Feeds

back to article Cameras for hacks: Idiot-proof suggestions invited

The world of journalism is changing fast, and while the image-hungry internet demands ever more photographs, shrinking budgets mean the days of a hack going into the field with a snapper in tow are pretty much over. Much to the chagrin of harrumphing old school journos, editors will now regularly ask them to provide images as …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Thumb Up

Took my Canon Powershot 110 to Svalbard last year and worked well whist wandering around at 78 degrees north in the freezer. It also survived a week on the damp west coast of New Zealand too. Just a bit larger than a cigarette pack so slips into the smallest of journalistic man bags with ease

0
0
Bronze badge

+1 on the PowerShot. Perhaps not as rugged as you'd like, but produces great pictures for it's size.

0
0
Silver badge

The PowerShot 95, 100, 110 etc series would once have been a top pick (along with the Panasonic LX 5 or 7) for a 'jacket pocket' camera with reasonable low-light capabilities, but has now been eclipsed by the Sony RX100.

In non-interchangeable lens cameras ('premium compacts') there tends to be a trade off against zoom range and low-light capabilities, in part due to the fact that a larger sensor requires more glass in front of it.

4
0
Silver badge

That said, the Panasonic LX-7 can be had for around £250 - £300, whereas the Sony RX100 is north of £400.

The LX-7 is faster in every way than the LX-5, and the widest aperture is now f 1.4. It is possible to blur the background of portrait shots even when using a little bit of zoom. The wide angle is handy for indoor shots of, say, conferences etc.

1
0

Is this "blurring" real bokeh or just software trickery to compensate the small sensor?

1
0
Silver badge

That is real blurring - it has a f 1.4 lens against a 1/1.7-inch 10 megapixel sensor. It isn't extreme bokeh, but it certainly softens the background enough to emphasize the foreground subject.

I wouldn't use any in-camera trickery - that is what Photoshop is for.

The sensor isn't huge, but it's a lot bigger than that found in travel-zoom or bridge cameras.

0
0

The Sony may a little more expensive, but it is the only in pocket camera I have considered buying (actually bought one for a trip to the Christmas markets in Koln) due to the sensor size. It is no DSLR, but it's close enough that my 5D is only brought out for serious shots now and isn't lugged around everywhere I expect to be taking pictures.

Low light is stunning, but more than that there is zero lag on the shutter, the manual zoom is a pleasure to use when the auto just doesn't cut it, the battery lasts an age and it is tiny!

I've never taken mine to an extreme environment so can't comment on it's durability in poor conditions, but the cost of the camera was completely worth the pictures that it took and convenience.

1
0
Silver badge
Pint

Powershot S90 here. Love it, but question its "beer-proof-ness".

I'd suggest one of the Panasonic "splashproof" P&S cameras. Got one for my wife and she takes it snorkeling.

0
0
Silver badge

Oh, and "F" the manual -- nobody ever reads it anyways. The UI is almost intuitive. Suggest you get the intern to distill the multipage multilanguage manual that comes with the camera to a single cheat-sheet.

1
0

RX100

On those criteria it would be hard to go past a Sony RX100. Big sensor for a compact and image quality is probably as good as you get outside of an interchangeable lens slr/mirrorless camera.

Everything but beer proof, but in my experience the picture quality of rugged cameras is pretty, well, rugged...

4
0
Silver badge

Re: RX100

Yep, the Sony RX100 is the pocket camera to beat at the moment.

Sony do use the same sensor and lens of the RX100 to make that weird 'module that clip onto your phone' device, the QX100, but reviews suggest that the concept is not implemented perfectly.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: RX100

>Everything but beer proof,

You can get fully-waterproof enclosures for the Panasonic LX series, but they add so much to the bulk and price that they wouldn't satisfy the Reg's criteria.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: RX100

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II review here looks nice, perhaps some UI problems, can get clip on viewfinder, has a Zeiss lens, worth a look.

0
0
Paris Hilton

Hobbies?

"We know many readers enjoy a bit of photography"

Nudge,nudge,wink wink.

I know what you mean!

