I ordered a new camera last week after deciding that I had a problem that needed solving. The problem is that so often I find myself using a cell phone to capture magical moments that happen randomly. Too often I do not have the time to pull out my professional camera gear to get the image. Too often I don’t even have my heavy backpack full of cameras and lenses with me when these things happen. More recently the problem has been related to wanting to have a good camera with me on motorcycle trips but not wanting to add the extra weight. I think I found the perfect solution.
During Christmas break I began researching recommendations for the perfect travel camera. I have a plethora of point and shoot film cameras that I have enjoyed using in the past but ultimately their lens focal length just doesn’t reach far enough for my needs. You see, over the past few years I have come to recognize that my favorite lens for landscape photography is my 70-200mm zoom and not a wide angle 24mm lens like so many people use.
I’m not the only one that has come to this conclusion. While attending an online workshop by landscape photographer Michael Shainblum I affirmed my opinion of the use of longer focal length lenses as I watched him recommend to his students the use of this tool to help simplify compositions.
I also work primarily as a portrait photographer and when I am photographing a person outdoors I am often using a 200mm lens to create a better figure to ground separation from the background.
Again as I thought about whether to go with a film camera or digital camera I ended up settling on digital because of the need to avoid having to pack extra canisters of film on my motorcycle. So often I would find myself just using my cell phone which has a poor quality camera that is made worse by the water and shock proofed case that encloses the lenses.
So there I was looking for a camera that had a zoom range of 24mm to 200mm and needed to be the size of my cell phone so I could keep it in my pocket at all times. After days of research I found the ONLY camera that fits these criteria. I ended up buying the Sony RX 100 VII. It seems to be a unicorn of a camera! It has the size of a cell phone, the range of focal lengths I need, and it seems to have some of the highest quality features available. The autofocus system is comparable to the very latest top of the line professional cameras. In the palm of my hand I have a camera that will give me good travel photos and videos all in one small package.
Yesterday proved to me that I had made the right decision. I was driving home from campus and saw the light hitting the downtown buildings. It was a scene that I have witnessed numerous times but never stopped because I knew my cell phone wasn’t up to the task. Armed with this new pocket camera I pulled over to the side of the road and ran up the embankment to make a quick series of photos.
After I got home I downloaded the photos along with some snaps I had taken the previous day and realized how special this camera is. The built in image stabilization allowed me to take sharp hand held photos at shutter speeds as slow as 1/5th of a second.
As I get to learn the features of the camera I am experimenting with using an auto exposure mode that includes an automatic ISO setting. Again I was impressed by the quality of image I was getting at an ISO of 4000. This image of my friend Randy is an example of that.
Starting with my blackberry smartphone, I have kept a visual journal almost every day. So often I have found portfolio quality compositions within the library of cell phone images. Now I can finally match the image quality to the compositions. I am extremely excited to finally have a quality camera that fits in my pocket!