In praise of the lowly “Point and Shoot”

The serious photography snubs it, the soccer moms toss them into the purse, dads keep them in the backpocket of their jeans and the kids treat them like the crackerjack toys they appear to be. Yes, the “point and shoot” camera, the throw away camera, the 59 dollar target special that no “serious” photographer would be caught dead using when they could be using their black, heavy, look at me, DLSR with a strap that could hold the Queen Mary at the dock.

I used to fall into that camp but I have to say that the truism about a man is only as good as his tools goes only so far. A good photographer can make good pictures with a cardboard box and a pinhole. The current P/S cameras are better than anything Ansel Adams used to drag around. Unless we are just talking pure image size ( 8×10 neg vs. 10 megapixel on a thumbnail) but even that is “better” when one considers that the P/S weights a few ounces vs. the pounds of equipment Ansel used to take. 

I use a older SD500 from Canon that is a hand me down from my wife when I got her a new SD900 Canon. And it takes some pretty nice images so long as you stick in the low ISO to keep the noise down. Would I make 20x30s from them? Nope.. but most of my shots would never be magazine spreads or posters anyways so that part doesnt matter. Can I do my normal drag the shutter tricks or gel the flash? You bet!! And with a bit of thinking, I have gotten images just as good as my DSLR without nearly the cost in weight and people noticing me.


Watering Hole

Watering Hole -- This image could easily pass as one taken with a very expensive camera but it was my SD500 which is worth about 100 bucks now days. I over rode the smarts and put the flash into manual which gave me my fill light for the backlit subject.


A quarter’s worth of gel held over the flash can give you color correction or enhancements just like the big boys can do. A piece of kleenx works well as a diffuser for the flash which tends to run hot.

The SD even has a tripod mount hole on the bottom to allow me to use my portable plastic tripod or gorillapod. There is even a USB hack to use the USB port as a remote trigger.

The Canons lend themselves to being hacked and in my case, I use a code base called “All the best” which gives me the flash over rides plus the ability to shoot RAW plus JPEG just like the big boys do.





My dream P/S camera is one of the last year model G8 from Canon. It’s a real manual or automatic pocket camera plus a hot shoe. All in a pocket sized package so no more 10lbs of body and lenses just to shoot my kids birthday or whatever. It also works well enough to use as a spotter or site camera which I use to rough in some ideas.

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