If you own a Canon Powershot G series that features a tilt and swivel LCD screen, you already have a camera that takes phenomenally better selfies than your latest smartphone — that is, if image quality matters to you. I was never drawn to taking selfies because smartphone front cameras are largely still supremely inferior when compared to a 5 year old battle-scarred G11. Also, you may have read about RAW support in Android 5.0 Lollipop, I am shooting RAW+JPEG with the G11. Only slight drawback with this camera is its rather narrow 28mm field of view (newer compacts feature 24mm). Regardless, I would take distortion free any day except in rare circumstances where fish eye would be more desired.
The Lollipod tripod is light, affordable, telescopic and extremely versatile. I have a pair that I picked up in Singapore to mount my remotely triggered Canon Speedlite 580EX flashes. The legs when folded turn into a monopod and let you grip the stick better to maintain camera orientation. The G11 is heavier than a smartphone so a rounded selfie stick is going to be a bit of a challenge if you get what I mean.
Before mounting the camera onto to the Lollipod, be sure to enable Face AiAF, Servo AF, Continuous AF for facial recognition and continuous tracking. Flip the LCD forward and you’re good to go (with some experimentation to find what works for you).
Attached to the G11 is a wired shutter release RS-60E3 with more than enough cable to run the entire length of the stick. I originally tested the setup using a 10 seconds timer setting but it got too cumbersome as the camera resets itself each time camera power timed out. Other than triggering the camera, the remote shutter release button also wakes the camera from sleep so that’s convenient.
So yesterday, I put the rig to the test (without the remote shutter cable solely relying on 10 seconds timer for each shot) at our 4 km Bukit Pak Natu hike in Sungai Liang. These pictures were taken between 3.30pm and 4.45pm on an extremely sunny afternoon and what’s the first thing that springs to mind when shooting under such conditions? Yes, harsh shadows, strong contrasts and if you’re taking pictures using a smartphone, front or back camera, you would most probably end up with pictures of dark faces or blown out background, not to mention images with no discernible background detail.
Taking pictures the way it’s always been taken using a tripod. I have on many occasions hiked with friends and used the Lollipod as a tripod to take group pictures. A tad inconvenient to set up compared to a quick smartphone selfie but priority being image quality over speed.
The G11 and the Lollipod combined weigh a bit more than your regular selfie stick and a smartphone. The weight may not be to everyone’s liking (it’s really not heavy) but the same principle associated with handling a DSLR applies to this setup — the weight helps with stability in addition to the camera’s optical image stabilization.
The following images were taken at various scenic spots throughout our hike — no forest canopy here just full on direct sunlight leaving subjects with dark faces especially when hats are worn. Here’s the thing with this setup: the G11 has DSLR-like controls so it’s extremely useful to have FEC dial to balance flash power when shooting under such extreme conditions. Conditions that overwhelm even the mightiest of smartphones (their tiny LED flash do not stand a chance). I shot RAW+JPEG and each of these images are good for A3 prints.
Why choose between properly exposed faces or blue skies when you can have both. The G11 on-board flash (dialed to correct power) takes care of that at the same time captures landscape with good detail (as opposed to a lump of green artifacts resembling distance trees.
Another great example where fill flash gives the subject the light it needs while camera meters for the background preserving all details behind the subject including blue sky and white clouds with no washed out highlights.
With my Columbia Omni-Freeze top and wife’s Patagonia Capilene® 1 both fairly recently acquired, we get to stay outdoors longer and stay cool both with UV protection. Love the heat, love the outdoors!