About Me

My photo
Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Resurrecting Old Favorites

 Bringing New Life to Past Images

Nellie's Dread

Susan and I are getting prepared for our trip to Alaska. As always, before a big trip, our dining room table has become the staging
The Look
area where we pile all the stuff we don't want to forget. My job is to find all the various chargers and connectors we will need to keep our cameras and other electronics operating. Susan's task to keep me from bringing way too much clothing. Of course all this "staging" makes Nellie very nervous as she anticipates the coming separation. We have a nice house sitter lined up to keep Nell thoroughly covered in touch and love, but there is nothing like the appearance of suit cases to make her pathetically clingy.

I'm sure I'll be grabbing a picture or two on the trip and I hope to be sending out preliminary shots in my blog along the way. The status of my time and internet connectivity may be a bit shaky, so if I miss pushing out my weekly articles, I hope I will be forgiven. As I anticipate a pile of pictures to work through on my return, I thought this might be a good time to look back to some of my ancient images.

 Revisiting Old Friends

Every year there are a few images which I feel are my best, with which I have a strong personal connection. I enjoy wandering back to these old friends, but I notice that many of my former "masterpieces" don't seem to have the same brilliance and pop that I recalled. Many look unnaturally flat and dull. It's not surprising. Over 10-15 years, I would hope that my shooting and post-processing techniques have improved, and undoubtedly my personal style has evolved. Obviously, photo editing software has matured making it much easier to bring out the dramatic qualities of an image. I decided to revisit some of these old images, some dating back more than ten years, to see if, using current processing, I could breath new life into ancient pixels.

Immediately I was aware of the challenges. These old images had been captured at much lower resolution than is common now. I tried to find the least manipulated version of the images that was available. RAW files were preferable , but, for some, I had to start with a base image that already had editing baked into the file. Eight bit JPGs were especially difficult to manipulate.

Here are just a few examples of my attempts at Frankestein-like resurrections of old images. I first experimented with adjustments of color and contrast in Lightroom and Photoshop and later used blended tone mapped layers to add a broad range of pop to the images.

Portland Head Lighthouse
Some years ago, when I was more flexible, I jumped the fence at Portland Head Light to catch the surf rolling in, and nearly washing me out. This picture seemed a bit flat, without the drama that was so apparent in the moment. I worked on the image in Lightroom and Photoshop to increase the contrast and vibrance, highlighting the bright lighthouse against the dark angry sky. I also used the skew tool to reduce the keystone effect caused by my low position looking up from the rocks. The overall effect was closer to the scene that I recalled. 

Artist's Shack, Marlboro Vermont

 Eight years ago I was cruising the back roads of Marlboro, Vermont looking for autumn color. I found this shack which, because of the model head in the window, I decided was an artist's studio. Probably wrong, but it gave me a title. I came back with an image that to my eye is terribly
HDR Tone
flat with none of the brilliant color that was apparent at the time. I moved the JPG into Lightroom and had some success, but then I decided to blend a toned layer to kick up the color and contrast. I have discussed this process previously. I made a flattened copy of the image and then applied "HDR Toning" in Photoshop. I have found that the "Scott5"preset is often a good starting point. The results are always grotesquely garish, but after I move this layer back to the original
Scott 5 Preset
image layer stack I drastically reduce the opacity to get just the amount of kick I want. In this case I only used an opacity of 8% to get the result I liked. It still has a touch of "painterly" quality, but I much prefer it to the original. The nice thing about blended tone maps is that adjustments in the opacity allow for a near infinite range of effect to meet anyone's taste.


