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Tutorials on Basic photography and Accessories

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The Nikon D300 is the LONG awaited successor to the D200, which was introduced way back in 2005. This upgrade isn’t evolutionary by any stretch of the imagination — it’s a totally new camera. Here are the most significant new features:

  • New 12.3 effective Megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor
  • EXPEED image processing “concept”
  • Continuous shooting as fast as 8 frames/second (with the optional battery grip)
  • 51-point autofocus with 3D subject tracking
  • Huge 3-inch LCD display with 307,000 pixels (920,000 dots) with live view support
  • Dust reduction system
  • Picture Control settings let you have sets of color control settings (think Picture Styles on Canon SLRs)
  • Active D-Lighting lets you brighten shadows while taking photos (instead of after)
  • Rugged magnesium alloy body is sealed against dust and moisture
  • HDMI video output

And that’s just the short list — there will be a lot more new stuff mentioned in the review.

The D300 is probably the most-anticipated digital SLR of the year. How does it perform? Keep reading — our review starts right now.

What’s in the Box?

  • The 12.3 effective Megapixel Nikon D300 camera body
  • F3.5-5.6, 18 – 135 mm AF-S DX lens [cheap lens kit only]
  • F3.5-5.6, 18 – 200 mm AF-S DX VR II lens [expensive lens kit only]
  • EN-EL3e lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • Battery charger
  • LCD monitor cover
  • Body cap
  • Eyepiece cap
  • Shoulder strap
  • USB cable
  • Video cable
  • Software Suite CD-ROM
  • 421 page camera manual (printed)

The D300 doesn’t come with a memory card, so you’ll need to pick one up if you don’t have one already. Like its predecessor, the D300 has a CompactFlash slot that supports both Type I and Type II cards. It also supports the super high-speed UDMA CF cards. I’d recommend buying a high speed 2GB card, at the very least.

If you buy either of the lens kits, then you’re ready to go right away. If you didn’t, then you should know that you can attach nearly any F-mount Nikkor lens in existence. There is a 1.5X focal length conversion ratio here, so a 50 mm lens will have a field-of-view of 75 mm. If you want a full-frame Nikon D-SLR then you’ll have to step up to the D3.

The D300 isn’t the largest or heaviest camera in its class, but it’s darn close. It’s more-or-less the same size and weight of the D200 that came before it.

 

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Written by bargainmemorycards

February 21, 2009 at 12:04 am

Posted in Nikon D300 DSLR

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Memory Cards For Digital Cameras

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A memory card is your film, and the bigger the memory card, the more pictures you can fit on it,

  • What type do you need?
  • How large and how fast is the right one?
  • Who makes the best brand for your camera?

These are all questions you have to answer before you start taking pictures with your digital camera.

The main types of digital camera memory cards include

  • SD
  • xD
  • CompactFlash

That list might sound confusing, but it is usually rather easy to tell what type of memory card you need.

SD

SD Memory Card

 Some of the smallest and thinnest memory cards are the Secure Digital and MultiMediaCard memory and so they are usually seen in smaller digital cameras, PDA’s, cell phones, and MP3 players.

The only difference between the two memory types is that Secure Digital cards have a write-protect switch for added data security.

XD

The first digital camera I had used xD Picture cards, they were introduced by Olympus and Fuji in 2002, and are the newest type of memory. Its tiny size of only xD Memory Card0.97” x 0.98” x 0.67” means it can fit into tiny cameras.

The xD Picture Card can also be used in any CompactFlash compatible camera with the available CompactFlash adapter.

Since it was developed and introduced by Olympus and Fuji, most current compact digital cameras from those manufacturers use the xD Picture Card media

Compact Flash

Compact Flash Memory CardOne of the most common types of digital camera memory is CompactFlash. More higher end digital cameras, and digital SLRs, are CompactFlash compatible.

