The liberated camera

John Kennerdell wrote for The Online Photographer a two part essay called “The Liberated Camera” about freestyle photography.

Part 1 is making a strong case for the back LCD as a camera viewfinder. Here is how John introduce it:

I’d like to talk about another approach: the handheld camera as an extension of the hand, or simply as an unobtrusive device off to the side as we engage directly with the scene before us, both eyes wide open.

And he is damn right. It is just a different shooting style. Not a replacement, albeit most camera force you to view that what.

I have issues with LCD as viewfinder. Maybe most of them are unfounded and linked to the fact I taught myself to shoot with a SLR and therefor with a camera brought to the eye… which was the case of every film camera. Habits die hard, and using my E-P1 actually made me change my mind despite not being in my total zone of comfort.

“No serious photographer,” announced one online guru at the time, “would ever compose on a screen held out in front of him.” Er, why not? The biggest criticism seemed to be that it didn’t “look professional.” That of course immediately suggested a fine reason to try it.

Also the discretion: most modern compact digital camera don’t have a viewfinder, thus when shooting, people use the back LCD as a viewfinder. This makes you look like a tourist, instead of the person with the obnoxious camera.

This is not without ignoring other complaints like steadiness when holding close to the body, or the useability in full sunlight.

The second part is about another gadget: face detection.

It sound like a gadget, but it actually is a useful tool for freestyle photography, where you can’t control the focus precisely or have the time to do so.

In a word, it was a slam dunk. OK, that’s two words, but seriously: I got hundreds of shots that I probably wouldn’t have without it. By the end I was attempting things I wouldn’t have even considered without it, and a lot of those worked out too. It wasn’t perfect of course, but it raised my percentage. Ultimately, what more do you want?

You get it. It is a tool that helps the chances of getting a good a picture. It does not frame or compose for you but it helps the auto focus system to determine what your subject is: people. Off course it might be convenient to disable it, and I can on my E-P1.