12 Myths Every Photographer Should Know

Two weeks ago, I found myself grabbing my DSLR, putting on a lens with no filter since that destroys image quality, putting it on a tripod and using a cable release to take the landscape photo, putting the camera in mirror lock-up mode for a night photo, turning on long-exposure noise reduction, and covering the optical viewfinder to prevent light leaks.  I was doing it right.  It was technical photography perfection.

And then, I snapped.  I suddenly realized that I do all of those “technically perfect” things simply because I've been told they improve the image.  Like most photographers, I was doing what other people told me to do.  But the mark of a true expert is personally testing everything and not falling into the trap of believing the “old wives tales” or, in this case “old photographers tales.” So, I set out on a personal quest in the last two weeks to test everything in my workflow to weed out any useless steps.  I want to reduce my photography to the simplest and purest forms so that I can come here to Improve Photography and teach you how to enjoy your photography more.

Thank you to the kind members of our community who helped with this article by submitting myth ideas.  If you'd like to join us, please LIKE  our Facebook Fan Page.

#1  A clear UV filter degrades image quality (True, but it's not as bad as you'd think)

UV Filter Photography Test
If you look closely, you can see a slight yellow tint in the whites of the photo with the cheap UV filter on.  Click to enlarge.

First of all, since this was a bigger test, I wrote a separate article just explaining my findings of this test and how I performed my testing.  Here's a link to the full article, or simply read the summary of my findings below.

For years I have heard photographers say that putting a clear UV filter on a lens degrades the optical quality.  It's usually a claim made without showing any proof.  Many photographers use UV filters on their lenses to protect the front element of the lens from being scratched, but other photographers are too afraid to use one because it might reduce the sharpness.  These photographers often make comparisons to putting cheap tires on a Ferrari, or say that it is ridiculous to put a cheap plastic filter in front of a $2,000 lens.

Believing this to be true, I have never used a clear UV filter on my lenses. I didn't even own a UV filter to test this belief, so I bought one from Amazon.  I didn't just buy any UV filter.  I bought the cheapest junkiest one I could find. I figured that if this junky filter didn't degrade the quality, then any UV filter would be fine.  But one UV filter wasn't enough.  Dustin Olsen, who now works with me on Improve Photography, also tested the belief with his UV filter using a different camera and different lens. In testing, neither Dustin nor I were able to see ANY reduction in the sharpness of the lens–even zoomed in to 100% with multiple examples.  HOWEVER, while there was no reduction in sharpness at all, both Dustin and I found that the UV filter produced a minor color cast on the image.  Also, the UV filter undoubtedly caused more lens flare when shooting toward a bright light source.

Takeaway from this photography test: There is no reason to panic about using a UV filter.  It just doesn't make hardly any difference unless you're shooting into the sun.  The color shift was actually very slight and I would think that nicer filters would not have this problem.  What this test revealed to me is that UV filters do cause some problems, but it has nothing to do with the sharpness and the reduction in image quality is only very slight.  I'll keep my UV filters off the camera unless the situation arises where it would be handy (like shooting in a very dirty environment or shooting near the ocean near sea spray).

#2 The native ISO (often ISO 200) produces less noise than ISO 100 (MYTH!)

Native ISO test
Very tough to see without zooming in really tight, but there is very slightly less noise in the ISO 100 sample.

Most photographers believe that ISO 100 will produce the most noise-free image; however, some photographers say that the native ISO of all Nikon DSLRs is 200, so they hypothesize that ISO 200 will produce less noise.  So which is it? I was really anxious to test this myth because I wasn't sure of the answer myself.

Please note, as has been pointed out multiple times in the comments below, that these tests were done with the D7000 and a Canon Rebel.  These cameras have a native ISO of 100, which automatically debunks the myth that the native ISO of all Nikons is 200–it is not.  I'd love to see a reader test out this myth with a different Nikon that has a native ISO of 200, but I haven't seen anyone send in samples yet.  My point here is that it is incorrect to state that all Nikons shoot with less noise at ISO 200.  That isn't true.

