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Digital Photography: Beyond Point & Shoot Cameras

Digital Photography: Beyond Point & Shoot Cameras. A basic discussion for people who love to take photos, but are intimidated by digital camera jargon and aren’t sure what to do next…. Two Big Topics. What camera (and peripherals) should I buy? Point & shoot Digital SLR (DSLR)

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Digital Photography: Beyond Point & Shoot Cameras

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  1. Digital Photography:Beyond Point & Shoot Cameras A basic discussion for people who love to take photos, but are intimidated by digital camera jargon and aren’t sure what to do next…

  2. Two Big Topics • What camera (and peripherals) should I buy? • Point & shoot • Digital SLR (DSLR) • What do I do with photos after I’ve taken them? • Whatever you do is called “Digital Workflow” • Editing software • Sending photos to people by e-mail • Displaying on the internet • Printing

  3. What camera (and peripherals) should I buy? • What will you use it for? What features are important to YOU? • Vacation snapshots • Portability • To create something “artistic” • Mostly portraits, or lots of “action” shots (soccer games, moving animals, photos take from moving vehicles, etc.) • Indoor vs. outdoor

  4. Ask Friends but do homework • Everybody loves the camera THEY bought (mostly because they don’t want to feel like they made a stupid purchase) • The internet has lots of great objective advice if you look for it • Don’t take advice from people trying to sell you the camera (stores, websites, manufacturers) • Get more than one opinion

  5. Excellent resources for camera info • www.dpreview.com – read “In depth review” of any camera you’re considering. Compares to similar models and tells pros/cons. • Search forums where photo enthusiasts hang out, such as www.dgrin.com, and see what advice others have been given, and ask your own questions. • For underwater photography, two excellent forums are on www.wetpixel.com and www.digitaldiver.net

  6. Point & shoot Cameras • Pros • Size • Cost • Simplicity • Optics have improved dramatically in recent years, and are very good on many models • Cons • Lack of flexibility – many choices are made for you, and may not be optimal for all situations • Less effective for special purposes (e.g., action shots requiring manual settings) • Lens limitations – no super wide angle or super telephoto • Lower quality than good DSLRs, in part due to tiny sensors

  7. Point & shoot CamerasPurchase Considerations • Physical size • Image quality and other features (read dpreview.com) • Buy major brand name • If possible, get image stabilization • Some I particularly like: • Canon Digital Elph series • Lumix (Panasonic)

  8. The world is obsessed with…megapixels!

  9. Pixel envy can be a very expensive affliction… • The buying public clearly believes “more is better” • All pixels are not created equal (some 6 megapixel cameras produce FAR better images than most 8 megapixel cameras) • How many pixels to you “need” • 5mp is plenty for 5x7 or even 8x10 prints and for ANY internet sharing/displaying (assuming you shoot at the camera’s highest quality setting with good lighting) • All things being equal, more pixels (in a high quality camera) capture more detail and will produce better “large” prints, but that’s the primary advantage.

  10. Digital SLRs • Pros • Higher quality generally (they have bigger sensors, so each pixel they record is bigger) • Lens interchangeability • Can use your old SLR lenses • Can take ultra wide angle to super telephoto • If you and your spouse have different DSLRs (but same brand), you can share most lenses. • Greater control (of settings) • If you really get serious about photography, you’ll end up with a DSLR • Cons • Cost ($600 - $8,000 just for camera body) • Lens cost (a few good zoom lenses will cost at least $500-$1,000, and the best lenses can cost $1,000 - $5,000 EACH) • Size – not only is the camera body bulky, but you will likely want to take at least a couple of lenses

  11. DSLRsBuying Considerations • Don’t make a lifelong mistake just because you’ve got $300 worth of old lenses • The Nikon vs. Canon “debate” • The person behind the viewfinder is far more important • Both make outstanding cameras and lenses • Why I chose Canon • Far bigger company • More lense choices • Quicker to come to market with innovations

  12. What is a “cropped sensor” or “crop factor”? • Other than a few high-end Canon DSLR’s, all DSLRs are “cropped sensor” cameras • The cropped sensor effect is sometimes referred to as magnification factor or crop factor • Nikon DSLRs have a crop factor of 1.5X • Most Canon DSLRs have a crop factor of 1.6X (exceptions are the most expensive, i.e., 5D and all 1D series)

  13. How the “crop factor” works

  14. The coverage area of the same lens on a camera with 1.6X crop factor vs. a “full frame” camera. Not better or worse—just different

  15. Crop Factor Implications • The camera is only using the center portion of the lens, not clear to the edges (like a 35mm film SLR did). • This has the effect of “zooming in” compared to a film SLR camera, making the lens work “like” a longer lens. • It also eliminates some of the “corner abberations” of less expensive lenses. • The crop factor tells you how much that zooming in effect is. • A 100mm lens on a camera with a 1.5X crop factor will “act like” (capture the same area of a scene as) a 160mm lens would on an old film SLR. • A 70mm-200mm lens on a camera with a 1.5X crop factor will “act like” a 105mm-300mm lens would on an old film SLR. • The good news: you don’t need lenses as big (and expensive) for super telephoto photography with a cropped sensor camera because a shorter lens will “act” longer on a DSLR. • The bad news: wide angle lenses aren’t as wide on DSLRs, so to get really wide angle shots, you’ll need to buy a new wide angle lens made especially for cropped sensor cameras (e.g., 10mm).

