For instance, I have a friend who is new to photography. She bought a digital Single Lens Reflex camera that came with an instruction manual written in gibberish. Crystal was interested in photographing the "corrida" (the bullfights) but had no idea about how to go about doing it. So she set the camera Exposure Mode dial to "Sports" thinking that bull fighting was a sport, except that the Auto to Scene to Sport setting made it harder for her to get good photos. When she told me her problem we had a long talk and this column is for Crystal and everyone else who is still bewildered by their digital camera. Think of it as a short course in digital cameras for new camera owners and a review for the rest of you.
The physical size of sensors varies--a "Point and Shoot" camera has a sensor that is much smaller than the one in a dSLR--nevertheless, under the right conditions and when properly used, any camera, regardless of sensor size, can produce great photos. Any sensor of 6 MP or larger, can produce excellent images for magazine reproduction or jury submission.
While the wide-angle end of a zoom is good for landscapes, interiors and group shots, for crafts photography, the moderate telephoto setting is more useful, particularly for objects like pottery, wood, etc. Most zooms have some close-up capabilities. For jewelry and such, look for a lens with close-up or macro capability at its telephoto end.
When you increase the ISO setting, the photocell signals are amplified, similar to turning up the volume on a stereo. For most digital cameras, ISO settings between 100 and 400 are the best to use for craftwork. At higher settings, particularly with small sensor cameras, you can experience "noise," artifacts or spots in the image.
Exposure Mode Dial
AUTO-At this setting the camera makes all the choices according to pre-programmed settings. The photographer has no control.
P-Programmed, the camera selects both the aperture and the shutter speed, although the photographer can change them.
A-Aperture preferred. The photographer selects the aperture and the camera finds the shutter speed for correct exposure. This is a useful setting for crafts photography, because you can select an aperture of f/11 or f/16 to ensure sharp images.
S-Shutter preferred. Here the photographer chooses the shutter speed and the camera selects the correct aperture.
M-The photographer sets both the aperture and shutter speed, using an icon in the viewfinder or on the monitor display.
"Scene" settings such as Sports, Baby1, Baby2, or Night Sky are factory-installed presets that really do not make photography easier and certainly should not be used for crafts photography.
Exposure Compensation Control
Knowing and remembering these basics will help you take better crafts photos, especially as soon as you turn off the Auto settings.
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