I have heard so many people talking about native ISO lately that I thought it actually might be true that ISO 200 is slightly cleaner than 100, but it just isn't true. I took multiple shots at 100 and 200 ISO and compared the results.  In every case, ISO 100 was slightly cleaner on my D7000 than the ISO 200 sample.  It may be that this is not true for other cameras, but I found the same result on a Canon Rebel. ISO 100 is (very slightly) less noisy than ISO 200.  I also tested ISO 125, 160, and 400.  It is a perfect scale.  The lower ISO produced the cleaner shot in every case.  There seems to make no impact on the noise on t he camera models we tested (Nikon D7000 and Canon Rebel T3i).  To see full-res image samples and read more about this test, read this article about the native ISO that I just posted to explain my methodology.

Takeaway from this photography test: The whole “all Nikons have a native ISO of 200” thing is… completely not true on the cameras we tested.  I would love to see some readers test this on their cameras so I can verify it on more models, but it looks like this is a total myth.

#3 The DPI or PPI affects the viewing size of the image on screen (MYTH!)

I already knew this was a myth before writing this article, but it is such a common misconception that I thought I would share it with the community.  Stated in the simplest possible terms, the pixels per inch of an image file doesn't matter one tiny bit when the photo is on your screen.  The photo could be 300 PPI or 3,000 PPI and it would look precisely the same.  Pixels per inch is merely a way to measure an image file.  You can change the number to whatever you want and the image resolution won't be changed as long as the total number of pixels in the image is not altered. For most photographers, this is probably a new concept.

If you're interested in learning all the pixelly details of this photography myth, then check out this awesome article from iStockPhoto.

Takeaway form this photography myth: Don't worry about the DPI until you're ready to print the picture.  The PPI has nothing to do with the viewing size of the image on your computer screen (although it does impact the file size).

#4 You can't adjust the white balance of a JPEG (MYTH!)

Photography myth about white balance
It is impossible to tell the difference in image quality between a photo white balanced using the RAW vs. using the JPEG.

Several months ago, I mentioned this myth in an article I wrote.  After the article, I had an exchange from an accomplished professional photographer on this topic.  He vehemently defended his position that a white balance change on a JPEG somehow produces an inferior image quality to a white balance adjustment made to a RAW file.  I emailed him two photos–one white balanced on the RAW, and one white balanced from the JPEG and asked him to identify the one with inferior image quality.  He couldn't.

Then, he changed his argument to say that it wasn't that a white balance change to a JPEG produces inferior image quality, but that it was really hard to do.  Nope.  Just open the JPEG in camera RAW (yes, it's possible to open JPEGS in camera RAW) or Lightroom and make the adjustment just exactly the same way as you would change the white balance on a RAW file.  No difference. I do not pretend that shooting JPEG is the same as shooting RAW.  There is a huge difference in changing the exposure, picture style, or many other aspects of a RAW file when compared to a JPEG; however, it frankly is not true that white balancing a JPEG is somehow inferior.  Don't believe me?  Test it for yourself and see. Same thing.

Takeaway from this photography myth: Obviously, there are huge benefits to shooting in raw; however, it simply isn't true that JPEG white balance adjustments somehow produce poorer image quality than RAW white balance adjustments.  There is a theoretical difference in the fact that the JPEG bakes in the adjustment and the RAW file can be changed losslessly, but if you can tell the difference between a photo white balanced from a JPEG and a photo white balanced from a RAW…. you have a better eye than I do.

#5 You need a commercial product for on-camera flash (MYTH!)

Gary Fong Lightsphere Review
I personally prefer the light from the tupperware and the Lightsphere over the flash bounced off the ceiling. The direct flash is nasty..

For the full run-down on this incredibly hilarious (and surprising) test, check out this separate post that I made to explain the whole thing.  If you're more of a Cliff's Notes kind of person, then here is a summary of the test. Most wedding and event photographers turn to a commercial product like the Gary Fong Lightsphere, or a host of other products for on-camera flash.  The purpose of an on-camera flash diffuser is to soften the light from a flash while staying portable to shoot a wedding reception, an event, or even your daughter's birthday party.  It helps soften the flash and produce a prettier quality of light.

