Sunday, December 21, 2008

23 Uses for Your Digital Camera

The film camera used to be good for capturing images - landscapes, faces - to document where we'd been, what we'd done, and people we'd met, things we'd seen. When I was a student in Germany in the mid 60s, my 12 print rolls of color pictures were relatively expensive to print and it would take a while for me to finish a roll and then - I don't even remember how long it took from when I dropped it off at the shop til I could get the pictures. When I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand a few years later, with my brand new Pentax, I could get black and white pictures developed in town in a day or two. But there were either 24 or 36 pictures on a roll and it could take days to weeks before I finished a roll. My color slides had to be sent to Hong Kong or Australia to be developed and that took at least two weeks before I could get my pictures back.

Digital cameras change all that. Now you can see your picture immediately. It's not on film, so you can take all the pictures you want without thinking about using up film. You can just delete the bad ones. The pictures are digital so you can upload them to your computer, email them, send them on your cell phone. You can enlarge them, crop them, even fiddle with the colors and exposure.

So, this means that the digital camera is a tool with many uses that old film cameras never had. Below is a list of ways I've found mine to be useful - in general categories, and then with specific examples.

The main ways I use my camera are as a portable note pad and a copy machine.

Use Your Digital Camera as a Note Pad

1. What's in those boxes in the basement? Take pictures as you load them up.

2. There's a map on the sign, but will you remember the path when you leave the sign? Take the sign with you.

3. How do you describe the part you need at the computer store or to the plumber? Take it on your digital camera. Of course this goes for all sorts of things that you can't take with you.

4. How do you describe your suitcase to the lost luggage people at the airport? Show them the picture.

5. Keep track of the information on the for rent signs you pass and what the place looks like.

6. Where did I park the car?

7. Ordering food in foreign countries - take a picture of food you like to show the waiter, or of a menu with things you like marked.

8. Take a picture of your hotel or other destinations to show the taxi when you want to go back

9. Wonder what kind of flower it is? Take a picture then ask someone at a nursery.

10. How will I remember all these people I just met and their names? Sometimes you need to ask them to write it in English though too.

11. Damn, where did I put my to do list? Click.

12. I want a copy of this legal document, but they charge $1 a page to print - just take a picture of the computer screen. Also good for your airlines reservations or that I paid my bill on line.(You can do a screen saver too, but not if it's a public computer.)

13. I really like this camcorder, (jacket, necklace) but I need to check with my wife before buying it. Snap. (get the price tag too.)

14. That's a nice fence, (door, window.) Wonder if I could make/find one like that? Just so I don't forget what it looked like, snap.

15. Meeting notes on the white board. Just snap 'em.

16. Lecture going too fast? Take digital notes.

17. What's the license plate number of your rental car?

18. Document dings and scratches on rental cars before you drive off

19. Audio memos - Use the audio memo function to have some someone give directions in the local language and play it for a local when you need help.

Use Your Digital Camera as a Copier

20. Need to have a copy of a price quote, birth certificate, or passport (or any piece of paper)? Just take a picture.

21. This recipe looks great. Snap.

Video - some things are hard to explain in writing, so use the video feature on your camera
22. Want to leave instructions for a house sitter? Video tape where the garbage bags are and how much to water the plants, etc.

23. Video instructions for how to do something - here, how to say 'hello' in the Karen language


  1. That was just brilliant! I would never have thought of all of those things on my own. Thanks!

    And be glad you're not in Seattle today. It's beginning to look a lot like Alaska. Happy Solstice—the days will finally be getting longer again.

  2. Please tell me what do to with my old film cameras. . .

  3. Glad you liked it SovayGirl. I'm still trying to figure out the weather comment. Be glad you're not in Seattle where we are having Alaska weather. That would make sense if I were in Maui, but since I'm in Alaska... :) Should I still be glad?

    Tea, If it's a good film camera, put some film in it for when you want really good quality pictures and you're not in a hurry. I still love the look of good film shots. When I pull out my old ones and compare them to digital phtos, the film just has more richness.

    If they're cheap cameras that no one would steal, hide your good jewelery inside them.

  4. Well, too bad I have used it only for 2 options (maps and taking photos of places of interests).

  5. "If they're cheap cameras that no one would steal, hide your good jewelery inside them."

    Brilliant-- but sadly cheap technology is the only thing that my husband throws out without being asked!

  6. Great list Steve, especially for disciplined and organised people. But for slobs like me it creates a whole load of new pictures to be sorted and stored for access.
    When I used my film camera I had to think before I used valuable film to take a picture. Now I spend hours deciding what to keep and what to discard of all those photographs I take to see how it comes out. And I think you have to see many pictures enlarged on a screen before deciding whether to keep them for slide shows or put them in albums. I am bad at deleting, so have lots of clutter left in my picture library.

  7. about documenting hallucinations of a dementia patient. Useful for the doctor or lawyer

  8. pt - brilliant, but you probably need the video for that. I did take a picture of an allergic reaction to show the doctor once.


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