Thursday, March 30, 2006
You are either an amateur directly entering the field of
digital photography or an experienced photographer
who is shifting over from the field of film camera!
Anyway you are one for whom moments of thrill and
achievements are in store in the days ahead!
Here are some guidelines to enable you to put forward
to the camera dealer the optimum specifications for
the camera you need and also the most essential accessories
you want along with the camera.
Types of Camera Design
1.Digicam with fixed lens (mostly plastic lens)
This is just a starter camera for budding young amateurs.
2.Digital SLR with interchangeable lens
Very Expensive – Intended only for a serious amateur
Not for you anyway at this moment!
3.Digicam with fixed zoom lens
May offer over 12x zoom but design would be bulkier
and controls may be complicated. To be avoided at this stage!
4.Digicam with retractable lens that extends when the camera is on
and retracts into its body when it is off.
This compact digicam (with number of zoom ranges for your choice)
is an ideal one to start with!
Zoom lens enables you to zoom in and out to capture different situations.
Zooming out gives you a wide angle of view and helps you capture a wide expanse
of the scene. Zooming in gives a narrow angle of view to enable objects appear enlarged.
Look for an Optical Zoom and don’t get lured by the high level digital zoom
Optical Zoom works with moving parts like the zoom in a traditional camera
and lets you choose any focal length in the range for which it is designed.
Digital Zoom has no moving parts and it uses its electronic brain to take a
part of the image falling in the sensor and enlarge it to fill the sensor.It just
crops away information in the image and resizes it to give you an end product of
lower quality .
Whatever you want to do in a digital zoom can be done by cropping the image in a
photo editing program such as ACDSee . A CD for such software comes along with
Optical Zoom is measured by its magnification factor 2x.3x.4x and so on. Here
again a 2x Zoom could mean 28mm-56mm zoom,35mm-70mm zoom or
50mm-100mm zoom.They will have different properties. In a specification for a
3x Zoom, it may be indicated as “ Focal length 5,8mm-17.4mm equivalent to
35.6mm-107mm in 35mm format.
You can do research on this technical aspects much later!
If you can opt for a 4x Zoom now, you need not have any worry on this issue!
It will be a fine option.If budget constraints are there, you can compromise
for 3x and nothing less than that.
You may ask about the quality of the lens. If you are going for a standard brand
such as Pentax, Nikon, Canon etc; you can be rest assured that you are getting a
a top class lens.
Resolution is a very important factor which refers to the clarity and quality of an
Image.It is measured in mega pixels. A mega pixel denotes a million picture elements.
If an image has more pixels it is sharper.
If you do not need prints above the size of 4”x6” and if you do not desire to crop
and edit your captured images, 2 mega pixels is all that you need. If you want to enlarge
your prints to 5”x7”,8”x10” or to a still larger format you need 3,4 or 5 mega pixels.
If you are to be in tune with the trends of the day, your option for effective pixels
should be 5 mega pixels. Many latest Compacts come with 6.0 mega pixels!
LCD Viewfinder is to be opted for. It is easy to use and with its monitor you can have
a frame coverage of approximately 100% and can review the captured images. Ensure that
you get at least a 2.0-inch TFT color LCD with 110 kilo pixels monitor.
Be assured that the electronic/mechanical shutter speed is at least 1/2000 sec – 4 sec.
The storage medium for the camera will be a built-in memory and a memory card.
Compact Flash, Smart Media and Secure Digital are some of the types of memory cards.
Some cameras are compatible for more than one type. But, generally when you get a
Digicam you are committed to work with one type of card only.
Ensure that a built-in memory around 9.0MB is available and get to know the type of
card specific to the camera.
The electronic image sensor, LCD monitor (Viewfinder), image processor and flash
of the camera consume lot of power. Power is also consumed when it is required to
play back or review captured images. Batteries are the source of power.
Certain old versions of cameras use AA batteries or camera specific battery packs.
Your choice now should be a camera designed for use with a specified rechargeable
A camera with the above indicated specifications will have innumerous other built-in
features such as quality levels, digital filters, white balance, self-timer along with number
of exposure modes and controls. Reputed manufacturers of cameras are competing with
each other, day in and day out, to introduce new models with more refinement in controls
Choice is yours!
Next:Digital Camera Accessories
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Sunlight or light from an incandescent or fluorescent lamp contains a mixture of all colors in different proportions. We can’t see the subtle difference. But the color of the image we capture is affected by the color composition of the light source.
