View from My Window: Choosing A Digital Camera

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Choosing A Digital Camera

Choosing a camera

The best way to explain cameras and the choice available is to see not what they will do but what they are not very good at.

The problem is that they will all take photographs and videos, possess some sort of zoom capability, and have flash-unit built in. So in theory anything will do for casual snaps and holiday photos. The thing is, what sort of photographer are you, or what kind do you want to be?

In the days of film cameras, a 36mm roll film was the most popular, and it was easy to categorize the photographer.

The Casual

A casual did very little photography: it was often said that they bought a film – and when the 36 photographs were collected from the developers the first and last photo was a different Christmas tree! Often to be found at weddings or on package holidays or coach tours.
Clearly not even a keen amateur!

The Keen Amateur

These are easily spotted: they normally have a large camera bag, often with a tripod attached to the side; Some are good photographers, but most just love taking photographs for the joy of it.

The Professional

These are also easily spotted: they often have an assistant carrying a large camera bag, They look exactly like someone who knows what they are doing. Often carrying a nice camera in a casual way like it's an extension of their arm. They are absorbed in their surroundings, looking for something that attracts their attention.

So the first and most important question to ask yourself is, “What sort of photographer am I, or what do I want to be?”

Now do not take this the wrong way! If you have the money, desire or just want to look good, go ahead buy an elaborate, expensive camera. But it will not guarantee success.

There are three types of digital cameras and they can all get superb results. The fun of photography is having the correct camera in the right hands. And the point of this entry to help you choose well. There are generally 4 types of cameras this article deals with: the two most popular, the pocket camera and the fixed lens digital SLR.

Pocket Cameras

The first are the small pocket cameras, easy to handle, quick and simple to use and for general photography excellent. This is where many people start with and stay as this type of camera it is perfect for family, holiday and general photography. Like everything you get what you pay for: try and find one with a good digital zoom. This type of zoom is done in the camera enlarging the image digitally, as opposed to an optical zoom which is done by the lens. These are great cameras for casual use: they fit in most pockets and so there is no excuse for going out without a camera. Do not look down on them – they are fantastically useful for casual general photography, and the picture quality is much better than a mobile phone.

Fixed-Lens Digital SLR

The most popular and most common, because they are the easiest to use. They have excellent lenses with optical zoom and digital zoom. Also, they generally have a macro ultra-close-up capability.

Optical zoom is normally achieved by simply pressing a button the camera's body. There is a good range, but it will not get as close to your subject as a more expensive camera, (See digital SLR) but the results can be very good. If you do not get satisfactory results, remember: after 6 months, the camera will be no better, but you will be, why is that?

For a start, you will get used to your camera: it will become an extension of you and the results will show that. At this point you will begin to be happy with your photographic talent or will want more than the camera will be able to give you.

There is a good tip here. Do not get rid of your camera at this point. The main reason is that your faithful fixed lens digital SLR will still be useful.

You will still use it whilst you are getting used to its replacement and you will want to use it for a back-up, why?

Digital cameras seldom run out of film, but they can run out of battery. They are also more discreet if you plan to get candid shots, and their smaller size and the fact they are not as heavy make a first choice for a casual day out!

That is why they are the most popular, as they are very capable and so easy to use it becomes second nature. They normally have good flash as standard and so it is a good value package. The results are normally excellent, unless you push the camera to its limits. Then, some loss of quality will be seen.

The Digital SLR and The Medium Format Camera and Their Lenses

This is an advance on the fixed lens digital SLR, as the lens can be changed to suit the job in hand. The lenses start with the ultra-wide angles commonly known as the 'fisheye', a very rare lens as it has few uses. The other end of the range are the telephoto lenses with fixed magnification or the zoom lens with adjustable magnification.

The medium format camera. These are very expense professional cameras: the most famous is the Hasslablad and the less expensive the Bronica. They have interchangeable film and digital backs, the film is medium format about 6X larger than 35mm, and the digital sensor is also expanded to a similar size. How good are they? Well, very good indeed, but the full quality is only revealed by extreme enlargement, that's why professional photographers use them.

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