Iâ€™m a photo-oriented person which means one of my first rules is to never leave the house for a family event without a camera in hand.Â Well, imagine my chagrin when I recently attended a wedding and found myself camera-less.Â Yup!Â I was so busy coordinating all the travel arrangements that I forgot to pack one. All I had on me was my camera phone.Â I couldnâ€™t even buy one because I didnâ€™t realize my mistake until I was at the outdoor event.Â Thankfully, Rachel, a twelve year old relative, heard me muttering about my lack of camera.Â She leaned over and whispered in my ear that I could borrow her digital camera.Â
However, she had an agenda, â€œThe flower girl doesnâ€™t want to carry the flowers so I might get to be the flower girl and Iâ€™d like some pictures, so can you take them?â€Â Ah ha!Â Not only did she lend me her camera, but she outlined how I was to use it, admonished me not to waste the battery power, and gave me a shot list of must-have images.Â It was great fun to let this budding photographer lead me around and tell me what to do! She worried constantly about battery life and the size of the memory card.Â I agreed to her request but only if I could see the pictures later through a photo sharing site.Â That was one thing she didnâ€™t know how to do so Iâ€™m hoping to set up a tutorial later this week.Â
The whole experience taught me a few things. First, itâ€™s time for a new camera (again). Remember when you bought a film camera and it was your device for life. Well those days are gone. The average digital camera owner upgrades to take advantage of latest features. Iâ€™m about to join those ranks.
My camera phone is handy but it doesnâ€™t take great pictures. There are several digital cameras in my house, but mine isnâ€™t particularly portable. As my teenage daughter said, â€œWhy donâ€™t you just have a camera you can carry in your purse, like I do.â€ Duh!Â Sheâ€™s one kid whoâ€™s always ready for a picture-taking moment.Â Now Iâ€™m going to watch the holiday sales for a small light weight camera with a good number of mega-pixels, an optical lens and see what other extras come with the package.Â In particular Iâ€™m intrigued by the following features:
- Image Stabilization (Anti-shake). This helps the camera steady the shot even when youâ€™re not completely still.Â This eliminates the blurring that happens with tiny movements.
- Waterproof and shock proof.Â Several years ago at a national photo conference I saw a camera in a tube of water.Â It was expensive.Â Now consumers can find weather proof models that can be used in the rain but not submerged.Â Waterproof means you can take pictures underwater and donâ€™t have to worry about dropping the camera into water.Â Â There are a few different models in different price ranges. Ever dropped a digital camera?Â Then you know the value of the shockproof devices.Â While Iâ€™m not sure if I want weather vs. waterproof, I know I definitely need a camera that can be accidentally dropped from a reasonable distance (say, my hand) and not be permanently damaged when it hits the ground. Oh yeah!Â That feature alone is worth the extra dollars it will cost.Â Read the fine print to see what the shockproof/waterproof rating is for various models. The specifications will tell you the number of feet you can safely drop or submerge a camera.
- Less Digital lag. A simple explanation of lag is this. You take a picture only to find youâ€™ve missed the action due to a lag between when you push the button and the camera takes the picture.Â This is NOT about shutter speed.Â An article in the New York TimesÂ explains the digital lag phenomena and offers tips on how to find out about the lag in your camera.
The second thing I learned from the wedding experience is, never leave home without a camera.
My daughter and other kids with camera phones and digital cameras live in an image based society.Â Kids are focused on capturing the action in still images and in video.Â A year or so ago, I bought one of those small video cameras a year ago (see my article Flip for Footage http://www.ancestry.com/s23560/t14734/rd.ashx) that fits in a pocket and often take that with me. However my kids use it more than I do to produce short videos with friends.Â I have to admit itâ€™s a handy little device even if the picture quality isnâ€™t the best.Â Now itâ€™s time for me to follow their example and tuck a little camera into my purse for those spontaneous moments that I donâ€™t want to miss.Â
Third lesson? Pack an extra battery and memory card. Rachel was right to worry about the number of pictures per battery charge. She had a good size memory card for all the pictures she wanted, but if the battery ran down we didnâ€™t have a spare.Â Part of the budget consideration when buying a new camera is including the cost of an extra battery and another memory card. Both will come in handy.
Being able to borrow a camera at that family wedding caused me a little embarrassment, but in the end it worked out.Â Rachel got pictures of her helping the flower girl walk down the aisle while I had fun trying out a camera model I hadnâ€™t used before.Â The best part of the day was seeing the event through the visual moments important to a pre-teen.Â Sheâ€™s well on her way to becoming the family photographer!Â
Now that Iâ€™ve admitted my mistake, itâ€™s confession time. Iâ€™d like to hear about those special moments you missed because you forgot to carry a camera. Please share your stories with us in the comments section of the blog.
Maureen Taylor is The Photo Detective. She is the author of Capturing Memories: Your Family Story in Photographs.Â You can register for her Saving Family Treasures Webinar on preserving family heirlooms.