Digital Camera Terms To Know
It helps when learning to use your new digital camera to also know what some of the more common terms mean. Below you will find many of these common terms defined..
Automatic Mode — A setting that sets the focus, exposure and white-balance automatically.
Burst Mode or Continuous Capture Mode — a series of pictures taken one after another at quickly timed intervals with one press of the shutter button.
Compression — The process of compacting digital data, images and text by deleting selected information.
Digital Zoom — Cropping and magnifying the center part of an image.
JPEG — The predominant format used for image compression in digital cameras
Lag Time — The pause between the time the shutter button is pressed and when the camera actually captures the image
LCD — (Liquid-Crystal Display) is a small screen on a digital camera for viewing images.
Lens — A circular and transparent glass or plastic piece that has the function of collecting light and focusing it on the sensor to capture the image.
Megabyte — (MB) Measures 1024 Kilobytes, and refers to the amount of information in a file, or how much information can
be contained on a Memory Card, Hard Drive or Disk.
Pixels — Tiny units of color that make up digital pictures. Pixels also measure digital resolution. One million pixels
adds up to one mega-pixel.
RGB — Refers to Red, Green, Blue colors used on computers to create all other colors.
Resolution — Camera resolution describes the number of pixels used to create the image, which determines the amount of
detail a camera can capture. The more pixels a camera has, the more detail it can register and the larger the picture can be
Storage Card — The removable storage device which holds images taken with the camera, comparable to film, but much smaller. Also called a digital camera memory card…
Viewfinder — The optical “window” to look through to compose the scene.
White Balance — White balancing adjusts the camera to compensate for the type of light
Digital Zoom Versus Optical Zoom
Many digital cameras offer both digital and optical zoom. These two often confuse the average camera buyer, until you know what you’re looking at.
Optical zoom works much like the zoom lens on a 35 mm film camera. It changes the length of your camera’s lens and draws the subject closer to you. The optical zoom keeps the quality of the picture. Digital zoom works differently. It simply takes the picture and crops it then enlarges the part that is left. It causes the quality of the photo to be reduced, sometimes greatly.
What this means in terms of output is you may have a larger view of an object with the digital zoom, but chances are your image will become unfocused. Details will become lost. It is actually best to turn off the digital zoom feature of your camera if possible. This will prevent you automatically zooming in too close as the digital zoom is often an extension of the optical.
There are a couple of things you can do if you want a closer view of a subject but want the quality of your picture to still be good. Try moving in closer when you take the picture. Often only a foot or two will do the trick. If this isn’t possible, you can set your camera to take a picture at its highest file size. This will result in a photo that can be cropped to include only your desired subject, yet allow for an image that is still clear.
Digital zoom has its place. It can be used if the only destiny of your photo is the internet. Photos online can be a much lower quality in the camera and still appear acceptable when sent through e-mail or posted on a web gallery. If your goal is printing, however, seek a camera that has a greater optical zoom and turn off the digital zoom. Your pictures will be better in the end, even if they are not as close up.
Focus Modes in Digital Cameras
While some of the least expensive digital cameras have only automatic focus, meaning the camera does all the work on bringing your subject into the best possible focus, most SLR digitals offer three different focus modes: manual, single auto focus and continuous auto focus. All three of these will be addressed here.
With manual focus, the camera stays out of the focus equation and you, the photographer, make all the decisions regarding this. This is done by setting different buttons or actually using an attached focusing ring that rotates on the camera lens. For those who like to have complete creative control of the finished product, this is the best focus mode.
In single auto focus mode, the camera automatically focuses when you press the shutter button either all the way down to shoot a photo or half way down to lock the focus. This mode is useful when shooting static objects.
In continuous auto focus the camera continuously focuses on the objects in the photo. In this mode the camera continuously corrects the focus as the objects distance from the camera changes. This mode is useful when you shoot photos of moving objects such as a race car during a race or airplanes during an air show. You can hold the shutter button half way down and continuously move the camera to follow the object. The camera will continuously keep the object in focus.
