Digital Photography Dennis P. Curtin PREFACE Photography has become pervasive in our society. Each of us sees hundred. Day Day Up > Digital Photography Pocket Guide, 3rd Edition By Derrick Story. Digital Photography. POCKET GUIDE. Derrick Story. Beijing • Cambridge • Farnham • Köln • Paris • Sebastopol • Taipei • Tokyo.

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will own a digital camera, Derrick Story delivers Digital Photography Pocket Guide, In this third edition of the bestselling pocket guide, Story expands on the . This guide covers a lot of digital photography tips and techniques, but there's even more you can . I have a small pocket camera that has many unique features. Digital Photography Pocket Guide, Third Edition (Pocket Reference (O'Reilly)) [ Derrick Story] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Even film.

ISO ranges. Battery sizes. Types of image stabilization. Having more and better features is nice.

But you are the ultimate creative force in your photography. Different cameras might have slightly different modes, and some will have more than others, but there are a few basic ones you should know.

Auto The Auto mode is extremely simple to use. Just point and shoot. Giving creative control to the camera, of course, takes it away from you.

Which is why many people recommend not using it. And they have a point — getting to understand specific settings gives you a lot of control and lets you decide what your photo will look like.

That being said, sometimes you just need a photo, and fast. Macro, Portrait, Landscape, Sports, and Night modes are all types of automatic mode. In general, this is used for controlling the depth of field in your photo. If you want a shallow depth of field Learn About Depth of Field: 5 Easy Lessons to Improve Your Photos Learn About Depth of Field: 5 Easy Lessons to Improve Your Photos Understanding what depth of field is, how to alter it, and some of the different artistic things you can do with it will all help you progress your photography to the next level.

Read More a blurry background , using a larger aperture will get it for you. If you want everything in your image to be in focus, a smaller aperture is the way to go. A slower speed gets you more light and detail for stationary objects. Program Some cameras have a program mode, denoted by the letter P. This is usually very similar to the auto mode, but it gives you a bit more control over things like ISO and flash.

Not all cameras have this, though, and the exact specs of this mode differ between manufacturers. Aperture, shutter speed, ISO, flash, autofocus, and everything else. Using this requires some skill and a lot of patience, but it can be very rewarding. Stick with aperture and shutter priorities to learn the basics. ISO and White Balance In addition to shooting modes, your camera may have a wide range of other settings.

Not all cameras are going to have the same settings, but some of them are consistent across models. The higher the ISO, the more sensitive. Why would you want to adjust this? All three images above were taken with the same aperture and shutter speed settings. The only difference was the ISO: , , and If the whites in your photo are too bright, lower the ISO. White Balance Different types of light have different shades of color.

Incandescent light, for example, has a warmer hue than daylight fluorescent. Your camera can take the type of light into account when taking your photo, giving you the truest colors possible. Most cameras automatically adjust the white balance in automatic and semi-automatic modes. Play around with them to see what happens! Basic Photography Principles Entire books have been written about the principles of photography, so this will necessarily be a very short overview.

But understanding these ideas from the outset will help you get the best pictures possible. Getting the right lighting on your subject. Capturing the right amount with aperture and shutter speed. Using shadows intentionally.

Emphasizing the most interesting interplays of light in a scene. Don't let your camera collect dust. Read More to see how very talented photographers use and think about light. Much of photography comes down to taking it slow. Practice mindfulness. Exposure Exposure is a technical extension of light. The interaction of aperture how much light is coming into your camera , shutter speed how long the light is coming into your camera , and ISO how sensitive your camera is to light results in exposure.

Get in the habit of checking the histogram after every shot, and look for balanced lighting. Try to minimize the amount of light at the very top and bottom of the histogram.

Your best bet is to familiarize yourself with some of the basics How to Compose a Photograph: 5 Essential Rules to Follow How to Compose a Photograph: 5 Essential Rules to Follow If you want to get really good at photography, there are some vital rules around image composition that you should consider. Here are five of the most important. Try taking photos with the rule of thirds for a couple days. Next week, focus on leading lines, and so on. Just snapping photos when you see something worth recording will help.

But intentional practice goes a long way toward developing your skills. These five exercises are just suggestions; there are lots of other beginning photography exercises 7 Skill-Building Photography Exercises That Really Work 7 Skill-Building Photography Exercises That Really Work There are lots of exercises that can help "develop your photographic eye".

Here are the most effective ones that we've found. Read More out there. Read More you can embark upon. These Facebook groups will help you. You'll find constructive feedback, tutorials, and tips on everything from framing to editing.

Read More that will help, too. But when you want to focus on becoming a better photographer, exercises like these are tough to beat. Shoot in Black and White Photographing in black and white is a great way to develop your eye for light. It is powerful, yet easy to use. Later in the chapter, we'll spend some time with the more advanced camera categories. This is where I discuss image sensors, lens specifications, and other components.

If you enjoy technical talk, then you'll like the latter half of the chapter. If not, read the compact camera section and jump to Chapter 2. No matter what your level of interest is, I have lots here for you to explore.

Overview of Camera Categories In many ways, cameras are as varied and unique as the people who use them Figure Figure Today's digital cameras are as varied as the people who use them But in order to help you decide which models are potentially a good fit for you, I've grouped them into four basic categories.

Here's a quick summary of each one: Compact Compact cameras are perfect companions for vacationers, parents, and photographers constantly on the go. Because compacts fit easily into purses, backpacks, diaper bags, briefcases, and even shirt pockets, the odds are good that you'll have a camera on hand as life unfolds before you. That's why I recommend that all photographers should pack a compact, regardless of any other cameras they have in their arsenals.

