Digital Camera for Dummies : The most comprehensive guide in the web

By soumitra, Gaea News Network
Friday, May 8, 2009

taking pictureA picture tells a thousand words. And a digital camera is the equipment to say it all. If you are new to this world of digital photography, you have came at the right place. Here is everything that you should know about a digital camera. In this complete guide you will find :


Things You should know before buying a digital camera

To make a wise choice of digital camera without wasting your hard earned cash, you have to decide which group of photographer you belong to. There are mainly three types of photographers

Those who like to point to the subject and click the button to get it done. Picture quality is not that important to them unless it is too much ugly. They like a good automatic camera.

These people want to be a little creative at times. They have already taken a few clever shots appraised by many.

They want a camera that will deliver top of the notch picture quality and fast responsive camera which is also studded with many features.

Three types of Camera for these three types of photographers

Compact Digital Cameras (Consumer)

Easy to use, Point-and-shoot automatic cameras. These are the everyday snappies that most people own. They have

  • Cheapest price range : Average price of a few hundred USD.
  • Simple and Very Compact : Small form-factors you can take anywhere
  • Automatic : Good for point-and-shoot photography
  • Simplified Features : most consumer cameras do not allow you to directly control exposure settings. Look to the specialized shooting modes exposure control

Prosumer Digital Cameras

Although they sometimes look similar to consumer cameras, prosumer (professional-consumer) equipment is packed full of features that serious photographers will love. Prosumer cameras usually have better lenses, higher detail, and much more control over exposure than their cheaper consumer cousins.

  • Medium to high price range : From $500 to over $1000 USD
  • Compact : It’s amazing how much technology is in a prosumer camera. The fact that the camera is totally self-contained (lens, flash, etc) is a big selling point.
  • High Quality/Resolution : Both the lenses and the digital CCD offer sharp images with great quality. Newer cameras can easily shoot for print publication.
  • Feature Packed : If anything, there are too many features crammed into the average prosumer camera. For the enthusiast photographer, this kind of camera is deal because it allows much room to grow.
  • Full Control : Above all, the prosumer camera gives the digital photographer complete control over the picture taking process.

Digital SLR Cameras

The Single Lens Reflex (SLR) design is often associated with professional photography. These cameras look and feel exactly like their non-digital cousins, and they even take the same lenses. For buyers considering a prosumer camera, a digital SLR is worth considering.

  • Medium to high price range : Most digital SLR’s are over USD $1000, but recently there have been some very good models released for much less than that.
  • Standard Mount Lenses : Most digital SLR ’s have standard lens mounts so normal lenses can be used. If you have a old Nikon or Canon lens collection. this is good news! The quality of SLR lenses are far better than most consumer or even prosumer cameras.
  • The Single Lens Reflex Advantage : SLR means “single lens reflex”, and these cameras allow you to see exactly what the camera sees when looking through the viewfinder. Most compact cameras have a barely useful eyepiece that isn’t even remotely accurate for composition. This is changing with newer prosumer digital cameras which offer electronic viewfinders.
  • Highest Quality and Detail : Digital SLR’s have drastically better quality than consumer or prosumer cameras. The size of the digital film element (the CCD) is much larger with these cameras, virtually noise-free with superb detail and quality.
  • Standard SLR Features : Digital SLR’s are for the enthusiast or professional photographer, and tend to have more businesslike features without some of the extras found in the prosumer models. Compare camera specs for more info.

Features You should compare for selecting one

Pixel Count
Pixel stands for Picture element. This is the smallest unit of a picture. In physical meaning it represents a single colored dot. Many dots together make a whole picture.
Suppose a picture has 1632 pixels horizontally and 1224 pixels vertically. Then the resolution of the picture is 1632X1224 or 1997568 pixels or nearly 2.0 Megapixel. A 2.0 MP Picture is good for normal postcard size or 4X6  inches printing with litle or no grains visible. Similarly a 8.0 MP Picture is suitable for 8 X 12 size printing. So depending on what size you’ll print your pictures, make decision how much megapixel you need in your camera. The above picture shows the sizes that you can print with respect to the megapixels you have. If you need to print your pictures in large poster size consider higher MP cameras. Otherwise 8 MP is enough - if you want my advice.

Optical Zoom
Zooming enables us to select a particular area of interest while snapping. Greater zooming ability is required if you want to snap the picture of a player from the gallery or snapping a flower on the top of a tree without getting on top of the tree. There are two types of zoom in digital camera. Optical zoom make the use of camera optics to grab the detail and digital zoom actually crops the picture at shows the details at the cost of picture quality. Digital cameras today have optical zooms from 2x to 20x but look for an average of 4x in most of the cameras.

Other Special Features
Smart features like face detection and in camera red-eye removal comes handy when shooting the portraits. Other auto modes are also better for the beginners.

Digital Cameras cost anywhere from $50 for cheap digital cameras to $5000 for good DSLR cameras. A good digital camera for amateur photographers are available under $300. Read our article on top digital cameras to select one for yourself.

Size and weight
Digital cameras range from those so small they fit on your key ring to something so large that needs both of your hands to carry it. And they are available in all imaginable sizes between them. The snappers need a small and compact camera which will easily fit into their pocket. Pro/Semi Pro Cameras are heavy like a brick and the cameras for the hobbyists are just in between.

