27 Jan 2012


Friend Patrick Wheeler and I had a personal contest as to who could take the best shot at the 2011 Le Mans 24 hours . We both like to travel light so we were both using compact cameras so there were no long lenses or fancy wide angles .

Long after the race Patrick has just turned up this shot taken with his battered and well travelled Canon S90 which must take the prize.It was taken at dawn at Tetra Rouge and shows Jackie Ickx's daughter ,Vanina ,in her Aston Martin powered Lola, which finished seventh, powering onto the Mulsanne Straight .It is a very atmospheric shot and shows what can be done with a compact camera.Looking at it I can almost smell Le Mans at dawn-- that unique blend of exhaust fumes,burnt rubber,hot oil,dust,damp grass ,frying bacon and smoke from camp barbecues .

If you are looking for a performance small camera at a bargain price the S95 , the successor to the S90 ,has just been replaced by the S100 and a number of outlets have been selling off the S95 at $200-$300 .This represents a great buy but move fast. Invest in a small handgrip for about $30 from Richard Franiek see and you have a great package which can take shots like this and which easily fits into your pocket .

The only problem I have personally with the Canon S cameras is that they do not have an optical viewfinder .Call me old fashioned but I just cannot adjust to taking photos with the camera held out at arm's length looking at an LCD . It reminds me of changing a baby's smelly nappy ( diaper). But it seems that I am in a very small minority .

Ownership of a sizeable DSLR seems almost to be a badge of honour for many  senior European tourists and some young Japanese and American women tourists. Now a big sensor DSLR can take outstanding photos -- well beyond the capabilities of my little compacts -- and some of the users are real serious photographers turning out extraordinary images but I suspect that most are just carrying them as trophy toys and they could save their shoulders and their wallets by using a compact camera.I saw a very slightly built Japanese lady -- early 20's -on a walking tour of the architecture of Grand Central Station in NYC back in July and she was carrying a Canon 1D with a long lens . She could hardly lift it .I found myself wondering "what will she do with those big files?" and "will she make it home before she puts her shoulder or back out".

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