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Basics of the Digital Camera
Like most things in life when your experiencing something for the first time you are often unsure how to go about it. The same can be true when buying your first digital camera. You will undoubtedly be inundated with facts, figure and more jargon than you know what to do with. We will attempt in this article to help you along with some of the jargon and show you what to look for when buying a digital camera. Some of the feature may not interest you unless you need your camera to perform specific tasks, however its always worth knowing exactly what you are buying so you can pick a good deal when you see one.
The resolution of a camera is measured and advertised in megapixels. The idea behind this figure is the number of pixels that the camera has to take an image with. In this case the higher the number the better quality of picture you will be able to take. For example if you purchase a camera that has a resolution of 4 Megapixels, pictures that you take with that camera will be able to take images made up of 4 million pixels. Its obvious when you think about that a camera with a 2 megapixel resolution will not create as image as crisp or as detailed as the 4 megapixel one.
If you often print out your images on your PC or have them sent away to be printed then the megapixel rating of your camera can be very important to you. Higher megapixels on your camera will allow you to make prints larger in size while still keeping the quality. If you try to print a picture too large than what you camera was designed for then the image drastically loses quality.
The last thing to know about megapixels is the higher the resolution you take pictures in the more space on your memory card will be taken up. A picture taken on a 4 megapixel camera will need twice as much space on a memory card as a picture taken on a 2 megapixel camera. Be sure if you want quality pictures have enough memory on your camera to back it up., Either that or have spare media cards to plug in once your space has been used up.
Digital Zoom and Optical Zoom
No doubt when you are buying a camera you will want some sort of zoom function to take those in the distance shots. This is a troublesome area for some first time buyers. There are two types of zoom on the market for digital cameras. Digital Zoom and Optical Zoom. The only one that really matters is Optical zoom, this is true a true zoom function that brings the objects closer to you using the optics of the camera. Digital Zoom is like using the zoom function on an image editing software package. It enlarges a section of the image so it looks as if its closer to you.
Anything you can do with digital zoom you can do with a photo editing package so don't splash too much money on a camera with digital zoom only. Sometimes you will also so "total zoom" advertised this means the number that is quoted here is the optical zooms magnification added to the digital zooms magnification. Try to find out the magnification level of the optical zoom alone for the true value of the camera.
We may be going a little further here than some of you would like to care about but bear with us as the aperture size can make a big impact on your pictures. The size of the aperture determines exactly how much light is let into the camera when your picture is taken. Think of the aperture like the iris of your eye. No big deal you may think, however having more light allows you take better pictures in a variety of lighting condition, cloudy days is a perfect example.
With a large enough aperture you would be less likely to need the flash, personally I don't like to use the flash function, the artificial flash of light does not always do justice to the picture you are trying to take. Also effects like red eye are also common.
Great effects can be made to images using a variety of shutter speeds. The thing to look for when buying a decent digital camera in terms of shutter speeds is the broadest range you can find. This will give you the best chance of manipulating the picture the way you want it. Combined with a pro-active aperture the shutter speed can make pictures come to life or freeze images in an instant.
This technique is great when you want to take moving objects exactly how they look as if they were still. Setting the shutter speed on a slower setting gives more exposure to the CCD (charge coupled device - the digital equivalent of film). The effect is that the picture almost seems to run. Moving objects are slightly blurred. You may think this is a bad thing but take an example of running water leaving the shutter speed on for longer will soften the image creating a pleasing image to the eye much like the way a waterfall appears in real life.
You can take digital photography to the extreme with a camera that has a very wide range of shutter speeds. With an incredibly slow shutter speed, you can have a long exposure of light to the CCD and hence receive like the famous traffic scenes where the headlights blend into each other into a constant stream.
Digital Cameras come with a slot for a variety of media cards. Check when you buy your camera what type of storage media it requires. There are several popular types including Smart Media, compact flash and xD picture cards. As long as you know what type your is you should be able to safely by the correct type. Always ask at your local store if you are unsure. If you give them your make and model they should be able to point you in the right direction.
The size of the media card you choose depends on your budget but get as much as you can afford. More memory means that you don't have to change media cards, and you will be able to take pictures in the highest quality all the time. You will soon learn the benefits of having plenty storage space when you start to use your camera regularly.
The good thing about cameras media is that its just like a film if you do run out you can simply insert another one if you have one with you. It can be a bit of a pain when downloading your pictures to your PC but much less more of a pain than having to delete some picture because you have run of space on your media card.
About the Author: Stephen Orgill
Editor - www.pantherproducts.co.uk
Computer related hardware articles and component reviews