Home How-To Tip Of The Week Five Myths About Point-And-Shoot Cameras—07/04/11
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Monday, July 4, 2011

Five myths about point-and-shoot cameras—07/04/11

Compact cameras can make great pictures

This Article Features Photo Zoom
Some folks think they have to use a DSLR, or even an electronic-viewfinder interchangeable-lens camera, if they're "serious" about taking pictures. Turns out that compact point-and-shoot cameras can do a lot more than many photographers give them credit for. Here are five myths about point-and-shoots, and what you can do to put these little cameras to great big uses.

Myth 1: Serious photographers don't use pocket cameras.
Reality: Wrong. Two words: Terry Richardson. This iconic fashion photographer has not only made a name for himself with point-and-shoot cameras (albeit a controversial one), he's made a whole career out of capitalizing on the flash-on-camera spontaneous style. Even if you're not a high-paid fashion photographer, you can do great things with point-and-shoots. I've even met working pros who use high-end compacts as their backups.

Myth 2: Point-and-shoots are overly automatic.
Reality: Auto modes and point-and-shoots go hand in hand, but it's not always the case that they can't go manual. Many great point-and-shoots let you adjust exposure, flash, white balance and all the key camera settings with manual controls. Even if they don't offer total control, many let you adjust the basics for more manual power. If you'd like to push the boundaries of your own point-and-shoot, look for a manual shooting option, or at the very least the manual adjustment of the ƒ/stop or shutter speed via aperture priority and shutter priority modes.

Myth 3: Point-and-shoots don't shoot RAW.
Reality: This myth is likely a holdover from a time when "point-and-shoot" connoted a basic camera without any bells and whistles. These days, though, point-and-shoots are really more accurately termed "pocket cameras." Many models make great images—including capturing high-res, high-quality RAW image files that can enter the digital workflow just like high-end DSLR image files. If RAW shooting is important to you (and, in my opinion, it should be) then be sure to look for a point-and-shoot the offers the capability.

Myth 4: Pocket cameras don't shoot high ISOs very well.
Reality: Maybe when compacts were packing 15-million pixels into tiny little sensors this was a little more accurate, but recently, manufacturers have backed off maximizing the pixel count in favor of better pixels. These cameras frequently sport the same kind of high-ISO capability as their larger, more expensive DSLR cousins. (Even if you're not using a high ISO, when you have to make a long exposure, point-and-shoots offer another benefit: No mirror to flip up and create vibration and camera shake.)

Myth 5: Point-and-shoots can't use external flash.
Reality: This isn't always true either, even though many point-and-shoots use built-in flashes and don't have hot-shoes. Some compacts, though, do offer a hot-shoe connection that makes powering external flashes just as easy as it is with a DSLR. Even if your camera doesn't have a hot-shoe or PC connection, an external flash can still be controlled with a little ingenuity. With a photocell slave sensor, external flashes can be triggered by your point-and-shoot's built-in flash.

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