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INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................................. 2 CHAPTER 1: HOW TO FIX 14 COMMON PICTURE-TAKING MISTAKES ............................................. 4
Fix #1: Lighten deep shadows on faces in bright sunlight ................................................................................................ 4 Fix #2: Get rid of blurred off-center faces ....................................................................................................................... 5 Fix # 3: Prevent shaky shots ........................................................................................................................................... 7 Fix #4: Eliminate unwanted silhouettes ........................................................................................................................ 10 Fix #5: Do your photos have too much space overhead? ............................................................................................... 12 Fix #6: Beware distracting backgrounds ........................................................................................................................ 14 Fix #7: Fill the frame when shooting a portrait ............................................................................................................. 16 Fix #8: "Why is my nose so big?" .................................................................................................................................. 18 Fix #9: Did you shake your camera while in night portrait mode?.................................................................................. 19 Fix #10: Don't let far flash foible leave your subject in the dark .................................................................................... 21 Fix #11: Set your White Balance ................................................................................................................................... 22 Fix #12: Perfect beach exposures every time ................................................................................................................ 24
CHAPTER 2: SIX SCENE MODES YOU MAY ACTUALLY WANT TO USE ............................................ 25 CHAPTER 3: QUICK TIP: PREVENT SLOW-REACTING SHUTTERS .................................................. 29 CHAPTER 4: TEACHING CHILDREN TO TAKE PICTURES ................................................................... 29 CHAPTER 5: WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A COMPACT DIGITAL CAMERA ........................................... 34
Just because you take pictures with a compact digital camera doesn’t mean your photos have to look like snapshots. And, just because you have the latest high-resolution digital wonder-cam, that doesn’t make you a great photographer. The goal of this e-book is to help snapshooters avoid the most common pitfalls that ruin photographs of family and friends. Whether you’re shooting with a compact digital camera, a DSLR, or even a cell phone, you can use these tips to let you improve composition (chapter 1), operate your camera better (chapters 2 and 3), and encourage your kids to get into photography (chapter 4). And if you’re looking for a new compact camera, we can help in chapter 5. Many years ago, I took a course in creative writing. We were given an assignment and when I asked how long the paper should be, the teacher said, “say what you need to say, then stop!” The same philosophy can be applied to taking photographs and each of the fixes of common photographic problems spelled out in Chapter 1 are mere commentary: Photograph only what you want to include, and nothing else. Here’s an example of what I mean:
This is more than a simple snapshot of my dog: It tells a story! He wants whatever it is that is in that frying pan. I’ve taken hundreds of photos of my dog, but this is my current favorite. I’ve shared this photo on Facebook and gotten great comments. Why does it work? Because I chose an angle to emphasize the relationship of the dog to the frying pan, and positioned the camera so I only included what’s important to make this picture work—and nothing else. And the camera I shot it with? An iPhone! Yes, the photo is a bit grainy, but the humor comes through anyway. So the lesson here is: No matter what camera you use, if you use it thoughtfully, you can take great pictures with it. —Mason Resnick Editor Adorama Learning Center
This e-book was designed to be viewed on any e-reader. However, many of the illustrative photos may look better in color. If you want to see the originals in their glorious original color, be sure to go online and visit the Adorama Learning Center (http://www.adorama.com/alc) where you will not only get access to many of these articles in their original form, but will find plenty of other useful photographic tips. And of course, be sure to visit Adorama Camera (http://www.adorama.com), the exclusive sponsor of this free e-book. When you’re ready to order your next camera, consumer electronics, home office or other products, we hope you’ll place your trust and business with us.
Chapter 1: How to Fix 14 Common Picture-Taking Mistakes
Fix #1: Lighten deep shadows on faces in bright sunlight
When part of a face is thrown into deep shadow by bright overhead sunlight, the results are not flattering. Here's how to get better photos with your digital camera in the mid-day sun.
Fix me! It's high noon, there's not a cloud in the sky. You take pictures of your smiling loved ones. The result is a semi-abstract portrait, with the eyes obscured by deep, shadowy pockets that we call "raccoon eyes." The nose casts a dark mustache over the upper lip and mouth and...well, it’s not a pretty picture. There are two ways to get rid of those dark shadows: Add more light, or move out of direct sunlight.
The easy fix: Add more light to blow away the shadows by turning on your camera's built-in flash, as I did above. Most point-and-shoot digital cameras sense when there's enough light that you don't need flash, but they're not smart enough to know when the lighting will cause deep shadows. In your camera's flash mode, switch from Auto to the little lightning bolt that indicates the flash is always on, and your flash will fire, even in bright sunlight!
Fix #2: Get rid of blurred off-center faces Most modern compact digital cameras have a feature called “Face Detection” that automatically senses where the faces are in your photograph. I shot this about ten feet from where I took the first to shots. You'll probably need someone to hold the reflector and aim the light while you're taking pictures. Reflectors can provide a wider light surface.The more advanced fix: Use a reflector such as the Flashpoint 22-Inch Circular Collapsible Disc Reflector to bounce sunlight into your subjects' faces. for instance—and position your subject so the area behind is darker than (or the same level of brightness as) your subject. The think-outside-the-box fix: Get out of the sun! Find an open shade area—under an awning. but what a difference turning around and shooting into the shade made here! Make sure your flash is turned off and your shake reduction is turned on. and focuses on them even if they're off-center (more about that later). . Result? The background is in sharp focus while the person or people you're photographing are blurred. which results in more flattering lighting than a tiny on-camera flash can provide. The collapsible disc reflector is great because when it is folded up it takes up very little room. But if are using an older autofocus camera. there may be times when focus "misses" your subject's face.
re-compose the picture the way you want it. The fix: First.Fix me! Older low-cost digital point-and-shoot camera focus systems will only focus on the exact center of the picture. as in the shot above. is one of those features that many photographers don't know how they ever survived without. introduced in 2006. depending on the camera) and automatically adjusts focus and exposure so they come out sharp and well exposed. Face Detection locks onto faces (from a single face to between 8 and 19. If you bought a camera recently. If your subject is even slightly off-center. This locks focus. Buy any modern digital point-and-shoot camera and it probably has Face Recognition. It works! . you probably already have this feature at your fingertips! The example image above demonstrates what your screen would look like with face recognition activated. But that is one of the most easily-fixed snapshot foibles around. with the release still pressed halfway. where the focus target is located. Face Recognition (also called Face Detection). Press the shutter release the rest of the way down. If you’re shooting two people. Now. it won't be in focus. no matter where they are in the shot. your camera may focus on the wall behind them if that’s what’s in the center of the picture. center your subject in the frame. Press the shutter release halfway down.
