The secrets of taking good pictures: Camera, action

Buying the right camera can be complicated, so here are some tips on finding the perfect photography equipment for your needs.

Camera 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Camera 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
Tom Langford is an event and commercial photographer, professional retoucher, and a website designer.
Suggesting the perfect camera can be a difficult task. This is not because there are so many to choose from but because there are so many different reasons people want a camera.
Go to a camera shop and ask for something to take snaps of your children and the salesperson will most likely suggest a small compact camera that slips easily into a pocket or bag. Most families have one but they are usually the worst choice to capture children. They take longer to focus than SLRs and are subject to “shutter lag” – that annoying delay between pressing the shutter button and capturing an image. By the time the picture is taken, active children have moved out of the shot, jumping children have landed, and cute smiles have turned into poking tongues.
SLRs are bulkier and heavier but they focus almost instantly, have less shutter lag, and are the best choice for capturing action. They also give better results at higher ISOs (the apparent sensitivity of the imaging chip) and this allows for higher shutter speeds to freeze movement.
Whether you are thinking of buying a compact or an SLR an important consideration is just how wide the wide-angle end of the zoom lens that comes with it is. There’s nothing worse than trying to capture the breadth of a beautiful vista with a lens that only takes in a small segment of it.
The ability to take close-up pictures of flowers and birds is also very important to many people. With an SLR it’s possible to buy a special macro or telephoto lens, but with compact cameras you have to make sure it will focus close enough to take impressive shots small objects and have a zoom long enough to capture distant wildlife. Some compact cameras are much better at this than others.
So how do you choose which camera to buy? It can be a good idea to write a short list of what sort of pictures you would like to take and then do some research on the Internet. Make a selection of cameras that meet your most important requirements and try not to be overwhelmed with all the clever features may never be used. Price is not so important a consideration since there is something to suit almost every budget.
Photographers know that cameras don’t take good pictures; the person taking the pictures takes them using their head. Photographs can only be as good as the photographer’s understanding and experience. Equipment just gives more possibilities but it can never take a good shot.
So before deciding on a new camera, take a moment to consider if you have explored the possibilities of your present camera. Don’t be fooled by sales talk or be impressed with the myriads of features lurking in the menus.
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Tom Langford is an Event and Commercial photographer, website designer, and professional retoucher. He teaches photography courses for beginners and improvers. Details at: and