Weekend Open Forum: Do you use a dedicated camera?

By on August 10, 2012, 6:00 PM

One of my passions outside of computer hardware and gadgets is photography. I picked up my first DSLR camera in 2005 and upgraded to a nicer model a few years later before deciding to sell the kit and invest in a micro four thirds system last year.

I’m far from what would be considered a professional but I do have a true respect for the art and strive to get better each time I go out. Furthermore, I think that photos are an important way for us to capture memories and share them with friends and family later in life.

The situation I’ve noticed in the past few years is that people are relying on low quality cell phone cameras as their primary (and perhaps only) method of snapping photos. While I’m a firm believer that the best camera is the one you have with you, I also don’t understand why someone would want to remember timeless events like a graduation, wedding or family vacation with grainy, low-quality mobile phone pictures.

With this week’s Open Forum, we’d like to know if you have a dedicated camera (film or digital) or if you rely on your mobile phone camera for all of your photography needs.




User Comments: 60

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Guest said:

I currently use an old (some what old) Sony DSC HX1 super zoom camera. It does everything I need with great zoom and great macro abilities. Id love to get a good DSLR. But I would have to buy multiple lens to do the same things as my current camera. Granted a DSLR would be better in every single way, the simplicity on the all in one camera is hard to get rid of.

With that said, phone cameras are "fun" but should only be used as a last resort.

Also, instagram is the devil. Oh, good for you...you took a picture of yourself or food and added a sun washed stupid filter! Thats art! NOT.

ikesmasher said:

Yup, right now its a Sony Cybershot point and shoot but I was thinking of picking up a cheaper DSLR, a Canon Rebel or something.

Guest said:

If I'm going to an event where I do plan on taking pictures, I bring a Lumix point-and-shoot with me. I'm far from being a professional or even an enthusiast, I care enough about picture quality and lighting that the difference between the casual flat graininess of a cellphone camera and the sharp, time-frozen clarity of a dedicated unit really irks me.

Plus, I don't want to blow through my cellphone battery taking dozens of pictures and hoping it'll last through the afternoon, evening, and night.

Staff
Shawn Knight Shawn Knight said:

I agree with the first guest post in that I despise Instagram, specifically for the same reasons. Adding a lame filter to your photo only makes it worse. And the sad thing is, I'm seeing a lot of amateur photographers taking the same route and their customers seem to love it. Ugh...

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

I do really like nice quality photos, and subsequently crappy photos bother me. I'd try to use a DSLR every time but sometimes it's a lot less convenient. Small point and shoot cameras are usually decent under good lighting and a steady hand. A DSLR is sometimes too bulky, and too slow to setup for small casual things.

Morgawr said:

I'm probably what you would classify as a hobbyist photographer. I use a Nikon D80 (DSLR) along with an assortment of lenses (standard zoom, telephoto, macro, and a nifty-fifty) along with a tripod with a quick release head (probably the best purchase you can make if you are into landscapes). Sadly I only use one filter (a real one, not that instagram bs) on a frequent basis (a very strong neutral density filter for flowing water shots). I've been meaning to expand to a set of graduated neutral density filters but they are quite expensive.

I've gone to shooting exclusively in RAW and edit in Lightroom. (Before I was using Paint.NET, which sadly doesn't have raw support.) Another software I have frequently used is autostitch. (2-d panorama maker)

I have a DA profile (http://leif-h.deviantart.com/) although I have a back log of pictures I haven't added.

veLa veLa said:

I have access to a better camera but for the most part my Galaxy S II works just fine. Especially after the ICS update.

Guest said:

I guess I am older as I agree that camera phones and even point and shoots leave a lot to be desired. I started with 35mm as a kid, acquired a D50 digital 7 years back and have recently decided to upgrade to a D5100 with several new lenses. Photography is a great hobby and like the author I am just an amateur and cameras are another toy like computers that you can contiually upgrade and have fun with.

dmill89 dmill89 said:

I usually use a Nikon D50 DSLR I have an assortment of lenses but normally use the 28-200mm Tamron which I find very versatile and useful in most situations, The D50 is kind of dated but it still takes great pictures, the only real disadvantage is that it doesn't support SDHC so it is limited to 2gb cards, but it has the auto-focus motor in the body which allows for a much wider selection of lenses, especially aftermarket ones, where as newer low to mid range Nikon DSLRs no longer have the motor in the body and require special lenses with their own internal motor to use the autofocus feature, only the high-end models still have the body motor.