I usually just bounce the flash off the ceiling for on-camera flash, but this doesn't work when you're in a building with very tall ceilings or you are outside at a party at night. One of the most popular on-camera flash diffusers is the Gary Fong Lightsphere.  I own one and have used it many times, but the Lightsphere costs $50!  In my opinion, that is way too much money for a hunk of plastic that sits on top of my flash. When I started working on this article, I thought…. hey, that DOES look like a piece of tupperware!  Naturally, I bribed my wife into posing (she's always a good sport) and compared the light quality of the Gary Fong Lightsphere to the light quality achieved from putting tupperware from the kitchen on my flash.  The results?  Indistinguishable.

Takeaway from this photography test: Save your money.  I could not see any improvement from using the Gary Fong Lightsphere when compared to the tupperware.   At first you might think that it would look ridiculous for a photographer to strap a piece of Tupperware to her flash and then shoot a professional job like a wedding reception, but you'll thank me when you have a handy bowl that you can fill with refreshments from the event.  You save $49 and you get a bowl of goodies from each event you shoot.  Fantastic!

#6 Mirror lock-up improves sharpness (MYTH!)

Mirror lock-up sharpness test
Mirror lock-up sharpness test

I really wanted this one to be true.  I have gone through the pains of using mirror lockup for my landscape photography for years.  I thought it was a main contributor to getting the sharp pictures that I try to capture.  After EXTENSIVE testing, however, I was not able to replicate any tiny bit of improved sharpness in the photos where mirror-lock-up was used.

For newer photographers, the mirror in your DSLR flips up very quickly when an image is taken and this movement can cause vibration in the camera.  Obviously, vibration can cause camera shake and reduce the sharpness of the image.  Mirror lock-up makes the camera mirror open, and then some amount of time is waited before the shutter is tripped.  This allows any vibration from the mirror flip to dissipate before the picture is taken.

It seems that mirror lock up provides no noticeable improvement in sharpness at any shutter speed as long as a sturdy tripod is used (which is advisable anyway).  One reader tested this with a really cheap $20 Walmart kinda tripod and did in fact see a difference.  I don't doubt it.

Click here for the full in-depth explanation of how I tested mirror lock-up.

Takeaway from this photography myth: Again, in theory, mirror lock-up sounds like a great way to reduce vibration and get sharper pictures; however, I tested this one over and over and was unable to see any improvement in photos shot with mirror lock-up compared to regular shots even when I was using long shutter speeds.

See! No difference whatsoever. Click to enlarge and see for yourself.  Even zoomed in to 100% 

#7 Saving a JPEG multiple times degrades quality (MYTH!)

I was quite surprised by this test.  It had always been my opinion that saving a JPEG multiple times degraded the image quality because each save of the photo means the JPEG is compressed again.  While I believe that this would be true if a lower-quality JPEG were saved out each time, it turns out that–after saving the same JPEG 30 different times–there was no noticeable loss in image quality.

The photo here was saved from a RAW file, and then I open the file 30 times, saved out a JPEG of the file, then opened the new file and repeated the process.  I did this 30 times and saved it on the highest quality in Photoshop each time. This myth actually quite handy to know.  Sometimes I shoot a photo, do extensive editing, and save out a JPEG.  If I later find a problem with the photo and want to make a little change, I always feel like I have to find the Photoshop file or start over with the RAW file.

Note that this testing was done using Photoshop's jpeg processor at full quality.  Obviously, different programs can provide different results and–obviously–if you don't save at the highest quality, then data will be lost.

I posted an in-depth explanation of this test as well as more sample images here.

Takeaway from this photography test: It is true that every time you save a JPEG, the algorythm runs compression on the file and you do lose some data.  That is undoubtedly true; however, this test reveals that you can do A LOT of saving of the JPEG and not see any VISIBLE reduction in image quality as long as you save at full resolution every time.  Obviously, if you save a smaller file, you'll lose more data.  If I can't tell the difference between a JPEG that has been saved out 30 times and the original… it probably isn't something to worry about.

#8 A high aperture is needed to get enough depth of field to take pictures of the stars at night (MYTH!)

Night photo
Star photo taken at f/2.8

This is another myth that I was aware of before testing, but which is so commonly believed that it is worth the mention.  Whenever I explain depth-of-field to a new class, I tell them that, when shooting a landscape, if you want to get the cool rock in the foreground as well as the sky in the background in focus, you need to use a high aperture to get full depth of field. So when I teach a night photography class, I usually find three-quarters of the class using f/22  so they “have enough depth of field to get the stars way out there in focus.”  This is when I sit them down and we talk about depth-of-field and focus.  If you believe this to be true, you're missing a big piece to the puzzle.

