The Overlooked Part of the Photography System

We have come a long way since 2008 in terms of cameras and what they can do. But there is often a forgotten part of the photography Eco-system. We talk about cameras and lenses but we forget the very important part of the overall picture.

Four Key Areas

There are four aspects that have a huge impact on your photography and each of these four components make up and contribute towards the results. Consider all four when you are thinking about improving photography. Number one is the skill level that you possess as a photographer. Number two is the camera that you use. Number three are the lenses that you invest in which should be optically bright and cover ranges that are appropriate to your style of photography. However number four, and one that really needs to be thought about carefully, is the imaging software that you use for either raw conversion or enhancement.

Lets Compare 2008 – 2019

Take a look at the following photo. It was taken in October 2008.

Lenscraft October 2008

Lets take a closer look into the image and see what is in there. Canon 24-105mm F4 lens.

Lenscraft 2008
Lenscraft 2008

Lets take another look but this time lets take the same image and process it using modern software. That’s right – the fourth and vital part of photography.

Photography results are dependent on the photographers skill and his tools. The four tools he has are his skill, cameras, lenses and his software.

Lenscraft Photography
Software 2019

When you compare the photograph above with the photograph below it is obvious that there is significantly more detail and a lot more shadow information that has been recovered with today’s software.

Lenscraft Photography
Software 2008
Software 2008

In the photograph above, Adobe software has been used to develop the raw image. Over the years a significant number of developments and a significant number of releases have provided us with much better tools to extract the information locked into those raw files. In the image below we suddenly see foliage as well as the details in the rock. It was a very windy and windswept day and now the detail within the waves and on the sand comes into focus. The two figures in the photograph are very tiny but they have a much more real feel when we develop them with today’s software. There is a warning sign in the rocks and whereas it almost blends into the background in the first photograph you can see it’s clear yellow colour and shape much more forcibly in the second development below.

Software 2019
Software 2008

Software, back in 2008 was certainly able to extract shadow detail however, in the process it often revealed noise that tended to slightly pixelate the image and detract from the overall look of the finished photograph. The scene itself is a remarkable rock coastline and having the two figures walking towards the sea in the bottom of the photograph made it pretty much a no-brainier when it came to use in tourism photography. For that reason, despite the absence of too much detail, the photograph was well received and well used.

Software 2019

Investing In Software Is Well Worth The Exercise

An experience that some photographers have commented on has been purchasing a more up-to-date camera, something that all photographers are very likely to do in any case, and then discovering that the work that they are producing is pretty much on a par with what they were producing with an older camera and then discovering, as a result of investing in raw conversion software, that both cameras had similar latitudes in terms of what could be extracted from the images.

The Canon camera that was used to take these photographs produced excellent images up to ISO 400. Personally today I would never be satisfied with the camera that didn’t work well virtually noise free up to around ISO 1600. So I am not advocating that people don’t update their cameras. Instead, the point we are making in this particular article is that it is important to remember that essentially there are four sides to the picture in terms of what you can get out of your images. Number one is the skill level that you possess as a photographer. Number two is the camera that you use. Number three are the lenses that you invest in which should be optically bright and cover ranges that are appropriate to your style of photography. However number four, and one that really needs to be thought about carefully, is the imaging software that you use for either raw conversion or enhancement.

There is a Substantial Difference In Results Obtainable From The Same Raw Files

There is a substantial difference in the performance of the various raw converters. Personally I have available to me at any time five different raw converters. That is a significant investment but I have discovered that some raw converters are more effective than others with various files. There is an argument that you can get there with just about any raw converter to which I would reply that some of them make it incredibly tough to get to the end result if they are not tuned to suit your camera and style. It’s also worth noting that some imaging software really doesn’t extract anything like the level of detail that is available and also some imaging software seems to get lost when it comes to dealing with noise. With noise you don’t want the noise reduction to make areas of the photograph look messy or blurred or muddy, you want to retain detail. Not all imaging software can handle this issue well.

What is the moral of this little experiment? Before you consider upgrading your camera or lenses, consider your software and your skill level. It could be that poor camera technique is resulting in poor quality images or else it could be that your raw converter is simply not able to extract the detail and style that you are aiming at. It takes time to really get to know a camera well so moving onto a new camera too soon can be quite a wasteful exercise. Worth thinking about.