“You don’t really use your zoom, do you?” Robin finally burst out after a day and a half of watching me use my expensive enthusiast compact camera like a smartphone.
I am in Kuala Lumpur for a short visit, and Robin Wong, an old friend from Perth who’s now based in here, was taking me around. He was a civil engineer in a former life who now works as a freelance photographer and blogger (check out his fantastic work here, here and here). He is passionate and knowledgeable about his craft, so I was extremely privileged he took time out of his busy schedule to hang out, and shamelessly took full advantage of his time to level up my piddling camera game. (Sorry and thank you Robin! I owe you tons of makan!)
I had been moving around to capture my targets, and most of my shots were wide-angle ones. I was making the mistake of being too greedy with what I wanted to take in, and just went for as many things as I could.
I stared back blankly at him before replying: “I thought you lose picture quality if you zoom, which is why I don’t zoom.”
“Nooooooooo!” Robin was horrified. He proceeded to give me a quick crash course on using the zoom function on my camera.
First off, he took a shot of a flower nearby where the focus was on the flower.
Next, he moved back a little, ensured the camera settings were set to macro, then used the zoom to focus on the flowers.
The subject matter pops. The background is a lovely unobtrusive blur.
“Zooming helps you focus on your subject.” Robin tells me. “It takes out anything that is unnecessary from your shot, and then your subject becomes clear.”
He further demonstrated his point when we broke for lunch.
The difference is stark.
So the moral of the story is: If you own a camera that can zoom, use it. It ain’t a smartphone and doesn’t deserve to be treated as such.