Believe it or not it is possible capturing long exposures using a compact camera. Long exposure photography is a popular technique, and when you see the types of images long exposure photography produces it is easy to see why. Intentionally blurring water and clouds to create movement against tack sharp rocks, foliage, trees and buildings leads to some impressive photos that not only look professional but are also highly commercial.
Out of all the different types of photos I take and (try to) sell on various sites my top selling images on prints, postcards, posters and stretched canvases are long exposure images. Long exposure photos definitely seem to be the flavour of the day at the moment and since I sell my photos to generate a bit of extra cash (for that next lens or other bit of equipment) I try and give the public what they want.
Most long exposure photos are taken with dslr cameras. This is not because they offer the most control (even though they do) but simply because the equipment needed for long exposure photography is only available for dslr cameras with interchangeable lenses. Well, that used to be the case but it isn’t any more and it is now possible to capture long exposures using top end compact cameras, which is great for people who don’t use dslr cameras.
There are now adaptors for top end and professional compact cameras that allow the use of various types of photographic filters, including ND filters, which has opened up a whole new world of photographic opportunities. The manufacturer branded filter adaptors for the compact cameras are totally overpriced for what they are, however there are third party options available that do exactly the same job at a fraction of the cost. For example, the Canon branded filter adaptor for my Canon G1X is the best part of forty quid, whereas I picked up a third party copy for a little less than eight quid. That is a huge price difference and the money I saved was spent on some creative filters. As for the quality of the third party adaptor, it is strong, durable, fits well and does everything I want it to.
With the filter adaptor connected to the lens of my Canon G1X I add a 58mm 10 stop screw in ND filter, and I can now slow the shutter speed right down to intentionally blur moving water and/or clouds and create some movement in my photos.
Using the 10 stop ND filter with the Canon G1X isn’t that hard and all it takes is setting up the camera on a tripod, composing the shot and switching the lens to manual focus and applying the settings to get a “correct” exposure. Once the settings are identified it is then a case of slowing down the shutter 10 stops, carefully screwing in the ND filter and then taking the shot. Whilst the process isn’t difficult there is a learning curve to nailing the settings, so you are going to have to be prepared to spend a bit of time experimenting and taking several shots to nail it.
Using a 10 stop ND filter often results in a colour cast if you leave the camera in auto white balance mode. To overcome this you can take a custom white balance with the ND filter in place, and whilst this is arguably the “right” thing to do it is fiddly and just adds to the work load, which isn’t good if you haven’t got loads of time available. The other thing you can do is shoot in RAW and then deal with the colour cast using photo editing software.
Below is an example of my long exposure photography using my top end point and shoot camera, the Canon G1X.
In the photo above I used a 10 stop ND filter and I have to say I am more than happy with it. Would the image quality have been better if I had used a Lee filter? What about a Hitech 10 stop ND filter? These 10 stop ND filters cost several times more than my 10 stop ND filter, and I don’t think spending the extra would have been worthwhile, especially since I use my dslr for long exposure photography whenever I can. The compact camera is solely for travel use.
Is a 10 stop ND filter worth buying for a point and shoot camera?
If you want to have a go at long exposure photography with your compact camera the only way to do this is using a 10 stop ND filter. The 10 stop ND filter I used is one made by Zomei, for a full review please check this out.
You won’t get awesome results right off the bat, and you will have to spend a bit of time learning how to use the filter and your particular camera combination, however it is time well spent because when you do nail long exposure photography with your compact camera you will find it will open up a whole new world of creative possibilities.
Other compact camera articles you may find interesting
If you found the above useful/interesting below are some links to other related articles you may want to take a look at.
“WHY YOU NEED A PROFESSIONAL POINT AND SHOOT CAMERA” My camera of choice is my dslr however I also get great photos using my top end point and shoot camera, therefore I am of the opinion a top end is a camera all photographers should have in their kit bag. If you can’t see where I am coming from this article may shed some light on it.
“WIDE ANGLE PHOTOGRAPHY WITH A POINT AND SHOOT CAMERA” Many people think you need an interchangeable lens camera to take proper wide angle photos, however this is not the case. Yep, you can capture proper wide angle photos using a point and shoot camera, as explained in this article.
“USING A POINT AND SHOOT CAMERA FOR MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY” If you want to know how to capture stunning macro photos with your point and shoot camera this article is something you may wish to take a look at.
“CAN YOU USE A TOP END POINT AND SHOOT CAMERA FOR FAST ACTION PHOTOGRAPHY?” So you want a camera for some fast action images and want to know if a top end point and shoot is going to suit your needs. This article should be of use.
“USING A POINT AND SHOOT CAMERA FOR FISHEYE PHOTOGRAPHY” As well as wide angle photography you can also use a point and shoot camera for ultra-wide angle, i.e. fisheye photography, and all you need is an inexpensive converter as detailed in this article.
“LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY WITH A PROFESSIONAL COMPACT CAMERA” If you want some tips on how to capture stunning landscape shots with your professional compact camera this article may be of interest.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.