Before you start using your camera, make sure that you have all the right equipments that you will need to start the journey of digital photography. Whether you are a beginner or a professional, having proper equipments are must if you want success in digital photography.
Without certain equipments, digital cameras are really not complete or you can also say that without at least a couple of digital camera equipments, no digital camera setup is complete.
How many equipments you are going to be looking into purchasing are depends on what you want to do with digital photography. If you do not have the money for these kinds of things that you will have to have than a professional career in digital photography may not be what you are looking to do.
One of the advantages of digital photography is that you can zoom in on your downloaded pictures using your editing software. When you do this, sadly the image is not always as crystal clear as it looked on the LCD monitor when you took it. This might be the time to add some decent ancillary gear – perhaps a tripod or a flash gun – to improve your results. So let’s talk about how to buy these equipments.
Identifying Your Needs
While of course, you want to buy the best equipment you can afford, there is no Point in spending a fortune sophisticated features you may never use. Identify your needs before buying.
Deciding just what you need in a camera may be a simple task for you, or it may be fraught with all manner of caveats, depending on your situation and the images you want
Resolving Your Needs
If you are trying to decide which camera model to buy, then I would suggest you first consider what it is you really need it for. Are you mainly going to be photographing your kids? Perhaps you are a keen botanist and would like to be able to capture shots of wildflowers in their natural environment? Either way, you will still need to decide what sort of quality you need. If your images are going to be used purely for websites then you don’t need a high specification camera, and you can save yourself a lot of money.
In general, a camera with 1-2 million pixels (1-2 megapixels) will be more than adequate. If your
work is going to be published in magazine or book format, however, then things are very different and you will need the highest resolution you can afford, with 4 million pixels (4 megapixels) being a sensible minimum.
Other features to check out are things such as whether you want an LCD viewing screen or not. While these are power hungry items, personally I cannot Imagine being without one anymore! LCDs tend to be between 4-6cm across, although for once size is not everything – the image quality can vary significantly. The most useful thing about having a screen is that you can review pictures as soon as you have taken them. This can save a lot of heartache!
Reaching the controls
Before you go rushing out and buying a particular model, it is vitally important to check that you can hold it properly. People with big hands need to consider whether they can access all the functions without pressing the wrong buttons all the time. Conversely, people with small hands need to ensure that they can reach the controls in the first place! Always make sure that the layout of the camera controls is to your liking before making your purchase.
Features and Modes
When you have worked out exactly what you want to do with your camera once you have bought it, you will need to check out the models that fit your criteria. This can be a daunting task, as it can seem that every one of them has a range of incomprehensible features and modes. In order to guide you through this maze of jargon, here is a quick guide to essential terms.
- Pixels and resolution: Basically, the more pixels there are in your image, the better the resulting image will be. Two million pixels (2 megapixels) are about the minimum resolution you should settle for in the camera you select unless you only want to take low quality photographs.
- Integral flash: Unless you are only ever going to take pictures in well-lit areas, do not even think of buying a camera without a built-in flash or you will end up taking lots of very dark photographs!
- Macro mode: If the cameras you are looking at have a zoom facility, the odds are that they will all come with a macro mode. This allows you to take close-up pictures. Choose the best you can afford.
- Red-eye reduction: This is a mode in which the flash is fired twice in quick succession, causing the irises of the subject’s eyes to dose just before the picture is taken, eliminating most of the red eye reflections that are so common in flash photographs.
- Zoom: Beware! There are two types of zoom – optical and digital. Digital zoom is a method of magnifying the image with clever processing techniques, but it falls short of the mark when compared to optical zoom, where all the magnification is performed by the camera lens itself. Ideally, go for optical zoom with experience you will get visibly better results.
Where to Buy Gear
When the time comes to actually make a purchase, it is very important to ensure that you choose the right place to buy from.
