Friday, November 20, 2009

In praise of pocket cameras

click photo to enlarge
All through my adult life I've used single lens reflex cameras (film then digital) alongside a pocketable compact camera (also film, then digital). At times I've concentrated on the smaller camera and given the heavier and bulkier SLR a break. There are those who can see no advantage in using a camera that offers less detailed output and is more restrictive in the subjects that it can deal with. However, the discipline of composing images with a restricted focal length lens fixed to a device that can accompany you with ease everywhere that you go is quite liberating; something that takes you back to the earlier days of photography, and makes you really think about your subjects and, especially, your compositions. And, for those who can't envisage life without a wide-range zoom lens, don't forget that a single focal length lens will zoom: all you have to do is walk forwards or backwards!

I've been using the Lumx LX3 more in recent months, and in so doing I've experienced something of the pleasure that I used to get from using a rangefinder film camera - in my case the Ricoh 500RF. That particular model had a fixed 40mm lens whilst the LX3 has a relatively short zoom of 24mm-60mm (35mm equiv.). However, I find the handling and the subjects that suit the camera are not too dissimilar. On my recent visit to London I tried the LX3 with a subject I've photographed with the E510 and posted last year - the Millennium Footbridge that crosses the Thames between Tate Modern and St Paul's Cathedral. I passed this location a little later in the day this year, so there was less light. Nonetheless, I thought I'd try the view with a hand-held shot to see how the little camera performed. There's no doubt that a big SLR with a bigger sensor, wider lens and consequent better high ISO capabilities would have secured a sharper, less noisy shot. But, such a camera might have been languishing at home whereas this one is always in my pocket! All things considered I think the LX3 produced quite a good result.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 12.8mm (60mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.8
Shutter Speed: 1/8
ISO: 800
Exposure Compensation: -0.3 EV
Image Stabilisation: On