These pint-sized wonders do have their trade-offs. The zoom lens typically tops out at 3x magnification, so your ability to "zoom in" tightly on distant subjects is limited. It's also more difficult to add accessories to compacts, such as filters, auxiliary lenses, and external flashes. Happily, though, megapixel power is no longer a trade-off for portability.

Most compacts these days provide at least a 3-megapixel sensor, and 5-megapixel models have become commonplace. This is more than enough resolution for snapshots and moderate enlargements. Advanced amateur For photographers who want professional capabilities but aren't ready to commit to the costs and bulk that come with camera bags brimming with expensive gear, advanced amateur models are a satisfying compromise. These cameras are typically more compact than digital SLRs see the description of professional cameras, next , yet often provide a variety of camera modes, powerful zoom lenses up to 10 x , hefty image sensors 8 megapixels or more , and the capacity to accept a variety of accessories, including filters, auxiliary lenses, and external flashes.

Advanced amateur models often excel at capturing digital video in addition to still images, and they often have variable-angle viewfinders that allow you to hold the camera above your head or below your waist and still compose the picture. Finally, advanced amateur cameras often provide the option for RAW format image capture, which enables you to delay processing of the image until later, on your computer.

Professional Just because you don't earn your living taking pictures doesn't mean you don't want the capabilities that pros require in a camera. The star of this category is the digital single lens reflex DSLR , which looks similar to the 35mm SLRs that pros and amateurs have been toting around for years.

DSLRs enable you to quickly switch from one type of lens to another by simply removing the lens from the camera body and attaching another. With dozens and dozens of optics to choose from, this provides tremendous flexibility. Another feature is that you compose your picture through the same lens that captures it.

Inside the camera body, manufactures have packed sophisticated electronics to enable you to capture pictures quickly with virtually no shutter lag , in rapid sequence burst modes of a dozen pictures or more are not uncommon , and with unparalleled image quality, both in terms of megapixels and noise reduction.

Often, you can add wireless external flashes, WiFi image-transfer capabilities, and a host of sophisticated accessories that include remote releases and macro lighting rigs. Hybrid devices As digital imaging components become smaller and more energy efficient, technology companies are able to incorporate them into ever more and different types of devices.

You can now download a mobile phone that also has megapixel picture-taking capabilities, and many digital camcorders include multi-megapixel sensors, memory cards, and even electronic flashes. Most photographers would not rely on camera phones or digital camcorders as their primary picture-taking devices. But as the technology evolves, these tools can become useful additions to your ever-broadening arsenal of imaging devices.

Feature and Component Comparisons Even the simplest digital camera has more features than you realize, some of which you may actually want to use. I'll start this section with a tour of a typical compact camera, highlighting useful components on the front, back, sides, and inside. More detailed discussions about image sensors and lenses follow, in the "Advanced Amateur Cameras" and "Professional Cameras" sections.

Anatomy of a Compact Camera Form factor is a primary consideration when shopping for a compact camera.

Is it small enough to accompany you during your daily life? You've wasted your money if your point-and-shoot is at home on the dresser when your child takes his first steps at grandma's house. These devices are intended to fit in our purses, backpacks, briefcases, jacket pockets, and bike bags—make sure the camera you want fits in your typical carryall.

Next, consider how you're going to view your pictures. If your primary method of sharing is via the computer—email attachments, slide shows, and web pages—your camera of choice should be compatible with the computer you already have.

Ideally, you should be able to connect your camera and let the software you use recognize the camera and offer to upload the pictures. Many photographers prefer prints and aren't as interested in digital manipulation. If you feel the same way, look for a compact camera that makes it easy to connect directly to a printer and produce 4" x 6" prints or larger, if you prefer. You don't need a computer to enjoy digital photography, and there are some great compact printers out there.

Pocket cameras have also become quite adept at capturing video. You may not be using this function right now, but I hope to inspire you to capture movies as well as still photographs. Sometimes a video clip is worth a thousand pictures— isn't that how the saying goes? When the best man gives that perfect toast, you want to have your digicam in movie mode.

But video capabilities vary greatly from model to model, so this is something to add to your checklist of features to compare. Finally, figure out how much you can spend on your point-and-shoot, add the cost for a spare battery and memory card and a dedicated printer if that's how you plan to share your images , and then study the following features lineup.

With a little research, you'll be able to find the right compact for you at a cost you can afford. Once you settle on the right compact camera, spend some time with the owner's manual to become familiar with its unique design and how to use its controls. After studying the manual, keep this guide in your camera bag—not only does it provide a quick reference for the major components, but it will also help you understand how to use those features to take better pictures.

In the next sections, I'll show you the basic features you'll find on a compact camera. I've organized the list based on where each feature is typically found, although each camera model may vary slightly. Figure shows the features you'll usually find on the front of a compact camera. Figure shows the back panel of a compact camera. Figure shows the top side of a compact camera, where items such as the shutter button, zoom, and power button are typically found. Figure is your signpost to the discussion about the components inside of the camera.

The front of a compact camera 1. Flash The flash provides additional light for pictures taken indoors or at night, and for outdoor portraits. Look for flash controls that are quickly accessible and not buried deep within a menu system. Focus assist light The focus assist light helps your camera focus in dim lighting by projecting a white beam, or a subtle pattern, onto the subject.

This light may also shine when you're using the red eye reduction flash mode and serve as the warning light when the self-timer is activated. Microphone port A tiny opening on the front of the camera is used to record audio annotations and to add sound to movie clips. Some cameras that have a movie mode also have built-in microphones, but not all do. Optical viewfinder lens The optical viewfinder lens enables you to compose the picture by looking through the viewfinder lens instead of viewing the LCD monitor on the back of the camera.

