Choosing and using a camera
1. Digital cameras have now become the most popular type of camera for ease of use. They are ideal for taking on holiday, a good choice for beginners, small enough to carry in your pocket for capturing that special moment, and are very affordable. Itís a great choice if you want to put your pictures on the web or transfer them to disk for storage or display on TV
2. An SLR film camera has itís own advantages. Itís more suited for serious photography with a wide variety of interchangeable lenses to suit different subjects and situations. Itís perfect for action photography, studio photography, jounalism and is still the preferred choice of most professional photographers.
3. The difference in picture quality between film and digital is now almost insignificant. Depending on the size of prints, any digital camera which provides more than 2 megapixels will give you good qualty standard size prints. Even mobile phones can now provide this, while the latest digital cameras offer up to 10 megapixels or more, which is all you need to print out even poster size prints without any noticeable loss in image quality.
4. Even a professional photographer who prefers to use film will find a digital camera extremely useful for capturing quick reference shots to add to their subject reference file.
5. The subject matter will largely dictate the best type of equipment to use. If you want to take pictures of sporting events where thereís lots of fast action taking place then youíll need a camera with fast shutter speeds. If itís landscapes youíre interested in then make sure your camera has a cable release and slow shutter speeds for the times you want to capture those beautiful sunsets and nightime city scapes. Having a built in flash is essential too for taking pictures of people in low lighting. If taking pictures of birds or wildlife is more your thing then a camera with a good optical zoom lens or one that accepts interchangeable lenses is a must.
6. When choosing a digital camera itís preferable to get one with an Ďopticalí zoom feature. This will ensure good picture quality when zooming in on a subject, whereas a camera that provides a Ďdigital zoomí will lose quality as the image is enlarged.
7. A camera with a Ďmacroí setting is also essential if you want to take close-up shots of small subjects. Itís also good for copy work.
For example, re-photographing old family photos which have been torn. These can be copied and touched up using software such as Adobe Photoshop and re-printed to look like new.
8. To be able to capture fast action you need a camera with a fast fast shutter speed. This is not such a problem with a SLR film camera, however, most digital cameras are poor at capturing fast action due to Ďshutter lagí. This is the time it takes between pressing the button and the shutter opening, which can be as much as a second or more. However, some professional quality digital cameras have overcome this problem and eventually this important feature may appear on lower priced models in the future.
9. When buying a digital camera the importance of choosing a reliable power supply is often overlooked. AA and AAA size batteries are sometimes used and these have the advantage of being easily replaced if you run out of power. Other cameras will only accept their own power supply specifically made for the camera they come with. These are usually Lithium batteries which will normally last longer but can be quite expensive. In either case itís a good idea to keep a spare battery pack with you to ensure that you always have back up power for your camera when you need it.
10. Unless you already know the exact make and model of camera you want then do some research before you buy. The internet is a good place to start.
Compare features of the type of cameras youíre interested and see which ones get the best ratings. You could also check out the latest photography magazines on sale, they usually have some reviews of various new models currently available.
11.If buying online you wonít be able to try out the camera until you receive it. So before making a decision you could visit a local camera dealer and try out the same camera if they have one available. Ask to take some pictures and see how it performs. Take particular note of the shutter response time, how easily it is to handle the camera and itís features, and how clear the LCD screen displays the image and on-screen functions.
12. You can save money when buying a digital camera if the camera you want is available to buy used, or when itís being replaced by a newer model or updated version. Check ebay for used models or do a price comparison check online if you want to buy new.
13. A tripod is an important piece of equipment, especially if youíre going to use telephoto lenses regularly to capture the shots you want. For example, bird and wildlife photography often require telephoto or zoom lenses to get close-up shots of the subject. When buying a tripod avoid the cheaper models. Itís worth paying the extra for a good tripod and it will be more reliable, more sturdy and is bound to last longer.
14. Many digital cameras these days have anti-shake image stabilisation built into them. However, if your camera has a connection for a cable release then you can help prevent camera shake by using it in conjunction with a tripod. Itís especially useful if you need to take a long exposure. For example, in low light conditions.
15. When buying interchangeable lenses for your camera itís best to avoid the cheaper lenses at the lower end of the market. The quality of such lenses is inevitably not as good as lenses in the higher price brackets. Because the quality of the lens is so important in providing good sharp detail then try to buy the best lens you can afford. If you take your photography seriously you wonít regret it.
16. Zoom lenses can take up less space in your camera bag than having a seperate wide angle lens and a telephoto lens. It also means less weight to carry around also, provided you get a compact zoom lens. Otherwise the space and weight saving will be negligible.
17. Itís worth remembering that before you spend money on accessories, ask yourself if you really need them. Taking a good photograph does not always require you to have the latest and best accessories for your camera. So spend your money wisely and only buy an accessory when you really need it.
18. Filters can be useful but not essential. More often than not you can add similar effects using software. However, if you do decide to buy a spcific filter to get the shot you want then buy glass filters where possible to get the best quality. Particularly if you need a polarizing filter. Plastic graduated coloured filters are available for special effects and are usually acceptable for this kind of shot. They can also be rotated in the filter mount to the angle you prefer.
19. One of the most important items you need in your photographic arsenal is a good strong camera bag with enough space to hold your spare lenses and filters etc. To protect your camera from the inevitable knocks, dust, sand and bad weather conditions you may encounter, then choose a camera bag or case thatís going to be suitable and hardwearing.
20. Lens cleaning equipment is another important accessory that is both easily affordable and essential to keep your camera lens in tip top working condition. Donít let your pictures get spoilt by a dirty or greasy lens.