Just for Newbies

Confessions of a new digital camera user

Written by Mike Farslow

He did a little research, bought a camera, invested in a memory card and stocked up with several sets of rechargeable batteries. He’s ready to go. Or was he?

Okay I’ve gone and done it. I went through the Digicamhelp buying checklist and decided that a digital camera was for me. I did a little research, bought a camera, invested in a memory card and stocked up with several sets of rechargeable batteries. I’m ready to go.

LightingMy first photo op is my future son-in-law’s college graduation. It’s in a dimly lighted auditorium but that’s no problem, I’ve got my flash and a great 6x zoom right? Wrong!

The flash doesn’t work at long range and the more zoom I use the blurrier my pictures get. The only good pictures I get are the close-ups and the outdoor pictures. Obviously I need some practice.

SmileMy second opportunity comes with my daughter’s high school graduation.

I’ve had a little time to practice and think I’ve come up with a few tricks to overcome the cameras limitations. I won’t use the flash and only part of the zoom. I’ll also make sure I can brace myself so the camera won’t shake. Once again, I’m ready.

Well I did a little better this time but overall I’m disappointed in my camera. It just doesn’t do what was claimed. I don’t understand it, the reviews were so good. Could it be that maybe I’m doing something wrong? It was time to do a very unmanly thing; I decided to read the manual.

I went through the manual that came with the camera and took some practice shots as I went along. I started to get a better feel for the camera and its controls. The various menus and options were a little overwhelming at first so I stuck with the basic operation of the camera. Now I feel like I’m making progress. I should have read the manual to start with.

WeddingI learned that I had different modes like “night scene” that would let me take better pictures in low light and that it might be a good idea to use a tripod or monopod to keep the camera shake to a minimum. I also have several options for the flash that I didn’t know about. Luckily I started to “get it” before my next low light, out of flash range experience.

Since I got my digital camera, I’ve taken literally hundreds, maybe thousands, of pictures. I learn a little more every day and refer back to my manual all the time. I’ve graduated to learning about EV (exposure compensation), white balance and aperture priority to try and get everything I can out of my camera. The more I understand what I’ve got the better the images are that I’ve been getting.

Now, if I can only get all those pictures organized in a way that I can find them I’ll be making real progress. Oh well, that can wait until next week, right now I’m going out to take more pictures.