Vivid Light Photography, digital and film photography online
Introduction to Digital Photography 

There is still a lot of confusion surrounding digital cameras and digital photography. With all the new cameras and options it just seems to get more confusing instead of clearer. It is easier to approach something if you can take it in small bites. So in an effort to make digital easier to approach and understand I've grouped together everything you need to know to get started in ten easy to understand lessons. 

Lesson 1

Lesson 2 Lesson 3 Lesson 4 Lesson 5
Lesson 6 Lesson 7 Lesson 8 Lesson 9 Lesson 10

Lesson 8: Digital Camera Accessories 

When digital cameras "grow up" they'll be as easy to use as a point and shoot film camera. Until that day comes there are some extras you'll want to consider in order to make your digital camera experience a pleasant one.

First among these is your PC. The faster the better, and even more important than processor speed is RAM. Connected to my PC is a Card Reader that can read and write both Compact Flash and SmartMedia at high speeds. These card readers are available for USB or Firewire connections. Many of today's computers are being marketed as "multimedia" PCs and they come equipped with slots that allow you to insert your digital camera's memory card right into the computer, bypassing the need for cords and connectors completely.

The media card readers in these new multimedia PCs can be added to your existing PC too. They're marketed as 7-in-1 drives, support Compact Flash I/II, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, MultiMediaCard, SD and IBM MicroDrive formats, and can be had for less than $40 if you watch the sales.

Next you might want to consider buying a little "insurance" for your digital photos in the form of a backup system. Digital negatives are like other negatives - you should keep them in a safe place. The advantage of digital negatives over film negatives is that you can make multiple copies, that way if something happens to one copy you have another. As your collection of images grows, so will your need to have a large capacity backup system like an external hard drive. You can purchase a 40GB external USB hard drive for as little as $100 dollars and drives up to 250GB are available. The nice thing about these drives is how easy they are to use. Just plug them in and treat them like any other hard drive. Want to move your images to another computer? Just unplug the drive and plug it into another computer and you're ready to go. If you use the drive for backups as well, a good and inexpensive backup program for use with external hard drives is Handy Backup.

If you're using one of the "point and shoot" varieties of digicams, there's not much to add to them other than additional storage media cards. If your camera has the ability to use an external flash, I highly recommend getting one and using it all the time, even outdoors as a fill flash. The more powerful external flash will improve your photos tremendously.

Lens adapters allow you to extend the range of your digital camera. You can get wide angle adapters that allow you to capture sweeping panoramas and telephoto adapters that dramatically extend the range of your camera's zoom lens. These adapters are available for everything from high-end digital zoom cameras to basic point and shoot cameras. These threads also allow you to attach filters that can be used to filter out reflections and add color to dramatic sunsets.

If you have a digital zoom camera chances are you have a set of small screw threads on the front of your lens. These threads allow you to screw adapters directly onto the lens and are the best solution.

But what if you own a smaller point and shoot digital? Several manufacturers now offer filter holders attach to the camera's tripod socket and fold up in front of the lens. These holders can hold individual filters as well as wide angle and telephoto lens attachments. The quality of these attachments varies from manufacturer to manufacturer but price is usually a good guide for quality.

What about displaying your digital photos? 
A while back I found a fabulous gadget called the Kodak Smart Digital Picture Frame. This thing displays your photos in VGA resolution (640x480) brightly and in great color and you can set it to change photos at regular intervals. Kodak has since discontinued the product but digital picture frames are available in sizes as small as 3.5 inches from companies like Nikon, Digi-Frame, Ceiva, Sony, Storybox, Kensington all the way up to an impressive 19" digital picture frame from PhotoVu. Some of these new displays even have the ability to access a wireless network and rotate an infinite amount of images directly from your hard drive.

Another cool accessory is an underwater housing. I own one for my Canon digital and they're available to fit most digital cameras from the smallest point and shoot cameras to high end digital SLRs. They allow you to take the camera underwater and are great for pool, lake, or beach use. They can cost up to $200 or more, but if you use them correctly, you'll get some priceless shots that you'd never get otherwise. These cases also work great if you be shooting in dusty conditions too.

Some smart accessories can really extend what you can do with your digital camera and they can go a long way toward making "life with digital" easier.


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