Me and My Muse

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A little journey in the world of pictures

I'm Arnab Pal. I live in Bangalore, India with my wife. I was born (on March 14 1982), grew up and educated in Calcutta, India. I was there until 2001.
The first camera I touched was my Father's Yashica, when I was 15 or so. It was a film camera. An amazing experience, but I remember how in those days every shutter click was so costly and how we had to keep 10 albums in our old cupboard while still worrying about moisture and bugs to spoil the images.
My photographic experience almost came to a halt for 8 years after 2001 while I joined college in Nagpur (also in India). I did not take the Yashica. Somehow I bought a film fixed focus camera which worked for only a year.
The next camera (bought in August 2009, after a long pause), was again a low priced Kodak C140 (as I was short of money and badly needed one for my trip to Germany. With this I kind of had a hang of digital cameras and basic composition techniques. Though limited in features, it gave me some kind of content and motivation. I remember :p in a period of 4 months I had clicked more than 4000 photos. About 10-15 of them were keepable.
Came January 2010 and I got the hang of Canon's Powershot SX20. My sincire friend, Aninda Sadhukhan, bought it for me from the US (costed about 369 + 40 for accesories like bag, stand, batteries, 8GB card and reader, etc). I was in 2 minds when I bought it for me. I lingered around 1000D and 500D for quite some time. In fact I had almost bought 500D as the cost of it was similar. Then popped the question of lenses. My nearest photo guru, motivator and friend, Sayantan Debnath, told me that I would have to invest in lenses sooner or later.
I laugh at my thinking at that time. I did not know, what a lense is and how I needed it once I bought a DSLR. The lack of funds forced me to buy the SX20. And now almost 5 months with it which makes life pretty simple.
SX20, qualifies as a super-zoom 12meg camera I would say. I carry it always, though its heavy, and occasionally get paid, in moments, for my labour of carrying it. And now I am in Germany again. But I dont have enough chance to travel like last time. So the SX20 just sleeps all day in my backpack, unless once in 2/3 days while I just try a hand at some landscapes / moments.
This provokes me to talk about the SX20 (though I dont know its okay to talk about it here). SX20 is a decent camera. Atleast for low -budget-high-expectation-people like me. It has 20X optical, though I am upset with the degraded sharpness at increasing zoom. At 20x (560mm equivalent) it is terrible. So I dare not use it these days much. At 1X(28mm equivalent) its good but again the sharpness at long distances in landscapes is crappy. I had tried all hyperfocal and other tricks but it just doesn't work.
Another depressing thing about this camera is its control of manual focus. The Manual focus control is a small wheel behind the camera which is sometimes more sensitive and sometimes not. May be I am slow too to decide on a good focus while using it. The visibility is also difficult. There is a small part in the screen which widens to show the the actual focus. But I still need a lot of practice to make the focus decision. Also the fact that once the camera is switched off all manual settings is gone (no prefocus etc).

Canon has tried to make the SX20 with basic manual controls;
a) DOF setting (min 2.8 and max 8.0) you can set this by selecting the round dial on the top of the cam to 'M'/'Av' and then 2 clicks on the middle button behing the camera and then turn the small wheel round
b) Shutter speed (min 15s and max 2000/3200). Similar controls with 'M'/'Tv'
c) Manual focus (the auto focus system is really buggy unless you focus on really close subjects) For subject futher than 2-3 m the autofocus is always incorrect and immensely out of focus.
Thus, choosing manual focus is what I am forced to do mostly. I dont know if the SLR cameras has the autofocus systems better than this. The SX20 takes about 2sec to decide on the autofocus (the later the more prone to errors).
Sometimes I try to autofocus on a subject 3-5 meters away and check the distance. I get shocked to see the distance calculated is 50cm or so. Then I have to switch to manual focus -> zoom-in the subject -> and set the focus correct. To make things worse; when I zoom out again the focus re-adjusts again to something else. So I have to remember the zoomed in distance and then manually adjust the focus again (fro the 3rd time) after zoomout. I get irritated by all this. May be thats the price you have to pay for buying a PnS with some basic manual controls.

So here are the most important drawbacks I am struggling with everyday (help to overcome this; is welcome). And now I feel the SLR option would have been better :)
Dont take me wrong, I am in no intent to part with the SX20. It still serves a lot lot lot of purpose and is great for a PnS to have all this packed in a still so sleek body.
I post my pictures at

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