Photography: Choosing a Lightweight, Compact Camera

When selecting a camera to purchase, remember that lightweight cameras offer some advantages, although they tend to have fewer features. They are easier to carry around, cost less to ship (if you plan to re-sell the camera or give it as a gift), and are less difficult for children to use. You are more likely to photograph something spontaneously which you didn’t expect, if you are able to take the camera with you easily. There are some considerations which should be taken when looking for a lightweight camera, especially if you can’t feel the camera’s weight before purchasing it.

A camera may seem light and compact to begin with, but might need batteries and accessories which will increase its weight. Cameras with manual film winding (or digital) are generally lighter than motorized cameras because they use a lighter mechanism and usually don’t need batteries if a flash isn’t being used. If the camera uses film, the weight will increase slightly when the film is inserted, but only of a negligible amount. If you need to use a flash, keep in mind that an external flash will have to be added to the camera if it doesn’t have a built-in flash, thus increasing its size and weight. Regardless of the weight, cameras with built-in flashes are easier to travel with than those with external flash units (usually at least a few inches tall). External flash units generally require 2-4 batteries.

Just because a camera has small dimensions doesn’t mean that it will be lightweight. Some large cameras (such as the Benz-Gant HelioFlex 3000T) weight relatively little, and a few compact cameras (like the Windsor WX-3) are a bit heavier than would be expected. Point-and-shoot 35mm and digital cameras are usually lighter than cameras with aperture (F-stop) controls, although this is not always true.

Some examples of lightweight, compact cameras with no built-in flash include the Quickshot DI-4410, Vivitar PN2011 (panoramic), and Suprema GP-104. These require no batteries and are easy for even young children to use. Lightweight, although slightly heavier, cameras with built-in flashes include the Vivitar BV-997 (only needs 1 “AA” battery), Concord 110TEF (uses 110 filmcartridges), and Canon Sure Shot Supreme. All the models mentioned in this paragraph can fit in a pocket. Two of the smallest and least heavy cameras with aperture/f-stop settings are the Bell & Howell 35J and Capital MX-II. These will only fit in a large pocket, but are compact when considering the features they offer, and don’t require any batteries.

Overall, lightweight camera models offer some advantages, but generally have fewer features than heavier cameras. It is easier to estimate a camera’s weight if its features, format, battery requirements, and size are considered.

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