The truth is that most night photographers shoot the stars with an aperture of f/2.8 or f/3.5, etc.  How do we get the stars in focus with such a large aperture?  The answer is that the lens is FOCUSED on the stars.  Since the lens is focused to infinity much closer than the stars, it makes no difference whether you're shooting a star that is relatively close to Earth, or one that is light years further away.  If you enjoy night photography and want to learn more about shooting the stars and focus at night, you might enjoy my Night Photography eBook.

#9 IS/VR should be turned off when the camera is on a tripod (TRUYTH!)

It truly is amazing how photographers tend to divide over things so trite as whether or not image stabilization should be used when the camera is locked down on a tripod.  Most photographers say that you should turn off image stabilization (vibration reduction) on your lens when using the DSLR on a tripod to prevent the image stabilization from being too sensitive and moving while the picture is taken and thereby creating the movement that the feature is meant to reduce.

I have gone back and forth on this issue over the years until I discovered something.  It is something that male photographers have never seen, and if they have seen it, they have ignored it completely.  The women photographers have probably known this for years.  It's called the manual.  Not manual exposure and not the camera manual.  No, I mean the manual to your LENS!  Yes, it is good for something… actually, a lot of things. The answer to this myth is that it depends on the specific lens.  Some lenses have built-in the ability to turn image stabilization off automatically when the camera is locked down on a tripod.  Other lenses do not do this.  The only way to tell is to pull out your lens manual, blow off the dust, and find out.  As it turns out, almost all of my Nikon lenses do this for me automatically.

Takeaway from this photography test: It depends on your lens, but if your lens manual reveals what my lens manuals did, you'll be able to save time by simply leaving image stabilization turned on all of the time.

#10  You need to cover the viewfinder for night photography to prevent any light leaks (MYTH!)

Light leak on a DSLR
Night photography

This is yet another common belief among photographers that makes theoretical sense, but if you actually test it…. it becomes much difficult to see the problem.  When night photographers take long exposures of 30 seconds or more, they cover the optical viewfinder of the camera to prevent any ambient light from behind the photographer from entering through the clear viewfinder and showing up in the image. This makes perfect sense in theory, but despite my very best efforts to replicate this issue, I was unable to see the effects of the infamous “light leak.”  My friend and colleague Dustin Olsen also tested this on his camera with identical results.

Update: A couple people commented below that the light leaks DO change the camera's light meter.  While that may or may not be true, it left me wondering… WHY IN THE WORLD IS ANYONE TRUSTING THE LIGHT METER WHEN SHOOTING NIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY!?!?  The amount of light available at night is simply insufficient to use aperture priority.  It's all manual at night.

Takeaway from this test: I suppose if you're shooting a 5 hour exposure with a spotlight shining into the viewfinder, it would be possible to recreate the infamous light leak problem; however, even though I was trying my hardest to create a light leak, there was absolutely no difference in the resulting image.  As far as I'm concerned, the light leak myth is completely busted. For notes on how I tested this myth, I posted a full explanation of my light leakage testing here.

#11 Lenses are sharpest at f/8 (MYTH… with some truth!)

An aperture in a lens
An aperture inside a lens

For the full in-depth explanation of how I tested this and to see sample images at these apertures, click here.

Let's be clear.  There can be no doubt whatsoever that every lens has a “sweet spot” in which it produces the sharpest images.  Most photographers already know this, but haven't taken the time to test their lenses to see what aperture actually produces the sharpest results.

With the lack of testing, they latch on to the sage wisdom that f/8 is the sharpest aperture.  I often hear photographers so flippantly say “I'm shooting at f/8 for sharpness” that I thought it would be worth while to show the difference between different lenses and their sweet spots. Since this is a more involved test, I decided to dedicate an entire article this morning showing my findings from this test and how you can easily replicate it with your own lenses.  Check out the full article here.

