The Secrets of Choosing a Digital Camera Part 1

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Digital Cameras
Quick Photography Tip
Use a plain background. If the background is a hotchpotch, it will have a direct bearing on the main photograph

Size

Small is beautiful. Today's digital cameras are sometimes so small, that they fit into the breast pocket of your shirt easily and are still fully featured so you get the most out of the camera in almost every situation. Just imagine taking a picture of a wonderful sunrise when your are on your morning run or the happy smile of your kids when you pick them up after school. With a small digital camera you don't have to lug around heavy equipment, you are always ready to take the picture of your life.

But too small could be a nightmare for someone with large hands or big fingers. In this case it is not practical and the fingers could cover the lens, the internal flash or could not work the tiny buttons to select the diverse functions, a modern digital camera offers.

A larger, heavier digital camera is useful when you want to do more serious work. Think about taking pictures where the internal flash is disabled and you work with longer shutter speeds. A heavier camera is easier to hold steady and it can better compensate the tine movement when you press the shutter button.

System - Camera Technology

There are many different kinds of cameras on the market today. The consumer has the choice between an ever increasing number of brands, but mainly his decision is based on what he wants to use the camera for and what his past experiences with photography are.

Viewfinder cameras
this is the most simple system on the market. The viewfinder is located in the upper left corner of the camera (seen from the rear) and presents a picture that is slightly offset to what the camera really sees. When you are very close to an object, the difference in view can be dramatic. This type of digital camera works very good for snapshots as well as for most photographic needs of the average person. Disadvantages are the fixed lenses, the lack of influence you can take on the picture (e.g. sharpness, focus, light).


Some more advanced models also use the small LCD monitor as a viewfinder. The advantage here is that the picture you see on the screen is the same that you will take with your camera. You have good control of what you will put into your picture. Disadvantage with his type of display is that you cannot preview the pictures in a brightly lit environment. Taking pictures in brought daylight is sometimes difficult as you try to hold the camera steady and also shade the LCD.

Bridge cameras
this type of camera is more heavyset than the usual compact digital camera. Usually it features a fixed lens with a good zoom factor. Ranging from wide angle to telephoto, you can cover most photographic challenges with these models. They offer a trough the lens view finder, which gives you a correct impression of the photo you are going to take, regardless of focus length. The picture is projected on the CCD chip in the camera and projected on a small monitor that is either inside the camera positioned like on traditional cameras or on the back panel of the camera body.

These cameras are usually more capable of changing photographic parameters and are used by people who want to do more than the occasional snapshot.

Digital SLR (Single Lens Reflex)
this is the most advanced type of digital camera on the market today. It works very similar to traditional SLR cameras, but using the digital process instead of film. You can choose different lenses for every possible purpose. Whether it is a wide angle lens for landscape photography or a small telephoto lens for doing portraits or close-up work. The lenses are interchangeable and you sometimes even get compatible lenses from third party manufactures that are of similar quality, but lower in price. The picture is reflected into the viewfinder via a mirror (this is why its called reflex). When you release the shutter to take the picture, the mirror is moved away, the shutter curtains open and the light is directly sent to the CCD chip. A small LCD screen on the back panel of the camera is used for doing a first check on picture quality and for setting the different features and options of the camera. Digital SLR cameras are usually used by professional photographers and high level enthusiasts.

Memory - Bigger Is Better

The advantage of digital cameras compared to traditional ones is that you can shoot as many pictures as the memory chip allows. Pictures that turned out to be low quality can easily be discarded and again you have room on your memory card to take new pictures. As advantageous as it is, this circumstance leads to taking more pictures than with traditional cameras and as the resolution of the digital cameras increases from year to year, the need for memory increases. Therefore it may be useful to exchange the memory card that came with the camera with a bigger one or having a spare one when going on a longer trip. Below table lists the approximate number of photos that fit on a 128 MB memory card when using the jpg-format:

ResolutionQualityBestGoodStandard
6 mega pixel3008x2000 34 70 117
4 mega pixel2400x1600 51 96 161
1.5 mega pixel1536x1024 106 173 271

The above quality rating is based on the compression factor of the jpg format (higher compression results in smaller files, but in lower picture quality).

More things to watch out for shoppping or digital camera will be covered in part 2 of this series.

About the Author

Tom has spent most of his free time behind cameras of different types. He specializes in close-up work and travel photography. To share his experiences and fascination about digital photography, he has set up www.digitalcameratips.de which covers topics for beginners as well as advanced users of digital cameras.


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