We had a family gathering for First Quarter Birthdays and Easter (nick-named “Beaster” by my sister’s family). I had just received a Canon Powershot A4000 IS, so I took a few images. I am replacing my Nikon Coolpix S3100 with this new “pocketshot” camera, as the Canon has noticeably better image quality.
My parent’s dog (and my little brother) Max the War Beast, with his Devil ball.
Max attacking. After all, he is a War Beast. I got in close and used the widest focal range the camera has to get that somewhat distorted effect; a large head with a smaller body.
This is Little Richard, who belongs to my sister’s friend, Brent Thureen. Little Richard is a very polite dog, and he was very cooperative for this shot. There is some argument for cropping out more of the old dresser, but I like it in there.
Max on the prowl. Inexpensive pocket cameras are NOT good for motion shots like this, so I had to take several to get one. The colors are very good, however, especially for a $100 camera.
Later in the evening, back home, looking up at my trees. The colors remind me of the cover of Galen Rowell’s “Mountain Light” book (almost exactly!), but the subject isn’t quite the same. Still, I liked it, so here it is. Click on the image for the 1200 x 800 version, and look at how sharp it is! I held the camera very steady when I took this.
Some things to know about inexpensive, “pocketshot” cameras:
• They are VERY sluggish to shoot, and sluggish to focus. They are best used for stationary subjects. If you spend more money, like $200 to $500, you will get better performance, but I don’t think it’s worth the extra money spent.
• The image quality is distinctly less than what you would get with a DSLR…frankly, it’s a mismatch. Better lens quality and better electronics (and sensor) with a DSLR.
• The images are JPEG only; no RAW.
• There is very little manual control; the +/- exposure compensation is usually all you have to override the camera’s choice for shutter speed and aperture.
• They are not very reliable. I have had 2 of them break down in a few years (granted, under very heavy usage). They are also very easy to drop. Once the back screen cracks, it’s history.
• The aspect ratio on many are not 4 x 6; they are usually 8 x 10. This is IMPORTANT, because if you want 4″ x 6″ prints, you will lose some of your image. You have to keep that in mind when you are shooting.
• They do not provide a stable platform for shooting. Unlike a DSLR, it’s way too easy to shoot from an unstable position, which can make for soft images thanks to camera-shake.
With all those negatives, why carry, let alone purchase a $100 pocket camera? Because DSLR’s are WAY too big to be conveniently carried all the time, and pocketshots do a fine job for that out of nowhere grab-shot. They are also way better than just about any cameraphone (as of 2013; that may change as technology improves).
So, why buy a cheapie? Because I think it’s stupid to sink $400 into a pocket camera that will likely break down in a few years. You’re better off spending that same money on a DSLR. Besides, what are you expecting from a camera that fits in your pocket?
I love having a pocketshot with me, and highly recommend one to any photo enthusiast.
all images © Scott Woelm – March 2013