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Photography


 

 

I didn't know whether to put this under computer...since it is mostly digital photography. My Olympus OMPC 35mm is collecting dust in the closet (I think that's where it is), so it's the digital age but still photography.

 

Important Note - if you are downloading pictures to your computer, make sure you have a backup system in place(see section below). I have repaired a few peoples pc's that the harddrive crashed and there was no way to retrieve their pictures. In one instance I had to purchase an identical harddrive off e-bay for an exuberant price, removed the controller card off the good one and replaced it on the crashed drive and luckily i was able to retrieve them. It is a very hard lesson to learn.

 

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Sharing Photos (or posting them)

These super-duper cameras nowadays are producing fantastic quality pictures. They can be printed and or viewed with very high quality. The cameras are taking photos good enough to print a very high quality 8x10" or larger picture for your wall, and that is in regular mode on the camera, you could switch the camera to high quality and have a picture good enough to print a poster...

 

BUT...most people aren't printing their pictures for posters or 8x10's or even 5x7's, heck some people aren't even printing them. They are viewing them on their computer, sending them in emails, and posting them on websites.

 

So what's the problem?

The pictures filesizes are huge in computer terms, some cameras are taking 2 megabyte pictures in default mode. The picture files size are a combination of resolution and dpi (all covered in a different section on this page). The biggest problem is they create huge resolution, which is ok if you wanna zoom-in on the family picnic photo to see if Aunt Jane really had a zit. The big file sizes slow down peoples internet connection, either by taking forever to retrieve their email or bringing up a webpage, plus some people still do dial-up for their internet connection(approx 5 minutes per megabyte on a 56k connection). The big file sizes can also just slow down the person's email once it is in their email when they hi-lite the item.

So why don't I need that high resolution?

Most camera's are taking 2048x1536 or better, you really don't need that because you computer screens resolution is probably less than 1024x768(your actual is listed below in red). If you viewed that 2048x1536 on your monitor that was set at 1024x768 at full view, you would only see 1/4 of the picture, so you zoom out to be able to see the whole picture.
Your current screen resolution is :

How can you reduce your pictures for sharing?

There are a few different ways.

  • easy to medium difficulty - if you have Windows XP, goto http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx and download and install the "Image Resizer". This will allow you to use Windows Explorer to right-mouse on pics and reduce them as needed, with the advance option of not renaming them if you want. If you use the default option of renaming, then I would rename the pic to get rid of the parathesis (some systems don't like parathesis in a filename). Oh there is other cool stuff on the powertoys page. http://download.microsoft.com/download/whistler/Install/2/WXP/EN-US/ImageResizerPowertoySetup.exe
    Vista image resizer - http://sourceforge.net/project/platformdownload.php?group_id=224498
    another nice one - http://www.powerhourgame.com/windows_vista_image_resizer_powertoy_prish_image_resizer.htm
  • easy to cumbersome but with many rewards (only option if you don't have Windows XP) - download a program like www.irfanview.com (which is an awesome little program) and open the picture and do "Image, Resize/Resample, half (or make it whatever size you want)". This program has many many other features, it just takes a little experimenting and playing with. This program will: open many different types of picture formats(including animated gifs), batch conversion of pictures to convert almost all aspects of picture, slide show viewer, and it's pretty small.
  • easy using what you have - if you have Windows XP and use Outlook Express for your email. With XP's Windows Explorer, select them and email them to yourself, then save them out of the email to another directory. Here is a step by step on how to to it: http://www.geekgirls.com/windows_email_photos.htm#xp (also other good info on that webpage)
  • easy to difficult using what you have - if you have Windows XP and don't use Outlook Express for your email, you can still utilize the photo reduction part of XP. You might have to setup Outlook Express with a dummy account. Just do the steps before, but once you get to the message where the pictures are attached, goto "c:\documents and settings\YOURPROFILE\local settings\temp" and copy them out of there to another place, then cancel the email message.

Other ways to share you photos

  • www.snapfish.com - (aka HP photoshare) its free, easy to use. you create albums, upload pictures, then send people kinda secure links to people by email for them to visit the album.
  • http://new.photos.yahoo.com/ - never used it, but have visited peoples photos and it looks pretty cool.
  • www.ofoto.com - (ada Kodak) - sharing and printing services.

 Back 'em up

I cringe when someone gives me their computer and I ask them is there anything on it that they need and they say "all my pictures". So the next question is "Do you have them backed up?"..."ah no"...OH...it makes my job that much more intense to make sure I don't blow away all their photos.

 

I know some people don't want to become a computer techie just to learn how to back up their photos, but in this instance you need to learn or do something because there will be no "shoebox" in the closet to dig though years from now and laugh at yourself wearing that oh so 80's haircut if your harddrive crashes after collecting 5 years of pictures.

