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Know Your Camera
Here at KEA we have a question: has technology improved the quality of everyone’s photos?
Words and Images by: KEA

There are now myriad devices on which to capture a photograph. However, for many years it was a simple choice of a 35mm SLR camera such as a Canon AE1 or a rangefinder like the Olympus Trip 35. They were film cameras into which you had to load your print or slide film – who remembers posting your films to the lab to wait weeks for the results? How times have changed.

Here at KEA this prompted a question: has technology improved the quality of everyone’s photos?

At the 2013 Narrabri National Rally a judge for the photo competition offered this response: “Although some of the photos taken were quite creative, they were let down on the technical side, which was not necessarily the fault of the camera.” He continued, “Quite a number  had quite a poor resolution … the photo looked either quite soft or pixelated. That suggested to me that the photographer hadn’t quite understood the settings on their camera, or done something wrong in the digital darkroom.”

So we compiled a few tips on taking photos – the digital darkroom is another issue entirely.

  • Understand that a Smartphone or tablet is not a camera as such. Professional and keen amateurs spend big dollars on lenses to obtain the sharpest photos but these devices don’t have that facility.

    You don’t have to lash out on a proseries SLR camera, there are plenty of compact or mirrorless cameras (that have interchangeable lenses) that produce perfectly good photos.

  • Make sure you have a basic understanding of any camera’s settings. For instance, unless you are desperately trying to conserve storage card space set your image quality on the highest level and (if feeling really adventurous) include RAW as well. The RAW setting uses more card space but allows more flexibility when it comes to processing.

  • Don’t just set your device/camera on Auto mode and forget it. Using the Program (P) mode allows you to set things like focus and exposure points, which means the camera is not trying to average everything out but doing what you want. Once set, P still allows you to shoot in full Auto mode. Some devices and cameras have an automatic ISO setting. In the old days we called it film speed. If your camera is set to auto ISO and you take a low light shot, the ISO might set itself to 2000 which will give you a photo with a great deal of ‘noise’ – something that degrades the image. Either manually adjust the ISO or set an upper limit (if you can).

  • Be creative. Look for something different. A simple subject can be made much more interesting by doing nothing more than changing your viewing perspective. Move closer, or further away and zoom in, get down to ground level, climb a ladder, tilt the camera slightly to give a feeling of action, shift the horizon or include something in the foreground. Always think hard about composition. In Australia, the best time for photos is early morning or late afternoon/evening when the light is softer and the colours richer.

  • Use your flash. It’s not just for nighttime use. It can be used to lighten shadows and, if used in flash-fill mode, is excellent when taking photos of people.

And finally, always try to have your camera with you. Unexpected opportunities frequently happen when you don’t have a camera with you but you might just have your phone – make sure it’s on the optimum settings.

Tags: KEA Camera Photo Photography Phone Megapixels Image Smart Phone Tablet
Category: Features
Written: Sat 01 Feb 2014
Printed: February, 2014
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