Not happy with the quality of travel photos taken by your iPhone? Are the wildlife images too small and the sunset images too grainy? Are you looking for something better without spending a fortune on a heavy camera that that takes lots of training to master? Maybe I can help.
Here’s a few “Point and Shoot” photos from a trip to Costa Rica that I know that would not have been captured with an iPhone,
Here’s why I use them:
- They provide better zoom capability than iPhones and Digital Single Lens Reflect (DSLR) cameras (unless you purchase heavy, long lenses worth thousands). You can zoom in on birds in trees and bears in the bush 100 yards away.
- They provide you with crisper, brighter photos in low light situations than smartphones. They are great for those twilight scenes or darker, indoor shots.
- They provide many of the capabilities of expensive DSLRS such as changing shutter speeds, adding filters, and apertures. This makes Milky Way and blurred waterfall photos possible.
- They are compact and light weight. Two of them plus accessories fit in a 14” x 9” x 4” travel case in my carry-on luggage that goes under my seat! They pack well because they feature single, not interchangeable lenses.
Point-and-Shoot cameras are often called bridge cameras because they are a great way for amateurs to improve their photography without spending a fortune. Unfortunately, you can only find them in large camera stores or on-line, but usually not in big-box, retail stores such as Best Buy.
There are no perfect cameras; all involve engineering trade-offs. Here are some of the disadvantages:
- They won’t produce great prints larger than about 9” x 15”. These won’t create your award-winning prints that professionals sell. This is usually not a serious problem because they produce more than enough resolution for social media and most prints.
- No one point-and-shoot will do it all. Cameras with a super zoom capability won’t work well in low light. Those that work well in low light are limited in zoom (but are still better than iPhones).
- They often suffer from slow focus speeds. Don’t use these for serious sports photography.
My strategy involves packing two of them from the same manufacturer, such as Canon or Sony. One is a super zoom camera for wildlife photography while the other is more of a general-purpose camera that works well in low light.
Using the same manufacturer provides many similarities between cameras. For example, they use the same symbols, nomenclature, and similar button placements, and menu structure. This helps me to keep my mind on the scene I want to photograph instead of the mechanics of camera operation.
The current cameras in my bag are a recently introduced Canon SX-70 (with an 70x zoom) and a four-year old Canon Powershot G-16. My accessories include extra batteries, a spare SD card, chargers, several filters, a monopole, and an underwater case for my snorkeling adventures with the G-16.
On vacation, I often walk around with a photographer’s vest, a mesh jacket loaded with more pockets than Capt. Kangaroo ever had. I wear the larger camera, the Canon SX-70, around my neck, and place the smaller G-16 in one of the large pockets. That way I can easily change from one camera to the other. The other pockets are filled with spare batteries and SD cards.
I’ll admit it – I look nerdy in that vest. If that’s not your style, your spouse can have the other camera, or you can backpack it.
Total price, about $1000. That’s cheap compared to the price of a DSLR with several lenses. Everything except the monopole and underwater case packs easily in a carry-on along with a laptop and phone.
To reduce the price, you may want to consider a single point-and-shoot to complement the capability that your phone has. For example, a Canon SX-530 gives you good 50x zoom capability, but modest battery life and limited low light performance for $250. This can give you the reach to capture wildlife and distant scenery that your phone lacks if that is your greatest need.
YouTube and PC Magazine are great places to research point-and-shoot cameras plus take some basic lessons in photography. Soon, you’ll be stepping up your game and improving your photos for your family and friends to admire.