I also have an old Nikon F3 film SLR (top of the line circa mid to late 80s) that gets used occasionally, as a mechanical advance manual-focus body it is far from high tech these days but it is made of solid aluminum and brass making it nearly bullet-proof (these were actually used by many combat photographers back in their day), it always works no matter what the conditions.

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I own a Nikon D700. I Love that camera but I won't argue the usefulness of having a decent point and shoot, or even as a last resort the camera on my phone.

Guest said:

My first job was sales staff in a camera shop, way back in 1984. I learned all sorts about cameras and photography and my first big camera was a Canon AE1. I used to love developing photos myself - science and art combined - and disassembling and cleaning my gear. My first digital was a Minolta 7i. I currently have a Nikon D5100 + 16-85 and a Tamron 60 f/2 macro. I have tried working as a travel writer/photographer for Insight Guides based in Singapore but it didn't pay well. I do the occasional wedding for friends. I used to love photography but digital has killed that passion so now I'm more about enjoying a moment, rather than capturing it.

Guest said:

Posting as Guest since some things said on the internet can bite you in the ass in real life.

Yes, I use a Nikon D3100, and I absolutely love it. I'm no professional either, although I'm hoping to be, since Photography is probably a job you'd always have fun with.

Here's my small portfolio: http://photobucket.com/GiuseppeCantatore

Password is: techspot :for all the albums.

rvnwlfdroid said:

I guess I'm somewhere in the middle. If I know I'm going to an event that pictures would be a good way to remember (capture) the moment then I will bring our nicer point and shoot. For those times where a picture is worth a thousand words (spur of the moment) then the 8mp camera on my phone does a fine job. The camera app opens fast and can take the picture pretty quick as well (from power the screen on to picture being saved 4-5 seconds), that's faster then some of the dedicated point and shoot's I've seen out there. Since 8mp seems to be the growing (mobile) standard it's going to come down to the quality of the optics and shutter speeds that the manufactures put in their devices that would make a difference for practical/quality use.

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

I'm personally done with point and shoots. I bought a DSLR a couple of years ago and that's probably the best camera you could use for informal shoots, celebrations, etc. and then for everyday stuff the latest smartphones take better pictures than the last point and shoot I paid a few hundred dollars for just a few short years ago... and of course, it's on you all the time.

stan4 said:

I just bought a Cybershot DSC-W630 and I'm glad I did... now I can save those moments in 16 Megapixel quality

p51d007 said:

I started with a old 120 film camera in the 60's, pretty much got out of photography until the early 80's. Had an old Canon AE-1 with a few lenses, got to where the shutter stopped working, moved onto a rebel. Started off with a whopping 1.3megapixel sony in the mid 90's, kept progressing to better & better digitals to the Pansonix FZ50. Made the switch to a Nikon D5000

a few years ago, prime, couple zooms, dedicated flash, ring flash, filters. Shoot everything raw, process in photoshop. To each his own, but I'd rather carry a real camera than a phone camera.

Packing 8+ megapixels in what amounts to a pinhole camera is just nuts without proper lighting. Too much noise.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

Wow there's a lot of photographers here!

I'd guess that I'm even more of an amateur than most of you, with my Canon T1i and the two lenses that come with the kit. I've barely begun learning, but I do have a thing for nice quality pictures and some manual control, and point and shoots can't provide.

Guest said:

Photography is one of my favorite hobbies. I'll take my camera along with me If I think there will be a good chance of capturing something interesting. Even though I am as guilty as the next person of taking snapshots, especially on vacations, I really dislike that style of "photography". Given the chance, I will take the time to wait for the proper lighting and create an interesting composition. I use my camera mostly for landscapes and macros and I don't especially like taking photos of people.

I started out with film back in the 70's and used to develop and print color slides. As another poster said, the combination of chemistry and art is hard to resist. I owned several 35mm SLRs and eventually ended up with a Canon A-1, possibly the best enthusiast camera ever made. I have 8 lenses and many other accessories for this film workhorse.

