The Most Excruciating Game You'll Ever Play: Photography Would You Rather

The Most Excruciating Game You'll Ever Play: Photography Would You Rather

Do you remember the game "Would You Rather?" It is a straightforward premise: pick two equally unappetizing options, and make the player choose between them. It is equal parts cringing and laughing, so jump in and give it a try. 

I won't try to claim some higher purpose in writing this article. This is just a silly game my friends and I play when we hang out that makes for funny reactions, so I thought I would make a photographic version. There is no logic behind it, and most (pretty much all) the situations are completely absurd. 

1. Would you rather only have 5 megapixels or only shoot at f/11? 

I think I would choose f/11. I can work around f/11 a lot, and if there is resolution in an image and it is well exposed, you have a lot of post-processing options. If the information is not there, there is not much you can do. Then again, photographers worked with low-resolution digital cameras for a long time, and a carefully composed five-megapixel image can be quite good. Maybe I am just a brat who is spoiled by modern sensors. At least I know who I am. 

2. Would you rather only be able to shoot with your phone or only be allowed five frames a day on whatever camera you please?

You better not miss focus with any of those five frames!

Oof. I think I would go five frames a day. Phones are fun, but after a while, I want to be able to take advantage of the more advanced creative and technical capabilities of a professional camera. Five frames a day could even be an interesting challenge in creating the best possible images. I just hope I do not miss focus on one of them! 

3. Would you rather shoot only with manual focus or be stuck at ISO 6,400 the rest of your life?

Ugh, this game was a horrible idea. I guess I am going with manual focus and practicing following action a lot. Photographers made entire careers using manual focus only. I can buck up and make it work. 

4. Would you rather shoot only in JPEG or only in black and white?

Black and white for me. I like post-processing too much to not have the file latitude afforded by shooting in raw, and black and white can be really powerful. Plus, it helps you return to the fundamentals of photography: the interplay of light and shadow. Then again, some photographers build entire careers on JPEGs, and a lot of shooters swear by the files they get straight out of certain cameras, especially Fuji's bodies.

5. Would you rather only shoot in a 1:1 crop or at f/1.4?

Call me a square (haha, get it?), because I am going with the 1:1 crop. Sure, f/1.4 is fun, but after a while, backgrounds smashed to blurry smithereens get a bit too one-dimensional to sustain my interest, plus the lack of sharpness would get a little old. A 1:1 crop would certainly be restrictive, but there are so many other aspects — depth of field, composition, color, etc. — that you can use to provide visual interest. Then again, I guess I could just focus-stack every image I shot at f/1.4. But that is really tedious. It is also kind of cheating for the purposes of this question.

6. Would you rather only shoot 5-second exposures (or longer) or only at 800mm? 

Why do I put myself through pain like this? I guess I am going with 800mm and taking a few (a lot of) steps back. And buying a megaphone to direct my subjects. Or maybe some walkie talkies. 

7. Would you rather only shoot at 0.1 fps or shoot everything in full auto mode?

That is right. You are only allowed a single frame every 10 seconds. Or you have to shoot in auto mode only. Now, let's be fair: auto mode has come a long way, but even as well as a modern camera can meter, you get no control over aperture, ISO, shutter speed, etc., so even if your body always makes a perfect exposure, you get no creative control. I guess I am going with 0.1 fps and really working on my timing. I know a high-level sports photographer who almost never shoots on burst for a lot of sports; his timing is just that good after years of work, and his days of shooting film taught him to be frugal with shutter presses. 

8. Would you rather only be allowed to shoot in hard sunlight or not be allowed to post-process your photos?

I hate both of these. But I guess I'm going with hard sunlight. But I resent the question. What jerk came up with it?

9. Would you rather only be allowed to have 100 photos in your library at any given time or never allowed to look through the viewfinder or at the LCD to take a photo?

I can't limit my hard drive to just 100 images.

