Thursday, January 30, 2014

New camera

Useful and beautiful sort of put on hold, because my new camera has arrived.  I am such a spoiled brat; I wasn't going to get a new camera, even though I've had this one on my wishlist for a while now.  The Panasonic really was perfectly good enough, I'm not as preoccupied with taking photos as I used to be anyway, I didn't need a new toy just for the sake of it.  And yet and yet, I always missed the old Canon Powershot which died too young, and never quite felt as happy with its replacement. Yes, it had a bigger zoom, more megapixels, and (perhaps its most genuine advantagefor me) a longer lasting, lightweight, dedicated battery rather than a bunch of hefty AAs, but somehow it always seemed a bit, well, dull: slow on the uptake, reluctant to work well indoors and in poorer light, more difficult to get a good macro, the images flatter, duller, less crisp, like drawing with blunt pencils.

I picked up on this Powershot model a year or so ago and bookmarked it, but didn't do anything about it; I didn't need it, as I said, and further, it had no viewfinder, being really a compact not a bridge, and I've always been rather backward when it comes to using the little screen.  Lately though, Tom's been growing frustrated with the shortcomings of his very basic point-and-shoot Nikon and making noises and dropping hints about how he'd like to get his hands on the Panasonic, and wouldn't I like to replace it sometime? The Canon having been superseded by its next model was at quite an interesting price, I took the plunge.

I'm very happy I did. It is quite an adjustment moving on to a compact camera, and the absence of a viewfinder will take some getting used to, I still can't find things as quickly using the screen, and it feels unsteady in my hands. I feel a little cack-handed having it hanging off my wrist, and am slightly surprised to find I have actually been harbouring a smidgen of vanity that somehow a compact doesn't look as serious, makes me look less like a proper photographer, than an old-fashioned-camera-shaped camera slung round my neck. But it does pretty much everything the bridge camera did, more in some ways, and I can get into the habit of just slipping it into my pocket most every time I go out, where it can stay safe and dry in wet weather, rather than making the decision whether or not to have the encumbrance of it round my neck, or whether I ought to take the case too in case it rains, etc etc, which often meant I just didn't bother.

And the really nice thing about it, which drew me to it in the first place, is that it's particularly good in low light, very steady with good rendering of colours, and for close-ups.  As our Brittany light is scarcely Mediterranean, and as I find in fact that I've more need and interest in details, and in interior subjects at odd times of day, this is really quite a joy. The other side of this is it sometimes over-exposes a bit, but that can be compensated for somewhat in editing, and can lead to quite interesting effects, with extraneous background stuff fading into a blur of light. So altogether well worth sacrificing the viewfinder for. It's nice having sharp pencils again, and I find I welcome opportunities to learn new things, and new ways of doing familiar things. Tom will be, I think, pretty happy with the Panasonic, as he likes the bigger zoom and the scope to take better landscapes, though the first thing he did was switch from viewfinder to viewing screen.

So, I think I might be smitten with photography again, and will probably post more here.  Just for starters, some views of the blue room.


marja-leena said...

Your photographs have always been lovely to me, Lucy, though I certainly know how fussy we can be sometimes. It's great that your new camera has rekindled your love of taking photos and these are great - I like the pieces of broken tile the most.

Catalyst said...

Verrrry nice! Is that thing rising from the pot some kind of plant or are they small river stones glued together to resemble one? I love it, either way.

the polish chick said...

i don't understand why the new compact cameras don't have a viewfinder. i'm a bit of a snob about using the little screen, plus i just find it inaccurate. my mom's been hanging on to her increasingly aged camera simply because she can't find one with a viewfinder!

the pictures, as always, are lovely. dull pencils or sharp, you draw very well!

Dale said...

Oh! What a delight!

Roderick Robinson said...

I didn't know we'd overlapped technologically; thought you were miles ahead with the bridge - used to good effect from the air. I bought my Canon PowerShot A1100IS for one reason only: the viewfinder. I didn't see how anyone could compose pix from a screen that became invisible in even mild sunshine. However, watching others operating their digitals (I'm talking more or less pre-phone, here) I realised that "composing" was an art more honoured in the breach than anything else.

All of which would be of greater interest if I took better photos. My aims are simply (a) to get everything in that I need to support the text, and (b) to get away with taking one shot - as if I were still paying for film.

I tried rechargeable batteries but decided they weren't worth the fuss. Now I carry a couple of spare AAs and hope for the best. Deep down I think I tell myself I'll write my way out of the lack of good pix. I watch you with envy. You take good pix and aren't exactly a slouch with the written stuff. I fail most often with close-ups which you seem to have a gift for. No doubt there's a whole range of options lurking under one of those back-screen icons. But it's remembering all those mini procedures that's the problem.

Crafty Green Poet said...

lovely photos!

I was uncertain about a compact camera when i first got one, but I wouldn't be without it now.

