The Instagramera

InstaCan you find your Instagram camera? No, I don’t mean the little quasi-Polaroid icon that appears on your iPad or mobile phone to start up the Instagram app – I mean have you thought through a camera that you can dedicate to Instagram pictures?

Don’t snort. It’s not a bad question when one wants to go past the Ipad or camera phone – is there a standard camera that would be good for this class of display? Would it give a real advantage over those flat devices?  Or is one just obsessing with equipment?

Lets answer the last question first. Every honest person I have met in the trade is equipment-oriented, and fixated upon the machine that produces the picture. If they were not, they would have a pad of cartridge paper and a box of watercolours and be happily painting sunflowers. Yes, then, they are obsessing, but no, it is not a bad thing. Not for the trade, anyway…

Are there real advantages to using a camera of standard shape over the pads and phones? Yes – increased ability to capture images from distances or in poor light with better resolution and dynamic range. And very much better ergonomics whilst doing so.

Which standard camera, then – well one that will allow a peculiarity of Instagram to be catered for – the fact that most of the images are square ones. And small square ones at that. The camera should be able to see and record JPEG images in a 1:1 format in about a medium size and to be able to transfer these to the iPad or phone easily. WiFi is nice, but card to adapter feed is also pretty easy with the iPad.

Does that mean every camera on the planet? No. Disregard the big stuff. You do not need a Hasselblad H6D for this job nor really any of the full frame cameras. You need a little body that can be configured to a square recording – or at least to show you a square framing at the time of image capture to let you crop to that in the Instagram app itself.

So look on the menu of your camera – if it can see in 1:1 at medium size you are in. Suit yourself how you handle it and what lens, if any, you click onto the front of it. If you want small and light, go small and prime. If you want to be big and macho and technical, clap on a long zoom. The 1:1 will give you a useful focal length extension anyway.

And if you can’t afford a new camera just set the crop marks on your image editing program in the computer to 1:1, trim ’em square, and load them into the ipad.

PS: Frugal sneak-around solution: put a plastic screen protector over the LCD screen of your camera and draw two vertical lines down it to make a square. You’ll still crop in the iPad but you’ll have enough air around your subject to do it to.

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