Do you really need a camera in 2022 & the rise of the smartphone.

As the title suggests do you really need a camera in 2022?

My faithful old Instamatic. A no frills camera.

Its something I’ve been asking myself in recent months and as some of you will have noted of late I have been rather inactive for the past few months. This has been in part due to health issues as well as having retired and the adjustments that come with that. However apart from that has been my waning interest in photography and I have been pondering as to the why of this.

Partly its because of social media and the sheer volume of images that abound bringing about a feeling of there being nothing left to take a photo of apart from the odd family snapshot. Its also partly brought about by the rise of YouTube channels reviewing and using the latest greatest piece of equipment and the supposition that without it you really aren’t getting the most out of your photographic gear. I call Bullshit on that issue!! 

My recent purchase of a very lightly used Panasonic GF6 two lens kit for less than $400 NZD is a fine camera for most photography situations. Obviously for studio work I may well want to use a more professional kit, however I’m not a professional, have a modest budget and generally don’t need specialized equipment. I will say though that as I setup my astrophotography rig that will necessitate a somewhat more up scale camera kit. More on that to come in the next few months.

Some ten years ago on the DPREVIEW forums I stated that I would never use a phone as a camera as there was no real point to doing so and that they wouldn’t replace a bona fide camera … Fast forward ten years and I have to retract that statement. Now the question becomes do you really need a bona fide camera in 2022 – Short answer no.

Personally I think that smartphone photography is in many ways the new frontier when it comes to photography for the large majority of us. Consider this, you have a smartphone in your pocket, it has a camera with 4 lenses as well as a front facing camera. Can take hires photos, edit them to your particular standards, store thousands of images, transmit and share those images to whom ever or where ever you like. Add to this that the smartphone you have in your hand is a powerful mobile computing platform with built in AI for image and communications work, makes phone or video calls, is a mobile calculator and lets not forget the myriad of other applications it can run, so why would you want to buy a plastic and metal brick to hang around your neck just to take a picture when your phone barely weighs 170 grams, fits in your pocket and goes everywhere you do without any extra items to make it work.

I think you can see where I’m going with this. Flash back 45 years or so when I was a little younger and what I had in my pocket in those days was a Kodak Instamatic Camera, and it was bulkier than my current smartphone an Oppo A5.

Oppo A5 (2020)

As I’m tired of all the new gear hype and this constant yammering that to get the very best photos you need to have a full frame mirrorless camera at huge cost, I’m going to concentrate on using my 9 year old GF6 with a smartphone as my main photographic tool. Only when I need something with longer reach or a special situation ( such as astrophotography ) the GF6 will be used. I want to explore just what can be done just using a modern smartphone. Going forward I will post a number of articles on using smartphones. This will be based on smartphones I have on hand or have used in the past and have images from these phones.

If you are considering upgrading or moving to a smartphone for general photography and are looking for a light weight versatile unit check out this review and buying guide over at DPreview, and no I have no affiliation with them.

I’m currently on the hunt for a replacement for my Oppo A5, it is a little short on internal storage and memory and its time to replace it as my daily driver. In the next article I will go over some of the things I’m looking for in a modern smartphone.

Also coming up will be a short series on your digital darkroom in 2022 in regards to the type of PC or editing Tablet/Laptop you might use and why its important to consider carefully what you need versus what you may really like to have but your budget wont allow. Until the next time keep on clickin’ 👍📷

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New look for the blog.

The old theme was beginning to be clunky and slow, the more I add to the site the slower the interface was becoming. Hopefully this cleaner look will be easier for folks especially with tablets and phones to navigate, reducing loading times and hopefully displaying in a less quirky manner. As always your feedback is appreciated. In the mean time enjoy the content and Happy Snappin’ everyone.

Panasonic GF6-first photo shoot.

Having had little to point the camera at lately and with Autumn being reluctant to show its colors I finally had a photo opportunity to come via air to fill the gap.

