Journey into a world of nature that isn't often seen at this level
By Rob Sheppard
I’ve used a standard digital SLR for my low-angle, intimate nature shots, but haven’t been happy with that use. You certainly can experiment with shooting with a regular D-SLR and just holding it low, then checking the LCD, though it won’t be as convenient as seeing exactly what the sensor is getting. Luckily, the tilting, live LCD is still around, though the choices are more limited.
You can buy a used Canon, Nikon or Olympus digital camera with a tilting or rotating LCD at a reasonable price. Canon dropped the tilting LCD in going from the PowerShot G6 to the PowerShot G7 (which was a shame), but you can get a 7- or 10-megapixel PowerShot A630 or A640 for less than $400, and they include a big tilting LCD. These full-featured cameras have a complete complement of controls and a good little lens, and offer an adapter to add a wide-angle.
The Nikon Coolpix S4 has an attractive, rotating lens body that allows a more pocketable camera with a longer focal length. The camera doesn’t take accessory lenses, however, so the wide-angle end of its zoom is limited. Sony has a tilting LCD in the Cyber-shot DSC-H9.
Olympus has the most flexible camera of the tilting LCD bunch since the EVOLT E-330 is a full-featured D-SLR with interchangeable lenses. This allows you to get whatever focal length you need. The live LCD works by reading a special sensor in the viewfinder that captures what the lens is seeing, or you can use the camera in a direct-sensor mode and see through the lens with the actual picture-taking sensor.
I like Dewitt Jones’ idea of calling such cameras "lenses." What he means is that there are unique cameras offering features your D-SLR doesn’t have. They provide a new way of looking and photographing, just as if you bought a new lens for your camera, and they cost about the same, while taking up no additional space in the camera bag than a new lens (at least for the compacts). In addition, the image quality from these little cameras (not just the Olympus D-SLR) can be remarkable.
Owning one of the compact cameras will change the way you see the world around you and affect how you use your D-SLR—I guarantee it. And if you want the ultimate in quality, the Olympus EVOLT E-330 offers superb lenses with a high-quality sensor that does a wonderful job with natural subjects.
Low, wide-angle close-ups put the camera (and the viewer) into an intimate view of nature. It’s more than a technique, and it has allowed me to enter a world of flowers and critters that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. For me, it has richened my connection with nature.
Right-Angle Finder Shoot at low angles with D-SLRs by using a right-angle finder. Adorama’s ProOptic Right Angle Finder II fits most film and digital SLRs. It includes 1x and 2.5x dual magnification settings, 9 elements in 5 groups with an angled prism for a sharper view, and measures 2.36x1.38x3.35 inches. Street Price: $89. Contact: Adorama, www.adorama.com.