Like any other feature automatic and manual focus modes have their pros and cons. The first step to using them to your advantage is to understand how they work and what they were designed for. The next step is to experiment shoot photos using different focus modes and different types of objects and see how the camera behaves. Once you have done that you will be ready to instinctively use the best focus mode for each photo situation.
How Many Mega-Pixels Do I Need?
One of the confusing things in choosing a digital camera is deciding how many mega-pixels you should look for. The answer depends on what you plan on doing with the finished pictures.
First, you need to understand what a pixel is. In terms of digital prints, a pixel simply means a dot of color that makes up the image. A mega-pixel is equal to one million pixels. The more mega-pixels a camera has, the greater the amount of information it records.
The easiest way to decide what to look for is to know what size prints you are likely to print from your camera. A one mega-pixel camera is fine for those who don’t plan on printing photos but rather just post them on the internet. A small print, say 4 x 6, will print acceptably from this camera.
A 2 mega-pixel camera will enable you to produce good quality 5 x 7 prints and fair quality 8 x 10 prints. When you reach 4 mega-pixels you can print out excellent quality 8 x 10 prints and acceptable 11 x 17 prints and a 5 mega pixel camera will allow you to print out high quality 11 x 17 prints.
Most families find a camera in the 3.2 Mega-pixel range to be the best choice. The quality of both 5 x & and 8 X 10 prints is very good yet the files on your computer are not so large you need worry about not having enough space.
Any camera over 5 mega-pixels is unnecessary for all but professionals in photography; even then, only those who have need for poster-size prints find that many mega-pixels worth the money. Most freelance photographers find 4 or 5 mega-pixels to be sufficient for excellent-quality prints.
The choice is yours. Look to what you plan on doing with your photos and then decide. In most cases spending the money for increased optical zoom and lower mega-pixels is the best choice.
Capturing the Little Things With a Digital Camera
Have you ever wondered how a photographer gets such clear, detailed photos of things like flowers or insects? Capturing such close-up pictures is most often done with a setting that comes as an option on many digital cameras–the macro setting.
What the macro setting on your camera essentially does is focus on a very small area. The background often appears unfocused to further bring out your intended subject. Getting in close to capture all the detail of a small object is nearly impossible with the regular setting on a camera. Anything closer than about three feet becomes blurred. The macro setting changes the distance your camera will be able to focus and often allows you to take clear pictures from as close as two or three inches.
This camera mode allows for a lot of experimenting. Try taking a picture of a bee sitting on a flower petal or a close-up of frost on the window. You will be amazed at the details brought out. You will be able to almost feel the furriness of the bee and the ice crystals are beautiful.
If you are planning to sell at online auctions, a macro setting on your camera will help with taking better pictures–and better pictures help with sales. You can take close-up photos of such objects as stamps and coins, show the engraving on an object or allow a viewer to see that a piece of jewelry is flawless.
Don’t save your photo taking for big events exclusively. Take a walk and notice the little things like the pattern on a tree trunk or an ant carrying a bread crumb twice his size. There are interesting photos everywhere once you start to look, and the macro mode on your digital camera is the perfect tool for capturing them.
Five Ways to Make Money Using Your Digital Camera
Have you ever wanted to find a way to bring extra money into your household–yet don’t have a lot of time to spend on a full-time endeavor? The solution is as close as the digital camera sitting there in a drawer. The following suggestions are only a few of the many ways you can make money in your spare time with your camera.
* Pet photos – Most owners won’t struggle to take a photograph with their pet all by themselves. You can be the one who makes it easy on them. Not only can you charge for the service and your time, but you can offer the photograph in it’s digital form or as a print that you can mail to them later – either created by your own photo printer or by a photo processing service.
*Graduations – preschool, high school, or college graduations offer dozens, if not hundreds of opportunities to capture a significant moment in someone’s life. If the family members of the graduate aren’t located in as good a location or don’t have as good a camera as yourself – you’ll have even greater opportunity at getting the shots they couldn’t.
*Holiday Family Postcards – offer your services to families that want their picture taken and put on a postcard that they can send to their extended family and friends.
*Photo Novelty Items – take photographs of people that want the pictures of themselves of their loved ones imprinted on coffee mugs, mouse pads, key chains, tee-shirts, and other items.
