Home > Photography, Thoughts On Photography > Summer Photo Tips #7: The Best Camera For You Is …

Summer Photo Tips #7: The Best Camera For You Is …

August 6th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

photo tips camera phone point and shootphotography leading lines natural frames
Most people know that magazines, newspapers and coffee table books are filled with beautiful photos made by photographers using expensive, top-of-the-line DSLR or film cameras. Sadly, this results in many people feeling unmotivated to try making good photos because they lack an expensive camera. If this describes you, I hope to change your thinking.

     As a professional photographer I don’t want to mislead anyone. High-end camera equipment can photograph certain situations that would be impossible to do otherwise. They also produce high quality (resolution) images that are essential for print media like magazines. Using an expensive camera, however, doesn’t guarantee great photos. Good photographs are less about the equipment used and more about the photographers’ skill at capturing a beautiful scene or telling a visual story. In the hands of a person knowing how to use it well good photos can be made with any type of camera. The images below, for example, were made with older and newer model point-and-shoot cameras.

Photos Made with Old & New Point-and-Shoot Cameras
photo tips point and shoot

     Learning to make good photos takes practice. The best way to practice is to take a picture whenever you see something you would like to photograph. While its possible to carry a DSLR or point-and-shoot everywhere, that’s not always feasible. Today, almost everyone DOES carry a camera with them everywhere they go in the form of cell phone.. Most of today’s modern camera phones have the basic features that let you practice and refine your photo skills while capturing fairly good quality images. Here are some examples made with different camera phones.

Photos Made with Android & iPhone Camera Phones

     It IS possible to take good photos with just about any type of camera. Over the years I’ve met people who’ve shown me exceptional photographs made with ten year old digital cameras, camera phones, inexpensive point-and-shoot cameras and even throwaway cameras. If you ever wished you could take better photographs but felt you didn’t own an expensive, “professional camera” that would let you do so, challenge yourself to start now with whatever camera you have available.

ND Grad filter - graduated neutral density filter

  1. August 6th, 2014 at 06:08 | #1

    Some of the best shots I’ve ever taken have been with very cheap cameras. My ‘best’ camera is little more than a ‘point and shoot’ digital. It doesn’t matter.. I’m not a photographer; I just love taking photographs when I’m out and about. Even so, I was approached recently for permission to use one of my images for the UN/UNESCO Year of Light.. a picture taken on a very inexpensive pocket digital camera. The old phrase ‘you could have knocked me down with a feather’ was pretty accurate.

    • Rick
      August 7th, 2014 at 05:05 | #2

      Hi Sue. Wow, when I read your words “I’m not a photographer; I just love taking photographs” I could not have been happier because I think those words apply to the vast majority of those who read and follow this blog. Some take photos occasionally and others do so more frequently. Regardless, what I love about cameras (cell phones, point and shoot, etc.) today is that they allow each of us, in our own way, to capture moments that touch our heart/life. And, for some, it allows us to express our artistic side. As for your photo that UNESCO used, that is FABULOUS! I am so pleased not only for you, but for the many others that will not get to enjoy that image. { } ~ Rick

  2. August 6th, 2014 at 07:42 | #3

    I love the one of the rocker on the porch. I have missed the point and shoot I gave to my daughter. She really liked it because it takes such good pictures so being a good-hearted mom I told her to take it. :)

    • Rick
      August 7th, 2014 at 05:15 | #4

      Ah yes, that rocking chair photo is a special one for me too Pat. And, I suspect you’ll be seeing Fall leaves up there in Michigan in just a few weeks. The rocker in that photo sits on the porch of a cabin high up in the Smoky Mountains where I spent a month. It always reminds me of how, like those leaves, there is a beauty in the way all things change (although it may not always be obvious to us) and we often have to sit, slow down and quiet our mind to see it. As for your daughter, she’s clearly got a terrific mom. Great to hear from you. { }

  3. August 6th, 2014 at 09:33 | #5

    The bottom three are terrific. I like the shadows from the rocking chairs; they makes lots of stories

    • Rick
      August 7th, 2014 at 06:14 | #6

      Hi Lois. I’m pleased to hear you enjoyed the images and thanks so much for your visit.

  4. August 6th, 2014 at 09:46 | #7

    Right on Rick. Reminds me of the old adage that size doesn’t matter. Also, today’s point and shoot cameras are so much more sophisticated than those of yesteryear. A little thought and knowledge go a long way in producing better photos. We also have instant feed back, can take a lot more photos, and… if all else fails, have photo shop. :) –Curt

    • Rick
      August 7th, 2014 at 06:21 | #8

      So true Curt. Even after more than a decade of using digital, that instant feedback you get right after making a photo still continues to amaze and please me. I also think it plays a large part in helping everyone photograph more than those in the past. For those of us who learned using film cameras, the delay was so long between when you captured a photo and then saw the results that it was easy to forget what you did or didn’t do that created the good (or not so good) results. And yes indeed, there are always those photo editing programs that are so much easier (and environmentally friendly) to use than the darkroom and toxic chemicals you had to depend upon. ~ Rick

