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Digital camera features

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Although today digital cameras are the norm among photographers, they are not perfectly designed for people with upper body or cognitive impairments.

Upper Body Impairment Devices

For those with upper body impairments, steadying the camera can prove to be quite difficult. There are a multitude of items on the market to assist with the steadying the camera both externally and internally.

Figure 1. Tripod example
Figure 1. Tripod example [1]

Tripods (see Figure 1.) are the most common device used to stabilize a digital camera externally. They provide stability along the side to side and up and down axis of motion. Tripods, as their name implies, are composed of three legs supporting a central platform. On the central platform there is a place to screw in the digital camera so that the device can be held in place without the assistance of the user. Companies who make tripods range from Gitzo, Bogen, Manfrotto, and Cannon among others. Some tripods, such as the Joby Gorillapod or the Sunpak Mini-Spider, have flexible legs so that the camera can be mounted easily on uneven or nonlinear surfaces. Tripods can also adjust to a multitude of angles so that the user can get the best possible picture.

Figure 2. Monopod example
Figure 2. Monopod example [2]

Monopods, or one legged tripods, made by companies such as Cannon and Davis & Sanford operate much in the same way as traditional tripods but have the advantage of being lighter in weight (see Figure 2).

There are also internal stabilizing devices on digital cameras for those who have upper body impairment. Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) technology works to stabilize the image by varying the optical path to the sensor.[3] Different companies have different names for this technology but they all work in the same manner. Cannon names their technology Image Stabilization (IS) and they were the first to introduce a camera equipped with OIS technology into the market. Nikon, Cannon, Sony, Tamron, Pentax, and Leica all have cameras on the market that use OIS technology.

Cognitive Impairments Devices

Some digital cameras can have very complicated interfaces making it difficult for those with cognitive impairments to use them. Key features to look for when choosing a digital camera for an individual with a cognitive impairment a large LCD screen which helps the user see what they are doing clearly. Also, many easy to use digital cameras are marketed as ‘Point and Shoot’ devices which mean that those cameras have simplified interfaces for the user. Although many companies make these types of digital cameras, Kodak, Cannon, Nikon, and Panasonic are the leading companies producing them.[4] HP also has software options that allow their digital cameras to automatically load pictures onto HP computers. This makes the transfer of images process much easier on the user.


  3. Canon BCTV Lenses: What is Optical Image Stabilizer?." Canon Global. 27 Oct. 2009.

Author: Duane Rollins

Universal Design @ Georgia Tech.