Storm Over Monadnock
Storm Over Monadnock
One of my favorite early images and one of my best sellers is "Storm Over Monadnock" captured in 2006 with my canon 20D.  I had watched a thunder storm pass over my office in Keene, NH and I knew it was heading for the mountain. I jumped into the car and ran for Chapman Road with its view of Monadnock to the Southeast. I was thrilled to catch the thunderhead rolling over the top of the mountain. The most dramatic part of the scene was the contrast between the ominously dark mountain and the last light skittering across the valley below. Back then I struggled with the contrast and was never fully happy with my ability to bring the light into balance. In this case I used 25% of my toned layer to bring out the contrast. I could only do so much with this aged 8 bit original, but I was happy with the results


Harvest Sunset 
The Old Oak at Alyson's Orchard is gone now having fallen to a lightning strike a few years ago. Back in 2006 it still stood proudly on the hill and I was able to capture it as part of a classic autumn scene. Once again the picture from my archives appeared flat and bit overly warm in tone. I cooled the tone slightly in Photoshop without loosing the warmth of the setting sun and then applied a touch from a toned layer to bring out the drama. 

Pemaquid Pool
Pemaquid Light
Pemaquid Light in Bristol, Maine is famous for the tidal pools that provide opportunities to catch interesting reflections. I was happy with the image that I captured of the reflected lighthouse in 2007. It has been one of my most popular coastal images, but I thought that, while I was playing with tone mapping, it might be fun to go a little crazy with this old favorite. I was also inspired by an image taken from the same spot by Rick Sammon using HDR technique. Using 28% of my toned layer I ended up with an effect beyond my usually comfort zone for HDR/Toning, but I can step back and appreciate the picture for what it is, without any pretense of real life appearance. Hey, its art. 


Well I have to get back to my packing. I've enjoyed my stroll through the past.  Photography is a time machine and it was fun to bring new life to old favorites. Now see what pictures you have that deserve to be re-imagined.

Jeffrey Newcomer

Sunday, August 17, 2014

My 10 Favorite Photoshop Short-Cuts

Shoots and Ladders
This week I have a short article about short-cuts.  Keyboard short-cuts can speed your Photoshop work-flow, but it is impossible to keep track of all of the options.  I find that just a few short-cuts take care of my most frequent and repetitive tasks.

Sometimes it seems as if I spend half of my conscious existence with my eyes wandering through the magical effects that Photoshop can produce on my images. Recently my photoshop time has been substantially reduced by my pre-editing in Lightroom, but all my images still pass through Photoshop for final tweaking. Photoshop can be a confusing soup of menus and options. It is easy to get lost in the seemingly limitless creative possibilities, but, for most images, my editing incorporates a fairly limited number of steps which often takes only a few minutes to complete. 

The Flow
Blueberry Row, Green Mt. Orchard, Putney, Vt
I start by reviewing the image looking for intrusions that may require removal such as cigarette packs or areas of distracting color or brightness along the edges. I determine whether I need to do more to tame or reclaim the shadows and highlight. I routinely try an adjustment in vibrance and then may make further corrections in important individual colors. I usually bring up the curves tool to tweak the contrast, but these changes often get applied to limited areas of the image with the use of a layer mask. At that point, I'm usually done. I save a copy of the unsharpened and uncropped picture at full size and resolution as my base image and then start cropping, resizing and sharpening to fit my specific needs. It is all fairly routine and, where there is a routine,  keyboard short-cuts can help to speed the process. 

Key-Board Short-Cuts
Trevor Morris' List
Editing can be accelerated by the use of at least some of the many key-board short-cuts that are available to accomplish frequently used tasks with a single key stroke or a combination of keys.  The full list of Short-Cuts in Photoshop is truly mind numbing, and I have found it much easier to access seldom used tasks through the menu system or through the click of a button on the screen. I can create a copy of a layer by pressing "Ctrl-J", but I can accomplish the same result by dragging the layer
Menu Short-Cuts
to the New Layer button in the Layers window. I find it easier to "drag and drop" than to search for the "J" key hidden in the middle of the keyboard.  I tend to use short-cuts for tasks that I do frequently or repetitively,  such as when I am using a paint brush to edit a layer mask and have to continuously  adjust the size of the brush as I move in and out of tight spots, or when I repeatedly jump between white and black brushes to add or subtract from the mask. The good news is that keyboard short-cuts are easy to find. There are many lists quickly available on the net, but many of Photoshop's menu options will also show the corresponding shorts right next to the commands. If you frequently go to a particular menu item, the short-cut is right there.  Pressing "Alt Ctrl Shift K" will bring up a list of "K"eyboard short-cuts as well as providing the opportunity to create your own short-cuts.