 

Here are ways to do it:

  • First and foremost, learn how to organize them in your computer. Many people just copy them all into one directory, then after awhile you have one big mess and trying to find things is a nightmare.
    • Create sub-directories for subjects/events. ie: for vacations - under "My Pictures" create a directory called "Vacation", then under that create a sub-directory like "2006-DisneyWorld". for kids birthdays - under "My Pictures" create a directory called "Birthdays", then under that create a sub-directory like "2006-LittleJohnny".
    • Windows XP has a copy function that pops up when it recognizes a external drive that has photos on it and you can go through its wizard to move pictures from the camera(external drive) to "My Pictures" or wherever you would like to put them. The only downfall is it renames(with a prefix) all your photos in which could be a good thing.
  • Back them up to something. NOTE - keep the originals at their original size, you never know when you might want to print a really good picture(of that 80's haircut) and if you have reduced the resolution or quality it might not come out good.
    1. CD-DVD - Most new computers are coming with DVD-RW's and XP provides easy built in utilities to back stuff up. Some of the cameras and printers also come with utilities to manage your photos, these programs are iffy, I would not suggest using those programs because people get used to using them and if they change computers or somehow lose software somehow you can't find/get it anymore. Advice - use RW's (read-writable) so you can reuse them or maybe you don't want to overwrite them.
      1. CD - this way is a good way but very time consuming because most people have more than 650 megabytes of pictures due to file size (covered elsewhere on this page) and you would have to do individual directories. 
      2. DVD - this is a very good way, but here again a DVD is 4.6 gigabytes which is alot but if you have accumulated a couple years of photos and take alot of pictures, your gonna go over that 4.6gigs easily and your gonna have to take some time to back them up properly ensuring you get them all.
    2. External Harddrive - This is the most bestest (is that phrase allowed). It's fast(compared to writing CD's/DVD's) and portable. You can either buy one already together OR buy an "USB harddrive enclosure" and an regular internal IDE harddrive(the one your desktop/laptop already has). If you chose this option, this drive is just like any drive on your computer and you can manage them easily.
      1. complete - http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/category/category_slc.asp?CatId=136& 
      2. build your own - regular desktop pc's have a 3.5" IDE harddrive in them, laptops/notebooks have a 2.5" drive in them. You can get enclosures for both sizes, the 2.5"(enclosures and drives) are a little pricey but the convenience of being able to stick it in your pocket might justify the cost. If your running out of space on your computer (either desktop or laptop) then this may be a good way to upgrade your computer and get a backup drive out of the deal by buying a new harddrive and stick the new drive in your computer then taking your old one and stick it in the harddrive enclosure for use as an external backup drive.
        1. enclosure (under $30) - http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/category/category_slc.asp?CatId=1204&
        2. hard drive (however big or small you wanna go) - http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/category/category_slc.asp?CatId=134 NOTE - if your gonna stick it in the harddrive enclosure don't worry too much about the speed or cache on the drive, the USB connection will be your bottleneck and not the drive itself.
      3. Syncronization program - instead of manually managing the directories on both drives (your computers harddrive and the external drive), you can get "syncronization" programs that will only update the files that need updated. A good program for this is http://www.gelosoft.com/adescr.html . OR alot of the photo management programs have backup options built in them.

I can't stress "Back them pictures up" enough. It is a very hard lesson to learn if your harddrive crashes and all your pictures are gone.


Camcorder Stuff

Convert 8mm to VHS or DVD

The main reason why people want to convert off the 8mm is because they are just plain inconvienent. Having to get the camcorder out and hook it up to TV is a hassle, plus you just can't send grandma a tape.

 

But another reason is magnetic tape has a life expectancy of 10+ years, if stored properly and never played. But do you store them properly in that shoe box in the garage that the door got left open by the kids and the storm came?... A DVD is much more reliable, they aren't indestructable, but definitely more tolerable to environmental sources. Now physical sources such as scratching is a problem, but with todays pc's it very easy to make backups. Here is a link to really really in-depth analysis of magnetic tape degradation: http://www.clir.org/pubs/reports/pub54/5premature_degrade.html

 

Site to is full of video help: http://www.videohelp.com/

The big question is:

Can I take all these 8mm tapes and put them on DVD?

Reasonable thinking would say yes, they made an adapter for cassettes to fit in an 8-track player, they made/make an adapter for VHS-C(looks similiar to 8mm tape) to fit into a VCR, they make an adapter that fits in your cassette player that takes any kind of mini-jack input (ie:walkman CD player...).

  • The one word answer is NO.
  • The short answer is NO, it is 2 t-totally different formats of encoding/decoding on the tapes (digital and analog, remember in school the continuous and non-continuous wave...headache).
  • The long answer is here http://hometheater.about.com/cs/vcrs/a/aa8mmtovhsa.htm

Ways to convert:

Services - expensive, and don't know the quality. Supposedly Walmart does it.