(And so does Paris.)

9
0
Thumb Up

Canon S95

Got one a while back and can't fault it in any way - even allows HD video. Great camera - small, light, tons of features, even allows you to go manual with settings.

1
0

The Canon S9x/1xx compacts seem nice enough, but if you need a lot more zoom and better robustness, albeit with the downside of it being the same size and weight of a consumer DSLR plus kit lens, the Fuji X-S1 might also be worth a look.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Fujifilm X-S1 looks good, dpreview give it a burst mode of 10 fps.

0
0

For the last week or so I've been evaluating (ok, playing) with a Nikon Coolpix S9700 for some of our people to use out west.

It is proving very nice to use and has (as they all do) a full auto mode which will remove need for even a one page manual, as well as a decent zoom.

Not particularly beer proof, though.

1
0
Bronze badge

To be perfectly honest, i'd just buy a bunch of cheap second hand cameras from eBay. For the size of the pictures posted on el reg any camera released in the last decade ought to be perfectly sufficant.

Spending money on a half day worth of training into using a camera properly (ie, lighting, angles, mini tripod for stabilising the image, when to use the flash etc) will quite frankly get you much much more of a performance increase than a ten year old camera to a brand new, shiny camera.

7
0
JDX
Gold badge

A step backwards

Forcing journalists to take their own photos can't be good for the end product. Unless it's a myth perpetuated by photographers that photography is hard, which I a very much doubt, this seems like a boss saying "my nephew did some graphic design at 6th form, lets pay him £5/hour instead of hiring an expensive graphic designer".

10
1

Re: A step backwards

You are totally right but this is the way it has been going for a while in the age of 'content' - most places now work to the opinion of 'as long as a picture is good enough, it will do' and the definition of 'good enough' is 90% of the time not actually that good.

Basically, it's a cost cutting exercise. It's a shame because with the kit and technology available to journalists and others today, we should be in a golden age of reporting but the cuts make that impossible.

8
0

Re: A step backwards

Gee A Journo that can't write and shoot!!

Reminds me of the KGB joke...

Why do the KGB go around in threes?

One can Read, one can write, the other is there to keep an eye on the intellectuals!

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: A step backwards

" It's a shame because with the kit and technology available to journalists and others today, we should be in a golden age of reporting but the cuts make that impossible."

The problem is that its that "kit and technology" that's driving down the revenues of publishing and journalism, both online and in print. There's no point making a beautiful looking magazine if not enough people will pay for it.

1
0

Re: A step backwards

Judging by the quality of most 'writing', they'd be better off asking a decent photographer to add some words to the pictures.

4
1
Silver badge

Re: A step backwards

End product? It's a picture to go with a story. It will have a shelf life of one day. David Bailey is not needed.

There's already a lot of snobbery being shown in these comments, get over yourselves. A few replies and we can already see "real bokeh" being discussed. Arty farty nonsense dreamt up by people who want to sell the emperor a new set of clothes.

If there is a downside to not having a dedicated photographer it is that those photographers often went on to become professional photographers in their own right. The stint with the newspaper was effectively an apprenticeship.

5
6

Re: A step backwards

Ah Yes, that feeling you get when someone tells you, "that's a fantastic photo, you must have a really good camera".

Its a bit like going round to someone's house and saying 'that was a lovely meal, you must have some excellent pans'.

8
1
Silver badge

Re: A step backwards

>A few replies and we can already see "real bokeh" being discussed. Arty farty nonsense dreamt up by people who want to sell the emperor a new set of clothes.

No, it's simply a matter of separating the subject from the background, to draw attention to the actual subject of the photograph. True, it is often overused, but the concept is craftsmanlike, not arty-farty.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: A step backwards

>it's simply a matter of separating the subject from the background

Exactly, you've proved my point. Photographers have been doing this for ages without having to give it a mysterious name. Maybe I wasn't clear, I didn't mean the effect was arty-farty merely the name and the discussion that goes on about what it is and isn't.

2
0
Silver badge

Re: A step backwards

@Chris W.

Fair shout! Thanks for the clarification.