*Newborn photo service – parents of newborns are some of the busiest people in the world. Advertise your services on an on-call basis so that you can take informal snapshots for the growing family either before they leave the hospital, or after they get home. This way both parents and the child can be in more of the pictures all together, and the parents have one less thing to try and figure out.
Digital Camera Memory Cards
Does it really make a difference what size memory card you use? To your camera, no; to you, however, it could mean the difference between getting the picture you want or running out of space on your memory card.
When choosing the most logical size, take into account how many pictures you usually take at a time. Your needs if you are a world traveler will be different from those of a person who only uses a camera for holiday get-togethers. You also need to decide how big the files are of the pictures you take. Smaller files such as pictures for online will take less space and enable you to fit more on a card. Larger files for printing will need more room.
If you have a 2 mega-pixel camera, 128MB is usually enough. For a 3 or 4-megapixel
camera, a 128MB or 256MB memory card is usually plenty. For a 5-megapixel camera, start with a 256MB memory card.
Here’s a rough guideline of how many pictures a flash memory card can hold:
*A 128MB flash memory card can store about 21-41 large, uncompressed images or up to 100 small, compressed images. This is good enough for most photographic needs.
*A 256MB card will store about twice that, 42-82 large pictures and nearly 200 smaller ones. Important events like weddings and once in a lifetime events might warrant this size just to make sure you don’t miss that one special moment.
A 1GB card has room for nearly 4 times as much as a 256MB card, If you are planning a long vacation with a lot of picture taking, this might be best with the capacity to hold 168-328 large images and a total of close to 800 smaller images.
Whatever you decide, remember you can always use several smaller cards and just change them when they are full. It only takes a few seconds to switch memory cards, so don’t panic if you don’t have a large memory card.
Red Eye and Your Digital Camera
You’ve seen the dreaded demon-eye effect that occurs when the camera flash bounces off the eye of a person or pet. An otherwise wonderful picture can be ruined by this. Technically, this is called red-eye and is caused when the pupil of your subject’s eye is wide open and the light from the camera’s flash reflects off the subjects retina. In people, the color ends up red; in pets, the color is often green.
Many photo editing programs include a red-eye correction filter, but this may not allow your photograph subject to appear “normal. These filters also do not work on the green effect produced in a pet’s eyes. Photo stores sell pens that are used to clear up red-eye, but again they are not always natural-looking and do not work on the green. The best thing is to prevent the demon-eye effect from the start.
It is rare to find a digital camera that does not come with a red-eye reduction feature. This feature can be turned off or on. It is best left on in all circumstances other than direct sunlight. The red-eye reduction feature works by flashing a short burst of light at your subject before you snap the picture. This burst of light causes the subject’s pupil to close and makes it less likely for the camera’s flash to reflect off the retina. This in turn reduces the chance of red-eye.
It also helps to direct the flash of your camera so it does not directly hit your subject’s eyes. Bouncing the flash off a nearby wall or other object will soften its effect and reduce the chances of this unwanted malady. Between bouncing the flash and using your digital camera’s red-eye reduction feature, your little angel, whether human or animal, will have eyes that don’t glow.
Making Your Digital Camera Battery Last Longer
With all the features digital cameras have these days, you may find keeping batteries a problem. This could well be your biggest expense, but there are some things you can do to increase the length of time your batteries stay charged. Let’s start with the three biggest sources of power drain.
The LCD screen takes up the most power. It is possible to turn this feature off unless you really feel the need for it. Using the camera’s viewfinder will conserve power. Another big power drain is the flash. Whenever you can, use natural lighting to take your photos and turn off the flash. This will help save your battery for times when you absolutely need the flash. A third drain on your battery is constantly using your zoom. It takes more power zooming in and out than it does keeping your zoom at a steady place. Try to find a setting you like and sticking with it as much as possible..
Some other things you can do to make your battery last longer are::
* Make sure Power Saving mode is on, or simply switch off your camera when you’re not using it.
*In cold weather, keep your camera and batteries warm in your jacket until you are ready to use them. The cold drains batteries very quickly.
*Store batteries in a cool, dry location away from sunlight and other heat sources.
