from a video-camera and fire wire .

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=1&theater

Yup its not going to be crystal clear when you take them off a digital camcorder connected up to a PC but its a good pic hence the comments and LIKES so I have done a good job. There are a lot of other picture on there I took of myself which are getting the same amount of LIKES and comments on Facebook. I have used disposable cameras, late 1980's top of the rage film cameras, manual art school cameras, cams - yes dreaded grainy cams to take pictures, 00's film cameras, instant and HD etc. I have used lots and not just one. I have seen other people try and take good pics of themselves and there pics of themselves are not a scratch on mine. I have been rescanning them so the new ones dont have the likes and comment - they are in my profile photos and my album 1999 - 2012 below.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...3350510&type=3

You can go to a professional portrait photographer who knows what he is doing and I bet he would not get photos as good as these ones in the link above or photos that get the same response from others on Facebook although they no doubt would be more crisp and clear.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?...1141.693350510

https://www.facebook.com/miles.lehmann/photos

A lot of the scans were done on dirty scanners but you get the idea! I can take better portraits photos of people and knows what works with lighting, where to stand etc than people a lot of people that do this for a living. And I use a whole array of of cameras to get them including cams and firewire in the early 00's.

This one I was very pleased with. The other 35 photos from the roll i put in the bin and i kept this one. Done on my dads 1987 auto film camera in 2000. It is cropped here and uploaded yesterday so does not have all the comments and likes as it does elsewhere on my facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater

Regards and thanks :-)
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  #10  
09-13-2012, 12:52 AM
mileslehmann mileslehmann is offline
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ps you are prob all into lighting, setting your expensive cameras up to capture a sunrise at 6.00 am in the morning, capturing a bird that might be flying at full speed hence KNOW just the right setting to put your cameras on to get the shot etc etc etc hence you won't understand what are good about the images on my facebook. I don't know how to do that but I know how to take a good photo of someone or someone's head even though the picture quality and clearness often just average snap shot standard.

My grandmother said always take a photo with someone IN on holiday otherwise it will bore people. I agree. My uncle has all these expensive cameras and went to Turkey recently and photographed all these fancy sunrises, famous buildings in Istanbul like the blue Mosque and that is what I call CLEVER but boring. Yup the photographs of all these landmark famous building and landscapes etc were great. Great composition, lighting, sharp picture etc etc. No doubt he put it all on the right settings and spent hours taking the best photo of the Blue Mosque or whatever he was taking at that. But really? If anyone want that then they can just go out and buy a glossy book on Turkey and find even better pictures of all these places in countless glossy pictures in the book! Hence I dont see the point as its not going to interest anyone. Hey ho :-)
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  #11  
09-13-2012, 10:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mileslehmann View Post
My friend was telling that these cameras do a lot of processing a although all cameras need a lot of light to give the best picture -HD need more as there is more processing to do so HD won't give the most real result in certain light such as perhaps indoors.
Well ..... yes and no. It does more processing than an SD camera, but it also had chips tuned to HD processing needs. RAM has also increased at a similar curve as video resolution -- maybe even more so. So the system isn't necessarily lacking in processing power, though it would depend between models. Price to cover the hardware being the big issue.

Quote:
Depends on the camcorder but this might explain why my digital sony dvd handheld widescreen camcorder (it is bizarre to think this is not HD when the image is the most HD like image i have seen! ) gave a far more sharp image than the HD rented camcorder which is apparently used for the BBC sometimes.
The issue with "HD" is that it just determines the palette of pixels. Resolution and detail are separate concepts. Resolution is the limiter for detail, also understanding that resolution doesn't create more detail. A giant fuzzy blob will be fuzzy whether it has 500 pixels or 5000 pixels. Draw a picture on a piece of paper. Cut it up. To add resolution, cut it up some more. Did the picture get sharper? No, of course not. A lot of "HD" cameras have sensors that capture SD-quality images. So adding more pixels just makes it SD in an HD size. Those cheap "flip" cameras are all like that.

Quote:
Perhaps the camera shop I rented it from misunderstood and although it might on a rare occasions have been used for tv filming this is rare or as you say you have never seen a low end camera on these tv sets.
It's likely that the person doesn't have much video/camera experience, and is just a rental shop grunt.

