Megapixels And Commercial Clients
I find it interesting how some photographic arguments simply do the rounds, time and time again. Brand wars, mirrorless wars, lens wars. The list is fairly endless.
To be perfectly honest, I thought the old argument regarding Megapixels had died a death. But apparently, as witnessed during the much talked about prelaunch period of the OM System OM-1, it would appear the old argument is still alive and kicking.
The rumour sites were awash with hopes and wishes in the comments, every time a fresh bit of potential news was listed online. A lot of Olympus shooters were hoping for an increase in MP, but also wanted better noise management. Yadda yadda yadda.
The OM-1 specifications were eventually released, and the effective resolution was to be 20.4Mp. Whilst this was a brand new, stacked sensor, the resolution is the same as the Olympus E-M1 mkII. I think there were a few tears amongst the comments. Oh dear.
I’ve been an Olympus user since the original E-M1, and made use of it for pretty much everything. Well, there’s a bit of a story to that, as it was supposed to be a weekender of a camera, but hey ho!
Was I concerned about the fact it was 16.3Mp? Certainly not! And neither were my clients.
This got me thinking about some of the images and work my E-M1 mkI produced, and I thought I’d share one of the shoots from March, 2016 with you.
The above image was requested by the marketing manager at Lloyd South Lakes Mini for a PR article introducing their Mini dealership team at South Lakes. I was given the usual guidance and brief (“We’d like something creative!”), after they had seen the team images developed for other dealerships within the group in Lancashire.
To be honest, it’s a fairly simple setup, and there were a number of factors that influenced the development of the image. The Mini dealerships have a black colour scheme, which I wanted to exploit, as it would make any bright colours really stand out. The team attire is black, in keeping with the dealership colours, so placing the team members in front of a brightly coloured background would separate them from the dark background, and stop them becoming “lost”. My one concern was the darkly tiled floor, which certainly could have caused the “loss” of dark footwear, but the introduction of speedlights underneath the car would sort that.
Keeping any light forward, and off the background, would mean any brightly coloured wall plaques or dealership furniture would be underexposed and, therefore, dull anything brightly coloured.
The large neon Mini sign would be utilised to add to the image.
Developing the lighting:
This was one of my last shoots, before switching over to Elinchrom in the April.
I started with accent lights. I knew the team would obviously be taller than the car, and I wanted to ensure that any dark hair wouldn’t simply disappear into the background, not to mention their black clothing. Frame left, and just beyond the far side of the car, is a Godox Witstro AD360, firing through a gridded beauty dish at a height of 2m and angled down towards the team. It was firing at an output of 1/32.
Frame right, and again at a distance that was just beyond the far side of the car, I placed another Witstro AD360. Another beauty dish and grid were used at a height of 2m. The output was slightly higher at 1/16 and 1/3rd due to the slightly further distance. Also, the gentleman on the left of frame was reflecting more light from his head than the gentleman on the right of the frame.
The key light was a Godox Xenergiser 600Ws, firing through a 150cm Octa. To control the fall of light, and restrict it from lighting the background as previously mentioned, I fitted the honeycomb. The head was angled downward, again to reduce any likelihood of light pollution to the background, and it was raised to 2.5m, which was the maximum ceiling height. It was set to fire at 1/8th, and placed alongside me and just to my right, as I needed to be central.
Last but not least, I added three speedlights with blue gels. Each were laid on the floor at the far side of the car. The gels were each held in place using stofens, which some would argue would cut the output, which is true. However, it also aids in dispersion of the light, and more importantly, it’s a really simple and effective way to clamp the gels in place. Each speedlight was set to an output of 1/32.
Using a high shutter speed aided in under exposing the interior.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 1/250th sec ISO400 12-40mm @24mm f5
This is a pull back, or behind the scenes (BTS) shot. Exactly the same settings, just taken from further back and at 17mm.
Have the eagle eyed amongst you, spotted the disparity between my narration and the image?
Yes, I can definitely count. I had placed three speedlights under the car, and all three worked faultlessly during the light test. However, I hadn’t noticed that in the time it took to organise the lineup, the speedlight on the right of the frame, had gone to sleep.
Whilst developing the lighting for the above image, the young lady from the marketing department happened to see final test image, and asked for that to be included, as it was the latest convertible Mini, and also the reason they chose the car for the team shot, along with its vibrant colour.
Again, same settings as the first image for the team shot.
Due to the low power settings utilised for the image, the two accent lights could easily be exchanged for speedlights, and you would need to set them to around 1/8th, possibly nearer ¼, depending on the type of grid system you utilise.
The key light may be a little more problematic due to the required power output. However, doubling up with two speedlights on one of those twin hotshoe jobbies, and both set to around ¼ and 1/3rd power output, would match the output of my octa, and still give you a workable recycle time. You could actually manage with one speedlight at damn near full power, but the recycle time would suffer. Something else to bear in mind is the fact that speedlights have built-in reflectors to aid in the projection of the light. This means they don’t fill softboxes too well if firing forward. There are now many speedlight dedicated softboxes that work extremely well due to their design which configures the speedlight to fire into the back of the softbox, therefore aiding a much better dispersion of light.
And what about scenarios outdoors, where you are also factoring in ambient light?
Further automotive work can be found in my portfolio here.
So, getting back to the Megapixel argument. I’ve never had a client enquire as to the Megapixel count I use, and a lot of the images I shot with the original E-M1 are still in use today. 20Mp is certainly more than enough for most of my clients, and most of the images will be downsized for websites anyway.
So will I upgrade from my E-M1 mkII to the new OM-1? Definitely!
Besides the improved noise handling, there are a dozen other reasons for me to upgrade the kit. Yearning after higher sensor resolution definitely isn’t one of them.