- Is it the best price? Something to watch out for is that while some cameras are advertised as bargain offers, the truth may be that the deal is not as good as it seems. Often you will find that you have to buy much essential ancillary equipment separately.
- Supplier location and aftersales service: It is important to consider where you will be able to turn if your new camera goes wrong, as digital cameras, like other electrical products, do occasionally malfunction.
- The internet: If you do not live near a city, or would prefer not to use a local outlet for whatever reason, then there are many digital photography forums on the internet where you can get very good advice from true enthusiasts.
- Credit cards: If you have a credit card, it is a good idea to use it when you make your purchase, since you will automatically have a certain degree of insurance and other benefits.
- Mail order: If you read through the magazine adverts, you will soon get a feel for what deals are on offer for the cameras you are interested in – but watch out for steep postage costs and long delivery times.
- Doing your homework: It is worth doing your homework if you care about value for money. Check out the digital camera reviews in photography magazines.
Tripods & Monopods
If you are having trouble taking pin-sharp, crystal-clear images, it might be because your hands are shaking. A tripod or monopod will solve the problem. As the name would suggest a tripod has three legs, although there are variants on the theme such as monopods, which have only one. If you have not used a support device before, it is worth borrowing one to see whether the improvement in picture quality really justifies the cost and inconvenience of buying one and using it regularly.
The whole point of a tripod is to provide stability, but if you are going to be taking a lot of pictures on the move – of wildlife, for example – then you will also need one that is light and easy to carry yet very sturdy and resistant to knocks as well.
While it is possible to connect your camera to a computer to download your images, there are likely to be many occasions when this is just not convenient. Maybe the camera’s batteries are flat, someone else is using it or you simply don’t have the camera with you – only its memory card. In this case, what you need is a card reader. These are very useful little devices that generally plug into a computer’s USB port either directly or via an extension cable.
- Size matters: Considering the cost of many camera peripherals, as a rule card reader are good values for money. Most will fit in your pocket which makes them very practical for travelling.
- Card compatibility: Many types of card readers are available – some are dedicated to one type of card only, whereas others will accept between two and eight different formats.
Digital information cannot be stored or transferred without electrical power, so in the case of a portable digital camera its batteries are its lifeblood.
- Flat batteries: One of the most frustrating things you can experience when using a digital camera is when you are miles from home and your camera’s battery suddenly goes flat. There are various things you can do to try to prevent this problem from spoiling your day’s photography. The simplest solution is to carry at least one spare battery with you, and to make sure that any you have are fully charged when you leave home.
- Other ways of charging: There are other options, but which of these apply to you will depend on the kind of batteries that your camera is able to accept. If you are going to be using your camera for protracted periods of time in a location without mains electricity, you can always use a car battery charger lead – this plug into the cigarette lighter socket.
- Always get the correct batteries: Many cameras will only accept batteries that were specially made for them by the original manufacturers, in which case you will just have to accept that this is the cost of owning that particular model of camera. Check with the manufacturer’s instructions if in any doubt.
- Nickel-metal hydride batteries: Where you have a choice, use NiMH (Nickel-Metal Hydride) batteries. These are designed for equipment like digital cameras which use current very quickly, and will hold about three times the charge of an equivalent NiCd (Nickel-Cadmium) battery.
Camera cases, Bags and Straps
Digital photography is not an especially cheap hobby, so it makes sense to protect your investment in costly electrical equipment by protecting it properly in bespoke cases and bags.
If you go to buy yourself a nice, shiny new camera, make sure that you get a case or bag for it as well! Not only will the camera be a lot safer, but it will be much easier to carry around. There are some things in particular which you will need to protect the camera from, with salt water and fine sand being top of the list.
Bags and cases are available in all sorts of different sizes and styles, with some of the more expensive ones even being designed to be used underwater. Most of the camera manufacturers supply cases for their models, but they are inclined to be more expensive than similar products supplied by specials companies.
