Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON
As a rule, I don’t generally put old shots on my blog, but this one is for the benefit of the many bloggers who ask me if a little compact camera can produce a shot of comparable quality with a more expensive DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera.
Many of my favourite shots are images that I took years ago, with a simple, cheap Instamatic Ricoh. The camera lens is nothing more than a connection to your eye, and the shutter mechanism is simply an extension of your brain.
I’ve always said a writer doesn’t need a $10,000 computer to write well, so the same logic dictates that you don’t need a $2000 camera to take great shots.
The little compact digitals have made cumulative leaps in technology in the past five years and while you get a lot of bang for your buck in the under-$400 range, one of the best I’ve used is the 10-megapixel ultra-compact Pentax Optio S10. Since I first used it around Easter this year, I’ve recommended it to several bloggers on the basis of its compact size, its many features and its macro function. More to the point, it retails for between $200-$250.
Yes, I use a digital SLR, a Pentax K100D. Yes, my default lens is an 18-125mm Sigma. Yes, I always have a 70-300mm Sigma zoom with me. But a lot of the shots I take can be replicated with a simple compact camera.
For example, this shot was taken in mid-2005, with a simple, basic early-model compact. I was walking down Flinders Street before dawn (as you can see by the illuminated street light) when I took this shot. I was facing west, where the sky was blue, but behind me to the east the sky was covered in black clouds.
The silhouette of the distinctive dome of Flinders Street Station was perfect to emphasise the blue wintry sky. Look carefully at the shot and you’ll even see proof that there was just a gentle zephyr of a breeze - the flag at the top of the dome is almost limp.
And while the over-riding sensation of the photo is blue, black and white, can you spot the sliver of red in this low-resolution version of the original shot? Need a clue? Look at the traffic light on the right - and depending on your screen resolution, you’ll glimpse a whisper-thin hint of red.
Just to prove my point, it was a simple three-megapixel camera, but it gave me a wonderful, crisp image.
What’s under the hood doesn’t matter. It’s how you use it.
For other participants in Dot’s concept, go to Sky Watch HQ.