It's a common problem. Unsteady hold: Many compact cameras lack an optical viewfinder. You've taken your picture and it looks all right on the tiny monitor. Face Recognition can be found on nearly all compact digital cameras at all prices—check the specs! Fix # 3: Prevent shaky shots One of the most common picture-taking mistakes is camera shake. But it's easier than ever to avoid. leave it on.com . Check your manual and once you’ve turned Face Detection on. but when you review the photo back home on your computer screen. Your arms are not supported and you are more likely to move the camera when you press the shutter release. These days. forcing you to hold the camera at arm's length—a position that can increase shaky shots. Photo © Jim Jurica / iStockphoto. you notice that the entire image is blurred.Just remember that many cameras do not have Face Detection as a default setting. you need to go into the menu and turn it on. made worse by the lack of eye-level viewfinders on most compact cameras. This usually happens because you shook the camera slightly when you took the picture. You don't need to break the bank to get a camera with Face Recognition. This forces you to hold the camera a foot or so from your face so you can see the LCD screen. either.
This is almost as steady as a tripod. during which the camera moved. Here are several ways to stabilize a camera: Hold the camera against a wall. no tripod to keep the camera steady or shake reduction.Shake. This will work with eye-level finder cameras as well as with cameras that only have LCD monitors. shake. handheld. and the flash is off. with the closest arm holding the camera and pressing against it. . The camera compensates for the low light by increasing exposure time. shake: Shot at dusk.
Rest it on your arm: Raise your left arm. Rest your camera on the bent elbow. Much of the steadiness from the surface you're leaning on will transfer to the camera. push up a bit with your elbow as you push down with your camera. Find a chair back or table and lean your elbows against it while holding your camera. . and grab your right shoulder with your left hand. This will work with DSLRs as well as with compact cameras that lack an eye-level finder.
Here's why: Cameras don't like uneven light. on your camera's specs. and unlike the direct flash. and so on. Optical anti-shake will produce better image quality than digital anti-shake. Use this feature when shooting hand-held images and you will increase your chances of getting sharp shots. or some similar variation. under an awning with a bright. But there's another option: Anti-Shake Technology! All but the lowest low-end snapshot cameras now have some form of remediation for blur caused by the photographer moving the camera during the exposure. . sun-drenched scene behind them. you are likely to get a dark. featureless outline of them while the background is perfectly exposed. which boosts ISO and causes graininess. anti-shake. Most new compact digital cameras have anti-shake technology built-in. Shake reduction on: I turned on my camera's Shake Reduction.Turn on your flash: Many cameras in auto mode will simply turn on the flash if the light's too low. It works! Fix #4: Eliminate unwanted silhouettes Your subject is sitting by the window and you can see her face perfectly. when you point a camera at someone standing in shadow—indoors against a window. this provides for a more natural look (see image above). I forced the flash on and got a sharp shot. but your digital camera can't. So. In this case. Look for vibration reduction. which eliminated hand shake and produced a sharp shot with more natural lighting (note the lighter background).
where it’s much darker. which means even though your subject might be better exposed. and she’s sitting inside a bus. the contrast might be too low and details might be obscured. the flash will bounce right back at you. Switch the flash setting from the default (auto flash) to flash always on (a lightening bolt). There are several ways to fix this: Turn on your flash: Use your camera's flash as a fill-in light to balance out the brightness. The downside? If you're shooting someone near a window. . That should eliminate the reflection. You can reposition yourself so you are facing the window at a 45-degree angle. creating an unwanted bright spot. Flash on: Now the foreground and background are balanced. But what if you can’t move? Use exposure compensation: A more advanced way to mitigate strong backlighting is to adjust the camera's exposure compensation. Something’s got to give. but the reflection of the flash in the window is a distraction.Perfect exposure of the outside scene—but I want to see my daughter’s face. The downside is that the background will most likely be too bright. and there may be some flare. Increase it by two stops and the entire scene will be lightened.
while their helpless loved ones are stuck in the lower half of the image. If you don't want the flash to go off. Use spot metering: Some cameras will let you selectively meter just the center area of the picture. depending on the scene. snapshooters fill more than half the frame with sky. my camera went off" look and a well-composed photo. you simply hit the “flash” button until the flash icon has a line through it. but the scenery is blown out. Result is similar to what you'd get using exposure compensation. Fix #5: Do your photos have too much space overhead? Deciding a subject's position within a photograph can make the difference between the "oops.5 stops. it knows what to do in most cases. Good news: Many modern compact cameras now offer Intelligent Autoexposure (or some variation of that term). . giving you the best exposure for the target area only while the rest of the picture will be over or underexposed.Exposure compensation: I get a perfect exposure by boosting my camera’s EV +1. But many times. Now she’s exposed perfectly. The camera compares the scene you are shooting to a database of image types and adjusts exposure based on a close match. I’ll take that compromise. So when a camera with Intelligent Autoexposure detects a backlit scene.
