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Ask the NCN Editors…and Get Unenlightened!


Every once in a while* the esteemed editors of NCN take reader questions, and in their response increase the IQ of the Internet by at least five points. 


My husband is leaving me. He says that he’s never loved me, and something about being an advance scout for an alien species. By law, he’s entitled to half of my large camera and lens collection, including vintage Leica, Minolta, and Nikon rangefinders, along with some nice new Fuji and Olympus/Panasonic mirrorless gear. He’s said that I can keep my camera collection, and all that he wants is a single camera that he can document the “end of days” with. He’s a complete photography noob – what camera should I give him? I want to give him something nice, because I still love him and hope that he’ll change his mind about the divorce, but not too nice, if you know what I mean. What do you recommend?

Jane Doe
Topeka, Kansas


Jane, it’s always safe to start a beginner off with a simple camera and a single fixed focal length lens. We’d recommend one of your digital cameras with a prime lens between 35mm – 60mm long (35mm EQ). A camera with good manual controls can also be nice if he grows more curious about photography. Best of luck in your selection!



I’ve been diagnosed with an incurable disease and my doctor says that I’ve got three months to live. Apparently I’m host to a spore the likes of which my doctor or anyone on Earth has ever seen. He sent a tissue sample to the CDC and they said that it might be alien. My doc says that the spore will likely hatch on the next blue moon, splitting my body in half, feeding on my still warm entrails, and then float off into the sky, likely wreaking havoc on a nearby metropolis.

 So here’s my question – I’m looking to upgrade my old Canon Rebel DSLR and have been looking at the new mirrorless cameras. Are they worth it? And when I die, will my kids be able to use them without difficulty?

John Mortale
Wichita, Kansas


John, mirrorless cameras have come a long way since their introduction just a few short years ago. In many situations, they are the near equals of DSLRS. The problem is that they don’t hold their value all that well because they are evolving so quickly. That said, selection of a camera platform is a long-term decision, and we advice all shoppers to spend as much time and money looking at lens lineups and roadmaps as bodies. In all likelihood, the lenses you buy will long outlive your bodies, so you should chose a system based on the lenses that you need.

Regarding your offspring, mirrorless cameras are no harder or easier to use than DSLRs. If anything, their live-view rear screens should be more familiar to the smartphone generation than an optical viewfinder. Good luck in your camera search!



An alien vessel landed in my back yard the other night. We went out to investigate. A hatch opened, and a tall, lanky alien with an oversized head came out. It abducted my wife and our dog. And then the vessel floated up to the sky and disappeared in a streak of light.

My problem is that the only camera I had on me at the time was my iPhone, which is crappy in low light. Can you recommend a camera that’s small enough to always have with me but decent in low light?

Joseph Mahma
Kansas City, Kansas


Joseph, there are a number of “serious compact” cameras that are significantly better than your iPhone. They include Sony’s RX100 II, the Panasonic LX7, Pentax’s MX-1, Canon’s S110, and more. The Sony’s got the biggest sensor, which normally means better performance in low light, but the zoom slows down as you zoom in, negating some of that advantage. A step up and you’ll find that Ricoh has a very nice GRD and Nikon has a Coolpix A. Both have bigger APS-C sensors, but they aren’t zooms, so you’ll have to zoom with your feet. Sony’s also got a full-frame sensor in a small body with the RX1, but the lens is big, making the camera not pocketable. Good luck in your camera search!


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  1. Q: I was in the woods here in the Pacific Northwest, and I encountered Bigfoot. I shot a few excellent pictures of him, and caught his attention. He took my camera and flipped up the screen to take a selfie, and completely blew the exposure – which really ticked him off, and he took out the SD card and smashed it, walking away growling. My question is: Which online photography course would you recommend to a forest ape who has wireless internet?

    • Great question, Mr. Limited! There are plenty of great online resources for learning about exposure. We’ve had a lot of luck with Lynda.com, but it’s not free. Does Bigfoot have a credit card? For editing and processing, we’d recommend Donnie Hoyle’s now-classic You Suck at Photoshop on Youtube.

      If Bigfoot can get to a local library, we’d also recommend the classic Time Life Books series on photography, particularly the “The Camera” and “Frontiers of Photography” volumes.

      Thanks for writing in 😉

    • Great question! Based on your needs, we’d recommend a Nikon D800. Because nobody was ever fired for recommending, IBM, Microsoft, or Nikon. Any other questions?

  2. Q. I think I’ve run out of questions, for the present.

    A. I’d suggest doing some serious camera research for your new purchase. Somewhere like New Camera News looks like a very good starting point. Their extensive research team are knowledgeable about all things photographic.

  3. I just love how almost any gearhead will worry more about low-light capability and shadow recovery when faced with something extraordinary like an abduction (I admit it, the thought would more than cross my mind!)

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