Using the optical viewfinder saves battery power, but it isn't quite as accurate for framing precise compositions or close-ups. Picture-taking lens The picture-taking lens projects the image you're shooting onto the electronic sensor where the picture is recorded. This lens also captures the image you see on the LCD monitor on the back of the camera.

Back panel of a compact camera 1. Confirmation light The confirmation light shines when the camera is focused and ready to fire, or when the flash is ready. Blinking indicator lights usually suggest that you need to make an adjustment before taking the picture. Display control button You can turn off the display to conserve battery power. This button often has a third option that provides for the display of camera data on the screen while composing the picture.

You can typically cycle through these different settings by pushing the button repeatedly. LCD monitor The LCD monitor allows for precise framing of the subject, because the image is captured directly through the picture-taking lens. You should always use the LCD monitor in macro mode for close-ups.

The LCD monitor is also used for reviewing pictures you've already captured. Most LCD monitors, however, aren't effective in direct sunlight—the image is hard to see. If you shoot lots of outdoor pictures, make sure your camera has an optical viewfinder as well.

Camera manufacturers are also starting to provide models with 2" measured diagonally or bigger LCD viewfinders. If you spend more time viewing your images on the camera than on a computer, you should give the size of your camera's LCD monitor important consideration.

This is an important design feature to consider when choosing a digicam, because buttons and dials allow you to make quick camera adjustments—using them is much faster than scrolling through menus on the LCD monitor.

Menu button The menu button activates the onscreen menu that enables you to set the various functions of the camera. Most likely, you'll use the multifunctional jog dial to navigate through those menus.

Mode dial The mode dial allows you to switch among various picture-taking and picture-reviewing modes. Multifunctional jog dial The multifunctional jog dial allows you to navigate through onscreen menus by pressing the four directional buttons. Sometimes, jog dial buttons have two sets of functions: Look for little icons next to the jog dial buttons.

These icons usually represent the functions associated with those buttons in picturetaking mode. Here are a few of the most common ones: Burst This setting enables you to take a sequence of shots by holding down the shutter button. Close-up Sometimes called macro mode, this setting allows you to focus your camera on subjects that are only inches away. Flash modes All digital cameras provide you with flash options, such as flash on, flash off, and red eye reduction.

This button allows you to cycle through those options and choose the best one for the situation at hand. Metering modes Some cameras provide more than one metering mode, such as evaluative and spot see the discussion of exposure metering options in the "Advanced Amateur Cameras" section. You can choose which mode you use via this control. Self-timer Use this function to delay the shutter firing for a few seconds after you've pressed the shutter release button.

Most cameras insist that you confirm all selections before enabling them. This button is particularly important when erasing pictures, as it makes it impossible to delete a picture by inadvertently pressing the erase button.

Trash button Pressing the trash button removes the current picture displayed on the LCD monitor. This button doesn't usually remove all pictures on a memory card; for that, you have to select the "erase all" function via the onscreen menu. Top side of a compact camera 1. Computer connection The computer connection is used for transferring pictures from camera to computer.

Shutter button The shutter button trips the shutter, but it also provides focus and exposure lock. For the best pictures, press lightly on the shutter button and hold it in the halfway position to lock the focus and exposure. Once the confirmation light comes on, you're ready to take the picture.

Then add more pressure until the shutter trips. The trick is to not let up on the shutter button once the focus is locked, but to keep the pressure on in the halfway position until the exposure is made. Almost all digital cameras use this type of two-step shutter button. A handy tip to ensure that the camera focuses on the area you want is to point the camera directly at what's most important, hold the shutter button down halfway, recompose the picture, and then depress the shutter button the rest of the way to make the exposure.

Tripod socket The tripod socket allows you to attach the camera to a tripod or flash bracket. Metal sockets are more durable and therefore superior to plastic ones. Video out connection The video out connection allows you to connect the camera directly to a television or other monitor to display pictures on a larger screen.

Using video out is an easy way to show your pictures to a large group of people. Your camera may have buttons instead, but they work the same way. When in picture-review mode, this lever also allows you to magnify your image on the LCD monitor for closer inspection.

Battery The battery provides the power for camera functions. This is one feature that every digital camera must have.

Common battery types are alkaline for emergencies only , lithiumion, and nickel-metal hydride. The latter two are rechargeable. Inside view of a digital camera See the "Advanced Amateur Cameras" section for a more in-depth discussion of battery types. Direct Print Direct Print is a standard developed in that enables a common printing protocol between camera and printer, eliminating the need for a computer to produce prints. Many consumer cameras use an evolution of this technology called PictBridge discussed later in this chapter.

Image sensor The image sensor converts light energy passing through the camera lens into a digital signal. Sensor capacity is measured in megapixels. Look for a compact with at least a 3megapixel sensor. Memory card Memory cards store the picture data captured by your camera.

Nearly every digital camera contains some type of removable memory. When the camera takes a picture and creates the data for that image, it "writes" that information on the memory card. This enables you to retrieve or transfer your electronic pictures long after they've been recorded. Table can help you determine the best memory capacity for your camera, based on its megapixels. Table PictBridge PictBridge enables direct printing from your digital camera to a printer.

You simply view an image on your camera's LCD viewfinder and select "print," and the camera sends the required data to the printer via the USB cable.

This eliminates the need for a computer and photo-editing software to produce prints. Both the camera and printer must support PictBridge for this to work. The RAM buffer enables advanced functionality, such as burst and movie modes.