If you find you leave a lot of sky in your people pix. As long as you're not cutting anyone off at either side of a group shot. In this shot. . There shouldn't be much space there. Get even closer: Get dramatically close and fill the frame with your loved one's face. Move in: Maybe you're too far away. Zoom with your feet: Move a step or two or three closer. get as close as you want! 3. What you can do: 1. the top of the subject’s head is at the middle of the frame. you need to tilt your camera down more when you take pictures of people.Look out above! If you can fold a picture in half and not miss anything important in the upper half. Be conscious of the distance between the tops of peoples' heads and the top edge of the photo. tilt the camera down a bit. 2.
You look at a scene and subconsciously your brain and eyes work together to focus attention on whatever you feel is important and ignore what isn’t.No more overhead: I used all three of the above ideas to fix this shot: I zoomed in with my feet and lens a bit. and leave out all that wasted space! Fix #6: Beware distracting backgrounds When taking photos of your friends and loved ones with your digital camera. and they faithfully record everything they capture—whether you want them to or not. leave enough room to include it.) An exception: If there is something interesting in the background that you want to include in order to tell a story. pay attention to what’s going on behind them. The human eye and brain have the amazing ability to see only what it wants to see. Otherwise. and tilted the lens down. Here’s what could happen if you’re not paying attention to what’s going on in the background: . such as landmark in a travel photo. Cameras have no such ability. (By zooming in. unintentional hilarity might ensue. I also got rid of that distracting chair on the right. then by all means. Otherwise. tilt down.
and no amount of lateral movement on your part is helping. If you see a tree or similarly distracting element in the background. move both you and your subject to another location entirely and avoid the distracting background. look at the image in preview mode. Not sure if the background is distracting? After you've taken the shot. it will look like it's growing out of their head because the two dimensional print (or image on screen) flattens space. and plays tricks on your eyes.Next time you're photographing people—either individually or in groups—watch your background. That’s what I did to fix the background in the image above. If there's a tree behind someone's head. shift your position. If you see a hopelessly distracting background. See a tree sticking out of Aunt Gussie's head? Change positions. The more advanced way: Move a lot. The easy way: Move a bit. and re-shoot! . Moving a few inches or a couple of feet can help to reorganize the background so it's not fighting the foreground.
Deceptive distance: I shot this with a 24mm wide-angle lens. It’s not so helpful when you want to get a nice close portrait of someone. We were standing about 8 feet from each other. but my daughter seems so much farther away! Better: I zoomed in to the equivalent of a 70mm view.Fix #7: Fill the frame when shooting a portrait The trouble with people pictures is that most photographers don't get close enough. but the red tail light of the car in the background and the bright steps on the right draw my eye away from the subject. Look at the difference a more intimate approach can make! "Far out!" is not the exclamation of hippy-dippy joy when it comes to portrait photos of your loved ones. How can you avoid too much space around a face? It’s really great that so many new compact digital cameras are available these days with zoom lenses that start at 28 or 24mm. This is really helpful when shooting scenic vistas or photographing large groups of people in tight spaces. it's a complaint: I can't see Aunt Sadie because you were too "far out" when you photographed her. Instead. Better. .
When photographing someone. Fill the Frame: Don't be afraid to fill the frame. Use a moderate telephoto setting. Bonus: The closer you get. To avoid camera shake. The off-kilter diagonal .1. Shooting at close range with a telephoto setting. Around 70mm should do it. I took a couple of steps towards my daughter. make sure shake reduction is turned on. you can get a more dramatic portrait. stand within ten feet of them. A fun twist: If you're gtting up super-close. and even to cut off the top of your subject's head. 2. zoom it almost all the way out. the background will be more out of focus and less distracting. For this shot. By zooming in on your subject. Zoom with your feet. try tilting the camera slightly. and composed vertically. If you have a 3x zoom lens. Move closer. the less chance that you'll have a distracting background.
their nose and forehead may appear exaggerated. (This is not a good way to photograph a young teen. and now are shooting frame-filling portraits with your compact digital camera. with the lens set to 24mm.approach is more dynamic. if you're photographing someone from two feet away with a 28mm lens. After all. or I’ll never hear the end of it. Great! But did you remember to zoom. back up a few feet and zoom out to a moderate telephoto length. I hope her friends don’t see this shot. Optical distortion at this focal range will exaggerate objects that are very close to the lens. But even from a few feet away. Fix this! This is probably more distortion than you’ll get. which is pretty extreme. I shot my daughter from about 8 inches away. So. . or did you leave your lens at its widest setting? Here's the one time you should not zoom with your feet! If you shoot at your camera's widest-angle setting. you may be getting moderate to extreme facial distortion. by the way.) Instead. Fix #8: "Why is my nose so big?" You've followed the above advice. the facial distortion will make the facial features appear slightly out of whack. At around 70-85mm. the optical compression created by the focal length will present all of your subject's facial features at the appropriate proportions. This is especially true if your camera has a zoom lens that starts at 24-28mm.
She liked this one so much. The result. . the other. One exposure is of the subject lit by the flash. and around 5 feet away. she made it her Facebook profile image. effectively.Fixed! This more flattering portrait shows facial features in proper proportion. you can see the subject's face nice and sharp. Fix #9: Did you shake your camera while in night portrait mode? OK. of the background exposed during a long exposure as the camera accidentally moved. sharp face? This is a case where the camera moved during exposure. is a double-exposure. It was shot at approximately 70mm. Sure. but why are there streaks and lines all over the place—with some even blocking that nice. but the picture came out screwy. so you followed my advice and switched to Night Portrait mode.
