A Viewfinder Darkly

Photography tips and tutorials

Digital Camera as a Christmas Gift

November 14 2007

by Phil Northeast

A digital camera under the Christmas tree is great way to start  photography. Almost anybody can begin taking photos without the intimidation of a complex camera.

Digitgal camera

Nikon Cool Pix S200 Digitgal camera

Commonly classified as point and shoot cameras, these inexpensive are compact, simple and produce images great for email attachments and posting on the web and look very good in 4”x 6’’ prints.

Virtually straight from under the tree, youngsters can begin capturing the joy of a family Christmas. With built in flashes, auto focus, exposure, and white balance a point and shoot digital camera takes care of most of the technical details.

Just remember to charge the battery and have a memory card, then the tree and others opening their presents are ideal first subjects.

Too Much Choice

There are many camera manufacturers producing a large number of models for this market category. One of the biggest problems is sorting out a short list before making a final decision.

digital camera rear view

Nikon S200 rear view

In this brief overview, the main deciding factors were price and lens type. All the price details came from the same New York retailer as guide to the relative pricing between the cameras. Prices may vary in different locations.

Lenses are a critical part of a camera and their zoom lenses offers flexibility, making these cameras useable in wide range of situations.

Fun Camera

Their name describes their operation, point at the subject, press the button to shoot, and the digital camera does the rest.

Along with the simplicity in operation, their compact size makes them easy to handle for children’s smaller hands. Even adults find that they fit neatly into pockets and purses.

canon front view

Canon Powershot A720is front view

Not a Toy

These digitals are not toys or novelties. Under reasonable lighting conditions, they produce good images that are well worth printing, sharing, and keeping.

Principles of Composition

The point and shoot models are an ideal first camera as they allow the budding photographer to concentrate on photography basics such as composition and choice of subjects. The world looks different through the lens of a camera, and practice is an important part of learning how to create good photographs,

Zooms Explained

Some manufacturers refer to a digital zoom on their cameras. This not a zoom, rather the camera will use a part of the image and expand the selection to form a larger image. Using only part of the image means a lower resolution final image.

An optical zooms is the camera’s lens that will either magnify image or give a greater angle of view, using conventional optical techniques.

A number specifies the zoom range, for example; a 7x zoom will have a maximum focal length seven times longer than its shortest focal length.

The focal length of a digital camera lens depends on the distance from the optical centre of the lens the sensor. To make lens specifications easier to understand manufacturers often quote the focal length of a 35mm film camera lens that gives the same view as their digital camera lens.

Kodak Easy Share C743

Kodak digital camera

Kodak Easy Share C743 Digital Camera

This is the cheapest of the selection at only $134.95 and offers a 3x zoom lens with a 37mm-111mm equivalent focal length.

This provides a useful wide-angle end to the zoom for scenes and groups of people in tight places. At the other end of the zoom range, the moderate telephoto effect is ideal for simple portraits.

Nikon Cool Pix S200  $154.95           3x        38-114mm. this is similar to the Kodak witeh same useful zoom range for everyday shooting.

Olympus          Stylus 750       $169.96           5x        36-180mm

Pentax digital camera

Pentax Optio Z10 digital camera

With a slightly longer zoom to justify the extra dollars, the Olympus allows better shots of subjects that have restrictions on how close to the subject the photographer can get.

Canon Power Shot A720IS    $211.95           6x        35mm – 210mm

Pentax Optio Z10       $219.95           7x        38-266mm

Both the Canon and the Pentax offer more zoom for their higher prices. The extra optical power of the zoom is handy at the zoo where moats and walls keep the animals and the people apart. Photographers can use the zoom to get closer shots of the animals.

 

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