Takeaway from this photography test: Do not flippantly assume that f/8 or f/11 is generally the sharpest aperture.  The truth is that it COMPLETELY depends on the lens.  You can spend the rest of your life guessing, or you can actually pull out your lenses and test it in 15 minutes.  To see my results and to learn how to do the test at home, check out the full article on this test.

#12 You won't share this page on Facebook or Pinterest, and you definitely won't click the Google+ button below (MYTH?)

Also, if you haven't joined the Improve Photography by LIKING our Facebook fan page, you're missing out on half of the fun!

Info About the Testing

You're more than welcome to disagree with any statement in this article and I'd like to hear what you've experienced that differs from my experience; HOWEVER (and it's a big however), please remember that I have ACTUALLY TESTED these myths.  So if you want to disagree, keep in mind that I probably won't give your comment much credence if I don't see a test you've performed showing me different results. I realize that there are possible deficiencies in each of these tests.  I get it–I'm not a scientist.  I would LOVE to see all of these myths tested on a wider scale, so if you want to put any of these myths to the test and send me your results, I'd be glad to see what you get.  I have, however, tested some of these myths (where applicable) with multiple camera brands/lenses/filters, etc.

81 thoughts on “12 Myths Every Photographer Should Know”

  1. #7: While it is true that if you use the highest quality setting (12) in Photoshop, then quality will be retained. But the default setting (8) will degrade the image quality if you open and save the image 30 times.

  2. I am doing a wedding next weekend, and I really want to try your tupperware-diffuser “method”. How did you set that up? I couldn’t really tell from the image.

    1. @Erica Lampley – Just grab your favorite piece of tupperware and duct tape it to your flash. Looks junky but takes great pictures.

  3. #7 I can mention about. As a web/graphic designer, if you save and edit images with Photoshop at max resolution (12), the image quality doesn’t change, however, if you edit the image through Photoshop and do it again through MS Paint, some of the image quality is lost. So it depends on the program you’re editing and saving with. Just my 2 cents :D. Love this site, it’s helped in a great deal.

  4. Great post. While I agree with your assessments in all cases, I do want to open to a broad scope on a few, just to avoid confusion.

    #4 – The concern is not really whether you can white-balance a JPG. The issue is that you can lose some valuable data in the brighest and darkest spots of the image when you try to balance the exposure. JPG eliminates that data when it’s converted, and so the data is often lost forever. There are tricks to get some of it back, but the reality is that you have nothing compared to the control over RAW – white balance included. Your starting image is actually pretty close, so the difference is undetectable. But try to adjust a shot that is off by as much as 1 stop. With JPG, you can kiss some data goodbye. With RAW, you’re still okay. But memory is cheap anymore. To save editing time…set your camera to save both RAW and JPG…if the JPG is good enough, you can save time in post. If it needs more tweaking, edit the RAW.

    #6 – Mirror Lock up does affect the quality of the image, but it depends on the shutter speed. Regardless of how long your exposure is, the mirror flip is a constant – it always takes the same amount of time. On your longer exposures (especially at night), the impact of the mirror flip is almost impossible to see. The .7ms it takes to flip up the mirror is a miniscule amount of time for a 15-30 second exposure…and it’s not detectable for the same reason people moving through the frame aren’t noticed. For quick exposures (1/100 and faster), it’s also not noticable because the shutter is actually a curtain and it’s only exposing a narrow sliver of the sensor/film at any point…so again, the mirror lock up has little or no effect. It’s when you get into those middle speeds (1/10-1/60) where it will have an impact. The gap between front and rear curtain is wider, and so any given point of the sensor/film is exposed for a longer time. The mirror vibration will be detectable under such circumstances. But not always.

    #7 Iktihar already touched on this, but the result of your findings is not surprising because you were using Photoshop and you were opening the photo. Unlike quick-edits (be it in something like ACDSee or so on), Photoshop actually opens and uncompresses the photo before edits occur and then it saves it. So long as you’re saving at the highest setting every time, you’re not losing any data that hasn’t already been lost, and so it won’t degrade significantly. 30 saves – especially on the highest setting – isn’t that much…but degradation is happening. After about 100 , even on the highest quality, you will notice more significant damage. But the real point that you’re trying to make, and I agree whole-heartedly, is that the degredation is generally unnoticable. And since we’re likely saving the original files (You’re shooting in RAW, right?), it’s not really an issue.

