Thursday, 11 September 2008

Challenge/Assignment: Shoot a DSLR on full AUTO

The Background

We see lots of detailed lab reviews on the web, by professional reviewers and labs. Online Web Reviews are typically in four parts - the camera specs, a tour around the camera body and menus, optical and lab shooting tests, a humanised summary. That's worked for a long time, particularly when the audience has been veteran camera fans - pros and amateurs. However, more and more newbies are turning up to read, encouraged into the DSLR market by all the brands.

The non DSLR digital market has often been cash and carry, impulse buys. But the DSLR looks bigger, looks more expensive, so the newbie wants to research and understand what they are getting in to. Thing is, they're not going away enlightened after reading the reviews and even getting responses from veterans. It's been so long for many of us veterans, that there is huge gulf of approach, culture and knowledge between us and the newbie.

The case

As veteran photographers we will happily switch to the A or P or the M in PASM, choose the time of day, choose our camera position, choose the light or even manipulate the light. Some of us shoot JPEG, others shoot RAW and nearly all of us Post Process. Yes, cropping, lightening, darkening, adjusting contrast and saturation is called Post Processing. Let's not talk about those who carry out layering, exposure masking and so on. Even clicking on the "I'm Feeling Lucky" in Picasa counts as a Post Process step.

Now, the newbie willl start off by touching nothing except the shutter release. That's right - Leave the camera on full AUTO, point and shoot. And refuse to Post Process, disdaining it like the plague. And so, the recurring questions titled - "Which camera gives THE BEST IMAGE QUALITY?". We often reply that the YOU accounts for more than 50% of the IQ (Image Quality) but the newbies don't believe us and won't believe us. They feel they're buying a machine like a better car, a hifi, lawn mower, power saw. They really don't understand from where they stand, that the camera is only one factor in their quest for a better photo.

How do we solve this impasse?

Well, camera reviews and user reviews need to step back a bit and look at the world through the eyes of the DSLR newbie. That's right, Answer The Question They Ask, NOT tell them that their question is wrong.

The Challenge

  1. Take the DSLR you have.
  2. Put it on full AUTO.
  3. Take off your fancy supersharp wideangle or supersharp tele.
  4. Put back the kit lens. Yes, do you still have the kit lens?
  5. Take some shots - Ok, you can choose the content, the time of day, the light and whatever tricks you have up your sleeve.
  6. Do not crop, no lighten, darken, adjust contrast, de-noise, de-purple fringe, de-barell. Just shoot as if the newbie would shoot the first few shots.
  7. Now, let's see's see a few of your shots - post them on your gallery, put a link to them in comments to this blog article. Or you could start / join a thread at a DPR forum. Just let us know, ok?
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