View Full Version : Plein Air & Digital Cameras
02-03-2008, 02:28 PM
Question: Do most of us doing PA work nearly always capture/back-up those moments with a digital camera photos, perhaps later using same to complete our work? I’ve been considering buying a new, smaller digital camera for months, my 2yr old Canon is too large, nearly out-moded and proven unreliable relative to occasional use and battery burning.
A not so favorite topic of mine remains cell-phones/providers. I’ve carried a Palm PDA and separate cell-phone for years, neither of which I would care to do without. My current 2yr Verizon contract runs out early next month, March ’08, and I’ve been perusing “smart-phones” (cell & pda combined) for months. Cell-phone cameras, nor the Verizon “pix-place” for net storage of photos have been worthy and I do NOT care to carry a small digital camera on top of everything else! Friends have warned of extensive problems with “smart-phones” ... Outrageous bills and becoming a cell/e-mail junkie is of little attraction …
… New on the scene: Verizon SamSung 3.0mg “FlipShot” camera phone. Anyone seen it? Reviews are decent on cell aspects and SamSung makes quality cell stuff. The E-Z to use flip-around (turning camera on) digital screen rivals small cameras and has a brightness adjustment. The camera is fully adjustable and even features a … LANDSCAPE MODE! Not only that, one can utilize a 4.0mg Micro SD-Card for photo/music storage and the cell/camera can be linked directly to your computer to down-load, observe, print the photos, etc..
Hence, a small cell-phone with higher qual photos, card storage capacity and direct computer accessibility eliminating another cell provider monthly expense (pix-place) which is no good anyway.
Likely, I'm goin' for it with a little more info.
02-03-2008, 04:01 PM
Hi, Bommer: I borrow my wife's very small, 3.2 Mpx, Minolta XG. It's only about 3"x3" x 1/2" think and I can put it in my bag with out it taking up much room at all. I don't always take it, but when I have taken pictures with it I frequently take a two shot, hand held pan then piece it together at home in PhotoShop. It's mainly just for reference when I get home, as the contrast of digital cameras, even the bigger ones, isn't that great to work from. I have a very good Panasonic Lumix outfit and it has the same problem, plus, it's too big to put in the bag. And.. I would rather work on location anyway; with the feeling of being there as well as the different way we see things in life as opposed to looking at a framed photo. Even the feeling of being cold or wind blow affects how we interpret our surroundings.
02-03-2008, 07:09 PM
I always have a digital with me. I had a small workhorse Olympus with 2.1 megapixels but it had recently taken to having too many moments where it would quit on me (like the day we went to Murano, in Italy--thankfully I had a 35mm with me as back-up). I now have a used Nikon SLR digital and always have that with me. I never know when I will see something that I want to come back to at a later date and I probably wouldn't remember why I wanted to go there without some photo reference. Anyway, the Nikon is a little bulky but it takes high quality photos and doesn't quit on me when I need it most. If you want a nice, small, high quality digital--we got my daughter the Canon D750 for Christmas. It's around $250 but works like a charm and fits in a shirt pocket--has video mode too. You may be able to get it for a little less now that the holidays are over and new models are coming in. I've tried the cell phone camera and found it not to be worth the trouble of transferring to the online folders--the pictures are so blurry and color is awful.
When my old cell phone died, I replaced my separate Palm Pilot & Phone with a Palm Treo (it takes pics/videos, can edit MSWord etc. with it and can sync address lists, calendars -- loads of stuff). If you are thinking of getting one, I'd recommend it. The other ones you mention sound great too but I haven't used them so I have no idea. :)
02-03-2008, 10:58 PM
I just recently bought an HP photosmart R742 with 7 megapixels. It is very tiny, and has an amazing amount of functions for such a small camera. it also has a rechargable battery.
I know you said you didn't want to carry both a camera and a phone, but if you can't find a phone that takes good pics, you should consider this camera. I saw it on sale this week at Office Depot for $99.
02-08-2008, 08:20 PM
Most of my experience is landscape and sports photography, I am relatively new to the painting side. I shot between 15,000 and 100,000 frames a year. Let me pass on a little bit of experience I have learned for using photography to assist my wife and I in painting. If you are looking for a 4x6" or 5x7" reference pictures, mega-pixels is not that important. You will find litle difference between 3.1, 4, 5, 7, or 8mp. The key thing is knowing the manual settings. White balance MUST be changed from "auto" (AWB) to cloudy (even in full sun, most brands will look better on the cloudy setting). The second thing I do is get a small tripod, or support. Even the "flexible" ones attached to your pochade box will be fine. Thirdly, turn off the flash. Auto or fill flash will produce inconsitent results on most landscape type shots. Those three items alone will improve any small camera significantly.
