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Oo Gin Lee
Digital Life, The Straits Times
Saturday, May 17, 2014

News, Science And Tech

Hang on to your camera for good kid photos

Digital Life, The Straits Times | Oo Gin Lee | Saturday, May 17, 2014

The best camera is the one you have in your hand. Sadly, that is why my two-year-old Sony DSLR-like camera has been sitting in my camera cabinet.

The smartphone has become the most popular camera today, simply because it is almost everyone's constant companion.

For many people, it is their only camera. That is why smartphone makers consistently highlight their devices' photo-taking features.

Not so long ago, the selling factor was the megapixel count.

Today's smartphone cameras offer panoramic, low-light and high dynamic range (HDR) shots. HDR is a special technique for improving image quality in a photo with extremes of lighting conditions.

Some phones are now even waterproof and double as video recorders.

So, is it time to ditch your camera and keep your smartphone handy? The answer, for me at least, is still a definite no.

Let me first say I am no expert. I am still a point-and-shoot person who is forced to learn a few extra tricks to earn some respect from my kids.

Despite the marketing hype swirling about smartphone cameras, I doubt that they can snap sharp photos of my kids running around. Better cameras are needed as more light is required to capture movement in full flight.

That was why I bought my first DSLR - the Canon 300D - a decade or so ago, after my second daughter was born. My mid-range compact camera was simply not good enough to capture her in action.

Outdoors, at the pool, it was fine. But indoors, she was often a blur to my lens when she was not sitting still. Using the tiny built-in flash became a turn-off. The colours were quite unnatural and left some subjects looking like aliens with red eyes.

I invested in a better lens - one with a superior aperture, or F-stop number, in geek parlance. This would let in more light to capture motion in dim conditions.

Then I learnt that using a big add-on flash and bouncing its light off the ceiling instead of aiming it directly at the kids would produce more natural-looking photos.

This meant that my camera bag got even bulkier and harder to lug. And my 300D could not shoot video.

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