Welcome aboard photo enthusiasts. Back to my review of the basics begun in the last column, inspired by an avid photographer asking if advancing a career in the field required the purchase of an expensive DSLR camera; the premise of the article being the level of skill far outweighs the caliber of your equipment. I got as far as going through the ISO setting. Now let’s explore the interplay between the shutter speed and aperture.
The shutter speed setting controls movement and action. Setting a fast shutter, such as 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000 on up will work to stopping (freezing) action, or a slow shutter like 1/8, 1/4 and longer will allow for a flow of action. Setting a large aperture, such as f/2.8 or f/4 will give shallow depth of field, while f/5.6, f/8 on up will give great depth of field, meaning the range in which objects near and far stay in focus.
The thing to keep in mind is they work in unison, when you change one (to achieve some creative end) you have to do the opposite to the other to get the right exposure, and that is obtained by the metering.
Example, you are taking a portrait that benefits from a shallow depth of field by focusing attention on the subject. You take a meter reading with your camera and it (arbitrarily) shows f/8 @ 1/30 shutter speed will make a good exposure. But f/4 will give a more desired shallow depth of field, so you calculate f/8 to f/5.6 to f/4 is 2 stops down, meaning you have to take the shutter from 1/30 to 1/60 to 1/125 or 2 stops up. Yes f/4 @ 1/125 will give the same correct exposure as f/8 @ 1/30.
What I have attempted to impress upon you is that taking super photographs involves a thought process based on applying your knowledge of photography. The more you have developed your skills the better you can expect the photo outcome to be. Better equipment will improve some technical aspects, such as edge sharpness and color saturation. To me that is far less important than the impact of a great photograph.
On to some breaking news: I bought a new toy… a pocket camera! I took a trip to Fortaleza, Brazil, from where I just returned. It was a personal trip, and I didn’t want to take my big, heavy, expensive SLR camera with interchangeable lenses.
Nevertheless, I cannot go anywhere without a camera in hand. Now, I really enjoy the operation of my pocket Leica D-LUX3. It has the qualities I look for, rugged-reliable metal construction, great image quality, the ability to take RAW as well as jpg images, and excellent optics. But the optics, although offering a must have – a true 28mm wide angle, has one drawback, a limited 3X zoom range. Even though I consider this a minor drawback, for this trip I wanted a pocket camera with a longer zoom range.
Zoom ranges for pocket cameras had been limited to 3X and slightly longer due to their small size. With my Leica that is, at 28mm, wide open and with its 3X capability it can zoom through to 2X or 56mm and out to 3X or 112mm. Keep in mind this is an optical zoom range. This is very important. If you hear “digital zoom gives you an added 10X capability” that will be true, but the quality will be terrible, so it is a useless/worthless spec. Be sure an zoom range you are considering in the purchase of a camera is “optical.”
One day before my trip I was at the book store reading a photo/digital magazine, when I came across a review of the Ricoh CX5 pocket camera. It has some interesting features like the Golf Swing continuous mode, meaning it is so fast you can use it to photograph and analyze your golf swing. What really got me thinking was its 10.7X 28-300mm optical zoom. It’s amazing how technology has advanced to make this possible.
I decided to go to my usual research source dpreview.com to see what other manufacturers had made strides in this area. I’ve mentioned before there are a large variety of great cameras made by various manufacturers, but I have been a longtime Canon users, in part for their great products and for their fine support services, so I ended up checking on what they offered. I ended up purchasing the Canon SX230HS with an incredible 14X 28-392mm zoom capability.
There are things I like about the Canon and some things I still like better with my Leica. I’ll get into my likes and dislikes in the next column. It does take an excellent photo and here is one shot I took with this camera. Enjoy.. while I take permission to come ashore.
James Schot has been a professional photographer for more than 35 years and has a studio/gallery in Ft. Lauderdale. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.