“I need a new camera!”


I am sure we have all been there. We are looking at some breathtaking photos taken by one of our friends. We see big fancy camera around their neck and then shyly look at the little point and shoot camera in our hand and think, “I NEED a new camera!”

Or maybe it went like this…we finally got the DSLR we had been dreaming of. We waited and we waited and finally the day arrived. We had our new camera all charged and ready to go. We just KNEW that we would FINALLY be able to take pictures like ________ (fill in name of awesome photographer here). We get ready, we breath deep, and we snap or first photo. And then before we know it we have snapped a hundred. We hurry to our computer, download the photos, and see dark blobs and fuzzy faces and think, “My camera must be broken! I need a new camera!”

It is a natural desire in most of us to want the best, to be the best. When it comes to photography, the desire to take the best photos usually leads us down a path of wanting a DSLR camera. We think “all the great photographers out there have them and I want one!” However, many of us find ourselves disappointed and frustrated that our pictures didn’t turn out like we had imagined. Is it the camera’s fault? Probably not.

A DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera is a great piece of equipment, It offers you better picture quality, more adaptability, faster speed, and total control. They are capable of capturing truly amazing photos in truly amazing places. For those that know how to use them, they are worth their weight in gold.

However, a DSLR is not for everyone. I have had so many people ask me what kind of camera I use and what they should buy. And I always respond to them by saying, “It depends.” Yes, a DSLR is a great camera, but it all depends on the time and money you are truly willing to put into it.

Since I would venture to guess that most of you reading this don’t have to be convinced of the good things about owning a DSLR, let’s look at the reasons NOT to buy. Be honest with yourself as you read these. There are some really great advanced point and shoot cameras on the market that might work really well for you, maybe even better than a DSLR.

I had nifty plans of a top ten list, but as I really think on it, I can see three main reasons that a DSLR may NOT be for you:

1. The Price: DSLR cameras are more expensive and generally come with really cheap (bad) lenses or no lens at all. To get the most out of your (expensive) DSLR, not only will you have to pay for the camera, but you will have to pay for new lenses.

2. The Size: DSLR’s are big and bulky. Do you love the idea of taking pictures wherever you go? Do you also love the idea of carrying a big and heavy camera with you? It isn’t easy and it isn’t fun. So either it needs to stay at home (in which case you won’t get those great photos you have been dreaming of) or you will have to bring a point and shoot (in which case you start to wonder why you bought a DSLR in the first place). And remember, just because YOU think it is fun to lug it around, hubby and kiddos may not agree.

3. The Complexity: Even though DSLR’s have an auto mode on them, they were not designed for this purpose. They were designed to be used in manual mode. If you are not ready to invest a lot of time reading your manual and other books to properly know how to work your camera out of auto (or even AV) mode, then a DSLR may not be for you. Advanced point and shoot cameras often take MUCH better photos in auto mode.

Now, I don’t want you to think that I am anti-DSLR. In fact, quite the opposite. I have owned and used a Rebel Xti and a Canon 20D. My 20D is slowly dying and I am secretly hoping its complete demise is soon so I can get this or maybe even this. I love DSLR cameras and all they are capable of. They just aren’t for everyone, and honestly, I bought one long before I was ready. I spent months being frustrated with my photos and those same months working hard in Photoshop to make those photos useable.

So, if you can’t buy a DSLR camera right now or you realize that you aren’t sure you will really take the time to learn how to use it properly, let’s look at a few great high end point and shoot cameras that might better suit your needs (or your budget). Some of these cameras even have some manual controls on them, allowing you more freedom than a traditional compact point and shoot. And in the price range of under $500, your budget will thank you.

(prices listed below are current bhphotovideo.com prices. Prices may vary depending on country and store of purchase)

Canon PowerShot G10 ($415.95)


  • 14.7 megapixels
  • Image Stabilizer
  • Supports RAW images
  • High Speed auto-focus
  • Motion Detection Technology
  • Face Detection
  • PureColor LCD II
  • i-Contrast boosts brightness and retains detail in dark areas
  • 26 shooting modes with manual control and custom settings
  • 30fps VGA movies

Kodak Easyshare Z8612 IS ($159.95)


  • 8.1 megapixels
  • Image Stabilizer
  • Shoots HD video
  • 12x optical zoom
  • Up to 3200 ISO
  • Apertures up to 2.8
  • Offers full manual control

Nikon Coolpix P6000 (499.95)


  • 13.5 megapixel
  • 4x wide-angle zoom lens (28 – 112 mm equiv.) with optical stabilization
  • 2.7″ LCD monitor (230,000 pixels)
  • ISO 64 – 1600 at full resolution (3200 and 6400 at lowered resolution)
  • NRW RAW format (although “Windows Imaging Component” and “Windows only”)
  • Built-in GPS receiver records location (latitude and longitude for automatic geotagging)
  • External flash and lens accessories
  • Face-priority AF

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 (409.95)


  • 10.1 Megapixels
  • 2.5x Optical Zoom
  • 3.0″ LCD Display
  • 24mm Wide-Angle Leica Lens
  • Enhanced CCD Technology
  • MEGA O.I.S. Optical Image Stabilizer
  • Intelligent Auto Technology
  • High Sensitivity (ISO 3200)
  • High Speed Response
  • Can shoot HD Videos
  • 23 scene modes (including fireworks, candlelight, beach, and self-portrait)
  • Full Manual Operation (and is easy to use!)

