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When I took up photography it was mainly fuelled by wildlife magazines as that was my main passion, till one day I bought Digital camera magazine, and I was hooked. Aimed at the keen amateur amongst us there are hints and tips, projects to try at home, competitions, reviews and much more.
When feeling stuck for inspiration I often pick up a copy and see what the experts have done, or what the talented amateurs have sent in, and with their critique section you often see work that while at first glance is good could be improved, and experts' advice on how this could be done.
Each month focuses on a new topic and they will have advice on how to achieve certain shots, while showing examples of work that fits, but this is where my gripe with the magazine comes, all to often after twelve months they seem to repeat themselves, now I know there are only so many subjects you can look at but the coverage is not wide enough.
Available in most newsagents or supermarkets, at a cover price of £3.99 it is a compareable price to most monthly camer magazines. Subscriptions can be had at much cheaper rates and they come with a clean cover (no prices or barcodes etc).
In conclusion, the magazine is great if you are starting out, with decent explanations on terminology and ideas on what to try, but for people who are more experienced then this may not be the mag for you.
Please note, I am reviewing Digital Camera Magazine, as shown in the picture, not Digital Photo Magazine, as shown in the title.
As a keen amateur and semi-pro photographer, I buy quite a few camera magazines, and I have to say that this is one of my favourites. Published by Future Publishing, it is issued monthly, and at present has a cover price of £3.99. The magazine is aimed mainly at the amateur market, with articles to suit most skill levels.
**Layout and presentation**
The magazine is A4 sized (110 x 297 cm, or roughly 11.5 x 8 inches), and printed on good quality glossy paper with a good solid glossy cover. Each issue includes a CD, which contains images and tutorials relating to that month's articles. The current issue (December 2008) runs to 162 pages.
The December issue has the following contents:
Detailed content list
Welcome letter and short bios of guest photographers
Shooting water scenes
Shooting rainy weather
Using depth of field
Outdoor fashion shoots
Reader showcase - a sort of gallery of one reader with some explanation of the thought behind each photo
An assignment, for which a prize is given - there are a couple of pages of images submitted for the previous one, with explanation of why the winner was chosen, plus the brief for the next assignment
Black and white masterclass, including various ways of converting images to black and white, increasing contrast, and toning
Calibrating your printer
A general gallery of shots from various readers
Ask the team - readers send in photos for advice on how to improve them
Ask the team Law - readers' legal queries
Interview with a portrait photographer
More camera reviews
Software review - this months is Photoshop CS4
Christmas gift guide - in association with Jessops, so could be biased!
Digital Photo frames - each month is a different subject; previous ones have been canvas prints and photobooks
Several pages of advertising
What's on the cover disk
It has to be said, there is a lot of advertising in this magazine - in addition to the adverts section mentioned above, there are also several adverts scattered throughout the magazine. However, I dread to think what the cover price would be without them.
**Quality of content**
Each tutorial style article is explained clearly with step-by-step procedures, and plenty of illustrations. I find the level about right for me - they're not full of unnecessary jargon, but not too simplistic, with enough content for me to learn from and go out and practise. The illustrations are good sized and of a high quality. An added bit of fun for me is that I live in Bath, where the magazine is produced, so if I want to try their techniques, I can actually recreate the same photos! Plus I always look in the street scenes to see if I'm in any of them!
The equipment reviews are excellent, with a good mix of fact and opinion - I always think you can have the 'best' camera in the world, but if you're not comfortable with it, it's not going to work well for you. There are lots of example photos with the camera reviews, showing how well that model performs with various subjects, such as skin tones and low light. At the end of each article is a tech-spec list, and the camera is rated for performance, handling, features, etc and given an overall percentage.
**My overall impression**
Photography magazines vary in price, and for £3.99, I think this one is good value for money. The masterclass section is always interesting, and goes into a lot of detail, and the equipment reviews and service reviews (such as canvas prints) are very useful. I like the tone of the magazine; they get a lot of information into the articles without being dry and boring, and you get the feeling that they really enjoyed the activities involved in putting the articles together. For a beginner/intermediate photographer, I'd recommend this magazine wholeheartedly, and even my husband, a very experienced photographer, finds the equipment and services reviews really interesting.