Lenses & Flash Guns
The quality of the lens in your camera has a huge bearing on the quality of the images that you will be able to take. A flash gun can help improve that quality.
The vast majority of digital cameras have no provision for anything but the lens they are supplied with from new. However, the maximum image quality a camera can achieve will be dictated to a great extent by the quality of its lens, so if you have any choice in the matter, go for the best one you can afford.
Different types of Lenses:
- Zoom Lenses: Zoom lens is the most popular type of lens today, it incorporates a whole lot of focal length in a single lens, for example, a zoom lens of 24-120 mm incorporates 24 mm, 28 mm, 35 mm, 50 mm, 85 mm, 105 mm and 120 mm. besides these focal lengths, one can shoot at any intermediate focal length. By just rotating the zoom ring, one can alter the focal length to suit the desired composition. A true zoom lens (meaning an expensive one) retains the focus at all focal lengths. Popular zooms in use, include 28-70 mm, 28-105 mm, 80-200 mm and 28-200 mm, but there are other combinations as well. They are generally heavier than single focal length lenses and slower (smaller apertures). Generally they fall I the category of f-3.5 to f-5.6. Some have variable apertures, i.e. f-4.5/5.6 which signified f-4.5 at smallest focal length and f-5.6 at the longest focal length. Some fast zoom lenses with maximum apertures of f-2.8 are available but they are more expensive. Today, the market is getting a variety of zoom lenses which have very good definition and very fast auto-focus facility. For the travel photographer, life without zoom lenses is simply unimaginable.
- Fish-eye Lenses: Fish-eye Lenses are the ones that feature very short focal lengths, giving an extreme wide view. There are two types, viz. true fish-eye with a wide 180 or greater view, which produces a circular image and the full-frame fish-eye, which gives a full-frame view and extremely wide view with a great amount of distortion. The former, circular ones are more of a gimmick lens used for a very special and bizarre effect. The full-frame fish-eye can be used outdoors and if kept in perfect plane with the horizon renders a very wide view of 180. Fish-eye lenses produce a lot of barrel distortion as a result of which straight lines appear in the image as highly curved.
- Mirror Lenses: Mirror Lenses are a combination of parabolic mirrors and lenses that provide long focal lengths in a short and light-weight package. They are also called ‘reflex’ lenses. They are much shorter than the normal telephoto lenses of equal focal length and have much closer minimum focusing distance. They are not very sharp as compared to their counterparts. Moreover, they have a fixed aperture and the exposure is controlled by varying the shutter speed alone. The technical word for these lenses is ‘catadioptic’. Today’s mirror lenses are compact and small-sized filters can be used in the rear of the lens.
- Perspective Control Lenses or PC Lenses: Perspective Control Lenses or PC Lenses let the photographer correct converging parallel lines when the cameras is pointed at an angle to the subject, as when tilting the camera up to get a complete building in the frame. PC lenses (also called shift lenses) have front elements that can be shifted up or down or left or right. Since the film plane remains parallel to the subject plane, there’s no convergence. PC lenses are generally of 24-35 mm wide-angle lenses. They are used to achieve the same effect in a 35 mm camera that is achieved through large format cameras with the help of ‘camera movements’. Manufacturers of the medium-format camera have introduced a special body called ‘flex body’ which helps in getting the same effect by using the ordinary lenses.
- Macro Lenses: Macro Lenses are used for serious close-up shooting. They have extended focus mounts so that they can focus on subjects close enough to produce life-size images on the film. Optically they are of a very high quality and produce better images quality than other lenses in this type of photography.
- Soft Focus Lenses: The soft focus effect is more at widest aperture and gets reduced at smaller apertures. A very similar effect can be achieved with soft focus filters on regular lenses.
When a photograph is taken in perfect conditions, no extra light is needed. However, those taken at other times will need assistance from some kind of artificial lighting. Normally, this is provided by a flash of some kind, either internal or a “gun”.