Trying to Define “Good Enough”–Thoughts

How often have you heard the term “good enough” ?  OR, if we spin that around and look at it maybe from a different perspective – how often do you see the result of “good enough”?  In this age of “it’s easier to replace than repair”, I’m almost thinking we see that everywhere.  In fact, I feel that it’s literally part of our culture.  People selling stuff to us sure know that Smile  This post, is trying to sort of define that in a theoretical way and perhaps a bit jaded and trying to keep it in the realm of photography.

What kinds of twigged this for me but just dawned on me recently was this buying binge I went on getting photo equipment, but in hindsight, I really saw it in just about facet of life.  A really good example of this would probably be this rash of the Dollar type stores kicking around.  They seem to be doing a booming business.  You almost have to ask yourself – why?  I have a lot of friends that refuse to shop at Walmart or these Dollar type stores.  OR shop in used clothing stores.  I can’t put a finger on it, but the way I look at it, a good buy is a good buy Smile  I’ll give you an example:  My wife gives power shopping a whole new meaning Smile  BUT, in saying that, she’s also what I would call a “realistic” or “grounded” shopper.  I tend to be a little more impulsive, but at the same time, I look at efficiency and time against cost in just about everything I do. 

I’m ranting…. so what does this have to do with photography you say?  Well… when I was in the world of 35mm, I really strived to go beyond good enough.  I think the real bottom line here, is that getting something “perfect” really doesn’t exist in one sense.  It’s more  of what I would call “beyond good enough”.  To me, perfect is when all things are considered in the equation and in the end, everything is as you expect – that would be perfect.  For YOU.  That’s important to know.  Remember – someone else may not think so.  So when you say “PERFECT”, is it a “done” deal and you move one?

OK – so in photography.  Two things come immediately to mind.  For starters – photographs in themselves.  When I started back into this, I looked at digital photography in a very, well, casual way.  I needed “something” to capture pics AND I didn’t have a lot of money to do it.  I had no choice – I bought the best with the money that I had at the time.  No it wasn’t the ideal setup – technology hadn’t come close but it was new.  For what I was doing at the time – good enough.  I’m probably my own worst critic as I tend to look at things done well as EXCELLENT ore than PERFECT.  Perfect may also reflect the result of an action, not necessarily a product.

When you look at today, and how far technology has progressed, I have to admit it is neat.  I don’t think the fundamentals of taking a photo in itself has changed, but the technology has changed what is ultimately produced.  From the hardware standpoint – we now have a camera in something as simple as a phone – in other words – anyone can now take a pic.  I can’t recall from my 35mm days the sheer amount of product that is out there.  Because technology is moving so fast, the products are not only get smaller and better, it’s also changing just as fast.  To me, almost as fast as the PC side of things.  In the more serious amateur stuff, I’m not quite seeing the range of lenses for say my D3200, but at the same time, this travel camera category has zooms that were unheard of my 35mm days.  AND they take a pretty darn good quality pic.  I should know – I own 6 or more of themSmile  They’ve literally opened up a whole new world for me.  AND, the photos are more than good enough.  One of the things that the travel cameras did for me, was literally “pull me” back into taking photography more seriously than the casual snapshot thing.  I went into “equipment junkie” mode, and this time around, I DID have the money and started taking pics again – lots of pics.  Last week, I jumped into the world of DLSR’s with my Nikon D3200.  No, it’s not perfect but for what I’m going to be doing for the next little while, more than adequate or “good enough”.  It’s also going to give me a “taste”.

OK – the D3200 came with an 18-55mm/f3.5-5.6 zoom.  The lens barrels are not metal, heck the body, I don’t think is completely metal.  This lens didn’t rate that high and one of the prime reasons was the quality of glass vs what the sensor is capable of.  Yes, Nikon stated that it’s an entry level model but you know, when you look at what you get for the price, IMHO, if you are moving up into this category, it is DEFINITELY good enough Smile  If you are already in this space, there are probably better choices. The other option I was looking at was the DSLR type travel zooms.  Non-interchangeable lens but BIG zooms.  Less money, but not by much.   I didn’t.  In reflecting on this a bit – one of the key reasons I got a DSLR was to get the battery power.  It’s rated at about 500 shots give or take based on the reviews.  None of my other units can do that unless I use two batteries.  Depending on the shoot, good enough.  The “pro” level cameras can get more, but for me at the moment, I’m good.  I’ve shot roughly 500-600 pics in the  or 5 days I’ve owned it and did a couple of “refresh charges”, but 2 bars were still showing.  PLUS – it charges pretty quick. For future stuff – I’m pumped Smile