I upgraded to digital with a Canon Rebel XT about 6 years ago and have never gone back to film, mostly because of the cost of developing. One thing I don't miss about film is the need to ration the number of shots you take. With digital you are free to "snap away" and experiment. I shoot everything in raw and use Paintshop Pro to process my images. It's almost like being in the dark room again but with the added benefit of an undo command.

I personally think smart phone cameras are nothing but expensive toys. The sensors are so small that there is virtually NO low light capability and don't even get start on using the flash. I really dislike using the flash on the XT but smartphone camera flashes are joke and I've been involved with their design.

Since phone cameras use small sensors, it's virtually impossible to get a good wide angle or selective focus because of the optics. The effective focal length range from short wide angle to long telephoto and the small apertures result in almost everything in the frame being in focus.

Point and shoots are OK, especially the high end ones and the 4/3rds ILCs are nearly as good and versatile as DSLRs.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I use my Nikon D5100 for most everything, and it goes everywhere with me. I shoot mainly with prime lenses (35mm f/1.8G; 50mm f/1.8G; and an 85mm f/1.8g), but my 35mm gets the most mileage out of those. I also have a Tamron 70-300 SP Di USD XLD VC that helps me get those pervy shots when I'm at the beach or spying on the neighbors (wink wink).

I'm looking to upgrade to the Nikon D600 if it ever comes out, but if not I may end up saving for the D800.

I've also got an Olympus OM-4Ti that I use for certain projects. It's rare that I need to use film, but as long as they make film, I'll always keep some on hand.

karl@nikon007 karl@nikon007 said:

nikon d3100 twin zoom vr kit thanks ...............x

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm looking to upgrade to the Nikon D600 if it ever comes out, but if not I may end up saving for the D800.

Here have some unsolicited advice. TL;DR: D7000 might be your next go-to DX camera.

The D7000 would be a fair DX to DX upgrade from the D5100. It's basically a D300s with better video, better metering and better noise control, while shooting slightly slower (6fps max vs the D300s's 8fps with the vertical grip). The D700 (if you're willing to buy used) is a better all around camera than the D800 in terms of absolute versatility; the later is basically a studio camera (and a really, REALLY good one at that), but both will let you take full advantage of your 50mm and 85mm in their full frame glory. Your tamron and your 35 will make you suffer in DX crop mode most likely on a full frame, and you use your 35 the most so that might be detrimental.

Can't make any comments about the D600 as it has yet to be announced.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm looking to upgrade to the Nikon D600 if it ever comes out, but if not I may end up saving for the D800.

Here have some unsolicited advice. TL;DR: D7000 might be your next go-to DX camera.

The D7000 would be a fair DX to DX upgrade from the D5100. It's basically a D300s with better video, better metering and better noise control, while shooting slightly slower (6fps max vs the D300s's 8fps with the vertical grip). The D700 (if you're willing to buy used) is a better all around camera than the D800 in terms of absolute versatility; the later is basically a studio camera (and a really, REALLY good one at that), but both will let you take full advantage of your 50mm and 85mm in their full frame glory. Your tamron and your 35 will make you suffer in DX crop mode most likely on a full frame, and you use your 35 the most so that might be detrimental.

Can't make any comments about the D600 as it has yet to be announced.

I hear you. If I stick with DX, I'll pick up a D7000, or whatever its successor turns out to be. If I end up buying a full frame camera, I'm still going to keep the D5100, as it performs brilliantly for such a low end camera, so lenses aren't really a major concern for me. Like you said, my 50mm and 85mm should get me started just fine. Lens shopping is one of my favorite things to do though, so I know I'll be declaring a Jihad on my checking account before the dust settles from my next camera purchase.

Guest said:

I use a DLSR (sony a580) with an assortment of lenses, a dedicated flash, tripot, filters, etc.

While I'm a firm believer that the best camera is the one you have with you, I also don't understand why someone would want to remember timeless events like a graduation, wedding or family vacation with grainy, low-quality mobile phone pictures.