*Avoid unnecessary playback of your already taken images. Try to decide when you take the picture if it is a “keeper” or needs deleted and then refrain from reviewing until the pictures are downloaded to your computer.
*Use the AC adapter. Most digital cameras have an adapter that allows you to plug directly into a power point. If you don’t plan on moving around a lot and are near an outlet, the AC adapter will increase the life of your batteries.
Needing to buy more or recharge your battery is something you won’t be able to avoid completely, but with a few precautions this won’t be needed as often.
How to Save Photos From Your Digital Camera
Once you’ve taken photos with your digital camera, you need to store them somewhere. You could always leave them on the memory card, but that would get rather expensive, so let’s explore a few other options.
1. Transfer your images onto your computer. Most cameras come with a wire to connect your camera to your computer, a CD with a downloading program and an instruction booklet. Transferring the images is fast and simple. Once they are on the computer, you can delete the images from your memory card and start taking more photos.
2. Burn your images onto a CD. If you have a CD burner on your computer, you can make photo discs to store or share with others. When it comes to pictures, it is often best to use a CD that can’t be written over. This will save the heartache of losing precious photos. Label the CD and store it where it can be gotten easily when you need to see your pictures.
3. Store your images on a public web site. There are many photo-hosting sites on the internet. Some charge for the service, but many are completely free. You have the choice to password-protect your images or share them with the world. This option helps if your computer should crash. Your pictures are safe.
4. Print your images and place them in a photo album. Many people still like turning the pages of a photo album and reviewing the memories. This also makes it possible for those without a computer to view your pictures.
5. Create a photo gift. There are places out there that will take your digital image and place in on shirts, mouse pads, cups, calendars and numerous other items. These make wonderful gifts and provide a way to keep a cherished picture near at all times.
These are just a few suggestions. Using your creativity, you will come up with many more ideas.
Three Steps to Buying Your First Digital Camera
You’ve decided it’s time to buy a digital camera, but which one? The aisles are full of different brands with different features and a wide variety of prices to match. The task can be overwhelming. Following are the three most important things you can do to make the decision easier.:
Do your research. Talk to people who have digital cameras and ask them how they like theirs. What features do they use often and which ones are “just there”? Go online and visit sites that review different cameras and read what they have to say.
Next, decide how much money you are willing to spend on a camera. There is no sense going into debt over a camera unless it will be used as your major income source. Decide how often you will use the camera, what places you will be using it and who else will be using this particular camera. How much money can you reasonably spare? All these things will help you narrow your choices.
Evaluate your needs and experience level. Do you have experience or is this your very first camera? Do you have time to learn a lot of features or are you happy with a camera you can just point and click? Do you plan on growing in photography? If so, a digital SLR may be your choice so it can be added onto to grow with you.
Buying a digital camera doesn’t have to be a purchase full of stress. Do your homework and know what you are looking for, then stick with the decision. You are the best judge of what you need, trust yourself. Each of the above steps will narrow your choices considerably and make that final decision easier to make and you can enjoy discovering the wonders of photography with your new purchase.
Take Better Pictures With Your Digital Camera
Today’s cameras make taking pictures a lot easier than the one’s of yesterday. There is always room for improvement, however. Use the following tips to help make your photos go from acceptable to great.
1. Always be aware of the background. You don’t want to find trees growing out of people’s heads or a passing vehicle to draw attention from your subject. Sometimes moving your subject just a couple steps to either side can make all the difference.
2. Use available light. If your digital camera has an option to turn the flash off and it’s light enough outside to read a book then use the available light and turn the flash off. In general camera flashes are too harsh for human skin and make all of us look pale. Indoors, where there isn’t enough daylight, place your subject by a window and use your fill flash feature.
3. Aim your camera slightly down at the person’s face. Also don’t shoot just face on to the person, try a little to the side, a three quarter view, so that you see more of their face. Remember camera higher looking down and a three quarter view, it will slim your subject.
4. Remember your focus. Get closer to your subject. Fill the frame with your subject and there will be no doubt as to what the picture is saying.
