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Come in! There are a few adventures I’ve written about, but most of the content offers classes in photography and mentoring for photographers, including photo theory, which, although a vital part in our profession, is largely an overlooked subject in all published media that profits from and feeds our gadget minded mindset today.

Tech support is as vital as flash features, battery life and focus – A71

August 08 2012 - Photo Technical

Welcome aboard photo enthusiasts.  So I purchased the Canon SX230HS with an incredible 14X 28-392mm zoom capability. There are other fine pocket camera manufacturers.  I have just had a long relationship with this one, and they do provide very good support.

The importance of good customer support is not to be understated. If you have your mind set on a particular product give their support team a trial run and see how they perform. To begin, see how difficult, how many prompts it takes to get to a life support representative, and what’s the hold time. Have a question ready (these columns are a great source for questions you now have the answer to) to find out how they perform in giving you an answer.

The specific reason I purchased this particular camera was its 14X zoom. I would say 90% of my shooting is based on limited zooming, but it’s a nice feature especially for sailors, where points of interest can be far off, and your ability to maneuver closer can be limited.

Be that as it may, using the SX230HS on my trip to Brazil quickly brought to light several things I prefer on my Lieca DLUX-3. Most important is the Canon’s short battery life. I had purchased an extra with the product, and purchased two more last week. They are not expensive, it’s just that I have to carry the (3) extras and change them more frequently then I’d like.

I use flash fill regularly when there is a bright background behind a subject, or when I want to keep detail of the subject and the background, and shooting indoors when in manual using a slower shutter speed (say 1/15 or 1/20) to keep some ambient light for a nice flash to ambient balance (that’s a tip).

If I set the flash for optional when I power on the Canon camera, it will automatically pop up. I have to suppress it then when I do not want to use it, and then power up again when I do want to use it.  Explaining this is complicated, as is using it this way.  With the Leica when I want it I simply press a switch to pop it up; when I’m done with it I push it down.  I like it like that.

Lastly, I’ve talked about shutter lag in a previous column. This Canon camera takes the shot when the shutter is pressed, therefore no significant shutter lag on the first shot, but then I can wait a second or two (too long) to take the next. I purchased a class 10 memory card, thinking this would alleviate this problem and I could shoot consecutively, but it did not.

I spoke to Canon technical support about this and was told to turn the post review off, that image you see for several seconds on the LCD… after the photo is taken.  I haven’t tried this yet, but I will.  It makes sense, since you need to preview your next shot in order to take it.

I can tell you that any extra feature you use, such as blink detect, auto focus, etc. can add time to making an exposure.  It requires the camera software to go through analyzing a scene and this can add time/delay. For fast exposures turn off any function except the auto-focus.  The latter is very helpful, and only in poor lighting or unusual circumstances will this slow your camera down. The limited battery life and its flash operation are my biggest complaints. Other than this the camera operates well.

Here is another problem with most point and shoot cameras that I found a way to overcome on my new camera, and the tip may work on your camera or there may be some similar resolution you need to investigate with…you guessed it, your manufacturer’s technical support.

Let me start with the problem: When you press the shutter button on most pocket cameras it will lock in both the exposure (meter reading) and the focus. I was taking the water taxi one day and wanted to take the dark blue bow of a yacht and the top of a white building with a sign behind it.

Since the camera saw mostly the dark blue bow in the frame, it’s meter opened up the aperture/slowed down the shutter, which blew out my background.  To get it back I pointed my camera to the sky for the exposure, but now I was also focused for the distant sky.  Therefore if I kept those settings and turned the camera back to the bow, I would have gotten a desired exposure and also an out of focus bow. What to do?

Point to the sky, press the shutter half way, press the top of the control dial (circular dial found on the back most cameras). This will lock the exposure (in my case the sky). Turn back to the bow (the desired composition) and press the shutter half way again and it will only adjust the focus. All is good, 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 james@bestschot.com.