Digital Imaging: Purchasing a Camera

The second most important thing you will need to know about, even if you want to use a professional photographer, is about the digital camera.  There is a lot to choose from and new things are coming out all the time.  I have posted links to a few websites with reviews below. Do check them out before you make a purchase.

Mega-Pixels
Cameras can come with anywhere between 4 and 20 or even more mega-pixels. A mega-pixel is one million pixels. By comparison there are Gigapixels which are one billion pixels but you won’t need to know about that so much for digital cameras.  Your camera will interpret the mega-pixels into RGB colors and needless to say, the more mega-pixels you have the better.

Zoom
This can be confusing.  A camera may say 10x Zoom but will it be the best kind of zoom?  There is digital and optical zoom.  Optical Zoom is ideal because it actually uses the camera lens to “zoom” in on the image and then it shoots it. Digital zoom is interpreted after the shot is taken and is known as a “software zoom.”  So make sure your camera has more Optical  than Digital Zoom.

Memory Card
This is like a flash drive.  In most cases it will look like a mini floppy disk.  This is the memory and the more memory you have, the more images you can store. They run from 4GB to 32GB.  Some come with special features.  One type has a global positioning feature, meaning that it will automatically attach a time, date and place to your photos. Another has Bluetooth and every time your computer and your digital camera are on they will sync automatically.  I do recommend having more than one Memory Card.  The camera will come with a very low GB Memory Card.  Consider purchasing two more. There is nothing more frustrating than being in the middle of a shoot and the Memory Card breaks down.

Battery
This gives your camera power.  It keeps it running.  You will get a charger with the camera but it is also a good idea to budget for two batteries.   You will have extra power on the go and if one breaks down you’ll have back up.

There are several different types of cameras and which one to buy is going to be a learning curve.  Let me make it easier for you.

SLR
This means Single Lens Reflex.  It is probably the best to purchase if you can afford it.  It is sometimes known as DSLR.  This is a system that allows you to see the image as the camera sees it via prism to mirror function.  This camera looks like a professional 35mm Camera and they do tend to run high in price but if you can make the investment it’s worth it.  It will have a higher resolution and will be guaranteed to shoot everything in Camera Raw, which translates into a .tif on the computer (see the previous post for more information).

Compact or Point and Shoot
If you can’t afford an SLR camera then this is the next best thing.  Make sure, however, that it can shoot in Camera Raw.  Most can only shoot in .jpg’s.  That might cost you a bit more but will be worth it in the end.  You don’t want the camera to compress the pixels for you.

Those are the two formats you really need to know about.  In the next post I will talk about camera features.

Digital Camera Review Websites:
Consumer Reports: Digital Camera Reviews
Digital Camera Magazine: Your Guide to Digital Imaging and Photography
PC Magazine: Digital Camera Reviews

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