Note: This is the first of a series of blogs on taking pictures for both artistic and informative pusposes. They are posted in part as information for a class I'm teaching Summer, 2010.
Selecting a Camera
Traditionally, cameras are divided into two general classes. The first, the “point and shoot” category, has long been considered for amateurs and snapshots only. For serious photography, one needed a single lens reflex (SLR) camera. An SLR camera had three enormous advantages.
First, as you viewed the scene (framed it), you saw what the camera saw.
Second, you could interchange lenses. If you needed a wide-angle lens, you could switch to that. In recent years, zoom lenses have changed the equation somewhat, but the versatility of an SLR camera was still a selling point.
Third, you had control over the camera. You could adjust time, depth-of field, and a host of other options.
In recent times, the gap between the two kinds of cameras has been narrowing until now it’s more of a crack than a chasm. The very best point-and-shoot cameras aren’t really point-and-shoot anymore. A top of the line single lens camera such as the Canon xs20 is very nearly as versatile as an SLR. With a 24X magnification, such a camera is the equivalent of a SLR with a 38-600 mm lens combination. And that’s potent.
In fact, the only thing that a high-end point-and-shoot can’t do is adapt to a very long lens, such as a 1000 mm lens, used for wildlife photography and the like. Best of all, they are much cheaper than an SLR camera. So, unless you are really serious about photography and are willing to invest thousands in a camera outfit, I’d recommend a high-end point-and-shoot. I’m serious about photography, but have discovered that I don’t really need an SLR for my needs. I gave the SLR away and got a Nikon P90. So far, the only thing I can’t do is get a closeup of a hawk on the wing. Except that I can. I’ve discovered that with the 12.5 megapixel resolution, I can take a long shot and blow it way up with no loss of detail and sharpness.