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Chiptalk: Photography and technology – an update

By Jean-Claude Elias - May 21,2020 - Last updated at May 21,2020

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The main camera in Samsung’s newest high-end smartphone, the Galaxy S20 Ultra, and that was introduced last March, has a resolution of 108 megapixels (MP). If you have been following the general trend towards constantly more MP, and if you compare this incredible number with that of Nikon’s most expensive professional DSLR camera, the new D6 company flagship that will set you back about $6,500 for the body only, and that features a “humble” 21 MP, you may start wondering what exactly are megapixels about. In a broader manner, the theme of your reflection might be more like “where is technology taking photography?”

Of course, at about $1,200 for the basic model and $1,500 for the one turbo-charged with a lot of memory, the Galaxy S20 Ultra is not a cheap electronic device either. You can certainly make calls and take decent photos at a lower cost!

On another, parallel front, the makers of big, professional cameras, essentially Nikon, Sony and Canon, now all propose mirrorless models, alongside their more traditional DSLR line. In short, mirrorless image technology means smaller and lighter cameras, simpler mechanism, and no shutter vibration and noise at all, since – as the name implies — there’s no mirror to move up and down in the first place to let the light in to the sensor, while still allowing you to take great pro-grade shots.

The critical question here is whether all this technology makes better pictures in the end. In a nutshell the answer is a definite yes, even if purists and hard-core artists would argue that a good camera alone will never make a real good photograph. You need “eyes” behind it, to see, to imagine the picture in advance in your mind, to make the composition, to use the available light in the best possible way, to find that exact split second and then to take the shot that would make all the difference.

The fact remains that the constant and impressive improvements in cameras technology, whether a higher MP count, or mirrorless models, can tremendously help even if they cannot exactly make you an artist if you are not one already. One has also to admit that post-editing software can greatly contribute to making superb pictures, even if only from the technical viewpoint of light adjustment, colour balance, cropping, exposure, filtering, etc, not to mention touch-up.

A very high MP count like the Galaxy S20 Ultra’s generates particularly large pictures. Once your photo is so large, you can crop it at will, to reach the most pleasing composition and size, even if you couldn’t at shooting time. You can take out half of the unwanted parts and more if you wish, re-adjust the frame, you will still have a high-resolution picture in the end. So having 108 MP to start with doesn’t hurt after all.

Improvement in lenses manufacturing and in ultrafast and accurate autofocus technology in the last few years has tremendously changed the game as well. Again, it is here to help you get closer to great shots, and in a real easy way, from the purely technical or the artistic point of view.

Technology is also helping in an indirect manner. Simply because it has given us the Internet and the convenient online learning that goes with it, the true art of photography can be yours by attending the countless classes available this way, regardless of what camera hardware you may be using. Prices are unbelievably low at present, with some excellent courses costing $200 to $400 only. Others are completely free, just because they are sponsored.

Compared to the prices of cameras, whether those in a smartphone or the dedicated devices, learning the fine art of photography online is relatively inexpensive and can bring priceless added value to your pictures. Of course, some time and some effort are necessary here! Yes, real art takes work, and it still matters in the end.

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