The Garret Tree
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
  Digital Photography: How about a good battery?

The photo blogs are debating a post by Edmund Ronald in Ziff-Davis's Publish site.
Pro's Appetite for Megapixels is Sated.

Ronald believes that the race for a the number of megapixels is just about over, that what the world needs is better megapixels... It appears that new 39 megapixel digital backs were announced for the medium format digital camera but the megabucks required for that many pixels is going out of range for even the top pros.

He says

Then there is the issue of noise: In fashion and architecture, pros want higher sensitivity, desperately. To capture sharp detail in several focus planes, you need to stop down a lot.

The current low sensitivity of the backs translates into a need for lots of light. This means bigger strobe generators to supply more joules.

A couple of comments

My first thought when it came to megapixels was the old statement attributed to Bill Gates about memory, something like who would ever what more thant 640K? We welcomed more memory when it came first, programs became more powerful and ran faster. Of course these days memory means money for monopolies, the more bloated the program, the more you need and leads you into the never-ending upgrade circle. So in this Ronald is somewhat correct, we want enough megapixelage(is that a word??) to give us resolution but not that puts it out of reach of our pocket books.

I bought my first digital, a Panasonic Lumix with 2 megapixels after I saw a column in the Washington Post that said the Lumix with its Leica lens was better than a 5 megapixel camera with cheap glass. That's true, I blew up landscapes from the FZ1 to 13" x 19" with no appreciable loss of quality. I now have a Lumix FZ3 as my carry-everywhere camera. (And Panasonic has just come out with a 8 megapixel Lumix but an upgrade will have to wait until my bank account is in better shape).


It is about time cameras had better sensors. Using a digital camera at night (and even some film cameras with auto focus) is like a bad episode of Star Trek, "Sensors are down captain!" There is not only the problem of noise but sensor degradation. The camera doesn't know what it's doing. I shot the Toronto Distillery Jazz Festival in 2004 with my 8 megapixel Minolta A2 and the darker it got, the more problems I had. A couple of weeks later at Toronto's Greek food festival, The Taste of the Danforth,when I wanted to shoot the nightscape, I didn't bother with the digital, and went back to film, so I could look through the good old SLR viewfinder, which is a lot clearer than a sensor that looks like the reception on my family's first black and white TV (using an aerial) on a stormy night in northern British Columbia.

What I really want is a great, long life battery

I'm going on a wilderness camping trip for the Simcoe Day long holiday weekend. So what do I take with me?

Once again I'm leaving the Minolta A2 at home. I'll take the Lumix and my Minolta film camera. Why? Well why hasn't any manufacturer bothered to do something about 1)battery life 2)recharging those batteries in the field? Neither Panasonic nor Minolta offer a direct DC attachment for their battery chargers. I am taking with me an inverter from Canadian Tire, plugs in to a car or boat's DC (lighter) outlet and converts it to ordinary AC 120 volt household current. Except it's not my car (we're car pooling), we're not always going to be close to the parking lot and the draw of the inverter will, over time, drain the battery. The camping solar chargers are made to step down the voltage and connect direct, which doesn't as far as I can find out, help charging the battery.

Again it's probably a question of cost--a four day digital battery may be like a 30 megapixel screen, (then again it may not) but why can't the manufacturers get together and 1)reduce the number of proprietary batteries to a few standards and 2)come with some digital photo industry standard solar recharger that will work anywhere? I mean one where there is a pod for the battery itself, not attaching it to the current charger. A solar panel, a pod for the battery and just leave it alone for a few hours....

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I write in a renovated garret in my house in a part of Toronto, Canada, called "The Pocket." The blog is named for a tree can be seen outside the window of my garret.

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Name: Robin Rowland
Location: Toronto, Canada

I'm a Toronto-based writer, photographer, web producer, television producer, journalist and teacher. I'm author of five books, the latest A River Kwai Story: The Sonkrai Tribunal. The Garret tree is my blog on the writing life including my progress on my next book (which will be announced here some time in the coming months) My second blog, the Wampo, Nieke and Sonkrai follows the slow progress of my freelanced model railway based on my research on the Burma Thailand Railway (which is why it isn't updated that often) The Creative Guide to Research, based on my book published in 2000 is basically an archive of news, information and hints for both the online and the shoe-leather" researcher. (Google has taken over everything but there are still good hints there)

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