Couldn't agree more. Because of this, I'm looking to maybe buy a high-end compact (manual controls, fast lens, RAW). Or maybe if Nokia puts the camera from their PureView phone into one of their windows 8 phones, I will finally get a smartphone, since you have this along all the time.

Guest said:

Yeah, but I've abandoned DSLRs in favour of Micro Four Thirds, so no need for a separate point and shoot now either really, just one camera for everything.

With Nikon and Canon coming out with their own EVIL systems now I can't really see any reason to bother with a DSLR these days, unless you really are a high-end professional (most people who think they are aren't) and getting paid at least a five figure sum per shoot. Most of the EVIL bodies on the market are superior to entry-level SLRs like the 1100D/D3200 anyway.

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

I've had a Canon 40D for a couple years, got a 17-85mm a 80-200mm & a nice 50mm lens for it, it really is amazing how good photos you can get with a little reading up on the subject.

I recommend the book "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson.

It amazes me how many people that buy a DSLR are not willing to read a couple books to get better, they expect to get great photos when using the full auto modes. (Here's a tip, the full auto often works better on a point & shoot compared to a true DSLR)

But I still advocate that the best camera is the one you bring with you, there are some times I regret not having brought my DSLR, then all I have to fall back on is my Nokia N8, granted it has a best in class phone camera but it's still crap even compared to my now 10 year old point & shoot...

Guest said:

It amazes me how many people that buy a DSLR are not willing to read a couple books to get better, they expect to get great photos when using the full auto modes. (Here's a tip, the full auto often works better on a point & shoot compared to a true DSLR)

Exactly. If you shoot auto with your DSLR, then you don't need a DSRL.

fida1989 said:

I am an old 7mp Canon. I hardly use it, I even forgot when I used it last. My Galaxy SL does it's job well.

Guest said:

lol @ knocking filters from a free smartphone app to equipment used by actual photographers. *smh*

mike1959 mike1959 said:

I have long had interests in motor racing and aircraft, and I see a day out at an event as a 'misson' to get the best photos I can, with whatever camera I have.

My first good camera was a 35mm AE1, then I spent £100 on a Fuji 4MP digital camera in '05.

I could not believe how good the images were, I am still surprised at the quality on screen.

Have gone through a Fuji S5700d and now have a Fuji HS10 (x30), have good days out at many events, recently in the crowd with the Olympic flame being brought through my town.

It's as much the day as the camera.

Denooon said:

I would agree with authors point, can't stand the greany pictures, but at the same time DSLR are to big to carry around. That why I upgraded to a new Sony Nex-5 N, small size, good picture quality, it would be nice to go all the way up to Sony-Nex 7 but they as way to much money for it.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

I have a Canon S3IS that I use as my primary for anything I deem important. I have a slim 12MP Sanyo that I take if I want a backup or just don't want to take a bulkier camera. The 6MP S3IS takes far better pictures.

eurodj101 eurodj101 said:

I have both a 4s and a Gs3 so either would do if I need a quick pic but when I plan for it I take my trusty NEX-3 and I absolutely love it!

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

I had a P*** poor Kodak on my first trip to Europe and missed several shots due to the poor response time at power-on - - Corrected that mistake with a Lumix Z58 which is ready in millseconds

I has the point-shoot for the wife and I use the P.A.S for low light indoors w/o flash. It's just great and

love the color balance and sensitivity - - clear up to ISO 1600. With a pouch on the belt, I can take it anywhere.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I have a Nikon D90 and carry it around with me on all my trips, events, etc. After 2 years my iPhone only had about 100 pictures on it. In my opinion a decent camera is an essential for everyone, they capture memories forever.

Still cracks me up when I see tourists taking pictures with their iPad

Staff
Jos Jos said:

I have a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT, which I take with me on trips. But nowadays most of the time I just use my phone for convenience.

Staff
Shawn Knight Shawn Knight said:

Oh yeah, I totally forgot to touch on the iPad camera users. I saw this probably half a dozen times during vacation and always made a note to point out how silly it was to my friends

Guest said:

No, I don't.

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I'm looking to upgrade to the Nikon D600 if it ever comes out, but if not I may end up saving for the D800.

Here have some unsolicited advice. TL;DR: D7000 might be your next go-to DX camera.