The temperature of color corresponds to the exact color of the light source. The color temperature scale ranges from the lower color temperature of reddish light to the higher color temperature of bluish light. Based on this, a system known as white balance has been evolved to effect balancing of image sensors to match light of a particular color temperature. The relative sensitivity of the sensor to different colors is adjusted automatically or manually to match the colorcast of the light (image) it has to record.
White Balance Settings
Pictures in natural colors can be taken by selecting the white balance specific to the conditions of light at the time of shooting. For indoor photography with flash in well lit rooms with very little natural light or for out door photography in sunlight or a cloudy or overcast condition, you have to select the correct white balance setting as detailed in the manual of your camera.
An Auto white balance setting in your camera adjusts the white balance automatically. Distinct settings are
provided for you to take pictures outdoors in sunlight or under cloudy sky or in a shady place. For indoor photography, separate settings for taking pictures under the light of tungsten light or white fluorescent lamps
or daylight fluorescent lamps are provided. A manual white balance setting enables you to make the required adjustment manually. An icon indicates each setting.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Quality Levels and recorded pixels are related to resolution. Resolution on
a specified quality level refers to the number of pixels or dots per inch in an
image. Digital files of photographs (also video and sound files) are a collection
of pixels. In a digital image, transition from one color to another color is formed
by a series of very small blocks of dots.
Digital Camera Resolution is measured in mega pixels.
The image compression ratio decides the quality level. In the format with lower
compression, a maximum amount of image forming elements is saved to ensure
color fidelity and clarity. In higher compression format some image forming
information is lost while the file size is shrunk.
You choose the image compression ratio while you choose the quality level
The BEST quality level which is normally indicated by a 3 Star icon, has the lowest compression
ratio. This level is suitable for large A4 size prints.
The BETTER quality level which is normally indicated by a 2 Star icon, has a standard compression
ratio. This is suitable for photo prints or for viewing images in a computer screen.
The GOOD quality level which is normally indicated by a single star icon, has the highest compression
ratio. This is suitable for attaching images to e-mails or creating web sites.
You can choose the number of recorded pixels also. As you know already, the more
pixels there are, the larger the image and bigger the file size.
For printing post card size prints 1024 pixels in 1024 x 768 format is sufficient. 2 mega pixels
in 1600 x 1200 format and 3 mega pixels in 2048 x 1536 format will give a finer image.
For use in web sites and e - mails 640 pixels in 640 x 480 format will be the choice.
But, you require 4 mega pixels in 2304 x 1728 format for printing A4 size or larger prints
and for editing and processing images.
If you have to print images with high-resolution settings, 5 mega pixels in 2560 x 1920 format
should be the choice.
Keep in mind that higher quality levels and larger number of recorded pixels produce
clearer and finer images for printing but results in increase in data volume and
decrease in number of pictures that can be taken.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
After learning to use Green Mode and Program Mode, you have to experiment with USER mode and gain
experience. In this mode, settings for the functions detailed here are set to default. [The name of the mode refers to the one adopted in a particular standard camera taken as an example; It may be called by a different name in an equally standard camera of your choice. You may have to identify.]
1. Flash Mode- Auto
2. Drive mode- Single Image
3. Focus Mode- Auto
4. Manual Focus Position- Infinity
5. Changing the focus area- Center
6. Focusing Area- Multiple (Normal Range)
7. Zoom Position- Wide Angle
8. Display Mode- Normal
9, Recorded Pixels- 5 Mega pixels (Maximum for the reference camera)
10. Quality Level- Better
11. White Balance- AWB (Auto)
12. AE (Metering)- Multi segment
13. Sensitivity- Auto
14. Sharpness- Normal
15. Saturation- Normal
16. Contrast- Normal
17. EV Compensation- ± 0.0
18, Aux. AF Light- ON
19. Color Mode- Full Color
You can register your own settings for the different functions in the USER mode for being kept in memory and start shooting.
The settings will be retained till you reset them to default.
It is time now that the nature of the above functions and the different settings open to you in each function for choice are learnt.
Flash modes and Focus modes have been discussed already.
Drive mode stands for to choose between single image shooting and continuous shooting operation.
In zoom, the tele mode enables you to shoot a bigger image of the subject whereas in wide angle mode the area covered becomes larger and the subject image becomes smaller.
In the manual mode focus position, the control button is operated to set the focus position for distant focus or closer focus, while watching the indicator in LCD screen.
In the normal display mode, icons indicating the program mode, flash mode, drive mode, focus mode, focus frame, memory card/built in memory, battery indicator, remaining number of recordable images, date and time, aperture and shutter speed get displayed in the LCD monitor.