On the subject of distinguishing background from foreground, our two eyes do this all the time stereoscopically (actually, make that most of the time, since I don't seem to be completely immune from hitting my head on low tree branches in a forest). It might be the desire to accentuate background blurring in two-dimensional images is an attempt to make up the absent information our eyes would perceive in a three-dimensional scene.

Occasionally, when scrolling through my library of photos, I will skip between two photos that were taken in quick succession but with a slight shift in camera position. This seems to cause my brain too interpret the images as more '3D', and 'pops' the people out from the background.

There have been stereoscopic cameras sold, as well as the Lytro camera which can achieve the same but by different means, but of course viewing the resulting images is often more faff than it is worth.

1
0

Re: A step backwards

Thats spot on and is applicable to so many parts of the media industry from books to invoices.Remember when you had invoices and letterheads designed and printed,now we just print on a £50 wireless connected printer as and when needed,read books on a tablet etc etc.

Im just waiting for a 3D printer that can print out hot gourmet dinners and a glass of good wine.

0
0

Canon

is to my experience the best in the class that you describe. I've been using IXUS 80is for several years, recently replaced by Powershot SX280hs. The picture quality is quite good for the size/price, looks very decent on a 30x40 cm print. And especially ixus is quite sturdy.

0
0

Pentax Optio WG-3.

Standard and LED flash, and pretty well priced for a ruggedized camera. I'd suggest looking over some reviews to see if the image quality is good enough for you- it's decent, but not top-end by any means. It claims to be shockproof, waterproof, coldproof and crushproof- I can vouch for everything except crushproof and coldproof.

I can further attest that it's beerproof.

The fact that it's ugly as sin may also deter thieves.

In short: It can take a beating and a dunking and is mediocre in most other things. But the lens is in the right spot (unlike many ruggedized snappers.)

5
0

Panasonic TZ60

A really good small camera - loads of zoom, excellent picture quality for the gutter press (and yourselves) and lots of options.

Alan

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Olympus Stylus 1.

Good low light performance, great zoom, great all rounder.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Panasonic TZs

The Panasonic TZ superzoom range are very versatile. USB charging, albeit from a custom cable and not micro USB, is useful.

The only drawback with the Panny TZs is the dust getting on the back of the lens and sensor. Its happened so often that I now take a precision screwdriver with me now so I can open the camera up and remove dust from the sensor.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Panasonic TZs

Yeah, the bellows effect... the lens barrel loves to suck dust in.

The only company who actively boast about the dust seals on their compact cameras, as far as I know, are Ricoh.

A £6 'Lens Pen' accessory - retractable brush on one end, carbon cleaning tip on the other - is a must have for almost any camera.

0
0
Coat

Idiot proof?

And here I thought they were self evident...

0
0
Silver badge

One page manual?

I don't think ANY modern camera has a one page manual. You've run out of choices at that point.

Some of the other requirements are equally silly. Fixed lens? Having the option of exchangeable lenses doesn't mean you have to take it.

The first rule of photography: use the biggest size of film that is practical for your needs. Forget the fixed compact cameras, their sensors are small and their lenses compromised by the large zoom range that marketing wants them to have. Find one of the latest generation of EVIL (Electronic Viewfinder, Interchangeable Lens) compacts, fit it with the standard kit lens (typically wide angle to short telephoto zooms), switch it to fully automatic mode and you'll get some pretty good pictures. Something like an Olympus Pen or Samsung NX is what you're looking for, and will work in a wider range of conditions (particularly in doors) than a compact.

6
6
Silver badge

Re: One page manual?

>Forget the fixed compact cameras, their sensors are small and their lenses compromised by the large zoom range that marketing wants them to have.

That's true of most compacts, but not all. The Sony RX100 has a bigger sensor, as does the Fujifilm X10. The aforementioned Canon S110 and Lumic LX-5 are reasonable low-light performers - much better than the 'Travel-Zoom' class of compacts.