The camera can move picture data to the RAM buffer much faster than it can write data to the memory card. So when you use burst mode, for example, the camera captures a sequence of shots in the RAM buffer, then transfers the data to the memory card after you've released the shutter button.

RAM buffers can be as large as 32 MB. The larger the buffer, the longer your shot sequences can be. USB Mass Storage USB Mass Storage device connectivity enables the camera to connect to a computer without using any special drivers, much in the same way that you mount an external hard drive by plugging it in. You can then "drag and drop" your pictures from the camera to the computer, or use an image application to download them.

Digital cameras that are USB Mass Storage devices can be connected to computers running the following operating systems without installing any special software: Advanced Amateur Cameras Today's advanced amateur digital cameras are reminiscent of film rangefinder classics such as the Leica M6.

Whether classic or modern, these cameras appeal to serious photographers who want to pack as much quality and control as possible into a camera that hangs lightly around the neck. Advanced amateur cameras feature high-quality zoom lenses, 6-megapixel or higher image sensors, and an array of controls that will help you meet just about any photographic challenge.

These tools are for photographers who like the art and science of photography, so in this section I'll spend a little more time talking about various aspects of these cameras, to help you understand their capabilities.

Battery types If your camera came with alkaline AA batteries, use them for testing, then replace them as soon as possible with rechargeable nickel-metal hydride NiMH batteries, which last much longer than alkalines and will save you lots of money over time. It's always good, however, to keep a fresh set of alkalines handy in case your NiMHs run out of juice while you're away from the charger. Another good practice is to have two sets of the rechargeables, so one's always ready to use—they're a little expensive at first, but much cheaper than downloading new alkalines over and over.

Lithium-ions are very popular with major camera makers such as Sony, Nikon, and Canon. Most of these cameras come with their own proprietary battery and its matching charger. Lithium-ions typically have great capacity and hold their charge for a long time, but you might want to download an extra battery—you can't use readily available alkalines as a backup.

Another thing to keep an eye out for with lithiums is how you charge the battery. I recommend using a separate charger the more compact the better , instead of having to recharge the battery by plugging a power adapter into the camera. Obviously, you can't pop in a spare battery and go out and take pictures if you need to plug your camera into a wall socket to recharge.

Diopter adjustment The diopter adjustment allows for manual adjustment of the optical viewfinder to best suit your vision. When I was younger, I could care less about this feature. These days I'm very thankful for it, because it's hard to look through optical viewfinders with glasses on. Exposure metering options All digital cameras have some type of exposure meter, but many models have more than one pattern for measuring light.

The three most common patterns are: Center-weighted The meter measures light levels in the entire picture area, with extra emphasis placed on subjects in the center of the frame. Evaluative The image area is divided into sections usually six or more , and light is measured in each section.

The camera then "evaluates" each section and matches the overall pattern to data stored in its computer system. The resulting camera settings are determined by how the pat tern and data match up. Spot To determine the exposure, light is measured in only the center area of the viewing area, usually indicated by brackets.

Everything else is ignored. Spot metering is helpful in contrast lighting situations that might fool other metering patterns. Advanced cameras may include all three of these metering patterns, while more basic models may rely on only the evaluative pattern. Many of the features that distinguish an advanced amateur camera are found on the top of the camera, shown in Figure The top of a typical advanced amateur camera 1.

Hotshoe The hotshoe provides a connection for an external flash and other camera accessories. The metal contacts allow the camera to communicate with the flash to provide advanced features such as dedicated exposure control. Often, you can download "dedicated flash cords" that enable you to retain communication between camera and flash, but move the two apart for more lighting options. One end of the cord connects to the hotshoe, and the other connects to the base of the flash.

Image stabilizer Often referred to as "anti-shake technology," the image stabilizer helps you capture sharp pictures in low light. When activated, the camera actually compensates for the minute movements you make during exposure. Camera shake creates a picture that looks "soft" and not quite in focus. By counteracting those minute movements, image stabilizers help you record sharper images. Infrared sensor The infrared sensor is primarily used to communicate with the remote control release for cameras that have that capability.

An advantage you often find with advanced amateur models is an LCD monitor that swivels away from the back of the camera. This enables you to hold the camera at a variety of angles and still compose the picture—perfect for taking "over the head" shots at a parade!

Some older cameras use SmartMedia SM cards, which are still available but are not as easy to find as they used to be. That technology is being replaced by xD-Picture Cards and SD cards, which are smaller and have more capacity. The type of memory card your digicam accepts isn't as important as its capacity and performance. Most cameras ship with starter memory cards that hold only 16 or 32 MB.

These are fine during the learning phase, but once you're ready to take your camera on vacation or photograph your daughter's birthday party, you'll need more memory. Some cameras don't even provide a memory card in the box. Make sure you have a compatible one on hand, or you'll be sorely disappointed. Another thing to consider when shopping for memory cards is the speed at which they read and write.

If you have a high-performance camera, you should consider having at least one high-speed memory card.

Standard cards should perform just fine for basic models. Remote release The remote release allows firing of the camera from distances of up to 15 feet. Some remote releases also allow you to operate the zoom lens.

For best results, point the sensor on the remote release at the infrared sensor on the front of the camera. Zoom lenses Camera makers tend to list two sets of numbers on the barrel of the lens, or on the body near it. The first set is usually followed by "mm" which stands for "millimeters" and looks something like this: Most consumer digital cameras have a zooming range of 3 x, such as a 7—21mm lens.