Ctrl Alt Shift K to View and Create Short-Cuts

For a more exhaustive list, check out Trevor Morris' lists which include the short-cuts for various versions of Photoshop


My Favorite Short-Cuts
Everyone's approach to editing is different and your favorite short-cuts may be quite different from mine, but here are a few of the key-board commands that I find most useful. These few probably account for 90% of the short-cuts I use on a routine basis.

First I have to mention the simple editing functions:

"Ctrl-X" : Cut

"Ctrl-C" : Copy

"Ctrl-V" : Paste

"Alt-Ctrl-Z" : back up one step
Given my fumbling editing, the backup key is used often.

Selections and Masks
My most frequently used short-cuts have to do with the creation and refinement of selections and masks. 

Four Focus-Stacked Images  with Complex Selection Edits

"Ctrl-A" : Select whole image

"Ctrl-D" ; DeSelect

Show the Mask
"\" : Show the mask in red
Revealing the mask in a red overlay is a great help in refining its effect and catching any missed locations.

"Alt-I" : Invert mask
A carefully drawn mask is a great resource within an image and can be copied to control the effect of various layers. Masked can also be inverted to apply an effect to the opposite area. 

These allow quick adjustments in brush size and togggling between revealing and hiding areas of selections or masks.

"[" :  make brush bigger

"]" :  make brush smaller
Quick changes in brush size also helps when painting or cloning.
Brush size can be refined with repeated presses on the "[" or "]" keys.

"X" :  toggle foreground and background color
The mantra is "White reveals / Black conceals " and the "X" key allows easy toggling between the two as editing is refined.

Bringing It Home, Chesterfield, NH

That's it, my top ten, and ten is about all my aging brain can retain.   Those nit-pickers out there will have already figured out that my list actually includes 11 short-cuts. To you I can only say, "Don't you have any better things to do"!  Go make your own list.

I would enjoy hearing about your favorites.

Jeffrey Newcomer

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Rye Beach 2014, Challenges and Opportunities

Evening Glow, Rye Beach, New Hampshire

My Annual Toe Wiggle

Photographers are always trying to time their photo shoots based on the best season, time of day and weather for any location. I am constantly checking the weather forecast, and using a powerful collection applications to predict the time and location of the sunrise and sunset, the tides, and the precise progression of the Milky Way across the sky. If thing don't line up properly I will often sleep late, settle in at home to work on my images and plan the next trip to capture the magic when the gods are more cooperative. Such is the life of a photographer, but sometimes time and location are set without any consideration of weather or astronomical conditions. This is the case when I find myself on a strict travel itinerary.

We will be touring Alaska later this summer. We have a precise schedule and it looks to be a great trip, but although I can tell you where we will be every day, I have no way of predicting the

Rye Beach Surf
conditions for photography. As always the challenge will be to make the best of the opportunities that present themselves and not morn those that are lost. Some days may be overcast and terrible for dramatic mountain panoramas, but the light may be perfect for macro photographs of wildflowers. For me, an exciting part of the adventure is to work the scene and the conditions to get the most from what nature provides. A great chance to practice this opportunistic approach to photography is our yearly weekend along the Atlantic Coast at Rye Beach, New Hampshire.