    1. @D. Travis North – Thank you for your comments.

      #4 – I COMPLETELY agree with you! The advantage of shooting raw has nothing to do with white balance. The reason I included this myth is because, every time I hear someone explain why RAW rules, they always give the white balance myth. There are great reasons to choose RAW, but white balance isn’t really one of them.

      #6 – Interesting theory. Maybe I’ll test that one too, but I haven’t seen any proof of that so far.

      #7 – Same response as #6. You said that the difference will be noticeable after 100 times of doing it… but that’s really just a theory, right? I did 30 and didn’t see even the tiniest change. I really don’t have the patience to try 100 and frankly…. who is gonna save a JPEG that many times anyway?

      Great comments. Love it.

  5. I just wanted to add an additional difuser option that I discovered. Being still a bit of an ill equiped novice, I found that when trying to shoot some pictures for my wife’s roller derby bouts, I was getting a large amount of red eye when using the flash. Due to the poor lighting at the arena, after testing with many settings on my d3100, I was getting the least motion blur while still having a decent exposure level when using the flash. Unfortunatly, I don’t yet have an external flash and thus was dealing with the built-in flash. Anyway, I found that a standard tranlucent outlet protector (the kind to keep kids from putting things in to the wall sockets) fit perfectly over the pop-up flash and provides a limited ajustable difusement factor due to the plastic prongs. As an addded bonus, it takes up next to no room in my camera bag.

  6. While it is true that Myth #10 above is indeed a myth, it would help to explain when and why it would be important to cover the viewfinder.

    Covering the viewfinder prevents light entering the camera via the viewfinder from influencing the camera’s light meter. If light coming from behind the camera is streaming into the viewfinder and you don’t cover it, your camera’s meter will be fooled into thinking the scene you wish to photograph is brighter than it actually is, and will lead you to underexpose your photo.

    Also, I understand you have tested Myth #6, but a test is only as good as its methodology and I suspect your testing was flawed (your article does not provide details on how you performed your test so I can’t say just how.) MLU is of greatest benefit at middling shutter speeds (around 1/30 on many cameras), where the amount of time the mirror vibrates is close to the amount of time the shutter is open. Did you try that? In my experience, MLU makes a significant difference at such shutter speeds, especially in larger-format cameras, where the mirrors are of greater mass and tend to vibrate more forcefully.

  7. @Benjamin Green. I’d love to see tests of the theories you mentioned. Very interesting thoughts.

    But… without tests… they are just theories.

    Let’s see some data! That’s the whole point of the article.

  8. #10. I disagree, and I have a fair amount of experience with this. I have lost many an infrared shot by forgetting to close down the viewfinder. The result is a fogging of the center of the image that covers between 30 and 50 percent of the photo. Since my camera has an infrared filter internally mounted, these exposures can be quite long in bright daylight. Thankfully, this has never actually bit me, since I always check my infrared shots after taking them (they often need exposure and focus adjustments).

    I suspect the difference in my results stems from the fact that I take extremely long shots in full daylight. Under normal circumstances, long exposures (non-infrared) are generally occur when there is already limited ambient light.

  9. Supporting data for #7 via Youtube: http://youtu.be/Fk6kV5N1rzs – note he’s saving at quality level 10.

    As for debates on Mirror Lock Up (#6), here’s a good article outlining the shutter speeds that Benjamin Green and myself have mentioned, some articles to support that:

    As for #10, I’m going to jump in on this one. Truth is that covering the viewfinder is only really an issue for IR shots and shots taken in the daytime. It does mess up your meter. But that’s only an issue if you’re using an auto, program or priority mode. If you’re shooting full manual and calculating with your eye against the viewfinder, it’s not an issue. During exposure, the viewfinder gets covered internally. But if you’re in one of those modes, the camera will recalculate when you take your eye away. Depending on where your light sources are, it could affect things dramatically. More on that from my good friend, Peter Carey (via DPS):

    Side note – not trying to debunk anything…but none of these are necessarily black and white subjects. I feel it’s more important for people to understand the basis for the myths and when the issues are actually myths or not. Understanding the physics and mechanics will only help us all to be better photographers. But in all cases, it’s fair to say that these are rare circumstances.

