Sunday, November 4, 2012

Choosing The Right Digital Camera For Beginners

Are you planning to buy a digital camera? Maybe you want to give yourself a gift with this kind of equipment so that you can discover and learn more of the art of digital photography. A hobby you really wanted to do wherein you can play with your camera to capture a desired image. But with all the cameras available in the market, it is very confusing to choose the suitable one for a beginner.

A Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera, or what we commonly call DSLR, is a type of digital camera that usually has detachable lenses, a reflex mirror, and a digital camera back that replaced the photographic film.

The reflex design scheme is the primary difference between a DSLR and other digital cameras. In the reflex design scheme, light travels through a single lens and a mirror is used to reflect a portion of that light through the viewfinder - hence the name Single Lens Reflex. The image that is seen through the viewfinder is also the image that is captured by the camera's sensor.

File:SLR cross section.svg

Cross-section view of a DSLR. Electronics and display not shown.
  1. Camera lens
  2. Reflex mirror
  3. Focal-plane shutter
  4. Image sensor
  5. Matte focusing screen
  6. Condenser lens
  7. Pentaprism/pentamirror
  8. Viewfinder eyepiece

DSLRs have better image quality than the common Point-and-Shoot cameras and allow you to manually adjusts settings before taking a picture. There are hundreds of DSLR cameras in the market today, and the criteria in choosing the best is usually based on lens, sensor, resolution, and speed. But price is also one aspect to consider. You might find models amounting as much as $3,000. That is too expensive for an average user. My recommendation for beginners is to consider looking for the cheaper ones first. Entry level models price can range from $400 to $700. Cheaper DSLR cameras might not have the performance of a high end model, but can absolutely get the job done.

Get to hang on a cheaper camera first and learn to use it properly until you can master all its features. One must remember that capturing a great image does not depend largely on the camera but from the creativity and skill of the photographer.

Below is my list of the popular cheap DSLR cameras in the market today with their corresponding description from the manufacturer:

Nikon D3100

This entry level DSLR camera provides excellent quality and lots of features all amateurs in photography must learn.

This affordable, compact and lightweight digital SLR features a high-resolution 14-megapixel CMOS DX sensor, high-quality 3x NIKKOR 18-55mm VR image stabilization zoom lens and intuitive onboard assistance including the learn-as-you grow Guide Mode.

Capture beautiful pictures and amazing Full HD 1080p movies with sound and full-time autofocus.

Easily capture the action other cameras miss with a fast start up time, split-second shutter release, 3 frames per second shooting and 11-point autofocus.

Detail Page

Canon EOS Rebel T3i

Another entry-level DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel series has historically been the sweet spot between amateur price but respectable specs. 

The EOS Rebel T3i has an 18.0 Megapixel CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensor that captures images with exceptional clarity and tonal range and offers more than enough resolution for big enlargements or crops. This first-class sensor features many of the same new technologies as used by professional Canon cameras to maximize each pixel’s light-gathering efficiency. Its APS-C size sensor creates an effective 1.6x field of view (compared to 35mm format).

Detail Page

Canon EOS Rebel T2i

Canon EOS Rebel T2i brings professional EOS features into an easy to use, lightweight digital SLR that's a joy to use. Featuring a class-leading 18.0-megapixel CMOS image sensor and increased light sensitivity for low light photography, the EOS Rebel T2i also has an advanced HD Movie mode for gorgeous Full HD movies. Able to capture up to 3.7 frames per second, it's ready to go the minute it's picked up. Advanced Live View, a new wide-area screen, plus features like Canon's brilliant Auto Lighting Optimizer and Highlight Tone features ensure brilliant photos and movies, easily. With some of the most advanced features of any digital SLR, it's simply the best Rebel Canon has ever created.

Detail Page

Nikon D5100

The Nikon D5100 offers a host of new photographic and video tools that deliver superior performance and exceptional image quality with surprising versatility. With 16.2 megapixels, a swivel Vari-Angle LCD monitor, full HD movie capabilities, new EFFECTS Mode and new HDR setting, you hold the power and performance to capture beautiful moments and the freedom to get creative.

Keep in mind that for DSLR cameras, special lenses are necessary for different type of shots such as in Macro shots or Optical Zoom, so your budget will be extended slightly.

You can search the web for more reviews and deals so that it would be easier for you to decide on what to choose.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Choosing the Right Camera that Suits Your Lifestyle

Are you looking for a compact digital camera? Try to have a glimpse of the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T110 with my initial review.  This may not be available now in the market but it can be of good comparison.

I have chosen to buy this camera, first and foremost, because of its stylish slim and sleek appearance.  I was easily attracted with its design the moment I had a glimpse of it.  It is available in two attractive colors, gray and red rouge.  But let us dissect the other features if it suits your taste.

First, one good thing about this camera is its 3.0" wide screen touch panel LCD.  You can review your shots in vivid colors and ultra-sharp contrast.  No more worry about tiny buttons.  Just tap the screen to review shots and select functions.

In the world of photography, everything circles around the lens.  This camera has a 16.1 megapixel lens for capturing finer details.  It sports a Carl Zeiss Vario Tessar 4x Optical Zoom lens.

