Choosing a Camera – Intermediate Level

Welcome friends, and thank you for visiting. Whether you are a beginner in
photography looking to move into a camera with more features, or
someone who’s been around cameras for a period of time, this is the
place to be. I’ll be talking about cameras with features typically
found on higher end cameras, but ones that can be had for a
reasonable price.

Intermediate Level

How to choose a good intermediate camera at a good price. The best place
to start would be to set a price range that works for you. For
upwards of $200.00, there are quite a few interesting cameras, most
have similar features, It comes down to what you are looking for.

A few years ago, I purchased a Canon Power Shot camera for about
$279.00. It’s an excellent camera with a host of features including a
50x optical zoom, 1080p video, macro capable, with both auto and
manual settings. My camera had an anti shake mode, but current
versions come with Canon’s Intelligent IS anti shake which is an
enhanced version of the older software. This is a point and shoot
camera with no view finder. Instead, you compose your shot using the
3” display on the back.

Once you’ve determined your price range, it’s time to consider various
features that typically come with different cameras.

Automatic Mode

So lets start with most basic and easiest feature to use. In the
automatic mode, the camera software chooses the correct shutter speed
and F-Stop settings. Typically, when you compose your shot, press the
shutter button about half-way to activate the Auto control and when
the camera has made the required settings, it will beep or give you
some form of indication it’s ready to take the shot. Press the shutter
button completely, and the camera will take the shot and save it to
the SD card. Maybe it sounds complicated, but actually it takes less
than a second to accomplish. If use of the on-board flash is
required, the software will activate that as well.

For all but the more advanced pictures you will likely take, automatic
mode is the easiest to use and delivers a very high quality result.
For me personally, I use the auto setting pretty much all time when
using one of my point and shoot cameras. Its fast and easy.

A quick word about an anti shake feature common to many cameras. In
most instances, if your camera has this feature, it is most likely
defaulted to On, but in cases where you have the option to turn it on
or off, I recommend turning it on and leaving it set that way. Anti
shake does not alter your photo but rather through software helps to
minimize shake blurring on the finished product.


Here’s where things get more advanced and dicey. In a manual setting, you
have the ability to control various lens settings and the first would
be the F-Stop. So what is the F-stop, also known as a focal stop? I’m
not going to give you a full explanation, that would require more
instruction than the scope of this article.

An F-Stop is the lens systems focal length in relation to the diameter of the
lens’s aperture, or pupil if you like. What you are controlling is
the amount of light entering the lens aperture to effect a desired
result, changing depth of view for instance.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed put simply is the amount of time your shutter is open and is
usually expressed in a fractional format such 1/1000 which would
relate to 1 1000th of a second. Each camera is different
so the various shutter speed settings may be different. When used in
a manual setting on your camera, typically you would use a faster
shutter speed for bright light settings such as daylight, and a
slower speed setting, 1/125 for instance, for low light conditions
without flash. An example could be and evening shot inside of a given
room using only ambient lighting. In this case, slowing your shutter
speed allows the shutter to remain open for a longer period to
compensate for the low light condition.

One problem you can encounter with slower shutter speed is camera shake,
and while anti shake might help, keep in mind that the longer your
shutter is open, the more susceptible your shot is to camera shake.
Anti shake is not always capable of keeping up with slower speeds.

ISO Speed

Now here we are getting into one of the more advanced settings. What is
ISO. As this isn’t to be a lecture, I’ll try to keep it as simple as
possible while giving relevant information. ISO comes from the
International Organization for Standardization. In the film world,
ISO Speed relates to the light sensitivity of the film you are using.
The lower the value, ISO 100 for instance, the less light sensitivity
of the film. Meaning that faster film speed ie. ISO 100, the better
suited it would be for outdoor daytime shots. The higher the value,
the slower the film speed. Ok, that is terminology was originally
given to different film speeds. As cameras morphed over the years to
digital, the terminology followed as it is applied in similar fashion
to the way your cameras software and sensor responds to different
settings. In a film camera, you are stuck with the film speed you are
using until you finish that roll of film and move to a different
speed roll.


Wow, a lot of information. I recommend using the automatic mode of your
camera, as I do, for most photography. In my case, it saves me time
and allows me to have more fun when I shoot. I transitioned from a
beginner, to an intermediate level and on into a move advanced level
of photography in the days before digital. Back then, it was pretty
much all manual. I had to learn ISO settings, which film speed was
best for most conditions. What F-Stop to use for which effect. What
shutter speed for the best result. I learned most of this on my own
more by playing with my camera’s various settings, lens combinations
and film speeds. All of this in the stone age when costs were higher
due to the fact that film had to be purchased, used and developed. I
was fortunate in those days because I had access to a dark room for a
period of time, but that too had it’s own expenses, developing
chemicals, print paper among the list.

In todays world, things are so much easier. Digital photography. Take a
picture, save a picture. Later, you can save the image to your
computer or other device. You can print it or not, and if you are
techy enough, you can branch into editing software. Cameras can be
expensive, but today there is no need for film and developing, unless
you choose to go that route. To me it’s a win win. Start up cost
aside, speed and fun increases while film and processing costs go

There are a few more features available on most intermediate use point and
shoot cameras, and was not my intention here to cover all of them.
Today I just wanted to briefly touch on a few of them. Different
camera manufacturers may have different terminology, but in the end,
it all relates to the same function and I would encourage you to
fully read the users manual included in your camera purchase.





  1. Hi Greg, being a lover of photography and arts in general, I found the information on your website very helpful, specially regarding the settings like Shutter speed and Focus. I do take a lot of photos my self but I never use any settings or effects until now. I just look and click:) I wonder what magic I can create when applying some of this new knowledge.
    Greetings and say Cheese!

    • Vza,
      Sounds like you are ready to start investigating. Go ahead, play with the settings, see what happens. Thats how I started learning and boy, what fun it was and continues to be.

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