Digital Camera Woes for Consumers

Matthew Alleyne, Centennial College Journalist

Matthew Alleyne, Centennial College Journalist

 By Matthew Alleyne

Although we live in an age where we do not have to wait for our film to be developed before we find out whether or not our photos turned out the way we wanted, many consumers are still finding that even with a digital camera they still can’t capture that moment in time the way they wanted or expect when taking a photo.

Jeff Morgan is the manager of the 1 Hour Photo lab at Costco Wholesale in Ajax, and sees the frustration on many of his customers’ faces after printing their digital photos.

“Most people do not even read the instructions, they buy a camera and immediately start to use it instead of learning how to use it,” Morgan said. 

Getting the best picture starts by choosing not the best camera, but the best camera to suit your needs, he said.

That’s an opinion also shared by Kate McDowell, assistant manager at Henry’s Photo in Scarborough. 

McDowell says any camera on the market is good for everyday use; what matters is your price range and what features you are looking for in a camera.

“Mega pixels right now have become irrelevant,” McDowell said. “Most people don’t print anymore, and unless you are looking to print bus shelter size prints you do not need anything over eight mega pixels.”

The types of zoom, the size of a camera, even the battery type, are more of the things you should be looking at, she said.

One common complaint Morgan gets from customers is that their photos have been cropped where a head is cut off.  A majority of the time this is not the fault of the printer, but the fault of the user who has not changed a setting in their camera or even has a camera that takes what are known as full-frame photos.

Full-frame photos are photos that when taken are automatically in a ratio of 2-3 which gives you your standard 4 X 6, and 8 X 12 photos. If your camera does not have this feature, what you see is not what you will get.

If by looking at your camera’s settings or reading the manual you can not find out if your camera takes full-frame photos, bring your memory card to any photo lab and ask the clerk to check your photos, he said.

Also Morgan says, when viewing your photos in a kiosk, in edit mode there should be some visual indicator to tell what is actually being printed. But a simple solution regardless of what type of camera you have would be to just step back. One step back from where normally you would take a shot will ensure that what you see will actually end up in your print.

Red-eye is the next biggest complaint by users.

 “Some cameras claim to have features that eliminate or at least reduce it, but unfortunately red-eye is one of those things that is impossible to completely eliminate because it is caused by the flash being mounted on a camera and directly reflecting into the back of the eyes causing red-eye,” said Joseph Marranca, a freelance photographer.

Even with these tips if you are still finding that you do not have a clue what to do with your digital camera, Marranca makes the following suggestions.

“Take your camera and shoot, it cost you nothing to take photos and by shooting on various settings you will know what your camera is capable of doing when you really need it.”

McDowell suggests taking a course in photography to help you become comfortable in using your camera.  Henry’s offers various courses to the public on digital photography. Also, if you are unhappy with how your prints look, Morgan says, bring them back to the lab with your camera and ask the clerk what you are doing wrong, and what you can do to get the results you want. Many clerks are certified, and can give you the advice you need.