Here is the update on my thoughts on my new little Nikon J3 camera. I used it last week while I was in Tofino, carrying it around in my pocket or in a small fanny pack (how do you carry these little cameras and three lenses around easily? I have have three polarizing filters, extra battery, etc. How can a camera that is so small take up so much room?) mostly hand-holding it while I happy snapped and my workshop participants took great photos.
Here are my thoughts:
Any little camera is not a substitute for a real full sized camera. This is an obvious statement but it hides a seductive notion we all tell ourselves. We all know that a little camera can never be as good as a full sized camera but we then go out and look for and eventually buy a little camera because it is ‘just as good as my normal camera.’ That is our expectation and we get frustrated when the little camera doesn’t perform as well as our real big camera. Don’t believe me? Just read the reviews on any camera website and you will see that every one of them compares the handling, picture quality, and features to their big camera and then acts disappointed when the results are less than what they wanted.
IT’S A LITTLE CAMERA! It is not a big camera! It has a little sensor, tiny buttons, teenie dials, little batteries…It is LITTLE! All of these cameras are the same, it doesn’t matter the make. Don’t bother looking for a little pocket camera with the same features and same quality of a full-sized camera. You will never find it. Know why? BECAUSE IT IS A LITTLE CAMERA!
That being said you can still get wonderful pictures if you remember the limitations. Shoot at low ISOs. I shot at 400 and liked the results and dabbled at 800 but was taken aback by the increasing noise. I didn’t bother with any higher ISOs. The noisy ISOs are not a Nikon issue but a little camera\little sensor issue. If you didn’t need to publish your images you could probably get away with ISO 800 but I wouldn’t recommend anything higher. Anyone who says their little camera can shoot at ISO 1600 or more doesn’t know what noise is.
There is no viewfinder so composition is a challenge for those of us who are used to looking through a viewfinder and framing carefully. My solution was to shoot big and then crop precisely to the image I wanted later in my computer. This is not easy to do for those of us who are used to framing up exactly what we want but it is a worthwhile effort.
Little camera with little dials and buttons makes anyone without little fingers at a bit of a struggle. So keep it simple- shoot in aperture priority, auto focus on stationary or slow moving subjects, don’t try to spot meter and just have fun.
I guess the secret is to keep your real camera close, don’t get lazy and settle for the little guy and when you do set your bar low. For serious photography use your big, adult camera. For silly or unexpected photography or I-don’t-want-to-carry-my-big-camera photography use your little camera. Just don’t compare them. Little is little and it’s okay to be little. At least that is what I’ve been told.