Getting started in digital photography

Here's how to choose a camera and an image editor, along with important tips to help you begin taking great photos.

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Your Camera Doesn't Take Pictures; You Do



When it comes to digital SLRs, a rivalry of epic proportion has arisen between Canon and Nikon fanatics. Think Mac OS versus Windows, Marvel versus DC Comics, Palm versus BlackBerry. Because that fanaticism spills into the mainstream, even casual camera buyers get caught up in the propaganda. Ultimately, Nikon and Canon cameras are more similar than they are different, and anyway no camera is better at photography than you are.

What I mean is that the camera doesn't makes eye-popping photos possible--the person behind the lens does. It may be comforting to think that "if only I had that new camera, that mediocre photo I just took would have been awesome," but the reality is that Ansel Adams could have captured an awesome image with the camera you have right now. Conversely, getting your hands on a superb camera doesn't make you a better photographer, any more than picking up a Stradivarius makes you a better violinist.

When it comes to taking better pictures, having access to additional features is a lot less important than studying photographic technique and practicing what you learn. Getting the newest, coolest camera is fun, but fancy hardware isn't the difference maker in image quality. That's why photography is an art form. For example; I shot the photo at left with a point-and-shoot camera that I had stabilized by balancing it on a railing. Taking the shot with a digital SLR on a tripod probably wouldn't have made a huge difference in this case.

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