Thursday, December 31, 2009

What's The Crop Factor on a Digital SLR?

When choosing a lens for a Digital SLR you may come across a term called the crop factor. The crop factor is a value that compares the size of a sensor on a Digital SLR to a sensor on a traditional 35mm film camera. The crop factor is important because it has an impact on the focal length of a lens attached to your Digital SLR.

Some DSLRs have a sensor that is the same size as those you find on a 35mm film camera - these tend to be among the high end and more expensive Digital SLRs. Such cameras are known as "full frame" cameras and do not have a crop factor.

The crop factor can differ between camera bodies to complicate the issue. Cheaper and entry level Digital SLRs tend to have the smallest sensors and therefore the largest crop factors. If you are buying a starter Digital SLR the crop factor is likely to be in either 1.5x or 1.6x. Always check the specification of the camera body you are considering buying to confirm the crop factor the camera has.

The focal length of any lens is described using numbers. For example, a lens may have a focal length of 28 - 70mm. The focal length described is when the lens is used with either a full frame Digital SLR or with a 35mm camera and should you use the same lens with a Digital SLR with a crop factor then the field of view of the lens changes. To illustrate, a lens with a focal length of 28 - 70mm and a camera with a crop factor of 1.5x would mean the focal length of the lens becomes 42 - 105mm. You must understand the impact this will have when choosing your digital SLR and lenses for it.

For camera users who own a number of lenses you previously used with a 35mm camera the crop factor is likely to have a significant impact if you switch to a Digital SLR that is not full frame. My advise of course is to choose a digital SLR with a low or no crop factor. The likelihood is that you will need to consider adding new wide angle lenses to your collection with the focal length starting around the 18mm mark.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How to Get the Best Deal on your Digital SLR Camera

In addition to asking how to choose the best digital SLR for their needs people often ask how can I get the best deal on my digital camera. Of course we all want the latest and best (!) but there are ways to get a better deal.

Firstly, be prepared to wait a little while when a new model comes out. Within a couple of months you'll find you can buy even the very latest digital SLR at a bargain price. It's usually the online stores which will discount new model digital SLRs first so keep an eye on these.

The release of a new model can of course mean other older models may be discounted heavily so stores can move their stock. Any modern digital SLR from a manufacturer like Nikon or Canon will be high spec so don't be put off thinking you're getting an out dated model!

To get the best deal on your digital SLR my next tip is to use prices comparison sites. These are a one stop shop to ensure you're getting real value for money with your camera. It's always worth the effort to compare digital camera prices online as you can find other package deals too... Which brings me on to...

Look for bundles! You can find package deals for digital SLRs with one lens or two and this is usually cheaper than buying them separately. Look out for offers with memory cards and cases etc as these can save you money too. Of course don't buy a bundle if it has things you don't want or need as this is a false economy.

Consider buying a reconditioned digital SLR for further savings. You can pick these up for far less than new models at RRP. Make sure they come with a guarantee and check the body for damage - this really is a great way of picking up a bargain camera.

Finally, take a look on Ebay. Camera enthusiasts update and upgrade their cameras regularly and Ebay is often where they sell the digital SLRs they no longer need. Study the listing carefully and ensure the person has good Ebay feedback. I know some people are wary of using Ebay for higher value purchases but there are protections in place and it's Ebay is a great place to buy used digital cameras.

Friday, November 27, 2009

How to Choose a Digital SLR for Wedding Photography

Before you consider how to choose a digital SLR for wedding photography consider carefully whether the job is right for you! If some friends or relatives know you are a keen photogapher you may get asked to photograph their wedding but this is an art in itself and comes with great pressures.

You may well be a fantastic portrait photographer but wedding photography is all about preparation, knowing the order of the day and crucially organising people and taking responsibility. I know many people want to avoid the high cost of hiring a full time professional and if you are the (cheap!) alternative and everyone is clear on what to expect that's fine.

