Camera Compromises

I’ll freely admit I am very biased towards digital SLR cameras. The capabilities they provide are just so much better than what can be found in a point and shoot camera. Not just the ability to change lenses to meet your shooting needs but in the other features as well.

The larger sensor sizes in the DSLR cameras provide better noise management especially when using higher ISO settings for lower light shooting. The ability to have a hot shoe flash that moves the flash further away from the sensor plane is also a huge advantage as it results in fewer red-eye pictures being taken. I have never been a fan of red-eye reduction flash since all it really does is pre-flash to fool the eye.

The problem with this is that the subject thinks the pre-flash is the actual picture so you end up many times with people moving or closing their eyes since they think the picture has been taken. That drives me crazy. But for all the benefits of a DSLR there is one thing about them that can be troublesome, their size.

There are just some times when you can’t justify the bulky body and lens combinations that are required for a DSLR. If you have to carry a camera all day with most of your activities being non-photo focused; it can be a pain carrying a DSLR with lens. And I mean pain literally since some of these combinations can be quite heavy. It is situations such as this where a point and shoot camera can be justified.

canon-g9.pngYou may just want to document a moment without going through the creative process that a DSLR requires. Another justification around our house for a point and shoot camera is one of ease of use.

While I feel right at home dealing with f-stops, shutter speeds, and ISO settings; there are others (namely my wife Trina) who just want something where they can press a button and take a picture. They don’t want to have to worry about 54-element auto focus screens, the differences between scene and spot metering, and other nuances that accompany a DSLR.

I tend to get frustrated very quickly with the limitations of a point and shoot camera. I love the small size and the ability to slide it into my pocket when I want to take a camera “just in case”. In the end though I usually am unhappy with the results due to the camera not living up to my expectations of what a real camera should provide.

So Trina and I are constantly at odds with one another about whether we should get a point and shoot or remain a DSLR household. For the most part the DSLR wins out but every so often she talks me into a point and shoot.
The latest in this back and forth tug-of-war occurred this weekend.

Trina again complained when he pictures did not turn out the way she wanted them due to the camera being “too technical”. Rather than listen to this argument for the millionth time I decided it was once again time to try a point and shoot camera. After a lengthy research of what cameras were available I finally decided upon the Canon G9.

It is a point and shoot camera by form factor only. It is one of the few non-DSLR cameras that offer RAW as a capture format. I am a big fan of RAW files as it gives me an opportunity to adjust things in post-production that may have been missed during shooting. When dealing with a wife and children who may not be willing or capable of remembering all the settings they want RAW gives me an added line of defense.

It does mean that I have to deal with the photos after the fact rather than just taking the memory card to the local photo-mart for prints. Still RAW has save me on too many occasions to discount its importance.

The G9 also provides the ability to shoot with pictures closely in aspect ratio to what I get with an SLR. Since many of our photos end up in videos and slide shows I like the aspect ratio to be similar among all the cameras to minimize the amount of cropping I have to do to make the pictures consistent. While I may lose time dealing with converting RAW files, I make up the time by not having to crop files for consistency.

I was also impressed with the Canon G9 having a hot shoe that will allow the use of a full flash unit. This will eliminate a lot of the red-eye and give me the opportunity to do some creative flash shots that would be impossible with an in camera flash. The G9 is obviously positioned to the upper end of the point and shoot spectrum and many of the features would be wasted on those who normally buy cameras to document life events.

It may just be the perfect compromise to allow ease of use for Trina while giving me the control I want in a smaller form factor. As I start to get more familiar with the camera I’ll post some photo examples and provide a more detailed entry of what I think of the camera.

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