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Numbers matter but they don’t count for much.

I recently spoke to a friend who’s bought a new camera from a reputable brand. It was an interchangeable lens system and he tells me that aside from the bells and whistles, he bought the camera solely because it could shoot 10 frames per second (this statement itself seems ironic). I asked him why that was his deciding factor and he replied “why not? Might as well get the most for my money”. He’s not a sports photographer, and for the rest of the day his camera was set on rapid shot and left firing away for the rest of the day.

What he’s doing is by no means wrong, but it’s one of the least efficient/costeffective ways to do things. He’s not a sport photographer so there isn’t any need to buy a camera with a high fps (and a lower end camera with lower fps but roughly the same specs will cost less). Not to mention that one of the things that I’ve found with shooting multiple exposures quickly is that unless you’re shooting a scene that’s changing quickly, it’s a pain in the ass to go through all the photos later during the edit. Most of the images will look exactly the same and any good feeling leftover from having a beast of a shutter will be replaced by all the memory those images will take up.

Honestly to some extent, numbers will indeed play a part. 300 images will be infinitely better to work with than 30, but once you hit 3000 it’s getting a bit silly. Think back to the days of film in which Cartier Bresson, Eugene Smith and for the new school, Joe McNally rose to fame with. One roll of film was 36 exposures, and there was no delete function. One of the things that I’ve been consciously trying to do is to focus on framing instead of continuously firing and hoping to get a lucky shot. So if you’re shooting a thousand frames an hour, give your SD card a rest and focus on the framing instead.

And please, please don’t buy yourself a camera just because it has high fps, there are many other things to consider as well that are more important to a developing photographer!


2 responses

  1. Naman Shah

    Lol this is about me. My point is that if you’re paying good money for a camera, it should have the best specs so that WHEN YOU NEED IT, you can snap away without worries. Ordinarily, I’d still take time to frame shots but when on the move, e.g. Orientation, I don’t have time to set things up so perfectly, hence burst mode and getting lucky. Imagine if I didn’t have such imaging muscle, how would I capture fast-paced things like wargames and Yuanming tossing socks into a cardboard box? Or cars driving by? Or those flashes of pure joy when we won stuff? Would you like your photos to be a blur? Just like your memories will be one day? It’s all about options. Sure, in the past people took less shots, but not because they focused more on framing and stuff, but simply because they didn’t have a choice. That was the limit of imaging technology at the time. DSLRs give us the freedom and power to play it fast and loose, why not use such power and take many shots? It’s not as if we’ve abandoned important skills like framing, composition and perspective. (unless that’s your opinion of me, in that case I’d invite you to curate my shots :P)

    February 9, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    • aidanmock

      To some extent you are right, but honestly even regular photographers don’t need 10 fps if they’re not shooting sports. Getting lucky is one of the most risky ways to play it, and is also not a very efficient method. It’s better to frame it and get down one good usable one than shooting blind. Burst mode also has little to do with photos being blur, most of the time that comes down to ISO, shutter speed and aperture, which are independent of multiple exposure setting. I’ve also found that taking less shots and more time helps with the overall quality of the images and increases your chances of actually understanding the scene, rather than firing 5 shots and thinking about it after.

      February 9, 2012 at 4:03 pm

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