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Seven Definitions For The Amateur Photographer

Dec 16, 2007
There are some basic terms you should become familiar with on the road to being a good amateur photographer. They'll help you decide which camera is right for you. Drooling at the sight of the neighbor's ultra compact or D-SLR doesn't mean its what you should buy. But don't buy the cheapest model either. Doing that is like throwing fifty bucks out the car window. They come with no manual either online or hard copy. There is a helpline that never answers the phone. You are totally on your own.

There are good cameras in the one to two-hundred dollar price range They have more than enough features. They give you a manual plus a way to contact the company if you need help. If its your first digital camera take a good look at the settings and how it fits in your hand. Make sure you're comfortable with the ease of using the viewfinder. And double check that it will work with your computer system and printer. With a Dell for example, make sure it will connect with the computer. Canon works with Dell but double check before buying any brand. Here are those basic terms.

--LCD viewfinder: Like a little tv screen showing you what you are looking at through the lens before you take the picture. It also allows you to view the picture after you take it. You can decide to keep it or discard it rather than waste space on your memory card. Make sure it is large enough and clear enough for you. This is what you focus and frame your pictures with. Not all but most cameras take video and record sound.

--Pixel: In the digital image a pixel is one point of data. Think of it as a measurement.

--Mega pixel: The mega pixel indicates how many points of data a camera can display.

--Memory Card: This is where the digital photos are stored until you load them to your computer. You have to buy the memory card that fits your camera (no choices here). You'll receive one or more with the camera. Look for one with adequate storage. Buy an extra one so you can keep on shooting when the first one is full.

--Focal Length: This is the zoom of the lens (as in zooming in on your subject).

--Depth of Field: The f-stop of your lens determines the focus of the foreground and background of your picture. This is a simplistic definition but all you need to understand at this time.

--Types to choose from: Ultra compact. Small, trendy, fits in a shirt pocket. Expensive and easy to lose. Compact is small enough to fit in a woman's purse and large enough to allow you an adequate-sized LCD screen. Enthusiasts and Superzooms have more features, take clearer and larger pictures. Are larger in size and more expensive. Finally there are the D-SLR's which are top-of-the line, adequate for professional photographers and the price is astronomical. Totally unnecessary for a novice although it does come with automatic settings.

You have to consider what you want to use the camera for. This gives you a start in the right direction of shopping and making a wise choice. Spend a day or two looking through the Internet and the stores. Type in your zip code for a list of stores that sell cameras. Shop for what you think you want. Consider the compact for a good value for the money. Try to hold out for a sale. Look for a package deal with an extra memory card or a free carry-case. After shopping -- go home and think about the camera you want for twenty-four hours. Then go back to make the purchase. This is an expensive item. Buy one you like and you will use it for years.
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