6. Never put your subject dead center. Put your just slightly off center; not a lot just a little. When you’re shooting groups of people, find the imaginary center line of your group and put that line just a bit off center in your view through your lens or screen.
Following these tips won’t turn you into an award-winning photographer today, but you will be on your way to better, more powerful photographs that others will comment on for years to come.
What Is the White Balance Setting on my Digital Camera?
Have you ever taken a picture of a beautiful winter scene and been disappointed to discover the crisp, white snow came out with a bluish tint? This is the kind of situation your digital camera’s white balance is meant to prevent.
The white balance is a sensor that analyzes the lighting conditions and colors of a scene and adjusts so the white in the picture appears white. This helps insure the other colors appear as natural as possible. This is one advantage digital photography has over tradition film. With film, you buy with a certain lighting condition in mind. If that changes, you need to either change your film or hope you can fix any errors in post-production.
Most digital cameras allow you to use either automatic white balance or choose between several preset conditions such as full sun, cloudy day and so forth. Automatic white balance will work in most conditions. There may be times, however when you want to “warm” up a picture to enhance the color, such as for portraits or sunsets. The best way to do this is set your camera’s white balance to “cloudy”. This will deepen the colors and add a glowing quality to portraits. It will take a beautiful sunset and enhance it to the point of incredible.
Practice taking the same photo with different white balance settings to get a feel for the changes each setting evokes. Keep notes until you have a good idea of what each setting does. In time, you will come to automatically sense which setting is best for your particular situation.
White balance is a small setting that can make big changes in your finished photos. Make it your friend and you will no longer have to worry about faded sunsets or blue snow.
Why Digital Photography?
Digital photography is quickly becoming the preferred way to take pictures. If you are in the market for a new camera, consider the following advantages of digital over traditional film photography.
In the long run, digital is less expensive. All photos are recorder are on memory device within the camera and then downloaded straight to your computer. You skip the need to keep buying rolls of film and paying for developing. You can send unlimited copies of the same picture to friends and relatives without spending a penny extra.
You see your pictures quicker. Most digital cameras allow you to view your photos immediately. There is no waiting and worrying about whether or not that “perfect shot” turned out. You can take a picture of that new baby and immediately download it to your computer to share your good good news with friends and relatives. There’s no need for anxious grandparents to wait days or even weeks for a picture.
Most digital cameras have built in editing features. Cropping and re-centering the picture to make it look its best can be done easily. You no longer have to worry about a stray hand distracting from the main subject of your photo. Sharpening can be done immediately to bring out the details. Within minutes you can have a print-perfect photo.
You avoid the frustration of running out of film and having to find a store that is open in the middle of an important event or on vacation. Depending on the size of your memory card and the setting of file size and quality, which you often control, you can store a couple hundred pictures on one tiny card. That is the equivalent of nine or ten rolls of film.
These are just a few of the advantages of digital photography. It is definitely worth considering as you search for your next new camera.
Your Digital Camera Owner’s Manual
All cameras come with an owners manual, but so few people take the time to read it. Once they get past the basic operations, they get anxious to go out and try the camera. Maybe all the new terms are confusing or there seems like too much information to digest. This is understandable, but by not reading the entire manual, you limit yourself and many cool features of your camera are never used. Hopefully you will find the following suggestions helpful in getting the most from your digital camera.
After your first overview of the features your camera possesses, decide what you would like to explore the most. Pick only one special feature. Read the instructions on what this feature can do and how to use it. Don’t worry if it isn’t completely clear, that will come in time.
Now the fun part. Take your camera and start using this special feature. Try all the different settings within this one feature. See how your pictures change. Explore what this feature does. Don’t stop until you know this feature inside and out and don’t go onto the next feature until you have fully explored this one.
When you are satisfied you know the ins and outs of one special feature, return to the owner’s manual and pick another special feature you would like to learn. Repeat the above process with this feature, only returning to the manual when you are satisfied you have mastered the new skill.
By working through the owner’s manual in this way, you will find it isn’t so overwhelming. The hands-on practice of each skill will help you learn it thoroughly. When you have covered all the cool things your camera will do, go out and enjoy them all. You will be glad you took the time to become friends with this wonderful creation.