Given the choice between having the world's smallest hard drive or constantly shooting without looking, I feel like I have to go with the latter. I bet I could improve my muscle memory after a while, and I am way too indecisive to only be allowed 100 images in my portfolio. 

10. Would you rather only be allowed to use the same camera forever or the same computer forever?

You are missing out on advancing technology either way. Obviously, with the same camera, you are going to miss out on all sorts of advancements in dynamic range, autofocus, resolution, noise performance, and more. With the same computer, post-processing is likely to get way more tedious and take longer and longer as time goes on. I would probably go with using the same camera. An ultra-slow computer would just drive me crazy after a while, plus once you get to know your camera, you almost feel a bond with it. I do, at least. Maybe I am just weird. 

Tell Me Your Answers

I cringed writing all my answers. Now, I get to enjoy all your cringing. Tell me your answers, and if you want to get me back, leave your own "would you rather" for me to answer in the comments! 

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10 Comments

Tony Clark's picture

I will take number 8, I can always work around it. It's lighting and the ability to edit an image which differentiates many of us.

Matt Williams's picture

1. f/11
2. Five frames
3. Manual focus
4. JPEG
5. 1:1 crop
6. 5 sec exposure
7. 0.1 fps
8. No post-processing
9. 100 photos
10. Same camera

Paul Parker's picture

Haha, that was a lot of fun! As for number 1, I think I could go with 5MP for landscapes as I like to stitch my images anyway.

My first digital camera was 5MP back in the day...

Tom Beckman's picture

1)5mp
2)Five frames
3)6400
4)B&w
5)1:1
6)800mm:(
7).1fps
8)Hard light
9)100 photos in the library
10)Same camera

The only one that really broke my heart was number 6. 5 sec or more just can't happen but I love and I mean love my fisheye...

Matthew Lacy's picture

1. 5 megapixels. I shot at 7.1 for longer than I've had a sensor with 24.
2. 5 frames.
3. Manual focus.
4. JPEG. I've only been shooting raw for a few months, so it wouldn't hurt me too badly to go back.
5. 1:1 crop.
6. 800 mm.
7. 0.1 fps
8. I hate both. Since I'm already picking JPEG, I may as well not post process it.
9. 100 photos.
10. Same camera. No competition here.

Owain Shaw's picture

1. Five megapixels. I don't mind the low resolution, I'd rather have the creative control and be able to work handheld in low light.
2. Five Frames.
3. Manual Focus.
4. Black and White. Bresson, Frank and Salgado did alright. Let me know where to send my address for my Leica M10 Monochrom, please.
5. Let me know where I need to send my address to get my Hasselblad because I'll take the 1:1 crop, please.
6. Five second exposures, but if we have to have the sum of all our choices then my answer to No. 1 changes - if I'm stuck doing five second exposures, I might as well have f/11 and more resolution.
7. 0.1 frames per second. I don't think I would be very affected by this change.
8. Hard Daylight ... I chose Black and White so it'll be fine.
9. Only 100 pictures. I can only take one every ten seconds and my exposures are at least five seconds so I won't be filling up the card any time soon.
10. Same camera. See above, I'll accept either the Monochrom or a 'Blad.

Number 6 it's the only hard one.

1. 5mp. Composition, narrative, and emotion trump DOF every time.
2. Camera phone. You need more than 5 frames per day to take advantage of every photo opp.
3. Manual focus with my choice of ISO as well as SS and F/stop.
4. JPEG. That way I can choose color or B&W.
5. 1:1 crop. I can change to the aspect ratio in post or simply by trimming the print.
6. 800mm. I can zoom with my feet or a bike!
7. Full auto. The more choices, the better.
8. Easy one. To hell with post-processing!
9. No viewfinder or LCD screen. Trust me: I'd adapt. ;-)
10. Same computer. Been doing it anyway! LMBO

Maksims Ter-Oganesovs's picture

number "6" is really hard one

For me too, 6 is hard!