The art of replacing professional DSLR photo gear with point and shoot cameras… and software.



Upside of Point and Shoot Over DSLR: Portability & Availability

One obvious benefit which I expected and realized is the difference in size and weight.  Everything is much lighter and smaller than I expected to the point that I carry it around all the time.  At a minimum, I through the G16 in my bag as I go to work but I’ve been hauling my whole camera bag which carries everything.  The fact that a single, small Domke F6 bag can carry everything (including 2 cameras, a 580 DX 2 flash, tripod / ball head, variety of filters and accessories) without issue is indicative of how small this stuff is.  To put it in perspective, that same Domke F6 usably held my 1DS with an attached 24-70/2.8 and either the 16-35/2.8 or 70-200/2.8 (with the padding ripped out).

The fact that I actually carry a camera around means that I can take the photos I never did when I didn’t attempt to haul around a DSLR.

The size and weight of additional batteries is particularly attractive – compared to the massive beasts for the 1DS, it’s not a question as to whether I need to justify carrying multiple backups – I don’t even notice that I have them.

Downside of Point and Shoot over DSLR: Complementary Software

Lightroom is a very powerful tool which I’m only just beginning to understand but there is one feature I was excited about – for no real reason other than it being “neat”:  remote fire or tethering.  Lightroom allows you to tether your camera and tell it to fire essentially using your monitor as a larger liveview screen allowing for some creative opportunities.  As it turns out, Lightroom only supports that feature on Canon EOS camera and not PowerShots – so I don’t get to play around with little feature.

Adobe software also allows for some custom adjustments to deal with known chromatic aberrations and distortions associated with the optics of the lens or noise issues with specific bodies.  Excellent, you say, as we’re using less-than-superior lenses and sensors on point and shoot cameras.  Well, it turns out that the easily downloadable free “Adobe Lens Profile Downloader” doesn’t have profiles for either of my cameras (although it did for every one of my DSLRs and “L” lenses.  No problem, I’ll just create my own using the similarly free “Adobe Lens Profile Creator”, I think.  Eventually, I found a successful link for the software (it appears that Adobe doesn’t want you to use it anymore and they don’t publicize it) and go through the tedious process of building profiles based on different focal lengths and f-stops for the G16.  And, then I didn’t know what to do with them.  Perhaps I’m a bit daft but it really wasn’t intuitive as to how to import lens profiles into Lightroom – Photoshot is no problem but Lightroom I haven’t figured it out.  Incidentally, Lightroom now has a profile for the Powershot G15 –which it automatically believes my pictures to be sourced from, so that should suffice.

Upside of Point and Shoot over DSLR: Being Alone

Carrying around a Canon 1DS with any lens attached tends to inspire strangers to approach you and talk to you about your camera.  I know what you’re thinking:  what a great way to meet girls! I can easily state that the only times women ever approached me with respect to my over-sized cameras were at weddings (presumably with the assistance of alcohol).  No, the only people who ever approached me were 60 year old men – presumably, those with a significant interest in photography.  And god help me if I used the lensbaby 3g; within minutes, some dude with a camera would come up to inquire.   So I can say, unequivocally, and without hesitation, the benefit of a small point-and-shoot is that I can embrace my inner introvert and limit interaction with strangers.

Thus far, only two guys have talked to me:  the first set up his shot immediately beside mine during a 4 minute long exposure at night on the pier and was looking for something to shoot- he had no interest in my camera.  The other was a jogger who happened to stop relatively close to my long-exposure shot and asked me if the camera was a 4/3rds with some fleeting interest is cameras other than Canons.  I’m guessing that neither occurrence would have happened had I not been standing around doing long exposures at night.   Neither of them were over 40 years old,  so, it’s a different demographic and there are less of them interested.


Downside of Point and Shoot over DSLR: Insecurity

The first thing I felt when I arrived at the top of Cypress Mountain for sunrise on a foggy day was judgment.  Everyone there had a large DSLR.  In hindsight, that would have been a great place to stage a robbery considering the amount of money in camera equipment there (Upside for P&S!).  Anyway, as I set up beside one guy, I could feel the eyes of the others essentially wondering what the hell I was doing there with my tiny camera for which I clearly did not spend as much.  I mean, the guy immediately beside me had a Gitzo tripod that, alone, easily exceeded the cost of my PowerShot G16.  So, is it Camera envy on my part?  I don’t think so.  There was probably some self-confidence component to that feeling but I do believe people noticed that I did not have a large telephoto lens stabilized for the sunrise.  It’s not that I care – I’m sure I owned better gear than most of them there – but that feeling is hard to get to without significant rationalization.   The fact I feel self-conscious that the equipment I have is insufficient – which is to say that I am insufficient as a photographer.  The point is, this issue isn’t so much a problem with point and shoot cameras as it is with the photographer’s sense of worth.


I know that a Point and Shoot camera isn’t a “professional” camera and that the image sensor is much smaller than the full-frame DSLR I’m used to so I know there is a difference (I mean, there were differences between Hasselblads medium format and Canon 35mm film, right?).  But I have this theory that the difference isn’t enough to justify the cost and burden of heavy pro gear.

I shoot exclusively Raw (Canon CR2 now) whenever possible (creative modes only shoot JPG) and I convert to DNG through Adobe Lightroom 5 where I typically do some light post-processing (mostly for exposure, as I really don’t know how to use it or photoshop).  This may document my progress as I learn these adobe tools better as well.

The gear I had and the gear I have is documented fairly clearly on the “Photo Gear” tab.

I’ve been using point and shoots for about 2 months now – for different purposes – but really have tried to do something other than snap shots within the last few weeks.

Saturated Sailboat

IMG_19741/6th second @ F/8.0, iso 100, Canon Powershot G16 @ 20.369mm

Olympic Sunset

IMG_19611/13 second @ F/8.0, iso100, Canon Powershot G16 @ 18.826mm

Kayaker at Dusk

IMG_19511/640 second @ F/2.8, iso100, Canon Powershot G16 @ 9.89mm

False Creek Sunset

IMG_19491/640 second @ F/2.8, ISO 100, Canon Powershot G16 @ 6.1mm