There are two types of CompactFlash, just to confuse you even more. They are both physically different, thus some cameras can’t take both. There are Type I and Type II, and Type II is thicker. So check to make sure that if you buy a Type II that your camera can hold it. Type II CompactFlash is usually a higher capacity card, so if you are buying a 512MB or 1GB card, it is currently most likely that it is a Type II card.

One of the main reasons so many camera makers adopt the CompactFlash standard is that the cards have a controller chip that allows for higher transfer rates. Most cameras can’t take advantage of this, as they need to have large internal buffers. Most digital SLRs can take advantage of this though.

Inexpensive, easy to find, and work in a large variety of digital cameras, CompactFlash is one of the more desirable types of digital camera memory. The only complaint, it is a bit bigger than most other types, and so to save room, it seems like there has been a big shift towards other types of memory.

Anything else to concider?

Well, other than the size of the memory card, and the type, you also need to worry about its speed, and brand. Sometimes camera makers have it set up that you need to use their memory card, be it Olympus for an Olympus camera, to be able to use all of the features inside the camera. Usually this is just a recommendation, and you can use other companies memory cards just fine.

For DSLR cameras, Sticking to brand names, SanDiskKingston, Integral and other big brands is always your best bet. Not saying the memory you could get from a lesser known name won’t run as well, but the speeds of these memory cards may be  less, though  for branded memory cards,you do pay a little more for that piece of mind.

Written by bargainmemorycards

February 20, 2009 at 11:19 pm

What Is ISO

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ISO is actually a common short name for the International Organisation for Standardization.

The ISO setting on your camera is something that has carried over from film. Remember back in the ‘old days’ when you used to go and buy your rolls of film and you would buy film rated at 100, 200 or 400, maybe even 800 or 1600? Well that number refers to the film’s sensitivity to light. The higher the number, the more sensitive to light the film is. The ISO bit is from the standards for film sensitivity, and the number refers to it’s rating.

So what does sensitivity mean? Well a low sensitivity means that the film has to be exposed to light for a longer period of time than a film with a high sensitivity in order to properly expose the image. With a lower sensitivity you also get a better quality image too which is why you should always try and use the lowest sensitivity you can get away with. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, a little more explanation is required.

You might remember buying film for a sunny holiday and the shop assistant would recommend using a film rated at 100 or 200. If, on the other hand, you were going to be taking pictures indoors, then you might be recommended a higher sensitivity like 400 or maybe 800. If you used ISO100 film and decided to take some pictures indoors, chances are you would need to use the flash, or your pictures would come out quite dark.

This is because the film’s sensitivity is so low that the shutter would need to be open for a long time to let enough light in. Your camera may not have had the features to allow it to keep the shutter open for long enough, which is why you ended up with dark pictures.

This was one of the problems with film. Once you’d loaded it into your camera, you were pretty much stuck with that film sensitivity for 24 or 36 shots.

Bring on digital cameras and you can now change the ISO setting for each shot you take. That is one of the big advantages of digital photography.

So why do you only get choices like 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and maybe 3200 when it’s digital, surely you could set 154 or 958 if you wanted it? It’s only electrical currents and circuits after all, not a piece of film. Well, in theory you could choose any setting you wanted, but imagine how tricky that would be.

There are three settings which combine to give you the exposure, these are Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO. Each one can be changed individually to allow you to set then to what you think will give you the perfect exposure, or you can let the camera set them for you to what it thinks is the perfect exposure for the conditions it can detect. Already with three different options, each having several settings themselves, the combinations are numerous, so keeping ISO to set values, which people will understand makes it a little less confusing.

Now, I mentioned quality too, and that better quality images are achieved with a lower ISO number. If, again, you go back to film days you may remember the sort of grainy effect some images had. Well this grain effect is what is introduced with a higher sensitivity film. Digital has it’s own grain effect with higher sensitivity and is known as Noise.

Digital noise can be seen a sort of speckley effect in areas of similar colour, like skies or dark shadow areas. It is a subject of much discussion and the camera is often judged on the amount of noise it produces at these higher sensitivities. This is why you should always try and keep your ISO set to the lowest number, and use aperture and shutter speed to get the right exposure. If you can’t do that with aperture or shutter speed, move up to the next ISO setting and try again.