As for "Landscape" v. "Portrait", etc., the key factor is to make sure it does not override your White Balance and Flash settings. Beyond that, the "landscape" is usually better, but I spend most time in full manual. On a point and shoot, full manual really means that it absolutly will not override any of your special settings while still auto setting shutter speed, aperature, etc.; it is more "semi-automatic."
02-08-2008, 08:36 PM
Good points, Marc. Another thing that really helps is to set your sensitivity to ISO 100, unless you are shooting in some low light areas. Most camera let you do this and it's in your menu. Most digital cameras, especially small ones, suffer from noise at anything above 100, some will shoot cleanly up to 200. Many of the larger digital cameras alos suffer from this problem.
02-08-2008, 08:57 PM
I always carry a camera around with me because there always things that I find interesting.
I take picture when I am out in the field but have not painted from a photo, mostly I like to just take pictures because it's enjoyable. :)
02-09-2008, 02:51 AM
Thanks for the comments folks ... I do concur with Marc's comments as to "little diff in MP between 3 .. 7", etc.. That's why I brought up this new "flipshot" cell phone with the 3.0mg camera with the "Landscape" mode too. I happened to peruse one, again this eve, at a Verizon kiosk, Likely, I'll go for it in a few weeks subject to the usual cell contract renewals, etc..
I've been an avid photo buff for decades and one of my gripes about small digital point & shoots is the lack of a viewfinder (seemingly only retained in some Sony & Canon cameras). It's difficult to compose/capture a scene in bright outdoor light, a typical PA challenge with those silly screens which, also, burn up batteries. While this new cell phone does NOT have a viewer, the brightness is controllable and I'd sacrifice the viewer for the nominal weight of this unit.
I'm not banking on using this cell/camera phone for main pics of holiday travels, etc.. More so to back-up PA scenes for later reference, etc..
02-09-2008, 09:01 AM
I've stopped taking my digital camera with me. I'd rather let my efforts stand on their own. If I have to do some touch-up in the studio, I try to do it soon after and from memory. I find this works really well. Also, the painting by then has become a "self-contained" playground, and any adjustments I make are in the form of balancing the existing elements.
(What, me a purist? ;) )
On the other hand, I DO take lots of digital photos. However, I find it very frustrating to take photos and paint in the same outing. When I'm snapping photos, I'm often thinking I really should be painting. And when I'm painting, I'm often thinking I really should be snapping photos. Having both media available to me makes it very tempting to switch from one to the other.
These days, I go on either a photo outing OR on a painting outing - never do I try to mix the two. I am much happier.
02-09-2008, 09:31 AM
I'm with Michael. I have a Canon XTi digital SLR which I absolutely love but, if I take it with me when painting I find I never use the pictures to paint from anyway. And any adjustments in the studio are done from memory or, more likely, according to what I think will make a better painting.
02-09-2008, 10:14 AM
I'm with Michael in that I find I usually don't take the camera, forget it, or that the photos are rarely used, but unlike Michael, I can pat my stomach and rub my head at the same time with no problem.. :D I've also found the pictures do help occasionally when I get back to the house and the next day something looks odd in the painting; I can look at the photo to see and learn what it was that was throwing me off.
In other words, it doesn't interfere a bit with painting and is sometimes a useful tool for me, when I remember to use it. When I take the photos it takes about a minute and is done just before painting, and usually after drawing/sketching with charcoal, or with paint. I use it this way sometimes, just to frame in what I'm looking at, sort of like those string frames artists have used for centuries. It's more useful for me when domposing complex perspectives of buildings, etc.
What always fascinates me is how a camera can show such a difference from what our eye/mind does with a composition, the camera being at a real disadvantage, usually, but it can also be useful this way. The Minolta Dimage X I mentioned does have a pretty good viewfinder so I'm not stuck using the screen in bright light.
02-10-2008, 01:33 PM
Doane- Thanks you've pretty well capsulized it for me ... "it doesn't interfere a bit with painting and is sometimes a useful tool for me, when I remember to use it."
I'm just looking for a quick pic with enough quality to be "reference material" of a PA scene, conditions, etc. My goal in recent weeks has been to refine my SolTek bag down to minimalist weight and a decent combo cell-phone/camera would help, bonus being that I seldom forget my cell, therefore, would have a camera too!
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