Scout's Honour. Be Prepared!

July 19, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

(Photo - Somme 100th Anniversary 'Remembering'

 Nikon D7000 / 70 to 200 mm f2.8 @ 200 mm

1/200th Sec / f2.8 / ISO 200)


Scout's Honour - Be Prepared

OK.  I confess.  I wasn't in the Scouts.  But, at least in terms of photography, I like to 'Be Prepared'.

This does not mean taking mountains of gear with me everywhere I go.  But it does mean - typically - having 2 cameras with me - pretty much all the time, wherever I am.

The Not So Humble Cameraphone

Some of you might think my first camera is a cheat - because it's my cameraphone.  But I am a big fan of cameraphones as - in good light - they can take a pretty reasonable picture.  If you are trying to shoot the moon or photograph F1 racing cars in anger then maybe not - but for pictures of friends & family, scenic views etc - cameraphones are not bad at all.  In fact, each year, they get better!  And - the big advantage is - we pretty much have our phone with us all the time. 

The Pocket-Sized 'Point & Shoot'

My other - always with me - camera is a small, lightweight, Canon S120 'point & shoot'.  It has a zoom lens which in 35 mm terms is equivalent to 24 mm to 120 mm - a very useful range - and at 24 mm end the f number is f1.8 - so a nice large aperture.  The advantage of the Canon over the cameraphone is the optical zoom - 24 to 120 mm - typically I don't use digital zoom in a cameraphone - just my personal preference.

So, with these 2 'ever ready' with me, I can have a reasonable stab at getting a shot - certainly one more than good enough for social media.

On Holiday

If I am on holiday / away for the weekend, I would have taken my Bridge Camera in the past.  Now I take my APS-C / DX DSLR.

I prefer the APS-C sensor as it is better at handling low light situations than a Bridge Camera sensor.  That said, I used a Fujifilm Bridge Camera for quite some time and absolutely loved it.  And it was much lighter - & cheaper - than my current APS-C Sensor camera. 

My 'on holiday' DX set-up is a DX body with a consumer zoom - say a Nikon DX body with either a 18 to 200 mm zoom or a 16 to 85 mm zoom.  I take the 16 to 85 mm lens with me when I know I will be doing a lot of indoors photography - castles & cathedrals, museums, etc.  The DX 16 mm is equivalent to 24 mm in full frame and I like the 24 mm equivalence for indoor shots - and indeed for wide vista landscapes & for cloudscapes.  So the 16 to 85 mm zoom suits what I shoot.

I take the 18 to 200 mm (equivalent to 27 mm to 300 mm in full frame) when I know I want the extra reach.  I lose the wider angle of 16 to 18 mm in DX / ie 24 to 27 mm in FX - but I gain at the longer end.

(Trust me - owning a 18 to 200 mm lens & a 16 to 85 mm lens is NOT sensible!  Either own one or the other.  The typical set-up is to buy a camera which comes with an 18 to 55 mm lens & then buy a say 55 to 200 or 55 to 300 mm lens later.  But, if you can afford it - or borrow it - or buy it second hand - a 18 to 200 mm zoom lens on an APS-C body is possibly the only zoom lens you will ever need for your DX camera.) 

I might take a 35 mm / f1.8 DX lens as well (equivalent on an APS-C Sensor to a 50 mm on a Full Frame camera).  This 'nifty fifty' is excellent in low light and, used correctly, it can create that lovely blurred background so much loved of many photographers.  However, in all the times I have carried a 35 mm DX or a 50 mm FX 'just in case' - I have never used it!  I just use a slower shutter speed with the zoom lens and find something to lean on to help steady the shot.  And it usually works!

The Big Guns - the Full Frame DSLR

If it is a major trip to somewhere well worthy of good gear I might take the big guns - my Full Frame Body - with a 28 to 300 mm zoom.  But, in fact, my APS-C camera can do 90% of what my Full Frame can do - so I might not bother carrying that extra weight & bulk.

The full frame body / larger sensor does give better low light performance - both in terms of noise & in terms of being able to quickly focus in ever darker situations.  The downside is they are large, heavy, & expensive.  However, amongst many other positives, their low light performance - a deal breaker for me - is stunning.

But moving to Full Frame is not obligatory at all.  You can do almost as well with APS-C / mirrorless / Compact System cameras - with much less damage to your wallet - and they are much lighter to carry around all day.  And an increasing number of Professionals are using non-Full Frame DSLRs - eg mirrorless systems such as the Fuji X Series and the Olympus OM-D series.  So, non full-frame DSLRs are already good enough for professional work.  And I expect they will get better each year. 

Amateurs do not 'need' full-frame - but many amateurs 'want' full frame.  Professionals will need any system that gives them outstanding results for their type of photography.  Photography is a very serious business if you are relying on it to feed the kids and pay the mortgage.   

Ever Ready?

So.  Carry your phone & a camera - be it a point & shoot or whatever.  And use it!   Be prepared!

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