Digital Camera

For more than a decade, digital camera has been evolving very quickly.  It is definitely something more than increasing number of pixels or more frames per second.  Digital camera has been evolving so quickly that we really need to update our knowledge continuously.  The old techniques may still apply.  However, with the enhancements in the new gears, we can really take photos in different and better ways.


Integrated digital cameras 整合式數位相機

Compact digital camera and “bridge camera” (DSLR style with fixed lens) come with fixed integrated lens.  You are not able to change the lens.  Depending on the camera design, you may be able to use wide angle lens adapter, tele lens adaptermeras, close-up filter, or other optional optical accessories.

For butterfly photography, this type of camera has a higher tendency to focus to the background.  Some cameras of this type do not feature real aperture control and use ND filter to simulate it.  You may or may not be able to control the depth of field.  While depth of field is quite important for close up photography, the lack of real aperture control can be a problem.

Normally, I do not recommend this type of digital camera for butterfly photography.  However, some newer products, such as Sony RX10, has been proven to be reasonably fast and precise even for handheld butterfly photography.  Although the quality may not be comparable to DSLR with genuine macro lens, it is respectable and good enough for 8R print.

Compact DC

Interchangeable lens digital cameras 可換鏡頭相機

By installing different lens, interchangeable lens digital cameras may adapt to different applications.

Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) 數位單鏡反光機

With more accurate optical viewfinder and more reliable phase detection focusing system, this is the most commonly used camera for butterfly photography.  In higher end DSLR, the viewfinder is constructed with penta-prism.  It’s a solid piece of high quality glass that reflect light by total internal reflection.  This minimize the need to pass through different medium (air and glass).  In lower end DSLR, the viewfinder is constructed with “penta-mirror” instead.  Thus, the viewfinder of the lower end DSLR is not as clear nor as bright as the the higher end ones.

While DSLR often give better precision and more responsive controls, DSLR is highly recommended for butterfly photography.

Nikon D7000 and Canon EOS 7DDSLR

Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Digital Cameras 無反光鏡可換鏡頭相機

Mirrorless interchangeable lens has been one of the fastest growing category of the digital cameras.  They are more portable than DSLR.  Instead of counting on optical viewfinder, liveview on LCD screen or on electronic viewfinder (EVF) are used.  Like integrated digital camera, this type of cameras count on contrast focusing system.  If the background is very bright, they are more likely to focus to the background.  Some models like Panasonic GH2 offer a macro mode that focus to the foreground first.  Yet, in these scene modes, you may not be able to control the aperture value.

Panasonic GH2Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens

Translucent Mirror Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera 半反光鏡可換鏡頭相機

This type of cameras is something between the DSLR and the mirrorless.  Unlike DSLR, the mirror is basically fixed.  The capability of using fast and accurate phase detection auto focus in live view mode is a major advantage over the other cameras.  The cost of this incredible feature is the loss of 1/3 light.

Sony Alpha 33Translucent Mirror Interchangeable Lens

Modular Camera 模組式相機

Apart from traditional interchangeable lens camera, there are modular cameras like Ricoh GXR.  Instead of changing the lens, users are allowed to change the lens module that combines the lens and the sensor.  While different size of sensor may be found in different lens module, users may have the options for portability or quality.  In general, users will not need to worry about the dust.

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