you may lose image quality if you shoot higher than that). If you don't have shake reduction. as with our example here. causing a ghostly blur behind her. use a tripod or lean the camera against a table. Fixed: By the recessional. post or doorway to give it support and reduce shake. at ISO 80. Low light and low ISO setting meant a really long exposure. consider boosting your ISO to up to 400 (with a compact camera. I’d solved the problem. shake reduction off. Keep your camera's shake reduction mode on. since the longer exposure could lead to camera shake. Also. Increasing the ISO is especially important if your subject is in motion. . Shake reduction plus a modest ISO boost to 400 eliminated shake while keeping the background relatively light and the quality of the light more natural even though subject was moving.Sharp but blurred: I shot my daughter’s 8th grade graduation processional in night portrait mode.
and the farther you are from the subject. knowing the shutter would be open for around half a second under that light.not much of anything? Blame it on your flash. your flash will only illuminate subjects within 10 feet or so. for instance! . That’s around 5 feet farther than my flash is capable of reaching at ISO 100.. It has a limited range. Imagine how dark a subject would be if it was 150 feet away on a stage or on a basketball court. How limited? On a typical point-and-shoot camera.. Zoom out and the range is even less.Just for fun: I photographed my daughter’s cool new sneakers with the camera in Night Portrait mode while deliberately moving the camera in an arc motion. the less effective your flash will be. Hello? Anybody there? I shot this picture in subdued light similar to the kind of light you might find in a sports arena or a restaurant with "mood lighting" from 15 feet away. and the results would be interesting. since your lens lets in less light when in its telephoto setting than when in its widest angle setting. Fix #10: Don't let far flash foible leave your subject in the dark Have you ever shot pictures of a ballgame or a concert at a stadium or arena—or just across a room— and were disappointed to see.
I forgot to switch it to daylight. Increase your ISO. NJ. and shot away. you have to compromise. Fix #11: Set your White Balance You've taken a shot indoors without flash. The image is somewhat grainy. Oops. turn on your camera's anti-shake. you can greatly improve the color by adjusting your camera's White Balance (WB) setting. turned on Image Stabilization. and the resulting shot has an overall blue tint. . forgot to change the White Balance! I shot this portrait of my daughter at Rutgers Gardens in New Brunswick.What to do? First. right after taking some pictures indoors with the white balance on the incandescent bulb setting. then you probably won't be able to take pictures in that situation. but at least my subject's properly exposed. following my advice to take advantage of ambient light whenever you can. following my advice to avoid harsh shadow-producing sunlight. and there's a problem: All the pictures have an orange cast. but everything looks sickly blue. I increased ISO to 800. Sometimes. you shot a portrait in open shade. Or. and do the best you can with the existing light. In both cases. turn off your flash. If it's still too dark and you're getting shaky shots.
Cameras are balanced for daylight. Auto WB. as I did. what about Photoshop? “Oh. but this doesn't always work out. that’s OK. rectangular shape. the camera hasn't compensated for the warmer light projected by incandescent light bulbs. you can manually override the automation and choose the most appropriate WB setting. An open shade WB setting will easily fix this. the blue will be exaggerated.” you might say when you discover you messed up the white balance.) Most digital cameras have clearly-marked WB settings: Incandescent is indicated by a standard light bulb icon. (A greenish cast is caused by cooler light projected by fluorescent bulbs. when an image is too orange or yellow. But if. A simple switch to auto white balance gave this shot accurate color. while fluorescent WB is indicated by a long. is designed to recognize when the light is something other than daylight and make the necessary adjustments. “I’ll just fix it later with Auto Color Correction in Photoshop. Indoors. you accidentally shot outdoors in open shade while your camera is set to indoor/bulb. which is the default setting. In most cases.” Really? Let’s see how good a job that does… . the wide canopy of blue sky causes a blue cast that the naked eye may not see. Well. Outdoors in open shade. If you check your results on your LCD monitor and see that the color is wrong. auto white balance will work fine for snapshots. but the camera sensor picks up.
press the exposure lock. and I get perfect exposures every time. What you need: An SLR or any compact camera. An automatically-exposed beach shot will be too dark. aim at the sky as above. Take a reading off the sky. Now you can. take note of the exposure settings and adjust manually. If your camera has an exposure lock option. or any scene where there’s a lot of white or light colors) is that they mislead camera meters. Otherwise. 2.I went to Photoshop Elements > Enhance > Auto Color Correction and got this "corrected" version. but this will require more work and waste your valuable time. you can probably eventually get the color more or less correct. too! Step 1. Make sure no land is showing and no clouds are visible in the viewfinder. If your camera has manual exposure mode: 1. Still think Photoshop is a good idea here? Fix #12: Perfect beach exposures every time The problem with beaches (or snowy landscapes. 4. Yes. Compose. Compare this to the before-and-after shots above. as long as it has an exposure lock option. with your back to the sun. Meter the sky . Choose manual exposure. Aim at the sky. focus. and shoot. 3. But you easily can trick your camera into getting the right exposure when the sun is bright and the sky is blue. I do this whenever I shoot at the beach.
but I've used these. Night Scene Portrait This mode was designed for taking pictures of people at night using the camera's built-in flash to illuminate them while a slow shutter speed pulls detail and color in the background. the foreground or the background will typically be exposed correctly but it's unlikely you'll achieve a balanced exposure between foreground and background that looks dead black. You may also need a camera support—a tripod. Night scene mode automatically selects a long exposure time so the background will have sufficient exposure and the aperture will be chosen so that when the flash is fired it will accurately illuminate the main foreground subject. It's also a good idea to use the camera's focus lock to ensure sharp focus on your subject. monopod. .Step 2: Recompose and shoot! Chapter 2: Six scene modes you may actually want to use Some scene modes seem unnecessary. and find them very useful! 1. or a wall—to steady your camera and avoid shaky backgrounds. When making a portrait in front of a cityscape or sunset in normal exposure modes. Tip: Since you can end up with a slow shutter speed and fairly wide aperture with the flash turned on— that's the whole point of trying to balance flash and background—be careful where you focus.
