BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Archive for March 11th, 2009

Nikon Posts Newest Podcast

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Nikon USA has recently released its newest podcast “Behind-the-Scenes with Rob Van Petten and the D3X” on its Website.

The podcast can be viewed here.

Van Petten is an advertising photographer who focuses on fashion and lifestyle. His images incorporate a strong color palette, modern architecture and powerful lighting.

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Written by jeremyparce

March 11, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Reasonable Expectations Will Save You Grief

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My friend’s little brother plays varsity soccer and I was asked to take some pictures of a game. Although I’m not a sports photographer, I do have some equipment geared for sports photography and some experience shooting sports so I loaded up my gear and headed out to the field. What I saw amazed me. No, I wasn’t amazed by the action on the field but at the action on the sidelines.

A few moms and dads were lined up and armed with point-and-shoot cameras. They would take a shot, look at the LCD, scratch their heads then try again and repeat the same look of confusion and frustration.
A little into the game one mom/photographer came up and asked point-blank: What’s wrong with my camera?

“Nothing’s wrong with your camera,” I told her. Then before she thought I meant something was wrong with her I explained – the digital compact camera she was using wasn’t the right tool for the job.
If camera manufacturers do one thing that really irks me it’s this: They set the general public up for disappointment.

Too often, camera companies set expectations too high among consumers as to what digital cameras can do. These ads are fairly similar regardless of the manufacturer. Most of the time, it’s mom or dad standing on the playing field sidelines with point-and-shoot camera at the ready to catch a photo of little Jane or Johnny making the winning touchdown or goal.

So soccer moms and dads go to the nearest big-box electronics retailer, buy a moderately-priced compact camera and head off to take photos of the kids with visions of Sports Illustrated-quality photos dancing in their heads.

Then the disappointment comes. Most of the photos are motion blurred or out of focus. Heads are chopped off. Instead of a picture of the game-winning goal, there’s a picture of someone’s blurry foot and a disembodied hand sticking out of the corner of the frame.

Sound familiar?

That’s because camera manufacturers typically use images in advertising campaigns taken by professional photographers with pro-level equipment. If you look real hard at some ads, there will even be a disclaimer that says the “sample” images included on the product pages are “representative” or “enhanced.” This is what you should be thinking: These images were taken by a professional with professional gear and don’t expect the same outcomes.

Don’t get me wrong. For the average consumer, a $175 compact will cover most photographic needs. But be realistic. It won’t do what professional gear, lighting and experience will do.
Camera companies owe it to consumers to display images that are truly representative of what the camera can do. Consumers won’t feel disappointed or jilted if camera companies set realistic expectations.
Unfortunately, consumers who become discouraged by their camera’s performance stop trying. The camera collects dust and becomes an expensive paperweight. Don’t fall into that trap. Keep shooting and keep making images. Just realize the limits of the equipment.

Good luck and keep shooting!

Written by jeremyparce

March 11, 2009 at 11:00 am

Identifying Your Wants and Needs

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There are many reasons to purchase a digital camera and a plethora of cameras to choose from. Finding the right camera for your needs is easy – if you do your homework.

A digital camera is a tool just like a hammer or screwdriver. Just as you would select the correct hand-tool for the job, you really need to select the right camera for your needs. Before making a purchase, spend a few minutes evaluating what you want from your camera.

Here are a few key questions to ask yourself prior to making a buying decision:

What Do You Want to Accomplish?
What is your main purpose for buying a camera? If you’re primarily going to use the camera for special events, i.e. birthdays, holiday parties, and family gatherings, then you can probably limit your search to compact digital cameras. These cameras offer all the bells-and-whistles you need at a very affordable price. There’s no need to make the plunge into the DSLR realm if you just need an “event” camera. First, DSLRs are heavier than most point-and-shoots and usually more expensive. So, save your money and find a well-equipped point-and-shoot.

If you’re going to use your camera primarily for Web postings such as MySpace and Facebook, then a compact digital camera with a lower megapixel count – which also generally means less money – will be perfect.
DSLRs are the perfect camera if you’re an advanced amateur, serious photo hobbyist, photography student, budding pro, or are a seasoned photographer. Although more expensive than point-and-shoots, these cameras offer the most creative freedom and choices available. Even the lowest-priced DSLR are powerhouses when it comes to creative freedom.

Who Will Use the Camera?
Who will be the primary user of the camera? This is a very important question. As a rule, the more technology available, the more time it takes to learn how to use the equipment.

If the camera you’re going to purchase is for the family, meaning everyone in the house is going to be using it, then a simple, compact digital camera is probably your best bet. A basic, compact digital camera minimizes the number of user-defined choices and is relatively simple to operate.

But just because these cameras are relatively inexpensive, they still offer the ability to take great pictures. These cameras have complex computer functions that really take the guesswork out of taking images.

Purchasing a digital camera should not be a snap decision. You should weigh your options and consider what features you need and want. Once you have narrowed down your list of possible cameras, then research them and take them out for a test drive in a store. The happier you are with your camera, the more likely you’ll be to use it.

Written by jeremyparce

March 11, 2009 at 9:00 am