  5. August 6th, 2014 at 10:22 | #9

    I have learned so much from you Rick, but know I have so much more to learn. I am finding, however, that my bridge camera is working quite well for my needs at this time. Someday I hope to venture into the DSLR world, but for now, I am content to work with what I have. Thanks for the reminder. :)

    • Rick
      August 7th, 2014 at 06:39 | #10

      How great it is LuAnn that you have a camera that works for you AND that works the way you do. That, my friend, is magical and it makes it so much easier and fun to take photos. Recently, someone came up to me carrying a top of the line professional-grade Nikon camera and gigantic zoom lens that easily costing over $10,000 USD and asked me what buttons to press so they could review a photo they just took. Then, for the next 15 minutes complained nonstop about how hard he found the gear to use compared to his old, cheap point-and-shoot. When I asked him why he purchased the new camera he said (no joke here) that it “looked impressive” and he figured it would make better photos. To me, it’s not at all about the gear but about enjoying the process and making photos YOU ARE happy with. Clearly, you are and that’s fabulous. :-)

  6. Laetitia Borden
    August 6th, 2014 at 10:22 | #11

    Oh, Rick, you are right on! No matter what your artistic venue may be (pastels, photography, pencil drawings, etc.)- doing it is the main objective. No matter what the quality of your craft materials, paint, shoot, sketch! Keep on doing it – learn from each stroke and each shot.
    Welcome the growth and improvement one will experience.

    • Rick
      August 7th, 2014 at 06:48 | #12

      Oh definitely Laetitia we think completely alike on this. Doing it and enjoying it (and hopefully having fun) are so very important. You also point out something that I believe is the key not just to art but to life and that’s constantly being open to learning. Thanks for posting this wonderful comment. ~ Rick

  7. August 6th, 2014 at 12:54 | #13

    Goes to show that a capture & its beauty really is in the eye of the photog & not just the camera. ;)

    • Rick
      August 7th, 2014 at 06:52 | #14

      You said it perfectly RoSy. If a person makes a photo or creates a drawing that touches their own heart and/or brings them joy then to my way of thinking, they have created art. So many people associate creating art with making money from selling it instead of simply allowing themselves to savor the beauty of their creation.

  8. August 6th, 2014 at 17:50 | #15

    Another great and informative post, Rick! While I love my DSLR and my 100mm-400mm zoom for wildlife photography, it can be a heavy beast to carry around if I am hiking very far. Often times I have to roll under barbed-wire fence or climb over downed trees, brave a sudden rain, or run from something (like a skunk!) – you know how it is! Do you have a suggestion for a pocket digital that might be easier for me to carry, yet still get great distance shots? I’m probably asking for the impossible here. :)

    • Rick
      August 7th, 2014 at 07:29 | #16

      Thank you for the comment on the post Lori. You’re right that I definitely “get” the process of carrying bulky/heavy camera gear while trying to climb under barbed-wire fences, brave rain storms, run from wild animals, etc. (I suspect we’d make great photo companions!). And yes, I do have an alternative “small camera” suggestion for you. My personal favorite is the Canon PowerShot SX point-and-shoot series. The model I use right now (the SX600 HS) has an amazing optical zoom lens that goes from 25-480mm! When looking at these types of cameras the phrase “optical zoom” is very important here because some cameras have a “digital zoom” feature which uses a computer to digitally enlarge/shrink the image instead of the lens. There are many PowerShot SX models at different price points and similar cameras made by other companies but when shopping you’ll want to look for their optical zoom range and also the number of megapixels. If you need more info. let me know. ~ Rick

  9. August 7th, 2014 at 06:44 | #17

    Points well taken. I always complain about not being able to use the manual settings, but my pictures are coming out just fine with my point and shoot. I just have trouble when I want to freeze an action, but eventually I will figure it out. Thanks again.

    • Rick
      August 7th, 2014 at 07:38 | #18

      Whether someone uses Auto or Manual mode LorB, what really matters is that they captured a photo ‘they’ are happy with, as it sounds like you do most of the time. How terrific! As for being able to freeze the action in certain situations, a great many compact/point and shoot cameras have a dial or menu selection for choosing something called “Sports” shooting mode which will force the camera to take photos as quickly as possible to help freeze motion.

  10. August 7th, 2014 at 10:18 | #19

    Very good advice Rick. I carry a modest DSLR when on a serious shooting theme day. But find my more compact Sony Cybershot HX 200v does a great job, except for birds in flight. For that I really need the DSLR The Sony has an impressive optical zoom

    But I think I need to spend some money if I want to take serious macros. I just can’t get the depth of field on the object and a smoothed out background either basic camera or package lenses that came with the Olympus DSLR.

