Modern digital point-n-shoot cameras really are marvelous little devices. A cheap memory card can hold hundreds of images, which is far more convenient than any roll of 36-exposure film. You can upload pictures to your computer via the camera (with supplied cable) or via a card reader, which you will have to purchase. Many of these marvels come with the ability to sync directly to picture printers so that one can forgo the entire computer process and said printers often offer a host of basic photo editing options!
Really…..how completely and utterly spoiled we have become photographically speaking. But it’s not all sunshine and bunnies, is it? Consider….
Taken with my old Canon A95 with on-camera flash. Sure, it’s not completely garish. It’s not completely over-saturated with a burst of bright white light from the camera’s flash, but this is, in small part, thanks to a bit of post-processing done with software before uploading said picture to Flickr. But it’s still pretty awful in the way that almost all flash shots are when they are taken with an on-camera flash, regardless of whether the camera is digital or film. Certainly one can/could reduce the flash’s output to reduce this problem, but that notion introduces two other problems: (1) probably 99% of all casual digital point-n-shoot camera users do not know they can decrease their flash output, and (2) even if one does decrease the flash’s output the background in any given picture becomes very dark, while the subject matter becomes better lit. Not exactly a win-win, eh?
Really? Is this the best I could have done? My great friend Jennifer forever immortalized in an over-flashed image. Is this really I how I wish to remember her? I think not. But here is where the wonder of the digital single lens reflex (SLR) camera comes into play. I could just as easily use my Canon 40D’s built in flash to shoot with, but the results would be markedly similar to those examples above. Or I could mount my Canon 580EX II flash unit to my camera and blaze away with even more power only to get worse results.
Or I can take full advantage of the ability to re-direct the light coming from my flash via the flash unit’s head being able to turn, pivot, etc. so that I can bounce light off walls or ceilings in an attempt to both diffuse the light and to bring it from a more flattering direction. And if I really had the time, the money, the inclination and time with a model I could do all sorts of neat things with lighting. Trust me: I do want to do such. It’s one area that a person can really have fun with if they have the right equipment and mindset.
So, while the modern digital point-n-shoot camera is a marvelous invention and has revolutionized photography for the masses, I think one of the greatest moments thus far in my amateur photography life was when I realized that flash pictures didn’t have to look like the above if one made smarter use of their new dSLR and flash unit.
Thank you Strobist.