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A Must See: New Camera Features

Friday, January 11th, 2008 by | Filed Under: Digital Photography
 
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A Must See: New Camera Features

As we all know, the speed of technology these days is lightning fast. It seems as if what you buy today becomes obsolete the next, which is why it’s important to update yourself on the newest features available for digital cameras before you think of upgrading or buying a new one. Here are some of the new features you should look out for before you zero in on any one digicam!

Pixels Don’t Really Rule

Unlike the days of yore when you couldn’t fathom buying a camera above 3 megapixels, because the prices were outrageous, now you can! But then again, you need to ask yourself how high is too high? Should you go for a 5 megapixel or an 8? Experts will tell you that any 3.2 megapixel camera will give you crystal clear images that can be blown up to almost three feet. If you want to blow up your pictures even more, a 5 megapixel camera should do, because pixels are nothing more than an opportunity to blow up your picture size. Then again, if you use compact cameras that have small sensors, but offer many megapixels, there is a definite loss in picture quality. It gets even worse if you take images at a higher ISO level in low-light conditions. So, what I’m saying is, don’t let megapixels be the only criteria for you to determine which camera to buy.



Zoom In

The zoom feature is largely ignored, but it’s very important. With a zoom function, it saves you from having to crop things out of your pictures. Similarly, it saves you footwork, because you don’t have to move back and forth while taking a picture. Therefore, the higher the zoom, the more room for angling your shot. Most cameras come with a 3X zoom, but now, there are several cameras where the standard is a 4X zoom and they are available at the same price. So, I say go for it! If you love your zoom, there are super zoom lenses that can magnify up to 25 times and more. However, just remember to use the zoom lens only when the lighting is good. If you zoom in low-light conditions, your pictures could be under exposed. Some cameras even come with an optical zoom that stretches the maximum zoom range, without losing the picture quality.

Wide, Wide World

What was once the preserve of a professional photographer is now within the reach of an amateur photographer! There are several cameras that offer a great wide angle feature, without having to buy a stand-alone wide angle lens. This helps a great deal, because some wide angle lenses cost as much as a camera itself. Given a choice, go for at least a 28mm wide zoom. That size is great for group photography and shooting panorama pictures and landscapes.

Anti-blur Feature

This comes in handy particularly in low-light conditions and when you are taking pictures without a tripod or any stable platform. Essentially, this feature prevents blurring of images that result due to camera shake. Though most brands offer the image stabilization feature, it’s best to check them out before buying, because each brand has its own quality measure.



ISO Levels

The ISO level partly determines your level of success in low-light photography. The higher the ISO level, the better your photo will turn out, without the help of a flash. What it does is increase the sensitivity of the lens to the existing light and it captures as much detail. Of course, you should avoid using the highest ISO level, because it could lead to a lot of graininess in your pictures. Technically, cameras higher than 6 megapixels do not give better results with a higher ISO than those under the 6 megapixel range.



Ability to Detect Faces

This comes in handy particularly in group photos, where everyone is at a different distance from the camera lens. Traditional cameras aren’t able to detect all the faces in a picture and thereby, adjust their focal length to each. But now, manufacturers, like Canon, have pioneered face detection technology, which has led many more brands to provide the same. This helps in getting crystal clear images of all the faces in a picture and not just the person in the center of the frame. This feature controls the exposure to the lens and it synchronizes the flash accordingly for a more balanced output.

Red-eye Removal Feature

Photoshop should be your last resort when it comes to removing red-eye from your subject’s eyes during night shooting. Several cameras now come with a ready-made feature that avoids red-eye by throwing a pre-flash light at you so that your pupil constricts before the actual flash. While some cameras do it brilliantly, others do not. The best way to find out is to try flash photography of a person indoors and judge it for yourself.



Candle Light Mode

Look for additional scene modes not found in an ordinary digital camera. One of these is the “candle light” mode, which allows you to take pictures of anything where the lighting is nothing more than a candle light. This works well if you use a tripod and have to make do with limited lighting. All in all, it’s an effective mode.



In-Camera Panorama Picture Stitching

While most cameras have a panorama mode, they don’t allow you to stitch two pictures inside the camera itself. You have to do that in Photoshop later on. Well, not anymore! Newer cameras can stitch together two pictures taken in the “panorama” mode to give a seamless feel of a rectangular photo. It looks awesome and it saves you the bother of Photoshop!

These are only a few of the extra features found in some of today’s digital cameras. I advise you to ask your vendor to show you extra features that most cameras don’t have and then be sure to test them before you buy.

Happy shopping!

~ Zahid H. Javali

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