Night moves: My friend Tony photographed me one night after we went shopping in Tokyo's akihabara district using an EOS Digital Rebel in Night Scene mode. No more grey snow: Going out to play (or shovel) in the snow? Try some shots in Surf and Snow mode to see if the exposures aren't better that you've had before. beach and snow does just the opposite and give you lots of light making the built-in meter want to under expose the shot. Choosing the Surf and Snow Scene mode tells the camera what it's up against and produces well-exposed images. Where night scenes fool metering systems with point of light and lots of darkness. ©2003 Tony Gomez 2. Surf and Snow It's a matter of opposites again. The camera determined an exposure of 1/60 sec at f/3/5 with an ISO setting of 400. ©2007 Joe Farace . This New Year's Day's shot of Mary had an exposure of 1/500 at f/10 and ISO 200.
Sunset Sunsets and sunrises are notoriously difficult to shoot because you have lots of dark areas and a brilliant light source in the same frame.3. Text This is a mode that when you think about it. While it's boring when you wanna do some copy work and want the text to be sharp and "clear. such as the one shown. Tip: For examples. Using this mode sets up the camera to deal with these high contrast circumstances and the color balance is designed to produce the beautiful warm glow that you see with your eyes but is somehow elusive to capture in a photograph. Big orange ball in the sky: Nothing says sunset like a shot of the "sun setting slowing in the West" and this photograph of the beach at Acapulco benefitted from the camera's Sunset scene that automatically determined the exposure to be 1/500 sec at f/4 and ISO 80. 4. ©2005 Joe Farace 5. with kids riding on bikes or skateboards be sure to try the same kind of camera panning techniques that you might use for sports! . is not too different than photographing in the snow: Lots of white background with thin black text for foreground. Kids This mode is optimized to capture candid photographs of kids who may not want to sit still for a portrait and also produces healthy and bright skin tones so it's biased toward higher shutter speeds and ISO settings as well as warm skin tones. which is why it's always a good idea to have some foreground interest in sunset scenes such as this one." This is the mode for you. Tip: Depending on how large this example photo is displayed you may be able to see the ant-sized people (as silhouettes) walking on the beach.
is to wait for that moment. Ma!" Natalie is not sitting still. if there is any. Some engineer at Pentax must read the Darby Conley's "Get Fuzzy" comic strip. Got fuzzy: Chihuahuas are active dogs and most pets aren't going to sit still to pose so this scene mode is biased toward high shutter speeds. you can select cat or dog. If you want to photograph those precocious tabbies Hot Shot and Fat Cat bouncing around in their natural environment this is the mode for you. the flash was automatically fired too. Every now and then the pet needs to catch a breath and the secret. ©2008 Mary Farace 6."Look. Get this. you'll need to just keep making many different shots--I made nine of this doggie—to capture that decisive canine (or feline) moment. In the meantime. With cameras such as the Pentax K100D. Pets Not only are kids hard to photograph but so are pets.3 and ISO 400. when you select this mode you sometimes get the additional choice of the kind of pet. she's riding down the street and that's why Mary photographed her while panning the camera to slightly blur the background while keeping the subject sharp. ©2006 . Automatically determined exposure was 1/160 sec at f/6. Because it was near dusk.
and the only decision is to learn when to use them and when to turn over creative control to the computer inside your noggin. Chapter 3: Quick Tip: Prevent Slow-Reacting Shutters One of the most common questions I get from point-and-shoot camera owners is: “Why. While purists may deride the concept that these creative decisions are being turned over to hardware instead of the human being holding that hardware.Joe Farace By no means are these the only Scene modes available and each new camera models seems to invent new ones so that every possible photographic situation may be tuned over to the camera to make exposure decisions. Now. Some cameras do this more efficiently than others. when you're ready to take the picture. Then I learned to walk so I could get a higher point of view. press the shutter release the rest of the way down. When would be an appropriate time to teach your child photography? No matter the age. The good news? A simple maneuver by you can often reduce lag time to the point where you may not even notice it. My guess is that Scene modes are here to stay. unfortunately. press your camera's shutter release halfway. If you're shooting a fast-moving subject (such as sports). Pointing the camera at your subject.” That's what I say when someone asks how long I've been into photography. until you feel an increase in resistance against your pressure. my answer is: NOW! . Don't take your finger off the shutter release! At this setting. while the metering system is calculating and setting the exposure. and when you press the shutter release the camera should take the picture without hesitation. when I press my camera's shutter release to take a picture. Why do cameras hesitate for a fraction of a second (that could seem like an eternity)? The autofocus system is focusing the lens. does it take so long for the camera to actually take the picture?” The cause is something called “shutter lag” and it is a phenomenon that. I took picures. shutter lag can ruin your timing and mess up your shot. the camera focuses and sets the shutter speed. well they said the same thing about autofocus and we all agree that going back to manual focus seems sort of archaic. Chapter 4: Teaching Children To Take Pictures “First. and locks it in. can be found on many compact digital cameras (and Smart Phones). and that's what can cause the delay. Follow this simple procedure and the camera will have done all of its time-consuming focusing and exposure calculations.
