EXTRAS: Digital Camera Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What’s best to use a LCD screen or the viewfinder?
A: It’s usually easier to frame shots with the LCD screen. The problem that occurs in some situations is that external light like the sun can cause glare and makes it difficult to use the LCD screen. The LCD screen also consumes battery power. The viewfinder is not susceptible to glare the same way the LCD screen might be. Using the view finder can also allow you to take more steady shots, because the camera is held against your face for stability.

Q: Why are there so many Scene Modes, what are they for?
A: The Scene Modes provide presets for exposure that let you take better photos in several different conditions. Some basic modes are Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, and Fireworks (your camera may have even more). If you find yourself in one of these shooting conditions, select the Scene Mode that fits and the camera will use pre-designated focus, shutter speed, aperture, white balance and flash options.

Q: What kind of memory does a digital camera use?
A: Most all modern digital cameras use some type of flash memory card. There are a number of types and sizes available. Memory Stick, CompactFlash, and Secure Digital (SD) are the most popular. Some cameras even contain embedded memory that can hold a few pictures. Consult your camera's documentation to identify the correct type for your camera.

Q: What do I do with the pictures I have taken?
A: Most of the time you will transfer those pictures to a computer. Digital cameras generally come with a USB or Firewire cable. Once they have been transferred to a computer, they can be edited, emailed, posted online, or printed. If you find images that you don’t want to keep, all you have to do is delete them to make room for new ones.

Q: Optical zoom, Digital Zoom what's the difference?
A: Optical zoom uses a zoom lens, much like a conventional film camera. The same standards apply when considering optical zoom; if your camera has an optical zoom of say 5x, the subject of your picture could look 5 times closer than it really is. Digital zoom takes the optical image and zooms it by expanding each pixel in the image using a process known as interpolation. Basically, the camera increases the size of the image by adding blocks of color to the original image. This can cause the image to lose clarity and sharpness since the camera is guessing about the appropriate color should be added.

Q: What does image stabilization do?
A: Image stabilization detects shake in the camera and attempts to counteract its effect on the photo. It can retain clean edges on images that would be prone to blurring like long distance zoom or in very low light. There are two types of stabilization, optical and digital. Optical stabilization actually moves the hardware in the camera. Digital stabilization is more electronic. Typically, it momentarily speeds up the shutter to offset blur. One side-effect of this is noise generated in the image due to increased sensitivity. re optical image stabilization.

Q: What’s the best resolution to use?
A: If the pictures are for web use, 640x480 resolution should provide clear, clean images. If you are planning on printing the photos, 1600x1200 to 2048x1536 are a better option. The higher the resolution, the sharper and crisper the image will be. Making larger prints like 8"x10" or larger, you will want to use a resolution of at 3072x2048. High resolutions are important if you are planning on cropping out parts of the photo. Keep in mind that the higher the resolution, the larger the file size and more memory it will use.