Author Archive: Dao

RAW Vs. JPEG

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The debate about which format to use among RAW and JPEG seems to be one of the most controversial topics in the digital photography field. The arguments around this topic seem to have no ending sometimes as each person has his own opinion in selecting a certain format. In fact, even though the RAW format has obvious strengths in creating the good image quality, JPEG also has its own advantages.

Let’s clarify the differences between these two formats here.

What is the RAW format defined?

The RAW image format refers to the image file that have not been compressed or processed after it’s shot by the image sensor of a camera. For this file format, the in-camera processing is just at the minimal level. This digital format is equivalent to a film negative that has been exposed but not processed.

When a photo is shot, the amount of light which has stroked every pixel has been simply recorded by an imaging chip inside the camera (this chip is either CMOS or CCD) (so, the more the number of megapixels is, the larger amount of information is recorded). The recording number is either 14 or 12 bits of data at this step, based on the type of your model. If the photo is shot in the RAW format and you convert this photo into a .PSD or TIFF file, the exported result is 16 bits. This means that the above 14 or 12 bits are spread over the entire 16-bit workspace. Meanwhile, you just have the result of 8 bits with the JPEG format.

Professional photographers often like to take the best advantage of the RAW format as a way to make sure that their shooting results have not been processed by any in-camera software because these photographers prefer to perform the editing in the post production by themselves.

How a file in the RAW format is saved

When a file in the RAW format is saved, there is attached metadata with your photo. Importantly, this file includes all of the camera configurations, for example, the white balance, the color temperature as well as the sharpening level. There will be a header file for this data that the cameras attach with the photo in the RAW format. The above settings won’t change any aspects of your photo. The whole combined file will be saved into the camera memory card. Sometimes, you can find these files compressed in some cameras but others may not, but the image quality is not affected as there is just the minimal compression.

The software for editing photos will read the metadata of a file in the RAW format to display the photo, but not change any metadata.  Later, you can use the software to control the settings manually and check the effect on the files under the RAW format.

How a file in the JPEG format is saved

When a file in the JPEG format is saved, you will find that all of the data which a RAW image file keeps separately in a header file would be saved as part of the JPEG image file (and will be unchangeable).

The JPEG configurations will be automatically set by the camera, and the settings have been limited in several cases. For example, there is only between one and three configuration levels of sharpening, such as “unsharp masking,” at which the edges between the dark and light areas are found and the contrast between these two areas is enhanced. As the sharpening capabilities are limited, you may find clear halos surrounding the edges with high sharpening levels. Therefore, if you set too low sharpening levels, you may have insufficient sharpening.

Also, keep in mind that the image sensor itself cannot record the colors. The colors are recorded thanks to an imaging chip which is known as a Color Filter Array or Bayer Matrix. Based on the layman’s terminology, there are three layers for the green, blue and red colors which have been placed on every pixel, and the information on the colors are defined by comparing between the recording values of every pixel and its surroundings.

The drawback of saving a JPEG file is that the original quality of higher number of bits (12 or 14 bits) is often converted into a lower number (8 bits). With the eight-bit mode, the camera is only able to record 256 shades of color for one pixel (in comparison to 4,096 shades recorded with the RAW’s capability). Consequently, a large amount of potential date on the colors disappears. And the important thing here is that with the JPEG format, the file data will be compressed, so you have the images of smaller sizes. Obviously, a certain number of data is not recorded. If the data are just compressed in a low level (for example, 2:1), the number of lost data is just little. But when the compressing levels are higher, a large number of data is obviously lost.

Why is the JPEG format still commonly used?

The main strength of the JPEG file is that it is possible to save a larger number of JPEG images into the camera memory card thanks to the compressions to create files of smaller sizes. It is also easier to transfer these types of images on the Internet that is preferred by a lot of photographers at the amateur level. In addition, there is also a need for a large buffering zone for shooting images in the RAW format fast and continuously, while the JPEG enables you to have the camera fired quickly. One important thing for amateur photographers is that the JPEG files do not require the post-processing (Certainly, it takes you more time to process RAW image files)

Additionally, many generic converting softwares included in the camera don’t let you have many configurations for adjustments. The price of advanced editing software is not cheap at all. There are two major programs for processing images, including Adobe Bridge and Capture One (these two programs are in the Photoshop). The lowest price point of these has been about $70.