    By the way our prize Braveheart is now framed and looks beautiful. Thanks again

    • Rick
      August 7th, 2014 at 17:37 | #20

      Wow Rod, my first photograph in a collection within the Province of Manitoba! I’m pleased as can be that you two are enjoying it. Thanks for letting me know it’s framed and hanging in your home :-)

      As for using your Sony for birds and getting blurred backgrounds I have used various Cybershot’s and wanted to share a few suggestions you might try if you haven’t already (and assuming they work with your particular model). Both of these refer to the Cybershot’s “Scene Selection” menu which you might need to check out in your instruction manual if you need directions. (1) Although it’s not necessarily designed for “animals” you might try using the “Advanced Sports” option for photographing birds. That setting was designed to “freeze” the action when photographing race cars, motorcycles etc but it could help reduce blur when shooting. (2) There is also a selection labelled something like “Background Unfocus” or “Background Defocus” if I recall correctly which blurs (smooths out) the backgrounds in a shot.

      Thanks again for sharing the news about the photo that’s now hanging in your home. ~ Rick

  11. August 8th, 2014 at 14:15 | #21

    your photos are breathtaking to say the least…
    I think I will enjoy learning from you… I took a semester of photography but …
    the teacher wasn’t passionate about his gift so I drifted away from it…

    the bottom row, last one on the right is an in quizative one for me
    are the leaves hiding in the shadows from the winds that will make them fly
    or are the resting to catch another breath to continue on their journey…
    a story to be told :)
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and images, I like them very much
    Take Care…You Matter…

    • Rick
      August 9th, 2014 at 07:05 | #22

      Many many thanks for your visit and for your kind words Maryrose. I’m so pleased some of the images birthed some stories for you. That’s one of the amazing magical things that can happen with art. I’m hopeful you will stop back from time to time for some new posts about light, stories and magic! ~ Rick

  12. August 10th, 2014 at 17:52 | #23

    I always enjoy the information you share, Rick; thank you! As much as I would love to have a more expensive camera, I also know I do not have the time to commit to learning all the ins and out of one. I did manage to get a Sony Cybershot lens that attaches to my iPhone, and I LOVE IT! For what I photograph, it works really well. And since it is actually a camera (you just need the phone or an iPad for a viewfinder), you don’t even have to have it attached to the phone to use it. This was very handy when we went to New York in June. Here’s a link to what I have: http://www.sony.com.my/productcategory/di-cybershot-lens-style-camera

    • Rick
      August 11th, 2014 at 07:04 | #24

      How great to hear from you Jules. And, thanks for sharing the information on the Sony lens attachment. Although I’ve never used the Cybershot I’ve worked with several similar attachment lenses for the iPhone and iPad and know how great they can. Plus, if you normally have an iPhone or iPad with you, it means you simply have to have to carry around one extra thing to capture a wide range of photos. Thanks too for including the link to the website that describes it so that others can check it out. It’s great you have found the perfect solution for making photos you love. :-)

  13. August 10th, 2014 at 22:00 | #25

    It’s images like yours that make me start wishing for a better camera, but I suspect that I haven’t actually pushed against the boundaries of what my current Rebel can do. I imagine I’d have the very same problem of learning all the buttons, dials and menus with a new camera. I suspect what I could really use is a younger, more nimble mind! :D

    • Rick
      August 11th, 2014 at 06:43 | #26

      Hi Gunta. Having seen some of those beautiful photos on your blog I’d have to say that you and that Rebel of yours are producing beautiful photos right now. Rebels are fine fine cameras. My personal belief is that if a certain camera is letting you capture the photos you’re happy with, then it’s a great camera for you regardless of how many bells, whistles or lenses it has. What’s great about cameras though is that with those menus, they give you the option to stretch yourself from time to time in learning/trying something new but you don’t need to learn it all in order to take good photos. By the way, I’ll share with you that it’s probably as baffling for me as it is for you to figure out the buttons and menus whenever I get a new camera. Fortunately, although I do rely on all those camera buttons in making photos, there are only 5 or so menu options that I end up changing on a regular basis. As for a young, nimble mind, you might give my workaround to that a try—lots of coffee and chocolate! :-)

  14. August 15th, 2014 at 10:48 | #27

    wonderful post, thanks Rick. Wanda

    • Rick
      August 16th, 2014 at 09:26 | #28

      That is so kind of you to let me know Wanda. Many thanks.

  15. September 3rd, 2014 at 05:24 | #29

    Beautiful photos, Rick. I had a Sony Cybershot for years and was published in many travel magazines using that camera. I have to agree …. it’s not necessarily the equipment but the eye behind the lense that makes the shot. And thanks for the follow. May we meet again and again on these pages.

    • Rick
      September 4th, 2014 at 09:36 | #30

      I’m so grateful for your visit and your kind words on the images. Today it’s so great to me that nearly everyone has easy access to some type of camera so they can let out the artist that lives inside most of us. And, whether it’s a cell phone or a very expensive DSLR, all of those devices today have the ability to produce lovely images and they all offer a way to help train the eye into seeing more clearly and deeply. I look forward to savoring the words and images on your own blog and hope you’ll stop back from time to time. ~ Rick

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