Picture Snob

February 15, 2008

Smile Detection, Blink-Recognition and Other Intelligent Promises


Between intelligent cameras and Prozac, the world will never frown again. A new "intelligence" seems to launch every year, this year being smile detection. It's up to you if you're willing to pay a premium for these features, but we suggest applying the proverbial grain of salt here. These features turn your camera into an auto-monster -- most require the auto setting to work and you might end up spending more time communicating with your camera than the photo-worthy experience around you. There is no cheap trick to get a perfect photo, and perfection does not the best photo make. As the author of this photo gaymay asks: is a frown just smile turned upside down?

Blink Recognition
If someone blinked in the photo you just took, the camera alerts you so you can take another shot.
Reality Check: This is handy when it works and if your subjects are obedient.

Face Detection
The camera finds faces in the scene and auto-focuses on the faces and optimizes the exposure and flash for the face. This is often part of a "portrait" setting.
Reality Check: A person's face must be facing towards the camera and the lighting must be good for this to work well. There may be a limit to how many faces a camera can detect.

Image Stabilization
This allows you to get steadier shots with a hand-held camera -- you'll get better shots at slower shutter speeds and when using a zoom lens.
Reality Check: This feature is worth it, especially if you've got a 10x optical zoom or more.

Auto Red-Eye Correction, In-Camera Red-Eye Fix
Camera will detect red-eye and automatically correct. In some cases, you must manually correct red-eye in the on-camera display.
Reality Check: Sometimes this simply doesn't work. The best red-eye systems have an 80% accuracy rate. If you really want to work on red-eye problems, get a flash you can bounce off the ceiling or lower the intensity of -- you can attach a flash if your camera has a hot shoe.

Smile Detection
When in this auto-mode, you depress the trigger button and the camera automatically takes a photo when it detects all subjects are smiling. Reality Check: This is probably most useful for people who take a lot of portraits -- event photographers, portrait studios -- where the subject is facing the frame in a straightforward manner AND they want to smile.

Read More in: Digital Cameras | Tips and Tricks

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Posted by Susan Moriarty at February 15, 2008 5:20 AM
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