Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Fun With Digital Cameras

I've been using a digital camera for about a year and a half, and loving every minute of it.

I've always been attracted to photography, but the lack of immediate feedback kept me from really getting involved. A digital camera's ability to show you what you just took has helped me to get a feel for elements of composition and lighting, much more effectively than what I could with a long delay between taking the picture and seeing it developed.

When I bought a digital camera, I spend about $500 for a Canon PowerShot S1 IS. I just checked, and they're down to about $300 now. I'd call it a high-end beginner's's got a great 10x optical zoom, with a digital zoom on top of that, all with image stabilization technology that gives you a fighting chance of getting a clear picture at maximum zoom. Can you tell I love my camera?

The downside is that it focuses poorly in low light...but it has a manual focus mode that you can use in situations like that, or when taking multiple pictures of a stationary subject, or when trying to catch a quick moving subject. If it had a low-light mode for night photography, I'd probably be in heaven. The sepia-mode is great fun for taking old-fashioned looking photos.

Lately, I've been playing with the video aspect of the camera, taking videos of my daughter. It works remarkably well, considering that it's a digital camera, not a camcorder. The price of high capacity compact flash cards will need to come down quite a bit before I start taking long videos, though. A 512MB card can hold about five minutes of video...I've been eyeing some 8GB cards (about 40 minutes of video), but they're still priced way too high for me (around $600...that's what I spent for the camera!) Plus, video really eats up hard drive space on your PC to store them long-term. Guess it's about time to build that new computer with a couple of 500GB hard drives.

Before buying the camera I spent a long time reading user reviews, and discovered one thing...there's always someone who isn't happy with a product! Ultimately, I made my decision based on the image stabilization feature, something that, at the time, was only found on higher end cameras. I've been very happy with the entire camera, though, and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a (now) inexpensive camera with plenty of features.

Eventually I'll get around to uploading some examples of my photography.

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