Thursday, March 26, 2015

They were right and I was wrong.

When I started getting back into photography and bought DSLRs to replace the hodgepodge of miscellaneous cameras I'd used for picture-taking, I stuck with a small P&S digicam over the advice of friends and commenters.

"Tam," they'd say, "It's got such a tiny sensor and the lens is kinda 'meh' on those cheap pocket point-and-shoots."

To which I'd invariably respond "But Megapixels! And 12x zoom! And bells'n'whistles! Look, built-in fish-eye effect!" And truly, by the numbers, that little Coolpix S6500 wasn't a bad camera, but... I'd get into pictures on the big screen and wind up disappointed all too often. Snapshots? Sure, it takes great snapshots.

There's a class of cameras, possibly not long for this world, exemplified by the Canon PowerShot G-series and the extremely similar Nikon Coolpix P-series, that Nikon described as "the perfect complement to an advanced photographer’s D-SLR" but was perhaps more realistically summed up in this group test at Digital Photography Review:
"It wasn't so long ago that DSLRs were out of financial reach for most enthusiast photographers. Back before DSLRs fell below the magic sub-$1000 mark, the only way for most people to 'go digital' was to invest in a high-quality compact, offering SLR-like control, but without the expensive extras - the large sensor and interchangeable lens mount.

These days, of course, DSLRs are far more attainable than they once were, making high-end compacts less of a 'next best thing' purchase than in the past, and more of a luxury. In fact, the high end compact sector is sometimes referred to as the 'luxury' compact market...
Now, half-a-grand high end compact cameras aren't really a thing that exists for me. Then again, neither are $1000 DSLRs. But thanks to the Bigger, Better, Faster, More! world of digital photography, the top-of-the-line 2010-model five-hundred buck "luxury compact camera" is available used for less than a quarter of that price today.

I picked up a used Nikon Coolpix P7000 from KEH for very reasonable money and, while it's not the cigarette-pack size of the little S6500, it's still only about the size of my cell phone in its rubber case. Not really shirt-pocket sized, more coat-pocket sized; it's still easy enough to dangle from a wrist strap or toss in the "document pocket" of my gun burkha.

And it's got the stuff I wanted in a camera: It'll shoot RAW, it has full manual control with neatly laid-out dials, there's an optical viewfinder for composing when it's too bright to use the screen (or for when I just want to use an optical viewfinder because it's what I'm used to) and it'll even shoot in monochrome with your choice of B&W filter effects...

And the pictures...

Speaking of Nikons... But this is a matter for another post.