6 Things you thought you couldn’t do with your POINT & SHOOT

You promised yourself to get a new digital camera with your Christmas bonus. But after asking around and reading camera specs you’re suddenly torn between the compact point and shoot (P&S) that fits in your Prada bag and the large SLR professionals use. The DSLR is tempting but seems laden with features and functions beyond your understanding; the P&S is handier but you’re afraid it will limit the artist’s side in you.

Hold it! No reason to ignore the digital P&S. Unlike the film P&S designed for snapshooters, today’s digital P&S comes out of the assembly line packed with sophisticated functions to please even advanced photographers. Often the only difference is that they have non-interchangeable lenses, are not as bulky, and cost less.

Below we check out some of the creative stuff you can do just as well with digital P&S’s as with pro DSLR’s.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.24.05 AM

1. Go Nighttime

See those dramatic nighttime panoramic city shots (cityscapes), lamplit streets, and commercial establishments awash in neon? You can take shots like them without flipping up your built-in flash. Yes, you read it right—without flash.

Unlike film-based P&S cameras, digital P&S’s have an extended shutter speed range and preset functions that allow you to capture an image in relative darkness. This entails long exposures to record an image. In addition

to shutter speeds longer than one second, the B (Bulb) shutter-speed setting keeps the shutter open for as long as the shutter release is pressed.

You can also try the “Night” picture setting (star or quarter-moon icon), which automatically sets long exposures.

In this kind of photography, a tripod is necessary to make sure the photos come out sharp.

2. Go Large

Half a decade ago when I was hesitant to invest in an expensive pro DSLR, I bought a Nikon Coolpix P&S. In my professional work, I was able to use it for a poster shoot and outdoor billboard ads even if it was “just” a three- megapixel P&S.

The key of course was the electronic image enlargement procedure or interpolation employed via the computer and an appropriate computer program to upsize the original file into dimensions that graced the walls of malls and billboard structures atop bus stations along EDSA.

Imagine what you can do with the six or higher megapixel P&S’s these days with the dramatic improvements in software post-processing technology. Post your 12×18 or 16×20 enlargements on your living room wall for everyone to see.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.24.20 AM

3. Go Micro

Want to try photographing a spider weaving its web from three inches away? Welcome to the world of macro photography. Unlike SLR’s (film or digital) which require a special lens you buy separately, digital P&S’s come with a macro- or closeup- capable lens.

That means you can start exploring the world of small things with no additional purchase. One thing I like about macro photography is that it gives us a fresh and different perspective of small objects we often take for granted or ignore. It’s like shrinking people and making them discover a different facet of the world from the point of view of an ant when they look at your macro shots.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.25.08 AM

The “Closeup” picture setting (flower icon) moves the lens into macro mode and favors fast shutter speeds to eliminate or reduce camera shake.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.25.24 AM

4. Go Studio

Digital P&S’s can be used in lieu of the professional DSLR’s in the studio. All you need is a P&S that has a hot shoe where you can slide in an infrared trigger to fire the studio flash units. Alternatively, you can mount a sync adapter into the shoe and link a studio flash with your camera via a synchronization cable of the studio flash. You need one of these accessories to fire the studio flash when you squeeze the shutter release. (Not all P&S’s support this feature.)

For those contemplating a portrait studio in your neighborhood, or an I.D. photo business, this is an inexpensive alternative to investing in a DSLR. Plus, the built-in zoom lenses of P&S’s obviate the need for expensive extra portrait and wideangle lenses.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.25.41 AM

5. Go Unnoticed

You want to photograph something inside a mall, on Ayala Avenue, in Fort Santiago, or on some private property? Bring out a bulky DSLR and you’ll have security personnel on top of you faster than you can say “shutter speed.” Unless you look like a tourist, they will ask you to put away your camera—even if you were just photographing that tiny bug clinging onto the leaf of their indoor plant decor, or the crimson-colored late-afternoon sky overhead. And you never thought shopping malls could own the sky above them.

A digital P&S, on the other hand, is small and looks so harmless and touristy that security people never think it can be used for industrial intelligence purposes (haven’t they heard of James Bond?) or commercial advertising photography.

The full-auto mode of your P&S is ideal for this purpose, as the automation frees you from making settings and looking like a pro.

The shot on the right is a good example of this mindset among security guards. When a guard approached me and said I couldn’t take pictures of the house, I put away my SLR, took out my Nikon Coolpix and snapped away. End of harassment.

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.26.06 AM

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.26.19 AM

6. Go Artistic

If you have always dreamed of being able to create photographs of the type you see in photo exhibits, stop dreaming. Fact is, some of the photos you see in exhibits were taken with a digital P&S. It’s a myth that you need professional, high-end SLR’s to create exhibition-quality photographs.

Digital P&S’s today have tons of features previously found only in professional-level film SLR’s—better even than film SLR’s in some cases. With most P&S’s, you can:

• control the brightness/darkness of your shots (using the plus/minus EV compensation buttons)

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.26.57 AM

• specify the sharp areas in the photo (using the “Portrait” picture setting for narrow focus or the “Landscape” setting for wide focus.

• freeze a bee in mid-flight (using the “Action” picture setting)

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 11.26.36 AM

• turn a waterfalls or running brook into smooth cotton candy (using the “Night” picture setting)

• vary the field of view and perspective rendering (using the built-in zoom lens) and so on.

In the end, you will find that even with the simpler (and cheaper) P&S’s you can create professional-quality or exhibition- quality masterpieces because the most expensive camera is only as good as your eye and imagination!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)