Thursday, October 11, 2007

Scooping It Up

Last time we spent Thanksgiving in Yosemite, I had a digital camera. It was brand new, a month old. The time before that, I had a 35mm camera, with a few lenses, one of which went to 300mm. Mom and I spent time after that trip poring over the pictures I got back. “Boy, your lens sure does scoop this right up,” she said, looking at how tight I could zoom in on the top of a waterfall from the valley floor below.

I wasn’t sure why I felt such a compulsion the other night to pick up a new digital camera. Was it a little delirium left over as I sailed out from under the cloud of a nasty head cold? Was it only because I’d been reading about digital cameras online? My existing camera had been dropped on its head a few times and was starting to show the effects: a little fuzzy on the details, not always sure which way was up.

It all made more sense when I got home with the new camera and started thinking about the first pictures I had taken with the old camera. I checked. Sure enough, I got the new camera exactly one day short of two years after the first.

And boy, the new camera can sure scoop it up!

I never turned on the digital zoom on my old camera. People frown on digital zooms. They don’t always make perfect pictures. Then again, Monet was always a little fuzzy on the details when it came to water lilies.

The digital zoom on the new camera was turned on by default when I got it, so I decided to play with it. I have to say, I’m pretty impressed at how it lets the camera get right into the details of the scene. All the above pictures (except the Ferris wheel) are taken from the same spot. The only difference is the zoom. Effectively, this becomes a tool I could use to read a book from across the room.

Two more (above and below) taken from the same spot, using digital zoom.

This is the kind of stuff James Bond wished he had in the 1950s. Not only does it scoop the details right up, but it also has image stabilization, which means that on its highest zoom setting, the little shakiness in my hand as I hold it doesn’t get translated to the image. Remarkably, in today’s world of technology, this camera isn’t even anything special: It’s one bump up from the bottom of the line. A guy who wants to spend real money would get a much better unit.

Below is the regular (“optical”) zoom at maximum setting.

And below is the digital zoom, full on. Not bad when you consider what a tiny speck this sign is in the original picture!

Of course, no matter how “good” a camera is, the picture’s only as good as what’s in front of the lens.

(And even that is counterbalanced by the deficiencies of what’s on the other side of the camera as the button gets pressed.)


CaliforniaGirl said...

Congratualtions on the new camera. I was wondering for a moment about the ferris wheel in your office. I probably took my best pictures ever with the old Canonet because I took it to the good places.

Andrew Shields said...

Waiting for the Barbarians! :-)

mrjumbo said...

I knew you'd like that. The bookshelf was a fun shot to frame. So many options . . .