Hon. Acoustical Engineer
- Mar 16, 2002
- Reaction score
Since just about every function on a digital camera requires batteries, you'll use yours up fast. However, there are a few things you can do to make batteries less of an issue.
- If your camera uses plain AA batteries, never use plain alkalines. Use nickel metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeables for most purposes, and always carry lithium AAs for backup and travel. Lithium batteries cost more but last five times longer and are lighter weight than the traditional type.
- You should always have spare rechargeables. Three sets can be extremely helpful. You can go out shooting with a fresh set in your camera and another in your bag. The third set, in the charger, will be ready to go when you return.
Buying extra memory cards will seem expensive in the beginning, but compared to the price of film and developing, the price is negligible in the long term.
Having several memory cards (or one big card, at least 512 megabytes) available will assure that you will always be able to take as many high-resolution shots as you need without running out of space. Plus, once your files are transferred to your computer, you can erase the cards and reuse them.
How do National Geographic photographers get such great photographs? Well, part of the secret is simply taking as many pictures as possible—up to a thousand rolls of film per assignment. Buying hundreds of rolls of film might be beyond your budget, but with a digital camera's reusable memory cards, you don't need to spend a lot of money to take a lot of pictures.
Don't be afraid to try the same shot over and over until you get it right. You can always delete the ones that you don't like. Be patient. It may take a hundred shots to make the perfect one. Experiment and take as many pictures as you can.
One of the most important reasons for having sufficient memory cards is to enable you to shoot at your camera's highest resolution. If you paid a premium price for a five-megapixel camera, then get your money's worth and shoot at five megapixels. And while you're at it, shoot at your camera's highest-quality compression setting too.
Taking pictures at lower resolution settings will allow you to store more images on your memory card, but it severely limits your ability to print your images. The larger you save your original image at, the larger you can print your image. You will also be retaining extra pixels that will help keep the image looking sharp if decide you want to crop it—or otherwise alter it—later using your computer.
If you are going to crop or otherwise alter a photo on your computer, first resave the image in TIFF format, rather than in JPEG, which is the most common image format.
Every time a JPEG file is opened and resaved, data are thrown out and rebuilt, so the file starts to degrade. A TIFF (Tagged Image File Format) file takes up more space in your computer's memory but will better preserve image quality as you work with your photo.
There are few things more heartbreaking to a digital photographer than to save a treasure trove of photos on a computer, only to have the computer crash, taking all the images with it. Be safe: Save all your images on a recordable CD (CD-R) or DVD. And look for the mention of long life or archival life to ensure the image data will remain stable.
Ever been too intimidated to take a picture of people you don't know? In these situations the monitor on the back of your digital camera is an important ally.
Once strangers see themselves in the picture, many of them warm up to the idea of being your subject. "They gain confidence in you and get into the process," photographer Michael Melford said. "It becomes a great way of engaging subjects as you photograph them."
One big mistake new digital photographers make is to send the exact image files created by the camera for standard e-mail correspondence. These files are too large to be sending casually—your too-big e-mail could be blocked by your friend's e-mail system or cause a serious slowdown or even a crash.
Generally, you want to keep an attached file under 300 KB (kilobytes). (Some computer features—such as Apple's iPhoto application or Windows' "Send Pictures via E-mail" function—can automatically resize images to an e-mail-friendly size.) Be sure to do a "Save As" on the smaller file, so you don't overwrite the original file.
Digital photography, unlike film, potentially has no grain. However, digital "noise" is an effect that essentially looks like grain—usually yellowish or reddish splotches (especially in an image's darker areas).
Key Factors That Increase Digital Grain
- High ISO settings: ISO refers to film speed. For example, in a film camera, when you use 400-speed film, you generally set your camera to 400 ISO to match. Digital cameras, of course, use no film, but many allow you to set an ISO, to mimic the effects of working with film. As with film, a higher ISO setting on a digital camera can result in a rough, grainy image. When possible, set your camera for lower ISOs, such as 50 or 100. Using lower ISOs, though, means you'll need more light (natural or flash) or longer exposures.
- Long exposures: Even with the latest digital cameras, exposures longer than a second will typically increase grain effects.
- Enlargement: As with film pictures, digital photos become more grainy, or noisy, as they are enlarged.
With so much emphasis on technology these days, it can be easy to forget one of the key reasons you take pictures in the first place: to display your memories. By now it's so easy to make prints from digital photographs that there's no reason to leave them locked up in your hard drive.
Many drug stores and discount stores have photo kiosks that allow you to inexpensively print your images from a disc or memory card. Also, the falling prices of photo printers are making it simpler to print at home. There are even some printers that hook directly into cameras, eliminating the need to first transfer your photos from camera to computer.
Also, many Web sites allow you to upload your digital files to them and will mail prints on photographic paper to you.
(Courtesy: National Geographic Digital Photography Field Guide)