Reviews ...

Stringer reviews "itsy-bitsy" Nikon digital

... sometimes you can't see who or what you're shooting

by Don Norris



To view the photo essay and the pictures produced for this
story, click here



In my advancing senior years, I have to admit that I have become a rabid fan of
photography -- especially since the development of digital photography.

Back in 1996, when the Media Lab at MIT put the "Melrose Mirror" project before
us (the SilverStringers), we were introduced to (among all things technical)
digital cameras, which our grad-student advisors supplied to us gratis. Since
that time, I became a sucker for every new digital development the industry
could produce -- I still have most of those primative cameras on a nearby shelf.

No doubt, I'm a fan of Nikon, but I do have a marvelous smallish Canon G11 as a
backup for my three thousand dollar Nikon D300. But just the other day I
happened to be strolling through the camera store, just looking. And there was a
display of these mini amateur everyday cameras, all posted on sticks for display
-- and all on sale.

I think you know the product I'm talking about -- at the recent Boston parade
for the league-winning Bruins, tens of thousands of people crowded the parade
route, all holding their little itsy-bitsy cameras over their heads, hoping they
would get a photo of our hockey stars.

Some folks shot pictures of the sky, of the tops of trees, office buildings, of
the mob in front of them, of the tires of the mechanical "ducks" the hockey
players were riding. A few, using wide-angle, got fuzzy photos of the players
themselves.

So I bought a Nikon itsy-bitsy camera. It weighs practically nothing, it has a
five-power telephoto lens, and a picture screen on the back for letting the
photog know what he's pointing at. Which means he's got to have the device right
in front of his nose to properly frame his picture. And herein lies the problem.
To me, it's a major design fault.

Nevertheless, I bought one. And I was so excited to get it out of the box and
put together; I sat in the front seat, ignoring the instruction pages, opening
little tiny packages of strings, a nylon carry bag, and of course the partially-
charged battery. With the rain beating down on the parking lot, I fired off my
first shot with my itty-bitty Nikon; it went click, like all cameras do -- and
I saw, in the view-finder, the rain streaked glass and several blurry
automobiles. It was a fabulous shot, the focus was perfect, the light was gray
but perfect, the splattering rain was sharp on the windshield. In short, I was
delighted.

The rain poured down, and I looked for something else. Ah ha! The mirror! So I
held the itsy-bitsy Nikon up in front of the rear-view mirror, and without
really getting a good look at what I had in the viewfinder, I fired off a couple
of shots. Zounds! Perfection! So enthused, I looked around inside the car for
something else to shoot. Ah! the texture of the dashboard. The radio. My foot
(at which the auto-flash went off). And they were all sharp with minute detail.
My $120 investment was a success!

Chapter two: The next day the sun came out and I put my itsy-bitsy Nikon in my
pocket (right next to my new cell-phone), wheeled my 200cc dirtbike out of the
shed, and took off on a world of back roads. It's my thing. Motorcycles have
been an important part of my life since I first stole my brother's 1931 Harley
Davidson, back in World War II.

Now one combines a new camera with the fast Suzuki, and I am in heaven. I did
about a hundred miles that day, stopping dozens of times to capture some scene.
Marshes, I love marshes. Sign posts. Rubbish along the roadside. Old barns,
fences, ancient farm houses. Trees, mushrooms, rock formations, reflections in
the ponds -- and all these things came out beautifully on my computer monitor.
Not that my 125 frames that day were all perfect -- no, I am also a devoted fan
of Adobe Photoshop. So my mini ittsy-bitsy photos got the once-over, maybe the
twice-over.

The point is, the camera worked. I mean it is so light you have to search your
pockets for it. Like the cellphone rings, and you answer the call with your new
Nikon. It is light, and it is handy.

But what it is not, is versatility. Like my Canon G11 has a three-inch screen
that folds out so the you can see your shot over your head, of down by you feet,
upside down (which corrects the screen image), which is versatility itself. Nor
is the itsy-bitsy Nikon a substitute for my professional D300, with its battery
of lenses, and its million electronic alternatives that permit recording really
far out photos.

So that's it. The Itsy-Bitsy Nikon now has a place with the D300 and the G11. It
makes the grade and will no doubt go with me, always. Or nearly always. Like, on
non-assignment times, it will be in my pocket.

By the way, if you're looking for one, the model is the Nikon Coolpix S3100.





October 7, 2011



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