Photography is all about catching light (literally) and yet I have never played about with lighting in any depth before. I've played with every setting on all my cameras but that is only part of the story.
In my opinion, there are three parts to taking pictures:
- The light before the subject
- The subject
- The light after the subject (to the camera)
So with a typical outdoor photo that might include:
- Light from the sun
- Hits a landscape/person and is reflected
- Position the camera to catch the light
Where am I going with this?
I think when anyone takes a picture they are playing with part 3. By playing with camera settings etc you enable yourself to capture the light more effectively.
Interacting with the subject before taking the picture is playing with part 2. This might consist of telling someone to smile or describing a precise pose. Alternatively, it might be cleaning/moving something to get a better photo. So part 2 again isn't necessarily demanding.
If you are outside you would normally use the sun to light up your subject or if it's dark/inside you may use flash. Since getting an external flash for my DSLR I have been able to tinker with part 1 by bouncing light off the ceiling/walls onto the subject. Compare this to a photo studio where there are carefully positioned lights everywhere! Playing with part 1 is a great way to change the look/feel of photos.
Mini comparison of flash lighting
The photo is of a peacock feather with sunlight coming from the near right. The picture without flash lacks contrast due to the bright background and lack of shadows.
The camera flash and external flash with diffuser look best as they have added enough shadow for increased contrast and enhanced colour. The external flash is raised from the camera lens which makes the light non-centred, noticeable without the diffuser at this short range.
Although bouncing the flash off the ceiling or wall normally adds improved shadows, this is not always ideal especially due to the feather leaning forward casting itself in shadow!
The bottom right image (where the flash is not attached to the camera) adds a strong light from the bottom left which completely changes the look of the photo. Although in this case it adds too much shadowing, it does change the colours from all the other examples.
The following photos were taken with the same off camera flash position:
The major benefit I noticed with the off camera flash is that I can get close to the subject without the light changing or casting my own shadow onto it (often the case with sun lit macro shots). The major downside is that I kept blinding myself with the flash... #amateur.
The Canon 450D is my first and only DSLR camera. Despite this, I feel I know how to use it and do use it well enough to complain when I want more 😛 . My only real complaint is the poor handheld low light performance.
In short, I love the camera due to it's easy controls, small size and all the extra bits I have for it (see equipment).
The 450D has been upgraded 3 times from Canon (500D, 550D and most recently the 600D) the main upgrades are the addition of video recording and the improvement of sensor's sensitivity up to ISO6400 (on the 600D). When compared to the mere ISO1600 of the 450D, this is a vast improvement. The 450D is only capable of ISO1600 when set manually, in the same way the 600D is actually capable of ISO12800! There is more to it than just the numbers such as noise levels at a given ISO level but these improve with technology updates. If I were to buy now I'd definitely get one of the 500's for the additional low light help, the 600D is usually priced higher than the 450D ever was. I found a nice comparison between the 600D and 450D over on snapsort.com.
- 12.2 Megapixels
- ISO 800 (ISO1600 when set manually)
- EF-S Canon lense system (also accepts EF)
- SD card (SDHC compatible)
This is not your usual camera comparison, this is a camera comparison for technophobes! So if you know how to use the manual functions or even the program functions on your camera this probably won't be relevant. In addition, I'm not comparing four new cameras, I'm comparing the gradually evolving Sony W Series with a Canon 450D DSLR.
So, I should explain (as this is aimed at technophobes) the Canon 450D is a very popular inexpensive DSLR. A DSLR is a digital single-lens reflex camera which means you (usually) look through the eye piece to take your photos not look at the screen. It also provides almost unmatched flexibility with a wide selection of specialist lenses for every occasion and complete manual control. In short they are bigger, heavier and you usually carry them with a bag load of other bits.
The Sony W Series has always been a balance of powerful features and a small size. I have three on test: the W7 (from 2005), the W300 (from 2008) and my parent's shiny new WX10 (2011). Each one gets smaller as the numbers of features sky rocket. I've always liked the Sony compact cameras for their fast autofocus and good results.
Why compare compacts to a DSLR?
This is where the technophobe bit comes in. Many people I have met are like my parents, they forget how to use their camera on holiday. As a result they use the auto mode (green mode) all the time. My question is, using only auto mode which performs better?
Remember, although DSLR's traditionally produce the best quality photos they are usually in the hands of people who know what they're doing! Continue reading