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Digital Cameras by liwenting

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									                                 Digital Cameras
Topics

Digital Cameras and Digital Photography

Overview of Digital Cameras
Buyers Guide for Christmas
How to Use Digital Cameras
Image Enhancement

What is a digital camera?
Digital cameras are similar to regular film cameras. They use lenses, flash, may require
focusing, and the pictures are “processed” in some way when all the pictures have been
taken.

Digital means that the image is converted from a light image to a series of 1’s and 0’s and
stored in some type of computer memory or storage device. No film is used in the digital
camera. Some cameras may store the pictures on floppy disks, built in memory circuits,
memory sticks, or even CD’s.

So far, you can see that you will save all film costs. However, if you want to create prints
from your photos like the ones you got from your film camera, you will still have to pay
for the prints. You can print them on your own color printer.

Digital photographs can be taken in different resolutions. This means that some photos
can be taken in lower quality or higher quality. The difference is in the number of dots or
pixels that make up the image. This is similar to the dots that form the print in
newspapers. Low-resolution photos have fewer dots and appear grainy while high-
resolution photos have many more dots and appear closer to film quality. The drawback
is the number of dots relates to the amount of memory required for storage. A camera
can take fewer high quality pictures in the storage system since the individual file size is
larger.

Since digital cameras use lenses like your regular camera, they can be used to take close-
ups, wide-angle, or telephoto shots if you have the right lenses. The cheapest cameras
will have fixed focus lenses and usually a switch that allows you to do “macro” or close
photos. Better cameras have zoom lenses. These come with a real value related to the
optical system and a mathematically based digital zoom that extends the zoom capability
of the lens system. Some cameras have a built in flash, auto-focus, and special effects.

Most digital cameras have a built-in LCD Screen like a notebook computer screen for
setting up your shots and viewing final pictures. Some have the capability of attaching a
cable and playing the pictures through a TV. (This is called an analog or NTSC output.)
This is good if you want to record your photos on videotape to send to relatives who do
not have a computer! To get the most from a digital camera, you will need a personal
computer with a serial interface usually standard serial port or USB. (The cameras that
use CD’s or diskettes bypass this and use the drives in the computer directly.)
The computer is used to “upload” the pictures from the camera to the computer hard
drive and to name, enhance, and format the pictures.

Cameras ship with at least two types of software. First, the software that allows you to
link and upload the pictures, and second, image enhancement software such as
Photostyler. The link software is specific to the camera that you buy. The other types of
software can be used with any digital photos. The cameras produce digital files that must
be converted into a standard graphics format for use on the computer. Some cameras
automatically convert all photos to JPEG files that are common graphics files. Other
cameras have their own format and the link software enables you to “export” the files in a
variety of formats including JPEG, BMP, TIFF, GIF, etc. (JPEG files from Sony and
other cameras can also be loaded into the enhancement software and exported in other
file formats. These formats are imported because some are compressed and result in
smaller files while others are large. (E.g. BMP files are usually very large while JPEG is
compressed.) All can be manipulated into smaller files and saved in different formats for
things like web pages and e-mail attachments.

Now you have photos on your computer that you can view and enhance. If you have a
color printer you can buy “photo paper” which is shiny (and expensive) and print pretty
good pictures. Or, you can now send the pictures that you really want prints of, to an
online processing center that will convert them into prints just like the ones you get from
film. They will even put your album on the web and give you a private link so that your
relatives and friends can see your latest photos! All you have to do is e-mail them the
link and they can check it through their Internet software or AOL, etc.

Buyers Guide

You received a diskette, which has a series of links to websites featuring all kinds of
digital cameras for other opinions. You can check these out when we finish our
discussion.

My Buyers Guide

   1. 640 x 480 Min. Resolution- Get at least this resolution to ensure high enough
      photo quality to make good prints and screen images. Most cameras will exceed
      this today but always have lower resolution settings to allow more pictures in
      storage or for web photos.