Taken in Yunnan, China

The camera also has a Sweep Panorama Mode, to let you capture breathtaking shots of expansive landscapes.  Just press the shutter and shoot the scene with a continuous sweeping motion and the camera does the rest.

Here are samples of panoramic shots I took in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines.

If you want to take photograph immediately and do not bother to select the right mode, the Intelligent Auto Mode (iAuto) automatically adjusts the settings for you.  This camera has a smarter auto mode giving clear image results, faces with natural skin tone and less blur.

Do you love YouTube videos? With this camera you can shoot movies in HD.  Your movies will look stunning to the 720p high-definition MPEG4 recording format.

Here are the other advance features of the camera.
  • Optical SteadyShot Image Stabilization
  • High Sensitivity Mode (ISO)
  • Intelligent Scene Recognition Mode (iSCN)
  • TransferJet Technology
  • Smile Shutter Technology
  • Face Detection Technology
  • Anti-blink Function
  • Creative Painting Tools
  • Soft Skin Mode
  • Motion Detection

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Easy Steps in Silhouette Shooting

I always take with me my compact digital camera everywhere I go. But instead of just taking opportunistic snap shots, it would be interesting to try creating great images with simple tricks. If you want to convey mystery to your photo, a silhouette shot is worth exploring. 

The basic way you will need to employ in taking silhouette shots is to place your subject in between yourself and some source of light. If you are in a beach setting, wait for the sunset and place your subject at the shoreline.

Be sure to turn off the flash of your camera. Basically you want as little light possible in front of your subject. Alternatively, you can use the Twilight mode shooting of your camera. This usually allows you to shoot night scenes at a distance without flash.

If your camera is in Auto mode, it automatically adjusts color tone and exposure. Thus, you can not get the silhouette effect of your subject. See this photo sample.

The photo below is taken using the Twilight mode shooting. Compare and see the difference from the above photo.

Here are some of the silhouette photos I took during the sunset at Montemar Beach Club in Bataan.

Taking Photomicrographs Using My Sony Cyber-shot Digital Camera

If you want to take some photographs and videos of microscopic features you are examining under a microscope lens, a simple digital camera is all you need.  No need to have very expensive special equipment to capture beautiful images.

As a malaria microscopy validator I need to record still photos of my findings to be included in the report. I have done these simple steps and techniques in the validation of microscopy results from in vivo therapeutic studies of antimalarial drugs.

JoPas in action

Below is the list of materials and equipment you will need:
  1. A compound microscope
  2. Digital Camera
  3. Specimen in a glass slide
  4. 2 stable chairs with backrest
In order to capture a clear photomicrograph shot, the position and level of your digicam must be stable. You can use two chairs with backrest in order for you to have a good control in positioning the digicam. Rest your hands on top of the backrest as seen in the figure below.

Once the specimen is in focus under the microscope, level your digicam lens to the light coming out from one of the eyepiece.  You must be aware of the microscope's eye point or point of focus so that it would be easier to get the distance the camera must be from the eyepiece.  You can check this out by holding a piece of blank paper above the eyepiece.  You will see a light or image projection on the paper.  Move the paper closer or farther from the eyepiece until it is in focus.  That distance is the microscope's eye point.

light projection shown is not yet in exact focus

the exact microscope's eye point showing a clear light projection

Once you see the light or image projection on the display or screen of the camera, lower the digicam slowly until reaching the focal point.  Be sure to keep the position of the image projection at the center of the display as you lower the camera. You will notice that the diameter of the image projection is increasing until the whole field of view is in focus.

From there use the zoom function of the camera until the image fills the entire camera's display.  Once adjusted, click the shutter slowly.  You can reduce blurring by setting the self-timer to [2sec] and turning off the flash.  Press the shutter button and hold the camera steadily.  It takes a little practice to hold the camera steady, so take enough shots to make sure you have good ones with the right lighting and focus.

There you have it.  You can now transfer the images into your computer and edit them to your desired appearance.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Simple Techniques in Shooting Jump Shots

Wherever and whatever activity you may have, it is so common and fun taking jump shots nowadays.  The beach can be the perfect place for all genres of photography, just like the not so perfect jump shot sample above. Jump shots look fantastic when you are able to capture your subjects while they are all at the peak of their jump. In order to achieve this, follow the simple steps outlined below.

  1. Set your camera on shutter-priority mode and choose a shutter speed of 200-1000s of a second. If you can’t do this, you can set your ISO to ISO800 or higher for a fast shutter speed.
  2. Use the burst or continuous shot mode feature on your camera. This increases your chances of timing your shots perfectly. In this mode, you get to shoot images in succession with one press of your shutter.
  3. If you want to make the jump appear higher, position yourself as low as possible.
  4. Instruct your subjects to jump altogether at the count of three.
  5. When you’re all set to take that shot, simply push your shutter button halfway to focus on the subject  and then press it down completely as your subject jumps at the third count.

These tips should be pretty easy for noob such as myself.  Take a look at the jump shots taken by Mr. Echel Darcen during our seminar in Pampanga.  Mr. Darcen is a medical technologist by profession and at the same time a freelance photographer.  You can reach him by visiting this page: