Go Digital For Pictures

Spring 2003 CSANews Issue 46  |  Posted date : Apr 15, 2007.Back to list

January 2003 was my first foray at Snowbird Extravaganza in Lakeland, Florida. No bias here, but how can anyone not visit this two-day spectacle. Every member of our team had an assigned responsibility and mine was to run the Medipac's Internet Café ­ an eye-opening experience, as far as snowbirds' use and understanding of the Internet. "You know a lot more than I thought you did." Today, I wanna (that is "want to" for English majors) introduce another fun technology into your Internet equation ­ the digital camera.

In the past 20 years, most of the major technological developments in consumer electronics have really been part of one larger breakthrough ­ converting analog information into digital information ­ video cassettes to DVDs, vinyl records and audio tapes to CDs and antenna or regular cable television to HDTV ­ all examples of this evolution.

For those of you who did not take Computer 101, stored digital information is simply a collection of 1s and 0s. In the case of digital pictures, the 1s and 0s represent all the tiny coloured dots, or pixels, that collectively make up an image.

A digital camera is the perfect traveller's accessory allowing you to capture memorable moments, providing immediate results and, yes, saving you money. Many snowbirds at the show had me take a picture of them and use the digital image as an attachment to an e-mail they sent to their family or friends (actual photo shown below). Simple, easy, costs nothing (nada, zero, niente) as you've eliminated the middle man ­ photo processing services. All this and they're teeny, tiny, real small, compared to traditional film-based cameras, so you can take them with you wherever you go.

Ultimately, the pictures end up on your computer, a process that is as simple as connecting the camera to a USB cable (comes with the camera) attached to your computer. The connection activates a program that asks you if you wish to save your pictures to your hard disk. Of course your answer is "YES." From there, you have a variety of tools you can use to view and edit the pictures. More on picture viewing and editing will be available on the Web site as a continuation of this article because I only have one page here (Mr. Editor).

For those who do not have a digital camera, let's see if we can help you understand the most important principle in the selection of a camera ­ resolution ­ the amount of detail the camera captures. Resolution is measured in pixels. The more pixels your camera has, the more detail it can capture. The more detail you have, the more you can enlarge a picture before it becomes "grainy" and starts to look out-of-focus.

A two-megapixel-resolution model is the lowest-resolution model you should consider if you want to capture image quality to make small prints. These cameras are generally easy to use because they are not feature-rich and, best of all, they are not too pricey. Consider lower-resolution models for e-mail images and/or an electronic scrapbook for you, your family and friends.

If you wish to capture images that are large enough to edit and print in photos of sizes up to 8x10, consider a three-megapixel model. There's a wide variety of designs and feature sets in this class, and most of these cameras come at a moderate price.

For photographers, or those of you who think you're photographers (like me) who know how to use, or think it would be easy to use image-editing software (like me), and don't mind spending the money (not like me), there are the feature-rich four-megapixel and higher models. If you are not going to edit pictures, then this class of digicams may offer more confusing features and options than anything else.

Regardless of which digicam you select, if you do choose to edit images, the most popular editing software is Microsoft's Picture It Publishing Platinum because of its variety of features and easy-to-learn interface.

So there you have it. You have a camera. You have your editing software. You're good to go.

This digital revolution has proved monstrously successful. I'm not sure if digital cameras will ever replace film, but they continue to capture a bigger piece of the camera market each year. All I am sure of is that now I can capture, view and edit my picture images before they go to print, so my final product is even better ­ and yours will be too.