We had burgers for dinner tonight!
I conveniently decided to run a little experiment on flash photography with compact cameras. Everyone knows that indoor shooting in low light is the greatest bane of compact camera photography.
Scene shot without flash. In order to limit noise, a slow shutter speed (1/2 second) had to be used. Even with Nikon's great VR (Vibration Reduction), the picture is slightly shaky.
Scene shot with the camera's flash at shutter speed of 1/8 sec. This is the reason why most people choose to switch flash off; note the horrible flat lighting in which the foreground is overexposed relative to the background.
Bounce flash to the rescue! By using a flash unit pointed towards the ceiling, the scene is evenly lit at a decent shutter speed of 1/8 sec and noise becomes a non-issue.
The Nikon P5000 compact camera which I use; this picture was shot on Mum's Canon IXUS 80 IS. I never fail to praise Canon's compacts, and I am openly critical of Nikon's compacts, so why did I choose this compact?
First of all, it must be said that cameras operate as part of a system. If you only own one camera, Canon is the way to go. But I shoot the big stuff on my SLRs, so a compact camera's role in my arsenal is that of a backup unit.
As for the P5000, it is made of robust magnesium (rather than plastic) with a nice rubber grip and rubber thumb rest on the back; this makes holding it a great pleasure. Also, exposure is adjusted via a thumb-operated sliding wheel, just like Nikon's SLRs. It has an optical viewfinder for stealth mode (shooting without the LCD) and when in direct sunlight (when the LCD is hard to see).
Canon's higher-end Powershots have optical viewfinders too, and Canon's macro focus system puts Nikon's to shame, but I don't shoot macro with compact cameras; I do all my insect shots on the SLR. There is one thing this Nikon has that makes it a winner...
A hot shoe to which a flash unit can be attached! (Pictured here with the SB-600 flash unit which I use with the D50 for indoor shots.)
Ultimately a camera has to suit its user and the purpose for which it is employed. I shoot macro and long-distance with my SLR, so I need neither compact macro nor superzoom features. A camera should feel good in the hand, because who would bother shooting a whole day with a camera that doesn't handle well?
And because the P5000 is designed externally to resemble an SLR, most of its functions and settings are accessed via buttons and dials instead of menus, making it easier to change settings when shooting under demanding circumstances. The trend in cameras these days is larger LCD screens with fewer buttons; this makes for great viewing, but bad photography.
Viva compact cameras!