Quote:
It seems a poor excuse that they say 'well you should not use them on auto!'.... IMO when you pay over 4000 then you should get a good auto also and although its best to use it in manual and to know what your doing I would for that amount of money want a good auto on the camcorder aswell!! Why is auto on these expensive camcorders not so great or just average?
It's all about the demographic. You're not the intended user for that sort of camera. The lower-end cameras have auto "modes" (usually with pretty pictures), while the professional automatic setting is simply an "auto" switch -- no pictures, etc. It's really just different products made for different kinds of users. Having to shoot with an auto-only (no manual settings) camera would irritate me to no end, because I don't fit the auto-only demographic.

Quote:
I have but a lot of these pictures on Facebook and one now has 43 LIKES which says to me they are better than I thought.
Much of this is due to social connections to images, as opposed to any feedback on the photograph themselves. I have super-duper crappy 1970s Polaroid images of our family, and everybody likes them. Given the choice between my professional portfolio, and those, the family would rather see family -- not images of strangers, studio stock, etc. You have to make sure you never confuse them. It's related to that old joke about how your mom thinks your _____ (insert anything here) is best. It's because she's not really objective, and has a personal connection, and therefore personal bias. Understand that this use of "bias" is scientific, and doesn't have any of the negative connotations often attributed to the word in political usage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mileslehmann View Post
ps you are prob all into lighting, setting your expensive cameras up
Well ... yes and no. I do pay a lot of attention to lighting, but probably not in the way you're thinking. I definitely don't prance and preen about like school yearbook photographers do. I shoot with a rough/quick method involving a set of speedlights on remote, bounced from ceilings/sheets/reflectors, when in a makeshift studio. Out of the studio, I prefer to shoot purely with available light, which is why I've also been interested in pushing ISO. Probably 80% of all images I've ever shot were in the 3200-12800 ISO range -- though mostly because I shoot at night, inside buildings, and in unusual places.

The equipment:
- Nikon D3s: http://www.amazon.com/mn/search/?_en...%3Delectronics
- pair of SB-800 speedlights: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...=digitalfaq-20
- JJC flash remote sync: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...=digitalfaq-20 ... cheap made-in-China, works great!
- SC-28 sync cord: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...=digitalfaq-20 ... because remote sync doesn't fit hot shoe
- cheap tripod for one flash + broken monopod for other flash
- nice tripod for camera mount
- "reflectors" = car windshield sun reflectors, not fancy photo gear
- a roll of duct tape and a box of thumb tacks

Some people may see that list and think it's a fancy expensive setup. It's really not -- not even remotely so. But it works so well, and I'm actually quite proud of rigging that setup together. The shots produced from it come out perfect.

Quote:
to capture a sunrise at 6.00 am in the morning
I don't have much interest in sunrise/sundown type shots, and even less interest in shots that require waking up at specific times -- especially if it's cold. At most -- MOST! -- I'll shoot something like that if I just happen to be up, and in the right place, and the scene is unfolding in front of me. That last time that happened was in August 2009 ... which I remember exactly for whatever odd reason. It's a great sunrise shot over a lake, and everybody will elicit an "oh, pretty!" comment, Facebook likes will ensue, but it's largely a forgettable image that nobody cares about 3 seconds after it was viewed.

Quote:
capturing a bird that might be flying at full speed hence KNOW just the right setting to put your cameras on to get the shot etc etc etc
Usually, yes, but that's because I've shot wildlife for almost 20 years now. It's really nothing more than presetting a focal plane (aperture + focus), a high shutter speed, and tracking the object (the bird). The same is true of sports photography as well. Of course doing it and explaining how it's done are two different things! It's not easy to actually do.

People often comment on, or ask me about, some specific animal/sports image. "You know that photo of the ____?"

However, nobody does this with photos I have of landscapes or buildings, outside of my parents. Which leads into your next thought...

Quote:
My uncle has all these expensive cameras and went to Turkey recently and photographed all these fancy sunrises, famous buildings in Istanbul like the blue Mosque and that is what I call CLEVER but boring. Yup the photographs of all these landmark famous building and landscapes etc were great. Great composition, lighting, sharp picture etc etc. No doubt he put it all on the right settings and spent hours taking the best photo of the Blue Mosque or whatever he was taking at that. But really?
I'm generally not excited by photos of buildings and landscape either. I primarily shoot sports, wildlife, and macro/semi-macro. You can see some of the shots in the editorial from last year: Nikon vs Canon Cameras, Why Nikon SLRs are Best. As a journalist, I believe that photos should tell a story. Photos of landscapes and buildings tend to just proclaim existence without substance -- i.e., no story or just a thin story.

One of my nature photographer friends, however, would vehemently disagree.

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