Digital Camera: Zoom, Focus, Pixels and Batteries

Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ3I take photos of buildings, abandoned sites and the odd wild flowers in the landscape. Sometimes I get talked into family photos too. I don’t mind family photos but they always require more uploading via email, Facebook and other places so family can share them. It’s odd how the personal stuff takes up more time than the photos I really love to take.

One thing you should do right away is get a decent camera bag. Take the time to find one which has a hard outer shell so your camera bag can take some abuse without harming the camera inside of it.

Zoom and Focus for Macro and Long Distance Photographs

One thing I look for in a camera is a lot of optical zoom. Most people don’t need a lot of zoom. Step closer rather than zoom in. However, I photograph abandoned places – often on the other side of a barrier, like a ‘No Trespassing” sign. So, I don’t have the option of getting closer myself. Instead I use the zoom to bring the picture to me. I love zoom!

Someone else might want a camera with a faster speed, for action photography. In my case, things are pretty much staying right where they are.

Other photos I like to take are called macro. This means I get as close up as I can and fill my viewable screen with the entire image I am looking at. Macro photography gives you a new look at very small things. I use it for taking photos of wild flowers and insects usually. I push the camera lens as close to the subject as I can. I have to be careful not to get so close I touch it with the camera.

The camera I have right now isn’t the best one for giving a sharp focus when I use the full 10X optical zoom. I’ve also noticed it loses focus, or is hard to focus, when I am up close for macro photos. In the case of taking a macro photo I need to pull back in order to get a sharp, clear focus. When using the zoom I’ve learned to pull back then too in order not to lose the sharpness which I need to bring all the finer details into the long range photograph.

I have learned that the focus range needs to start with a small number, the smaller the better, in order for the camera to be able to get a clear focus when the subject is near your camera. I also know that the only zoom that keeps a sharp focus is the optical zoom. If you break into the range of digital zoom you lose your sharp focus and the photo framing can get out of whack too.

So camera focus depends on a few extra things but the focus range is an important feature to watch for when you look at getting a new camera.

FujiFilm FinePix SL300

Resolution: It’s in the Pixels

The resolution is the amount, or density, of pixels in the image. Pixels are tiny dots of colour which build up the photo as a whole. A high amount of megapixels lets you use the photos you take for larger sizes in processed images. But, for most people 3 MP (MegaPixels) will be all you need.

Images which are used online, for websites require less pixels than an image which you want to print as a photograph. Keep that in mind when looking for a new camera. Unless you are selling your photos professionally or printing them up for poster sized images, you don’t need high resolution images.

Battery Life for your Digital Camera

Digital camera batteries are either lithium or AA batteries. Use rechargeable batteries to save money and having more stuff to throw away. Lithium batteries last longer and are lighter but, they are hard to replace once they finally stop working. I’ve had a camera more than 3 years and have not needed to replace the lithium battery it came with. So replacing the battery is not something to worry about very much. Just take care of whatever batteries you use.

Things that ask more from your battery:

  • LCD screen
  • flash
  • zoom

Tips for saving and conserving battery power.

  • Don’t leave your camera on when you aren’t using it. Why rely on power saving when you could just turn it off.
  • Don’t leave your camera on long after your photos are uploaded. When it’s done, it’s done.
  • Don’t leave your camera battery out in sunlight. It likes cool, dark places.
  • Don’t use the flash when you can do without it. Low light can be good for photos.
  • Don’t use the zoom when you can move your camera (or yourself) closer instead.
  • Don’t spend time viewing the photos you have already taken. Upload them and then take your time reviewing them.

Wrist Straps and Camera Bags

A camera may come with a strap and a camera bag. The best thing about the camera bag that comes with your camera is that it fits your camera size. It may not be the best choice for keeping and carrying around your camera. Also, I very much prefer using a wrist strap versus a longer strap that goes over your shoulders (around your neck). A long strap leaves your camera dangling in front of you.

I like the wrist strap so I can keep the camera in my hand while knowing I have the strap around my wrist so I can’t drop the camera on the ground. My wrist strap has saved my camera from dropping twice so far. I’m careful but I still tend to be walking over uneven ground, watching for animals flying above me and hiding below my feet. I’ve had something startle me or I’ve just plain lost my footing and stumbled, countless times. I’m glad my camera strap was looped over my wrist then and not banging into my chest.

In the case of the camera bag, I took time to find one which was firm on the outside. I knew my camera was going to be bumped around in my backpack, my purse and so on. So a firm case was essential to protect it. I didn’t keep the case the camera came with for very long. It was soft and easily squished.

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