If you're familiar with 35mm photography, you can translate those digital camera focal lengths into terms that are easier to understand. For example, a 7—21mm zoom lens in the digital world is the rough equivalent of a 35—mm lens on your traditional SLR. There is no magic formula you can always apply to translate digital focal lengths to traditional 35mm numbers, though, because the relationship is determined by the size of the camera's sensor.

Camera manufacturers will usually tell you what the 35mm equivalent is. Sometimes, as with digital bodies that accept 35mm lenses, they will tell you the size of the sensor and its relationship to your existing lenses. The Canon 20D, for example, has a sensor that's smaller than 35mm film. The result is a focal length factor of 1. The exceptions are high-end models such as the Canon EOS 1Ds, which have a "full size" sensor meaning that the lens focal lengths remain the same as in 35mm photography.

The second series of numbers usually looks something like this: Aperture determines the amount of light that can pass through the lens to the camera sensor. Wide apertures, such as 1. Narrower apertures, such as 5. When thinking about the best compact or advanced amateur camera for you, keep in mind that you'll have to live with the aperture and zooming range of the lens for the life of the camera.

Unlike DSLRs, where you can change the lens, compact cameras have the lens permanently mounted to the body. Some cameras do provide accessory lenses that mount on the end of the existing glass. These work relatively well, but they are cumbersome and not many options are available.

For advanced amateur models, I recommend a zooming range of at least 5 x; more is better. Also pay attention to the wide end of the range. Get a lens that gives you the 35mm equivalent of 28mm on the wide end. Digital cameras are notorious for not providing you with as much wide-angle coverage as film cameras. Advanced amateur cameras provide amazing capabilities in a portable package, and often for less than comparable DSLR kits. If you can live with a lens fixed to the camera body, and are willing to sacrifice a bit of high-speed performance, cameras in this class should satisfy the needs of the most critical of photographers.

Professional Cameras Digital SLRs, like the one shown in Figure , provide tremendous flexibility for photographers who need to tackle a wide variety of photo assignments. The key feature is the removable lens. Digital SLR with interchangeable picture-taking lens Sports and nature photographers may lean toward powerful zooms that bring the action in close.

Special event shooters will want a high-quality wide-angle lens for working in tight quarters. Portrait photographers need moderate telephotos with wide apertures so they can soften the background. Regardless of how you want to use your DSLR, there's a perfect lens for you. In this section I'll focus on a few of the key features that distinguish these types of professional cameras from compact and advanced amateur models.

Electronic flashes Most compact camera shooters, and even many advanced amateurs, live and die by the flashes that are built into their cameras. As you get more serious about your photography, you should consider using at least one external flash unit.

The most basic application is mounting a single flash in the hotshoe of your DSLR or advanced amateur camera. This alone will improve your shots, because you'll have moved the light source the flash farther away from the picture-taking lens.

By doing so, you'll reduce the effect of red eye and move unsightly shadows lower behind the subject. You also have the option of using a dedicated flash cord to extend the distance between flash and camera lens. Wedding photographers often use a bracket to position the flash exactly where they want it. The effects of red eye are completely eliminated when using this type of rig.

Wireless flash control is a great alternative, especially when you want to use two or more flash units to light a composition. Typically, you mount a wireless controller in the hotshoe of the camera, then position your flashes on light stands.

When you trip the camera shutter, the wireless controller sends out a signal telling the flash units when to fire and for how long. This amazing system enables you to create sophisticated lighting setups without cumbersome wiring. Many DSLRs include a pop-up flash on the camera body. This function may come in handy in a pinch, but external flash units are an option worth considering if you're serious about this type of photography.

Image sensors Instead of film, digital cameras record light with solid-state devices called image sensors.

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I'm going to spend a little time explaining some of the differences commonly found in these components. If this type of discussion gives you a techno-headache, you can read through my image sensor rules of thumb in the next paragraph and skip the rest of the discussion.

Bigger image sensors in physical dimensions generally produce better image quality. That's one of the reasons why digital SLRs outperform compacts—they have more real estate to record pixel information. Speaking of pixels, the more megapixels your image sensor supports, the higher the resolution of the photo will be, and therefore the bigger the print it can produce. So, as a rule, 3-megapixel cameras are great for snapshots, but you really need a 5-megapixel or greater sensor for enlargements.

That said, keep in mind that the image sensor is only part of the quality equation. The camera's optics and electronics play major roles too. If you want to know more about why these rules apply, here's a short course in image sensor technology. The most common sensors are charge-coupled devices CCDs. Image sensors also vary in their dimensions.

The term APS comes from the alternate 24mm film format Advanced Photo System that was introduced in the s but never really gained traction. The label survives because many of today's digital SLRs have image sensors approximately the same size as an APS film frame roughly 15mm x 23mm. Because the proportions of these APS sensors are smaller than those of 35mm film 24mm x 36mm , cameras containing them have increased image magnification when traditional 35mm lenses are mounted on the body.

Typically, this increase is around 1. Some digital SLRs employ a four-thirds image sensor. The major proponent of this system is Olympus. The term four-thirds refers to the proportions of the image sensor, producing images that are 4: Current four-thirds sensors by Olympus are approximately 13mm x 17mm—smaller than APS-sized sensors, but larger than those found in most point-and-shoots.

At the other extreme are the pro-level full-frame SLRs with 24mm x 36mm sensors the same dimensions as 35mm film. Instead of physical size, however, most people refer to image sensors by how many pixels picture elements they support. The term megapixel means just that: So instead of saying, "I just bought a camera with a sensor that supports 5,, pixels," you can say, "I just bought a 5megapixel camera. Pro cameras have sensors as large as 14 megapixels. Generally speaking, you want at least 3 megapixels for snap-shooting and vacation pictures.

