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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Understanding Digital Zoom And Buying A Camera

By Andrew Kelly

When the first cameras appeared they were large bulky items available only to the few who could afford them and understand the science of photography. To take a simple photograph you needed to understand both the mechanics of the gadget, some mathematics and a sound understanding of chemistry. Over the years the camera was developed into something which could be more accessible to ordinary folk. Eventually cameras became tiny little boxes which even children could operate but using film meant that once the photo had been taken it was necessary to have the film developed by a photo lab before we could see the results. These days we have the digital camera and there is no longer the need to send off film and most folk don't even print our their photo's but are they easy to understand?

As soon as you look to buying a digital camera you begin to realize how difficult it can be to make a decision. There are more companies producing cameras now than there has ever been. Well known manufacturers such as Canon and Nikon are still around but the infinite number of smaller companies appearing all the time just make the matter worse. These small firms often release fantastic bargains but it is often very difficult to understand if the digital camera deal before you is actually a bargain or not.

Before you purchase a digital camera there are a small number of things you must become familiar with. You may know of the megapixel but do you know what interpolation is? You must understand this to a degree as a camera which interpolates an image will not be as good as another with the same number of megapixels. The digital process takes an image of, say 6mp and increases it to become the same as one take with, say, a 12mp camera.

Zoom is further word which can lead to confusion. If you want to bag yourself a digital camera bargain you will need to understand the differences between optical zoom and digital zoom.

Digital zoom is often the most commonly quoted number on digital camera packaging. Unfortunately it is not as great as it sounds as it actually degrades the image. It does this by taking your image, cropping it (cutting it down to the zoom area) and then enlarging it. Therefore the greater the amount of digital zoom the more blocky the image will be.

On the other hand, optical zoom, is something of importance. Optical zoom does not have an effect on the quality of your photo. Therefore you can zoom in and your image will still be as good quality as before. The greater the optical zoom the better the camera. However not all optical zoom is equal as the quality of the lens can vary between cameras.

The lens used in a camera can make a huge difference and a photograph taken using a camera with a $3,000 lens will be far superior to one taken using a camera that cost a hundredth of this. For a high quality lens expect to pay a premium price.

What will you be using your camera for? This is important because if most of your photos will be of friends and general snaps you will not need to spend a small fortune on a DSLR camera with a large mm lens with a large optical zoom. In such cases a compact digital camera would be the best buy.

The world of the DSLR camera is huge, far too complicated to cover here in one article. Many people are buying them for home use now but they are usually only used by professional photographers.

Personally I use a professional Canon DSLR and a superb Canon PowerShot A480 for quick snaps. I think the A480 is fantastic for the price and suitable for all manner of photography. It only has a 3.3x optical zoom but this is ok for most situations. When comparing cameras look at the specifications carefully and always read reviews before making your final decision.

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