The comparison between the RAW and JPEG format: Conclusion

Not only the number of recorded data with RAW images is higher, but there is also a need for a more complex platform for converting these types of images. The full photo quality will be not affected by saving the converted images into TIFFs. With JPEG images, you’ll have more exposure of image settings around the image quality (for example, color saturation, white balance or the overall contrast). Due to this reason, keep the above-mentioned aspects within the limited range, or you may find the deterioration of photo quality become clearer.

If you are considering which format for the greatest possible photo quality, it is obviously the RAW format. However, the JPEG does meet your needs well in a lot of circumstances. If you just want to shoot quick shots of your family photos, the JPEG will be very nice. The image quality of this format is also good for the prints at the sizes that are lower or equal to A4 sizes.

In conclusion, depending on your shooting purposes, the In the RAW or JPEG format has its own advantages.

Troubleshooting Camera Image Quality

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There are a lot of factors that have had an effect on the image quality of your digital images, such as: the external light, the type of subject or the weather situations and so on.

The type of your digital cameras is also important. Each different camera has its own advantages as well disadvantages which can lead to different image quality of the photos. However, it is possible to adjust a certain number of camera settings to enhance the image quality. The following tips will help you a lot in improving the camera performance as well as lower the problems with the photo quality.

Troubleshooting Camera Image Quality

Troubleshooting Camera Image Quality

  • Select the high number of resolution whenever it is possible. The higher amount of resolutions will certainly help you increase the image quality regularly. To make sure that you have understood the resolution levels, you can find them in the camera menu organization. Don’t forget that several models automatically reduce the resolution when you select a specific ratio (for example, 4:3 or 16:9) or use the continuously-shooting mode. However, the resolution is not the only factor affecting the image quality as there are some other factors, for example, the lighting conditions or the amount of camera shake. But, certainly, the higher level of resolution can help you enhance the quality of some images.
  • Make sure to take advantage of any available image stabilization offering with your camera when you must shoot in low light. And among some types of image stabilization, the optical image stabilization should be the most considered. Therefore, if it is available, just make use of this stabilization type when shooting under inadequate lighting conditions (In some cameras, you may not be able to control the optical IS manually because the camera has automatically decided whether to use it or not).
  • If the optical image stabilization is not available, you should attempt to keep your camera firmly in your hands as much as possible when there is a lack of light. The shutter speed must be lengthened in this condition, which may result in the blurriness for images (when there is a slight movement that you involuntarily make during the shutter opening). A tripod is recommended or you may refer to a wall or a doorframe for leaning against to keep the camera steady.
  • When you shoot photos under the high contrast lighting condition – commonly found in the harsh sunlight – you may find “washed out” parts in your images. The flash is often automatically turned off under the strong sunlight, but sometimes, you may adjust the camera to have the flash turned on, even when you are shooting under the harsh sunlight, importantly making use of several “fill” flash in the image. However, the mentioned technique is only useful when your distance from the subject is pretty close. If the contrast setting is available, you can also lower the contrast number when shooting under harsh sunlight as well.
  • The built-in flashes in many low-priced digital models are not really strong. If you don’t have the large flash range enough for a specific shot, you may try setting a higher number of ISO through the menu of the camera. For example, increasing the ISO from 100 to 400 brings you a few more of the flash range. But keep in mind that a higher number of ISO may lead to more noise with your photos. (In some models, you cannot adjust the ISO numbers manually).

RAW Images in Photoshop

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If you really want to improve the shooting results, finally, you will find the RAW format very essential. Previously, we have had the review on the advantages and disadvantages of the RAW format, and now we will show you the way to work with RAW photos in Photoshop.

The name of this format has shown you its meaning: If you have a RAW file photo, this means you have unprocessed photos, or we can say “raw”. Your computer will not be able to read this format. To get access to the information, the images in the RAW format need to be converted into a proper format that your computer can read (JPEG or TIFF, for example).

RAW Images in Photoshop

RAW Images in Photoshop

Commonly, there is often available software in every digital camera offering the basic converting tools. But if you want to achieve the greatest results, a specialized imaging program will be really essential. Adobe Photoshop is one among the most commonly used programs in the professional photographer community. It will be very expensive to buy a full version but, another nice option is to buy the Adobe Photoshop Elements for a low price. The price range for Adobe Photoshop is around $60- $120, based on what version you want. (Compare Prices)

There are new versions of the Adobe Photoshop Elements shipped with an internal program such as the “Bridge” version for those who use Macs or the version “Organizer” for those who use the Windows systems which offer the RAW image converting capability. These tools are all useful, but you may get confused about which you should use sometimes, and the best way to use it.