The more megapixels your camera has, the bigger the prints you can make. Three-megapixel cameras, for example, can produce quality prints at up to 8" x 10";. Advanced amateurs and pros need more pixel-power than vacation shooters. Having a 6-, 8-, or megapixel image provides you with more options when you process the image on the computer and print it out.

You can, for example, push the pixels closer together increasing the "pixels per inch" setting to create very smooth tones in the photograph, rivaling the images produced by high-quality film cameras. More pixels also enable you to crop the original photo, maybe choosing just the center portion of the picture, and still have enough image information to make a high-quality enlargement. A hefty-megapixel image sensor, however, doesn't ensure amazing photo quality. Other aspects of the camera's optics and electronics play important roles too.

For example, a 6megapixel sensor in a compact camera will be in the neighborhood of 7mm x 9mm in physical size, but a 6-megapixel sensor in a digital SLR will be 15mm x 23mm or larger. That means that each of the photosites photosensitive diodes that collect one pixel's worth of light on the DSLR's sensor is physically bigger.

These bigger photosites collect more light and result in better image quality and reduced digital noise. In the end, the best way to think about image sensors is the same way you think about the engine in your car: And don't forget, the driver has something to do with it too. Regardless of your specialty, all photographers need one or two "bread and butter" optics for everyday use. The most essential lens is the moderate wide-angle to telephoto zoom. They both range from substantial wide angle to moderate telephoto with 5x magnification.

Both incorporate image stabilization technologies to reduce the effect of camera shake in lowlight conditions. And with either, you can go out for a day of shooting with just that lens and be ready for most situations you'll encounter. When shopping for a lens for your DSLR, keep in mind that you might have to factor image magnification into the equation see the earlier discussion of zoom lenses under "Advanced Amateur Cameras" for more information.

The Canon 20D, for example, has a 1. Finally, always keep portability in mind when lens shopping. You can spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a wide-aperture lens with an impressive zooming range, but if it's too heavy to cart around, or won't fit in your camera bag, you've defeated your primary purpose: This adapter enabled photographers to "send" their images via WiFi technology has been around for some time and is typically used to enable Internet connectivity in coffee shops, airports, and businesses that have "hotspot" capability.

Soon, sending pictures from your camera might be as easy as sending email from your computer. Kodak has already announced a consumer camera with this technology built in, and more are sure to follow. Hybrid Devices There are three exciting areas where digital imaging is converging with other functionality: Cameraphones The most notable of the hybrid devices is the cameraphone, like the one shown in Figure Manufacturers of these devices have already figured out how to add megapixel resolution, digital zoom lenses, and even electronic flashes to the devices that you've been using to make phone calls.

Mobile phones have yet to evolve to the point where they can replace your compact camera, but they are becoming a more tempting alternative for the "camera you always have with you. Typically, you don't simply connect the phone to your PC via a USB cable and let your computer take it from there although some models do enable this. Here is an overview of the transfer options most often available with cameraphones: Removable memory card Devices such as the PalmOne Treo enable you to write your pictures to a Secure Digital memory card, remove the card from the device, and then transfer the pictures via a card reader connected to your computer.

The picture-taking lens on a cameraphone Bluetooth wireless Some cameraphones have built-in Bluetooth wireless connectivity that allows you to "send" your pictures to another Bluetooth-enabled device. This could be your computer, another cameraphone, a PDA, or even a Bluetooth printer.

Again, both devices have to have an IR transceiver to move the pictures. Email Many cameraphones enable you to send and receive email. You can attach a picture to an email and send it to your computer.

Typically you'd send these messages to another MMS-enabled phone or to an online service such as Textamerica, where others can log on to see your work. True, there is a certain "geek factor" that comes with managing cameraphone images.

But there's no denying the portability of these devices, and handling the pictures they produce will only get easier with widespread adoption. DV Camcorders That Capture Stills The second area of convergence features digital camcorders that can capture megapixel still pictures.

Many consumer models offer 2-megapixel or higher image sensors. The images are stored on a memory card see Figure , not on the DV tape cassette. The memory card slot on a digital camcorder that has megapixel still picture capability You can transfer the pictures to your PC via a supplied USB cable, similar to the one that comes with your digital camera. You can also remove the memory card and insert it into a card reader connected to your PC.

One of the coolest features of these hybrid camcorders is their ability to print your pictures via a direct connection to your home printer. Of course, both the camcorder and the printer will need to have either PictBridge or Direct Print technology for this function to work. If you want to capture your vacation snapshots and travel movies with the same device, this tandem is something to consider.

If you're serious about shooting photos with your camcorder, look for a model that includes an electronic flash, accepts an external flash unit in its accessory shoe, and has a menu of useful still-photography functions, such as exposure compensation, white balance, panorama, and flash control options. Many of the techniques explained in this guide work perfectly well with megapixelequipped DV camcorders.

MPEG-4 provides high-quality video and audio in a very compressed format. Many of these hybrid still cameras can record 30—60 minutes of top-quality video to a 1-GB memory card. Cameras with this capability often borrow many of our favorite features from DV camcorders, the most notable being a rotating LCD monitor like the one shown in Figure This allows you to capture video from just about any angle, high or low.

Another feature that's more often included is stereo audio recording via two microphones positioned on the body of the camera. A hybrid digital still camera with stereo microphones circled that captures MPEG-4 video Of course, you don't have the overall control for movie capture with these digicams that you'd enjoy with DV camcorders.

They seldom have inputs for external microphones or accessory shoes for video lights. But if you like to make the occasional movie and don't want to carry two devices, this new breed of digital still camera is worth a look.

