March 22, 2009

Getting started in Digital SLR Photography

Like so many other technologies, digital cameras have come a long way in a very short time. If you’ve decided to buy a digital SLR camera, have you worked out what features you are going to be looking for? Ask yourself what sort of photography do you intend to use the camera for. Just family type shots and everyday stuff or for photo’s you might be able to sell or make some nice wall prints?

Competition is fierce and prices have plummeted dramatically in recent years. If you are using your home PC to carry out photo editing, you will need to think about whether it is up to the task. Remember, you can never have too much RAM. Editing software is already included when you buy a digital camera but like everything, some programs are better than others. I use a full version of Photoshop and it can do just about everything, but can be rather intimidating at first.

The megapixel resolution of the camera should be set as high as it will go to insure the best quality and to produce decent size prints. You can always resize for the web or email later. Another thing to consider is the memory card. Most SLR cameras either don’t come with one or they are very small. Myself, I shoot mostly with a 10 megapixel camera and shoot totally RAW format (which are larger files) I use 4 GB cards, and can get around 300 photos on each card. These days’ cards are pretty inexpensive and I always carry a few with me (formatted). I advise against the larger 16 – 32 GB cards in case you lose one or have an accident, and for quicker download times.

From the moment you pick it up, it should feel right in your hands. Consider where the buttons are located and how they are spaced out. Digital cameras use a great deal of power, mostly the LCD screen. Most of the better cameras come with a rechargeable battery pack and I always carry a spare (charged) with me. If they are not supplied, I recommend rechargeable batteries. I use those with my external flash units and they pay for themselves easily. (just remember to charge them before using them) When buying your digital camera, look for a nice large LCD, these days 2½ in or 3 in. screens are common.

Depending of what type of shooting you’ll be doing, lenses are major factor in camera packages. You can easily spend more on lenses than you do on the camera body itself, but there are some nice camera outfits aimed at the beginner at very decent prices. Do yourself a favor when buying new, shop with a reputable dealer and do some Internet research on features. Try to purchase the best you can afford and it will pay off in the long run. If you’ve narrowed down a camera, you can find some great used outfits on places like Plus try to talk with people who shoot regularly or are members of a local camera club for some inside tips. Oh yeah, and last but not least, keep shooting and have some fun!
© D. Gould Photography