I hope that the following tips for using Photoshop Elements to convert RAW photos as well as the Camera Raw plug-in will be useful.

  • One of the greatest functions of the program is the capability in photo “batch” processing. With this capability, you can have a lot of photos processed in the same way and they will be saved together. Or you may apply the processing for separate photos. When you look at the screen of the Adobe Camera Raw, you will find the “Select All” option on your left hand side.
  • With the Adobe Camera Raw window, there is no need to have all of the photos opened. In the Organizer or Bridge, you are able to select the photos that you want to apply the converting process and give them various star ranking. You will also see this through the “Select” menu which is in the form of a drop-down.
  • You often see some slight softness with digital image files, especially those created by budget-priced DSLRs and the Adobe Camera Raw can help you make adjustments on the sharpness. I myself find that it is the best to set the higher sharpness to about +50, while lowering the radius to about 0.6. You images can be subtly sharpened and you won’t have to worry about the significant grain.
  • The white balance can be also corrected using the Camera Raw. The program is really useful for this setting in case that you have not selected the right white balance for your images. It is possible to adjust the color temperature by using a sliding bar to make quick adjustments. I have to say it again that this feature is very great, especially when there is a very powerful source of artificial lighting in your shooting situation.
  • If you are just a beginner-level photographer and want to simply make use of the “Auto” mode – sometimes, you may not set the right photo exposure configurations. But you won’t have to worry much about this, as there is an available slider for correcting the exposure. Therefore, you can have the exposure adjustments with + and – degrees.
  • You also find the “Fill Light” as well as the “Recovery” sliding bars are very nice! The Recovery sliding bar is very useful for bringing details back from the image parts that are of a little over-exposure while you will use the Fill Light bar for the areas with the under-exposure. Be careful in using these sliding bars because small changes will be applied for the entire photo. And don’t forget that in the over-exposure area, you cannot bring back details which are no longer in the photos.
  • The contrast as well as the brightness of an image can be adjusted in the Photoshop. I have found that the images tend have more brightness in the Adobe Camera Raw than you see in the printing version, so the brightness should be just little here, then it will be further adjusted in the Photoshop if it is essential.
  • Another nice offering from the Camera Raw is its capability to correct of lens vignetting. As you know, vignetting is a popular problem on the edges of photos produced by low-priced wide-angle lenses. To lower the lens vigetting considerably, you can use this sliding bar. But, you should only have the maximum setting up to +30.
  • You can use the histogram to view clippings on the main photo with the areas of over-exposure and under-exposure.  To ensure that the histogram has been balanced well, you can make use of this before and after making the alterations to the photo.
  • In addition, there is a white balance dropping tool that you can find on the top row of tools, which allows you to make accurate alternations in the photo color balance. Click it on a white part in your image, and the RGB levels will be adjusted accordingly.

Clearly, the Camera Raw brings you a very wide variety of functions that you can apply to make your photos better, but the above mentioned ones are the most important offerings. Actually, the challenging thing with an image editing software is the way that you use subtle techniques in improving your photos. I hope that the above tips do help you.

Tips for Using a Flash Unit With a DSLR Camera

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If you have previously used an entry-level camera, certainly you have found some trouble with the small built-in flash unit included in this class of cameras. Although there have been a lot of improvements on the performance of a small built-in flash over the last few years, there still remain many problems, such as: the limited flash range, the possible vignetting as well as slow recharging. The intensity of these flash units also cannot be easily adjusted, which may result in hot spots in your photos.

However, if you are using a high-end DSLR camera, there are more nice options with the flash units. You can have more controlling options over the camera flash through external flash units and these units work well together with DSLR models. In addition, you can also find a popup flash unit which is built in the camera to have good performance in some shooting circumstances.

tips for using flash with DSLR Cameras

tips for using flash with DSLR Cameras

There are many flash options with a DSLR camera, as you see in EX320 Speedlite from Canon in the above image.

The following tips will help you find out more about the controlling options over the flash unit of your DSLR cameras, regardless of using a built-in popup flash or an external one.