You can learn more about how to capture interesting movies in the Chapter 2 section titled "Movie Mode," and in Chapter 3 I'll explain how to edit those videos on your computer so you can transform them from random snippets to compelling presentations. Putting It All Together Now that you're familiar with the features of your digital camera, how do you use them to take great pictures?

In the next chapter, What Does It Do? Great pictures are only a chapter away. Chapter 2. Taking Control of Buttons, Dials, and Menus Now that you're familiar with your camera's basic components, you can concentrate on how to unlock its picture-taking magic. For example, you probably understand that a simple flash menu button allows you to cycle through a series of versatile lighting controls.

But what do they mean, and which one should you choose? In this chapter, you'll learn how to use those deceptively simple buttons and dials to tap into the incredible picture-taking capacity hidden within your digital camera. New terms are listed in italic.

Digital Photography Pocket Guide

If you're not sure where to find any of these settings on your particular camera, double-check the owner's manual, or refer to Chapter 1 of this guide. NOTE As always, it's best to have your camera in hand as you work with the text and study the photo examples.

The more you shoot, the more natural these techniques will become. Aperture Value Av Mode Many intermediate and advanced cameras allow you to choose the aperture setting, and the camera sets the proper corresponding shutter speed.

This setting is sometimes denoted as Av, which stands for aperture value. Some cameras just go with a simple "A" for aperture priority. You can typically access this setting via the mode dial or as a menu option.

Choose the aperture priority mode when you want to control depth of field. In other words, how much of your picture, from front to back, do you want in focus?

Shallow depth of field is often used for portraits—your subject is in focus, but everything else is a little soft. Choose an aperture value of 2. The lower the value, the shallower the depth of field will be, and less of the image will be in focus see Table for specific depth of field settings.

Depth of field settings f-stop Diameter of aperture Depth of field Background looks f-2 Very large diameter Very shallow Very soft f Choose an aperture value of 8, 11, or 16 for deeper depth of field. Or, you can use aperture priority and select f-2, f Place the subject at least 10 feet away from the background, more if possible. This will soften the background detail, putting more emphasis on your subject.

Set your zoom lens to the telephoto position this enhances the soft background effect even more. Focus on the model's eyes. Press the shutter halfway to lock" the focus. While still holding the shutter in the halfway position, recompose so the composition is just the way you want it. Then take the picture. If the lighting on the model's face isn't to your liking, force the flash on see the "Flash Modes" entry later in this chapter , and shoot again. This setup should provide a nicely focused model against a softened background see the example in Figure Figure Soft background portrait captured with Canon 10D and 85mm, f Autoexposure See "Programmed Autoexposure.

If your digital camera records video, chances are good that you'll see this file designation on your memory card. Other common video formats used on digital cameras include. Many new cameras use MPEG-4 compression for their movies. The icon, shown in Figure , looks like layers of rectangles.

Typically this mode is a menu option, but some cameras display it as a button option that you can access at any time. Either way, it allows you to shoot a series of pictures while holding the shutter button in the down position. The number of pictures you can record in one burst is determined by the capacity of your camera's RAM buffer discussed in Chapter 1. Most people use this continuous shooting feature for recording sports events, and it is a great choice for capturing a base ball player's swing or a quarterback's touchdown pass.

But burst mode can also help you compensate for shutter lag—that diabolical delay from the moment you press the shutter to when the picture is actually recorded. Some digital cameras have shutter lags as long as one second, which is a lifetime in action photography. By doing so, you greatly increase your chances of capturing the decisive moment.

First, make sure the activity is taking place in a well-lit room or, even better, outdoors and turn off your flash—flashes can't fire fast enough to keep pace with burst mode photography. Focus on the subject and hold the shutter down halfway to lock it in. Still holding the shutter in the halfway position, recompose. Start the series as the subject approaches the decisive moment nearing the finish line, blowing out birthday candles, etc. You'll have to wait a moment for the camera to process all the information you've just recorded.

Then go back through the sequence you shot and choose the picture that best depicts the decisive moment. For instance, in Figure , I've chosen the moment when the cyclists have just rounded the corner and are in an interesting formation.

You can either erase the others to save memory card space, or keep them to show the entire sequence. The decisive moment as the riders make the turn 2.

Close-ups Digital cameras are great for getting in real tight with your subject. This is sometimes referred to as macro photography. Unlike most film cameras, digicams usually have the macro capability built right into the camera—you don't need any special accessories for impressive close-ups. Usually, you can access the macro mode by pressing the button that has the "flower" icon next to it. Some cameras may bury this option in the onscreen menus and force you to dig a little bit to find it.

But keep looking; it's in there somewhere. The main thing to remember with close-up photography is that whenever you increase lens magnification, you have to hold the camera extra steady, as too much camera movement during the exposure can make your picture look out of focus. For important close-ups that you plan on printing, you may even want to use a tripod to steady the camera.

The rule of thumb is this: Also, your depth of field is very shallow in close-up photography, so be sure to focus on the element that is most important to you. If you have an aperture priority mode, you can increase the depth of field a little by setting the aperture to f, f, or f The higher the f-stop setting, the more depth of field you'll have.

Turn on the close-up mode, and turn off your flash many digital camera flashes overexpose subjects at very close range. Focus your camera on the most important element in the composition, and hold the shutter halfway down to lock in the focus. While still holding the shutter in the halfway position, recompose if you need to, then shoot the picture. If there's a breeze blowing, wait for a calm moment before shooting: Review your work after a few shots, then make any necessary adjustments.

