Digital Photography FAQ

Hey all, welcome back.

Today I wanted to try and get started on hiotting some of the questions that I hear frequently, or you have posted. Let’s get started.

“I’m a bit confused. I’m pondering buying a Digital Video Camera for live events in part to avoid having to deal with the downside of tape. If the recording is in a set/stable lighting conditioning is there still good reason to not buy the Digital Video Camera? They are running about $6000 give or take 50%. Seems like editing the DVC is going to be much easier.”

Kevin, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never been into production video, especially the kind of work where you are required to process hours of speaking. I work more with still photography and the recorder capabilities on the consumer/prosumer DSL-R end. One of the better links I could find on the topic is from PC magazine:

“HD-capable DSLRs are not for everyone, though, especially for people interested in shooting and editing long footage. Most of these cameras shoot MPEG-2 video, which can choke home-editing station setups once file sizes get larger than a few GB (only about 10 to 15 minutes of full HD video). TV and film producers rarely feel limited by this size restriction, because they shoot short scenes, but casual shooters sometimes want to shoot longer footage. Many of these cameras offer only manual focus in video mode, which everyday shooters may find too much of a hassle to operate.”

Their findings mirror what I’ve found shooting video with D-SLRs. When editing an MPEG-2 video on a slower processing machine can be like trying to siphon the contents of a 500-gallon septic system through a 3/4 inch hose. If you get the job done, it will be a slow and uncomfortable process. Also, shooting video wioth a D-SLR you still have limited focus controls, so if you’re an avid mover when you speak…

Anything more than that and I would just be blowing smoke…

Neil, commenting on video:

“We’re you using a tripod or do you actually hold the camera that steady?”

While holding a camrera steady is a learned skill, that I have yet to master, anyone seriously concerned with taking great pictures should take the time to invest in a tripod, or at least a good monopos. At some venues, people canm get concerned with tripods being brought out, as they take up a lot of space and can pose a tripping hazard. Some people will absolutely forbid you, due to legal liability, from breaking out a tripod on their premises, property, etc. This is where the monopod comes in. If you’ve ever watched the football sidelines, (American or European) and seen the cameras with the HHHUUUUGGGEEE lenses mounted on top of a walking stick, these don’t take up near the room of a tripod, but they still allow the user to pan or smoothly scroll the camera, without taking up a ton of room.

As with all types of photography, people are generally more receptive when they’re included in the decision-making process. If you are shooting an event, and you have some spare time on your hands, make a warm, introduction to the event’s coordinator, identify who you are and what you’re doing, and they’ll generally be pretty helpful.

I shot some stills for a freind’s wedding last year. As, I’ve been around weddings most of my life, I introduced myself to the priest before the ceremony. Told him who I was and what I was doing, then proceeded with my setup. After the introduction, one thing was perfectly clear. This man did not like photographers!!!

As someone was shooting pictures from the other side of the chapel, I did the best I could to limit my incusrion into the ceremony and still get the pictures I was required to get for the ceremony.

After the event, the same priest came up, shook, my hand, and told me he had expected me to be in the way far more than I actually had been. So, just in case I in have to shoot in that chapel again…

If you take the time to be considerate of the expectations of others, they will generally respond in kind.


P.S. For those amateur astronomy buffs, there is a pretty cool stellar occurence this week. In the pre-dawn sky on May 5-8th, I believe, 5 of the six planets visible with the naked eye are visible and aligned. If you happen to be up and about…

Digital Photography Basics , , , ,


  1. Thanks for the info … it seems like investing in a monopod is a wise choice to make :)

    Best, Neil

  2. Thanks for the FAQ. It’s always nice to know we’re heard and read out here in blog land.
    Would love to see the planets this week! I’d wake up the kids but I have to admit it may not be worth the crankiness the rest of the day. :-)

    Jennifer Battaglino
    Hypnotist in Westchester

  3. Clare Delaney

    Thanks for the comprehensive answers!
    Thanks also for the reminder of the planets, I’d forgotten – in the Southern Hemisphere we can see only 3 (Venus, Jupiter and Mercury) (Mars is too faint to spot easily) , plus the eta-Aquarid meteor shower.

    Eco-Friendly Tips, Articles & Products

  4. Dewayne, Your article helps sort out how digital cameras work. Thanks for another fantastic article on digital cameras.
    Simple sales tips
    Now go implement!

  5. DeWayne,
    THANKS for that. I can’t imagine asking our camera guy to do manual focus at a gig. I wouldn’t have guessed that a spendy unit wouldn’t have an automatic function. That’s REALLY helpful to know.

  6. Rachel Robinson

    Thanks for answering some questions! Very helpful information!
    Leadership Is A Choice

  7. Kevin Bettencourt

    Thanks for the information and what to look out when shopping video equipment. Also thanks for the heads up about the planets. Hope to see some picks from you.

    Las Vegas Air Conditioning Repair

  8. Thanks! I have to admit that my little pix for ebay got way better when I started using a tripod. Thanks for the tip on the monopod which I had never heard of before!
    Sonya Lenzo

  9. I’ve wondered what those posts are with a giant cameras on top! I’ve seen them at athletic events sometimes.

  10. Hi Dewayne,

    Great to see you developing an F.A.Q. section on Digital Photography. I imagine there is a ton of topics to potentially cover here.

    Happy Dating and Relationships,

    April Braswell
    Smart Online Dating Safety Tips

  11. Hi Dewayne!
    Thanks for all the tips and answered questions!
    I wonder…how will I know that those are the planets and not just stars…???

  12. Thank you for the great follow up…

    Sales Expert

  13. You are right on about this one!

  14. Thanks for answering the questing in detail : )