Don’t be Surprised

Just about every digital camera manufactured these days has a big, bright LCD display.  It’s there for a reason, you know, and it’s not just to let you see what you’re shooting (a viewfinder is better suited to that task, although most compact cameras don’t even have one, but that’s another story).  No, the LCD display can give you an abundance of useful information, both before and after the shot.  So much information, in fact, that you shouldn’t be too surprised when you finally get around to transferring them to your computer.

To illustrate what I’m talking about, I downloaded a user manual from a mid-range Canon point-and-shoot camera, the PowerShot SX210 IS.  This camera has a really nice 3.0 inch TFT LCD display.  Sure, your cat looks cute in this display, but let’s have a look at what else it can tell you.

Here are the display options in shooting mode:

Wow!  Thirty-four separate pieces of information at your fingertips.  I’ll mention three in particular that are easy to understand and yet very useful:

  • Number 7 (camera shake warning) – This indicator tells you that you’re probably going to have a blurry image unless you use a tripod.
  • Number 14 (digital zoom magnification) – I already told you here what I think about digital zoom, so you’d better not be using it.
  • Number 28 (aperture value) – Click here for a refresher on what this number means and how it relates to what you’re trying to photograph.

And here are the display options in playback mode:

This time there are “only” twenty-seven items!  Again, here are a few that I think may be helpful:

  • Number 4 (ISO speed) – This (and other settings) could just as easily have been reviewed (and adjusted if necessary) before you took the picture.  But if you forgot to do so, here’s an opportunity to notice that you had a setting that wasn’t optimal for your conditions and easily retake the shot without waiting until after seeing how crappy the image looks on your computer monitor.
  • Number 6 (white balance) – Look at the photo you just took.  Do the colors look right?  If not, check your white balance setting.  Go back to shooting mode, change your white balance, re-frame your subject and try again.  Click here for information about setting custom white balance.
  • Number 7 (histogram) – Click here for a lesson on how to read a histogram.

Not every camera has the same features, but I’d bet that most have a lot of information that you haven’t yet taken advantage of.  So dig that user manual out from under the La-Z-Boy and start learning!

Until next time … Happy Shooting!

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Japan Photo Industry Affected by Earthquake and Tsunami

Thanks to Mason Resnick at Adorama Camera for compiling the following information:

Epson announced that the Color Imaging Exhibition trade show, which was planned for March 19-21 in Tokyo, has been cancelled due to the crisis. Epson reports that while no casualties were reported at its facilities, one of its factories was hit by a one-meter tsunami, while three other facilities have been temporarily shut due to rolling blackouts as a result of the quake. Two buildings that are within 16km from the Fukushima nuclear plant have sustained some damage and are being shut for now.

Sony was hardest hit. Japan’s biggest exporter of consumer electronics, and a growing player in the still photography world, was forced to stop operations at ten factories and two research centers due to quake-related damage and power outages caused by emergencies at nuclear power plants. 1,000 Sony employees reportedly took shelter on the second floor of a nearby chemical products factory.

Nikon has confirmed light injuries to some of its employees but no serious or fatal injuries. Nikon’s Sendai factory, which manufactures the D3S, D3X, D700 and F6, has been forced to close due to damage to equipment and buildings. Work at at least three other facilities has been temporarily suspended so the company can assess damage.

Canon has suspended operations at eight factories located in Northern Japan, and reports at least 15 employees were injured. The company said it may move some production to other factories that weren’t damaged.

Olympus‘s photographic division was not affected by the quake, but some emplyees at other locations sustained minor injuries, possibly in the company’s endoscopy-related business. Japanese-language press releases indicate that a repair facility is expected to resume operations in 2-4 weeks.

A Sigma employee tweeted that there has been some damage to machinery and the building at Sigma’s Aizu factory, but no injuries. Due to the rolling blackouts, Sigma has decided to suspend operations in two of its facilities.

Ricoh reports no injuries. Five of its facilities have stopped operations and four have no set plan to reopen.

Fujifilm reports that its Taiwa-Cho factory, which is located 20 miles from Sendai, was damaged by the quake, but fortunately none of the workers were reported injured. Production of the FinePix X100, which was being done at that factory, has been temporarily stopped and delays can be expected for this highly-anticipated camera. The company says the rest of its operation is not affected.

Hoya Corporation, which owns Pentax, reports that several employees were slightly injured but none seriously. Some production facilities were damaged, although the company is still trying to assess. It isn’t known how the camera and lens facilities have been effeccted but due to traffic problems and blackouts, production has been disrupted.

Casio reports no major injuries, and the company is currently trying to ascertain the condition of its facilities. In the meantime, business activities are expected to be disrupted due to rolling blackouts.

In a statement, Tamron reports no structural damage or injuries, but the rolling blackouts and severely curtailed train service have caused the company to close its facilities for at least the next few days.

Panasonic reports minor injuries in one of its northern Japan factories, in Fukushima, where production of Lumix digital cameras has been suspended. The company is evaluating damage and says the long-term effect is still being determined.

Sandisk, whose facilities are 500 miles from the epicenter, appears to have escaped unharmed. The factories were shut immediately after the quake, but resumed opearations by Friday morning.