Thursday, 27 March 2014

The New Camera

After a lot of deliberation, thought and considering... I have finally bought myself a New Camera!

It wasn't an easy decision.  I knew my old camera wasn't really good enough.  I need something that will take decent photos of my books and other makes, so I can make them look as good as possible for my online shops.  My photos just haven't been up to scratch - not enough contrast, no depth, no sharpness... 
The "Old Camera" was doing a much better job than "The Previous Old Camera", but it was still only a "point-and-shoot", with the various limitations of its kind. 
Yes, it was 8.2 megapixels. Yes, it had a good macro feature.  Yes, it was neat, small and easy to operate.  No, it didn't do a good enough job.
The Old Camera

I needed Something Better.  However, there were several problems/issues that I needed to consider.  Firstly, I was never particularly clever at operating a Real Camera.  I took photography as an option at art college, but wasn't very good at the technical side of working the camera.  When I took a good photo, it was because my messing around with "f-stops" and "apertures" and all that stuff had just turned out a happy accident.  I could frame a good shot. I had an eye for a decent picture. I couldn't work out the hows-whys-and-wherefores of the actual machine that took the photos.

After college, my boyfriend, who was a photography enthusiast, bought me a nice little SLR camera.  Nothing very posh or expensive - just a decent little second-hand camera (Film, of course - digi was only a dream at that point!).  He was patient and explained all the techie stuff to me.  I always understood it when it was explained, but, like mathematics, as soon as I tried to Use the information, I got in a terrible muddle.  No idea why - I'm not stupid and should really have been able to cope, but I simply never got the hang of it.  My photos were always mediocre... with the occasional "quite good" one.  That's why I've stuck with point-and-shoot since then - it's easy! 
I have developed a better knowledge of how to make the most of lighting, how to frame a shot, how to position my items / subject for a half-decent photo.  I even have a little pop-up light box and a mini-tripod, to make my photos easier to take. 
They are still not good enough.  They're too grey, even if I try hard with the lighting.  They're not sharp enough, even if the light is good and I take the shots with a tripod.

So... A New Camera had to be bought.  Scary thought!  I put it off for months... and months.... After all, a DSLR was what I needed, wasn't it - and they cost Hundreds of Pounds!

But I still needed something better.  Another point-and-shoot, only better? Blah! I didn't think that would do.  Friends recommended a few DSLR cameras which would be good.  They all cost £400-£700.  I didn't have that sort of money to spend.  And I was saving up for a Plan Chest. And a Book Press. And a Relief Printing Press.  So I really didn't want to spend £400. 

A bit of Research was required.  I discovered Bridge Cameras!  These are designed to "fill the gap" between the little point-and-shoot snapshot cameras and the large, heavy, sometimes unwieldy - and sooo expensive DSLR cameras, with their special sets of interchangeable lenses, super-powered image sensors and amazing processing power.  
A Bridge camera has a single lens, which is designed to be versatile, so it will take good shots across a wide focal range.  So, you can take "normal" range photos - shots of a room, portraits, pictures of the garden from your window - that sort of thing; then you can also get fairly decent close-up (macro) photos and also good distance photos. 
Many of them have a long zoom distance (a lot of point-and-shoot cameras have stuff like 10x zoom - but that is Digital Zoom, which is actually done with the camera's internal software, by just framing the shot "close up" in the viewfinder, but not actually magnifying what the lens sees - so those shots are grainy and lose definition). 
A Zoom Lens uses Optics to magnify the image - so it really does give a closer-up view and you get a more crisp and well-defined image.  A point-and-shoot may have an optical zoom lens feature, but it won't be able to give the magnification available on a DSLR camera, as the lens is too small and the zoom too short. 
A Bridge camera has a larger lens and can have a much longer zoom lens too, so it gives far higher quality images, although they won't match up to what's possible with a good DSLR, which could even have a huuuuuge specialist zoom lens fitted and get mega-magnification (at a cost of hundreds, even thousands of pounds!).   
Bridge cameras often use the same, or similar sensors to their more fancy (pricey!) DSLR cousins, which means that potentially they can be very good cameras for many types of photography.  Unless you really want/need a professional standard of camera, you may be able to manage very well with a good Bridge camera, rather than paying out for a DSLR.  Of course, it is all down to choice, as well as pocket money - some people would far rather pay the extra and have that super-duper extra special DSLR quality.  I don't see the point in my paying hundreds of pounds for a camera, then more money for a special macro lens, just so I can shoot most of my pictures on Auto; or get myself all worked up and miserable trying to crack the puzzling f-stops and things, so I can take decent pictures for my shop.  I am hoping that I will get a good enough improvement in image quality, without the expense of DSLR!

