Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 11.30.05
Stanstead, Quebec


All you need to know about digital photography, and then some

After months of research and some unseemly groveling, my employers recently gave me the go-ahead to purchase a new digital camera. It's a great asset for our department. The fact that I sometimes refer to it as "my camera" or occasionally as "my precious..." is purely accidental and without any significance whatsoever.

The camera is an Olympus Evolt E-500, which isn't quite as snazzy as the Olympus Evolt E-510 but snappier than the Olympus Evoom-Sis-Boom-Ba 400. It's a digital SLR with both 14-45 mm and 40-150 mm lenses.

Fruity on the palate with hints of persimmon and Old Spice, it goes well with roast duck, snow tires, and cheap dates.

As you can see, with so many options in the digital camera market these days, you really should do your homework to make sure you purchase a camera that suits your needs, budget, and complexion. That's why I'd like to share my newfound camera wisdom by offering the following FAQs about digital photography.

First of all, what's an FAQ?

That's a photography term that stands for "Foto-Associated Quandaries." It's an acronym created by Thomas Edison who, as everyone knows, was the inventor of the acronym.

Now that we have that out of the way, what is a digital SLR?

SLR stands for "single lens reflex." And what does that mean? The single lens reflex is what causes photography buffs to reflexively dismiss point-and-shoot cameras as totally Mickey Mouse compared to their bulkier, more expensive cameras with their huge lenses and menu panels that look like cockpit controls.

Sadly, SLR is untreatable and can be quite debilitating when it comes to scoring with chicks. SLR is also known as "pixel envy" or "obviously compensating for something."

Are point-and-shoot cameras really so bad? Oh, please...

How do I decide which type of digital camera is best for me?

You should ask yourself three questions: A) How much do I want to spend? B) What do I want to photograph? and C) Will I be able to say "I was getting too much grain so I lowered my ISO and bracketed my aperture" with a straight face?

If you have the means, you can spend thousands of dollars on a high-quality camera. If money is an issue, you can settle for something out of a McDonald's Happy Meal bag. It all depends on whether you want to take basic pictures of your cat to post on the Internet or exquisitely sharp and vivid photos of your cat to post on the Internet.

Finally, if you're going for a high-end camera, it's important to know the lingo. That way, when you end up with a lousy shot, you can at least say, "Oh, that's because I was fiddling with my F-stop."


The F-stop is located just south of the G-stop, although there is still some debate over whether it actually exists at all.

Are megapixels important?

They most certainly are. As anyone knows who's seen the beloved children's television series or recent Hollywood blockbuster, Megapixels are tiny Transformers that live inside your camera and "synthesize" light beams into digital images. They're like little photographic pixies (hence the name) and they're so gosh-darn cute!

So, if you have a choice between a camera with 8 Megapixels or 10 Megapixels, it's really a no-brainer which one you want to ensure you get the best picture possible of your pussycat.

What's white balance?

This is an amazing feature that you never could have managed with traditional film. How it works is this: when you photograph a group of people, the camera automatically calculates whether there is sufficient cultural diversity, AKA white balance. If not, the camera will insert an appropriate number of ethnic minorities to create a more realistic portrait of our cultural plurality - digital magic in the name of promoting tolerance and diversity. Unfortunately, this feature is not available in Quebec.

What is noise reduction?

This is the request you can expect from your friends to quit yammering on about your new camera.

Finally, is that a purse you're carrying?

No! It's a camera bag. For my precious...