Three Topical Thoughts: Cameras

Standards Sell

I bought a new camera a few months ago. It threw me into a world of terms such as f-numbers, centre-weighted averages, TTLs, CCD sensors, megapixels, et al.

I’m no camera expert and I had a much harder time selecting a camera than I would have had if I was buying a computer. In the end however, many of the cameras seemed to have pretty similar specs and with cameras there is no end of choice.

You’d think that the most important thing which sells you a camera is megapixel number. I purchased my camera because it used standard batteries and standard memory. I’ve had bad experiences with proprietary batteries and when they run out of power after half a day of shooting, you can’t recharge them or replace them.

Excessive Snapping Syndrome 

When people go on holiday, many of them always have their cameras at the ready and try to capture every single image. Every place they go and walk a few steps they take a new image. Certainly I have had this problem too. Looking at waterfronts, scenes and animals through your camera’s screen is nothing like seeing it with your own eyes.

I guess it’s particularly bad for people who try to record their holiday on a camcorder.

Power Saving

Does anyone have any particular techniques on saving power on their cameras? I’m really talking about the time in between taking photos – when you’ve just taken a photo and you know you might want to take another one very soon.

I’ve tried three things:

  • Photo Mode but turning off display: This means the screen won’t have to update whilst your walking about. I’m unsure if the sensor will still be active; it may still be white balancing.
  • Display Mode: This will keep the screen on, but turn things like the sensor off, saving power. It will contract the lens, using up power.
  • Turning Off: This is a bit slower; it contracts the lens and then has to start up (taking about 3 seconds) which obviously uses power. But it doesn’t waste power doing white balancing, showing display, etc.

Does anyone have any tips for getting the most out of their batteries?

2 thoughts on “Three Topical Thoughts: Cameras

  1. My camera is quite old (5 years or so) and doesn’t have standard batteries, but a quite good mechanism to remove it. It can be done with one hand blidnly if done often enough, will surely turn everything that uses power off without contracting the lens. Startup time is the time it needs to start up the software (5 years old!) plus a bit to ‘reset’ the lenses. If your camera contracts the lenses though, this would quite eat up your earnings 🙂

  2. a) Count of megapixels is not the be-all and end-all. While I wouldn’t put battery-standardization high up the priority pile, you only need enough pixels for the maximum size print you’ll require at, say, 300dpi (around 6-8MPel including a bit of cropping). What matters is that those pixels are of highly accurate colours (as distinct from, for example, low-level noise).

    b) I’ve used nikon and olympus dSLRs with their custom batteries. I get around a month’s shooting (most weekend afternoons) out of one charge. By way of comparison, when I had a Sigma SD9 (“oh look! AA batteries, standard, how cool”) I only got a couple of hours, tops.

    c) Make it turn the screen off about 5-10s after shooting, and the whole thing off maybe 2mins afterwards. If you must repeat a shot (why?) then half-tap the shutter button to keep it alive.

    d) There’s nothing big or clever in having huge numbers of jpegs, of which none demonstrate any care or attention (and therefore *FAIL* to “capture the moment” of being there as well). Keep the dratted thing turned off. Look where you’re walking. Work out what objects you want, where, in the scene, walk don’t run, get there. Set the zoom and position cropping, etc. When the light is right, turn it on, set the exposure and shoot. Check the LCD preview if you must, and you’ll probably find it worthwhile turning the whole thing off for a few minutes until the next *decent* shot turns up.

    e) Having alluded to it as a `dratted thing’ once, turn all noises and beeps *off* too. Avoids being a nuisance *and* saves batteries! 😉

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