A friend just pointed me to the new Canon PowerShot SX30 IS, a newly announced super zoom.
“Why bother with something like a micro four thirds camera?”, he asked. All he needs is the super zoom capability. “It has a 14.1 megapixel sensor; why do I care whether it is micro four thirds or not?”
Well… you know I’ll weigh in on that.
When not using an SLR, I like Micro Four Thirds cameras like my Panasonic Lumix GF-1:
Panasonic GF1, photo Michael Willems
And for some very specific reasons.
- A larger sensor means lower noise. The higher the pixel density (pixels per square mm), the lower the signal-to-noise ratio, and hence, the higher the noise in any given picture. That is why Canon very sensibly went down in Megapixels between the G10 and the G11 (by the way, the G12 was just announced).
- Hence, less ability on small sensor cameras like the Powershot to go to higher ISO settings. I can take good pictures on my full-frame camera at 3200 ISO. Forget even 800 ISO on a typical small frame camera. And that’s physics, so there’s not much to be done about this.
- Inability on small sensor cameras to go to selective depth of field. The aperture as a ratio of the sensor size determines “how blurry I can make the background”. Large sensor = ability to really blur the background. On my micro four thirds Panasonic, which has a sensor almost as large as many SLRs have now, I can create really blurry backgrounds at f/1.7. On a small point and shoot: forget that, even at the lowest “F-number”, your background is still crisp and sharp.
So that is why zoom ability and small size are not everything.
Saturday I’ll be here:
Mono, country home (with flash)
But it will be rearranged and full of lights. This is my Mono, Ont. Country home, where Joseph Marranca and I are holding our all-day Advanced Flash workshop.
That snap was taken with the little Panasonic GF1, with its built in little flash raised to very successfully fill in the shadows.
A quick tip, today, for new or inexperienced photographers. But one that some experienced photographers forget sometimes, too.
In a good photo, you draw attention to your subject. You can do that by framing, by using converging lines, by making the subject large, by surrounding it by negative space… or by blurring the background.
If like me you like blurry backgrounds, how do you achieve them? Using a camera with the largest possible sensor size, use any of these methods:
- Use aperture mode (A/Av) and select a large aperture (i.e. a small F-number, like 2.8). This is why lenses with those low F-numbers are so good, and so desirable, and worth paying for.
- Use a longer lens (zoom in).
- Get closer.
Or do several of these at a time, like in this snap I took during a tweet-up the other day:
iPad in hand, by Michael Willems
The blurry background shows just enough to make the viewer work, to understand what is happening; but it also accentuates the iPad very nicely.
I used the Panasonic GF1 with its 20mm f/1.7 prime lens set to f/1.7 (yes, a very low F-number).
Toronto, 27 July 2010:
Yonge-Dundas Square, by Michael Willems
If a rainbow, which only happens to an observer, happens unobserved, is it still a rainbow?