Video: 20 Things Most Photographers Get Wrong

When I was first getting into photography in college (and teaching myself), I read as many “10 Ways to Improve Your Photography”-type things as I could. My reasoning was this: even if I already knew some or most of what was included in the book or the post, if I picked up just one solid piece of new knowledge, it would have been worth the effort, and it was a quicker read than a long book. To me, those types of articles are still useful. Some see them as clickbait, I see them as an easy way to either refresh what I know or learn a quick tip that may be beneficial to my career when I'm short on time.

So, when I came across this video from Tony and Chelsea Northrup that was posted a while back, I thought it was a good one. In the video, Tony goes through “20 things that most photographers get wrong.” Even if you might know about everything he talks about, I’d wager there’s still something you’ll learn. For example, he goes into the old rule about shooting at the reciprocal of the lens’s focal length to assure sharp images and shows how that formula isn’t as simple as it used to be in film days, and why that's the case. I also knew about focus breathing, but didn’t really understand how much it could vary among similar lenses. In the video, Tony shows how different the Canon and Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 lenses can be when shot at 200mm if focusing at close range. It's 45 minutes long, but you can skip to something you might find interesting using the links below.

Here’s a breakdown of the video segments:

#1:     0:52 - Your lens' SWEET SPOT probably isn't f/8

#2:     1:43 - FOCUS BREATHING might make your lens short

#3:     6:37 - The RECIPROCAL RULE isn't a rule at all

#4:   10:58 - Buying a camera without checking the lenses

#5:   12:23 - Using INFINITY FOCUS to get everything in focus

#6:   13:22 - DEPTH-OF-FIELD isn't real at all

#7:   14:25 - 4K is great even if your screen isn't

#8:   16:00 - Printing at 300 DPI doesn't mean perfect sharpness

#9:   16:45 - F/STOPs don't tell you the exposure, T-STOPS do

#10: 18:12 - FULL FRAME LENSES on CROP BODIES are less sharp

#11: 20:39 - FILTERS aren't worth it for many photographers

#12: 21:37 - Many REVIEWS aren't TRUSTWORTHY

#13: 27:04 - Cropping a sharper, short lens beats longer lenses

#14: 29:22 - Apply the CROP FACTOR to focal length & f/stop

#15: 32:38 - HIGH MEGAPIXELS doesn't mean HIGH NOISE

#16: 34:00 - Noise at base ISO is important

#17: 35:25 - ISO is not an acronym, and is "eye-so", not I-S-O

#18: 36:11 - AUTOFOCUS is more accurate than MANUAL FOCUS

#19: 38:23 - AUTOEXPOSURE is better than LIGHT METERS

#20: 41:07 - ART is more important than TECHNOLOGY

Even if you learn just one new bit of information, it’s worth the watch, even if you just put it on as editing background noise.

Stephen Ironside's picture

Stephen Ironside is a commercial photographer with an outdoor twist based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. While attempting to specialize in adventure and travel photography, you can usually find him in the woods, in another country, or oftentimes stuffing his face at an Indian buffet.

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#1: When I didn't really care about DoF, I'd try to use f/8 through f/11. I was told that those f/stops were similar in size to the lens' glass elements. Therefore, color, image quality, etc. were improved somewhat over the other f/stops.

#14: I had no clue.

Never go to bed without learning something new!!!!

I appreciate the time/subject references even though I don't watch their videos.

He's right on most counts but dead wrong about filters. There's something magical about using a quality dark ND filter or a CP filter.

He's wrong on a lot of counts, mostly from not knowing the history of photo technology. A good read of the glossary of Canon's "Lens Work III" would clear up many of his errors. For instance, for Depth of Field there are hard numbers applied to specific situational presumptions to create DoF tables--which are no secret. For anyone interested in learning how stuff works, it's available on the Canon Europe site: