Ruth, with our friend Andrei at the Orheiul Vechi Historical Complex at Trebujeni, Moldova. Photo taken December 2, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Megapixels and Memory Cards

It's a pretty safe bet that everybody who travels has a camera. But I think a lot of people don't realize that digital cameras have come a long way in the last couple of years and that you don't need to spend $1,000 to take decent pictures. Having just bought a new camera, I thought I'd give a little primer on the electronics and what 99% of you don't need.

We get a lot of positive comments regarding the pictures that we post from our travels. For the last four years or so, those pictures had been taken with an Olympus C730 that we bought new almost 10 years ago for $900.

It was a 3.2 megapixel (MP) camera that had a 10x optical zoom lens.

Let's talk about megapixels first. In simple terms, a pixel is just a dot. Put enough dots together side by side and you have a picture. Megapixels really only matter when you are printing something large, or cropping a picture. 99% of camera buyers will do neither of these things. My old camera, at 3.2 MP could easily print 8x10 photos if we wanted to.

Most new cameras today are at least 10 megapixels.

Our new Olympus SZ-12 is 14 megapixels, which is ridiculous for our needs. Fortunately, you can reduce the settings in steps down to 8 MP, 5 MP, 3 MP, and 1 MP. The higher the settings, the more of your memory you will use up. Setting your camera at either 3 or 5 MP is just fine. Also, the lower the number you use, the easier and faster it is to move those pictures around, both on your laptop, and on the internet.

Which brings us to memory cards. I bought a relatively small 4 GB memory card, on sale for $7.99. I think the smallest memory card you can now buy is 2 GB, which would be more than sufficient for most people, but it's only a couple of dollars cheaper than the 4 GB one. You can buy memory cards that are 10 times that size (and 10 times the price), but again, for 99% of the population, 4 GB is more than you need. To give you an idea of why this is more than you need, I can take over 2,500 pictures at the 5 MP setting and have them all on the 4 GB card.

I should talk a little about optical zoom as well.

Our old camera had a 10x optical zoom lens, but even that was a bit misleading. In lens specifications, the term "50 millimeter" is widely accepted as being the lens setting that will give you perspective the same way that your eye sees it. As you make you camera see a more wide angle, the number in millimeters goes down. As you zoom in on something, the number goes up. In other words, a 35 mm lens will give you a wider angle than a 50 mm lens. A 225 mm lens will give you a zoomed in view.

So although our old camera was listed as 10x zoom, it really wasn't. A 10x zoom should give you a 500mm view if 50mm is what your eye sees. But optical zoom on cameras is from what the widest angle of the lens is. Our old camera had 38mm to 380mm versatility, a factor of 10x. But really it was only 7.6 x zoom.

Our new camera, although it is listed as 24x optical zoom, it is based on the fact that the lens goes from 25mm to 600mm. So, while it is certainly more versatile than our old camera, it is really only 12x optical zoom if you figure that 50mm is normal view.

So while you can easily spend $600 or more on a camera, most people don't have the photography skills or knowledge or need to put that $600 worth of camera to good use. There are a lot of suitable choices for under $200.

Don't forget to vote!

http://aussieexperiences.com/contest/entry/red-centre-kevin-read/


19 comments:

  1. Congratulations on the new camera. Your old pictures were fabulous, so we wonder what the new pictures will be like. I think a camera is a camera and a photographer's eye is a lot more important. Everybody found your blog pictures to be awesome.

    50 mm was the standard on the 35 mm cameras, but there is a difference with the new digital. Our telephoto goes to 250 mm, but it's the equivalent of a 398 mm on a 35 mm camera. The digital lens equivalent of a 50 mm for a standard film camera would be about 31 mm. But that doesn't apply if you have a full frame digital camera. Am I cleir (sic).

    Paul

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    1. Thanks Paul. Yes, you are correct and I should have mentioned that. All my figures above were already in terms of 35mm camera equivalency.

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  2. Good info..
    I always use the highest resolution possible on my camera as quite often I use my photos as a basis for my paintings. For this you need the best possible photo you can get, in my opinion.
    I would say depending on what you are going to use the photos for, change your settings as needed.
    Have a good day.

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  3. My dear hubby decided he wanted a fancy camera which we bought him. He's had it for two years and still doesn't know how to use it. I love my little point and shoot Canon but it's getting old. My next camera will also be a little point and shoot kind.

