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Photography Buying Guide

by Staff Writer

Female photographer taking photos of a skateboarder

Digital photography has enhanced high-quality shooting ability available to hobbyist photographers and casual users. Digital cameras now match film cameras on photo quality, allowing you to do much more with your photos. If you're just getting into digital photography, this photography buying guide will help you sort out your camera and equipment options, as well as help you decide how to buy the cameras and photo accessories that match your shooting style.

Buying Photography Equipment:

  1. Match your camera and photography type. Choose the camera that works for the type of photography you're interested in. For casual shots on vacation or at the backyard barbecue, you only need a basic point-and-shoot camera. For high-detail photography or action shots, try the additional control of an advanced point-and-shoot (APS) digital camera. For the serious amateur and professional photographer, a digital SLR camera may be best.

  2. Point-and-shoot cameras work for casual photos. Point-and-shoot digital cameras are perfect for taking quick, easy shots. "Point-and-shoot" means you can turn the camera on and take pictures immediately with a low chance of getting blurred, overexposed or underexposed snapshots. These cameras also feature auto focus and auto flash, red-eye reduction and a variety of other preprogrammed photo features. These portable cameras are so compact that they fit easily in your pocket.

  3. Advanced point-and-shoot cameras give you more control. For more control over your photography, there is the advanced point-and-shoot digital camera. These cameras have multiple adjustable picture features:

  4. Scenes: Choose a scene to match the shooting situation. Switch quickly between close-up focus and landscape shooting, and adjust the shutter speed for the motion in the shot.

  5. Color effects: Shoot in black and white, sepia tones, negative and other visual effects.

  6. White balance: The camera can adjust automatically to your existing light conditions, including full-auto, daylight, cloudy or fluorescent.

  7. Digital SLR cameras are professional photography tools. Almost identical to a film SLR (single lens reflex) camera, this camera gives the shooter full control over all aspects of digital photography. A DSLR camera is designed for professional photography and serious amateurs. Many digital SLRs come with one lens, but you may want to buy additional detachable lenses that allow you to use different optics for different situations and effects.

  8. Keep your camera clean. Digital cameras and photography equipment have few moving parts to break, so they can provide years of service if not abused. Dust, heat, humidity and impact damage are primary causes of camera failure. Wipe your camera and photo accessories with a clean cloth before you put them away. Using canned air, blow clean all openings, like the lens connections, battery compartment and connection ports.

  9. Heat can be your camera's enemy. When traveling, keep your digital camera and photography equipment out of direct sunlight. Even on cool days, a car interior can get dangerously hot, damaging delicate components in your camera and other gear.

  10. For most people, digital is superior to film. Film cameras aren't gone, but they're mostly used in professional photography for specific purposes. Film photography requires more work to control the final image. With film photography, you may want to develop your own film to get good results, rather than relying on your local photo lab. For normal photos, and even high-resolution shots, digital photography is simpler and gives you more control over the final image.

  11. Print your digital photos at home. Many home or office laser printers allow you to print professional-looking 8-inch by 10-inch wall portraits if the picture file is at least 300 dpi. Dedicated photo printers connect directly to your camera without a computer to print photos. These printers are also called camera docks or printer docks, and they can produce great prints.

Tips from

  1. Add image editing to your photography skills. Photo-editing software packages can take your digital pictures from ordinary to brilliant. From simple scrapbook pages to full-blown photo editing for desktop publishing, art and imaging software will help you take your photography to the next level.

  2. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is a moving picture worth? With's great selection of camcorders, you can find out. You can even shoot video in high-definition 1080p resolution with an HD camcorder.

  3. Digital picture frames are a great way to display your photography. They display stills, short video clips and sound stored in an internal memory chip or external memory card. They are easy to program and available in sizes from keychain to wall portrait.

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