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Photography & Photographs
About Cameras & Pictures

Photography & Digital Photography

Photography is no longer confined to weddings and vacations, with the coming of digital cameras most everyone can now afford to take pictures and store them on CDs, share them on the Internet, and print off those special pictures with a home printer.

On This Page: Digital Photography Buying Digital Cameras

Digital Photography

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Buying Digital Cameras

What Digital Camera Should You Buy?
By Contributor: Douglas G. Rawlins

With the staggering array of digital cameras on the market today it is no wonder that the average person is overwhelmed when it comes to a purchasing decision. Let’s try to sort through this dilemma in a logical way and maybe it won’t be so difficult after all.

First of all, you need to ask yourself what kind of photographer you are (or want to become), and what kind of pictures do you want to take? Are you an absolute beginner that has never taken a picture even with a disposable film camera, or are you an advanced amateur desiring to take your photography to the next level, maybe even turn pro? Most likely you fall somewhere in between. Nikon D3

Next consider the type of pictures you intend to take. Will they just be snapshots of the family and pets or do you want to take landscapes and macro photographs (extreme close-ups) of bugs and flowers? Do you plan on venturing into the world of night photography and time exposures? How about fast action sports shots of either your kids or even a local professional team. Every kind of photographic situation requires a particular camera feature to render excellent results.

Another consideration is whether you are just going to be sharing your pictures on the Internet and maybe print some small 4x6 copies, or do you want to be able to print 8x10 or bigger enlargements of your work.

This will bring us to a discussion of the dreaded mega pixel. How many is enough and how many is more than you need? The sensor in a digital camera is equivalent to the film in a traditional camera and is made of millions of tiny light sensitive pixels. As a general rule the more pixels the higher the resolution or quality of your image. One million pixels equal one mega pixel. Any 1 to 3-mega-pixel camera (although cameras with sensors in this range are becoming rare accept in the used market) will give you sharp 4x6 prints and excellent images you can post on line to share with friends and relatives. If you will be printing 8x10 enlargements then you should be looking at a camera with at least a 5-mega-pixel sensor. For even larger prints suitable for framing you will need a camera with 8 to 10 mega pixels or more. There is much more to total image quality than the number of mega pixels a camera has. Lenses, for example, are just as important in digital photography as they are with film.

Finally, your budget for photographic equipment must be considered. Fortunately you can buy a decent point and shot camera these days for around the same cost as a tank of gas. On the opposite end of the spectrum a professional DSLR (digital single lens reflex) will cost you several thousand dollars, and that’s before you start investing in lenses and other accessories.

Digital cameras fall into two basic categories: point-and-shoot cameras and the more versatile and usually more expensive single lens reflex cameras. When it comes to price and performance there is a small amount of overlap between the two categories. In other words, some point-and-shoot cameras sporting a 10x or better zoom lens are actually more expensive and almost as versatile as some entry-level DSLR cameras.

Nikon P6000 Let’s begin with the point and shoot camera, named so because of its simplicity and ease of use. If you fall into the group of photographers who basically just want to take acceptable snapshots then a P&S camera will serve you well. P&S cameras have a single lens, usually a zoom lens, allowing you to change between wide angle and telephoto. They do not have interchangeable lenses so choose a camera with a lens that will suit your entire picture taking needs. To frame your picture you either look through the view finder or use the LCD monitor on the back of the camera. A larger monitor is an asset for both taking and reviewing pictures.

If on the other hand, you want to produce enlarged images and venture into more challenging areas of photography then you should definitely consider a DSLR. Even an entry level DSLR will give you more versatility than a P&S camera.

With a DSLR camera when you look through the viewfinder you are actually looking through the taking lens of the camera. You are seeing what the camera sees and turns into your captured image. This is a big advantage in many situations such as taking extreme close-ups. The lens on a DSLR is interchangeable giving you the ability to attach other lenses for special applications. Be sure to check the lineup of available lenses manufactured for the camera you are considering. Do they make every lens you might need in the future? An entry level DSLR such as the Nikon D40 with a 6.1 mega pixel sensor and zoom lens will cost you a little over $400.00 street price. A more advanced camera like the Canon D40 with a 10.1 mega pixel sensor and a zoom lens will run close to $1,200.00. A truly professional DSLR like the Nikon D3 starts at about $5,000.00 and that is without a lens. As you can see there is a very wide range of equipment available when you start looking at DSLR cameras. Canon 40D

Here are a few examples of good quality P&S digital cameras. The Kodak EasyShare C713 is a 7.0 mega pixel camera with a 3x optical zoom, 2.4” LCD display, and it will even shoot short videos. For the weekend snap-shooter it is a real bargain at under $100.00. For a step up the Fujifilm S700 7.1 mega pixel camera with 10x zoom lens and 2.5” display can be found for under $200.00. Toward the high end of P&S cameras you might like the Nikon Coolpix P6000. It has a 13.5 mega pixel sensor, a 4x wide angle Nikkor zoom lens, built-in image stabilization (allows you to shoot at slower shutter speeds without camera shake or blur), and with its ISO 6400 sensitivity you can take a picture by candle light. A lot of compact camera but it will take about $500.00 out of your billfold.

What about brands? I must admit being a professional photographer I am partial to Nikon and Canon, primarily due to the vast assortment of lenses and accessories available for their DSLR cameras. Does that mean you should buy one of these two brands? Absolutely not. Pentax, Fujifilm, Kodak, Olympus, Sony and others all produce excellent products, one of which may be perfect for you. Again, in this article I am trying to narrow down your choices to simplify your decision. I can’t tell you exactly what camera make and model to buy. Further more, when you go shopping don’t let any salesman tell you he can do this either. The ultimate choice is up to you. Fuji700
Kodak C713

After your done your initial shopping here are two web sites that can give you some very useful information about the models you’ve selected. Popular Photography & Imaging magazine has a web site at www.popphoto.com and Digital Photography Review has one at www.dpreview.com. Both have excellent reviews and test results on most of the newest cameras. The manufactures also have web sites with detailed specifications on their products. Do your research before you plunk down your money.

Nikon D40 Digital photography is a great hobby and a wonderful way to preserve your memories. Remember with a digital camera there is no film to buy or develop; therefore, take lots of pictures so you don’t miss that great one. You can make your own prints or have them made, and don’t forget to send the grandparents copies in your e-mails. Although your pictures will look fine right out of the camera, all digital photographs will look better with some computer processing, but that’s a whole new subject that I’ll tackle in another article.


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