Geoff Dickinson writes: The Compact Challenge Part 2
A brief, painful encounter 6 weeks ago with a hit and run teenage cycling hoon has meant that I have had to park the SLR and use a compact camera instead. It is scary to think that the little runt is probably only 2 years or so away from being allowed to drive a car after he breezes through the joke we call a driving test. But anyway, moving on……..
I am finding the Canon digital compact interesting and enjoyable. Interesting, because I have managed to get round the two major perceived drawbacks to a compact. The first is that you can’t adjust shutter speed or aperture. Ah ha, but you can if you think laterally. A bit of experimentation shows that a judicious blend of exposure compensation and/or ISO adjustment and/or use of the built in modes will change the electronic settings to increase shutter speed or narrow the aperture for the desired effect. I have with some success stopped a speeding train (not literally of course), bikes and the odd car.
The second perceived drawback is that you can’t get shallow depth of field on account of the short focal length of the camera lens. Once again a blend of isolation of the subject from background, distance from the subject, long focal length, exposure compensation, ISO and the built in modes does the job.
But that’s boring technical stuff. The enjoyable bit is the freedom to carry the camera at the waist, gunslinger style and just shoot and experiment. Take colour for instance. It’s everywhere in a myriad of shades and tones. So isolate it, set the camera to Super Vivid mode and saturate it. Yuk, you might think. Not necessarily, the results may surprise and delight you.
I write this from deepest Lancashire and from the town I grew up in. The decline and fall of the once proud cotton industry in this region has left a hole which has never been filled. Evidence of this is there in the buildings and post industrial urban landscape. Monochrome records this so well. Grab the camera, set it to Black and White mode, go forth and shoot. “You can’t do that” say the nerds on the Internet forums. “If you set the camera to black and white it means you are throwing information away. You can’t get colour back and it restricts your post production choices. Does not compute……..does not compute!!” Cue smoke and sparks. Well, I say, yah boo sucks mate. I am not a number, I am a free man and if I want to use a preset mode on the camera to achieve my vision for a shot I will and you can’t stop me.
Evening and night shots have produced very pleasing results even hand held. A pocket tripod weighs next to nothing and can be used at a moment’s notice to provide support. Oh, and the 10sec self timer function prevents camera shake when the shutter is pressed.
All in all, I have surprised myself by finding that this camera can do more or less 90% of what my SLR can do, it just requires a bit more fiddling round to deal with more challenging circumstances.
See you around, Geoff (June 2011)