The D7000 would be a fair DX to DX upgrade from the D5100. It's basically a D300s with better video, better metering and better noise control, while shooting slightly slower (6fps max vs the D300s's 8fps with the vertical grip). The D700 (if you're willing to buy used) is a better all around camera than the D800 in terms of absolute versatility; the later is basically a studio camera (and a really, REALLY good one at that), but both will let you take full advantage of your 50mm and 85mm in their full frame glory. Your tamron and your 35 will make you suffer in DX crop mode most likely on a full frame, and you use your 35 the most so that might be detrimental.

Can't make any comments about the D600 as it has yet to be announced.

I hear you. If I stick with DX, I'll pick up a D7000, or whatever its successor turns out to be. If I end up buying a full frame camera, I'm still going to keep the D5100, as it performs brilliantly for such a low end camera, so lenses aren't really a major concern for me. Like you said, my 50mm and 85mm should get me started just fine. Lens shopping is one of my favorite things to do though, so I know I'll be declaring a Jihad on my checking account before the dust settles from my next camera purchase.

Sounds like a plan. I too know the feeling of molten hot plastic burning a hole through my pants whenever I start looking at camera gear. =p

Gars Gars said:

you guys (above) just explained it to me

thanx and get the better /shot/equipment/time/

shot

ofc that matter

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

No but I'd like to. I'm in the market for a good used dslr

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

If I want a quality picture I do, if I just want a picture my phone works fine.

p51d007 said:

To add to that..."if you shoot with nothing but an all in one lens, by a digi-superzoom, you don't need a dSLR.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

"I also don?t understand why someone would want to remember timeless events like a graduation, wedding or family vacation with grainy, low-quality mobile phone pictures."

From a practical point of view, I very very rarely look at photos at all. And when I do look say at a black and white picture of my parents or myself as a kid or an off colour grainy video from those days I never think "I wish I had that in HD". It simply doesn't matter. The pictures I took with my first < 1Mpix digital point and shoot are just as valuable as those I take with my current 12Mpix (IIRC) camera. In fact I usually reduce the resolution of the camera, because I think anything over 5Mpix isn't really worth the space.

I still appreciate having a wide zoom range and decent light sensitivity, which is why I still think that having a camera outside a phone is useful, but in case when the phone works, that's good enough.

I can understand photography as a hobby, and why people might want really good quality cameras, but I think it's more about the satisfaction of getting good picture than how the photos might look a few years down the road.

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

(Wow what a bunch of typos. Where's that edit function?)

madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

(Wow what a bunch of typos. Where's that edit function?)

If you go into the forums, you can edit there. here's a [link] that'll take you to your post.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

I'm no photographer, my Dad is one of them so I try to stay out of that area of expertise as much as possible however, I hav eto admit I have been rather impressed with my iPhone 4S's camera, for instance we went to an aqarium and the iPhone was taking pictures that even my Dad was supprised as to how well they came out for a phone camera.

So the answer is no, I don't bother with a separate camera, my Phone camera is awesome and I don't need another item in my pocket / something else I can drop and break.

Ubwarcher07 said:

I have been using my cellphone's 3MP camera just until last month. I decided to buy a Sony Nex 5n 16MP with the 18-55mm lens kit. Now when I look back at my old photos, I'm horrified at the amount of noise and motion blur. What was I thinking!? Apparently not clearly, no pun intended. I now have an urge to bring my dedicated camera everywhere!

Guest said:

Heck yes, photography is a great hobby. It gets you out from behind the computer where you can get a view of real life!

I started out with a 35mm film SLR when I was a kid (hmmm, that was a Minolta SRT-101...it's been a while...), and have gone through all sorts of medium- to high-end 35mm and medium format gear through the years.

Now I shoot a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, a fabulous piece of technology. It's more fun now than it's ever been!

KidChaos said:

uh.. I have 3 cameras: point n shoot pocket Sony for just fun; older Canon SLR fixed body/lens; and Canon 40D. Phone just used when don't have any of the others handy. Honestly phone pics are horrible no matter the brand; ok for getting "something" but can't even come close to a good shot through a DSLR or SLR 35mm

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