So what camera do you choose for wedding photography? If it's an informal small wedding and your couple want a simple record of the day and photographs up to say 10x8 size a good qality digital SLR will do the job fine. For a bigger wedding or where the couple want enlargements to display you are in the realms of high end professional DSLRs.

THe key elements of this type of photography which will drive the best camera to choose for wedding photography are quality and reliability. Although I normally favour Pentax DSLR's for a professional wedding camera I sway to Nikon and Canon.

Nikon's D700 is a superb camera for wedding photography. With 12 megapixels, 51 auto focus points and high ISO options it will really deliver. Of course the range and quality of Nikon lenses is superb and they will deliver razor sharp images to wow your bride and groom. Nikon's D300 and D90 are other very strong contendors here.

The high end Canon EOS cameras are another favourite for wedding photographers. The EOS 7D certainly matches up to the Nikon D700 and again the range and quality of Canon lenses is superb. The EF-S 18-135 IS USM delivers superb contrast, crisp images and is incredibly flexible for framing shots

Friday, November 13, 2009

Can't Choose Between Digital SLR and Compact? Answer = Lumix G1

Looks just like a digital SLR doesn't it? And it has all the features you'd expect in one too! But for anyone struggling to choose between a digital SLR and a compact point and shoot camera the Lumix G1 could be just what you're looking for.

Panasonic have created a brand new type of camera and it's hard to place it in a particular category. The G1 has the interchangeable lens of a DSLR but the electronic viewfinder and lack of mirror box found on a more entry level camera. With 12 megapixels and a host of high spec features this is a really interesting camera and certainly worthy of consideration when choosing your next.

Some would argue that a camera has to have an interchangeable lens to be a DSLR and others that it needs a mirror box, prism and optical viewfinder. The DMC-G1 only ticks one of these boxes and I think if Panasonic had said that the DMC-G1 was either a bridge or a DSLR, some would protest. Panasonic have opted to leave the classification out and let you make your own minds up about it.

Panasonic really design their cameras well and the Lumix G1 is a prime example. The articulated screen which offers flexibility for shooting from unusal angles is a great example. The camera has a great look and feel and really would sit well with a beginner looking for their first DSLR.

Smaller and lighter than many of its digital SLR rivals this is a great little camera. Would I choose one over a Pentax, Nikon or Olympus? Possibly not and for me the range of lenses would be an issue but it's certainly worth a look.

Friday, November 6, 2009

How to Choose a Cheap Underwater Digital Camera

Underwater cameras are fantastic fun and they are now very affordable for even the casual user. Even if you don't intend doing a bit of scuba a cheap underwater digital camera is perfect for holidays. Not only can you take it in the sea for snaps, underwater digital cameras are very durable and hard wearing and of course can be rinsed off if dirty!

My choices would include the Vivitar V8400 and the Pentax Optio W80. The Vivitar is the cheapest underwater digital camera at the moment and although not professional quality with 8 megapixels it's a great little camera. The Pentax Optio W80 has an impressive 12 megapixels and its higher price tag brings other features. Movie recording and safe to use at a depth of 5 metres, the Pentax really is a great camera to use underwater. It's really stylish and avaiable in a range of colours including azure blue and cardinal red. A highly fashionable accessory to carry at the beach!

Other options for taking digital photographs underwater include custom made waterproof cases. Canon make one for their Ixus 860 IS and Olympus offer a waterproof case for the C-5060WZ. The advantage of using a waterproof case for a digital camera is of course that you can remove it and its back to being an everyday camera.

When considering how to choose a cheap underwater camera don't overlook the idea of disposable underwater film cameras. Some would argue these produce better results than cheap underwater digital cameras. The low price tag makes them ideal for a holiday or just to experiment with underwater photography.

A friend of mine went on a diving holiday in The Red Sea this year and the pictures she produced with her underwater camera are stunning. It's not as always as easy getting great pictures underwater and you may be disappointed with the first results. This again is the beauty of shooting digital of course - we can view the pictures straight away!

