Digital Camera Buying Tips 2

16 04 2008

This is part 2 of my 2 part series about tips when buying a digital camera.

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Digital Camera Buying Tips 1

15 04 2008

I have a few friends who’ve been in the retail camera industry for years, actually decades.  I’ve got some tips from them and added a few of my own, which I think you’ll find useful.  This is part 1 of a 2 part series.

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Photography Psychology

9 04 2008

Being a photographer for 10+ years and investing thousands of dollars in equipment, I’ve learned some interesting things about not just photography, but about people.  I’d like to share some interesting things that have happened.

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Digital Camera Turf Battles

4 04 2008

The “big-heavies” in the digital camera world are: Canon, Nikon, Samsung and Sony.  Each one is vying for their piece of the digital camera money pie.  What follows is information I got from a friend of mine who is a close observer in the industry — in op-ed form.

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Protecting Your Gear

15 12 2006

If you ever have valuable things to carry or ship — either by air or ground, you should look into investing in the right case to protect your gear.

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Taking Better People Pictures

31 08 2006

What if I flattered you with words like, “You are absolutely the most beautiful and smartest person in the whole wide world!” You would probably slap me for my insincerity.

Now what if I did exactly the same thing .. but with a picture of yourself? You would thank me.

You see .. flattery is acceptable in pictures .. unacceptable in words. Human nature is funny, isn’t it? Well, if you want to be a good photographer, you need to flatter the subject .. at least a little. I’d like to share a few rules about taking better pictures of people. Read the rest of this entry »

Photo Developing Guide

30 08 2006

TV commercials tout the “photolab at home” concept. Yet, despite the proliferation of inkjet and photo inkjet printers at home, people still use traditional photolabs. It’s easy to understand why. Read the rest of this entry »

Photo Tips – Sharp Photos

25 07 2006

Photography is a study in trade-offs: big camera or small camera, size or convenience, sharpness or motion blur, big picture or zoom shot, etc. etc.

However, one thing people usually want are sharper pictures. Here are some tips for you.

Support. Use of a tripod, even a cheap $30 one, makes a huge difference. Pro photographers spend hundreds of dollars on a tripod/head combo in order to make pictures come out sharper. Why? The sharper the picture, the bigger the enlargements. A full-size tripod too big? Consider a table-top model or make-do with a beanbag or some other makeshift device to rest your camera on.

Focusing Point. Point & Shoot cameras typically only focus in the exact middle of the screen. Notice how closeup pictures of two people’s heads is out of focus? It’s because the camera is focusing on the background. Fix this by pre-focusing the camera on one person’s head, doing a half-shutter, holding this button halfway, then recomposing and fully depressing the shutter.

Digital Camera ISO. If your digital camera is going to expose the photo with too slow of a shutter speed, you may consider bumping up the ISO at the cost of more noise in the final picture. Tradeoff: low ISO = low digital noise; high ISO = faster shutter, but more digital noise.

Image Stabilization. More expensive (and larger) point & shoot cameras as well as some SLRs with specfic IS lenses work great to negate camera shake. It’s a tradeoff between size of camera and size of pocketbook.

35mm Film Tips

25 07 2006

I’m a seroius amateur photographer and admit that I still love film. 35mm is still my choice for photos. I’ll probably switch to digital eventually, but not in the near future.

Be that as it may, these are my recommendations in regards to film.

No Film Is Neutral. Each film has a color bias. You need to choose film that meets your specific needs. Kodak’s box is yellow and is biased towards yellow and oranges, so skin tone comes out slightly yellow (nice for you albino types). Fuji’s box is green and green and red subjects (nature) stand out great. Agfa’s box is blue, so blues come out great.

Standard Film. I like Fuji’s Superia 100 (100ASA) for outdoors and X-Tra 400 (400ASA) for indoors. Fuji’s a little cheaper than Kodak Gold too.

Nature Shots. I really like Fuji’s Superia Reala (100ASA) — Finer grain and more accurate colors.

Weddings. I like the look of Kodak’s Portra 160NC (160ASA). The fine grain and slightly yellow tint makes it look like you have a warming filter on. Exposure latitude is generous — you worry less about using too much flash and blowing out the details.

Black & White. Ilford Delta film is the best, hands-down. The fine black and white grain is awesome. Exposure latitude is very narrow, so be careful.

Stay Away. Kodak High-Definition film is too contrasty. The BW400CN doesn’t have the sharpness and look of a true B&W film. Kodak Max 400 is not bad, but the comparable Fuji X-Tra 400 is just as good and cheaper too.

Film Labs. I’ve noticed that machines tend to be “dialed-in”, i.e. setup to give best results with one particular type of film. The labs I go to use the Fuji machines and Fuji films seem to match the best. The photo printer can be adjusted to print any film negative more neutrally, but this setting has to be setup by the lab tech.

Digital Cameras – A Point Of View

19 07 2006

A friend of mine has been selling cameras for 20+ years. Being a film photographer myself, I always ask him about what’s new in the digital camera world. He had a couple of great insights that are worth noting.

1. Media cards.
On a few rare occasions when customers came into the store to ask what happened to their photo files — all were gone. Sandisk (#1) happened to be the brand. He hasn’t seen any problems with Lexar Media (#2) or other manufacturers.

2. Point-and-Shoot Cameras.
All the major manufacturers: Canon, Casio, Fuji, Kodak, Nikon, Panasonic, and Sony have great cameras. According to my friend, what stands out is the Casio. The Exilim line has a large screen, easy-to-use menu system, and is very small.

3. SLR (Single-Lens Reflex) Cameras.
The only two manufacturers worth considering are Canon and Nikon. Canon has the edge in technology: their camera lines and lenses are generally better. Nikon’s flash system is better though — the flash system is more precise; Canon’s system can be unpredictable and inaccurate at times.

4. Buyer’s Guide.
My friend has some tips for all camera buyers. Getting a second battery and second media card is prudent. Getting a good case for the camera and a plastic screen protector is good too. If you are prone to abusing your camera ( dropping it, getting it wet, etc. ), then getting a Ritz Camera extended warranty is good to do. Extended warranties from other manufacturers only covers original manufacturer’s defects. However, Ritz Camera’s extended warranties are one of the only ones which cover owner’s accidents.