The local Heli Ag chopper flying around over our southern boundary. The Panorama shot is an approx. 100 degree sweep looking south east to south west as seen, with southeast being the left side of the image. The farm land shown encompasses about 75% of the area being sprayed and the images range from approx. 2 kilometers to 500 meters from me. I was using the 45 to 150 mm kit telephoto lens, shooting mode was P mode with Auto ISO, as I wanted to concentrate on focus and panning the camera and of course a little composition as well.

With this type of camera I’m back to shooting without an EVF so composing via screen with grid lines to help with framing. I ended up boosting the ISO to around 500 for a lot of images to ensure a faster shutter speed. For an older camera it still focus pretty well when keeping continuous focus going, but I do miss the speed of my DSLR a little and even my Xa2 was a hair faster in Auto focus. Once I was aware of this it made getting usable images easier. This was my first outing with the camera doing a proper photo session over the course of an hour. I ended up with a number of keepers and good deal of so-so images, which I will eventually bin most likely.

Here’s a few processed images, all shot in Jpeg, Raw is too slow for this type of photo shoot with the GF6. Some I’ve edited to give a little more body to what may have been a less interesting image

A new year & new challenges.

I’ve been in a real photography slump of late. I’ve now been retired for 6 months and the adjustment has been a lot more complex than I had anticipated. However lately I’ve been slowly getting the desire to get a few photos in the camera. Autumn is coming and I’d like to get some decent Autumn color photos.

Unfortunately or fortunately depending upon the moment I dont have a camera, only a smartphone and an ageing and somewhat less than reliable Fuji HS20, which I prefer not to use.

I’m about to pull the trigger on a Panasonic GF6 ( lightly used ) with two lenses. I no longer want the heft and bulk of a DSLR and most of the newer mirrorless cameras are bigger than I want to carry. More importantly however is my dismay at what camera manufacturers are doing and the trend they are enforcing on their consumer base.

I’m talking about the sheer cost and size of full frame cameras which are now being produced and touted as the next best thing in the mirrorless world. Should this trend continue then camera companies are going to price & design themselves into oblivion, Olympus is the most recent example of this.

The sheer cost of getting into a fullframe camera and a decent lens kit is far beyond the budgetary reach of most hobbyists.

APS-C  Mirrorless cameras.

Currently the best new APSC kit that I would consider is the new EOS M5 with the included 18-150 mm lens. Total weight for this kit is approx. 750 grams which is really good. That makes it about the same size as a top line Bridgecamera. Cost is $2000NZD.

For around the same money ($2200NZD)  the Fujifilm X-t200 with the 18-135 mm lens would be another alternative. I would still pick the Canon however as I feel it has more bang for the buck, as much as I love Fuji the Canon just makes better sense. IMHO. Weight for this kit is 600 grams +/- 10 grams. The pick of the bunch when it comes to weight.

Full Frame Mirrorless.

Canon EOS RP is the cheapest full frame body at $2000NZD, add to that the EF 24-105 mm lens  ( at $868NZD) and you have an entry level fullframe kit. Weight is approx. one kilo (2.2 lbs.) and its also quite bulky. Not huge but it would get heavy in the hand nonetheless.

Panasonic’s S5 is currently on sale at the moment for $2980NZD thats down five hundred dollars on its normal price and that includes the 20-60mm kit lens as part of the kit. Not too heavy at 1.1 Kilos. Bulky again though, but less so in comparison to the Canon.

Its the same basic story with Nikon.

The Canon 90D with the 18-135 mm lens attached for a comparison weighs in at 1.2 kilos and is bulkier than any of the other cameras although only be a small margin. Its expensive too, at the time of writing this it was priced at $3050NZD from a major retailer.

Panasonic GF6 in excellent condition for sale on TradeMe.

Now back to the GF6.

With the 14-42 lens attached weight is 468 grams. With the 45-150 lens attached it weighs in at 503 grams. Its also 50% smaller in terms of bulk. This makes for a camera that can be carried easily in hand all day should you wish without feeling like you are dragging an anchor around.

Now what about image performance, well we will have to wait and see. Having had the Fuji XA2 previously, which is a similar sized camera it will be interesting to see.

The best part of this whole setup will be the cost. At $350NZD it is a relative bargain. Of course that remains to be seen.