Not every DSLR camera has a built-in flash unit. For the cameras that offers a built-in flash unit, you can still use one external flash if needed. It will be nice if at beginning of shooting anything, you can decide what type of flash to use and have a proper plan right after. The built-in flash unit will be very useful for shooting quick shots, but the light will be the greatest and most consistent with an external flash.

In a DSLR model, you can use an external flash unit by connecting it to the camera “hot shoe” that is located on the camera top panel where you find the connector of the flash slide into the hot shoe. Another way for connecting the flash is to use a cable, which allows you to have the flash located off the camera center. You can control several external flash units wirelessly or sync them with a lot of other flash units. Make sure that you have read the camera user guide to find out the attached options of an external flash unit.

With built-in flash units offered in DSLR models, some of them are automatically fired by the camera when needed, but some others requires to be manually opened. Be sure to use built-in flash unit correctly, or the photos shot with the flash may not be as good as expected.

There are many available options for using the flash modes in a DSLR camera. For instance, the “auto” mode allows the flash to automatically fire when it is required. When the flash is “Off”, there is a lightning bolt with a crossed line on the flash icon. In the “slow sync” mode, the flash has to adapt to the slower speed of shutter. In addition, there is an icon in the shape of an eyeball to indicate the “red eye reduction“. Finding out more about the available flash options will help you use the flash in the most proper ways. Remember that some of the flash controlling modes are not available in the fully auto mode. Select a mode with more manual control offerings will help you to have more control over the flash.

In many DSLR cameras, you’re going to be able to control the intensity of the external flash unit but this unit must be compatible with the camera. Commonly, you can make adjustments on the flash intensity in the range of equal to 1/32nd of full power. The image quality can be affected by those adjustments, especially for photos shot over very short distances, so learn the right way to make use of this aspect to make sure that you will achieve the great results.

Guide to CCD & CMOS Camcorder Image Sensors

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The sensor of a camcorder (as well as a digital camera) is defined as a component to bring the “digital” into a digital camcorder. To understand it in a simple way, the light captured by the image sensor in the camcorder’s lens and turned into a digital signal. This kind of light is processed and put into the storage space of the camcorder’s memory as a digital movie file that can be viewed later on TV sets or computers. The image sensor is located near the lens and it is an important component to measure the movie quality.

You often find two major kinds of camcorder image sensors, including CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) or CCD (charge coupled device). The number of pixels contained in these two kinds of sensors is up to hundreds of thousands or even millions. Imagine that each pixel is like an extremely small bucket for capturing the lighting and turning it into an electrical signal.

CMOS sensor

CMOS sensor

What are the differences between a CCD and a CMOS sensor?

In a sensor that uses the CCD technology, the light will be captures by pixels and moved toward the chip edge at which this light is turned into a digital signal. Meanwhile, the light coming into a CMOS image sensor will be converted right at the pixel – so there is no electrical conveyor with this kind of sensor. Here is the difference: as the light is directly converted at the pixel without needing any moving toward any edge of the chip, a smaller amount of power will be needed with an image sensor using the CMOS technology. Therefore, the battery life with a CMOS image sensor is longer than that of a CCD sensor. Obviously, nothing is absolute; do not think that the battery life with a camcorder using CMOS technology is always better than a CCD one.

The CCD had been the superior one in many years in the past regarding the concerns about the image as well as movie quality. However, recently, the CMOS technology has made significant innovation and become more and more popular in a larger number of camcorders at a wide variety of price points. For example, currently Sony is applying the CMOS technology for one of the high-end HD camcorders – it’s the HDR-XR520V.

Obviously, there are certain differences between the CCD and CMOS technology, but the average buyer does not pay much attention to these differences. You don’t need to pay too much attention to the sensor kind, but you should notice the number of pixels as well as the physical size of a sensor in a camcorder.

The Number of Pixels

In the specification list of a camcorder, there are often two image sensor parameters: the gross and the effective pixel counts. The first one involves in the total of pixels on the image sensor while the effective count refers to the number of pixels that shall be used for recording still images or videos. Therefore, you should care more about the number of effective pixels when checking the video resolution.

