Columnist Norman Silverstone’s wife Lesley captures her peach clafouti using her new Nikon Coolpix P7100. She used the P program mode (fully automatic)

Columnist goes with the flow to take photos

Why would someone buy a 10 mb camera and then shoot images in a 2 mb size? Ace photographer Norman Silverstone knows.

In December I had to go to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital to have a cancer operation. I knew that there are only two ways out of the hospital: dead or alive. Well guess what: I made it, because here I am in the flesh writing this column in my PJ’s and bathrobe, typing away while listening to the soundtrack from the movie The Beach.

After the operation I was told to not lift anything for about a month, then only 10 pounds for at least three months. All of the burden of running a house, hauling wood, garbage and so on, has fallen on my patient, loving wife, Lesley.

Worried that I would not be able to manage the stairs to the upstairs bedroom, the “library” on the main floor became my temporary room. The first thing that I did was to haul my camera, then the lens, timer and tripod from my working area downstairs …verrry slowly.

I set up the Nikon with my 70–210mm f2.8 lens on the tripod facing outside. The 70–210mm f2.8 lens is so big and heavy that it has its own tripod mounting screw hole. The reason being that if the tripod was screwed into the Nikon body instead of the lens, the weight of the lens would put undue pressure on the bayonet camera mount and could cause the mount to bend or buckle.

I attached the MC 20 electronic timer and release, et voila, I was ready for any kind of street action.

Well, that was great for outside stabilized action shots, but what to do about shooting in the house? I would need a very light camera with no lag time, fast flash recycle and that could balance the existing light alongside the electronic flash light.

Aha! Remember that Nikon camera that I purchased in Montreal for Lesley’s birthday,—the camera that had to have an optical viewfinder as well as a digital display? I asked Les if I could borrow it to take candid shots that were happening around me, and she said yes.

I then looked up the things that I didn’t understand about Lesley’s Nikon Coolpix P7100 and found out a few interesting things. I discovered that the optical viewfinder has a diopter so that I am able to shoot without my glasses on: I just dial in my naked left eye while I am looking through the viewfinder.

When I use the optical viewfinder in macro mode at very close distances, I have a parallax problem. This occurs when the lens views one portion of the subject while the viewfinder window is higher than the lens, so the final image will start lower than seen in the viewfinder.

I set up the camera to shoot in the highest JPEG file format possible. That was Fine on the quality JPEG scale. Normal is the default JPEG, and there is also Basic JPEG. The difference?

Fine = the highest quality JPEG, possibility of blowing up to large sizes, 10 megapixels per image, four times compression, 770 images on a four-megabyte card.

Normal = medium quality, the camera’s default, five megapixels per image, eight times compression, 1540 images on a 4 mb card.

Basic = The lowest quality, suitable for e-mailing or very small sizes, two megapixels per image, 16 times compression, 3010 images on a 4 mb card.

Why would someone buy a 10 mb camera and then shoot  images in a 2 mb size?

Norman Silverstone teaches photography through North Island College and Eldercollege in Port Alberni.

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