  16. DSLRsSome Canon Cameras • Models (unless full frame, all are 1.6X crop): • Entry level: Digital Rebel XT (350D) 8mp $700 • or Digital Rebel XTi (400D) 10mp (brand new!) $900 • High-end consumer: 30D (8 mp) $1,300 • Pro-sumer: 5D (full frame) 13mp $3,000 • Pro: 1Ds MkII (full frame) 17mp $7,000 • Consider buying just the camera body, not the body/lens “kit”, if you’re going to buy several good lenses…

  17. Lenses for Canon DSLRs • Lenses • Starter set: • Sigma 18-200mm zoom (for cropped sensor cameras only) • Canon 75-300mm IS USM • If plan to do lots of macro, also get Sigma 50mm macro lens. • If planning lots of super telephoto, get Kenko 1.4X Teleconverter to use with Canon 75-300mm lens. • If you really like wide angle scenery, get Canon 10-22mm (for cropped sensor cameras only) • If want the “best” (and willing to pay considerably more): • Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 “L” • Canon 2X Teleconverter (to use with 70-200mm or long telephotos listed below) • Canon 17-40mm “L” wide angle (full frame cameras) • Canon 300mm, 400mm, or 500mm “L” for long telephoto

  18. DSLRsOther Considerations • Most have very little “noise” (think “grain” in old film SLR terminology) up to ISO 400 or even 800 (similar to ASA on film), so you can use those “high” ISO settings to get more light without spending a fortune on “fast” (and typically very expensive) lenses. • Virtually all DSLRs allow you to shoot in RAW format

  19. Why Shoot RAW? • Ability to adjust exposure (up to 2 stops) and other parameters “after the fact” without degrading original image AT ALL • Actually captures more detail than JPG format • In case you get that “once in a lifetime” shot (for you or someone else) that you want to blow up and hang on your wall! • The “complication” of RAW is easily dealt with (see “Digital Photography Workflow” handout) • The only “real” argument against shooting RAW is memory card space. • Memory is increasingly cheap • Trips/great photo opportunities are very expensive and rare by comparison

  20. Memory Cards • Compact Flash (CF) and Secure Digital (SD) are the winners • Never buy CF “microdrives” • you don’t save enough money to warrant the lower reliability and inferior speed. • The only reason I’d have one at all is as backup • Best quality/price combination IMO: Sandisk Ultra II

  21. Where to buy camera gear • Local shops: generally WAY overpriced and with little inventory – they try to sell you what they have in stock, and often have little knowledge • Internet: be careful of “lowest price” • B&H (www.bhphotovideo.com) is widely considered the most reliable and trusted internet source. It is where I buy 95% of my photo gear (cameras, lenses, cases, etc.). If they say it’s in stock, it IS…no gimmicks. • Always compare price at B&H. If someone else offers significantly lower price, something is usually fishy (e.g., they don’t really have it in stock, they don’t include a battery or charger, etc.). • What you save in sales tax usually pays for shipping • Grey market vs. U.S. warranties

  22. DSLR Lens Filters • The only “effect” you can’t replicate with software is polarization. You should have a circular polarizer for every lens you ever expect to use outdoors. • Using UV “Haze” or other such filters to “protect” your lens • A good idea when exposing lens to damaging situations (e.g., salt water, blowing sand) • Otherwise, if you’re careful, why purposely decrease the quality of your photos? • For the price of all those filters, you could probably buy (or replace) an extra lens from time to time…

  23. Digital Workflow • See handout • Whatever system you use, be consistent • Be sure to back up your photo files (use archival CDs or DVDs)

  24. Printing Your Photos • Do you want to do it yourself? • Locally • Photo shops • Local drug store • Costco • Online • Photo hosting sites • Shutterfly.com, Snapfish.com, Smugmug.com • Higher end for really special prints: Pictopia.com

  25. Odds & Ends • Add your camera gear to your homeowner’s insurance rider • Portable storage devices instead of laptops (e.g., Epson P-4000) • Shooting photos from a moving motorcycle • MUST use very fast shutter speeds (1/500 – 1/1000) • Pillion photographer is best option (no leaning!) • A camera mount can also work • Most ill-conceived method: no hands to steer! • Only slightly better: high shutter speed, multi-shot mode, and cruise control

  26. Practice, practice, practice…Learn, learn, learn! • Initially, just use the camera on full automatic (or P if that’s the only way to shoot RAW), and take LOTS of photos • I only ever show anyone about 5-10% of my photos. I often take a dozen of every subject, and the “last one” is the keeper. • Experiment, evaluate, read to clarify, repeat. • Join a photo club and/or take a photo course • Community college • Nikon and Canon have traveling 2-day seminars (see photo magazines for details) • Subscribe to a couple of magazines (e.g., PC Photo, Popular Photography)

  27. Read a Book! • Photoshop Elements 4.0: The Photoshop Elements 4 Book for Digital Photographers (Paperback) by Scott Kelby • Photoshop CS2: The Photoshop Cs2 Book for Digital Photographers (Paperback) by Scott Kelby • Both available for around $25 with free shipping at www.buy.com

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