Photography Information

Digital Cameras Demystified


Demystifying Digital Camera Jargon

Want to buy a digital camera but confused by the sales jargon? Talk of pixels, LCDs and ELVs, digital zoom verses optical zoom driving you crazy? Then stress no more, here are all the basic terms and their meanings in simple, easily understood terms.

Mega pixels:

Pixels are just the tiny dots that make up a digital picture. Each mega pixel is a million pixels so the more mega pixels a camera has the more dots will make up your picture. The more mega pixels or dots your picture has, the better quality it will be. Digital cameras can be bought with one to six mega pixels. The higher mega pixel your camera is the larger size photo you can take and the more you can enlarge and print photos without sacrificing picture quality.

LCD

LCD means Liquid Crystal Display or in simple terms, it is the display screen used in digital cameras. These screens vary in size depending on the camera. It allows you to preview what you are photographing by giving you a 'through-the-lens-view'. It can also be used to preview photos, delete unwanted photos and some will allow you to magnify your photos to look at details.

Optical Viewfinder

This is simply the viewfinder you look through to take your photos (if you aren't using the LCD screen) as you would with any camera. They will show the full area of what you are photographing but the only drawback is they won't show you if the picture is in focus. Many cameras have an ELV -Electronic View Finder, instead of an Optical Viewfinder, which shows the same view as on your LCD screen but has the advantage of screening out the sun. You can also see your camera settings and functions in the ELV just as you would on the LCD.

Digital and Optical Zoom

Digital zoom allows you to enlarge the size of a photo by doubling the size of the pixels. The problem with this is that as the pixels are made larger they become fuzzier thus leading to a decrease in photo quality. An optical zoom however actually magnifies the subject of the photo so retains the quality.

Memory Cards/Sticks

Memory cards/sticks are just the storage device for digital cameras. Most cameras have a small amount of built in memory but if you want to be able to store a reasonable number of photos you will need to purchase some extra memory. Memory comes in a range of sizes (measured in megabytes or gigabytes) and the more memory you want, the higher the cost. Ensure the memory you buy is compatible with your camera.

Obviously there is a lot more to know about digital cameras but understanding these basic terms will go a long way toward helping you find the digital camera that is right for you without being lost in the digital dialogue spouted by salespeople.

Raelene Hall is lives in Outback Western Australia. She has written non-fiction articles for magazines, newspapers and the Net on a variety of topics, including education, Outback life, communications, nature, spirituality, families, technology, and the environment. Raelene is a regular columnist for a regional newspaper. Contact Raelene at nedscreekstn@bigpond.com or check out her website at http://www.outbackwriter.com

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