Digital Cameras Keep Getting Better and Better
Aren't digital cameras wonderful? You can instantly see how the picture looks. You don't have to pay for film or processing. You see your pictures instantly. You can take as many pictures as you like without any extra cost.
These are just a few of the reasons that digital cameras are so popular. I don't know anyone who is still using an old 35-mm camera. In fact, I know people who are on their third or fourth digital camera.
These cameras, like many other high-tech products, just keep getting better and better. So today, we will delve into some of the new features in today's digital cameras and what you should look for when you purchase a digital camera.
Many people judge a digital camera by the number of megapixels. Megapixels were a significant consideration when we were dealing with 1 or 2-megapixel cameras. Now, however, with most cameras offering more than 8 megapixels, the number of megapixels is no longer of much importance.
More megapixels does not necessarily mean better photo quality - 8 megapixels will give you enough clarity to make a sharp 11-by-14 print, which is larger than most people print. Once you are more than 8 megapixels, the only thing that a higher megapixel count really gives you is the ability to crop and print small sections of a picture, and this is something that the average digital shooter rarely does.
In today's cameras, the size of the camera's sensor makes a bigger difference than the number of megapixels. All else being equal, larger sensors take better shots. Unfortunately, the size of the sensor is not obviously advertised. In many cases, you can only find it in the camera's documentation.
Another thing that makes a big difference in creating good images is the quality of the lens. A good quality glass lens will take a better photo than a cheaper lens of inferior material.
Most digital SLR cameras come with a good quality lens, and the lenses on these cameras are interchangeable, so you can replace them easily. However, the lens on hand-held point-and-shoot cameras cannot be replaced and should be the best quality you can afford.
This brings us to zoom lenses. There are two types of zoom: digital and optical. A digital zoom is almost worthless. It is used mostly as a marketing ploy.
A digital zoom means that the camera looks at the picture and "zooms" by artificially enlarging the image with simulated pixels. In any camera you purchase, you will want an optical zoom, which means that the camera lens itself captures the real image at the zoomed-in level.
Many of today's digital cameras, even those that fit in your shirt pocket, can now take videos complete with sound. The quality of the movies varies greatly. I've found some that take 720p movies to be superior to those that advertise the 1080p higher resolution. So if you will be taking a lot of movies with your still camera, the best thing to do is to read online reviews on the camera's movie-taking ability.
Any camera that you purchase today should have a built-in anti-shake mechanism, which is usually called image stabilization. This compensates for any shaking of the camera and produces images that are clear and crisp.
Today's cameras also have some outstanding special features. In fact, this is currently how the manufactures are trying to differentiate themselves. You will need to consider each of these additional features to see if they would be important to you.
Many manufactures have touch screens that are easier to use than nested menus. Also fairly common today is in-camera editing that allows you to crop, rotate and perform other editing functions right in the camera.
There are several cameras with smile detection that will only take the picture when the subject smiles. Some cameras will take several photos in quick succession to make sure you get a good photo if someone blinks or moves.
Several also boast wireless connectivity so you can download your pictures without attaching the camera to the computer. Some even allow you to add voice annotations to your photos.
Other special features abound. Nikon has a camera with a projector in it. Casio has a camera that uses an internal motion sensor and built-in GPS system to track the photographer's position. It can not only geotag your photos, but also it will alert you when you come near one of the camera's 10,000 pre-loaded sightseeing locations.
Panasonic has a 3D lens that takes two pictures that can be compressed into a 3D image. Casio also has a high-speed shooting mode in many of its cameras that takes up to 60 shots per second. Sony has a Sweep Panorama mode that lets you press the shutter button once and then pan across a scene to create an instant panoramic image.
Some Canon cameras have a scene mode that make large objects look like miniature models. Kodak has cameras that let you remove a blemish from someone's face. Samsung has several dual-screen models that let you take a picture of yourself. These can also project clowns and other animations on the outside screen to keep small children looking directly at the camera.
With all of this functionality, there is certain to be a camera that meets your needs. But don't forget the basics.
Make sure that the camera is easy to use and that the LCD is large and clear. If you want to simply snap pictures without playing around with the settings, make sure the camera has good automatic settings. If you want to make adjustments to ISO and other settings, make sure the camera will accommodate you.
While large digital SLR cameras have little or no shutter lag time, some small point-and-shoot cameras often have a longer shutter lag time, which is the time between when you press the shutter and when the picture is actually taken. Paying a little more to get a camera with a short shutter lag is worthwhile because it will allow you to get the picture you want.
Yes. There is a lot to think about when you are purchasing a new digital camera, but there is also a lot of fun in store for you when you start using it!
Send your computer-related questions to Sandy Berger at Computer Living Corp., P.O. Box 5895, Pinehurst NC 28374; or by e-mail at email@example.com.
More like this story