Why is a high ISO setting needed? Well for indoor work, where flash isn’t allowed and the light levels are fairly low. Or you can use it deliberately to get the grainy gritty feel to the image (although I would prefer to add this later on the computer).

It’s well worth experimenting with ISO settings so you can see just how your camera performs at the various levels. Once you have got to grips with how changing Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO effect your image, you’ve pretty much got all the technical fundamentals nailed.

Over at the Digital Photography School Blog there is a nice post on how to choose the right ISO setting which is worth checking out.

Written by bargainmemorycards

February 20, 2009 at 10:38 pm

Shutter Speed

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Shutter speed is a setting on your camera which controls the length of time the shutter is open, allowing light through the lens to the sensor inside your camera. Shutter speeds can go from very small fractions of a second, to several seconds long on most cameras.

So why would you want to change it?

On a very bright day when there is a lot of light, if you allow the shutter to be open for too long then too much light will get to the sensor. When this happens you end up with pictures that are very pale and almost all white. This is known as being Over Exposed.

Let’s say, for a simplified example, that to get a perfectly exposed image on a bright sunny day, ignoring all the other camera settings, that you need the shutter to open for half a second. This half a second allows just the right amount of light through to the sensor to get a well exposed imaged.

Now, as the day goes by and you get to the evening, there isn’t as much light about. So if you took a picture and your shutter speed was still set at half a second you would end up with a very dark image, or an Under Exposed image. This is because not enough light got through to the cameras sensor in that half a second. So in order to compensate against lower levels of light, you would need to keep the shutter open for longer.

This may seem straight forward enough, but the longer the shutter is open, the more chance there is of ending up with a blurred image. The slightest of movements while the shutter is open will register as a blurred effect. Sometimes this can be the desired effect, but most of the time you want a sharp image. Using a tripod, sitting the camera on a solid object like a wall or the floor or holding the camera against a solid object like a big tree or wall can help reduce the chances of getting blurry images.

Most digital cameras will have a fully automatic setting where it decides what settings are best, so all you have to worry about is pointing the camera in the right direction and pressing the button. This may be the mode you use all the time, but it’s well worth experimenting with these settings yourself to see what effect they have. Once you start to understand these settings and what they can do to your image you will open up a whole new range of photographic opportunities and much more creative and pleasing photos.

Written by bargainmemorycards

February 20, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Posted in Photography Tips

Undersatnding Aperture

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Aperture is the term used to describe what is simply the hole in the lens that light travels through to reach the camera’s sensor or film. This hole can be set at different sizes, and combined with shutter speed, you get the two main settings which control exposure.

There is some maths involved to get the actual values, but to be honest, that doesn’t really matter. What’s more important is to know what aperture is, and what happens when you change it. Getting your head round aperture can be a bit of a hurdle, so hopefully this will help a little bit.

The first thing to get your head round is that the smaller the number the larger the hole. OK, that may sound a little odd but in this example f2.8 is the largest hole, and f22 is the smallest hole for the lens shown in the next photo.

aperture

Don’t worry about the ‘f’ either, there aren’t ‘g’ settings or ‘z’ settings, but it’s handy to know that when someone says “I used f8″, you know what they are referring to.

There are of course a range of settings in between the ones shown, and depending on what lens your camera has may effect what settings are available to use, but this should give you an idea of what is actually happening when you change the aperture setting on your camera. By making the hole smaller, you are reducing the amount of light that reaches the sensor or film in the time that the shutter is open. So from this you can start to see how shutter speed and aperture work together.

For example, if you are getting the perfect exposure with a shutter speed of 1 second and an aperture of f8, and then it gets a bit darker. You want to let more light in, so you can either keep the shutter open for longer, or make the hole bigger. Both will let more light in, but both have their own effects on the image, and it is these effects you should learn to understand.

Written by bargainmemorycards

February 20, 2009 at 9:36 pm