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I wish I'd known...

Published December 20th, 2011

Things have been so hectic lately with the new baby and work that I haven't blogged here in ages. I shouldn't even be here now, but there's only so much work I can take in one sitting.

Anyway, just a quick note. I've been meaning to talk about this a while ago and simply couldn't find the time. For my birthday last March I asked for a Panasonic Lumix LX5, and I got it. I was well chuffed at first: at last I had a small camera that I was going to be able to take along with me at all times when travelling (which I do a lot for work). With an F/2 lens, I was confident I would get the same depth of field effects that I love to produce on my DSLR and was only comprimising on lens versatility (obviously) and MPs.

Boy was I wrong. From the get go I realised that the dynamic range was nowhere near what I was used to even with my old Canon 1000D. Shooting at dusk produced pictures that were atrocious, with blown highlight and deep blacks instead of ranges of shadows. I was dissapointed, but I thought "hey, that's not what I got it for, it's versatile, and you can still have fun with depth of field..."

No you can't. I couldn't understand why, but portraits and other close range shots with a fully open lens were note producing the creamy bokeh I was used to and loved. I couldn't figure out why. I came on my own to the conclusion that it was probably down to sensor size, but not understanding the mechanics of sensors and optics all that well, I was left at that with a camera that I never use except to shoot movies (which it does surprisingly well, but it's a very expensive piece of kit to do just that...)

This morning, I read this on Engadget: Why your camera's sensor size matters. And there I found it, the confirmation I'd been looking for:

It should be noted that the smaller your image sensor is, the more depth of field you acquire for the equivalent field of view and aperture. Take a 100mm lens on a Four Thirds camera, and it's easier to get everything in focus more so than with a pro-level DSLR with that same focal length. The misconception to some is to see this as an advantage, but I don't. Having more control over depth of field is the advantage in photography, so larger sensors with more photographic knowledge is the way to go.

Man, I wish I'd know that before. Well, at least now you've read this you can't say you haven't been warned!

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