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    CHESWICK, PA 15024

  • August 4, 2012

    Cameras for Different Purposes

    left to right and top to bottom. Ricoh GRD, Nikon CoolPix P7100 with SB-400 flash, Nikon CoolPix 950, Canon s90, Canon SD870

    Buying a digital camera is a personal decision. Some choose based on price, some on size, some based on features and some on a combination of those factors. I’m a big fan of compact point and shoot type cameras that are capable of capturing high quality images. I find that the smaller the camera, the more likely I will have it with me when a picture opportunity presents itself. I use different cameras for different purposes, because once you understand a cameras strengths and weaknesses, you can capture much better images with it. My motivation for writing this was how well my family pictures have been coming out using minimal camera equipment.

    booth picture taken with the Canon s90 on a tripod

    For all around use in a very compact size, I usually carry the Canon s90 camera. It’s a ten megapixel camera with a 28mm – 105mm zoom. If you’re a Canon fan you’ll recognize that the G series is their top of the line point and shoot. The s90 has the same sensor as the G10 in a much smaller body. I always carry it with me in a small shoulder bag that also contains my iPad and a reporters notebook. I regularly use it to shoot booth pictures, mounted on a tripod of course, at the art shows I attend. The s90 has been replaced a few times in the Canon line up by the s95 and then the s100.

    Though Canon makes great compact cameras. I’ve been a Nikon photographer since the early 1970’s.

    Mary and Larry with Xena and Elvis, taken with the Nikon CoolPix P7100 and SB-400 flash

    For a look back in time, there’s a picture of Mary and myself 25 years ago in the Romance at Art Fairs blog.

    For shooting any event or family function, I use the Nikon P7100, it’s Nikon’s latest top of the line compact point and shoot type of camera with a 28mm – 200mm lens. Though it has too many controls, it does have three programmable user settings to make it easy to walk into any shooting situation and take pictures without fiddling with the camera. When I use the P7100, I have Nikon’s small SB-400 flash in the hot shoe. The combination can’t be beat except by using a bulky DSLR with flash. Nikon has always been at the top of the game with their flash control and the P7100 with the SB-400 gives me perfect fill flash without having to mess with the settings. Makes you look like a professional even if you’re not.

    Getting back to the three programmable user settings on the P7100. I have #1 set for no flash but optimized for high quality images, #2 set for flash with the internal flash off but the hot shoe live for the SB-400, and #3 set for bracketed exposures to combine for HDR.

    Backlight geese taken with the Canon SD870 converted to infrared
    a young Xena taken with the Ricoh GRD set for black and white and ISO 1600
    Crazy Hands taken with the CoolPix 950 and color filters

    Since this article is about cameras for different purposes, I’ll list a few other small format point and shoot cameras I occasionally use. I have Canon SD870 converted to shoot infrared. I use a Ricoh GRD (version 1) to shoot black and white at ISO 1600, which looks just like pushed Tri-X from 40 years ago. And for my color infrared work, I use the two megapixel Nikon Coolpix 950, proving that sometimes less is more.

    One thing you might have noticed is that I won’t buy a compact digital camera unless the lens goes to at least 28mm on the wide end, and that’s the focal length I use for most of my pictures. In fact, the Ricoh GRD has a fixed (not zoom) lens at 28mm.

    I do get contacted all the time by artists asking for recommendations on which camera to get to photograph their artwork. The short answer is a refurbished or used Canon s90 or s95. But there are many other factors to consider, like how large your artwork is and whether or not you need to connect it to an external flash. Another factor to consider is that if you’re photographing small objects like jewelry, though the Nikon compact cameras focus to under an inch and have excellent macro capabilities, using a camera at that distance blocks the light. You’re much better off photographing jewelry with a DSLR and dedicated macro lens. More on photographing art in another blog.

    © Larry Berman