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So You Got a New Camera over the Holidays?
I’ve loved taking pictures all my life. And I didn’t realize until I started to study the craft that that’s exactly what I’d been doing – taking pictures. Today, I’m happy to say that I don’t take pictures anymore, I MAKE IMAGES. Actually, when I use my iPhone camera I’m still just taking pictures, but if I pick up one of my DSLRs, my intention is to make an image. So what will you do with your new camera? All those knobs! And the menu choices! Well, you could read through the instruction manual, but who does that? Without a basic understanding of photography, trust me, it won't be easy to read. Here's some information I sent to a friend who got a new camera during Chanukah.
Stop it! You don't need a different lens! The one that came with your camera is MORE than adequate. Likely its something like an 18-55. If you got a camera as a gift, and it came with a lens, then its very likely all you need until you decide how far you want to take the hobby.
Set your 'save' function. What file format will you use to save your images? If you’re a ‘super-clicker’ and take LOTS of pictures, this is very important because the process of getting those pictures from the camera to print or social media will require they process through your computer. I suppose you could attach your camera via cord to your computer and upload directly on-line but you can do that with your phone, so what would be the point of lugging around a full sized camera? Here’s an easy to understand recap of the various formats that will be available on your new DSLR to help you decide which setting to use.
RAW (This is how I save).
This is the camera’s raw output, and generally used by professionals. RAW files hold a ton of data, meaning that you can make adjustments with photo editing programs (Photoshop, Lightroom, etc.) and have a bigger range of choices to perfect your image. This is the format photojournalists, fine artists, and professional photographers use. It’s also the format that allows you to print large images without losing the finest details. But shooting in RAW has some downsides too. It creates big and unwieldy files which can fill up both your memory card and your hard drive quickly. They also take a little longer to write to your memory card, especially with lower-end DSLRs. In additional to the space and writing issues, you also need to convert the file to a different format using either Photoshop’s ACR or Lightroom before you upload it online.
JPG (the most common method of saving)
JPGs are the second file option that most DSLRs offer. JPGs are much smaller files, even though you can have them set to large dimensions – they will take up less space in your memory. This makes them excellent for file transfers and sharing on the Internet. If your image is always going to be used on the Internet, never printed, and you are great at getting the right settings out of camera, you don’t have to worry about the finer details of quality that RAW would provide. On the other hand, JPGs do have other drawbacks. One of the main issues is that every time you save a JPG, the quality decreases a little. You can shoot RAW + JPG at the same time to have one of each file type to work with, but this of course slows down your shooting even further.
What about shooting in RAW then converting to something other than JPG? You can choose to convert your files to TIFF or PNG. Both have their advantages and disadvantages but unless you are a commercial photographer, fine artist or graphic designer, you don’t even need to consider these. Matter of fact, if you are any of these, I thank you for reading this blog post because you may have just given me 2 or 3 minutes you’ll never get back. I hope you’ll look around and sign my brand new Guest Book. Then, go out and shoot, shoot, shoot!