While the DMC-LX3 allows full manual control for more advanced photography, the camera also allows user to take perfect shots with outstanding ease. This is made possible by Panasonic Lumix’s iA (Intelligent Auto) mode. In iA mode the camera does all the work, activating Mega O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer), Intelligent ISO Control, Intelligent Scene Selector, Face Detection, and Intelligent Exposure. This leaves the user free to simply compose the shot and press the shutter button, with the assurance that the image will be clear, beautiful and properly exposed. Source.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50 (319.95)


  • 9.1 Megapixel
  • 10x Wide-angle Leica Zoom Lens
  • 3.0″ Intelligent LCD Display
  • MEGA O.I.S. Image Stabilization
  • Face Detection AF/AE
  • Intelligent Auto Technology
  • High Sensitivity (ISO 6400)
  • High Speed Response
  • HD Video Capture & Output
  • Wi-Fi Capable: Seriously, this is so cool: you can upload your photos directly from camera to photosite (like Picasa). It also comes with a year’s free use of T-Mobile’s Hotspot service in the US. No more worries of losing pictures before you download them!


You really need to ask yourself if a DSLR is really what you need. If it isn’t, don’t feel bad. Instead, learn to get the most out of the camera you already have and/or look into what advanced P&S might better suit your needs.

And remember, before you buy any camera, it is good to read review from review sites and actual customers. Here are some that you can check out:

Digital Photography Review
Digital Camera Resource
Amazon (good for customer reviews)
BHphotovideo (good for customer reviews)

And if you already have a DSLR, are you really learning to use it? To get the full benefits out of a DSLR, you need to understand how to use the camera and its controls. In future posts in PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS, we will start to look at how to use your camera out of auto mode. We will look at the the three key ingredients to great photos (exposure, focus, and composition).

No matter what camera you use, PHOTOGRAPHY CLASS will help you get the most out of your camera. However, I will be the first to say I am NOT a professional — I am a total MWAC (mom with a camera). I do not claim to be an expert. However, I have learned a lot over the past few years and I know a lot of people who know a lot more than I do, and I will work to bring that information to you in ways that you can understand.

Happy Photo taking today!


Photography Class


Photography.  Scrapbooking and photography tend to go hand in hand.  While it is possible to scrapbook without photos, most people assume the two belong together.  We take photos and then on our scrapbook layouts we share the story and convey the feelings through our art and our words.

Here at  TDD we want to help you grow in your photography journey.  Whether you want to learn the relationship between shutterspeed, aperture, and ISO or you need ideas on how to organize your photos, TDD will be here to help.  The digi scrapping community is full of amazing talent and is a wealth of knowledge. We hope to bring you information that you can really use in a way that won’t intimidate you. If you are wanting to improve your photography, get tips from the experts, and make your camera see what your heart sees, then stay tuned for more posts from Photography Class here TDD.

And to get you thinking about photography, read on to find out how you can jumpstart your photographic creative process today.

Most days I think my kids think my camera is an actual appendage to my body.  It tends to go most places with us and it shows up when they would really rather it didn’t.  I really do try to leave it at home sometimes, but of course you know what happens…THAT is the day some magical moment happens and I miss it. Capturing the day-to-day moments truly makes my heart happy and is what makes my kids  love to look through our albums. It isn’t the posed cheesy grins and forced family photos that make us happy.  Instead, it is the everyday.

I am sure that most of you have heard buzz around the community about PROJECT 365. This is a documentary project where participants take a photo every day for an entire year. It is a really cool concept and you can read more about the original idea HERE. They give some tips on how to do it and some really good advice on how to keep going even when you get busy or bored with the project.

If you aren’t inspired yet, then you need to check out Jennifer Woodbury’s Project 365 for 2008.  I have stalked this photo album all year long, anxiously awaiting more of her color rich photos and witty commentary. I love how she varied the content throughout the year — you can tell that her two gorgeous girls take up most of her time but you can also look through the photos and see the love she has for her husband, glimpses of her life in and around NYC, and her love affair with a really good cupcake. Now when she gets the last few days of her album loaded I can say that I completed Project 365 (vicariously through her, of course).

So now that you are convinced you just have to do this project, don’t fret if you missed yesterday.  Take a photo of something that represents yesterday like a photo of yesterday’s newspaper with the date on it, a photo of something that represents what you did (like taking down the Christmas boxes), or even a picture of your camera to represent what you want to do this year. It won’t matter and might even make it more interesting.

A number of sites around the digital scrapbooking community have started up challenges and forums dedicated specifically to this project.

  • Sweet Shoppe Designs has a forum for Project 365 with some other informative links as well as free weekly templates.
  • Scrapbook Graphics also has a special forum for playing along and those that register will get free templates to help them document their photos.
  • Creating Keepsakes has a downloadable document to give you ideas for using their kit (which at the time of writing is sold out) and other ideas for things to photograph.
  • Sarah has created a cool blogsite just for us digi gals…you can buy some really cool templates as well as snag a piece of flair to state that you are doing it digi.

If this all just seems too overwhelming for you — just one more thing on the New Year’s Resolution list that won’t last — don’t worry.  There are other ways to achieve the same concept but on a smaller basis.  Why not try a “month in photos” or “a photo a week”? The idea is just to record the day to day and moment to moment things we do.

For other ideas on how to do this on a smaller scale, check out Ali Edwards’  WEEK IN THE LIFE project and her DECEMBER DAILY. They have the same focus but are on a smaller scale. The point is, try something new. Document the “every day”. You won’t be sorry.