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Gadgets

Speed isn't always the issue

STILL TALKING - Enrico Miguel T. Subido - The Philippine Star

There was a time, not too long ago, when people loaded film into their cameras before they could take photos. The idea of SD and CF cards was still very George Jetson at the time. Newbie photographers, while trying to figure out the right aperture to go with the right shutter speed depending on the amount of available light, could potentially waste countless exposures before getting the shot right. Nevertheless, it was a very fun and significant period in the history of photography. There really is no substitute for shooting with film.

There was a time, too, when people would mix chemicals in basins for developing the said film. This made everyone who spent time in a “dark room” part chemist, part mad-scientist. Then there was a time when developing and printing photos were made more accessible to the public through developing booths — leave a roll of film, leave a deposit, come back after an hour or so, settle the balance, and get your photos. There was always a bit of suspense when waiting for the pictures to come out.

The world of cameras and printing pictures nowadays is one of instant gratification. LCD screens allow one to see how a picture turned out in less than a second. The file can then be sent to a home desktop printer and printed in less than a minute. From another country, in some special cases. While the anticipation to see how a photo turned out is no longer what it once was, it seems that this extra time can be used to brush up on the basics.

 Like spending time to frame a shot and actually trying to create a well-composed photo — and not just clicking away since film — is no longer an issue. Shutter actuations, mind you, do take their toll on modern cameras. The less a shutter opens and closes, the greater the chance that the camera will “live” longer. So take time to fix settings and to compose that shot. It’s a good practice for recognizing which settings work best for specific situations, too.

Some cameras are fast in the sense that they start up and review images very quickly, their shutters just fire away when pressed, and their features can be manipulated quickly and easily. The very Spartan Canon Powershot A2300 point-and-shoot and the full-size Canon Powershot SX40 HS are not the fastest cameras around. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing because they encourage one to plan ahead. These units don’t exhibit exemplary speed for cameras, but the side effect of getting the photographer to plan ahead isn’t such a bad thing.

Canon Powershot A2300

Scrap the idea that this thing is fast: it’s not. But it does have other good qualities. First, it’s extremely affordable, not even breaching the USD150 mark online. And it does produce good images at normal ISO levels. It does tend to get a little grainy at higher ISO values, but the lens is surprisingly sharp. Paired with a 16-megapixel image sensor and a DIGIC-4 image processor, the result is sharpness in each shot. Just remember to keep a steady hand because this camera doesn’t have image stabilization. The macro function is very good, and its compact size makes the A2300 very portable. Great for street photography, when you just want to blend in and be inconspicuous. Again, it’s not fast. But if you plan ahead, that won’t matter.

Canon Powershot SX40 HS

Obviously a number of steps up from the A2300, the Powershot SX40 HS is a dead-ringer for its predecessor the SX30 IS. It’s got the same body, same 35x zoom digital lens, same rotating LCD viewfinder, and the same controls. But it’s got the “HS” badge which refers to the high-speed 12-megapixel image sensor and the DIGIC-5 image processor. This means that this thing can provide good shooting performance while also delivering on image quality. It does take good photos, even in low light conditions. But again, like the A2300, it’s not the fastest camera out there. Even in its class. But this doesn’t matter. The SX40 HS and the A2300 can teach a photographer one of the most important things every photographer should understand and come to terms with — patience.

When it comes to printing, however, it seems no one has the patience for it. Hearing the thing zipping along, even if it is fast, it’s still slow. It will always be slow. This phenomenon, with regards to printing photos at least, is probably some sort of remnant feeling from the days of waiting for photos at a photo developing booth. Anyway, Canon’s solution is the PIXMA MG3170, a multifunction printer, scanner, and photocopier that is relatively fast. It prints normal full-color 4”x6” photos in under a minute, which is pretty fast. But not fast enough. Probably the coolest thing about it is that it’s a WiFi printer, and doesn’t need cables connecting to any sort of computer. It just needs to be calibrated to a router.

It’s not that difficult to have a full photo capturing and printing solution in your own home. And it won’t take up too much space, either. Think about it: when was the last time you shot with film? When was the last time you waited an hour for your photos to be developed? We really live in the age of the Jetsons.

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For more information about Canon and its products, visit www.canon.com.ph

E-mail me at [email protected]

Follow me on Twitter @_stilltalking.

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