Saturday: 03.December.2005

RAD Guide to Digital Cameras: Having Fun with Digital Photography

Digital cameras. With so many manufacturers & models, how do you select the right one? You could spend days researching them (like I did), comparing a myriad of features & specs. Heck, entire books have been written on the subject of digital photography.

Over the years I've received many requests for a Rad Buyer's Guide to Digital Cameras. But the subject is simply too large to do it justice, and there are already many good resources available, designed specifically for that purpose. No sense in re-inventing the wheel.

But, with Christmas approaching, the question has become common. My recommendation remains the same: Canon.

Unlike some other companies, Canon is (and always was) a camera company. It's what they do. Some points to consider:


Point A: Cameras are all about glass (the lens). That's where the light comes thru. So compare lens specs carefully. The pro's have a saying: "There's no substitute for glass." Canon makes quality lenses (which co$t).

Certainly, other manufacturers make fine digital cameras. (I especially like the Fuji Finepix series.) Some of them may even save you money. But you can't go wrong with a Canon. The only negative with Canon is that they tend to be a little pricier than comparable models from other manufacturers.

Point B: Where to purchase your digital camera? Pro's told me about a place in New York called B&H Photo. Competitive prices. Quality service. That's where I got mine. Very professional. No sales tax except in New York. Their excellent reseller-rating is HERE.

Point C: Get a bigger memory card. Digital cameras come with small memory cards (e.g. 32-MB) to keep the price low. A 256-MB card (for example) would allow you take many more pictures (100 or more), without having to swap out the memory card.

Memory cards are not very robust. They have delicate connections. If you get a big memory card, you won't have to swap cards, which will minimize the chance of breaking something. Just download the photos to your computer's hard drive and clear the cameras memory. (Most cameras have a USB connection, so you never need remove the memory card.)

Point D: Most extended warranties are a big-fat rip-off, but digital cameras can be so expensive to repair that they are one of the few pieces of electronic equipment that actually justify purchasing an extended warranty. (Since you won't be fixing the thing yourself.)

Point E: I prefer cameras with a little weight to them. Certainly, pocket-sized cameras are convenient, especially for things like hiking and backpacking, where weight and size is a factor. But pocket cameras are so light that (unless you use a tripod) you tend jerk the camera slightly when pressing the shutter-button, which blurs the picture. Cameras with a little more weight to them are less likely to produce blurred pictures.

Point F: Other items your might consider purchasing include a carrying bag, spare batteries, lens-hood and a mini-tripod. I have these items, but recommend you wait before purchasing them .. to see if you'll really need/want/use them.

Point G: Digital cameras are more sophisticated than conventional film cameras. So expect to spend time learning about them and how they work, especially how to use the controls of your particular model.

Point H: Use a tripod (or uni-pod) whenever you can. They make a big difference in image quality.

Point I: SLRs (such as the Rebel) represent the holy grail of digital photography. But they aren't cheap. Worth the cost if you can afford and will put its features to good use.

Point J: BreezeBrowser is a great little program for converting your pictures into web pages. But it works only with Canon cameras. Not only does it create the web pages, but also creates the thumbnails and standard-size images (postcard-size) .. all with the click of a button (suh_weeet) .. something that used to take all afternoon.

From the time I walk in the house, I can have the pictures uploaded to my hard drive and posted on the 'Net in 5 minutes, sending near-realtime links to familiy & friends.

Point K: If you don't have your own website, PBase is a good place to post your digital photos online. There are many others, such as Photobucket.

Point L: It's true what they say: a picture *is* worth a thousand words.

If pressed for a recommendation right now (December 2005), I'd have to go with the PowerShot S2 IS (which I just did). It comes with 5-megapixel capability & a 12-X optical zoom (digital zoom is worthless, you should disable it). But it all depends, of course, on your needs & budget. Ho-ho-ho. Merry Christmas.

There you have it: a micro-sized Radified Mini-Guide to Digital Cameras. Good things sometimes come in small packages.

Might have to paste today's entry into a separate web page. That's how all the guides began.

UPDATE: 05.dec.2005. I went ahead and created the aforementioned web page. See here: Radified Mini-Guide to Digital Cameras, which will be updated more frequently than this blog entry.

For more info on this topic, here is a Google search for the query: digital camera photography canon powershot

Posted by Rad at December 3, 2005 10:13 AM


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