 

 

Three More Sleeps Till Santa

With Xmas looming large I would like to wish all our readers, past, present and future a very Merry Xmas. Hopefully no matter where you are you have a relaxing holiday break.

Long time readers will no doubt have noticed I haven’t been very proactive of late. After retiring at the end of August this year and going into an immediate Lockdown for 3 months theres been little opportunity to get out and about with the camera.

Add to that a myriad of niggling health issues that have decided that now is a good time to make themselves known has left me with little enthusiasm to get out and about even though we are now out of lockdown ( well kind of anyway), and into the new Traffic Light system that everyone is still trying to come to grips with.

Hopefully once the holiday break is over and we move into a new year things may look a little rosier, the health issues will have abated, the summer weather really kicks in and we have a chance to venture out in a more relaxed fashion.

Until then keep safe & well, enjoy the break, take lots of photos and we will see what the New Year brings.

Happy Snappin’

About Zoom Lenses Pt.3

Having discussed various lenses and uses for them as well as samples ( See PT.1 & PT.2), I have been waiting for an opportunity to crank off a few shots of something a little more interesting than the shed outback.

Compounding the problem is the lack of mobility in the form of another Covid-19 lockdown, now into our third week. With the days getting longer and the weather warming up I was hoping to get out and take a few photos with the zoom lenses previously discussed.

Well as it happened, last week serendipity arrived in an aerial form on two consecutive, and importantly, fine warm days. What do I mean by aerial form?, well the photos below tell the story, with urea the first day and seaweed fertilizer the second day.

The day started out pretty ordinary with a monkey errrr – I mean an arborist swinging in the trees trimming the lower limbs of the neighbors driveway. Approx. 350 meters from my backdoor. It was around this time that I heard the Heli-Ag chopper start up on the neighboring farm to our south. The resulting aerial display shot over the next two days yielded around 650 useable images.

All the images were shot with the EF-S 55-250 STM lens and a Canon 600D. Settings were as follows.

  • ISO 200 & 400.
  • Shot in Jpeg Fine – using P Mode.
  • EV set to +0.5
  • AWB for whitebalance.
  • AI Focus (AI FOCUS DEFINED)
  • Continuous Shooting
  • Auto Lighting Optimser – Low ( How to use ALO)
  • Metering = Evaluative ( Best comprise for the shooting conditions)
  • Shutter speed and aperture vis “P Mode”
  • Color profile #1 ( My custom vivid profile  for Jpeg).
  • Focus point – single center focus point.
  • These are the settings I selected for this series of photos and in most cases match the settings I use for 90% of all the images I take with this camera for general photography.

One thing to note here is that shooting in RAW with continuous shooting is a waste of time. The camera is simply too slow to capture and write to the card anywhere near fast enough. I was lucky to get a series of shots with more than 4 frames before the buffer was overloaded and the camera basically ground to a holt. Switching to Jpeg Large/fine images allowed up to 15-20 frames before the buffer overloaded, which allowed me to reliably get nice 5 – 10 shot bursts with no appreciable slow down. The 600D is no frame monster but if you take the time to set it up right it can deliver the goods without you needing to dash off for a coffee while it empties its buffer to the SD card. 

You might be wondering why I used AF Focus rather than AI Servo.  AI Focus doesn’t try to guess where the focus will be based on your subjects movement as it tends to in AI Servo mode, but rather constantly updates what is under the single focus point area and adjusts focus  accordingly. Using the camera set this way gave me a very high percentage of shots in focus. I found that in a ten shot series almost every frame was in focus every time and when this wasn’t the case it dropped to around the 90% percent mark. While Canon suggest that for fast moving targets AI Servo is likely to yield better results, with the 600D I have found the opposite to be true. Other models may vary.

As to the use of the Auto Lighting Optimizer, I usually run this in the Low setting just to help raise the shadows in Jpegs, which helps in post processing. The effect can be very subtle and may seem like its not working, however comparing Jpegs to RAW files using the  different settings definitely shows a small increase in shadow performance. Give it a try, it may well help your images. As I generally prefer to shoot Jpeg for most general photography any improvement to an image is welcome.

 

 

 

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