    1. And you believe a guy, with 4 videos on the tube and 1 beings alien slinky’s playing fall out 3….”oh what fools are we, so noble in reason”.

  10. PPI Quality.
    Another factor in the pixels per inch test is the computer monitor on which most of us view photos while editing or post producing video. Most monitors are relatively close to the same resolution these days. But prepping a photo for print requires a vastly higher resolution than our monitors can handle. Therefore, in order to reflect the change in depth PhotoShop and other editing suites merely zoom in to the picture to show it bigger on the screen. Zoom it back down and there is hardly any noticeable difference between the 300 and the 2000 and on up. Degrade a photo down to 72ppi and zoom in. Instant Pixelation.

    White balancing in JPG or RAW.
    I think that the biggest reason white balancing works universally well in both environments is because of the properties of light. In additive color management, white is the great equalizer. All colors have white in it. It’s because white is not a color, but a shade, that white balancing has it’s own separate control in all color management systems apart from any colors and black. Black is the same way; it is not a color, but a shade value.

    Summary of this article; my opinion (as if it mattered)
    Back in the old days before we all trusted specialists for our important decisions, Americans used to practice this type of research. It is how America was the leader in the industrial revolution and is responsible for so many important inventions. This article is a truly scholarly and scientific white paper that I am sharing with my circles. I am a business video specialist now for EZWebPlayer.com and get very little time to shoot photography; my true passion. But, the issues at hand in this article are so important that they cross several industries into Print, Video, Film-making, painting , optics, astronomy, and doubtless several others that I haven’t thought of.

    I hereby dub this article a White Paper.
    Great work, Jim. Stuff like this is exactly why I read you.

    1. @Stu Marks – Thank you for your kind and insightful comments. I’ve been working overtime to produce the best photography information I can, so I appreciate when someone like you sees the value rather than trying to zero in on any minute potential flaw.

  11. @D. Travis North – Interesting theory about infrared. Do note, however, that I limited the myth above to night photography, and I spoke only of light leaks on the image. Frankly, no night photographer in his right mind would shoot in any mode other than manual, so the light meter is irrelevant in that situation.

  12. @ Dex. The JPG level phenomenon.

    It truly has nothing to do with what environment one is opening, editing and saving from when working with JPGs. It’s all about the depth of resolution chosen at time of saving. The JPG file form and it’s many levels is unique because it was designed that way; to be compressible so that we could all easily choose between image quality and file size. Go here [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JPEG ] and you will find way more info about JPGs than you will ever need. Every editing environment that is setup to allow the “artist” to manipulate that file codec should also be setup to allow us to save the JPG at varying levels of depth.

  13. @Jim–RE: Closing the viewfinder. Nothing to test here. Page 97 of my Canon 40D manual makes the purpose of a viewfinder cover clear. I’m sure most other SLR manuals have similar entries. Those who attribute light leaks appearing in their photos to an uncovered viewfinder probably have leakage elsewhere in their camera.

    RE: Mirror Lock Up. Agreed, without tests, theories are just theories. By the same token, without review of their supporting data and full explanation of their methodology, tests are just tests whose conclusions may or may not hold up under scrutiny (this is the concept behind peer review in scientific publishing.)

    So “Let’s see some data!” indeed–how about the data from what you present as a conclusive, myth-busting test so we can clearly understand how you came to your conclusion, and help correct any inadvertent mistakes or incorrect assumptions in methodology you may have made? Otherwise, nobody can really be sure if this article is actually clearing up this “myth” as intended or rather just adding to the confusion…

  14. Thank you for a superb effort at deconstructing those myhts.

    However, although I am not 100% sure, I believe the reason you want to cover the viewfinder for extra long exposures is not to keep light to get to the photosensitive surface during actual exposure, but rather to keep extraneous light from coming in through the viewfinder, thus causing false meter readings. Once the metering is done, you have nothing to fear, indeed.

    Just my 2 cents,

    Ricardo Talbot
    Québec (Québec)

  15. #7 – Have you looked at the histogram of each saved image? When I do any work on an image the histogram clearly shows banding. If I save it, open it again, and do more work, there is more banding on top of the previous banding. Also, it often isn’t hugely noticeable to the naked eye on screen, but a printer can be a lot less forgiving.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top