Ten years ago with digital photography…

old cameras, old technology, landscape, dan jurak, alberta, spring, water, reflection,

Digital photography has come a long way from when I saw my first digital Nikon or Canon camera. I can’t remember which it was because it was so many years ago.

I think that it had something like one or two megapixels and cost over $25,000.

Digital photography was just in its infancy and only a few news organizations could afford bodies like that.

A few years later I think that professional camera bodies had gone all the way up to eight megapixels which we all thought was HUGE and the prices had dropped substantially too.

Technology is like that. The early adopters pay exorbitant amounts to be the first using technology that is far from refined.

The first film scanner that I remember seeing sold for something like $30,000. A few years later much less  money would buy you much more scanner.

Film was still king. The technology was still too pricey and primitive to be adopted widely.

I had spent my life shooting film and was in no hurry to switch over. Too much money for too little.

By 2007 my kids were in high school and doing all kinds of intramural sports. My little Intel digital camera, more a toy than anything wasn’t up to the job so I sprung for a Canon Digital Rebel XTi. I was able to use all my current Canon lenses so it seemed like a good idea.

The file size was very large, something like 10 megapixels Wow! This was a brand new thing to me and I quickly fell back into landscape photography. I could squeeze off a few hundred frames and it didn’t cost a penny to have film processed because there was none.

I did a lot of landscapes with that little digital body. It was fun and the quality was pretty good. Stock photography had always interested me but the expense of shooting hundreds of rolls of transparency film, having them processed and then sending them away to be accepted or rejected wasn’t attractive.

Now with digital photography I could shoot lots, send lots and my only costs were for gas for my vehicle.

I applied to Getty Images first because they were the largest. Got no reply and then applied to the next two biggest stock firms that I knew of and got accepted.

There was a problem though. The agencies wanted larger files than I was shooting so already using Canon I went out and bought a Canon 1DS Mark III. The file size was twice as large, 21 megapixels I think and I was off to the races.

The difference in image size seemed huge. The files bogged my computer down so a faster computer was soon ordered.

With the stock agencies I learned a lot about image quality. What you supply might be used for a small postcard or a large billboard. Little things like chromatic aberration, dust spots, banding, etc. were cause to have the image rejected for quality and have to be corrected and resubmitted. I hated having to go over those images at 1:1 but it forced me to look closely at the results I was getting.

With my main lens a Canon 16-35 f2.8 CA or chromatic aberration was a big problem. At 1:1 it was readily apparent at wider apertures. Long story short I ended up buying a Nikon 14-24 f2.8 a legendary lens and with the use of an adapter shot with a Canon body and Nikon lens. The difference in quality between the two lenses was easily noticeable.

Digital camera technology was now mainstream and film was but a foggy memory. There may be people out there, in fact I know that there are who idealize film and think that it is the best thing ever, kind of like the people who collect vinyl records. I grew up with film, was too familiar with it having spent hundreds of hours in the darkroom printing and processing. Digital offered me so much more control. With over twenty years of darkroom experience burning and dodging was second nature to me. With Photoshop, it was a dream come true. Things were so much more forgivable and easier to accomplish.

Fast forward a few more years and Nikon released the D800’s with 36 megapixels. My Canon body was getting old and a year after the bodies were released and the prices started to drop I picked up one, a D800E and then later a D800 which I had converted for infrared photography.

How much different were my landscapes ten years later comparing the old Canon Rebel to my then new D800’s? Well the new bodies certainly had more exposure latitude, much larger file sizes but that was it.

With the ancient Rebel as long as you knew the limitations of the sensor the same photos that I took with the new Nikons I could still take with the old Canon.

There is a point to this story. I have read a few Facebook posts over the last couple of weeks with people that have already very good cameras asking about the latest and newest for twice the price of what they have now and are wondering which to buy.

The painful answer is that their photos will still be the same regardless of what they use.

Ninety percent of a photo at the very least is the photographer and NOT the equipment. If you are very experienced and are pushing the limits of sensor technology, viewing all of your images at 1:1 and using them professionally then you will most likely benefit from the newer body.

You can be an early adopter of the new bodies, if your current camera is nearly worn out or very, very old it might make sense to buy but if it still works keep your money and use it for trips and not equipment. You will benefit more from getting out and taking pictures than you will from the newest camera technology.

Don’t be a camera collector, be a photographer.

Happy shooting,


ps. The image at the top of this post was taken with a 10 megapixel Canon in 2007 and to me it’s just fine.



~ by Dan Jurak on October 19, 2017.

