Just about everything I know about photography I learned by osmosis by sitting near a couple of pros in the graphics department where I work. I know just enough to understand that my photos are technically lacking in many ways. All I have going for me is that I know what I like when I see it, and I’m stubborn enough to figure out how to get the most from the limited tools that I employ.
Speaking of tools, I’m frequently asked what kind of camera I use. It’s a cheapie Canon 3S IS (now discontinued and replaced by the SX10 IS). It’s what is classified as a “super zoom” camera. Super zooms are essentially point-and-shoot cameras with long zoom lenses and some added manual controls. They’re versatile cameras, but they have poor image quality in comparison to even the least expensive digital SLR. I think they make pretty good on-bike cameras because they’re relatively small and light, they have a long zoom range, and they’re cheap enough that you won’t kill yourself if you drop one when you’re attempting a Panda Portrait (Can you imagine dropping a $10,000 camera while goofing around on your bike?).
Russ Roca, the Eco-Friendly Bicycling Photographer, is a professional photographer living and working car-free in Southern California. It’s patently obvious by looking at his blogs that he’s a real pro who employs real pro equipment. Visit his Epicurean Cyclist and Eco-Friendly Bicycling Photographer blogs to have a look.
Russ recently added an on-bike camera to supplement his professional equipment. This is quoted from a blog post from a couple of months ago:
I’m becoming less and less enamored with carrying a DSLR on bicycle trips. My current camera that I take with me is usually a D200 or D300 with a 17-55mm and 12-24mm lens.
For one, they’re not cheap to replace. They’re also not light. A single camera and lens takes up ALL the room in my Ostrich handlebar bag. When I’m tired, I’m less inclined to take it out of the handlebar bag and out of it’s separate case to take photos.
Russ eventually ended up with a Canon G10 – you can read all about it here. It looks like a super camera and, along with the Panasonic Lumix LX3, would be on my short list if I was to purchase a camera today.
So I’m struggling with this idea that I need to upgrade my camera. I’m never going to be a pro, and I don’t even see photography as a hobby per se; it’s more something that I enjoy that ties in with this blog and my graphic design business. I’m concerned that I may invest mucho bucks in a DSLR system, then end up using my cheapie on-bike camera most of the time anyway. Maybe I should just make do with what I have — there is, afterall, something to be said for wringing every last bit out of a tool.
So, I’d be curious to hear what others are using for their on-bike camera. Do you risk taking your expensive DSLR on the bike, knowing there’s the possibility of strewing that expensive glass all over the road, or do you willingly make the sacrifice in image quality and carry a less expensive point-and-shoot camera for the peace of mind? And if you don’t have a DSLR, are you happy with your current point-and-shoot camera, or would you like to have better image quality and more features?