An Introduction to Digital Photography By Paul Emecz
Why go Digital? • Take as many photos as you want • See your pictures instantly • Only develop your best pictures • Pictures can be stored easily • Email pictures on the same day • Edit pictures before development • Make pictures of any size e.g. key rings
What are the drawbacks? • Digital Cameras are expensive • Developing pictures takes more time • On-line developing can be expensive • You will need accessories like memory, rechargeable batteries etc. • The pictures are the wrong shape! • It takes time to get used to image-editing software
Choosing a Digital Camera • Megapixels • Price • Zoom • Memory • Accessories • Software
Megapixels • The number of megapixels boasted by a camera tells us the maximum image resolution a camera can produce on its highest setting. • This is the single most important feature when choosing a camera. • To match the quality of a decent 35mm camera, you may need 3 megapixels.
Effective Megapixels • This is a term used to measure the recording capacity of a digital camera. • Some cameras are ‘intelligent’ (e.g. Fuji’s SuperCCD) and make guesses about the photo you’re taking that allow them to output a greater number of megapixels. • You should look at the output of cameras to get a good idea of the resolution of pictures when comparing different cameras.
Price • There are many factors affecting the price and value-for-money of your camera (see Which? Reports). • In general, you should expect to pay around £100 per Megapixel output, but prices vary and cost doesn’t necessarily equal value for money. • Consider which features are important to you, and look at Which? Best buys. • Try www.kelkoo.co.uk to find the best price.
Zoom • There are two types of zoom: • Digital zoom – ignore this!!! • Optical zoom – genuinely useful and worth considering when choosing your camera
Digital Zoom • Digital zoom allows you to ‘home in’ on your picture, but doesn’t actually improve the resolution. In effect, you are cropping the picture as you take it. This may save time later, but don’t be fooled into thinking you are taking a better picture!
Digital Zoom - example By using digital zoom, you aren’t ‘blowing up’ the image in the centre, you are just getting rid of the bits around the edge. If you later enlarge the zoomed image, the resolution won’t be as good as you expect.
Optical Zoom • Optical zoom lets you take close-ups, focusing on objects that are a distance away. When you zoom in using optical zoom, the resolution of the picture is maintained.
Memory • Very important – this affects the number of pictures you can take and the speed with which pictures are saved to disk. • Cheaper cameras have built-in memory, but it’s worth buying one which takes cards. • Cards are supplied with the camera, but you never get enough. However, additional memory has come down in price.
Microdrive • Other memory cards store information on chips. IBM’s Microdrive is a hard disk. It provides a large amount of storage space. • It takes more power to run than the others, and any movement can cause an error. • Slightly cheaper, but may not be worth it!
CompactFlash • The most popular type of memory, available up to 1GB • High-speed CompactFlash cards are now available (e.g. Sandisk Ultra CompactFlash). They cost quite a bit more, but are well worth it if you’re taking high-resolution photos and don’t want to wait several seconds between shots. Available up to 2GB!
SmartMedia • Commonly used in older Olympus and Fuji digital cameras, among others • SmartMedia is now being superseded by xD cards – worth bearing in mind if you’re about to buy a camera
xD • A replacement for SmartMedia • Currently available up to 256MB, but this should soon increase.
Memory Stick • Memory Sticks are being used in a range of different Sony devices. • Memory Stick Pro is available up to 1GB, but is not compatible with all Sony digital cameras
SD (Secure Digital) • Available up to 512MB • Offers security for copyrighted data such as Internet music. • Fits several digital cameras as well as PDAs and MP3 music players
Accessories • Card Readers • Batteries/Charger • Bag/Case • Software • Tripod
Card Reader • Some cameras plug straight into a USB port, but this still uses batteries. • Card readers are reasonably priced, and a multi-card reader will allow you to use a range of different media types. • Card readers may need software, but some plug straight in and act as another disk drive (go to My Computer and treat as a drive).
Batteries/Charger • Digital Cameras use up a lot of power, particularly if you use the LCD screen. Some cameras come with batteries and a charger. • If you are buying rechargable batteries, read the Which? Report. It’s worth investing in a charger and spare batteries.
Bag/Case • Digital Cameras often don’t come with a case, but it is essential to have one! • The case keeps your camera clean, which is important. • You will also use your case to store spare memory cards, batteries etc.
Software • Most cameras come with some software. • In some cases, the software merely allows you to arrange your photos in albums. • Some software is specifically designed to allow you to edit images. We will be looking at the wide range of tasks you can carry out with good image-editing software (we will use Adobe PhotoDeluxe HE 4.0).
Tripod • Just as with any other camera, you may want to consider investing in a tripod. • If you’re buying your first digital camera, you may be paying more than ever before. Although a tripod is an extra cost, it will allow you to take those family photos, as well as letting you get into the scene when out and about on your own.