In addition, the number of effective pixels should be paid more attention to, because it will help you really know the resolution of a sensor, not through exaggerating marketing campaigns. Let me take an example with Camcorder A. This camcorder is introduced with the capability to shoot a 10-MP image (an image containing 10 million pixels). But the effective pixel count on the sensor is 4 MP. So how can 4-MP image sensor capture a 10-MP image? This processis known as interpolation. Commonly, the image quality of images produce with this process should be discounted before you can get the actual and meaningful pixels information. Therefore, the effective pixels count on the image sensor is the thing that you should consider when checking the actual resolution of your images.

How is the size of an image sensor important? 

The pixel counts on the camera sensor are not the only aspect to decide the quality of movies recorded. You should also pay attention to the physical size of an image sensor. A great amount of light will come into a sensor of a large size even when the number of pixels in this sensor is less. Although the number of pixels is less but because their sizes are larger, so they can take a larger amount of light.

It’s the reason why not only the pixel counts but the sensor sizes are also advertised (the size is measured in fractions of one inch). It is suggested that you should buy a camcorder with a larger sensor even with a smaller number of pixels, rather than the one with a smaller size of sensor and a larger number of pixels.

Samsung ST80 Review

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Overview of the Samsung ST80 Camera

Through this review, you will see that the Samsung ST80 is a nice digital camera, which offers several very interesting features, including the WiFi connectivity as well as the LCD touch screen with the measurement of 3.0 inches. However, there are some other features that are not as nice as I have expected. The most significant one among these features is the image quality that is not really consistent as I expect for a model under the sub-$250 price range. In addition, just microSD memory card is acceptable for this ST80, which is slightly inconvenient.

The Samsung ST80 would have been a nicer camera if its image quality were more consistent with a zoom lens of larger than 3X.

Samsung ST80 Camera Review Buy

Samsung ST80 Camera Review Buy

The ST80 digital model from Samsung offers the built-in WiFi connecting capability. The camera bodies are now available in four color options: silver, red, black and blue

Brief Review of the Samsung ST80 Camera

Pros

  • It is nice to find an LCD touch screen in such a camera at this low price
  • The performance of the camera is great when you shoot photos outdoors
  • The WiFi connecting capability is a nice extra advantage, which you don’t often find in many point and shoot cameras, which makes the uploads easy
  • This model is very thin, so it is not difficult to hold and use

Cons

  • It would be nicer if the optical zoom lens was larger than 3X and its performance is faster when zooming
  • Indoor image quality is not consistent, and you may have images washed out by the flash for photos over very short distances.
  • Sometimes, it can be hard to select the touch screen commands correctly
  • The battery requires to be charged inside the camera

Description

  • The resolution is 14.2 MP
  • The optical zoom is 3X (equivalent to 35-105mm)
  • The 3.0-inch LCD touch screen has the resolution of 230,000 pixels
  • The image size is 4320 x 3240 pixels at maximum
  • The camera uses a Li-ion battery which can be rechargeable
  • The image dimensions are 3.62 x 2.18 x 0.73 inches
  • The camera weighs 3.81 ounces (the battery and memory card are not included)
  • The 1/2.3 in image sensor applies the CCD technology
  • A 720p HD movie mode is supported

Detailed Review of the Samsung ST80 Camera

Image Quality

When you shoot photos in the outdoor lighting conditions, the image quality of the Samsung ST80 is pretty good. You can be satisfied with the precise colors as well as the good exposure, even when shooting under the bright sunlight or places under the shadows.

In low-priced cameras, problems often arise when you shoot photos under inadequate lighting conditions and the Samsung ST80 is not an exception. You can have the sharp focus for both photos shot outdoors and indoors but you may encounter some problems with the exposure of photos shot indoors. Sometimes, you may have the pretty bad underexposure when shooting in areas of shadows. If you shoot a photo indoors with both shadows and light, you may encounter several exposing problems.

If the flash must be used, you should try not to shoot photos over extremely short distances, because the final results may be washed out images. However, the focus of the macro images over very short distances can be pretty sharp when you don’t use the flash. Actually, in the testing, I found that the focus of this camera was sharper when using the automatic mode than the macro mode, especially when you shoot subjects over short distances.

Performance

The ST80 camera has very fast response times, but there is some lag with the camera shutter when you shoot photos under inadequate lighting conditions.

It’s a bit disappointing that the zoom lens of the ST80 doesn’t offer high magnification and sufficient wide angle capabilities. The moving speed of the camera zoom lens is also slow when you change the magnification settings.

