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FAQ - Digital-Cameras Question

10. What does megapixel mean? 

A pixel is a little square that makes up the image on your computer screen. For example, your computer's 17" monitor has a resolution of 1280 pixels wide by 1024 pixels tall. A digital camera's CCD can only capture so many of these pixels, which are then stored in memory, and later transferred to your computer.

If a camera can capture at a resolution of 1280 x 1024 (just like the above monitor), which is a little over 1,300,000 pixels (finding out the total pixels by multiply 1280 x 1024). The word "mega" is taken from the Greek word meaning "great", and usually means "one million". Hence, a camera with 1,000,000 pixels is a 1 Megapixel camer

11. What is ISO speed? 

This setting has been adopted from film cameras. It refers to the film's sensitivity to light. Higher ISO speeds are needed to take pictures in worse lighting conditions, however they also cause an increased amount of noise. 100 ISO is the default. At 400 ISO the noise is easily detectable on most cameras.

12. What is JPEG and TIFF? 

Two most popular picture storage formats used by digital cameras are JPEG and TIFF. The JPEG format uses lossy compression (some data judged by the algorithm to be less important to the human viewer is discarded) to achieve small file sizes. The TIFF format uses lossless compression so no information is lost, however the pictures are typically much larger. High-quality JPEG setting is preferable for most uses.

13. What is red-eye reduction? 

Red-eye effect occurs when the pupils of people's eyes appear to be red in a picture. This effect can be prevented by using the camera's feature of shining the light before a picture is taken, asking the subjects not to look directly at the camera, or using the photo-editing software's red-eye removal feature.

14. What is the deal with the different "quality" settings on my camera?

Most, if not all, cameras have several image quality settings to choose from. They are first broken down by resolution (e.g. 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 1024 x 768, etc) and then by quality (e.g. SHQ, HQ, SQ). What's the right one to use?

The deal is this: quality is inversely proportional to the amount of JPEG compression the camera uses. Thus, a higher quality image will have less compression, and vice versa.

As you lower the quality and increased the compression, there will be more "artifacts" in your image. The artifacts are a result of the higher JPEG compression. You will notice that edges will seem blurry, or little squares will appear. See the example above for a good illustration of this.

We recommend using the middle setting for everyday shooting. If you're making big prints, consider using the highest quality JPEG level. Skip over TIFF mode, as the quality really isn't any better than high quality JPEG, but they take up much more space on your memory car

15. What is the difference in performance between rechargeable and non-rechargeable batteries? 

Rechargeable batteries perform a little differently than non-rechargeable batteries. The voltage coming from an Alkaline (non-rechargeable) battery decreases steadily as the battery is discharged. Ni-MH and Li-ion batteries have a lower starting voltage than Alkaline (typically 1.2-1.3V vs. 1.5V for Alkaline), but rechargeables maintain this level until they are almost discharged. One potential problem: the battery life indicator of the camera may be calibrated for alkaline batteries, which could make it somewhat inaccurate. What sort of problems will I have with rechargeable batteries?

Rechargeable batteries lose their charge sitting in the camera. Ni-MH batteries lose between 1% - 4% of their charge a day. Since many cameras start reporting a low battery at 80% of full charge, the batteries could be reported low in as little as ten days. This number will vary greatly depending upon the age of the battery, temperature, and camera.

Memory effect was a problem with older Ni-Cd batteries. This problem has been reduced with newer batteries and chargers, though how you use your batteries may also impact performance. Ni-MH batteries do not have this problem, nor do the Li-ion batteries

16. What kind of camera do I need to print out a 4 x 6 inch image or a 8 x 10's? 

Here's a simple way of answering this question:

Print Szie Minimun Resolution Needed
4 x 6 inch,
5 x 7 inch
2 Megapixel
8 x 10 inch 3 Megapixel
Lager than 8 x 10 inch 4+ Megaoixel

A four Megapixel camera will not make better 4 x 6 inch prints than a 2 Megapixel camera. However, it does capture a lot more detail, allowing you to crop your image while still maintaining enough resolution for a high quality prin

17. What sort of problems will I have with rechargeable batteries?

Rechargeable batteries lose their charge sitting in the camera. Ni-MH batteries lose between 1% - 4% of their charge a day. Since many cameras start reporting a low battery at 80% of full charge, the batteries could be reported low in as little as ten days. This number will vary greatly depending upon the age of the battery, temperature, and camera.

Memory effect was a problem with older Ni-Cd batteries. This problem has been reduced with newer batteries and chargers, though how you use your batteries may also impact performance. Ni-MH batteries do not have this problem, nor do the Li-ion batteries

18. What's the difference between optical zoom and digital zoom?

It's important to understand this difference, as you could end up mighty disappointed with the results if you get one rather than the other.

Optical zoom is similar to what you'll find in a regular 35mm camera: When you push the button to zoom in or out, physical lens elements move inside the camera, to achieve the desired effect.

Digital zoom, on the other hand, has no moving parts. Using the "electronic brain" within the camera instead, the camera takes a look at what it's "looking at", and digitally zooms in, usually two to four times closer.

The problem with digital zoom is that you lose quality when you do this -- your images will tend to be more "pixelated" than the same image taken with an optical zoom camera. This is due to the "interpolation" the camera uses, which is a nice way of saying that it makes a guess about how the picture should look while zoomed in. Having optical AND digital zoom on a camera isn't bad, but we suggest try to avoid cameras with only digital zoom

19. Why is there a delay after I push the shutter release button before I can take another picture? 

There are many reasons for this delay. The camera must:

Set the focus, exposure time, white balance, etc.
Charge up the CCD
- apparently it can't hold the charge for long, so it does it right before you shoot
Copy the image out of the CCD into RAM.
Compress the image after it's been taken
Write the image to the flash memory.

20. Why my camera reports a low battery after only ten minutes of use?

Digital cameras are power high-drain devices. They will take the life out of your battery, particularly if you take a lot of pictures in rapid succession. It is not uncommon for some digital cameras to report a low battery after only ten minutes of use, if you are using the flash and the LCD display at the same time.

21. Will a high resolution camera make better prints than a lower resolution camera? 

To be more specific: will you get better 4 x 6 inch prints from a 3 or 4 Megapixel camera versus a 2 Megapixel camera? Possibly, but the average person won't notice. The real advantage of a higher resolution camera is that with the larger image size, there's more room to crop images. In terms of quality though, it's not a huge deal. At print sizes like 8 x 10 inch, you will notice a difference.

22. Will an airport X-Ray scanner erase my pictures on a digital camera card? 

No, the chance of this happening is very remote

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