So you’re an aspiring photographer interested in taking pictures of insects? Don’t want to break the bank? Wondering what cameras fit the bill?
Most of us out there are familiar with point and shoot cameras – these are you everyday digital cameras, used for everything from shots of the kids to casual vacation photos. Unfortunately, your average point and shoot cameras are often jacks of all trades, but master of none – they can take decent shots of large wildlife, OK underwater pictures, and acceptable landscape shots. They rarely match even the consumer grade DSLR cameras in either quality or versatility.
For the amateur insect photographer or collector just interested casually recording their finds, a higher end point and shoot camera is a reasonable choice. They can also be paired with an accessory close up lens for increased magnification.
Shutter lag, the delay between the time the shutter triggered and the time camera actually records the image, can be an issue. This can cause you to miss shots of skittish or fast moving insects, such as dragonflies.
Most importantly, many point and shoot cameras have very poor manual controls – this alone is reason enough for the serious amateur photographer to avoid these cameras.
One other major drawback of point and shoot cameras is their limited compatibility with external flash units – only some cameras have the hot shoe needed to attach the flash unit. However, there are good third party ring flashes and LED lights out there which do not need a hot shoe.
Light, compact – easy to use
Cost $100’s to $1,000’s less than DSLRs
Good depth of field due to smaller sensor
Cheap close up lens – can be combined for higher magnifications
Flip out LCD – good for shots at ground level or in tight spaces
Some higher end P&S cameras have hot shoes, so a proper macro flash can be attached.
Poor manual controls, including manual focusing
Virtually useless built in flash – good third party LED or traditional lights/flashes available
Shutter lag sometimes an issue
Lower optical quality – more likely to suffer from image distortion and chromatic aberrations
Lower image quality – getting better all the time, though
In summary, point and shoot cameras are generally good for live insects ranging from, say large butterflies down to maybe 1-2 cm with a quality close up lens – not the way to go for serious insect photographers, however.
Stay tuned for Part 2, DSLR cameras!