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March 22, 2012

Choosing a Digital Camera

Digital devices have forever changed fishing photography

People say a picture is worth a thousand words — but that number’s got to be 10 thousand for fishermen. Anglers love nothing more than showing off their fishy photos. This is as true today as during the era of the black-and-white picture.

But never before have fishermen had so many options. The digital revolution has spawned literally hundreds of incredibly powerful cameras. Many of these are both portable and easy to use, making them ideal for fishing. And boy, do they work!

Even ordinary anglers are generating professional-grade images and video these days. Underwater photography — once unheard of among amateurs — is now commonplace. And these trends will march on as technologies continue to advance. It will all lead to better equipment at more-affordable prices — and, ultimately, even more-radical fishing media.

Stills and Video: Two Worlds Collide
Of course, things weren’t always this way. For decades, film and Polaroids ruled the day for anglers. But with the rise of the digital camera in the mid-1990s, it quickly became apparent that the computer screen — not the photo lab — would rule the future. In fact, many of today’s least-expensive point-and-shoot digital devices capture not only high-resolution stills but video as well.

Take Canon’s PowerShot D10, for example. “It’s our waterproof, shockproof model,” says Len Musmeci, Canon’s public-relations manager and an avid angler who fishes for tuna in New Jersey each June. “Its attributes are excellent on the water.”

The D10 is a 12.1-megapixel device, perfectly adequate for grin-and-grab style shots. Megapixels, by the way, refer to the camera’s degree of imagery resolution (a megapixel represents 1 million pixels; a pixel, meanwhile, is the basic building block of a digital image). At just 6.7 ounces, the D10 is also small enough to be carried in your pocket.

Most large companies such as Canon and Nikon offer a wide array of excellent products at various price points — and quality is continually improving. Sony recently unveiled a new, 16.2-megapixel point-and-shoot, the Cyber-shot TX10. But if you want to step it up a notch in your fishing photography, look to Sony’s Alpha NEX line.

While the NEX has an extremely small, compact body, it’s equipped with a huge sensor, and it can accommodate professional lenses. It all adds up to greater performance.

“You can’t say ‘Cheese!’ to a jumping marlin and expect him to hold still,” jokes Mike Kahn, director of Sony’s Alpha camera systems. “You need high-speed focusing systems, extremely fast shutter lag and lots of light, which is captured with a large lens. In the NEX, our engineers created a camera that offers DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) quality at about half the weight of those cameras.”

And half the price. For $700, you can have a 16.1-megapixel NEX-5N matched with an 18-55mm lens. The camera captures stills at 10 frames per second and shoots high-definition 1,920-by-1,080-pixel video. Basically, it’s fully capable of freezing that wild marlin in flight.