You can manually control some of the ST80 camera settings but this is pretty limited. The control options are available for setting the white balance, exposure as well as the ISO.

Design

The Samsung ST80 brings you a well-built feel though it is a very thin and small camera. With this size and shape, you can find it easy to keep the camera in your hands as well use it.

As commonly found in other Samsung cameras, the menu of the ST80 is very well-organized. Therefore, it is not difficult at all to work with this menu.

I did not like some aspects of the ST80 design. Firstly, the battery requires to be charged inside the camera as there is not any stand-alone battery charger. This means that even when you have a second battery, the first battery still cannot be charged while you are using the second one to capture images. Secondly, just microSD memory cards are acceptable with this camera and this type of memory card does not have the regular sizes that you often find in SD memory cards.

It is nice to find an LCD touch screen with the Samsung ST80. However, although the diagonal measurement is 3 inches, this screen is still slightly small, and you may not always be able to select the commands/options on the screen correctly. There is not any other button for the menu controlling, so you have to use the LCD touchscreen to work with the menus. When you use the camera under the direct sunlight, there may be a little bit of glare that appears on the LCD, but this is not considerable.

Lastly, a nice extra advantage of the Samsung ST80 is the inclusion of the WiFi connectivity. Together with the LCD touch screen, this built-in WiFi makes the Samsung ST80 pretty different among the models in the same price range. If you are really interested in these two offerings, the ST80 shall bring you a very nice value. If you don’t really want the above two features, the Samsung ST80 may not be really appealing to you.

Photo Image Quality Settings

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When you use a DSLR camera, the settings on the quality as well as size of images at the maximum level are not always the best. There have been specific situations in which setting the quality or size of images most properly requires more than just selecting the highest numbers of settings. For instance, if the camera is going to run out of the storage capability of the memory card, the image quality or sizes need to be lowered in order to provide enough storage. Or, in case that you’re intending to share a certain number of your images via email or social networks, the resolution should be set lower, so it won’t take a lot of time for uploading.

Photo Image Quality Settings

Photo Image Quality Settings

When you make adjustments on the shooting settings to gain the greatest photography results, you may easily forget to set one important part – it’s the photo quality as well the size at the most proper possible levels.

The following tips will be useful for selecting the proper settings for your different shooting needs.

  • If you have just had an upgrade from a point and shoot camera to a DSLR camera, you may not be aware of the differences of these two camera types in using the number of megapixels for measuring the image quality. Keep in mind that the number of megapixels does not always mean the same image quality. That is normal since DSLRs often have much larger image sensors than point and shoot models, hence the image quality of DLSRs is usually higher.  For example, with the same 10 megapixels, certainly the quality of a photo produced by a DSLR camera is better than a point and shoot model.
  • To check the current photo quality configurations in your camera, just hold down the Info button and the configurations will be displayed on the camera LCD. As an Info button is often available in a DSLR camera, if there is no Info button in your camera, you should check these settings through the camera menus. More common with recently released cameras, you can see the amount of resolution that you are selecting through the corner of the LCD.
  • You can usually select either RAW or JPEG i most DSLR cameras. If you want to edit the images yourself in the post production, you may prefer the RAW format because the file data have not been compressed. However, you should notice that there will be a need for more space to store this type of image while JPEG images accounts for a smaller space. And the RAW format sometimes cannot be displayed in some certain software.
  • In some camera models, you can choose one of a few available JPEG formats. The compression ratio is 4:1 for the JPEG Fine option, 8:1 for the JPEG Normal and 16:1 for JPEG Basic. The image quality is higher and the image size is larger when the compression ratio is lower.
  • For a lot of DSLR cameras, you are able to save images in both RAW and JPEG formats simultaneously. This is very nice for ensuring that you can achieve the greatest possible results. And I have to say it again that this will require much larger space for storing the image than just saving a JPEG photo.
  • In the camera’s settings, you should be caution that image size isn’t the same as image quality. The image size refers to the number of pixels of each saved photo, while the image quality is related to the size of those pixels. The common levels of the image quality are often “superfine”, “fine” or “normal” and all of the mentioned settings show you how precise the pixels are. The overall image will be better if it contains more accurate information. However, the image size is accordingly higher, and  more storing space in the camera memory card is required.
  • Several entry-level cameras don’t display the exact number of megapixels in the resolution amount of each image. Instead, it is referred as “small”, “medium” or “large”. The “large” size may lead to an image of 12 or 14 megapixels, and the “small” image size ranges from 3 to 5 megapixels. With some entry-level cameras, the number of megapixels is the only parameter  in the image size menu.
  • In addition, when you are shooting movies, a lot of the above same instructions are similar regarding to the movie resolution and quality. You will work with the menus of the camera to make the setting changes, which enables you to record movies in the quality as expected.

