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Monday, January 29, 2007

Choosing A Camera For...

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Beginners are unlikely to have proper gear for cleaning their cameras. They will need a good rubber air blower, lens tissue or microfiber cleaning cloth, lens-cleaning fluid and a soft camel-hair brush. A UV filter to protect the front lens element is useful, too. If you choose to use one, get a high-quality, multicoated filter to preserve the optical characteristics of the lens.

Manual White Balance
Students explore the color temperature of different light sources, learning that tungsten light is much more yellow-orange than daylight, for example, and that cloudy days or shaded areas are much more blue. They also will see how warm or cool color casts can affect the mood of a picture. Just as film-based students learn to use colored filters to compensate for different light sources or to create a mood, digital shooters will investigate their cameras' white-balance settings. These controls often provide better color accuracy than automatic white balance, and they offer creative flexibility. Manual control over image saturation, contrast and sharpening also is important since it provides a consistent jumping-off point for experimenting with other settings.

RAW Capability
While RAW may not be strictly necessary for beginners, it offers some advantages. Students can make one RAW exposure and change the white balance and other settings after the fact with just a click of the mouse. This offers a quicker means of experimentation than taking individual JPEG images at every possible combination of white balance, saturation, contrast and sharpening. (Remember, beginners already are experimenting with ƒ-stops, shutter speeds and focus.)

Realistically, beginners also are more likely to goof on white balance and other "digital" settings than experienced shooters. Since RAW files allow readjustment of the original settings, students and beginners can fix their mistakes easily.

Although the advanced circuitry in digital cameras provides good results with most automatic settings, students and beginners need a camera that allows them to work with manual settings themselves to fully master the effects of each. A responsive shutter is important, too.

Students: Must-Haves

Lens: A standard 3x zoom is practical (i.e., 35-105mm)

White Balance:
Manual and presets are helpful for learning

Exposure Modes:
Manual exposure capability is essential

ISO Equivalence:
A broad range lets students experiment

Flash Hot-Shoe:
Lets beginners learn to use accessory flash

Be conservative until you've mastered the basics

Filters are important


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