Camera Body or a Lens? Which is most important? Now, what I am going to talk about in this article applies evenly both for still photography and cinematography. I am going to cover a few simple myths that circling around the internet that so many people fall for.
Chicken or Egg?
It’s kind of a same thing. Which came first? Lens and a body supposed to work together to produce the highest possible quality image. I see a lot of people making videos and talking nonsense about this topic. In a perfect world, we need to have both to produce quality results. In reality, sometimes we can’t afford both options, so let’s break it down.
Most camera bodies are essentially just a sensor. A lot of people pick their bodies for various reasons. Loyalty to the brand, preferred menu, possible video modes, resolution, etc… Essentially a camera body is just a carrier for the sensor. The sensor is the most important component in the camera body. Most sensors on the market are made by Sony and some third-party companies around the world. There are 3 most important factors of the camera sensor which you want to have all together.
- Color Reproduction. It’s pretty self-explaining. Some sensor giving casts and very limited in the spectrum they grab. The legit sensor has great color reproduction. This is what you want to have as a starting point.
- Dynamic Range. This is how much light and shadows can be captured simultaneously. You want to have great dynamic range in your sensor.
- Finally, the resolution. Megapixels are semi-important, obviously higher the better.
There are tons of different lens manufacturers on the market. A common myth about them, that using “vintage” glass will give you certain look. As this claim is true to a certain point, essentially you don’t want to go too old, unless you have a specific project. Old lenses tend to have ghosting, poor chromatic aberration, flaring etc…In the world of K’s old lenses definitely not sharp and may not be suited for most modern day’s work. If you choosing a lens, make sure you get solid sharp glass without any funky artifacts. Vintage lenses may appeal at first glance but soon you will realize how in most cases terrible image looks like. If you choosing old photography lenses for film work, keep in mind, that sometimes the camera body does the lens correction within the programmed parameters of the camera. If the lens looks decent on the still camera, most likely it will not perform the same way on the film camera body.
So Which One?
The X camera is very sharp…we’ve seen that nonsense a lot over social media. The truth is…Unless there is something wrong with the sensor, all camera sensors are extremely sharp. Sharpness may perceptually look more or less depending on the format shooting. For example, crappy H264 will appear muddy versus some film camera shooting Prores 4:4:4. They can technically have identical sensors, but codec makes the decision. A good lens is a better investment than the camera body to a certain point. If you talking about the relatively modern camera, good expensive lens will make the image look fantastic. If your camera body sucks, aka T2I, even with the good lens, image may no longer be appealing due to the age and restrictions of the camera abilities. The expensive glass will hold the value and if you keep it in the proper case moisutre free, technically will serve you forever. An important thing to keep in mind, your image essentially only as sharp as the actual lens can handle. Not to go too deep into math, but if a lens rated to have the sharpness of let’s say 25 megapixels, you not gonna get the most out of your system if you going to mount this lens on the 60 megapixels body. That is a very important factor to keep in mind. Optical quality varies dramatically, and in order to get the maximum quality image, you have to have both camera body and the lens of the top-rated specs. Otherwise, it’s like putting the Yugo engine inside the Ferrari. Camera Formats matter as well, but I will cover that topic more in the future.