We all know cameras are cool, but how much do you know about camera hardware and accessories? If the answer is “not much,” read on!
Most camera hardware is designed for SLR cameras, and not point and shoot cameras. But, I don’t like to make people feel left out! For those of you out there with a point and shoot camera, you can still pick up some cool accessories like camera bags, tripods, and media cards to enhance your digital photography. Most camera hardware options contradict the benefits of a point and shoot camera anyway, namely: convenience, ease of use, and small size for portability. When you start adding hardware, things become a little more advanced.
For those of you who have SLR cameras (or hope to get one this holiday season), here are a few hardware options you might be interested in:
Your SLR camera already comes with a built in flash, which is fine for snapshots and candid photos, but really only work well when the subject is within 15 feet. Also, the built in flashes almost always give people red eye, because the flash and the lens are so close together and are pointed at the same angle when you take a photo.
An external flash allows you to move the flash away from the lens and use a different angle to light your shot. Even moving it 6-12 inches away from the lens can eliminate red eye, though if you are shooting from a long distance away, you will need at least a few feet between the lens and the flash.
External flashes also allow you to use a technique the pros use all the time: bounce the flash. Tip the flash up so the light hits the ceiling in an indoor shot. The light will bounce off the ceiling and fall onto the subjects, rather than shoot straight at them like a built in flash. This gives the photo a more natural lighting effect. Or, use a rubber band to attach a business card to the top of the external flash to reflect the light up and forward at the same time. This enhances the light in your photos even more and eliminates the dark eye effect (the dark eye effect is when the eyes have a shadowy look from the light coming down from above). Your photos will get exponentially better with just this one technique.
Lastly, if you buy an external flash, purchase a sync cord, which lets you move the flash several feet away from the camera. A sync cord automatically triggers the flash when you take a photo, regardless of where the flash is in relation to the camera.
Different lenses are one of the reasons pros use SLRs as opposed to point and shoot cameras. Most SLRs come with a zoom lens you can attach and remove, but there are plenty of other options out there. A wide angle lens (18mm, 24mm, 28mm, or 35mm) expands the horizons in your shot and makes photos appear more like how our eyes see things. This is a great lens for nature landscapes or for shooting in a room.
A portrait lens (105mm or 135mm) shortens the background and gives peoples’ faces the correct proportions that often appear slightly incorrect with other lenses. As the name suggests, this lens is good for portraits and close up shots.
Long lenses you often see sports photographers using help you get closer to your subject. But, they do more than bring you closer to the action; they also help isolate the subject by throwing the background out of focus.
As far as pricing is concerned, you get what you pay for. Most high quality lenses are several hundred dollars or more. The less expensive ones let less light in than the more expensive ones. They are still quality lenses, but are not as versatile. Visit your local store to see what lenses are available. Bring in your camera to try them out.
Check out our blog post: Shooting in Manual Mode