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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

A Pro Who Knows-Rita Short

Rita Short, NW Campus media services photographer.
Rita Short, NW Campus media services photographer.
Rita Short, NW Campus media services photographer.
Rita Short, NW Campus media services photographer.

Rita Short, NW Campus media services photographer, provides advice on buying a digital camera.

Q. What factors should I consider before buying a digital camera?
Your needs. Make a list of needs focusing on what type of photos you will be primarily taking. Consider size. If it is mostly for travel, you probably want something more compact.

Decide how you will be using the photos to determine the number of megapixels you need. You’ll want a lower number for e-mail and small prints and a higher number for enlargements.

Also think about your level of experience and knowledge. Do you want a point-and-shoot, do-it-all type of digital camera or a DSLR with full manual controls? Finally, come up with a budget. How much do you want to spend?

Q. What’s a megapixel? 
In simplest terms, a megapixel is one million pixels. A pixel is a picture element made up of red, green and blue brightness values. With a digital camera, these megapixels combine to make up your image. Imagine 5 million tiny dots put together like a Monet painting. In a normal photo, the human eye is not able to see this, but if you had the ability to zoom in, you could easily make out the dots or pixels.

Q. Are more megapixels better and how many do I need?
This is a question without a simple answer. It is generally supposed that the more megapixels a camera has, the more details its images will contain. But this isn’t necessarily true.

A camera’s body size plays a big part in regard to sensor size since a tiny camera cannot hold a large sensor. A sensor is where all of the megapixel information is collected: the larger the camera, the larger the sensor and the larger the storage area. What does this mean?

It can affect the quality of your image in a number of ways. Imagine you have a bucket and a wading pool. If you were to pour eight megapixels into the bucket, you will have eight mega pixels of information, but you will only be able to see what small amount appears on the surface. Whereas if you pour six megapixels into the wading pool, it will contain less information, but the larger surface area will actually allow you to view more detail.

So my point is, do not choose a camera based solely on megapixels. A five-megapixel camera will give you a nice 8 by 10. If that is the largest print you will want to make, then more megapixels will only give you more cropping power. Transversely, if you only wanted to e-mail photos, a one- or two-megapixel camera would suffice.

Q. What is the difference between a digital point-and-shoot and a DSLR camera?
DSLRs (digital single lens reflex) are removable lenses and use a mirror that allows you to see the image you’re about to shoot through the viewfinder.

Pros are the image quality is higher; you have full manual controls and virtually no shutter lag (time from when you press the shutter button to when the camera completes the shot). Cons are they are larger, heavier, more costly and have a higher learning curve.

Point-and-shoot digital cameras are basically what they say. Pros are they are easy to use, compact in size and lower priced. Cons are they have less image quality and greater shutter lag.

Q. What resources do you recommend for comparison shopping?
For comparison shopping, I recommend researching the Internet. A great resource for information and comparison shopping is www.dpreview.com. The site also has forums you can join to discuss different cameras and ask questions.

Once you have your choices narrowed down, be sure to head out to a retail or camera store where you can see and handle the cameras before you buy. This is essential! See if it feels comfortable in your hands and how easy (or difficult) it is to access different features.

Q. How can I be certain I am getting the best pictures out of my camera?
A few good Web sites with digital photography lessons are www.vividlight.com/Articles/3016.htm, www.picturecorrect.com and www.olympusdigitalschool.com.

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