Live Life in Style Learns: CAMERAS Part I - Photography Jargon

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

 Canon EOS 7D & Canon EOS Rebel T3i

I'm assuming that since you are reading my fashion blog, you love pictures!!  In my short-time of blogging (at least compared to the heavy-hitters), I've noticed that the most popular blogs have the best pictures. I have been very jealous of the amazing photos displayed by top bloggers! The first thing I did when I discovered Jessica's blog What I Wore was try and figure out the type of camera she was using to take her photos.  They were so crisp and clear and I could see all the outfit details and had to know! Luckily for me she had the answer on her FAQs page. Back in Feb 2010 she was using a Canon Rebel, and now she is using a Canon 7D or a Canon G12.  Just look at the difference in quality between Jessica's pictures and mine:

Examples from What I Wore
One of Jessica's outdoor shots from her Red Alert Blog Post
One of Jessica's indoor shots from her  Studio Session Blog Post
Examples from Live Life in Style

See the difference? In Jessica's outdoor photos the lighting is great and everything in her outfit and the background is clear. In my outdoor shot, it's a little grainy, and I would love for my plaid in the pants to be more defined. In Jessica's indoor shot, even though it looks like the lighting is low, her look is clearly visible and defined. When I posted my indoor look on my blog everyone thought it was a dress because you can't see the defined waist of the skirt that well, the picture is grainy, and the lighting is there you have it...reason to upgrade!

Canon Powershot G12
Both the Canon Rebels and Canon Ds are DSLRs, while the Canon G-12 is an Advanced Camera (entry level bridge between Point and Shoot & DSLR). DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex.  If you're like me you're still wondering what that means...All I know is that I need to upgrade to a DSLR. Now don't get me wrong I love my Canon SD1400 IS 14.1 MP camera. It's great for carrying around with me, but unless I'm taking photos outside or in perfectly lit indoors, I've noticed that my shots are grainy.  I've tried multiple settings to obtain better shots and finally realized that the camera I have is not powerful enough to capture my looks the way I want (like Jessica's! Haha).

Canon Powershot ELPH300HS
Realizing that I need to upgrade, while not understanding a DSLR I decided to do some research on cameras in general.  I'm no photographer and there are tons of camera terms that are listed on camera spec sheets and I have no clue how they should affect or not affect my future camera purchase.  So today for Part One, I will share with you the information I discovered.

Photography Jargon 
Megapixels - directly influences what you'll be able to do with digital photos after you've snapped them.  For everyday prints a lower megapixel count will probably serve your needs just fine. Likewise, if you plan mainly to blog or share photos online, you shouldn't worry about maxing out your new digital camera in this regard.
  • Megapixels (Effective) - A camera's image sensor resolution measured in millions of tiny dots (pixels). Effective megapixels - the number of megapixels actually used to capture the image -- is typically slightly lower than the number of available megapixels.

Shutter speed - This terms refers to how fast the shutter snaps. High speeds are necessary for many action shots or sports photography. Shutter speed is measured in seconds-or in most cases fractions of seconds. The bigger the denominator the faster the speed (ie 1/1000 is much faster than 1/30).
  • Focal Length and Shutter Speed - another thing to consider when choosing shutter speed is the focal length of the lens you’re using. Longer focal lengths will accentuate the amount of camera shake you have and so you’ll need to choose a faster shutter speed (unless you have image stabilization in your lens or camera). The ‘rule’ of thumb to use with focal length in non image stabilized situations) is to choose a shutter speed with a denominator that is larger than the focal length of the lens. For example if you have a lens that is 50mm 1/60th is probably ok but if you have a 200mm lens you’ll probably want to shoot at around 1/250.
In traditional (film) photography ISO (or ASA) was the indication of how sensitive a film was to light. It was measured in numbers (you’ve probably seen them on films – 100, 200, 400, 800 etc). The lower the number the lower the sensitivity of the film and the finer the grain in the shots you’re taking.

Put most simply– Aperture is ‘the size of the opening in the lens when a picture is taken.’ When you hit the shutter release button of your camera a hole opens up that allows your cameras image sensor to catch a glimpse of the scene you’re wanting to capture. The aperture that you set impacts the size of that hole. The larger the hole the more light that gets in – the smaller the hole the less light.
  • Depth of Field (DOF) is that amount of your shot that will be in focus.
  • Large depth of field means that most of your image will be in focus whether it’s close to your camera or far away (like the picture to the left where both the foreground and background are largely in focus – taken with an aperture of f/22).
  • Small (or shallow) depth of field means that only part of the image will be in focus and the rest will be fuzzy (like in the flower at the top of this post (click to enlarge). You’ll see in it that the tip of the yellow stems are in focus but even though they are only 1cm or so behind them that the petals are out of focus. This is a very shallow depth of field and was taken with an aperture of f/4.5).
White Balance
At its simplest – the reason we adjust white balance is to get the colors in your images as accurate as possible. So for cooler (blue or green) light you’ll tell the camera to warm things up and in warm light you’ll tell it to cool down.

Lens Focal Length(s)  The distance (in millimeters) from a camera's image sensor to its lens, usually given in terms of the 35mm (film camera) equivalent. Cameras with optical zoom have a range of focal lengths, while cameras without optical zoom have a fixed focal length.
Optical Zoom  This is your lens' true zoom capability. The lens does the work by reducing or enlarging the field of view. The greater the optical zoom, the closer you can get to the subject you are shooting.

Digital Zoom (aka Digital Magnification)  This is not true zoom, it is merely simulating zoom by enlarging the existing image's pixels by cropping. The actual length of the lens does not change. Digital zooming results in reduced image quality, and should generally be avoided or turned off on your camera altogether. Optical zoom is recommended to ensure crisp, detailed photos.

Burst Mode  Also referred to as continuous shooting, burst mode captures multiple shots in rapid succession with a single click of the shutter. This is a useful feature when shooting subjects in motion.

Focus Range  Distance over which the camera is capable of focusing on the subject.

Interface  Connection used to transfer digital images from a camera to a computer. USB 2.0 is the most common digital camera interface.

Exposure Control  Settings that regulate the amount of light entering the camera lens, which affects how light or dark an image will be.

Imaging Sensor Size  Size of the CCD or CMOS image sensor, usually measured in fractions of an inch (e.g., 1/1.8" or 2/3"). In general, the larger the sensor, the better the picture quality.

External Flash Mount  (Also referred to as a hot shoe.) Available on some higher-end digital cameras (usually SLR digital cameras) to allow the addition of an external flash for extra light.

Video Outputs  Jack that allows the camera to be connected to a TV for viewing images

Tripod Mount  A threaded socket in a camera's base that is used to secure it to a tripod. 
Useful Links
  1. Canon Product Information
  2. Most Known Terms for Digital Camera Shopping
  3. Digital Camera Buying Guide
  4. What I Wore Gallery


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  1. This was really great info... I have a Canon 60D and am still adjusting to using it-there are just so many settings! Another MAJOR issue with photos on blogs are the editing tools, these can rally have a major impact...

  2. That's a good point too! Even if your camera takes amazing shots, how they display on your website may have nothing to do with the camera :-)

  3. FashionmakeuplifestyleNovember 19, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    This is a such a great info Shasie and seriously never look into it with some much detail as you had. My pictures are taken by my BFF and he has Sony NEX-5. My camera is a piece of crap..(seriously) it doesn't take good pics at all and I need to upgrade to whenever I go to events I can get good quality pics.
    Thanks for this useful and much needed info doll.

    <3 Marina


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