The Shack on the Beach

For many years our friends Tom and Paula have rented a summer cottage on Rye Beach, New Hampshire. They welcome guests

Sand Castles are a Must
throughout their stay, but one weekend is unofficially set aside as Chesterfield weekend when neighbors are encouraged to come and enjoy the wine, the food and the opportunity to wiggle their toes in the sand. We try to get there every year. Their cottage is not the most elegant on the beach ... OK it is by far the most "rustic" example of a traditional old beach shack. Through some miracle it has remained standing for decades while every other house on the beach has be torn to the ground and replaced by criminally expensive modern structures. Of course the condition of the house is immaterial, all that is needed is a location on the beach and good friends. It is a wonderfully relaxed and friendly place, but I can only tolerate about two hours of mindless toe wiggling and then I have to get up to start grabbing some coastal pixels.

I love every opportunity I have to shoot along the New England coast, but on our fixed Rye Weekend, there is no way to predict what the weather will be like. It is a perfect example of the challenge of making the best of the prevailing conditions. 

Ghosts of Ryes Past

Rye Beach 2013

Every year the Rye weekend gives me material for a blog article. In past years I have captured dramatic sunrises, moody salt marches and one remarkable full double rainbow, but I have also been forced to deal with rain, fog and disappointing, cloud shrouded, sunrises. It is all part of the adventure and this year was no different.

Above the Waves, Rye Beach

Sun and Sand
This year I arrived at the beach in the mid afternoon of the a

Bob on the Beach
pleasantly sunny Saturday. The Chesterfield crew was all nicely settled on the beach under their pop-up tent. I quickly got my two hours of pleasant conversation and toe wiggling and then I started to look around for pictures. I had brought my new compact SX50 HS camera to use on the beach. I always get nervous about getting sand and salt into my DSLR and I'm still in the exploration phase with my new carry around camera. I started
Star Island, Isles of Shoals
by using the camera's flexible LCD screen to capture images just above the waves as they rolled in to the beach. Fortunately the crowds were already beginning to thin. It was an especially clear day and the view to the Isle of Shoals, six miles out to sea, was unusually sharp. It was a great chance to try out the 1200mm zoom on the SX50. The long lens collapsed the six miles of broiling atmosphere giving the islands a soft abstract appearance. As I watched, the islands seemed to grow in size and I realized I was seeing an unusual atmospheric phenomenon. The light traveling from the islands was bent as it passed between a layer of cold air near the ocean surface and warm air above creating a
Star Island, Superior Mirage
"superior mirage", which made the islands appear as if they were perched on high palisades. The effect lasted for many minutes and my long lens was great for capturing the show. As the sun dropped toward the horizon the mirage disappeared as quickly as it had formed and we were left with the lovely warm sunset light illuminating the flowers on the deck overlooking the beach.

Mirage of White Island Light, Isles of Shoals

Milky Way
Whenever I go to the coast in the summer I pray for clear night skies to allow a view of the Milky Way across the open ocean

where it would be unobscured by the glow of civilization. I knew from my study of the Photographer's Ephemeris and
PhotoPills that the Milky Way would be in optimal position in the
southern sky from little after 10 pm until about 11:30 pm, when its westward progression would take it over land and the lights of the distant Hampton Beach. I have just recently discovered the Photopills App and It has become my new favorite tool for finding the best time and location to capture the Milky Way. I planned to set up on the rocks just north of Wallis Sands Beach where I would have a clearer view to the south. After a great communal dinner at the beach house, we all sat on the porch watching the sky hoping that it would clear as the evening cooled. As 10 pm approached things were not looking good. I few bright stars were visible above but a haze had settled over the ocean. I finally surrendered and dejectedly headed to my hotel in Portsmouth. On the way, I couldn't resist stopping at my intended viewing spot. Things looked a bit better there and I grabbed a quick test shot. The Milky Way was right where it was supposed to be. The haze still amplified the light pollution, but, living away from the coast, I am experienced in dealing with the horizon glow. I settled in and managed some surprisingly nice shots. I wanted to included the rocks in the foreground, but the major problem was waiting for a pause in the flashlight beacons coming from the fisherman who were scattered on my rocky foreground. There was considerably more beer drinking than fish catching going on and that led to more flashlight play than could be considered ideal! A little patience and I was able to get a few serviceable shots, and then I was off to my lovely, non-rustic, hotel bed.


