New camera = better photographer? Not hardly.

Blogger note: These photos are property of the Kentucky Kernel. Any reproduction is a violation of copyright. Please respect my work and the Kernel’s property. If you are interested in purchasing any photos from the Kernel contact Ed Matthews at
This is my favorite picture from the UK-UofL mens soccer game I shot on Thursday. I like how long you can stare at it and keep finding more and more excitement. It took me a while to see the goalie being lifted into the stands by the fan in the background.

Most of my photo-friends and those at the Bank of Mr. and Mrs. Luttrell know that I purchased a new camera recently. I bought a Canon 1D Mark II from a man in Ft. Thomas via The UK vs. UofL mens soccer game was my first sporting event with this camera, where I could use it for what it is best at: speed.

Speed is what I hoped to be able to take advantage of at last night’s football game. I had my 20D with me but mostly relied on my Mark II for the shots. With 8.5 frames per second, you use a lot of gigs. I really need more cards.

Having a faster camera helped me to get this shot. My old 20D’s 5 frames per second isn’t bad but it’s not fast enough to catch the entire sequence. While a second may seem like a very short period of time the amount of movement a ball and two players can make in that brief moment is ridiculous. Sports is one situation where I go against what people like Ken Rockwell say about camera isn’t important. Good gear helps get better shots.

Ah, alas, a good camera still doesn’t make you a good photographer. Had I paid just a bit more attention to what I was doing in this photo I wouldn’t have this crooked horizon. I think it was worse but I managed to get it closer in Photoshop. You can pay the $5,000 for the Mark III and have 10 fps, ridiculous ISO settings with minimal noise and live-view, but with all the bells and whistles, it’s up to you to pay attention to what is going on.  I like this picture for the expressions, but even with the 8.5 fps I managed to miss half of the ball and tilt my horizon.

This is probably my second favorite picture from the game, but most definitely my favorite sequence. The sequence isn’t entirely sharp (once again I screwed the settings up…new camera….give me a break), but you can see the keeper continue flipping over this player’s head and go head first to the ground. I would have missed it with my old camera. But still the same, the keeper isn’t sharp because I didn’t knock up my ISO high enough to have a good shutter speed.

When I was photo editor I always told people, “Don’t be afraid to crank up your ISO. I would rather have a little noise and a sharp picture than you miss the picture all together because you were shooting for quality of the final product.” Well, I managed to miss my own point on this night. The Mark II is good with noise, I shouldn’t have been so timid. Live and learn.

In the end, I will be able to use the Mark II to a fuller capacity than my 20D’s could ever think about. Jim says, “There isn’t much you can think of that this camera can’t do.” He’s right. But there are a lot of things I haven’t been able to think of and don’t know how to do yet. So even with my great new professional camera, I’m hardly a professional. I’m still a student. Still learning. But I intend on using my camera’s abilities and becoming better. The last thing I want is to be the person on the sidelines with a camera that’s worth more than I am.

A few comparison stats on Mark II/20D, quick and easy:

Frames per second: 8.5 fps/5fps
Burst capability (at Large JPG): 40/23
Megapixels: 8.2/8.2
Autofocus points: 45/9
Weight in oz(with battery): 45/27

20D vs. 1D Mk IIA debate that will ring through the web’s discussions forums for months to come is one which compares the 20D to the 1D Mk II. They’re both 8 Megapixel cameras, and though not quite as fast as the Mk II, at 5FPS the 20D is fast enough for many photographers. The price difference is considerable, and so why not buy a 20D instead of the much more expensive Mk II?

Indeed. But the answer is obvious, and so to debate the point (and I know it will be done, ad nauseam) serves little purpose. Here are the main pros and cons:

— the Mk II is much more expensive (nearly three times the price)

— the MK II is much bulkier and heavier

— the Mk II is a lot faster, more so than just the number of frames per second would suggest

— the Mk II has a 1.3X factor vs. the 20D’s 1.6X cropping factor

— the Mk II has larger photosites (pixels) and therefore a theoretical (at least) advantage in terms of noise at high ISO

— the Mk II has far superior weather sealing

— the Mk II is considerably more ruggedly built

— the Mk II has a 200,000 cycle shutter

— the Mk II has a significantly larger and brighter viewfinder

— the Mk II has a much larger buffer

— the Mk II has spotmetering and 45 point autofocus

There you have it, the major pros and cons. Now simply ask yourself; given these differences, is the extra cost, weight and bulk of the Mk II appropriate for the type of shooting that you do? If so, go for it. If not, then the 20D may well be the camera that you’ve been looking for.”


2 Responses to “New camera = better photographer? Not hardly.”

  1. I really enjoyed these photos. I’m glad you were able to upgrade your equipment. Even though you were an amazing photographer before, your work jumps out even more now.

  2. Flippin’ brilliant. I love the photos.

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