Thanksgiving Photos Through An Underwhelming Lens

We had a nice big group of family for Thanksgiving at our house. Its no longer possible to have four generations present, and there’s some sadness in that.  But three generations were well represented, and the youngest generation is gaining in numbers!  

The 20 pound Butterball turkey was cooked (as always) on a charcoal Weber, and it was its usual success.  And with everyone contributing their favorite recipes (Laurie prepared a signup sheet earlier in the month), you can imagine the assortment of good food we had.  Not the least of which were the four desert pies!

[By the way, one advantage of cooking the turkey on the grill is that it frees up the oven!]

Turkey day photography:

In preparation for the day, I put together three combinations of cameras. 

Left to right: In my opinion, the best quality images can be expected to come from the Olympus E-M1 and 12-40 F2.8 zoom.  Next in image quality would be, arguably, the Sony A6000 with 28-70 full frame kit F3.5-F5.6 zoom.  And bringing up the rear (on the right) is definitely the Sony NEX 5R with the very compact and marginally sharp 16-50mm F3.5-F5.6 kit lens. All were equipped with flashes capable of bouncing.  (If a flash doesn’t bounce I won’t use it indoors.)

I mention all of this about the cameras, because in spite of having my best gear available, I nevertheless always picked up the last one on the list, the Sony NEX 5 with kit lens.  Looking back to Thursday, I can only conclude that all things considered at the time it was the best combo for the job.

That might be hard to imagine, but clearly getting the best image quality was not an overriding concern.  All these cameras and lenses take images that are “good enough” to document our Thanksgiving celebration. The Olympus and a6000 would have given better image quality, but who cares.  The Olympus with the F2.8 lens could have given me the shallowest DOF, but who cares.  The Olympus flash can bounce left or right, or rearward; but I didn’t want to think about that.  You see, I was just making snapshots. The results will be viewed on computer screens, or on cell phones or tablets… or, on this blog at no bigger than 750 x 600 pixels! I suppose I could have just used my iPhone camera but I felt its equivalent 30mm wide angle lens was too limiting.

So, because image quality was not my number one priority, I went with the smallest and least intrusive of the three combos.  I find even with family members that the smallest camera keeps things informal and casual. This is especially true when using a flash.  Keeping the camera and waist or chest level also helps, as people these days are accustomed to that sort of photography.  

It would have been nice to avoid a flash altogether, but I needed the extra light.  It allowed me to get the ISO down from 3200 (ambient light) to 1600, generally.  I could have increased the flash output further to decrease ISO further, but at that point things start to look a bit unnatural (i.e. the deer in the headlights effect). Neither of my Sony’s have a silent shutter.  The Olympus does.  But since I was using a flash, a silent shutter would not have helped me be stealthy.

Again, the images below are all snapshots.  These shots and a bunch more I haven’t shown here will help us remember who was with us this year and what we ate. (Always take a lot of food closeups... so you can easily recall the menu items from prior years.)

The first image below is my favorite.  

1 comment:

Manohar and Kim said...

hi Peter,

i like your argument: Purpose drives the Action. and i agree with you.