Learning from other peoples works and experiences is the ultimate way to develop and improve your interest in photography. Some people will take a formal training to enhance their understanding of the subject but others extend further beyond the classroom setting to fully grasp the craft - taking photos perfectly. This is by joining camera clubs having the same passion in photography; attending photo exhibits and galleries; and also buying (or subscribing) available printed materials such as textbooks/manuals and magazines regularly.
In my own experience, I took a short training course in basic photography two years ago. Well, I have been into this hobby a decade ago by exploring my simple camera every time I travel both locally and abroad. I took it seriously to continually hone my photography skills by acquiring a new unit of digital camera and purchasing copies of photo magazines and other publications available in the bookstore. One of them is the Digital Camera (The magazine for todays photographer) being published every month in the UK and available in selected countries worldwide.
Why Digital Camera is on my top list? Well, I will run down the basic and my personal considerations for having this mag a priority tool to enrich my knowledge in photography and further enhance the quality of my photos which are worth sharing to my family and friends, or even to the people who have access to my personal blog.
**THE DESIGN (Lay-out) and QUALITY
Bigger than A4 paper size (and compared to other magazines), the magazine stands-out from the rest because of its stunning bright and glossy hard cover print, bearing its name in a white-big printed letter head. At a glance, I could easily know the highlights covered by the magazine on that particular issue/month without browsing the rest of the pages. Having this, in just few seconds I could easily decide to grab it or leave it. And of course, you are also following what the warning in most magazines stands have: NO READING please! Ironically, this phrase is quite ironic how could I decide to buy printed materials without reading it! Anyway, I just take it as a reminder for everyone not to read it (as we do it inside the library) or stay longer in front of the stand browsing the pages intensely without the intention of buying it.
By looking at the black font printed in a white background (except for ads and large colored photos), I could only assume that an Arial type is used for the entire print which is quite pleasing to the eye. The size is not too small or too big which is quite effective for me having a near-sighted eye sight and also for those who have a far-sighted vision.
The quality of the photos is stunning as if I am viewing/seeing the real objects bearing the true colors, texture and emotions. Sometimes having a low quality printing, most of the time the photos are the one directly affected having cluttered, dull, or blurred images which somehow lost the message or the significance of the picture to the article. The featured pictures are presented in different sizes, most of the time, they are laid-out in the whole page or continually covering two pages which I could not find in other publications.
Overall, the lay-out is perfect and easy to read for a 162 pages magazine (both sides, excluding the front and back covers); thus provide more pages compared to other magazines which normally contain from 146 to 154 pages in A4 size print. The photos and the write-ups are laid-out in a way that I can follow through the discussion which facilitates my better understanding of the article and the significance of the images. I have noticed that the magazine does not practice the turn to page lay-out where you have to browse in other pages the continuation of the featured article. Here, there is a continuity of one particular article by having it on the same page or within two pages facing side-by-side.
**The CONTENT and SPECIAL FEATURE
As I mentioned earlier, the featured article titles are already printed in the cover to have a greater impact to the reader. Being a reader, it is easy to navigate through the pages if there is a table of contents right after the front cover. Likewise, it is a lot easier to browse the pages to have a quick read of the articles without annoying the store manager or staff. In most cases, the magazine always highlights 5 or 6 major articles with a short description each aside from the regular contents covering 5 sub-sections. Briefly, in my own opinion, listed below are highlights of the coverage of the magazine.
1. Out There This is an interesting section of the magazine where a featured theme is showcased through series of photographs and having tips discussion from the experts. For example, in the October issue #51 the early autumn scenes in landscapes, shots during the Tour de France, and the forthcoming events and exhibits were featured. This section provides the dos and donts in taking pictures which is really beneficial for hobbyists like me.
