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Digital cameras; some thoughts

G’day Orchidist would- be digital camera owners. As you might expect I
now have some suggestions for buying such a camera. 1. learn as much
as you can about the finer details of the things. Like the difference
between optical and digital zoom. Like what resolution really means
in terms of picture quality and size. What is compression and what
does it do to photos? Understand how many pixels of memory can be
used up by one uncompressed photo at high resolution. Get the low-down
on jargon like TTL, CCD, ISO, USB, LCD… Understand the various
means of storing pictures in the camera, and the means of getting them
into your computer and so on. There’s a hell of a lot to learn. 2.
Find a good search engine for the net. (Google is very good, and
reasonably fast) 3. Make a list of all the camera manufacturers and
use it to search, then download the digital cameras available from
each - not forgetting their prices 4. Now is the time to decide what
you are going to use the camera for; (jewellery, holidays, kids,
beauty spots, wild life. All of the above?) Make a list of all you
have wanted to do at times - and how often you wanted to do it. 5.
Decide upon exactly how much you have available to spend on a camera.
6. Go back to your manufacturer’s lists and make a ‘short list’ of
the various compromises you will have to make; like price v. storage
method and size, or shutter speed against ease of downloading - and so
on; the number of choices are quite bewildering. 7. Stop and forget
about cameras for a whole day (damn difficult!!) 8. Make your choice -
and BUY IT!! then try not to look at camera shops and brochures
again; they’ll drive you crazy - they’ll send you insane. Finally
have fun learning to use your new toy - and learning how to use your
graphics program. Has it occurred to you that if you have a pic with
good resolution, you can select a small part of it and resize it so it
seems to have been zoomed upon?

Now one of the things on my wish list was to be able to use the
camera with my microscope. I found only the very top range of digital
cameras (professional; in the thousands of dollars) has
internationally interchangeable lens mountings, they are very
difficult to use with a microscope. You see, one needs to remove the
camera lens and mic eyepiece and use just the mic objective to focus
the picture on to the recording media - whether it is chemical or
electronic. You can’t do that with one of the ordinary digital
cameras. I do it with a Canon Ftb film camera, as I can remove the
lens. But there may be some sort of work-around for a digital job.
I intend to try.

What did I get in the end? Well, I got a Canon Power Shot S20.
‘Why that one’? you ask. Partly because I live in an area where good
camera shops are like hen’s teeth. I couldn’t pick up one I fancied
and play with it; I had to go on specification and buy sight unseen!
Anyway I went for very high resolution for the price at the top of my
budget, (3.3 Megapixels) and tried to forget about downloading
problems until I saved enough money to upgrade my Windows, and to buy
a USB, rather than the easier and cheaper way by getting a Mavica 73
which uses floppy discs. I was persuaded (by my wife, would you
believe) that unless I spent as much as we could really afford at the
time, I would always do a quiet moan to myself when I wanted a camera
to do things it wasn’t built for. Oh yes, you wouldn’t know that one
has to pay much more here for a camera than mere dollar conversion
suggests. The mark up is far higher. And after I posted off the
cheque she literally dragged me away from a camera shop we passed (it
only had cheap film cameras, anyway!) So that’s it then, the Great
Camera Hunt over. But I would have LOVED that Nikon 990!! But it was
another NZ$500! Cheers, (and reserve a nice padded cell) – John
Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