Auto Focus Vs. Manual Focus

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If you are a photographer who have just transferred from a point and shoot camera into a DSLR, certainly you should learn about a certain number of photography aspects right before you want to be able to use your DSLR camera successfully. Among these aspects, the manual focus is among the ones that may get you the most confused. It is much more complicated than the auto focus mode.

The following tips shall help you better understand the differences between the manual focus and the auto focus mode.

Auto focus refers to a mode in which the camera sets the best focus for photos, using image sensors that are specialized for measuring the focus of the scene. In this mode, you don’t have to set anything as the camera has done all for you.

Auto Focus Vs Manual Focus

Auto Focus Vs Manual Focus

Even though you won’t have to worry much about the shutter lag with DSLR cameras as it is just at the minimal level, the quality of the auto focus system shall decide the amount of shutter lag of your DSLR camera.  When you select this mode, you should have your camera pre-focused on the shooting scene to reduce the shutter lag. Just hold down the shutter button halfway and keep this button still in that position until the auto focus has locked onto the targeted subject. Then, hold down the shutter button completely to shoot the photo. By this way, you can minimize the shutter lag.

The manual focus refers to the mode in which you use your palm of the left hand to cup the zoom lens. Then, have the focus ring on the lens slightly twisted until you have the sharp focus onto the subject.

When you use the manual focus, you can find it easier to define whether you have the sharp focus on the shooting screen through the viewfinder which is better than the LCD screen in this case. If the shooting conditions are outdoors in bright sunlight, you can hold the viewfinder against the eye for avoiding the glare on the camera LCD because with the glare, it will be harder to define the focus sharpness.

To check which focus mode you are using, hold down the Info button on your At times, you can have the focus mode set on the camera interchangeable lens. To do this, just slide the switch to select between the manual focus and auto focus.

There are some various auto focus modes, based on which DSLR camera you’re using, such as: AF-S, AF-C or AF-A. AF-S (short for single-servo) is proper for shooting still subjects in which you see the focus lock when you press the shutter button halfway. AF-C (short for continuous-servo) should be used for shooting moving objects using the continually-adjusted auto focus. With the AF-A (short for auto-servo), the camera itself will select one of the above two auto focus modes, depending on the scene.

You tend to encounter some problems with the performance of the auto-focus when the colors of the background and the subject are not much different, when one half of the subject is in bright sunlight and the other half is in shadow and when there is one object between the camera and the subject. In the listed situations, you should use the manual focus.

When you select the auto focus mode, the focus of the camera is often on the targeted subject in the frame center. However, you can change the focus points in almost all DSLR models. This can easily be done by determining the auto focus area  and retargeting the focus point with the arrow keys.

If there is a switch for selecting between the auto focus mode and manual focus mode, you often see the A (auto focus) and M (manual focus) labels on your camera. However, you can see the inclusion of an M/A mode. This can be understood as the auto focus that supports the manual focus overriding option.

You can find out which focus mode you’re using as well as other camera configurations on the LCD screen.

Troubleshooting SD Memory Cards

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Even though the internal memory is available in a great number of digital cameras nowadays, memory cards are still often used by almost all photographers for the image storage. Normally, the size of a memory card is slightly larger than that of a postage stamp and a memory card can help you store up to many hundreds or thousands of images. Therefore, any problem with the memory card can blow up all of your image and movie data. You don’t want to encounter the situations that all of your images disappear from the memory card, right? The following tips may be useful to help you solve common problems of SD or SDHC card.

