[Top] [All Lists]

[Amps] pictures

To: <>
Subject: [Amps] pictures
From: Ian White, G3SEK" < (Ian White, G3SEK)
Date: Thu, 22 Aug 2002 10:33:44 +0100
Steve Thompson wrote:
>> Can anyone suggest a GOOD first digital camera for a novice like me(in
>>computers, not radio )
>A few years ago I bought an Olympus SLR with 1.4Mpix. I was recommended 
>to the model by a camera enthusiast friend who pointed out that it had 
>excellent optics. If that part is no good, all the digital stuff is 
>wasted. It's big and bulky as they go, but everyone who has borrowed it 
>reckons it's worth it for the SLR.
Digital cameras are like computers - obsolete before you even buy them. 
You just have to learn not to worry about it.

When we were buying a camera, about a year ago, there were several 
excellent in-depth review sites on the web - a search for 
"digital camera reviews" will find them. Models change very quickly, so 
there are always plenty of closeout bargains.

For example, we chose a 'Best Buy' model recommended by 'Which?' 
magazine (the UK version of 'Consumer Reports') but by the time the 
review was printed, that model was already obsolete! The web reviews of 
the replacement model showed that it didn't have any extra features that 
we needed, so we chased down a closeout offer on the older model at a 
very good price.

Expect to pay a little more for a higher capacity flash-card than is 
sold with the camera - but shop separately for this. A 32MB card will 
store over 100 full-color images at 1024x768 pixels.

1024x768 is good for most purposes, and that is only 1.2 megapixels - 
almost below entry-level in today's  cameras. But a dedicated 
photographer will want to use greater resolution routinely, and even a 
snapper like me wants higher resolution from time to time. Even for 
images that will end up on the web at 72dpi (dots per inch), it's good 
to have much higher resolution in the original photograph, because that 
allows you to crop and enlarge parts of images without the pixels 
starting to appear.

You will be using image-editing software a lot. All the effects that a 
'darkroom wizard' could achieve with traditional developing and 
printing, you can now do on your PC - and much more. PaintShop Pro is 
very good - not as powerful as PhotoShop, but much easier to use for the 
basics: adjusting brightness and contrast, cropping unwanted edges, 
enlarging, shrinking, and saving the edited image file in the format of 
your choice.

Having all these post-editing facilities takes a lot of strain off the 

Optics are still important, but check the reviews: often a medium-price 
camera made by a consumer-electronics firm will have its optics made by 
a specialist 'name' firm like Canon.

SLR would be nice, but you'll pay a lot for it. The LCD display on a 
digital camera is almost as good as SLR, except that it doesn't work in 
sunlight... so then you're back to the cheap offset viewfinder. But that 
isn't the problem it used to be - remember that digital photography is a 
two-stage process. So long as everything you want is somewhere in the 
picture when you press the button, you have a second chance to frame it 
at the editing stage.

However, the better you can fill the frame with the image you want, the 
less you'll lose in the editing. Therefore a mechanical zoom facility is 
still very useful.

If you are interested in technical photography of circuit boards etc, 
then look for a good 'macro' (ultra-closeup) capability. For example, 
with a camera that will focus down to about 6 inches in macro mode, plus 
some cropping and zooming, plus that wonderful 'sharpen image' facility, 
you can read the printing on 1206 SMD resistors!

(Sorry, this turned out longer than I expected. Amplifiers... are we 
supposed to mention amplifiers? Well, they're kind of like photographing 
SMD resistors, only bigger.)

73 from Ian G3SEK         'In Practice' columnist for RadCom (RSGB)
                            Editor, 'The VHF/UHF DX Book'

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>