Digital camera manufacturers often use different terminology to define similar functions. Here are some items to consider when choosing a digital camera:
Focal Length: The focal length of a lens determines its angle of view, and also how much the subject will be magnified for a given position. This specification will be represented in a millimeter (mm) format. Recommendations for focal length measurements are listed below based on the type of angle you might want:
- 21mm or Less - Extremely Wide Landscape Angle
- 21-35mm - Wide Landscape Angle
- 35-70mm - Average Angle (standard point-and shoot angle)
- 70-135mm - Average Telephoto (zoomed-in) Angle
- 135-300mm - Extreme Telephoto (zoomed-in) Angle
Aperture: The aperture setting determines the size of the opening (iris) that lets light through. A small aperture setting results in a deeper depth of field and a large aperture setting provides a shallow depth of field. This specification is represented in a format of “f / x.x”. The “f” stands for “f stops” which are the hole in the lens that lets the light in. The higher the number, the smaller the hole. For example, f/2 is a larger hole than f/5.6 and f/5.6 is a smaller hole than f/2. With a smaller "iris" (larger f-stop), the less amount of light is able to penetrate into the camera and hit the lens, typically resulting in an underexposure. Depending on your shooting environment the best recommendation for this specification is a broad aperture range. For example, between f/2 – f/5 would be average camera lens aperture capabilities.
Manual/Auto Focus: This specification refers to the cameras ability to toggle between manual and auto focus. As you take photos, you may wish to manually override the auto-focus capabilities of the camera to generate creative shots. This specification is a necessity in photography.
ISO: This specification refers to the sensitivity of the camera’s image sensor. In other words, the lower the number, the less sensitive the camera is to light. As a general rule of thumb, a wide range of ISO selections are best to keep the camera flexible for different low/high lighting situations. IT Services recommends an ISO range of no-less than 800 for non-specialized photography.
Megapixel Resolution (MP): This specification refers to how many pixels of resolution the camera is capable of capturing or in other words, how large the photo will be. Important things to think about are how the photo is to be developed (photo album, poster, etc). For most users, there is no need for a MP size of more than 4MP (11x14 prints).
File Format: This specification generally is tied directly to the resolution specification. Depending on the photo editing software you will be using with the recorded content, you will want to verify that the file format output by the camera is supported. IT Services recommends cameras that support the file format JPEG (most of all cameras support this).
Zoom: When looking at this specification the important zoom to look at is the “optical” zoom. The optical zoom represents the lens physical ability to magnify the object in question. For digital cameras, IT Services recommends that an optical zoom of at least 3x or more is chosen for magnification and detail. This specification is more important to digital point-and-shoot cameras. SLR/DSLR cameras zoom using their attached lens and this specification becomes less important.
IT Services recommends the following device(s):
Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS
- 1/2.3" CCD Lens
- 12.1 Megapixels
- 4x Optical Zoom
- SD Card Compatible
- 640x480 (AVI) Movie Output
- ISO 1600