indestructible and cheap. but a grade school-aged child will refuse to use a camera that's designed for little kids. It should be easy to grasp since motor coordination is still developing. hobby. your young one may be ready as well! Here are a few tips for getting a young shooter started. profession and avocation. Choose an appropriate camera The best camera for a 9-year-old might be easily destroyed by a pre-schooler. my uncle Al gave me an Ansco cadet—a 120 rollfilm camera with a fixed-focus lens and two modes: “Color” and “Black and White”. the world of a 5-year-old. as well as some cameras to consider. when I got a Canon FTb-n and enough lenses to launch my early photographic career on my high school newspaper. so Exakta wasn't such a great idea. . (an address that no longer exists) in Great Neck. If I could start shooting at five. unfortunately. my neighborhood. When I was 5. and finally my big step into serious photography. and staring at people (which. I would eventually graduate to a Kodak Instamatic 105. I am of crawling but not walking age. A tween will want more features but mays till be prone to destruction. You can harness this curiosity into a lifetime hobby or even profession with photography. New York. and I'm carefully examining my dad's camera case. shot in the driveway of my parents' home at 18 Ipswich Ave. as it turned out. and impulsively explore the world around them. a clunky 35mm camera I would inherit as a teen. not to make you buy stock in laundry detergent companies). an Exakta RTL 1000. How long did that first cell phone last? Scroll down for some possible candidates for first cameras. Photography became a life-long interest. How to encourage your child's interest in photography Children are naturally curious. Pre-schoolers: Choose something simple. OK.Photo © kryczka/istockphoto. In the picture. watching insects crawl. Look for a camera with an optical viewfinder. I still have the photos I shot with it—of childhood friends. They're often hunting for treasures. The photo was shot using a Bolsey B-2. adults discourage). playing with mud (to see what it feels like. That would be corrected by the time I hit 15. then Dad's Bolsey.com The earliest photographic evidence of my interest in photography goes to a grainy black-and-white picture.
Choose a model that offers ease of use plus more features than a cell (such as an optical zoom lens. Keep it simple My instructions to my then 6-year-old daughter were “find something you're interested in and fill the frame with it. press this button. but you were learning to be a photographer. Then use your skills as a photographer to show them how to make it even better.after all. let them have a say in which color body to get.) Learn by Chimping If your camera has an LCD finder (the cheapest ones may not) take a look at the photo your child just shot. let her loose so she can explore without feeling her parent or responsible adult is looking over her shoulder.but then show how to get better shots After you've spent a few minutes (not hours!) showing your child how to use his or her camera. don't discourage but do point out how he can improve the picture. get closer.. (Come to think of it. read The Best Budget-Priced Cameras Right Now! For girls: This may sound sexist.. and what he might do differently next time. by 7-9 years old they'll be ready for a camera with more control. they're cheap.Early grades (K-4): Younger children may still need something durable. If there's too much other stuff around it. many of these cameras may fit into a middle-school. Let your child take a picture. then find something to praise about the photo. but girls at this age are more conscious of appearances. Remember your first pictures? A more experienced photographer might look down on such shots as a waste. Then take its picture. Middle school (grades 5-8): These kids are ready for low-end point-and-shoots that may offer a modest zoom range and a variety of shooting modes. your camera might be in competition with the built-in camera on their cell phones.but most of all.” The results thrilled her! You can teach older children the camera's features if they express interest but if they are early in the process stick to basic things and don't let a camera's cool and useful (to you) controls get in the way of their picture-taking joy. For guidance.. As him what he likes best about the picture. close focus and creative modes) to get their interest. Look at The Best Fashion Compact Digital Cameras Right Now! for a colorful selection. Take Time for Training Don't just hand a child a camera—show how to use it.. even if it's as simple as “look in this viewfinder and when you see what you like. Use praise. Let them “waste” pixels.. there are some adult photographers I know who could benefit from this advice as well. At this age.. make mistakes. however.and even high-school-friendly budget. to have fun and to develop their enthusiasm for photography! .” Go on a photographic safari around the neighborhood and demonstrate how to frame and compose. Give your child the space to explore. learn.
. A 1MP card offers ample space. The Splash has a plethora of scene modes so if your young lad or lass wants to emulate Mommy or Daddy's photographic talents. At 12MP. and Blue.1MP Digtial Camera $40 Designed specifically for preschoolers. don't expect to make prints) that can be used for outdoor daylight photography and will take plenty of typical childhood abuse. The Cobra C150 is a VGA-quality camera (it can capture computer monitor resolution images. Crayola 2. Images are screen quality but you may also be able to make 4x6-inch prints. resolution is more than enough for ANY photographer. this camera has enough features to get a variety of well-exposed and focused shots while keeping up with your big rig.. Bell & Howell Splash WP5 $68 The Splash is a good low-cost camera for “middle-aged” children—those in lower elementary grades but past pre-school age. They are limited. the 2. A squishy exterior protects the camera's sensitive electronics.1MP Crayola camera has a cool form factor that is wellsuited for those tiny hands that have not quite gotten their motor coordination together.So. It stopped working long ago. Available in Purple or Green. little tykes tend tto not have a firm grip on things. while an optical viewfinder teaches Junior to compose. but I can't let it go). . you never know if the seed you plant will grow into a lifetime interest in photography! (Note: Prices and availability accurate as of mid-December 2011) Cobra Digital C150 Squeezable Soft Camera $22 Let's face it: While you are never too young to start shooting. but they're also very affordable and are a good way to gauge your child's interest in photography. Available in Purple. but this is a great camera for shooting in any weather (I've never seen a kid who didn't like jumping in and splashing a puddle) and can even be used when swimming. Black.which camera should I buy for my child? The below list of cameras for kids represents the modern-day equivalents to my old Ansco Cadet (which I still have hanging in my office. This may be the only camera in existance with built-in handles. With the simple pointers above and the right camera below. Your little one can take as many pictures as he or she wants since the camera stores images on removable SD cards.
you can step up to a more advanced camera. downloadable via USB) and a fixedfocus lens.5-inch LCD. and you can add additional legos to it.Digital Blue LEGO Digital Camera $60 A fully-functioning 3MP digital camera. this imaginative image-capture device looks like a lego toy. its external shell is made up completely of Legos. Available in Red and Black. The 1.8 lens is fast enough to shoot even in subdued light without flash.8-inch LCD monitor is small compared to the 2. it will do double duty. And in fact.5-inch-or-larger ones we adults are used to. So is it a camera. Vivitar ViviCam 8018 $50 At only $50 the ViviCam is a minimal investment to get your photographically-interested grade-schoolaged child started in photography. Its 8MP sensor will produce more than sufficient image quality for even 8x10-inch prints while its fixed focal length f/2. as he or she learns. 128MB of internal memory (holds up to 80 photos at a time. Features are minimal: built-in flash. This camera is a good way to gauge your child's interest in photography. . a 1. You could even create a Lego tripod to give it tabletop support. but it still provides enough info to help with composition. or a toy? Well. it's both. and if you're a playful sort.
