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PUT A DIGITAL CAMERA TO WORK
by Randy Glass and Rachel
communicating with Bill and Jan Smith for several weeks
now. They are prospective buyers that contacted you from
your Web site, and are relocating to your city in six
months. Theyve asked to see some of the other homes
youve recently built in the 2000 sq.ft. range.
Whats the simplest and quickest way to handle this?
The answer is, emailing a
photo from your digital camera!
A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS
Sending photos via email
is simple and easy with todays digital cameras and
the Internet. They capture images that are ready to use
in a matter of seconds. Since there is no film to
develop, it means no trips to drop off film or finished
photos to pick-up. And theres no scanning of the
photos to get them into your computer.
Most email programs have
an "Attach" button - click it and a file-search
box pops up. Select the picture that you've put into your
computer from your digital camera, when the message is
sent, the photo goes too!
Normally digital cameras
also have a "Play" mode for looking at pictures
stored in the camera. You can see if the image was
successfully captured, and reshoot if it isn't right. No
more waiting for the film to be developed, then finding
that you have to start all over because the photo didn't
The speed and convenience
of a digital camera are appreciated when you have a
customer or supplier waiting for a picture, or when words
just wont create the image you want to convey.
SHOPPING FOR A CAMERA
As with most purchases during your
lifetime, the old age saying "you get what you pay for" generally rings
true when buying a digital camera. While a cheap model with lots of
bells and whistles may seem tempting, upon further investigation- it
might be quite useless for your needs and more frustration than help. As
a builder, you know how important it is to use the right tool for the
job, so consider the following points and you'll end up not with any
digital camera, but the right digital camera.
In the past 10 years or so, few technological devices have evolved as
much as the digital camera. In the late 90's, digital cameras were
large, expensive, slow and most importantly, poor quality. Those days
are long gone and digital has now reached a point where the image
quality is as good as, if not better than film. Digital cameras can cost
anything from $100 to 10,000 but excellent results can be achieved with
a budget in the hundreds, not thousands of dollars.
It seems the main point of comparison for most people is the number of
megapixels on offer. To the layman, the larger the number - the better
the quality of image. A few years back, cameras with less than 1 million
pixels were sold and the images were too small to be enlarged much
bigger than a postcard. Nowadays, 6 megapixel is a good starting point
and quite acceptable for enlarging and the majority of uses.
When buying a digital camera, you have a choice between a "compact" with
a permanently fixed lens or an SLR (single lens reflex), which has
interchangeable lenses. The price of digital SLR cameras has
dramatically fallen in the last couple of years and is now comparable to
the more expensive compact models. The advantages of SLR cameras are
numerous - higher quality images (due to better lenses and a larger
image sensor), flexibility with lenses (especially wide-angle) and
flexibility with accessories such as external flash.
When choosing a camera to photograph homes, it's important to look for
one with a wide-angle lens, as it will help make rooms look spacious and
permit photography of tight spaces such as bathrooms. Compact cameras
that have a wide-angle lens as standard will often distort much more
than SLR cameras.
This is not to say that you'll always be using your camera on its widest
setting. You might need to send a detailed picture of damage to an
insurance company or take some photos to document progress of a job to
show your client. So a camera that can zoom and maybe photograph
close-up should also be considered.
Another consideration when purchasing a digital camera is what type of
batteries it uses. Ideally aim for a camera that uses a dedicated Li-ion
(Lithium-Ion) battery rather than conventional AA style batteries. These
batteries can be recharged hundreds of times and have much greater
capacity than conventional AA's. Finally, get into the habit of charging
your battery every time you return home so your camera is always ready
Once you've purchased your camera, take some time to explore its
features before going out to shoot anything important. White balance
adjustment while often automatic, can be adjusted manually to improve
your images. For example, a room photographed at night under tungsten
light may appear overly warm, even yellow. Set your white balance
control and colors should appear cleaner and more accurate. On most
cameras exposure can also be altered with a +/- setting. To lighten an
image, try +1 or +2 and keep your results for later comparison as the
viewing screen can often look brighter than that of the computer.
Another useful setting is a 'night' or long exposure setting that tells
the flash not to fire and captures the natural lighting within a room.
To best use this feature, attach your camera to a tripod or put it on a
steady, level surface as the exposure will look blurry if you try to
Useful accessories include a good quality memory card (SanDisk and Lexar
are both reliable brands) of 2GB or more. Memory cards are now very
cheap and a large capacity card allows hundreds of maximum quality
images to be stored without having to delete old pictures to make room
An external flash unit is another useful accessory though more practical
with an SLR than a compact. Apart from being more powerful than the
inbuilt flash, an external unit can also be tilted and rotated to change
the direction of light - particularly handy when shooting interiors.
To have ongoing success with your camera, ensure the front element of
the lens is perfectly clean to avoid hazy images. If you choose an SLR
camera, take care when changing lenses, as any dust entering the camera
body will appear on your images as black dots, which are difficult to
remove. Finally, as with any tool, treat your camera with respect and
you should get many years of great use from it.
Randy Glass is the Owner/Editor of
THE FEATHER RIVER CANYON
newspaper serving the Feather River area of Butte
County, California, since 1986. Visit Randy and
his very informative newspaper on the Web and
learn even more about digital photography.
is a freelance architectural photographer based in