Monday, July 27, 2009

what if somebody asked you...

...if it were possible to do photojournalism, at night, with a point and shoot with a cripplingly small 1/2.3" sensor, and a maximum aperture of just f3.2?

I'd give them these as an answer, and tell them size doesn't matter: only what you do with it counts.

Her mother never told her it was rude to stick her tongue out at people.
Canon SD780 IS

The observation powers of children
Canon SD780 IS

Waiting for dad
Canon SD780 IS

She got their attention
Canon SD780 IS

What are you looking at? (other than the bright blue duck)
Canon SD780 IS

Fruit stall back office processing
Canon SD780 IS

All about the guy on the left
Canon SD780 IS

That last image is my favorite by some margin. Maybe it's because the kids decided to play along and throw me an expression; maybe it's because if I'd tried it with a larger camera they'd probably not have been so friendly, but the image wouldn't be as noisy, sharper, I'd have better isolation blah blah blah...

And this raises a big paradox for me.

You see, it's always a trade off between size/quality and discretion; the motive of ditching the D3 for the M8 was discretion without giving up a lot of image quality (actually, gaining in some areas). For a little over a week, I've been shooting exclusively with the Canon SD780 IS - yes, that little thing I reviewed a couple of posts ago - and finding my creative juices refilled and flowing. I've shot more in a long time (and oddly, seen more images in the world around me) despite not having gone anywhere special, or attended any events. Most of the time I'm pretty sure another camera wouldn't have gotten the shot because I wouldn't have had it on me. Some of the time I wish the image quality was better (and most of the time it's at night - the M8/50 'lux combo is unbeatable); the LCD is very deceptive - stuff that looks great turns out mushy, flat and underexposed on the PC. Stuff that looks too bright and vivid is actually good - go figure. It's going to take some adjustment shooting with this and the D90/ M8, that's for sure (those have 'honest' LCDs.)

Files DO need a lot of work to get them to look like what you see above - but still probably no more than I'd do on a typical M8 RAW file, just different.

So how do I justify having a US$4,000 camera sitting idle doing nothing while I use a US$250 one instead? I can't. And that's the crux of the paradox. If I can do 90% of my work with an M8 instead of a D3, and 95% of that 90% with the SD780 IS...well, seriously, how little camera can you have before you find you can't make the images you want?

Pretty darn little, I suspect. So go out and learn to use what you've got, because it's almost certainly more than you need.

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