Shining a Light on a Cloudy Wet Day

Portsmouth Harbor Light

I knew from the forecast that Sunday was going to be a day dominated by clouds and rain. Unfortunate, but at least I had a perfect excuse to sleep late. No predawn slogs for me. When entombed in sheets of rain a "rustic" beach house can become a bit oppressive, even when shared with good friends. A depressing drizzle was interspersed with waves of torrential downpours and after positioning all the pots to catch the various leaks and contributing my fair share to the cottage jigsaw puzzle, I decided it was time to   escape. I ran to the car and started exploring the coast for wet weather photo opportunities. As I wandered north, the rain abated and I decided to check out Fort Constitution at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbor.

 I was happy to discover that on summer Sundays the Lighthouse next to the fort was open for tours, conducted up a dedicated group of volunteers from the Friends of Portsmouth Harbor Lighthouses. Portsmouth Harbor Light was built in 1878, and in combination with the taller Whaleback Lighthouse still marks the entrance to Portsmouth Harbor. The Lighthouse is 48 feet tall and was actually built inside the taller wooden lighthouse that proceeded it. Once completed the old lighthouse was removed revealing the new cast iron structure. The lighthouse has a dramatic spiral staircase winding around the red brick interior to the top. The light has a fourth order Fresnel Lens that, despite a surprisingly small lamp, reaches 14 miles out to sea.


After my wanderings, I returned to the beach in time to "join" my friends for a traditional stroll along the beach. My friends are uncompromising "strollers" and I was left progressively far behind as I paused to take occasional photographs. My subjects were illuminated by soft flat light and included driftwood, sand tendrils and waves crashing on the stubborn rocks which frame the beach. I was also able to use my 1200mm lens to reach out for an intimate portrait of the backs of my receding friends. We finished off a cool damp day with a lovely dinner in the warm environs of the Portsmouth Brewery.

Beach "Strollers"


Rye Harbor Fog

My last day on the beach was all about the fog. I have always loved the sense of depth and mystery that fog adds to a scene and Monday morning the mist had settled in to cover everything with a soft gray blanket. On my way home I detoured to Rye Harbor to take advantage of the conditions. The boats moored in the harbor emphasized the effect of the fog as the more distant vessels faded from view. 

Then it was time to hit the the road back to my hopelessly landlocked home. It was another great Rye Weekend with its usual challenges and opportunities. Certainly not the best weather, but, as I said at the beginning, it is the process of figuring out how to get the most from the conditions that is a primary source of the adventure of nature photography.

Jeffrey Newcomer

Sunday, August 3, 2014

What Camera Should I Buy (Part 2)

 Part of the "Basic Digital Series" 
Harvest Arch, Weston, Vermont Canon 5D Mark II

Random Thoughts on Digital Single Lens Reflex, Mirrorless and "Why Choose"

In last week's blog I discussed some of the important factors to
My Canon G11
consider when shopping for a Compact or Carry Around Camera. These little cameras can do a remarkable job particularly when conditions are not especially challenging. It is wonderfully liberating to have a camera that can slip into a pocket or a small fanny pack, but these cameras run into problems when dealing with more extreme conditions such as low light, high contrast or tricky depth of field. This is where Digital Single Lens Reflex camera offer a better and more easily manageable solution.

Digital SLRs


Canon 5D Mark II 400mm Lens

Digital SLR Cameras offer a level of quality and control beyond most compact cameras. In the days of film SLRs were contrasted to more compact "Range-Finder' cameras, with a major difference being that, with the SLR, images were framed directly through the lens rather through a eyepiece set off to the side. Today even the most inexpensive compacts provides a view through the lens on the LCD screen. Now the major advantages of a digital SLR include better controls, interchangeable lens, and larger sensors with better image quality, especially in low light. 

Better Control.