Chapter 5: What To Look For In A Compact Digital Camera By Jon Sienkiewicz Compact digital cameras at a glance Best suited for: • • • • Travel and vacation snapshots Informal group portraits Scenics Party pictures Not ideal for: • Sports/action photography .
Your personal needs.448 = 8. These are not in order of importance. and as manufacturers add more pixels into the same sized sensors. are not hard to use and are more affordable than most people think.246 horizontal pixels by 2. They are more expensive than point-and-shoot cameras. or dots) will be used to form the image. in a way. Even modest resolution digital cameras will produce fine prints these days up to 8x10 or even larger. Here are ten points you should consider. . DSLRs offer much greater versatility.264 x 2. Consumer-level compact digital cameras now range from 10 to 16 megapixels or more. Before we go to the list. there are a few things to keep in mind. consider buying a digital SLR. experience and the type of pictures you like to take will determine the priority.000. however. The number indicates how many millions of picture elements (pixels. overall image quality deteriorates. Instead. but when you spread that cost out over five years or so.448 vertical pixels would be called an 8-megapixel (MP) camera (3. it's insignificant compared to the fun you'll have and the satisfaction you'll get creating the best photos you possibly can. which is.• Formal portraits • Studio photography • Wildlife and bird photography Compact digital camera advantages: • • • • • • • Immediate feedback (back of camera LCD screen) Live image preview Easy to share images Affordable Light and small Easy to use (but many have options for photographers who want exposure control) Some record HD Video Compact digital camera disadvantages: • • • • • Lack of optical viewfinder May be hard for large-handed users to hold Poor low-light performance without flash Delays taking picture when you press shutter release Can't zoom while shooting a video Whether you're buying your first digital camera or replacing an older model. or remain just an occasional activity. look at other features. you should ask yourself whether photography is likely to become an important hobby for you. a shame: if you're making an 8x10 print. A camera that captures images as 3. The higher the number or pixels. 6MP is all you need.000 pixels). the bigger the image (and print) can be. Don't let boasts of "16MP resolution!" sway you. If you think there's a good chance you'll want to pursue picture-taking a bit more seriously. Resolution Resolution is expressed in megapixels.
Be aware of the zoom range in addition to the zoom amount--all 4X zooms are not created equal. With a compact camera's tiny sensor. The best way to reduce grain is to shoot at your camera's lowest ISO setting. and this can cause digital artifacts commonly referred to as noise or digital grain. Look for a camera that offers a 3X or 4X optical zoom. or too little. but if skin tones appear too blue. they are equipped with tiny sensors. In order to make compact cameras so small. even the models that offer some version of Image Stabilization--also known as Anti-Shake or Vibration Reduction. however. but some cameras may come out of the factory set for too much contrast.One thing many folks overlook when they argue about how many pixels are necessary is the "crop factor. allows you to enlarge a small portion of the image and still maintain good quality. If you have your . fuzzy mess compared to what you can get with a similar resolution DSLR. especially in low light. this can be adjustable. or 14 million pixels on a tiny sensor. Superzoom cameras. and that's worth paying a bit more for. * Color accuracy: Most digital cameras have this problem more or less solved. you may need to manually adjust the white balance. A popular trend today is the mega-zoom-type camera in the 8X to 12X optical zoom range. Size and Weight A compact. suffice to say that larger pixels will produce better quality images. for instance. around the size of a thumb nail. the pixels will be really small. Some cameras claim built-in noise reduction. When you squeeze 10. are also available. Many cameras offer digital zoom in addition to optical. A camera with a zoom equivalent to 28-115mm is more versatile (but less common) than one with a lens that goes from 35-140mm--even though both are 4X--because the one that starts at 28mm gives you a very useful wideangle. Most compact cameras have contrast control. this can make the visual distortion worse. called saturation adjustment. * Contrast: Again. When you boost the sensitivity to light. which record light. They are becoming more affordable. but the cameras tend to be somewhat larger and not pocketable. Image quality: It's not just about resolution Not all 12-megapixel images are equal. as well as a way to make colors stronger or weaker. with zoom ranges of 20X or higher. lightweight camera is very convenient--and less likely to be left at home. 12. Here are three factors that could affect how your image looks overall: * Noise: Typically found at higher light sensitivity settings (ISO). Zoom Range If you want to get closer to your subject without moving." A 10-megapixel digital camera. you need a zoom lens. Without getting into an optical dissertation. enlarging the same portion of the image might result in a grainy. and shadow detail boosters. but beware: digital zoom merely "crops" a reduced-size portion of the image and presents it at lower resolution. Each sensor is packed with microscopic-sized pixels.
