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Digital Photography…

Memories Are Made Of This

Most digital cameras use either Compact Flash or SmartMedia memory storage cards and I’ve found them to be equally good. Currently, Compact Flash cards have higher capacities but they are slightly more expensive. Sony digicams now use their own MemoryStick cards and there’s also a new card standard, Compact Flash II which can handle the IBM Microdrive spinning disks, capable of storing up to a Gigabyte of data.

Capacity, though, can be a two-edged sword– like using a roll of film on which you could shoot hundreds of pictures, handy in one way but a little risky in that all your photographic eggs would be in one basket. Unless you decide to shoot uncompressed TIFF (if your digicam has that capability) or have other uses for high capacity cards, I suggest you use several smaller memory cards with 128MB as the upper limit.

Once you’ve taken your pictures, you’ll probably want to transfer them to your computer to sort, file, manipulate, and print them. This has usually been done through the computer’s serial port– a long, arduous, and thankless task known to make grown men (and women) cry. Lately, more and more digicams are coming equipped with USB which transfers images in an eyeblink. But your computer has to have a USB port.

If it doesn’t, put a Memory Card reader on your list. You just slip your digicam’s card into a slot and, your pictures will fly over to the computer at lightspeed. Readers come in all flavors for both PCs and Macs– Parallel, SCSI, USB, you name it and someone makes it. If your computer does have USB, Delkin and Microtech International make multi-card readers that transfer images from both Compact Flash, Compact Flash II and SmartMedia cards. That way, you’re covered should your next digicam use a different kind of memory card– or if you buy one of the new Olympus models that takes several card types.

Don't Forget The Software 

"You’re also going to need photo imaging software if you want to creatively manipulate your pictures by sharpening or softening, making areas lighter or darker or changing color values. Adobe’s cross-platform PhotoDeluxe is bundled with many cameras but now that Photoshop LE is available at under US$100, I’d highly recommend it. Nevertheless there’s other good software like Picture Window and the Arcsoft line that rate serious consideration as they are inexpensive, easy to learn, and require only a small amount of RAM and hard disk space to run.

Many digital camera manufacturers now include their own stand-alone transfer, imaging, and cataloging software. Until you pick the digital imaging program you want to marry –divorce not being an easy option in this field– you can do some basic manipulations with them and then print out your results. Some cameras, such as Epson, Olympus, and Kodak allow you to bypass your computer entirely and print directly to one of their photographic quality printers; however, in return for the convenience, you have to give up creative control of the final image.



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