Day +199: Can you take good photos with amateur gear?

We spent a night in the city this weekend and did not bring my “good cameras”.  Instead, we brought 2 cameras which a lot of casual picture-takers may own:

  1. Panasonic GF7 + kit lens (mirrorless)
  2. Sony RX100 iii (point & shoot)

THE BENEFITS

The number one advantage of the 2 cameras we took is weight: they are pocketable and weight next to nothing. They can just be thrown into a regular bag (with a case of course) without needing a dedicated camera bag. Another possible benefit is that, you are less likely to be a target of theft (they just don’t look like expensive cameras) if you are in a dodgy area. And what’s more, if they do get lost or broken, they are not going to cost thousands of dollars to replace.

THE DIFFICULTIES

That’s about where the benefits end (they maybe big benefits though). This is where things get fun, if you know how to shoot. You can’t bail yourself out by shooting at high ISOs (and still get a minimally grainy photo) with the lens wide open (apertures 2 or less- caveat: the RX100 can shoot down to 1.8). This might be fine in broad daylight, but what about low-light photography (we also did not have a tripod with us).

To test these cameras, we started off at dusk at The Rocks. The Vino Paradiso Festival was on, so it was crowded. And there was also a cruise ship in town.

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We then walked over to Circular Quay. There were a lot of photographers around, using much more expensive gear than us. But we got these shots:

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It is possible to take decent photographs in low -light with cheap cameras, if you have some idea of what you’re doing. Consider these tips:

  • You’re going to have to accept a bit of noise as you will be shooting at high ISOs. Smaller cameras, in low-light means ISO’s of 800 or higher (you’ll need this to get fast enough shutter speeds to enable you to prevent camera shake)
  • Improvise if you don’t have a tripod. Use poles, fences, garbage bins- anything that you can rest your camera on so you can keep it still
  • Unless you’re lighting a person just in front of your camera- DON’T USE FLASH. Your flash is not powerful enough to light up the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the other side of the harbour
  • Like photography at all times, concentrate on getting sharp photos first. Blurry photos are no use to anybody

Christmas is almost upon us (I know, it’s only the first week of November). Decorations are out, and David Jones is playing Christmas songs.

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I wouldn’t bother going to DJs for the sole purpose of seeing the window displays. This year’s creations seem to be more commercial than ever (those who have been will know what I mean).

If you’re in the city in the next day or so, there’s a Lindt pop-up store in Westfield that is selling chocolate gift boxes (the kind you fill yourself with Lindt  balls) for half-price. Apparently the special ends soon. Until next time…

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