Friday, September 18, 2009

Getting to Know the Camera

At last, my camera was returned to me last two weeks. For the past three months, I’ve been using my brother-in-laws' camera but he has to take it back whenever he needs it. Now that the camera is back, I need to get used to it all over again. I am using a second hand Nikon D40 camera with a AF-S Nikkor 18-135mm 1:3.5-5.6G ED lens (with filter broken) which I bought from my other sister almost 4 months ago. I’ve also taken a few pictures from my earlier blogs and from my Homemade Nut Milk (just one photo) post with a Sony DSC S500. So now you know. You must also be aware that I am not a professional photographer or even an amateur one (although I wrote that on my profile) but I’ve received a few comments from friends that they like my photos. It’s probably a hidden talent or skill that I should develop.

Just recently, Kamran, a food blogger inspired me to take photos from a point and shoot (P&S) and DSLR camera. That would be an interesting comparison. Kamran takes photos with a P&S camera but if you see his blog The Sophisticated Gourmet, you would have thought that it was taken with a DSLR. I consider him a brilliant, genius and talented cook, writer and photographer and many others I’m not aware of. He even designed his own food blog. What a rock star and he’s only 17 years old.

I started taking photos for my blog almost the end of November last 2008 if my sister’s camera is available. The only thing I did when taking photos was focus and shoot. It has always been like that until today. I have no idea how aperture, shutter speed and ISO works until about a month ago which is still confusing. I know it’s a good lens but never even looked that there’s an Auto and Manual focus on the side of it. (Yes, you can laugh). But even when I started last year I always shoot on Manual mode but on Auto focus. For me, as long as the subject looks good through the lens, I just click, click, click, click and click. With the point and shoot camera, I also take photos the same thing as with a DSLR – just focus and shoot.

The following are photos were taken with a DSLR (manual mode on auto focus) and a point and shoot camera. Most of the photos are impromptu shots, which means, I didn’t do any setup and background but simply placing the object on a space where I can take photos. I didn’t even consider the lighting. How come I didn’t think of that? But the photos were taken outside the window (sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy). I told you it was impromptu. I also decided not to do any post processing so you can see what it really looks like. First photo is taken by a point and shoot while the second is taken by a DSLR. You’ll be the judge.

Adzuki Beans - This is from my blog post Adzuki Bean and Shiitake Mushroom Soup

Almond Croissant - This is probably the best almond croissant I've ever tasted.

Rocky Road Brownies - These were baked by my sister who is planning to sell her goodies this coming Christmas holidays. She was asking me to take photos of these and her other baked confections.

Between the two cameras, I obvioulsy like the DSLR. Who doesn’t? Well, the lens sees differently. But I believe that anyone can take good photos with a point and shoot camera. I believe I can if I practice. As you can see the photos above, I’m not really good with the point and shoot camera and it’s clear which photo is better. I’ve also tried to take the two photos using different cameras identical but the angles are still different from each other.

I do have some photos on the blog taken with a point and shoot camera. I also agree with other photographers that the most expensive camera doesn’t make you a good photographer because I’ve experienced that with my brother-in-laws’ camera. It is a good camera with a lot of features but it didn’t make me a better photographer. I honestly admit that I use the Photoshop to edit the brightness/contrast, hue/saturation and the color balance. But I always try doing the minimal editing as much as possible.

You can also check Adventures in Photography by Jen Schall from her blog My Kitchen Addictions who did a more thorough exploration of using two different types of camera.

Now that you’ve seen both photos from two cameras, please let me know what you think by leaving a comment below. I posted this not only because of Kamran’s wonderful idea, but I’m also here to learn.

Thank you.


  1. I have to admit that I know nuts about camera....poor me! I wonder when I will really learn. It just blows my mind. I always use my tiny point and shoot camera. It's always with me. All the food photos on my blog are taken by it and without any editting. Haven't learned that yet....hmmm. I have a good camera but I think it's a bit big to carry all over the place, esp the kitchen. A relief to know a good camera doesn't make you a better photographer. I think I have to be happy where I am now....maybe one fine day....hehe

  2. Great post! I'm glad someone took Kamran up on his idea... It's great to see some "behind the scenes" photos from other food bloggers!

    I agree that the DSLR pictures look better overall than the P&S pictures with the exception of the first set of photos of the beans. I liked that the P&S version didn't have quite as much exposure on the water on the left hand side of the picture. Just my opinion, though!

  3. I've been doing photography since I was little and took classes in high school for it (4 years) and then again in community college (1 semester), but I still am learning about it :). I have a SLR Canon(film) and an old Nikon camera (completely manual and film) as well as a point and shoot digital Canon Power Shot(which is what I use for my food photos).