So there you are - that's what I learned about Bridge Cameras vs. Point-and-Shoot and DSLR.  Follow the link above, if you want to read what Wikipedia has to say about them!

After some more Research, I came up with a short list of cameras that had good reviews overall, seemed to fit my requirements and also came within my budget. 

And I bought this:
The New Camera: A Nikon Coolpix L820. (In Plum!)
It's not top-of-the-range. I couldn't afford the hundreds of pounds.  Neither is it cheap - it's in the middle, had very good reviews and sounded as if it would do what I need it to do.  I am hopeful!

It arrived this afternoon and I've been trying it out.  The photos above were taken with The New Camera.

This is what it did:
Self-Portrait: "Lizzie-in-the-Mirror, with New Camera!"
Our (messy) new room, on a dull day...
Portrait of Tom-the-Cat 
- see his whiskers?!
(by the way, Tom did not wish to smile at the silly, shiny new camera... he wished I would go away and stop disturbing him)  

All these were taken on the standard Auto setting - point-and-shoot.  Minimal photo editing done - just a bit of colour correction or brightening, as it was a dull day for indoor photos. 

I'm not sure yet, whether the quality is any better than The Old Camera, but I think it must be - I don't think I could have got all that detail in Tom's fur, with the little Fuji camera - not in a dark corner of the room.  Certainly, the original SOOC files are twice as large as the old camera files - which means that when they're condensed down, the detail can be retained more easily.  (I think?)   Yeah, I'm pretty sure I have got much more detail in these shots - especially the two portraits - than I could possibly get with my Fuji camera. 
So, next I have to set up a Shoot of some of the books in my stock, then replace the photos in my shop listings.  We will then see how good this camera can be!

Yay for the New Camera - watch this space!


  1. What fun - enjoy your new toy :-D

  2. Bridge cameras For The Win! I have an olympus SP55ouz which a lovely friend GAVE me because he had moved on to a DSLR with loads of lenses and whistles and bells. It has a setting called Scn which gives me a choice of indoor, outdoor, behind glass, available light etc. I choose my scn then point and press. My kind of photography. I carry it wherever I go because I am more likely to take a picture with this camera than one where I need to do maths to get a picture. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I enjoy mine

    1. Yes, good point about how heavy & cumbersome a dslr can become, with all the add-ons. I will probably still use the little camera, but the new one is small enough to take on holiday and some days out etc.

  3. I love new cameras! So much fun! My parents both have bridge cameras and they love them. My mum is like you and I tried explaining my DSLR to her but she got a tad muddled and didn't really want to spend the money on one. She likes the bridge because she can fiddle with settings yet it is compact and easy to use. I can't wait to see what you take with this lizzie. I like your self portrait too!

  4. I'm like you....totally confused by the technicalities. Your new camera sounds like a great compromise...enjoy it.

  5. Replies
    1. Ah, the colour is everything Stacey! ;-)

  6. I bought a bridge camera for similar reasons and have enjoyed using it. Hope you enjoy using it too :)

  7. Enjoy! If you ever get stuck on how to do something, just ask, I am a professional photographer and run camera lessons as a part of my job, so feel free to ask! :)

  8. I also bought a 'bridge camera', mine is a Canon, though I was tempted by the Nikon as I have a Nikon-E SLR with loads of extra lenses as well as the compact ones (it hasn't been used for years now).
    I like the range of zoom from wide angle to macro. But actually, for shots of my cards and prints in progress I get far better results with my iPad. However the Canon is superb for taking reference photos out in the fields.

  9. A plum coloured camaera? Who knew! How very elegant ... That's a great selfie, and I think the quality of the light and the sharpness is stunning.


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