Tuesday, May 12, 2009

In praise of the point-and-shoot

Untitled, San Francisco, January 2009. Leica D-Lux4.

Like a true compulsive gearhead, I have invested a lot of money in my Leica M8 system. "Enough to renovate a kitchen" is how a Norwegian friend brutally put it. But in my stable of pricey gear, the real work horses are my point-and-shoot cameras, those knock-'em-around, stuff-'em-in-your-jeans standbys that I carry along with me everyday like a cell phone or house keys.

I use a Leica D-Lux4, a beautifully designed compact that is equipped with a bright and fast Summicron f/2.0 lens. Unlike most point-and-shoot cameras, the D-Lux4 can be dressed up with all kinds of accessories. I outfitted mine with a 52mm adapter that a camera shop in Washington State custom makes for the D-Lux4. With the adapter I can add photo filters and lens attachments, such as a 2x teleconverter, a 20mm wide angle, and an 18mm fisheye lens, that make the camera more versatile and fun to use.

On the 5:36 pm train, BART, March 2009. Fuji Finepix F200EXR.

My other point-and-shoot is the
Fuji Finepix F200EXR, a remarkable instrument that practically sees in the dark. The picture above, shot at 1600 ISO at 1/12th of a second, would have been a fuzzy, shaky mess with a different small camera, even the D-Lux4. The F200EXR promises high resolution, low noise, and high dynamic ranges, and it actually delivers on all of them.

People tend to apologize for using a point-and-shoot camera. "It's
just a point-and-shoot," they would say, as if introducing a poor distant relative. The implication, of course, is that the point-and-shoot is not a DSLR, which is the hotshot, well-blinged, multi-mega-pixeled cousin. But digital technology has advanced so much in recent years that there's nothing "just" about the point-and-shoot anymore. In fact, one would have a hard time nowadays distinguishing images taken by a small camera and a DSLR.

I love my big pricey M8, but I'm equally proud of my point-and-shoot cameras, and I will never apologize for using them. Without them I would certainly be taking less pictures. And for me taking pictures is the most important thing of all.


  1. Thanks for the lecture, from now on i will not belittle my point-and-shoot Cybershot, hehe.

  2. ha ha, that's the spirit. just keep using it.