(ARA) - Today's digital cameras do more than take photos. They capture video, help share photos instantly with family and friends, and automatically adjust settings to take the best shots. In addition, the technology in digital cameras - just like personal electronics and smartphones - is always evolving.
"There's no better time to be a photographer because of all the new tools, trends and technology in digital cameras," says Dirk Fletcher, a professional photographer and department chair of photography for Harrington College of Design
, a leading provider of higher education for photography, graphic design and interior design. "You can find a feature or function for nearly anything you want to do."
Whether you're a professional or amateur photographer, what helpful features may be right for you? Fletcher offers five trends to consider when buying or upgrading your next digital camera:
Multi-media capabilities. Capturing both professional-quality video and still photos is one of the most powerful advances in digital cameras in recent years. Of course, the technology continues to improve with greater resolution to create feature film-like videos and advanced features for better lighting control and color quality. The latest additions are the Nikon D800 HD-SLR and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. "These latest-generation multi-media cameras open up even more possibilities for both professional and amateur videographers and photographers," Fletcher says.
Lighting advances. The right lighting is the key to taking great photos. Look for digital camera features like low-light optimized sensors that let photographers capture better shots when the lighting isn't ideal. "You can take high quality photos at night or with poor light like never before," Fletcher says. Some higher-end digital cameras include wireless strobe systems, allowing the camera and strobe to automatically communicate with each other to get the right amount of light, without needing to have a cable connecting the camera and flash.
Geotagging. More digital cameras are including a built-in GPS - global positioning system - receiver that adds geographical data to photos, including the longitude, latitude and time. This is a handy feature for travelers or others wanting to remember exactly where they were when snapping a photo. You can find the geotagging mode on most leading brands, including Canon, Casio, Sony, Panasonic, Pentax and Olympus. A privacy tip: the geotagging metadata can be accessed and viewed by others when you post photos on social networking or online photo-sharing sites. Simply turn off the geotagging feature on your camera if you don't want the photo location information made public.
Instant photo-sharing. Just like smartphones, some digital cameras include wireless systems that let you send and share photos with family and friends. Wi-Fi-enabled cameras eliminate the step of downloading pictures to a computer before sharing the image. Through an available Wi-Fi network, users can easily click a button to have photos sent directly to email addresses or posted on websites and photo-sharing communities like Flickr.
3-D technology. If you want to add another dimension to your images, look for cameras featuring 3-D capabilities. Shooting 3-D videos requires dual-lens cameras to capture the eye-popping effects, or you can link together two digital cameras like the GoPro HD Hero. GoPro, for example, offers a special case and cable to join two of its HD Hero outdoor action cameras, along with 3-D conversion software to import the synched video and allow users to create a file to view on a 3-D display device (or with 3-D glasses).