   2. Rechargeable batteries- Digital photos take a lot of electrical current to create.
      Battery life is pretty short so a built-in charger or a charger attachment is a must.
   3. Good storage capacity- you want to be able to take at least as many photos, as
      you would normally take on film. Get a camera with floppy diskette storage or
      CD if you want the cheapest way to add more capacity. High capacity random
      access memory will allow you to take quite a few pictures before they must be
      uploaded. Or you can use memory cards or “sticks” so that you can buy more
      than one and change when they run out of storage space. Beware: Diskettes and
      CD’s are much slower!!!

   4. Built-in Flash- My camera does not have a flash and I wish it did. Indoor lights
      are not bright enough in all situations and the flash works just like the one on your
      film camera.

   5. A/C Adapter- It takes a while to upload pictures to your computer. The adapter
      will keep you from having to stay on battery power during this phase.

   6. Good LCD View Finder- Get a camera that makes it easy to see what you are
      trying to photograph. In addition, it will let you see the photo that you have taken
      so you can delete it and shoot it again.

   7. Buy a camera that will do the things above not a cheapie- face it, you will not
      be satisfied with a camera that doesn’t do what you want. You can find some real
      bargains, but you usually get what you pay for. You diskette has some price
      comparisons. Find the best camera at your price and go test it. You can get an
      older model. My camera cost over $500 when I bought it on sale from over $600.
      It is still available on the web for about $100. (That is only about a 3year time
      frame.) You will have to spend at least $300 to get the things above unless you
      can find one that someone bought recently and is selling for some reason.

   8. Port Requirement- Be sure to get a camera with USB connection if you have this
      type of serial port on your computer. If not, get a standard serial connector.
      Some cameras use special sticks that require you to install a reader on your
      computer. If you are not up to installing it, don’t buy this type.

I would buy a camera with a good zoom lens and flash. Those are the only two things
that I miss. Some cameras can take a minute or so of motion video but a digital movie
camera can take much longer and also shoot singe frame digital pictures. If you want
movies most, buy the movie camera and also get single frames. If you want digital
photos buy a digital still camera.

How to Use Digital Cameras
Guess what? It is pretty much the same as your film camera! It is electric so you have to
turn it on. Frame up your subject and push the shutter switch. The built-in computer will
do its thing and a photo image is created and stored. You usually have a switch on the
back for recording or playing. You will have to switch from record to play and then be
able to see the picture you just took on the LCD screen. Switch back to record and you
are ready for the next photo. You may have other switches on your camera. These may
include Macro for the close-ups, and auto-exposure or a bright / low light switch. More
expensive cameras will have more things to adjust including the Zoom, special effects,
etc.

Now you have a camera full of pictures. If it is a diskette or CD storing camera, take out
the diskette or CD and place it in the appropriate drive on your computer. Since these
cameras create JPEG files you can look at the photos in any graphics program or your
Internet browser.

If you have memory or memory stick storage you will need to connect your camera to a
port on your computer. All computers have serial ports; newer computers have USB,
which is a faster serial port. Attach the cable to the computer and to the camera, open the
link software, and upload the files to your computer hard drive. Once you know the
pictures are safely transferred you can clear the memory in your camera and start
shooting pictures again. Remember, no film!!! Don’t worry about Mr. Kodak, he is big
time into web photo processing and display.

When you look at your photos you can print them on your printer, delete the bad ones,
use your enhancement software to take out “red eyes”, etc.

Image Enhancement
The software that comes with your camera is usually a good start. You can also
download all types of software to help brighten, darken, paint, crop, etc. your photo. The
best thing, enlargements are just a matter of a click of the mouse. Don’t expect to make
full wall posters, though. The bigger you make your picture the bigger the pixels appear
and you can get to really blotchy photos that don’t look like photographs.

If you want to learn to really use your Photoshop, Photostyler, or other imaging software
it will take some practice or another class or more.

								
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