A shiny new piece of farm machinery sitting in an anonymous exhibition hall somewhere in the world. Nothing exceptional about that in itself although Kverneland (the manufacturer) was obviously keen to have it’s latest offering on display and many visitors to the show were equally impressed to see this air drill in the flesh, for it is an impressive machine. But what is of note (to photographers of long experience at least) is that this sort of image exists at all.
In the days of film taking pictures in these dark conditions would have been quite a task involving flash heads, tripods, long exposures, multiple shots, special film and so on to get it right. To simply stroll in with a hand held SLR and and walk away with it would have been a miracle but thanks to digital technology the impossible now happens. But, and there is always a but, it cannot be achieved with just any digital camera or mobile phone and it is this sort of image that reinforces the importance of using a sophisticated camera to achieve the best results.
It is said that good photographs can now be taken on any reasonable camera, and it is true. However, that is like saying that any car will go 100mph if you find a steep enough hill for it to go down. Compact cameras, mobiles and even dSLR’s are designed to work in optimum lighting conditions but the measure of a camera’s ability is not how good it is at catching smiling faces on a sunny day but whether it will take photo’s of …. well, a seed drill in an almost blacked out room with only a spotlight to illuminate it. This is the equivalent of asking a car to drive at 100mph up a steep hill let alone on the flat and you need to choose a vehicle with a level of performance that enables it to do what you want. Big motors are not cheap to buy or run and just like motoring, camera power comes with unfortunate costs.
My experience with digital cameras started off with a Pentax around nine years ago, a great little camera and I was hooked, but the company didn’t appear to want to move on from this base so I swapped to one of the big two names. Alas, this relationship soured as the camera didn’t live up to the hype so back to Pentax who were now going somewhere it seemed. Five years down the line and they had ground to a full stop again. What a shame, the K5 could certainly hold its head high in the company of ‘better’ cameras and was, for me, a great leap forward from the K10 that had preceded it, but development never really progressed from there and despite countless rumours and half promises Pentax once again sat on their hands while the big two rushed forward with full frame cameras and sophisticated image engines that could deliver results such as you see above. For the second time I (and other hopefuls) had been left behind with our money in equipment that was no longer comparable to the best. It won’t happen again for last year I traded it all in for a NIkon D3 that has stunned me with its virtuosity and leaves the Pentax sadly bobbing in its wake far behind.
The moral of this tale is that although we may at times curse the pace and expense of technological change there is no doubt that we have to keep up with it in order to survive and offer the customer the quality they expect. Kverneland know this as well as anybody which is why their latest machine looks nothing like the device below and yet it does much the same job.