In camera

By: Anne Corke

Aug 03 2011


Category: Photography

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Focal Length:32.768mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon PowerShot SX10 IS

We just bought my son a new digital camera for his birthday. It’s the latest model from Samsung featuring touch screen navigation and all kinds of bells and whistles.  Don’t you just love the digital revolution in cameras. You can “snap” away to your heart’s content, never worrying if you’ll run out of film, never having to find a dark corner to change film at a crucial time. (The only concern is battery life and if you pack spare batteries, that’s taken care of.) And, you can delete those less than perfect shots before anyone sees them! My husband and I are old SLR people who used to have a mountain of gear in the basement (donated last year to the Peterborough Photographic Society). I have to admit that I did initially resist the idea of digital cameras but now am totally sold! Having said that, however, I sometimes rue the loss of control that these highly evolved cameras impose on the photographer. Used to be if you understood about lighting,  f-stops and shutter speeds, you could take a pretty fair photograph with a decent camera. But now I find I have to translate my wishes to the lingo used by the camera companies to determine which mode to use for a particular situation. For example, suppose I want to shoot a field of poppies blowing in the wind and I want to blur the flowers to depict the motion, I would know what f-stop and what shutter speed I would require with an old SLR but now I have to imagine what name the manufacturers would give to these specifications to choose the correct mode to capture the image I want. Most of these modes, such as “sport” or “portrait”, are pretty self-explanatory. However if the shot you would like to take does not fall into any of these categories, you have to weigh up the different modes to determine which one will most closely fit your requirements for that shot. For example, sport mode will be a form of shutter priority, programmed to capture fast action, while portrait mode will have a relatively shallow depth of field to blur the background so the subject is highlighted. While some cameras still have the option to use manual control, many others do not. Seems to me that in their efforts to make things simpler, they have in fact made things more complex, at least for those of us who’ve been around the block a few times! Case in point, Jeremy’s camera has creative filters, one of which is “miniature”. Well, what effect do you suppose this filter will produce on the image you’re capturing! Any ideas? Nor me! I looked it up in the User Manual (a virtual manual stored in the camera – what did you expect?), and discovered that the “miniature” filter applies a “tilt-shift effect to make the subject appear in miniature”. Any wiser? No, neither am I! There is also a vignetting filter. Well, I know what vignetting is! Or at least I thought so. The manual tells me that this filter “applies the retro-looking colours, high contrast, and strong vignette effect of Lomo cameras.” Okay, so now I have to check in Wikipedia to find out what a Lomo camera is! Apparently a Lomo camera is a quirky camera which produces spontaneous and unpredictable distortions. Now I am totally confused. I didn’t know there was a market for that sort of thing or I would have kept my old Minolta which leaked light, creating it’s own distortions! To reiterate, you can now purchase a camera which will produce pictures which a few years ago you would have thrown out – right? Is anyone else sensing a disturbance in the space-time continuum.

Copyright 2011 Anne Corke

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