Links to information that concerns photographers (and portfolio-building lighting designers)
F-stop – size of the opening
You want a lens with a large (smaller number) f-stop capability. Goal-ish: 2.8
Shutter Speed – how fast the sensor (or film) is exposed to light
Speed = good for movement. Faster (higher) is better; though not as important if you can get your actors to pose for you.
ISO – light sensitivity
Higher=more sensitive. This is tricky though, because the higher the setting the more grain / image pixalization (“noise in the blacks”). Ideally, get a camera that can shoot at least 1600 then set it for 800. I would suggest not ever setting it to be more sensitive than one level down from the “top”. 400 would be better, especially if you can get your actors to pose for you, but I’d want my camera to be able to go to 3200; because then 400 would likely be a high-quality image with little noise.
Pixels – image resolution
Larger = better. Keep your files as large as possible pixel-wise; reduce only when necessary. Printing goal: 300 dpi (dots/pixels per inch).
File Formats – not all file types are equal
- .jpg = “lossy” EVERY TIME you resave the image in .jpg format (not copy; but save) you lose a little more quality! This is the main file type used on the web and nearly every printing service will require this format. Save it in the highest quality you can; I recommend at least “8” (on a scale of 1-10 or 1-12) for printing files, but keep higher-resolution files separately if possible.
- .tif = “loss-less” compression. You can also save it uncompressed; but not necessary unless you’ll have trouble with using the file. I recommend “lzw” compression in a .tiff format.
- .cr2 / raw = very large, loss-less (no compression). Excellent if you can afford the space (storage capacity) but not all software programs can deal with these monsters (memory hogs). Great for the original image, then keep other formats of your favorite ones after cropping/adjusting.
- There are many other formats, but these are the most important and common types for photographs.