Big LCDs make to more fun to share images with others. and most compact digital cameras don't have eye-level viewfinders. A standard deck of playing cards is about 2 1/4x3 3/4x3/4 inches. and the camera against your face. Where did the optical viewfinder go? While larger LCD viewfinders are great for previewing and sharing images already shot. Here's why: The ideal way to handhold a camera is with your elbows braced against your torso." Some cameras include a charging cradle that positions the camera so that the LCD can be used to view images--it's like having a miniature digital picture frame on your desk. Ultra compact cameras may shave a few features off the menu but for the most part you'll find everything you could ask for. this was how most photos were taken. ruggedized and protected against heat. They also make it easier to review images in playback mode. This can prevent you from getting the sharpest picture possible with your camera. The two elbows and face acted as an effective support and reduced likelihood of camera shake. Menus are easier to read. If you have this problem. But they do have anti-shake.000 dots is typical but will look a bit rough. but that's not necessarily true.000 dots. LCD Monitor and Viewfinder Most digital cameras today have 2. Call it "shoot and show.camera with you more often. are now to a greater or lesser extent.000 dots or higher. Before LCDs. A growing number of compact digital cameras. If you are klutzy or adventurous (or both!) you may want to seriously consider buying a Rugged compact camera. you'll take more pictures. Conventional logic would suggest that portability comes at a price. they are coming at the expense of optical finders on smaller cameras. cold. the sharper and more detailed the displayed image will be. besides size and weight. water and shock from accidental drops.to 3-inch LCD displays. especially if you have large hands. too.5. Smaller LCD monitors can be difficult to see. Keep these dimensions in mind when you read camera specifications and you'll be able to make an easy comparison. and I highly recommend keeping this feature on at all times to minimize shake from hand-holding the camera. especially in bright sunlight. Nearly every manufacturer has at least one model that is about the size of a fat deck of cards. Many models have 400. Check the specs: The more dots per inch (dpi) in a monitor. as you can see here. Exposure and settings All point-and-shoot cameras make exposure settings automatically. and it was a natural shooting position. The best models have around 920. 230. make sure the camera you buy has an optical viewfinder as well. The bigger monitors are bright and easy to see at all times. Some allow you to make them . There's one problem with the above scenario: You need an eye-level viewfinder to do this. The only drawback (and this is a drawback only for some people) is that the small size can make the camera difficult to hold.
which means 1080x720 pixels. and scarily accurate. And above all else. . and Close-up and Sports. That's pretty cool. If you buy a camera that uses Lithium Ion you should never have a problem. check the specifications carefully. Portrait. better than one with a CIPA rating of 250 shots. for instance. If the manual option is important to you. A camera with a CIPA rating of 400 shots is. CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) has established an industry standard for battery life based on number of shots one could expect to shoot per battery or per charge. camera manufacturers incorporate a small. especially when shooting fast-moving subjects. This problem is rapidly disappearing. but usually they include standards like Landscape. too. Some models also now have "Smart Auto" or "Intelligent Auto" or some variation. Lithium Ion batteries seem to last forever. These videos will look nice and sharp on a highdefinition TV monitor. Focus Assist Digital cameras use light to focus. By selecting the appropriate scene you can get results like a pro. Three types of batteries predominate: Lithium Ion. Portrait will blur the background to make your subject stand out more. and recharge quickly. As a countermeasure. It's like having a professional photographer inside your camera. If your new camera comes with non-rechargeable AA-size (penlight) alkaline flashlight batteries. obviously. If you think you'll be doing much shooting in dim light. HD Video A new generation of compact digital cameras has arrived that is capable of shooting high-definition videos. nickel metal hydride. they can run into trouble. or 720p. calling the shots. in which the camera anylizes the scene before it and chooses the most appropriate scene mode and sets everything itself. will make the camera shoot at the fastest permissible shutter speed so as to freeze action. regardless what kind of battery technology is employed. How do you know what kind of batter life to expect from a camera? Look for its CIPA rating. When it's too dark. built-in lamp that automatically illuminates the subject for focusing when the light's too low. The Sports setting. Most cameras that use AA-size cells are supplied with NiMH (nickel metal hydride).manually as well. HD Videos eat up a lot of memory card space. be certain that the camera you buy has a Focus Assist system. buy a set of NiMH right away. for example. are a classic example of where a Focus Assist light is needed. and alkaline. These are given different names on different cameras. Any slower may look jumpy. although you should check your camera's specs to make sure it captures frames at 30 frames per second. buy a spare battery and keep it charged--that way you'll never miss a photo opportunity. Parties in subdued light. Battery Life There was a time when short battery life was the number one complaint against digital cameras. Many cameras include an assortment of preset "scenes" that the shooter can dial in to match the circumstances. so get the highest capacity memory card you can afford. and make sure the SDHC card is rated at least Class 4 (Class 6 is better) for best performance.
Smart phones may have built-in cameras but they generally produce poor-quality images. A bare-bones basic camera now costs around $100 or even less. Either way. use the flash or a tripod. Fashion Statement You want your pictures to look good but you want your camera to look good. And finally. but they're just not as much fun to take out in public. right? There are some ugly or plain-looking cameras that can take great pictures. longer "lag times" ("lag time" is a delay from the moment you press the shutter until it actually takes the picture) and may be less sturdy than pricier versions. too. but those don't really count: They simply crop to show only part of an already-substandard quality image. Decide what price range agrees with your pocketbook before you start studying the specifications. . although these models typically have smaller LCD screens. long time.All consumer-grade compact digital cameras have built-in flash units. Be warned. but not so much if you want to print them out. so you don't have to sacrifice substance for style. even when the lights go down. Most compacts fall in the $150-350 range. that if it's dark enough to warrant use of a Focus Assist lamp then it's too dark to shoot without flash. you'll get sharper pictures. however. and sometimes these double as the focus assist lamp. How much should I spend? Good news for consumers is that compact digital camera prices have plummeted in the past couple of years. Most fashion cameras have a full range of features. Unless your camera has Image Stabilization. with a few posh models costing $500 or higher. be sure to get it at Adorama's Compact Digital Camera department. Just make sure the camera has the features you want. Price Everyone has a different budget. a camera that has enough features to keep you happy for a long. They may look great on screen. Remember that the perfect style for Dad may not be ideal for Mom--everyone has his or her own taste.put all of this information to good use! When you're ready to buy a camera. Most Smart Phones do not have optical zoom lenses. Why Not A Smart Phone? There are compelling reasons to shoot with a stand-alone compact camera over a smart phone. that is.. One piece of advice: always try to buy your last camera.. They may have digital zooms.
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