5 reasons to buy your next camera from a store

I currently work part time in a camera store and one of the most common phrases I hear is “I can get it cheaper online”. I couldn’t agree more, you certainly can get cameras cheaper online but I have to ask: If you can get it cheaper online and the dollar value is all you’re looking at, why are you in my store?

Buying from an established camera store such as Ted’s gives you many benefits over shopping online. While I have the chance, I highly recommend that you buy from a dedicated camera store as opposed to an electronics giant such as Dick Smiths or Harvey Norman. At Ted’s, we’re passionate about helping you choose the right camera, not the most expensive or fastest sale.

1. See the Product

Buying from a store gives you the opportunity to see, hold and play with the camera that you’re interested in. Often, it’s hard to determine the physical aspects of a camera without seeing it. Weight, size, display clarity and construction are all aspects where you can’t get a full appreciation from a written review.

2. Get product advice

There are hundreds of cameras on the market today. Walking into a camera store, you know that the people you are talking to are passionate about photography. We want you to get the best product for the purpose that you want to use it for. We want you to be happy with your camera and the most expensive isn’t always the right solution!

3. The power to negotiate

If you are dealing with genuine Australian Stock, there usually isn’t a huge discrepancy in price between retailers. If there is, chances are, your online dealer isn’t providing you Australian Stock with Australian warranty. If you’ve found a better price online and you know they’re an authorised Australian dealer for that brand, use that to negotiate a better price in your local store.

4. Immediate Delivery

Another benefit to buying from a store is that you can walk out of the store with your new camera. There’s no delivery involved and you get to play with your new toy sooner.

5. After sales service and warranty

Buying from a retail store gives you a place to return to if something goes wrong. Whether it’s a fault with the camera or a rouge setting that has stopped you from achieving what you want, you can drop into the store to get advice on the problem that you are experiencing.

Managing photos with Picasa

When I first picked up a digital camera in 2oo5, I stored my photographs in various folders on my computer. I often forgot where I saved them or had to spend ages looking for specific photos. This all changed when I found Picasa. Picasa is a photo management application that helps you organise and share photos. If you have an Apple Mac, you might have iPhoto (also a photo management program) installed. If not, Picasa runs on Mac too.

So why use Picasa?

It’s Free

Picasa is a FREE photo management application that works on Microsoft Windows and on Apple OSX.

It centralises your photos

When you first open Picasa, it will search though your documents to find all your photographs.

It’s people focused

Picasa automatically finds people in your photographs. This allows you to create albums collages and sideshows based on the people you have taken photos of.

It’s easy to share

Sharing photos in Picasa is easy. You can email photographs to friends and family or upload your photos to a web album.

It’s not manufacturer specific

It can be used for all your photos, no matter the camera they’ve been taken on.

It’s easy to use

Here’s a video so you can see Picasa in action. Being a visual application, you really need to see Picasa to appreciate the amazing features it has.

Download Picasa

Like what you’ve seen?  Have a look at http://picasa.google.com, download Picasa and organise all your photos in one place.

Tips for capturing sharper photographs

I was out and about taking a few photos with a friend and he mentioned to me that he wanted a better lens because all his photos were coming out really soft. I was a little confused because he had the same camera and lens that I had a few years back and I never had any issues with softness. He said “I want my photos to come out nice and sharp” and as we talked, I found out what settings he was using to shoot his photos. I shared a few tips with him and that night, he emailed me to mention how well his photos turned out.

Sharper Photos

These are the tips that I shared with my friend that day.

Use a tripod

Simple, a tripod reduces the vibration and movement of the camera. No matter how steady you think you are, I can guarantee that you’re camera is still shaking if you’re holding it.

Enable mirror lockup or Live View

On SLR cameras, there’s a mirror in the camera that needs to flip up to record the picture to memory (or film). Every time this mirror flips up, it causes tiny vibrations though the camera. It also makes the nice chunky SLR shutter sound.

