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How to Use a Digital Camera

You may be wondering how to use a digital camera, especially if your last camera was an Instamatic or Brownie!

In truth, actually taking photographs with a digital camera is not so different from using a film camera. The main differences are in the way the photos can be viewed as soon as they have been taken, only the good images need to be printed off and the embarrassing ones can be deleted immediately without need to waste money on processing and printing.

As you gain more experience with digital photography technology you will even be able to correct some of your less flattering or less technically correct photographs by making adjustments and retouching them using one of the many computer software packages that are now widely available.

The beauty of using a digital camera is that so much is automated for you. The digital camera cannot organize the pose or arrange the composition but it will automatically compensate for poor lighting, it will auto-focus and it will decide when the flash is necessary.

Depending on the digital camera model you own you will have a number of settings you can manually select to let the camera know what you are photographing. There may be different settings for landscapes and portraits and a fast shutter setting for those speedy action shots. The different settings are usually indicated by small graphic icons. These icons should be intuitive, perhaps a mountain range for landscapes and a single flower or a person’s head for portraits.

Rather than being captured on film photographs taken with a digital camera are stored on a memory card or on a memory chip within the camera. By purchasing spare memory cards you increase the memory capacity of your digital camera. It’s like carrying spare films. When your film was full you would rewind it, unload it and store it until you could drop it off to be processed. If you had no spare film that was the end of your photography for the day. With digital cameras once the memory card is full you simply replace it with a second card and rather than dropping the cards off for processing you just download the images to your computer once you are home.

When taking pictures with your digital camera you may be offered an option to change the resolution of the images. The resolution is the number of pixels that make up the digital photographs you take. A 12 MP (megapixel) camera will have 12000 pixels and a file size of up to 3 megabytes. What does this mean in the non-digital world?

The file size is an important consideration depending on the size of your memory card. If you know the approximate file size of the images your camera takes on its maximum resolution setting, you’ll know how many photos you can store or what size memory card you need for a photography project.

The more pixels there in a photograph the more detailed the image. Images with a high pixel number can be enlarged and manipulated without loss of quality. You can select to shoot images at a lower resolution and they may well be perfect for what you need - just remember that whilst you can manipulate a 12 megapixel image to a 5 megapixel image you can’t do it the other way around. If the pixels aren’t captured they are not there.

Only you can weigh up the ideal compromise between pixel density (resolution) and storage space required - it’s a very personal matter that may even need to be considered each time you use your digital camera.

Learning how to use a digital camera is not as overwhelming as it may first seem - try it and be prepared to be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is.