18-55mm is what I would call reasonable zoom.  For the average person, it’ll cover most things.  In fact, I’m guessing a lot of folks who own something like this will likely not even go beyond this lens.  I may not – I have my travel zooms that can get me both wider and longer.  I would like something that is faster, but for the moment, I’m not going to sweat it that much.  I’m still learning on this.  The one big thing here – getting used to the viewfinder!!  I’ve gotten really used to using the LCD panel, and yes, I can go into LiveView but I find that having the control settings there is also pretty handy.  Will this be a primary camera for me once I get past the honeymoon stage?  We’ll see.

Software – Wow!!!  Talk about varied opinions here Smile  Most of the people I know are in either PhotoShop or LightRoom.  In fact, most people that are quasi serious are in this space.  Granted, they are basically the industry standard but to me, after looking at them, I decided that I didn’t want to go into either of those spaces.  Everyone I’ve talked to, and I’ve looked a bit at them, to me, seemed a little too complicated.  They might be all right for the serious amateur and/or pro, but for me, I simply didn’t want to take the time to learn these products.  You see, for me – I’m come from the space in photography where you “do it once – do it right”.  To me, I find that the software today can make you a bit “lazy” when it comes to the art itself.  Combine the hardware and the software, and it can become very much a “take a bunch of photos (bracketed exposure, composition, etc) and fix it later in software.  To me, the “art” comes into play when you actually take the shot and it’s right that first time.  There’s a lot that goes into that, believe me. When you use the software from the photo taking perspective, I feel that it’s very much that good enough thing that comes out.  Sometimes, though, you may see the shot, but the camera can’t take that shot and you need the software to get what you want.  Maybe that’s one of the places where software really comes into play.  OR you can’t get close enough – wide is a different story.  In any event – software, to me, is sort of that necessary evil to a degree.

I decided on Corel’s products – PaintShop Pro X6 for my desktop machine, and Photo Impact X3 for my notebook. Why you say?  Pretty simple actually – I could get the functionality I needed for not a lot of money – I think I spent a total of 70 or 80 bucks for both.  I looked at what I do in my current line of picture taking.  It broke down to some cropping (notice I said some cropping Smile ), perhaps some red eye removal, perhaps a little bit of color correction, maybe the odd time some effects stuff.  I try to leverage what my camera can do over trying to manipulate later.  You know what – it’s working pretty well so far Smile  It’s more than “good enough”.   I’m one of those people that constantly has a lot on the go.  Photography is a great diversion for me, but I prefer to use my time to take photos, not play with them in software to make them better.  Sound a little harsh?  To me, it’s not.  When I started blogging and journaling, I took the time up front to get “operational”.  I’m really trying to equate things back to 35mm – it’s very different in digital, as software is now your “darkroom”.  One can do things in software that simply were not possible or easily possible anyway, in 35mm. Ultimately, I’m probably going to have to make time, but for me, at the moment I’d rather be taking photos than trying to learn software.  Which brings me to trade offs.

I think when one gets going in this space, digital has made things a little more complicated to a certain degree.  This is what I would call an “extra” element in the process – a bit of a trade off if you will.  You have a digital camera that works great but one now has software in the middle to manipulate the photo even more.  I guess the question or questions here would also be :  How many people actually DO use the software?  OR do they even care about the software?  Take the photo – download to your computer.  I try to follow this process as closely as possible.  The trade off here – I rather be taking pics or learning about taking pics than learning how to use software to make my photos better.  From the hardware perspective, it sort of the same thing.  If I can get a satisfactory pic with a camera that I have one me, it’s better than having no pic with a camera left at home because it was too heavy Smile  The nice thing about software though – in it’s own right, I think if anything, it has encouraged more people to get “into the darkroom” so to speak.  I now that sometimes I’m monkeying with some effects stuff and end up some pretty neat pics Smile  The creative side so to speak. 



About gkamitomo
IT Busines Analyst

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