Six things that you might think you need in a digital camera that you CAN live without.

1. IMAGE STABILISATION

There is lots of comment about the fact that the coming Fujifilm 16-50 f/2.8 'pro' spec. lens WON'T have image stabilisation. There is lots of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth over this. Plenty of 'Oh no, I can't cope without it. My world is an empty shell of shattered dreams!' comments being posted. Now it may come as a bit of a shock for the photographic internet, but there was a time when (Shock!! Horror!!) Image Stabilisation didn't even exist. Yes I know that's disturbing news and almost unbelievable, but there was a time when photographers had to learn to hold a camera steady BY THEMSELVES!!!!! Now this news may well drive many photographic hobbyists into investigating quilt making or origami, but it is actually possible to hand hold cameras and lenses at slow shutter speeds without some whirring gyroscope or 'floating' sensor. Plus there are these things called tripods and flash guns.

2. LOTS OF AF POINTS

You often see complaints about a camera not possessing enough AF points. 'It's only got 1000 AF points, I wouldn't get out of bed to use a camera with less than 100,000!!!' The problem with AF points is that once you let your camera pick what it gets to focus on, you've handed control over to the thing you are supposed to be controlling. There is no way on earth I've ever going to let a camera I'm using decide what should be the point of focus. That's my job. I am the photographer after all. I have only ever used one focus point on my cameras ever since I've had cameras with AF. I set it up in the centre, use the technology to select the place of focus I want, recompose and press the shutter. Takes a fraction of a second and has served me well over the years. 

It's not as if cameras with all those AF points are actually any quicker. By the time you've had several go's at getting the camera to actually focus where you think it should (so why not do it yourself in the first place?), the pictures probably gone anyway. And again, like the ability to hold a camera steady, there is another lost skill here. That's the skill of being able to predict focus in fast moving situations.

3. LOTS OF MEGAPIXELS AND BIG SENSORS

Now I'm one to talk. Since I have cameras that take pictures on full-frame sensors (Three of them) and have cameras that produce image files of 36+ MP's. (Three of those as well) But I am intelligent enough to realise that I don't actually need them. Sure it's nice to have high resolution but it's even nicer to create pictures we are proud of. And we can do that with any camera and any size sensor. Plus unless you are making a big jump in MP's it doesn't make that much difference. I'm currently upsizing some of my A7r files to 52MP and 149MB file size. Sounds a lot doesn't it? But in fact it's only a 120% enlargement and you can do that with any file on any camera with no problem. 

Sensor size? Well again there is no real need to go for the biggest, because if there was we'd all be remortgaging the house to buy a Medium Format camera. Plus smaller sensors have advantages of their own anyway. Go with what you think works for you. Size isn't everything. (Really!!)

4. FACE RECOGNITION SOFTWARE

Does anybody really need software to recognise a face? In a group of people how does your camera know which face to focus on? Have you ever used it on a camera with no faces in the frame and watched it flap about helplessly until it decides that the clock tower in the distance or the no entry road sign must be your 'nearest and dearest?' If you aren't capable of recognising a face and focusing on it, then those quilt making and origami alternatives might be appropriate. No wait, they are out of the question too because they require actually learning how to do something and require developing a skill set. 

5. IN CAMERA RAW CONVERSION

And just exactly what is the point of this? The ability to use a really small live view screen to make decisions on how an image file should be processed. Gosh, that's really useful. Oh, by the way most cameras do this already. It's called a jpg.

6. 'ART' FILTERS

Spelt with a capital F. How to make your images look like something went wrong with your printer. How the people who create these appalling monstrosities have the nerve to call them 'ART' filters takes a lot of nerve. Looking at what some of them do to images I can think of several other words to describe them, most of which I'll refrain from writing on the grounds of good taste!! 

Again we have a situation where people let the camera decide how an image should look. And if you add up the sum total of what using much of the above creates, then if someone takes a pictures using several of the above, then the camera probably has a case for actually claiming copyright on the image, since there doesn't seem a lot of photographer input there. But then why do I get the impression that some people would actually quite like a camera that went out and took pictures itself while they stayed in bed eating chocolate and playing some stupid game on their phone.


OK, so the above isn't actually 100% serious, but as ever I AM trying to make a point. Yes I use some of these (Well actually two of them, 1 & 3) but one of the great pleasures of photography for me is the fact that I can use my accumulated skills and knowledge to create what I want. The idea that we are all helpless snapshooters needing help in creating basic images is pretty dispiriting. And there is a difference between technology that helps us create better images and technology that robs of us our ability to use our brains. Today face recognition software, tomorrow The Matrix. Be warned!!