Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Point-and-shoot zooms have changed photography forever

When I got into photography my camera had a fixed lens. Then, in the '60s I discovered the single lens reflex camera and ordered a Pentax Spotmatic from Asia Photo Supply in Hong Kong. I can still recall the excitement when a large, wooden crate arrived with my new gear. I had a 28mm lens, a 135mm lens and a 300mm lens.

But because it took a crate to carry all that stuff, I often didn't have all that stuff with me. Often, I was back shooting with one lens.

Today, almost every point-and-shoot has a zoom lens and many have lenses capable of emulating my entire camera kit from the '60s. The pictures today were taken with an older Canon S90 but they could have been shot with any one of dozens of little cameras.

For the dandelion picking picture, I set the lens to wide angle. For the shot of Fiona enjoying a high-flying ride on a swing, I set the lens to its longest setting. For the picking dandelions shot, I wanted to see some context. I wanted to see the little girl surrounded by grass with the suburban neighbourhood in the distant background.

For the swing shot, I wanted to try and show the flying, mane of red hair and the child's reaction to being pushed hard, fast and high. The long lens setting allowed me to fill the frame.

What is important here is to capture the moment just after she has reached the highest point and is beginning her return. Stopping action with point-and-shoots can be difficult. If you nail the shot at the instant the little girl is changing direction, you will have a tack sharp picture but the flying hair won't be flying. But, if you wait too long to shoot , she will very difficult to frame properly. Set your zoom to a long lens setting, I used 105mm, and be sure to shoot lots.

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