All modern cameras have automatic settings that employ remarkably sophisticated algorithms that can interpret brightness and color to create serviceable images in many situations. For
Canon 5D Mark III Controls
many, "snap shot photographers", the Automatic or Program settings are all that are needed, but, when condition are more challenging, an understanding of the effect of the basic camera controls can make the difference between a spectacular work of art and "Awh, that's too bad". As you consider a DSLR or even some of the more sophisticated Compacts look at how easily f-stop, shutter speed, ISO and focus can be controlled. Too often controls on Compacts require a search through menus on the LCD screen that can seem endless when you are trying to catch that fleeting shot. Digital SLRs usually provide much easier access to these controls. There is a lot to learn to fully master the potential of your camera, but happily DSLRs typically have the option to use automatic settings as you slowly explore your camera's remarkable potential.

Interchangeable Lens'

For serious photographers it is generally all about the glass. Camera bodies come and go every few years; the pace of advancement in

digital photography is amazing, but your lens' can be a life-long investment. Compact cameras have zoom lens' that can cover a wide range of focal length, but high quality interchangeable lens' are intricate optical works of art that provide a level of sharpness far beyond what can be achieved with the best fixed zoom lens. Many of the cheaper DSLRs have smaller, "Crop" sensors and are sold in a kits that usually will include a lens that is designed to work only with these smaller sensors. The Canon Rebel Cameras are equipped with a sensor which is about 62% of the size of a "Full Frame" (35mm size) sensor which is found on their higher end DSLRs. The Rebels are packaged with "S" lens' which are designed to work well with the crop sensors but will be useless if you decide to move up to a full frame camera. In the long run it may make sense to buy a full frame lens for your crop sensor camera, but remember, the crop sensor cameras multiple the effective focal length of regular lens'. Canon's Rebels have a "crop factor" of 1.6 which means that a regular 24-105mm zoom will 
Smaller Sensor Extend Focal Length
become a 38x168mm when the focal lengths are multiplied by a factor of 1.6. As you first dip your toe in the DSLR world, It is perfectly fine to start with a crop sensor lens. Early on, you'll have more than enough to worry about as you try to figure out why bigger f-stops mean smaller openings. When you eventually sell your first DSLR, it will be great to have a nice "kit" lens to slap on it for e-Bay. Full frames lens' can get crazy expensive, but the basic rule should be, "Camera bodies come and go, spend your money on the glass that will last forever."

Sensor Size

Here is the situation where size does matter. Larger sensors provide more room for each pixel, capturing more light with less noise. The
difference is especially visible with hight ISOs in low light situations, but technology is rapidly improving the quality that can be obtained from smaller sensors. In the end, decision about Megapixels and sensor size should be based on what you plan to do with your images. The number of mega pixels can improve your ability to enlarge an image but if your goal is to display your pictures on the web or perhaps make 4x6 or 8x10 prints, you don't need 20 megapixels crammed on your sensor. Increasingly it is understood that the important thing is the quality and not the quantity of pixels, and this is where larger sensor generally excel. Finally the physics of large sensors means shallower depth of field. This can be a challenge in macro photography but provides the nice soft background Bokeh that portrait photographers prefer.

The Cool Factor:

Ok, lets admit it, a massive, microwave sized camera looks cool and "professional". You don't want to show up at your next wedding shoot with a pocket sized compact, but do you always want to lug that behemoth around with you? And that brings us to the major disadvantage, other than cost,  of DSLRs.


10Lbs 4Oz of Lens' - Without the Camera
Digital SLRs are weighty items especially when your kit includes several lens'. My primary Canon lens' total over 10 Lbs and that's without the camera!  My SX50 HS tips the scale at only 1 Lb 8Oz.  The heavier the camera, the harder it is on your back and the less likely you are to carry it around with you to catch that unexpected, once in a lifetime shot. 

Big cameras are also hard to hide when you are trying to catch candid shots such as with street or even family photography. People get very self-conscious when they find themselves staring down the barrel of a massive "professional" camera.

