Sometimes a Point & Shoot Camera is Enough


I’ll be the first to admit that I love camera gear, including high-end glass, the newest digital backs that I can’t afford, and all the high-end goodies. But sometimes a point-and-shoot pocket camera can be the best tool. For one thing, the big gear with their intimidating lens hoods and heavy-duty gadgets can startle some subjects – and not just children. One will often find people in remote parts of the world (and not so remote) who are quite camera shy when it comes to big DSLRs and the like.  And of course there’s the matter of having the opportunity to grab the shot before the scene changes. Some of my most treasured images were captured with a pocket camera, and while I won’t be making large prints from the files, I do enjoy the images every time I look at them.

The image above was taken in Burma (now Myanmar) in a restricted area, several hours by vehicle from Mandalay. These young girls were sitting at their father’s road-side fruit stand while he was working inside their house. I bought some tasty oranges from them once their father came out to greet us. The camera used was a compact Canon Digital Elph S300, which is only a 3 megapixel camera. Still enough for an enlarged print of 8x10” (A4) or so. Many of the wonderful people in Burma were shy to the camera and a compact camera really helped to put them at ease. After seeing their image on the LCD many became more comfortable, adults included, and seemed to enjoy having their photos captured and shared.

One drawback (among others) is that the small sensors used in P&S cameras render a very deep depth of field. This can make it very difficult (if not impossible) to blur the background (to isolate the subject) in most shots. Still, scaring young or shy subjects with high-end gear suitable for controlling depth of field will not likely get the results either. 

Posted on Monday, August 10, 2009 in Gear • (6) Comments


Posted on 29 Aug 2009 at 2:11 pm 1.  Lens

This is cute. Thank you for the photo and post.

Posted on 30 Aug 2009 at 11:49 pm 2.  Dale

Glad you enjoyed it.

Posted on 14 Dec 2009 at 10:51 am 3.  Richard

Dale: As you know I’ve been using a Canon G11 for a few weeks now on hikes and I have to say, not only is it enough but I don’t miss the weight and complexity (time factor in using) of a DSLR.

This pushes the idea of a “hike” vs a photo hike. A photo hike may not get very far if we get interested in a bug on a leaf. No problem. A hike, by contrast can’t afford to do that when other people are involved.

So, it’s pretty easy to differentiate one’s intentions before starting out.

Posted on 14 Dec 2009 at 11:15 am 4.  Dale Allyn

Richard: I agree completely. A full-on photo hike can be boring for non-photographers, and of course, one often covers little ground on such hikes. Your G11 can bring home some very nice images from “real hikes”, as well as provide great results while not intimidating shy subjects.

The G11 has the advantage of being more than a “point and shoot” camera, while being compact and more discrete than a DSLR or larger camera. I’m glad that you’re enjoying yours.

Posted on 14 Dec 2009 at 11:19 am 5.  Richard

At this point I’m using it in “P” mode and Auto ISO most of the time. Again, stopping to think on a hike with others takes time and if I don’t think in any mode other than P or Auto the results show it (not good).

I’m happy with the G11 and while I wish Canon would make a pancake 24mm lens for their DSLRs allowing me to use an XSi and small lens on hikes, until they do the G11 will be fine.

Posted on 14 Dec 2009 at 11:26 am 6.  Dale

That makes sense, Richard. And like you, I think it would be great if Canon offered a pancake lens. Pentax has one, and of course Panasonic has it for the micro 4/3 kits, but as you mention, if Canon would offer one it would help round-out a kit and one could add the compact XSi dlsr.

Still, the compact nature of the G11 or some of the even smaller options allows one to have a camera along any time.

Leave a Comment:

Name (required):

Email (required; hidden from view):

URL (your website; optional):

Remember my personal information

Notify me of follow-up comments?

◊ Please enter the text you see in the image below (to reduce spam).

left pointing arrow