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  4. Photography is just kind of a love of mine so I'll add a little here. Kevin, you are right that for most of people they certainly don't need to spend hundreds of dollars on a camera to get good photos, there are plenty of point and shoots that do a wonderful job. Right now I am using a Canon Power Shot that does a great job much better than the old point and shoots. I also agree on the pixels, 8mp I think is a plenty, less is ok but if you ever want to crop in on something you couldn't get close enough to, less than 8 may start to pixelate. However for people looking for more the Digital SLRs are great and both Canon and Nikon have ones that are reasonably priced. One of the things that really improves on the SLR is the actual sensor which gives you better depth of color and the ability to change lens and get creative. I have both, even though my SLR is in the shop at present. I like our point and shoot but feel I have so much more control over the shot with the SLR, I would much rather look through a view finder than use the screen to frame my subject. I agree with you totally on the memory card but for a different reason. Memory cards fail and if you have thousands of photos on one of those big cards and it fails you just lots all those photos. It is easy to change out cards and i always have a couple with me as back up, I hate to run out of space. I have had one fail and lots great photos of my nieces softball game. I also encourage people to upload photos after a short period of time and have back up for the same reason and believe me I have forgotten to do that to and regretted it. I am glad that we have such great affordable choices at all levels of photography now and so many of us get to take great shot of all the places we visit.

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    1. Yes, all of your points are also correct. And I totally agree about having a viewfinder...I'd much rather do it that way. But again, 99% of people don't need all the fancy stuff and I've found that we don't either. I also don't like carrying around the extra baggage. For me, everything I need is in a nice little package.

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  5. Thanks for this primer Kevin. I like a point and shoot but can't find one any more with a view finder and I'm just not able to see in those LCD screens. I don't want to literally point and shoot, I want to SEE what I'm pointing and shooting at. So I was forced to buy a bigger, heavier and more pricey camera than I wanted just to have the view finder. What happened to the little Canon powershot and why did they do away with its viewfinder??

    Sherry
    www.directionofourdreams.blogspot.com

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    1. In an ideal world, I'd rather use a viewfinder as well. But they've improved the screens a lot and if I override the default settings I can turn up the brightness on our screen so that it is easily (for me) readable in bright sunlight.

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  6. Thanks for the info Kevin - we are going to need a new camera once back in the USA - I may get your opinion before I choose. I'll check in to see how it goes with your new one - maybe we'll get the same.

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  7. I'm still voting! I still have my 11 year old Olympus 2100 Ultra Zoom which and it takes outstanding pictures. In fact, it takes better pictures in automatic than my Canon T3i in my view.

    Alas I have purchased a book to help me make better use of that expensive Canon since it doesn't seem to do as well as I would like in automatic mode.

    Great informative post!

    Erik

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  8. Another problem is what to do with all your photos once you have taken them. I move my photos off the memory card and onto the computer and sort them by location. As I tend to take a lot of photos and generally snap doubles of each just in case someone blinks or a car drives in front, my storage needs are probably greater than most peoples. The hard drive on my laptop filled up very quickly so I bought an external hard drive and moved all my photos onto it. Then, after an error where I lost a few photos, I decided I need copies of everything and started copying them onto DVD's. Well, after seeing my stack of DVD's grow, I decided that was not a long term solution and bought another external hard drive. My goal was to have a copy of every photo on the second terabyte drive and to store one drive in the house and the other in the motorhome. That would ensure I would not lose my photos if disaster struck.

    I still have far too many photos and probably will never look at all of them again. Maybe I should spend a few hundred hours deleting the imperfect ones and elimination the duplicates.

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    1. Every evening we download the pictures we have taken that day, then sit down together and delete all the ones we don't like or are no good. After that I transfer them to my computer where I tag and label all of them. Once that is done I will delete the originals from Kevin's and then download the same pictures all labelled. We then have exact copies on both Kevin's and my computers and every once in a while we will put them on CD's that we leave with our stuff that are left behind in Canada. By doing this we have pictures on both our computers from way back in the 1980's (I have been scanning all our old photos) and we we still have lots of storage space on our computers.

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  9. Great info - printed this off for future reference - it's time for us to update our camera situation - thanks so much for doing this!

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  10. butterbean carpenterMay 18, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    HELP KEVIN, I WENT TO VOTE AND IT WON'T LET ME!!!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Has it been 24 hours since you last voted? If so, then I don't know how to help!

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    2. It happens to me all the time. I have not been online for eight days, and today when I went to vote it indicated that I had voted. Every once in awhile it will let me vote, but it has been almost three weeks since it did. Bill votes every day, it works fine for him. I wonder if it is because we are on the same server.

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    3. Yes Bonnie, you are only allowed one vote per IP address a day. So Bill has been beating you too in all those other days.

      Delete
  11. butterbean carpenterMay 18, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    Howdy R&K,
    Yes, I don't know either.. I clicked on VOTE and it didn't change.

    I TRIED!!! IF WE LOSE BY 1 VOTE I'LL DIE!!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. butterbean carpenterMay 18, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Howdy R&K,

    IT WORKED!!!! YEAH, TEAM READ!!!

    ReplyDelete

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