Use a remote release or timer

All SLRs on the market can accept remote releases and can be either cabled or wireless. If you have a point and shoot, most of them come with a timer option. Both these methods allow the camera to take the photo without you pressing the button which could move the camera ever so slightly.

Increase shutter speed

The longer your shutter stays open, the more susceptible it becomes to movement of both the camera and the subject you’re shooting. By increasing the shutter speed, you’re reducing the amount of time the camera has to record the movement.

Shoot lots and lots of photographs

Put simply, the more photos you take, the more chance you will end up with one turns out well. Especially when you’re shooting action shots. If you can, set your camera to burst mode. This mode will allow your camera to take consecutive photos when you hold the release down. I *always* shoot in burst mode and when shooting events or action photos, often take more than one photo of the same subject.

Use the sweet spot of your lens

This is an interesting topic. Your lens will usually support an aperture of around f/4 – f/32. The general rule is the lower the aperture, the softer the image becomes, as it reduces the Depth of Field. If you reverse that, you would expect that the higher the aperture, the sharper the image will be. Not quite. Many lenses will have what’s called a sweet spot where it’ll capture the sharpest image. Most lenses will capture their sharpest images around f/8 – f/11. Play around with your lens to find out where it captures the sharpest images.

Lower your ISO

ISO increases the light sensitivity of your camera, it also introduces noise. On newer cameras, up to ISO 800 is acceptable and produces reasonable captures. If however, you’re trying to capture the sharpest image you can, you want your ISO to be as low as possible. Most cameras will go as low as ISO100. My camera manages ISO50.

Get enough light

You’ve just thrown up your aperture and reduced your ISO which means that you will need more light to expose your image properly. There’s no point taking a black photo so make sure that there’s plenty of light around. Use sunlight, lamps, flashes, magnesium ribbon; anything you can find to get a decent amount of light.

These are all tips that I apply to my own photographs. I hope that these tips help you achieve sharper photos next time you head out with your camera. As always, I would love any ideas, tips, corrections and feedback you might have. If these tips have helped you, share your photos. I love seeing work by fellow photographers, post them on my facebook wall or send me a link on twitter.

5 Tips for choosing a Photographer

Choosing a Photographer

There are hundreds of photographers in Australia (and around the globe). In Canberra there are over 35 AAIP accredited photographers and a further 20 AAIP Emerging Members (Those with less than 2 years experience). That’s over 50 photographers registered with AAIP in Canberra alone

Australia wide, there’s around 1100 AAIP Accredited Photographers, 660 Emerging Members and many more photographers that are not affiliated with a professional institution. Now that’s a lot of photographers to choose from!

So how do you choose a photographer? Here are a few points to consider when you’re choosing your next photographer.

1. Style

Different photographers have different styles. Ask to see a variety of photos from different events and shoots to get a sense of his or her style. There’s no benefit choosing a photographer with raving reviews if you don’t like their style of photography!

2. Personality

You need to be yourself! Whether you’re planning family photos or your wedding, you want your photographer to be someone you feel comfortable around. Choose someone who is relaxed and easy to along with. This will bring out the best in you, which will be reflected in the captured images.

3. Professionalism and work quality

As I mentioned before, there are many photographers out there. Look for one that has had past experience in the assignment you had in mind. Ask to see completed wedding albums and prints of past assignments to ascertain the quality of the final product. All photographers should have examples of finished products as part of their portfolio.

4. Contracts/payments/cancellations

Has your photographer explained your contract details to you? For example, many photographers will not provide you with a copy of negatives or high-resolution image files. Find an honest photographer that will explain all the contract details, obligations (of both parties) and costs.

5. Pricing and Packages

Look for a photographer who works to meet your photography requirements, especially for weddings. You simply cannot fit such a special day into a predefined box. On the other hand, portrait photography can be easily packaged. Though you don’t need to let that stop you from asking about shoot locations or extended shoot times.

By no means is this a comprehensive list, more a starting point in your search for a photographer.

I’m starting to write these little articles to try and improve my knowledge of the photography industry as well as improve my writing skills. I would love to hear some of your feedback!