When I teach a new class learning digital photography, over 75% of the students turn up with the camera the salesman suggested.
Guess what? They soon find out that it’s the wrong one for them. This can be a very expensive mistake. So the big questions are what is the right one for me and how do I know which is best for me.
One of the first things that you want to know about the camera that the salesman is trying to sell you is as follows -
How long does the camera take to turn on and be ready to take the shot? In the consumer market this can range between 1 to 5 seconds most being towards the 3 seconds mark.
How long does the camera take to focus on the subject? (Not to take the picture) most cameras take between 1 to 3 seconds most at around the 1-second mark. How long does the camera take to actually take the photo after you have pushed the shutter button completely? Again, most cameras take between 1to 3 seconds this is called shutter lag time. Now you can see to take a photo can take up to 5 seconds just to turn on and up to another 3 seconds to focus in and the up to another 3 seconds just to actually take the photo.
In a cheaper camera, but not necessarily cheaper it can be up to 9 seconds to take a photo from the camera turned off. You may say “yes but I will leave my camera on” ok that’s fine, but you may still have a lag time of up to 3 seconds just to take a photo. Just imagine how annoying it will be now that you have purchased your new digital camera costing you around $400 – $500 to find that you just can’t catch your child blowing out the candles because your new camera at the critical time of blowing the candles out took 1 second to focus and a further 2 seconds to take the photo. What was the result? A child sitting in front of a cake with black smoldering candles.
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Can you set the white balance on your camera? Just what is the white balance?
About 60% of digital cameras don’t have this adjustment, you must buy one that can be set manually, not just one that has an “auto white balance” as they are not as good as they advertise.
Does your camera have different exposure modes?
Exposure modes are simply where does the camera take a light reading? The cheaper cameras just do an all over reading which can be very limiting to say the least. A good camera will have a “spot”, “centre weighted” and “matrix” metering system, which allows you to take great photos in any light situation.
When buying a digital camera, buy it for the fact that it’s a camera not a video camera as well. One student showed me all the features her camera had and that’s why it was more expensive – the only thing that it didn’t do well was take still pictures!
You can get so much out of your new digital camera! you just have to put some time in for learning how to use it properly and how to take better pictures – remember no one will ever want to look at a poor quality photo twice!
If you want to take really great pictures that will be in your family for years put in a little effort with your new digital camera.