If you feel about not paying the extra money for that good looking camera with same features - you’re absolutely right. But what if you cannot go out with your brick style digital camera leaving it unused in the shelf? If you feel shy hanging your camera in the public - then don’t buy it. Be honest to yourself to get a stylish camera. At least that way you will get some photographs!

Top 5 Digital Cameras of Our Choice

We have selected 5 cameras for your photography needs. You may as well take a look at our article on top 10 digital cameras for more options.

1. Canon PowerShot A590 IS

This is the best camera for the snappers. It has good 8 MP CCD sensor and 4x optical zoom. There are several easy modes that simplifies operation.

2. Nikon D90

Best DSLR camera for the Pro/Semi-Pros. It is feature packed and comes within your budget as well. Read review of D90 to know more.

3. Nikon Coolpix P6000

It has a high 13.5 MP resolution and wide angle lens. It also comes with Optical VR image Stabilization and 4x optical zoom. Prosumers will love this camera.

4. Canon PowerShot SX110 IS

It has good 10x optical zoom lens and DIGIC III Image Processor. 9MP image sensor is more than enough.

5. Sony Cybershot DSC W170

Sony uses Carl Zeiss lenses for best quality optics. This model has 10.1 MP sensor and 5x optical zoom lens.

Tips to take great pictures

General Tips

Change Shooting Angle
In simple words, shooting angle depends on where you stood to snap the picture. Most people just stand up and click the shutter button looking face on to the subject. Get your camera in a creative angle and see what an ordinary picture becomes from that angle. This is an example of shooting from a downwards angle looking in upwards direction in TajMahal, India. Notice how an ordinary picture received a new dimension.
Frame your Subject a little off center

A picture becomes flat when you get the subject right at the middle of the picture frame. You can take better photograph if you place the subject a little off the center. Start to do that and you’ll be well on the way to mastering this simple, but powerful photographic technique!
Keep an eye on the details

Try to take a picture with as many details as possible. Snap the weathered stones, the pillars of an old building, rivets of a bridge etc. Think of the pictures as parts rather than taking them as a whole.

Select a foreground

Before picturing a landscape or a horizon shoot it beside a rock oar a wall. You should be able to see the main subject but also there are some foreground details. Aim to get that particular detail at the edge of the frame only. Remember, its job is to draw the eye into the main subject of the photo, it’s not meant to be the main subject itself.

Make a good Crop

Don’t mind and be ruthless to crop out the unnecessary portions of the pictures. It will make photos better and more meaningful.

Don’t take Black & White Photographs using your camera settings

If you like a picture to be in Black and white, don’t do it in your camera. You should take it in color mode and convert it into black and white after you transfer it into your computer. You can easily do that using photoshop or other softwares. But if you take the photo in Black and White Mode, there is no simple way by which you can make it colorful.
Outdoor Tips

  • Shoot at sunrise or sunset when the light is soft.
  • While shooting a scenary shot if you try to focus on the sky hold your camera a little upwards and while you want to show the greens or the ocean, hold the camera a little downwards.

Night Shooting Tips

The main problem while shooting at night is the scarcity of light. If you want my advice do not use flash. It renders bleached out faces and redeyes. Try to use natural light. Open the shutter for a little longer for those streaks of car headlights and taillights.
Indoor Shooting Tips

The beauty of digital photography is that you can quickly see the results and retake another shot if you need so. Just get snapping as many pictures and there must be some good pictures. This is as simple philosophy as it sounds. Get the camera in auto mode and let the camera select every necessary settings for the shot.
Traveling Shooting Tips

Try to tell a story with your travel photos. Snap some photos while packing your luggage, some at the local coffee shop, picture of the local newspapers, the street signs etc.
Plan what to shoot before you make the trip. Start snapping as you reach your destination.


How to maintain your camera

1. Lenses

Lenses are the heart of a camera. Take great care to clear the lenses. Use only fine tissue paper and alcohol solutions that are designed for camera optics. To clean the moving parts use blower brush to prevent dust from entering the internal optics.
2. Camera Sensor

DSLR camera senors accumulating dusts are most talked about issue. If it seems from the pictures there is dirt on the sensors. get them cleaned by professionals.

3. Outer Casing

Give a quick clean with the blower brush and then a quack rub with a lens cloth or dust cloth. Clean the outer casing before you clean the inner parts. This reduces chance of dirt transferring itself inside.

4. Mirror / Focussing Screen

Dust on the mirror screen has no effect on the final picture. They are only seen through the viewfinder. Clear them only if the dust is unbearable. Also take care as they are extremely and run the risk of getting a scratch as you try to clean them.

5. Use Camera Bag

Camera bag can protect the camera from dirt, sand, dust etc. Also you need to clean the bag once a while with your vacuum thoroughly inside and out.

Let us know if you find this guide useful or if you have any suggestion to make it more complete.


November 12, 2010: 12:14 am

The Canon Power Shot A590 IS is an 8 MP digital camera that features a Canon branded 35-140mm lens,Canon put substance over style when it designed the Power Shot A590 IS. Its One of the clunky-looking 8-mega-pixel shooter looks bland when compared with colourful, ultra slim, style-minded cameras,The chunky, practical design gives the A590 IS a functional and easy-to-handle feel at the expense of aesthetics.

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