Friday, April 30, 2010

Top 7 Digital Camera Newbie Mistakes to Avoid

Digital cameras are great! They let you experiment and learn without the hassle and expense of film developing. They give you the freedom to take more pictures--lots more pictures! But they also open up a whole new world of technology and terminology that even proficient film photographers may not be familiar with. Fortunately, you can bypass the confusion by visiting the links in this article to learn about and avoid the most common pitfalls and mistakes many new digital camera owners make.

1. Sending enormous files by email.
One of the first things new digital camera owners want to do is start sharing their digital photos with friends and family. Learn how to do it the right way.

2. Not backing up your photos.
Some people will save film negatives for generations, but when they make the switch to digital, they may never even consider the idea of making a second backup copy of their images.

3. Using the camera's digital zoom feature.
Digital zoom is a marketing gimmick. Don't use it.

4. Using too much in-camera compression to reduce memory use.
JPEG compression makes your pictures nice and small so you can fit more on your storage card, but too much compression can damage them beyond repair. Your camera probably offers options to let you choose the best compromise between image quality and file size.

5. Using low resolution to reduce memory use.
Your digital photos could be the only document of your life that is passed on to the generations that follow you. Use your camera's highest resolution to preserve that history with as much detail as possible.

6. Settling for the software that came with the camera
The bundled software that comes with your camera or scanner may be good enough for basic tasks, but to truly enjoy the full potential of digital photography, you should consider upgrading to a more flexible, mainstream photo editor.

7. Not taking time to learn the equipment
More than likely you spent hundreds of dollars on your new digital camera and accessories. If you got it home and immediately tossed the user manuals aside, consider picking them up again. A little knowledge of your equipment and general photography can go a long way toward improving your picture-taking skills. The beauty of digital photography is that once you've made the initial investment, there is little additional cost for practice and experimentation.

(To learn more go to

Best compact digital cameras: CNET

Whether you need to be discreet or just want to travel light, a camera's size and weight are important. Our top compact-camera picks run the gamut of megapixel counts, features, and prices, but all the models have two things in common: each fits comfortably into a jacket pocket and weighs 8 ounces or less, even with batteries and media installed. And they're pretty stylish little devices, too.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 (silver)

A full-featured waterproof/shockproof pocket point-and-shoot, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 is a near-perfect rugged camera for everyday use.

Price: $229.99 - $379.95 (check prices)

Review date: Aug 27, 2009

**** 4 stars Overall score: 8.2 Excellent

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V has shooting options for solving common snapshot camera issues, but some users still won't be thrilled with the results.

Price: $339.00 - $349.99 (check prices)

Review date: Apr 16, 2010

**** 4 stars Overall score: 8.0 Excellent

Canon PowerShot S90

As long as you're not expecting dSLR speed in a tiny body, the Canon PowerShot S90 is an excellent compact camera for advanced amateurs.

Price: $366.94 - $399.99 (check prices)

Review date: Nov 12, 2009

**** 4 stars Overall score: 8.0 Excellent

Samsung DualView TL225 (orange/black)

The technology-packed Samsung DualView TL225 is the ultimate ultracompact for those who like to be in front of the camera more than they like being behind it.

Price: $252.98 - $349.99 (check prices)

Review date: Oct 23, 2009

**** 4 stars Overall score: 8.0 Excellent

Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR

Don't let its new sensor technology scare you off: the Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR is an excellent compact camera with shooting features for just about every type of user.

Price: $270.33 - $399.99 (check prices)

Review date: Jul 16, 2009

**** 4 stars Overall score: 8.0 Excellent

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX1 is a great, fast-performing snapshot camera that falters on photo quality.

Price: $240.04 - $279.99 (check prices)

Review date: Sep 30, 2009

**** 4 stars Overall score: 8.0 Excellent

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR1 (silver)

With a wide-angle, megazoom lens, a quick AF system, and generally high-quality snapshot photos, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR1 is a standout compact megazoom.

Price: $192.00 - $279.95 (check prices)

Review date: Sep 25, 2009

**** 4 stars Overall score: 8.0 Excellent

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX1 (blue)

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX1 is a first-rate ultracompact party companion that excels at snapshots, but those expecting superb photo quality for its price should pass on it.