If you have a manual focus option on your camera, you can compose your picture first, then manually focus. Use the self-timer or the remote release to trip the shutter—that will prevent you from jarring the camera when you take the shot. Take a look at the close-up shot of a purple and white Lupine flower in Figure The focus is set on the flower petals. Notice that because of the shallow depth of field, the background foliage falls out of focus quickly.

This is due to the increased magnification of close-up photography. Close-up shot of a purple and white Lupine flower 2. Composition Whether you're using the LCD monitor or the optical view finder, the composition of your picture determines a large part of its success. Composition is the arrangement of the elements in your photograph. The subject, the horizon line, and back ground elements all play a role in successful composition, and this is just as true with basic point-and-shoot cameras as it is with a top-of-the-line Nikon digital SLR.

The first step to creating great photographs is to consider all the elements in your viewfinder. Here are a few questions to consider when framing your picture: Where is the subject placed? Are there any distracting background elements, such as telephone poles?

Is the horizon line straight? Should you raise the camera angle, or lower it? Most photographers keep five rules of thumb in mind when composing their shots. These are not hard and fast rules, but they are worth remembering and applying as often as possible. Get closer. Use your feet and your zoom lens to frame your subject as tightly as possible. Once you get closer and com pose your image, take a few shots, then get closer again.

Your pictures will improve dramatically. Remember the Rule of Thirds. Don't always put your subject dead center in the frame.

Instead, divide the frame into thirds, both horizontally and vertically like a tic-tac-toe board , and position the important elements along those lines.

Your compositions will be less static and more interesting. Eliminate busy backgrounds. Trees are great, but not when they're growing out of the tops of people's heads.

Look out for busy patterns, bright objects, and other distracting elements. Go high, go low. Change your camera angle when working a shot.

Get low on the ground and shoot upward. Raise the camera over your head and shoot down—swiveling lenses and LCD monitors make this easier than ever. Simple is better. Try not to clutter your compositions with nonessential elements. Keep things simple, move in close, and find an interesting arrangement.

But why? There are a number of compositional rules in effect here that contribute to the success of this photograph. Notice the first place your eye goes to in the image—the gun tower.

By placing it in the left third of the composition with a diagonal line leading to it the fence , you can actually direct the viewer's eye to where you want it to go first.

The solid background of trees doesn't distract from the fort, yet provides some nice color and texture for the shot. Two large Eucalyptus trees on either side of the fort serve as a frame to help direct the eye inward. Also notice that the foreground, which is composed to also help pull the viewer's eye inward, is slightly soft.

If you prefer a sharper foreground, simply increase your depth of field by choosing an aperture of f or so, and focus on the bend in the fence. This image seems simple when you first look at it, but there are many compositional rules in effect that contribute to its success 2. Compression and Image Quality Another way in which digital cameras differ from their film counterparts is that they actually let you set the quality of the image via the compression or image quality setting.

If you've worked with JPEGs, you know that you can save them at various quality levels, usually from 1 to A JPEG saved at level 1 has both very poor quality and a very small file size—it is said to be highly compressed. The same file saved at level 12 has excellent image quality, but the corresponding file size is quite large—it is minimally compressed.

Your digital camera gives you some of these same options in the compression or image quality setting, shown in Figure , which is usually one of the first items you'll see when you open the onscreen menu.

Instead of providing you with number values such as "3," "6," and "9," cameras use terms such as basic, normal, and fine, or normal, fine, and superfine. Regardless of the actual terms used, pay attention to the order in which they are listed. Don't be tempted by the number of extra pictures you can squeeze onto a card using high compression—it is much better to download a bigger memory card instead.

Normal or fine is medium compression and is acceptable for images you are going to email or post on the Web. You can also make decent prints from images at this setting. Fine or superfine is the lowest compression setting on your camera and the one you should consider using all the time.

True, you won't be able to squeeze as many pictures onto your memory card as you would using the higher compression settings, but you're capturing images at their highest quality and will always have the option of producing quality prints or large web images from all of your shots. These settings don't use any compression and produce very large files. If you know that the final product is going to be a large print or a picture in a magazine, then these settings are worth considering.

But for everyday shooting, they might be overkill. Compression levels: Deleting Images See "Erasing Images. Digital Zoom Unlike the optical zoom on your camera, which consists of actual glass elements, the digital zoom is a function of the camera's electronics. By enabling the digital zoom, you can increase the magnification of your lens to bring your subjects even closer than is possible with just the optics alone.

The trade-off is that you compromise image quality when you use the digital zoom. Since it's a function of the camera's electronics and not of the actual lens, the digital zoom is really emulating the telephoto effect instead of actually recording the image at that optical magnification—so even though you "get closer" by using the digital zoom, there's some quality loss too.

You're usually better off staying within the limits of your optics, then cropping the picture later on your computer. You achieve the same effect of moving in closer, but without the image loss. Consider only the optical zoom numbers. See "File Formats Still Images.

Photo Nuts and Bolts: Know Your Camera and Take Better Photos

Erasing Images There are two types of erasing. Most photographers use the single erase option when they take a bad picture and want to get rid of it to free up space on the memory card. Cameras usually have a "trash" button for this procedure see Figure Here are a few scenarios where you might want to switch to Tv mode: Happily, though, megapixel power is no longer a trade-off for portability.

If you have a remote release, you might want to use it to prevent you from jarring the camera as you trip the shutter. Another thing to keep an eye out for with lithiums is how you charge the battery. Putting It All Together Chapter 2.

BRADFORD from Gilbert
Please check my other posts. I enjoy fox hunting. I do love reading novels usually.