Kighting is very important in underwater photography. The deeper you go the less light there is. You want crystal clear water to get good shots as shand and silt will make for murky pictures. Even dense salt can make for poor shots so again don't have too high expectations in your first attempts. As with any photography the results impriove with practise and you will soon be producing those stunning underwater shots with ease.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

How to Choose a Sony Digital SLR

Sony may not be the obvious choice for many people when deciding which digital SLR to choose but they have developed some fantastic models in 2009. Sony of course have many fans for their televisions and other electrical equipment and for many beginners they will look to Sony digital SLRs as they love the brand and quality.

Some would argue the range and quality of Sony lenses may not put them up as an obvious choice for a DSLR against the likes of Nikon and Olympus. The features of the Sony Alpha cameras and the leading edge technology can make up for this.

The Sony Alpha DSLR A380 boasts a very impressive 14.2 megapixels. It's imilar to Sony's A330 with its features including for example an ISO range of 100 to 3200 with low noise. Other features fo the Sony DSLR-A380 iclude Quick AF Live View and the camera is very light, stylish and easy to carry.

For the more serious photographer the Sony Alpha A850 has to be worth serious consideration. The beauty of this camera is all about the sensor. It's full frame meaning no crop factor and offers an incredible 24.6 megapixels! Of course these features come at a price and it's by no means a budget DSLR option. But imagine the quality of poster sized blow ups this can produce! A high-resolution CMOS sensor gives detail packed pictures with excellent contrast and gorgeous colours. The Sony A850 has Exmor technology which cuts noise while signals are converted to digital form. The results are simply beautiful images.

When choosing a Sony DSLR the A850 has to be top of your list if your budget allows. The incredible quality means the images would be perfect to submit to micro stock libraries for anyone wiching to make money with their camera. In fact the A850 could very easily pay for itself with a little effort!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

How To Learn Digital Photography

I often get asked what's the best way to learn or improve digital photography. My answer is to develop your photography skills the best way is to get out there and do it! I see there are two parts to learning digital photography. The first is learn how to use your camera - you need it to be second nature so you're not having to think about what mode to shoot in or how to access menus. The second part is the photography itself. This is all about composition, exposure, how to capture mood and 'the moment.'

There are many great online digital photography courses and of course books available on Amazon and other sites. Amazon has some fantastic books to teach you photography as well as being a great place to buy cameras online. An online photography course will usually come in modules to teach you specific skills. I like this way of learning photography since it encourages you to get out there and experiment. The theory is of course essential but too many people get hung up in it! Just get out there with your camera and take some shots and you will learn along the way.

When I started out I didn't have a fantastic digital SLR and had a manual camera with 35mm film. That meant costs were high and I couldn't just snap away as we can with a digital camera and delete shots we don't like. For me it was a great way to learn since the camera needed manual setting and as each photgraph was expensive I had to really think about composition etc.

An online digital photography course is a great way to learn but only if you are prepared to get out there and apply your knowledge and skills. Take every opportunity to develop your photography skills by using your camera! If you go out for a walk with the family, if it's someone's birthday or even if you just have an hour to go to a local beauty spot or event.

Even experts need to refer to their camera manuals every so often so don't worry if you need to. All of this will build your experience and familiarity. Some cameras like the Nikon D3000 will actually guide you to which mode and settings to use. Who ever would have dreamed that your camera can actually teach you photography!

Don't just stick to obvious routes like online photograpny courses when learning the art. Look at pictures as often as you can - paintings, drawings, artwork in adverts - all will help you develop an eye for a great image.

Joining a camera or photography club is another great way to learn. Here you can meet like minded enthusiasts and share ideas etc. A good club will organise trips and days out and may organise competitions and exhibitions, all of which will encourage you to learn and develop.

So my advice is to combine learning resources for photography like online courses and books with actually getting out there and using your camera! This will develop your photography skills at a fantastic rate and you will soon be producing images you and others will admire.