2. Your Photos To increase the readership of the magazine, the publisher is encouraging everyone to submit their photos for possible inclusion in their future issues. This is a good strategy to involve the readers and be inspired to take photos, regardless of the type of cameras being used. Not just for the photos taken but your own ID photo too. Moreover, what I like most here is the contest Photographer of the Year! Aside from featuring your photos, everyone has the chance to win the regular search in 6 categories for the best photos. I already participated in 4 categories by downloading my entries thru its website: www.dcmag.co.uk and everyone could also participate by voting your best choice. Well, my photos were not lucky to be chosen but on the other hand, I will be happy and proud to find someone whom I know wins the competition. With the prizes at stake, it is really tempting to participate and take photos that depict the theme of each category. Overall, this section somehow brings something good in my photos and further challenges me to be more creative in taking pictures.
3. New GEAR - This is also an interesting part of the magazine where new cameras, including gadgets and accessories are featured and evaluated. Basically, it is a review section for cameras 17 pages of independent and definitive buying advice from the publisher/editor. The cameras (at least 5 different brands/styles) are being rated closely using five main characteristics (features, build quality, handling, image quality and value for money) and mark them out of five, and an overall rating of 100 percent. For prospective buyers, this section serves as a guide in settling a new camera, either a simple compact or SLR digital one.
4. The EXTRAs/BONUSes I always look forward to see what is free in buying this magazine. Digital Camera knows exactly what the readers want for the value of my money. It is a free CD!!! Basically, this companion CD is neatly attached (separate pack) inside the magazine, including the discussion on what to expect from CD itself. Having an orange color, the CD bears the month of issue and a brief instruction in case of trouble shooting. The disc mainly contains valuable videos, images and free trial software covering a wide range of topics presented in simple step-by-step guides. It is easy to run the disc which only requires Windows 98 or later versions and guaranteed that has been thoroughly scanned and tested for any virus, but still recommended to run a virus checker before use. Unfortunately, most of the hands-on applications are in Photoshop software which I dont have at the moment. Nevertheless, the videos, tutorials and downloads are useful in the general principles of photography like techniques to improve pictures using available enhancing photo software. In particular, the videos are quite helpful in the appreciation of the software being featured, except that the audio is not really good (even in its maximum level) which could hardly hear it, 2-3 meters away from the PC. After use, I could still return back or place the disc safely having a separate envelope-type compartment inside the magazine. It is good for a while, but I suggest removing it from the magazine and place it in a separate disc case to maintain the quality of the CD. In most cases, the paper moistens and the CD will stick to it and eventually it affects the readability of the disc.
5. ADs and Others - Unlike other magazines with much of advertisements, Digital Camera has only limited pages (approximately 26 pages - presenting 16% from the total 162 pages) for advertisement of products and services offered by its sponsors and business partners. Unfortunately, this magazine does not have a 'book review' column wherein books are featured - reviewed and rated.
The Digital Camera offers a wide range of topics and discussions for people who love to take pictures! This is a recommended regular read for £3.99 per issue from Future Publishing Ltd, including a free CD full of great practical advice for better pics creating a stunning works of art from your photographs. It also contains the latest and exciting top-of-the line camera products and prices from various distributors, including printers, tripods, scanners, software, memory cards/readers, studio lighting accessories, bags and cases, chargers and batteries, etc.
For people who love to travel, this is also good source of information on places and events around the world where spending summer or winter could be captivating, exciting and fun!
And most importantly, you can join the contest on-line at http://poty2006.dcmag.co.uk/ or send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. or by post (maximum of 20 photos in a CD or as prints) to: The Editor, Digital Camera, Future Publishing, 30 Monmouth St., Bath BA1 2BW. For a 12-month subscription, the publisher provides give-away products including free delivery and with exclusive cover. Just have the order on-line at www.myfavouritemagazines.co.uk/dcm or call 0870 837 4722 (from Monday-Friday, 830am-930pm and Saturday, 830am-4pm).
Finally, it is available in most popular local stores like Tesco, Eason and Spar. In abroad like the US (California area), I found it at the music store at $12.99 (exclusive of state tax) which is approximately £7 (double the price in the UK), and the only photo mag printed in England.