Westminster fountain at sunset

by Jorge Córdoba

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My camera is from about 2001 and rather limited by today's standards. 5 megapixel, ISO400 at the most, f/8 is the smallest aperture, noise even in good light, a few hot pixels in the CCD, no raw data, etc.

I've taken many nice photos with this, but can't do much with them. Microstock (or even regular stock) might be a fun way to put the photos to use and earn a few bucks, but they want higher res and clean images. Prints to be framed and shown can only be so big. Unless I catch some big historical moment, these aren't going on any magazine covers.

With the limited res and quality, what ways can these images be of use to others and earn me some extra money? It'd be real nice to earn enough to by a serious new camera this year. (And a lighting kit and filters and...)

So far the most viable thing I've come up with is to do heavy image processing on up-sized photos, adding artistic effects to make digital art. See for example http://jeffcottwilson.com/Wilson.htm The fine detail is mathematically generated ("procedural textures" in the computer graphics world) and noise actually helps.

Perhaps I can get rich and famous from the digital art work, but I want to know what other ways my camera can earn its keep. Other photographers may have this same question but not interested in making digital art.

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What camera is it exactly that you are using? –  PearsonArtPhoto Feb 10 '11 at 18:13
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I'm not a photography guy, but I am guessing some of your shots will be fine for web work. Remember that websites are of very low resolution, and with a little work on the photos, they can be quite usable in a decent design. –  Brad Feb 10 '11 at 20:46
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Sell it at an antique store? –  PearsonArtPhoto Feb 10 '11 at 22:43
    
Sony F707, a good camera at the time for the price range. It's still quite decent for a lot of things e.g. photos for web use. –  DarenW Feb 11 '11 at 0:33
    
@Pearsonartphoto - depends on the definition of "antique"! But yeah, I wouldn't mind selling it to a beginner or something. –  DarenW Feb 11 '11 at 0:34

4 Answers 4

up vote 19 down vote accepted

Your only solution is to start an "old digital camera" movement where you espouse the virtues of the very digital look of the earliest digital cameras, and then put on a gallery show in New York with the images blown up to 4 feet by 6 feet to emphasize the very digitarianism they exude.

Hey, if they can do gallery shows with iPhone images this should be a cinch to get rolling. Don't sell the prints for anything under 20k.

You may have to buy an even older digital camera to pull this off right.

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I also wasn't sure if this was a tongue-in-cheek question! –  labnut Feb 10 '11 at 19:55
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(20 kilobucks) times (.01 sales per year) = ... hmmm... –  DarenW Feb 11 '11 at 0:37
    
That is an idea, to acquire an even older camera. I had a Kodak something, DC-40 iirc, and it made really crappy images. Gave it away to ex-girlfriend. –  DarenW Feb 11 '11 at 0:39
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As tongue in cheek as this answer may be, it helps support the point that the quality of your gear isn't the be-all-end-all of whether you can make good/impressive/interesting pictures. –  thomasrutter Feb 11 '11 at 6:59
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Tongue in cheek it may be, but this answer makes an essential point - MAKE USE of the "cheapness", the characteristics of the camera I have. Some types of photography just won't be possible with it. (And put "digitarianism" into wikipedia...) –  DarenW Feb 12 '11 at 4:53

10 years is a very long time in electronics, even the pro level Canon 1D is bettered for resolution by a camera phone these days.

There's more to image quality than megapixels of course (I'm sure to get some flak in the comments for the 1D comparison) but I still think you'll be best served by getting a new camera, even if it's bottom of the range, chances are the screen/lens/sensor will all be better than what you have currently.

Making money from stock is hard, even with the best kit. Whether or not you can turn images into digital art will depend on whether you have the artistic ability, which is something only you can answer.

If there was an easy way to make money with 10 year old equipment which could be had for next to nothing on the used market I'm sure more people would be doing it!

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10 years = 100 dog years = 1000 electronic years :P –  DarenW Feb 11 '11 at 0:34
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If you get a bottom of the range type camera now, you'll get a slow f/3.5-5.6 plasticky zoom lens, and about 16 megapixels on a 1/2.3" sensor with massive amounts of noise and noise reduction. "Bottom of the range" is a lot more "bottom" now than it was when DarenW's camera was bought, I'd tip. –  thomasrutter Feb 11 '11 at 6:57
    
Here's a sample of the bottom of the range Canon, Powershot A495, £56 from Amazon (including delivery): img.photographyblog.com/reviews/canon_powershot_a495/… I don't see "massive amounts of noise", there are some lens defects, yes but downsampling to 5MP would hide a lot of these. –  Matt Grum Feb 11 '11 at 11:36

Note: this answer was written over two and a half years ago, and I would not give the same answer if I answered this now. I'd say that your camera is outdated, not primarily because of its pixel count, but because much better cameras can be bought for very cheap prices nowadays. In 2001 the 5MP compact camera probably cost about double what a good DSLR and lens kit costs now, and the new DSLR will have significantly better quality and be much more enjoyable to use (and may still be lighter!)

I shall preserve the original reply below. But, I no longer stand by it.


In a way, your camera may not be as limited as you think, or as camera manufacturers may want you to think.

First up, 5 megapixels is fine, and more than most people need. Ever since we passed 2 megapixels it ceased to be the main thing determining image quality really, and unless you're doing some extreme cropping or printing literally "poster size", the lower pixel count may actually help image quality, at least by having fairly decent (for its time) low noise. Note that 2 megapixels is all James Cameron needed for "Avatar". Also note that 5 megapixels is 70% the resolution of a 10 megapixel camera: you'd have to go to 20 megapixels to double the resolution of 5MP.

Your camera also has a fast f/2.0 maximum aperture lens - this is nothing to be sneezed at (today, you need to go for a "pro" compact like a Canon S95 for one of these, or get a DSLR and spend extra on replacing the kit lens with a faster lens.

You have a small sensor, but at least the fast lens will go somewhere towards helping with low light ability. But shooting indoors or in darker conditions won't be a strength of this camera and if so you'd need a DSLR or micro 4/3.

Note that your camera is likely to be fairly slow. If you're photographing toddlers or animals it may be a little too slow for you and again a DSLR is your best bet. But the cheapest entry level DSLRs still won't be awesome at this.

I'm not saying you can or can't do real work with this camera, but it may not be as limited as you think :)

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5 megapixels is not at all limiting in regular shooting, for a hobby, but the question was how to make money, and if all the stock sites have a limit of 10 megapixels then 5 is going to limit your potential quite seriously, it's not like you can (well should) shoot weddings with it either, if you want to make money first you must invest. Or do what Kendall suggests... –  Matt Grum Feb 11 '11 at 17:56
    
Yes, f/2.0 is nice to have. The camera is pretty good at macro photos (for some definitions of macro) but sometimes I see something beautiful at a great distance - buildings covered with snow on the side of a large hill 3 miles away - and this unremovable lens just can't deal with it. –  DarenW Feb 12 '11 at 4:56

Learn how to stitch photos together. Here is a low-res version of a photo stitch I did. I am very pleased with the results and have received many positive remarks about it

By the way, this was done handheld with no special equipment. It was made from about 30 individual shots taken with an 80 mm lens and a crop-sensor camera.

photo stitch of the spiral stairs in the Vatican Museums

Here's another, done using a tripod from the Manhatten bridge while the trains rolled by.

enter image description here

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