  • The memory card cannot be read on computers. Check carefully to ensure that the size as well type of the card is compatible with the computer. For instance, with several computers of the previous generations, you can only have the SD memory card work if its size is smaller than 2 GB. In order to make the computer able to work with SDHC memory cards, you may need an upgrade of a firmware; please ask the manufacturer of your computer.
  • You find the “write protected” message. There is often a “lock” switch with SD as well as SDHC cards which is located in the card left side (when you view it from the camera front). If you find the switch located lower or at the bottom position, the memory card has been locked and write-protected, which means that the card cannot write any additional data. To have the card unlocked, you just need to slide the “lock” switch upward.
  • The running speed of one card is slower than that of other cards. The speed and class rating of different memory cards may not be the same. The speed rating is involving to the highest data transmitting speed, while the class rating involves the lowest transmitting speed. Find out the ratings of your memory cards and perhaps you will find the differences in their speed or class ratings.
  • A slower and older card is not as good as a new one? For the majority of the time, a slower and older card does not matter in general shooting. But if you are recording a HD movie in which a continuously-shooting mode is selected, the data may not be recorded fast enough with this kind of memory card. The consequent result is that the movie may be cut off or you may lose images. For recording HD movies, a fast memory card is needed.
  • How to recover deleted or missing files? In case that the operation of a memory card is OK, but it is impossible to see or open some images files, it is recommended that you recover the images by using commercial software or another way is to put the SD card into a computer or camera repair center, by which you can have the images recovered. If the memory card does not work in the camera or the computer, the only way is to refer to a repair center.
  • Should the SD memory card be formatted if asked? You should take little time to think about this. If your memory card is containing images, you may not want to have the card formatted as all the data will be deleted. In case that you notice a message on the memory card that have been previously used and your photos has been stored in this card, the thing here is that your card or camera could be malfunctioning. One case that possibly occurs is that your camera cannot read the SD memory card as it might have been formatted in a different camera. If the card is new and there is no photo in it, you can format it without any worries.

Understanding Camera Menus

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You may not pay much attention to the difference, but one nice advantage of digital cameras compared to film cameras is that you can have more control over the settings in digital models. You can control the menus on the LCD screen of a digital model which you have never experienced with a film model.

And the manufacturers nowadays focus a lot on the kinds of commands that are included in the different menus. There are many different screens and the ways of organizing these screens are diverse, so you may find it slightly confusing in learning how to use them. In addition, with some digital cameras, the ways of organizing the menus are not the same for all shooting modes that even get you more confused.

The below listed tips will be useful for helping you learn how to make of the camera menus better. Thoroughly find out this nice feature to have the photography results as you want.

  • To have the menu opened, just find the menu button on the camera back panel. You will see the word “MENU” to indicate a menu button on several cameras, while in some others, there will be an icon which is displayed in the similar shape as an outline of bullet points. If your camera is touch screen camera, the Menu button is often found on the touch screen LCD.
  • The menu can be structured in 2 ways. The first one is that you find all of the control settings of a camera are located under the Menu button and there is not any category. In second one, you may find different categories in the menus, and you will see the controlling settings of each particular category when this category is selected. The second way is more popular.
  • If the menu of a digital model is organized into categories, you can quickly get access to the feature that you want to use, which is very nice for saving plenty of time. For instance, when you need to clean the camera sensor or configure the date, you will want to get direct access to the Setup menu, not the Shooting or Playback menu.
  • Additionally, you may find the menu category displayed by icons. For instance, you may find the Setup category or the overall settings menu in the shape of a “wrench” icon. First, have the needed menu icon highlighted; later hold down the OK/Enter button or the button in the shape of the right arrow to start selecting the commands. Finding out the meaning of each category icon shall help you select the functions faster.
  • For several camera menus, you may find some commands not available or “grayed out,” based the shooting mode or the function that you have just selected. In case that you want to have an unavailable command operated, it requires that you change into another shooting mode in which that mode supports this command.
  • To stop using the menu features of a digital model, you can hold down the Menu button, or for some certain cameras, you may hold down the shutter halfway. There may be also a Back button in a camera that you press to get back out of the menu area.
  • With a digital camera that offers a touch screen, it is much easier to use the menus. You only need to touch the command that you want in the menu. There may be a Back button or you can find the Exit button in cases of returning to the Shooting mode. The way that you used a camera touch screen is pretty similar to the way you use a smart phone, in which you just need to drag the fingers over the screen to scroll over the options of the menus. This is more popular than using a button of four ways.
  • Several models – especially high-end DSLR cameras – enable you to have the customization capability on the options of the menus. For instance, you can set a shortcut for a commonly-used command through making use of the “customized menu” or “my menu” selection. At times, you a Custom button is also available.
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