If we are confining ourselves to 'jacket pocket' cameras, then yeah, you can put a 'pancake' fixed-zoom lens on a micro 4/3rds camera (or other EVIL camera), but then you wouldn't have the 4x zoom flexibility that a fixed lens 'premium compact' will offer you.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: One page manual?

A 1" sensor is still tiny, sorry. Nowhere in the spec was jacket pocket size mentioned either. If you want to stick with Sony then the A5000 is worth a look, that's got an APS C sized sensor, comes with a 16-50mm zoom (that's about 25-80mm equivalent) and can be found for less than £300 new.

0
3
Silver badge

Re: One page manual?

We've been given a list of criteria and your response is to tell them what they should be looking for. I call snobbery of the highest order. Silly, and that's your opinion, or not, we can all say, you need this and that but I'm sure a lot of thought went into what was needed and we should at least try to work within that.

5
1
Silver badge
FAIL

Re: One page manual?

We've been given a list of criteria, which can't be met. Given what was asked for was impossible I've suggested modifications to the list that will give them good quality images from compact and relatively inexpensive cameras.

If I was going to be snobby about it then I'd be talking about full 35mm SLRs or even Medium Format in manual mode. Instead I've suggested cameras that are capable of being used by novices in full auto mode, that are compact and will produce good results.

In my personal experience the lens and the sensor size are THE two most important factors in the quality of image you can produce (they don't do anything for the artistic value of the image though). If the spec (such that it was) had emphasised zoom range and portability then I'd have suggested differently, but I've made the best suggestions I can based on actual experience of using a wide range of cameras. Treat that how you will.

1
5
Silver badge

Re: One page manual?

>We've been given a list of criteria, which can't be met.

Nonsense. Just about any point and shoot camera will meet the criteria with good enough quality for an image to go with a news story. The deciders are going to be beer-proof and decent battery life.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: One page manual?

A criterion was: Non-interchangeable zoom lens.

There have been some very nice 'premium compact' cameras released in the last few years, because vendors have realised that not everybody wants to lug a dslr around with them.

This is a website that has 700x600 pictures of new products and IT conventions, so why are you specifying cameras for producing A3 prints?

2
0
Silver badge

Re: One page manual?

What about "One page manual", how many meet that?

If all you want are 700x600 pixel images then your cellphone will do, heck virtually anything on the market even. If or when they want to show a cropped section of the image though...

Stop me if I'm wrong, but the subjects that El Reg covers are mostly indoors. Low light on small sensors is crap, long zoom fixed lenses in those circumstances doubly so. Internal flash limits you to being within about 6-10 feet of your subject (and gives the effect of being shot in a coal cellar), so most of the time high ISO is the way to go. Now if you think that you can get a travel zoom to work well in those circumstances when driven by a novice then good luck to you.

1
4
Silver badge

Re: One page manual?

>What about "One page manual", how many meet that?

Just about every compact there is comes with a one page quick start guide. If you really need more than that the full manual is usually a pdf on CD.

I'd say you are wrong. Most images seem to be from stock or product reviews. The big in-house thing at the moment is LOHAN which is either outdoors or "posed" images of bits and pieces. Long range indoor shots? I don't read every article but I can't remember seeing even one.

4
1
Silver badge

Re: One page manual?

You can't seriously compare a cellphone camera to a high-end compact from Panasonic, Canon, or Sony. There will always be trade-offs between size, image quality, low light performance, weather-proofing and zoom range... so drawing an arbitrary line in the sand against just one of those factors won't help in choosing the best tool for the job.

Anyway, I'm sure the Reg staff know which websites provide real-life sample images and controlled studio shots for almost every camera released.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: One page manual?

@Steve Todd - we weren't talking about Travel Zoom cameras. The Canon s100, Lumix LX-5 and Sony RX100 have around 4x zooms. They are nothing like TZ cameras in low light.

0
0
Happy

Classic Camera

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-1974-Fisher-Price-Pocket-Camera-464-A-Trip-to-the-Zoo-/281327543886

Pros: Easy to use, waterproof, stylish, lots of fun.

Cons: Low resolution, Useless unless reporting on a zoo.

11
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Classic Camera

idiot proof as well!

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.