The Revolution of Compact Cameras. Why do you want to carry one in your pocket.

0614_FEA_SUP_rlsd 1I started my career in the late 90s as a photo assistant, working with a 3 megapixel, $40k, digital back we used on a medium format camera.  To shoot an image, that would appear full page on a magazine, we had to take several shots and stitch them together into one shot to have enough resolution.  Back in those days, that was a serious piece of technology and one of the first digital cameras in the Bay Area.  Since then, every year, digital cameras kept evolving.  More megapixels, smaller size, better quality, lower prices.  Now we have some very exciting technology that has changed the photo world forever.

3 years ago, I wouldn’t have thought of shooting anything but a personal snapshots with a compact camera.  I don’t feel that way anymore, proof is my recent shoot for Outside Magazine.   I wanted a perspective that I could only get by rigging a camera on the front of a surfboard.  _DSC2968I was looking for an intimate, tight shot of longboard legend Robert (Wingut) Weaver in the moment of hanging 5.  It would have been very difficult, if not impossible to get the same shot with a regular camera housing shooting from the water.  Only with a camera the size of a GoPro on an outrigger, this could have been possible.  What I didn’t know at the time of taking the shots, was that Outside would be running the image as the opener of the article and as a double spread.  We did some tests and we felt the image had enough resolution and sharpness to hold a full double page spread so they moved forward and printed the piece.   When I held a printed magazine to my hand I was pretty stoked to see how good it looked.  (Check out my interview on GoPro website to find out more about this shoot).  I think a lot of photographers get caught up in how many megapixels the camera has, how sharp the image is, what kind of lens they use and they forget that sometimes there is no need to analyze the image with a microscope.  Is more important to take a good photo than what you use to take it.

For an Outdoor photographer like me, who lives the active lifestyles that I photograph, this is a revolution and a very welcome change.  Now I can carry in my pocket a camera that functions as a professional tool.  When I go surfing, I can tuck a GoPro in my suit and if there is that special moment I can still l get a shot.  If I go fly fishing, I carry a GoPro in my fishing vest.  It’s pretty amazing to have a camera so small and easy to shoot that I can use both above and below water.  It will not replace an underwater housing or a regular DSLR but there are places and times I can’t, or don’t want to carry a full on camera system.

The other camera I have been using, on a regular basis on my adventures, is a Sony Nex-6 with a 27-70mm f4.0 zeiss lens, a 35mm f1.8 and a 55-210mm f4.5-6.3 (this is not the best lens but is small and portable, I am hoping Sony will come out with a better lens on this range).  nexsystemAll this equipment fits into one small Pelican case or camera bag (check out my blog on the Nex-6 and mirrorless cameras).  If I want to be super compact then I carry the Nex-6 with the PZ 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 power zoom lens or a GoPro if I want to shoot underwater or water sports.

There are some pretty amazing small cameras out there.   Check them out and test them.  Better to carry a small camera, than no camera, on your next adventure and you will be amazed by the pictures you’ll take home.

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