Monday, September 14, 2009

10 Cool Features of Your Digital Camera You Should Learn and Use

According to a detailed scientific study; on September 1, 2009 76.8% of U.S. Households own a stand alone digital camera and of those households they take an average of 57 photos per year. Also 97.68% have never taken a photo in anything other than full auto mode. Okay I made that all up, but it sounded pretty good didn’t it? As I’ve talked to people who love their photos, but don’t consider themselves to be photographers or even serious hobbyists, it seems most of them know very little about their investment in digital photography. Since you are reading this you are probably not the average digital camera owner or you want to break out of those ranks. So I’ve found 10 cool features that most decent little digital cameras have that you will want to learn and use. Today I’m just going to list them with a really short reason why you should learn and use this feature. Then over the next few weeks we’ll explore each of these in more detail, complete with practice assignments. So grab your camera, charge up the battery, and since every camera is different you’ll need to find that long lost instruction manual and let’s get busy.

1. Zoom/Digital Zoom
I put the zoom feature first, because it is the feature that probably most people are already familiar with. I just can’t imagine that there are more than a handful of people who have picked up a digital camera that haven’t used the zoom. But, I’ll bet there are many who don’t know the difference between optical (lens) and digital (electronic) zoom. The short answer is - turn your digital zoom off.
Link: Digital Zoom Part I.         Link: Digital Zoom Part II

2. Macro
Whether it’s a setting on the control dial or its own button every digital camera worth buying has a macro feature. This is your chance to get up close and personal. I believe in Photography Phor Phun and the macro feature will add to that phun.
Link: Getting Up Close and Personal with Macro Mode

3. Scene Modes
Marketing guys (that includes gals) have figured out that the more features they can list on how to make this new toy easy and fun the more they will sell. So they show you how this camera takes beautiful portraits, stops a runner mid-stride, captures the most beautiful bikini babe on the beach with perfect exposure, etc. etc. etc. Well, turns out some of these work pretty good. We’ll explain how those work and play with them a little.
Link: Using Scene Modes       Link:  Closer Look at Scene Modes

4. Movie Mode
My wife’s camera calls it the “Motion Image Mode”. Maybe somebody has copyrighted the name “Movie Mode”, and I’m about to get in trouble. Oh well. . . . There are times when a still photo just won’t do. You should know when and how to use the “movie mode”.
Link:  Movie Mode

5. Burst Mode
You’ve got your own little Evil Kneivel at home with her new jump she’s built out of a couple 2X4s and plywood. She’s about to catch "big air" (at least 4 ½ inches) and you need to capture it. You could use movie mode, but the resolution is too low, you want something you can print with decent results. But how do you capture the right moment. With burst mode you’ve got a lot better chance at that perfect action shot.
Link: Burst Mode

6. Flash Controls
Isn’t that little flash great, well, assuming you don’t have your finger in front of it when it fires, or you have a cure for the dreaded “red eye”. Then of course there are the times it goes off when you don’t want it to, and what about those dark pockets in the eyes or under the hat brim when you’d really like to see those baby blues sparkle. Your flash will do that.
Link:  Flash Controls

7. Self Timer
“Excuse me sir, would you mind taking a picture of us here in front of the Eiffel Tower with my Camera?  Oh sorry, you don’t speak English.”. . . “Excuse me Ma'am. . . . .”. And that’s not the only reason you should know about the self timer gadget.
Link:  Using your Self-Timer

8. Auto Bracketing and EV

The new cameras have done a pretty good job of getting the exposure right on 90% of your photos, but sometimes even they can get confused. Even most of the idiot-proofed cameras have a way for you to adjust the exposure yourself, or maybe even better, automatically take multiple shots at different exposures and let you pick the best afterward.
Link:  Your Auto Bracketing Feature

9. EXIF Data
In the olden days any photographer worth his salt, (I don’t know what that means, it’s one of those olden day phrases) wouldn’t be caught without his camera and a pocket notebook and a pencil to record the date, time, exposure data etc. Today, your camera does all that for you. It’s right there in the file.
Link:  Learn About Your EXIF Information

10. Printing from Camera

86.3% of the people polled said their #1 complaint about digital cameras is they don’t have any prints. You probably guessed that I made that one up too, but seriously, stand up comedians and comic strip writers make jokes about that. With today’s cameras and printers there is no excuse for not having perfect prints when you want them.


Margie and Andrew said...

Love your blog as well. And your last post (this post) was helpful. It made me feel like I kind of know what I'm doing when I put the camera in my hands. By the way, I'm Andrew from The Walker Wonders Postcards. To answer your question I'm the one that put the postcards together. It was my wife's creative idea and my handy work. Glad you liked it. Can't wait to see your next post and more of your photography.
Andrew K. Walker

Kathryn-nannygoat said...

Great post! I love all of the examples you used. Can't wait to learn more about each feature.

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