Lucy said...

Thanks all.

ML - probably the difference in the photos from the two cameras is really negligable, but I feel I know the difference! The shards are not tile, in fact, but, in the case of the pottery, some fragments from a Greek island in the Saronic Gulf. A guy I met there had found them in the sand, snorkelling perhaps. I think he reckoned the pale one was from a Greek amphora, the red and black ones from Roman Samian and black ware. He also had a large part of the neck of an amphora. I smuggled them out wrapped in a tissue in a shirt pocket, as you aren't really supposed to take anything like that out of the country. The lower pieces are slate fossils, which I think we found in a crate of Spanish slates when we were re-roofing the house. They were intact, but very fragile, and broke up when we tried to lift them. Very ancient things all.

Bruce - thanks. It's a succulent plant, which just about survives living with me. I am the worst killer of house plants, by neglect or too much attention, too much water or too little too much light or not enough. Even this one's companion I almost managed to destroy by leaving it out in the hot sun, though a small section of it is slowly regenerating. This one got badly smashed when I left it on a windowsill and the open window knocked it over (bloody French windows that open inwards), but I stuck the broken bits of leaf into the soil and they've mostly rooted.

PC - the new screens are better than they used to be I think, and when time is not an issue I find I can enjoy the scope a screen gives me. My step-son-in-law, who knows cameras and photography, tells me viewfinders are harder and harder to come across, unless one goes down the DSLR route, which I don't intend to. I think perhaps bridge cameras as such are becoming obsolete as the compacts get more sophisticated, this compact has a more powerful zoom than either of the bridges I've had, for example. But small, fast moving targets I do find difficult to pick up on the screen. Though in fact deteriorating eyesight was making the viewfinder harder work too.

Dale - thanks, nice to see you. I seem to remember you always enjoy the blue marbles!

CGP - Thanks, yes, I think the latest compacts do as much and more than the earlier bridges, and portability is very important.

Robbie - my response overruns, a new comment follows.

Lucy said...

Robbie - see my comment to PC, above. Your Powershot looks quite similar to my first one, but it's no longer available in Europe, and also the zoom is really not big enough. Interestingly, (to me anyway!) I've found I'm composing better with the screen, many of the oens I've taken so far hardly require any cropping at all, but perhaps that's partly because I'm taking more time and trouble. Very largely I use any camera pretty much as a point and shoot, in-camera menus are not something I can retain much of anyway or not to access quickly, and prefer to do a lot of that with editing afterwards. The most important one with this is a 'discreet' mode which instantly shuts of the flash and the artificial shutter noises.

Photography books I have, by people who were film photographers before, labour the idea that it's better to compose and think about one's shots on the camera, as if film were still to be paid for, rather than waste time editing after, as they see it. I used to rather pooh-pooh this, but have found my enthusiasm for editing has waned as the volume of redundant photos I carry has increased, and can see there's something in it. I always used rechargeable AAs, but they have a life, and then there were always lots of worn-out ones floating about that I never liked to throw away. The Panasonic has a wonderful dedicated battery with its own charger, which goes on and on, the only problem with it is one can forget it ever needs recharging and get caught out. This Canon's dedicated battery is good but not that good. Dedicated batteries are also much lighter, which is pleasanter. I have thought about the plane trip, and whether this one would have done as well as the Panasonic for that, and I'm not sure, as I say, the zoom is good, but it's possibly better for close work than the long shots.

No doubt I'll be covering more of this ground in future posts!

Steve said...

Very nice photos. Congrats on the new camera.

Pam said...

I love your blue things. Also the photos, though you set a discouragingly high standard of photography. Somehow my pics of a moving-target grandchild, taken on a cheapo phone camera, aren't quite as good. Very mysterious.

Rouchswalwe said...

Oh! Are those Swallow curtains?!

So happy you've got that camera now. I'm still holding on to my Olympus Stylus. The first one I had (a 35mm film camera) accompanied me to Japan, but when I came back, the digitals had taken over. Luckily, Olympus made a "Stylus Digital," so that's what I use now with very little cropping needed since I behave as though the camera has film in it.

I am looking forward to more powershots!

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I missed this post. I have the SX200 IS which I think is an earlier version of this or some sort of relative, and I adore it :) It's very good in low light as you say. I sold my DSLR in the end because this little compact did pretty much everything I needed it to, admittedly the SLR was getting on a bit and had seen better days but I've been very happy with the Canon :) The only thing I miss, as you mention in your latest post, is the ability to get very shallow depth of field; have you tried altering dof on manual mode? I wonder if that might help :) I hope you enjoy your new camera!

HKatz said...

I love the light on the marbles, and the richness of the blues :)

Sometime this year I hope to save up for a new camera. I've had the same point-and-click (a Panasonic) for several years. I love it, and it works fine; I won't be getting rid of it. But a new camera would be good.