When the histogram display is set the graph that reveals the brightness distribution of the image is also displayed. The horizontal axis of this graph shows the brightness and the vertical axis shows the number of pixels.
A grid consisting of three blocks horizontally and three vertical blocks is formed in the monitor when guide display is selected. The grid sections enable you to improve composition.
Dasarathram M Reddy [Arcadia. California] has written to me from firstname.lastname@example.org.
He has given valuable information on the features of a camera of the right choice and also
advised me on corrections to my observations.
Thank You! My dear brother!
I am reproducing here all your observations and comments for the benefit of the readers of my
“I have again gone through your Digital Camera Blog, and noted some points for correction. It looks that most of your jottings refer to a specific Camera used by you. You have stated that alkaline batteries are in use in most recent cameras; this is also not true. You have not mentioned about Ni-Mh batteries which are rechargeable and can also be used in place of alkaline batteries. Ni-Mh batteries last longer than alkaline batteries. However initial costs are 5 to 6 times more than alkaline batteries. Using the LCD monitor viewfinder causes a severe drain on any battery. To make the batteries last longer use of the optical (eye) viewfinder of the camera would be a good suggestion. Most of the Lithium ion Batteries are Proprietary items for the respective camera manufacturers and not a standard item like an alkaline battery which is available in any market place notwithstanding the fact that rechargeable Ni-Mh (AA, C or D) type batteries or sold generally in specialty stores. There is not much information available on the use of Ni- Cd batteries in spite of their fast recovery time compared to normal Alkaline batteries perhaps because of their individual voltage level being 1.2 volts whereas Alkaline and Ni-Mh batteries have individual higher voltage level of 1.5 volts.
AV cable is a standard item included in a package by any digital camera manufacturer and not an optional item as you have stated. About Power supply, Flash, Functional modes, Focus mode, Flash and Fill flash against backlit subjects and lighting I will discuss in my next letters. You have stated that reputed manufacturers like Pentax, Nikon and some others use quality lenses. Avoid use of specific manufacturers names. In fact Panasonic uses Leica lenses and Kodak uses Schneider lenses in most of their cameras and these lenses have a higher brand name reputation in the world like Zeiss Icon lenses”
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Different modes are provided in a digicam to freeze the life's enchanting moments in time as photographs. A mode palette shows the icons relating to the modes the camera offer. The simplest mode to capture images quickly is what is generally known as Green Mode, which may not find place in the palette, but its green rectangle icon appears prominently in the monitor as soon as the camera is switched on and the button for the mode is pressed down. This is a fully automatic mode, which enables you to just point towards the subject, frame the image and press the shutter. Settings for all functions including the shutter speed and aperture, flash and continuous shooting are set to a standard combination with the exception of optical zoom. You can change the size of the subject by zooming in or out. You can also switch over to the green mode at any stage of operation from other capture modes
This is the basic capture mode. Generally, the camera automatically sets the shutter speed and aperture but you can select other functions such as flash mode, continuous shooting mode, and the focus mode. The arrangement may differ from one camera to the other and the ultimate guide shall be the manual provided with your camera.
The icon for the mode will be a capital P displayed in the first position in mode palette.
The icon corresponding to particular set function will remain displayed in the monitor screen after the setting is selected.
In the 'flash on' mode the flash discharges regardless of the brightness and does not discharge at all in the 'Flash off' mode. It will discharge automatically depending upon the light conditions in the’ auto mode', Red eyes caused by the light from the flash getting reflected in the subject’s eyes is reduced by two flash modes, one for the ‘auto’ position and the other for the ‘on’ position.
Continuous Shooting Mode
When this mode is selected pictures are taken continuously as long as the shutter release button is kept pressed.
Shooting stops as soon as you take your finger off. You can continue shooting till your memory card gets filled. The flash will not discharge in this mode.
Apart from Auto Focus mode, which should be used when the distance to the subject is more than about 16 inches, you have Macro mode, Super Macro mode, Pan Focus mode, Infinity Landscape mode, Manual Focus mode and Focusing Area mode.
The macro mode is chosen when the distance of the subject is about 7 inches to20 inches and the super macro mode when it is from 2.4 inches to 8 inches.
The pan focus mode is used when the distance of the subject is approximately more than 5 feet at wide angle and more than 16.5 feet at tele angle.
The infinity-landscape mode is chosen when you have to shoot distant objects.
The manual focus mode is for adjusting the focus manually with control button.
The focusing area mode is for changing the auto focus area. A normal range and a spot range (reduced range) are available for selection.