Price: $279.00 - $299.99 (check prices)

Review date: Dec 4, 2009

*** 3.5 stars Overall score: 7.8 Very good

Samsung TL320 (black)

The Samsung TL320's myriad shooting options make it a very good dSLR companion, but the photo quality and performance are definitely those of a point-and-shoot camera.

Price: $189.00 - $299.99 (check prices)

Review date: Sep 10, 2009

*** 3.5 stars Overall score: 7.8 Very Good

Digital Camera Shopping: Use This Shopping Checklist When Buying a Camera

Before you buy a digital camera, it's important to do your homework. By taking a little time to prepare before you buy, you'll greatly increase your chances of ending up with a model that meets your needs. Use this digital camera shopping checklist to figure out what you need to know before you buy.
Before You Arrive at the Store

* Talk to others. A recent study showed more than three-quarters of American households own at least one digital camera, so you should take advantage of the knowledge others have gained. Friends and family can be a great resource for learning about which digital cameras work well and which don't. You'll also be able to figure out which features are important to them, which may spark some ideas for you. Opinions posted on the Internet are OK, but face-to-face opinions from people you trust and know are much better.

* Figure out how you'll use the camera. If you'll shoot a lot of nature photos, you'll want a large zoom lens. If you're going to shoot your children's athletic events, look for a large zoom lens and fast response times in a digital camera. If most of your photos will be of friends and family at parties, you may want a model that performs well in low-light conditions. If you aren't sure how you'll use the camera, or if you don't have a primary focus for your photography, try to pick a good all-around model.

* Figure out what kinds of prints you'll make. Most new digital cameras, even beginner-level, point-and-shoot models, contain plenty of resolution to make adequately sized prints. However, you still need to make sure the digital camera you buy has enough resolution for the print sizes you want. Look at this chart for some advice on how resolution and print size relate to each other.

* Figure out what size of camera you want. Some people prefer larger digital cameras that are easy to hold. Others will want a small, thin model that fits easily in a pocket or purse. Finally, some will prefer a model that exudes a sense of style. You'll still need to try any model before you buy it, but you can think about and make some decisions ahead of time on the size and style of the camera you prefer.

* Learn the jargon. Read through a digital camera glossary to familiarize yourself with all of the terms and features involved with digital cameras. You'll make a better choice if you have educated yourself.

* Set a budget. Figure out how much you want to spend before you reach the store. Once you set a budget, be sure to stick to it.

* Figure out how you'll connect. If you have a newer Windows computer, you should have no problem connecting your digital camera to the computer and downloading your pictures. However, if you own a Macintosh or an older Windows computer, you'll want to be sure the digital camera you eventually buy can work with those computers. Be certain you have the ability to create backup copies of all of your photos, whether you burn CDs or use an external hard drive.

After You Arrive at the Store

* Be honest about your photography experience level. A common mistake for beginning photographers is buying a digital camera that's too powerful and expensive. If you're a beginner, and the salesperson suggests a point-and-shoot camera, you should listen. Save those more advanced cameras for after you've honed your photography skills.

* Try various models. The feel and balance of every digital camera is a little different. Test a few different models and find one that fits your hands.

* Make friends with the salesperson. One of the biggest problems with point-and-shoot models involves the LCD. Because so many beginner models now contain no separate viewfinder and only allow you to use the LCD to frame your photo, a high-quality LCD is important. However, some LCDs can be very difficult to use in bright sunlight because of problems with glare. Try to talk your salesperson into allowing you to try the model outside, in the sun, to test the LCD. At the very least, a friendly salesperson might be more willing to give you an honest answer about any LCD problems with a particular model.

* Compare prices. If you have plenty of time before you need to buy the camera, do some price comparisons. After you've narrowed your list to two or three different options, write down the price and exact model number. Use the Internet to visit various retailers and compare prices on the models. Read through some of the opinions others have posted about the models. Return to the store and see whether it will match any prices you found online.

* Figure out warranty and return information. Before you part with your money, be sure you know the store's return policies and the camera's warranty. Return policies are especially important if you plan to give the digital camera as a gift. Some stores might only accept a return within 14 or 30 days of purchase, which won't help you if your sister's birthday is in 45 days. In that case, you might be better served waiting to purchase the gift until just before her birthday. You'll also have to decide whether you want to purchase the extended warranty, which varies from store to store. Learn about all of the types of warranties that are available for camera purchases.
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