 Finally it is unfortunately true that in some sketchy locations a big, obviously expense camera can be an invitation to theft or worse.  We had a fantastic time at the street festival in Quito, Ecuador.  The people were wonderful, but there was no way I was going to carry around my Canon 5D Mark IIMy little, unobtrusive G11 worked just fine and it was WAY easier to hold up over my head.

Quito Street Festival
Why Choose ? :

It should be obvious that the selection of a camera involves a long series of decisions all of which open some possibilities while closing others, but why choose. There are couple of options that provide hybrid solutions.

The Mirrorless Revolution:

All compact cameras are mirrorless that is, they don't use a mirror to see through the lens. What appears on the LCD screen is the actual image seen by the sensor. Many newer DSLRs have the same capability in "Live View" mode. In recent years a new class
Olympus "Micro Four Thirds System
of mirrorless cameras have appeared that combine the benefits of a relatively compact camera with the ability to use interchangeable lens'. Most of the major camera manufactures have come out with their versions of these cameras, which include the capability for full manual control. They have been called Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Cameras (MILC), Mirrorless System Camera (MSC) or, my favorite "Evil" ; Electronic Viewfinder with Interchangeable Lens. I'll just refer to them all as"Mirrorless".  These cameras are advancing rapidly in terms of quality and capabilities. They come in a wide range of sensor sizes from the Olympus OM-D with a small "4/3" sensor to Sony's full frame A7. There is nothing that a mirror flapping in front of a sensor can do to improve image quality and I predict that Mirrorless will be the future of photography. For the time being Mirrorless cameras suffer from some of disadvantages. Although the quality of the images coming from cameras with even small
Sony Full Frame Mirrorless
sensors are quite remarkable they can't match noise level and low light capability of full frame digital SLRs. Mirrorless cameras generally use Contrast-based Autofocus rather that the faster Phased-based systems common in many DSLRs, but this difference is quickly disappearing as manufactures have upgraded their systems. The anchor that slows many of us elderly photographers from Mirrorless systems is our vast, and expensive collection of lens'. Mirrorless cameras are not compatible with standard DSLR lens' and although adapters are available, it seems awkward to carry around a massive 10 lb. lens with a tiny one lb. camera hanging off the end. For those of you just starting out, be grateful that you can approach your decision without this nasty encumbrance. If I was just beginning my photography career, I would have to strongly consider a larger sensor Mirrorless camera system. They are not cheap, and they are not as tiny as many compacts, but they do offer an interesting alternative to the big DSLRs.

Why Choose? Get Both.

Canon SX50 HS 'Carry Around"
1 Lbs 8 oz
Currently my solution to the camera dilemma is to have both a DSLR and a more compact "carry around". I like to have a decent camera with me at all times and that means more than just a camera phone. My new Canon SX 50HS is more than I can fit in my pocket without looking EXTREMELY excited to see everyone I meet, but I keep it in a small fanny pack making it easy to bring along whenever I don't want to be encumbered by my DSLR kit. I still have my G11 which can easily fit in a jacket pocket or my brief case. The two
Nellie with Canon SX50
camera solution works well and eliminates many of the awkward compromises necessary when relying on just one camera. The two major difficulties with this approach is, first, deciding which camera to bring on a shoot (I often bring both) and secondly, managing the cost of two cameras. No matter how much camera you need most of the time, a small Carry Around can be the best solution for special situations.

Once again, I apologize for my rambling and incomplete discussion of this difficult question. These articles have been two of my most challenging to write,  primarily due to how much of this expansive and evolving topic I had to leave out. My goal was to briefly introduce a few points that you will want to consider as you approach a decision about a new camera. Purchasing a camera should involve careful research, into both the equipment options, and, more importantly, your goals for your photography. The great news is that modern cameras are amazingly capable pieces of technology, and whether you pick a compact, DSLR or Mirrorless, you will be getting a magic-making machine which will be limited, not by its buttons and dials, but by the expanse of your own imagination. 

Part 1 of What Camera Should I Buy?

Jeffrey Newcomer