    I much prefer both my SLR and my manual cameras to the point 'n shoot, but I've learned to work with the settings I have and have found a few free photo editing programs (GIMP and that really help with saturation/cropping/brightness & contrast/ as well as sharpness and grain. It does take a bit more work with the point 'n shoot but you can come up with pretty decent photos. And for the price of it vs. the DSLR it's worth it....

    Though I am in hopes one day I'll be a proud owner or a DSLR and do this same type of comparison!

  4. Great post, very informative! Your pictures are great and I really love your recipe for the yummy adzuki bean & mushroom soup in your previous post!

  5. Great post, interesting, because I just purchased my first DSLR, but it hasn't been delivered yet. I have been using a super cheap and old nikon point and shoot for every photo on my blog. I don't know hardly anything about cameras, but I would like to add there is a HUGE difference in point and shoot cameras. There is a new Sigma camera that has a sensor as large as a DSLR, and takes incredible photos , the same as a DSLR. From what I have learned, it comes down to sensor size, how many mega-pixels they try to cram on that sensor, and of course photographer skill. I have read several reviews that say a canon s2 is better than a s5 because they did not increase the sensor size when they increased the mega-pixels. Cheap point and shoots may or may not be any good. A sensor the size of a microchip on tiny point and shoots probably aren't going to be any comparison to the high end canon point and shoot or any of those new super zooms with larger sensors. My iphone camera is better than many point and shoots on the market, but there's no way it can produce anything like my cheapy nikon. My no talent self has been able to get a depth of field on my super cheap nikon camera. In conclusion, I would say that there are point and shoots as good as dslr's. High end point and shoots are like dslrs with fixed lenses, so comparing a dslr to a point and shoot really doesn't mean much anymore except for the fact you can change the lenses.

  6. What a great post and thanks for the shout out! You an Jen are amazing! If only my little 'ol point and shoot would magically turn into a dSLR camera, then I could say that my photos were taken with one. :D

    Your photos showing how different the photos are has definitely opened my eyes that the dSLR camera "sees" differently from a point and shoot.

    Nicely written post, and thanks again to you and Jen for doing this! You two are the best! :D

  7. Hi Divina, totally agree with you Kamran is a genius, I love his blog. I'm also learning how to properly use my camera. Every weekend I'm at the Farmer's Market taking pictures of vegetables and fruits. LOL.

  8. @ MaryMoh- Mary, your photos are presentable on your blog. But your content is your strength. But who know, you might have time to practice. :)

    @ Jen@My Kitchen Addiction - I think making comments about photos is more of personal thing. It's very subjective.

    @ Rochelle - Thanks for sharing what cameras you're using. I guess some people are more comfortable with one another, some may not.

    @ 5 Star Foodie - Thank you very much.

    @ Southern Grace Gourmet - You're not alone. I'm also camera savvy as there are so many in the markets today. I'm actually not familiar with the Sigma. And some cameras could be very tricky. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    @ Kamran - I don't know how you take great pictures with a point and shoot. I know you want a DSLR for yourself one day but when you take photos, I think your eyes sees differently than the rest of us. Who knows, someone might give you a brand your DSLR of your choice.

    @ Florentina - thank you very much.

    @ Anna - That's great Anna. Hope to see some of your pictures. I want to do that soon. :)

  9. Thanks Divina! Keep on clicking and inspiring us!

  10. I agree you can take great photos with a point and shoot as long as there's really good light. When there isn't optimal light, I think that's really where I see the DSLRs as being vital :) Great photos!

  11. Divina, What a great post! I would love to join in next time, especially showing what photoshop can do once you've taken the pic using a dslr :)

  12. Nice post, Divina. Yes, I've often wondered if spending so much more for an SLR is worth it. At the end of the day, I think being able to stop down is when I feel like it's all worth it. But a artist like Kamran can see angles that everyday people cannot see and this is better than having even the most expensive camera.

  13. @ Dawn - thank you for inspiring me too.

    @ Lorraine - Thank you.

    @ Diana Bauman - it does make a difference. Thanks Diana.

    @ Michael - You're right. I don't know how Kamran does it. He's gifted. We're late bloomers Michael. You might have a good eye to see different angles too.

  14. Divina- I am so behind on your posts! I can't believe it. Have I really been away that long or are you just that prolific?

    So, just to throw my two cents in here, I steal my husband's DSLR Nikon to shoot my pictures. And then I import them into Adobes Lightroom, where the cropping tool is a godsend! If my shot really needs more help, like removing some odd artifact in the background, I'll send it over to Photoshop. Taking food pictures is hard work - ha!- as we all know. My biggest obstacle is always the light. If I'm cooking on a cloudy day...woe is me. Or if I'm cooking at night, I have to call in my husband for help with the lighting.


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