Iron Chef Canon Style

I get a lot of email these days from folks asking for advice on which new camera to buy. Many readers seem confused by all the marketing “hype” surrounding a camera’s sensor size (full frame vs. APS-C), resolution (15 MP vs. 18 MP vs. 21 MP) and image quality.

These questions got me thinking about some of the popular misconceptions folks have about digital photography so I decided to write up a short post that illustrates a simple but important point; “it ain’t the camera folks“.

Take these two landscape images for example. Both were taken only minutes apart under the same lighting conditions from the same tripod location. I intentionally chose to process them in Adobe Lightroom using the same basic “settings” so you could compare the results and see for yourself the difference between a $300 camera and a $2500 camera.

Lower McKinney Falls G10

Lower McKinney Falls – Austin, Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography

Lower McKinney Falls 5D2

Lower McKinney Falls – Austin, Texas
Copyright © 2009 Jeff Lynch Photography

Iron Chef Time
Click on each image to see a higher resolution version. Pixel peep to your heart’s content (but don’t look at the metadata) and let me know if you can tell which image was taken by a PowerShot G10 and which was taken by an EOS 5D Mark II.

  • Can’t tell the difference?
  • Not sure which you like better?

The Bottom Line
Any DSLR or point & shoot camera made in the past five years can create stunning images like these two above. It’s not the camera, the lens, the filters or tripod that creates a beautiful image folks, it’s YOU. Here’s the best advice I can offer for those of you looking improve your photography by purchasing a new camera: DON’T DO IT.

15 thoughts on “Iron Chef Canon Style

  1. As always, great post, Jeff. I would only place one caveat on your conclusion — it’s not the cost or name-brand of your gear that makes a picture Looks like the bottom image has a slower shutter and smoother water — which is why I would say, in some cases, gear can make the shot: unless it has a built-in ND, that shot simply cannot be made without some extra gear. Gotta have a tripod, gotta have some filters, gotta have a camera that will allow manual mode. I am certainly not suggesting that a good p&s cannot make great images…to the contrary. But an average guy with a $150 p&s from Best Buy and nothing else, probably cannot make that picture. You, however, probably could. Thanks for you work, Jeff.

  2. Well said Jeff. I agree with Sean on which is photo is from which camera. I happen to like the bottom one the best. The top one seems to have a color cast. They are both nice images though. I started doing photography with a Canon S2is, then moved to the XSi then up to the 7D. My 7D is in the shop so I’m using my XSi again and I was surprised that I was still getting pretty sharp images with the XSi. I miss my 7D though…

    • Dave,

      Thanks for reading. I just sold my 7D and am looking for a used 40D to compliment my 5D2. Last month I sold five very large images for a restaurant here in Houston and two of the best came from my last 40D. When you find a camera body that provides great images for you, hang on to it for dear life!


  3. I couldn’t have said it better. One day at an exhibition, a lady told me that I must have a great camera. I replied, “Are you saying that Picasso must have had a great set of brushes, or a great cook must have a great set of pots and pans?.” She gave me a dirty look and walked away. 🙂

    • So true Bob but I usually just say “God Bless” and let folks think what they may. I make it a point never to argue with a lady. My wife and four daughters have taught me well. 🙂


  4. Great post

    I’ve been trying to tell people this for years. Salesmen will seduce the unsuspecting buyer with promises of better pictures based on the number of megapixels the sensor has. It infuriates me.

    The only reason I would pay more for a camera was because of the quality of the lens.

    • Thanks for reading John but I’m not quite sure I understand your logic. I’ve used the same high quality lenses for the past five camera bodies. My best shots were (almost) always taken with the least expensive camera body I had to work with. I should never have sold my old 40D with its incredible 10 MP sensor. Only my 5D2 comes close.


        • Steve,

          I used the new EOS 7D for several months of wildlife photography and really loved the new AF system. The image quality however, was just not what I’d hoped for. In fact, when I compared recent shots to those taken by my old 40D I found the image quality of the 40D to be far superior in terms of sharpness and contrast. Since most of my work is NOT wildlife photography I decided to sell the 7D and look for a used 40D for those times when I need a crop-body camera. I still use my 5D2 for 95% of my work so it wasn’t a tough decision.


  5. Great post Jeff. I’m gonna guess the top is the G10 and the bottom the 5D but that’s just a guess. And to the same point, don’t be surprised if someone shows up to the landscape safari with a PEN camera and a tiny tripod:)

    • Thanks Sean,

      Yes, times are a changing for the camera biz but it’s still the OFBC (old fart behind camera) that makes the image. At least until Canon comes out with an “AC” (auto composition) algorithm.


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