15 Responses to “Ten years ago with digital photography…”

  1. Dear Dan
    I could not agree more. Never being a professional photographer, film for me meant a darkroom when I was very young but after entering the university and later my professional career I switched to slides just because of the lack of time. Digital (Canon 10D and Photoshop) opened a new world for me. Then the biggest error: buying Canon 1Ds Mk III – “the last camera in my life”. Almost 3 months later Canon 5D appeared which could do almost all what 1Ds Mk III could do, had a better sensor/processor, it was much less bulky and lighter and did cost less than half the price of 1Ds Mk III. I should have waited these 3 months. I stayed with 1Ds Mk III for almost four years and retired it to my drawer where it collects dust together with 10D. 5D Mk II came next and, today, 5D Mk III (big step above Mk II) does almost all I need and I probably will stick with it for a long time to come. Thank you for your posts. I enjoy reading them.

  2. BRAVO, and thanks for this!

  3. Hi Zbigniew, yeah that 1Ds was a tank that was built to last. It was a solid camera.
    Thank you for visiting and commenting,

  4. Showcase, A&E, HBO and more to you Peter!!! 🙂

  5. Dan, Good article and so true. Constantly upgrading your camera equipment can be very expensive, especially when you have to do upgrades to your computer also. You make some great points!

  6. Thank you,

  7. Nice article and I fully agree with you. Content is king. I started digiphoto with the very expensive compact Olympus 1400 Xl in February 1998 with 1.5 MPx (1280x1024px still functional) and still today I can make nice A2 + photos thanks to excellent optics and cip pumped in 1998! The camera was a small universal lightweight and I still had it under my coat and I had any action scene. After years of experience with pentax, canon (Mark 5D II), nikon, fuji with my Sony-photo (6 and 16 MPx), video to 4K) Sony also small cheap AX-53 will have a great zeiss lens for walks. It’s light, small with a 27 – 600 mm lens and stady stabilizer, I can make photo and any video from my hand. Surely I have quality in the treasure, but it’s hard, slow, requiring high-quality eyesight. whot mistake in old-fashioned.

  8. Fantastic piece of advise for amateur photographers like me. I admire your work and it was nice to see the exif info that you’d posted.
    On a related note what is your opinion on photo-editing software? With a slew of options, how should hobbyist amateurs go about it?

  9. Thank you.
    I completely agree with you.

  10. Thank you Visai, we all believe that if only we have better equipment that it will translate into that much better images but for most of us that doesn’t always work out. It’s the person behind the camera and not the camera that is most important.
    Thank you for visiting and commenting,

  11. Are you still sharing your work with stock sites? If so, is it worth it to you? I have mixed feelings about my own work and submitting to stock agencies so am just curious about your thoughts and if it has been a good choice for you. At one time, it was a very good option for me, but not as much anymore.

  12. Hi, I still have some early photos with Firstlight here in Canada and pulled everything out of Masterfile when their financial situation started looking shaky. They have now filed for bankruptcy protection or something like that and still owe lots and lots of money from the past few years to photographers.
    I sell prints online through fineartamerica but only because I was being asked for prints and it was a hassle to print them myself and ship them. FAA does a great job and has paid for my now hobby.
    Because digital is accessible by everyone it has become a supply and demand situation where there is an oversupply of quality images. I won’t ever deal with places like Getty who insist on Rights Free sales and they are a big reason for the crash of the stock photo business I think.

  13. I agree with you about Getty. I was a member of Getty years ago then made the switch to a few others. I think it is very cool you can sell prints through FAA and it is working for you. I have done a lot of stock photography on the lifestyle side of things but never approached the nature side of stock photography. I do agree with the over abundance of imagery which has brought the need for good quality photos down because new photographers give away their work. Just my opinion. I enjoy your images as they remind me of Colorado where I am located. Very similar landscapes. What type of gear do you use?

  14. I never intended to get into stock photography as I was doing photography full time during the day and the last thing that I wanted to see was my camera gear. I needed to take a break from photography and never used my camera gear for about ten years while I was designing for the web and print. What you said about photographers giving their work away for nothing I have probably said at least a hundred times if I said it once. LOL

    I now use Nikon gear and only switched because the 14-24 was my favourite landscape lens and I got tired of using an adapter on my Canon bodies. I only used Canon because Canon Canada gave professionals a significant discount on purchasing. Nikon, Canon, Sony, they are all good and I could just as easily use any of them now that Sigma and others are making lenses superior to Canon and Nikon.

  15. Thank you for sharing.

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