Yourself -

  • Output the camcorder to the input of your VCR. Quality loss, but ok. And here your back to magnetic tape.
  • Output camcorder to a DVD recorder. Haven't tried this b/c I don't own one, but if you do the "capture" option(below) there is alot to learn b/c there are so many options.
  • Output your camcorder to pc with a video capture card(video card with VIVO video-in video-out) or Firewire(IEEE1394 aka i-Link). I have experimented(back in 2004) with doing this, at that time it wasn't easy and the quality wasn't there on the analog part, firewire was good though. The package(Adobe Premier supposedly the best video editing software available to the public but pricey) I used was pretty good but cumbersome to use. This is a time consuming process having to capture it to MPG or AVI (AVI has better quality), then writing it to DVD. You definitely want to do digital and not analog b/c you will lose quality of the digital if you convert to analog.
    • help on how to go about it - http://www.videohelp.com/dvanalog
    • There are software packages out there now, never tried them, so I don't know how many "1-touch" solutions are out there without learning stuff like: pc inputs, resolutions, MPG formats, AVI formats, fps (frame per second), audio frequencies/samplings, CD formats just to name a few. If you have a bunch, then maybe it is worth it.

What I have

Olympus om-PC - 35mm, automated. Sorry the only link was to the manual. This is one of the first 35mm cameras that was somewhat automated. It didn't have auto-focus but it did all the other adjustments for you, if your familiar with good ole 35mm cameras and having to set the f-stop and iso...this camera did it for you. It was less expensive than the Canon, but just as good.

 

Olympus C-740UZ - 3.2mega-pixel, 10x optical/3x digital zoom. Awesome camera. I chose it for 2 main reasons:

  1. optical zoom - a zoom on a camera is essential, you can never get close enough...remember the first rule of photography is "fill the frame".
  2. AA batteries - didn't want to be hendered by having to make sure you have the charger, you never know when your on vacation and you forget your charger or batteries die during the day. I use rechargeables for normal use, but in a pinch I could run and get some AA batteries.

cons:

  1. only 1, the XD chip is expensive, it's about double that of an SD chip. But I think the transfer is faster.

 

Casio Exilim EX-Z40 - 4mega-pixel, 3x optical/4x digital zoom. Neat little camera. Great for carrying around with you for those ad-hoc pictures. I chose it for a couple reasons.

  1. smallness - 3.46"(W) x 2.24"(H) x 0.91"(D). Its a little bigger than a credit card and about an inch thick, fits in your pocket nice. Good for taking to the amusement park, no need for an extra bag.
  2. features - has some neat features, one in particular is the "coupling shot" in which if there is nobody around to take a picture of you and your partner, you can take a picture of 1 person and switch and finish the picture with the other.
  3. female friendly - Ha. Really easy to use, it's a point and shoot with extra stuff. Except I haven't figured out how to take good pictures indoors yet.
  4. movie mode - great little feature with sound. Records into an AVI format. Perfect for those little clips of Guesstures at the party. Can the 8mm camera...ha
  5. fast - very quick time between turning it on to taking the picture. quick zoom and auto-focus also.

cons:

  1. Digital zoom is very grainy. If you stay in the optical zoom the pics are good.
  2. Download speed though the craddle or SD chip is slow (but who cares about that).
  3. Lense broke on me 1 week after I bought it...was a little leary about buying a camera from a calculator company anyway.


My Advice

I always get asked for advice on digital cameras, so here are some things to consider:

  1. What is your objective? (if you can't answer any, then stick to your good ole 35mm)
    • Do you want to see your pictures now? and not wait for the rolls to pile up your draw awaiting to be taken to the store for processing.
    • Do you want to take more pictures without the cost of developing? (digital is about 5cents cheaper, but your trading time for $)
    • Do you want to email them? (that roll of film will never end up in grandmas view if you don't process them)
    • Do you want to manipulate them? black out someones tooth and put them on a "Wanted" poster.
  2. What is the most important feature of the camera?
    • zoom ? - Optical and digital, they advertise them as of both total (Optical multiplied by Digital)
    • mega-pixels ? - the more pixels, the better the quality (read info below on sizes), but you aren't printing posters
    • quickness ? - time it takes to turn the camera on to take a picture, also time it takes to focus and snap
    • body type ? - compact or SLR(like full body 35mm) 
    • battery ? - normal OTC batteries or does it need its own charger and/or external AC adapter
    • media ? - built in memory and/or removable memory(ie: SD card)
    • price? -top of the line technology drops quickly
    • ease of use(taking the picture)? - it may be easy to start taking pics, but if you wanna get fancy later...
    • ease of use(printing)? may depend on media above
    • name brand?
    • does it have connection for computer ? - USB or firewire connection
  3. Do you have a computer? (with todays in-store photo stations, you don't necessarily need your own PC but they help)
    • Is your computer up-to-date? (need USB ports and a CDRW for backup purposes)
    • Do you have XP? (XP has built in tools to manage your photos)
    • Do you have the harddrive space? (pics can take up alot of space)
    • Do you have a back-up plan? (harddrive crashes, there goes your pics) (see "Back 'em Up" on this page)

So here is my advice:

    • If you want a no decision making one(inspirational buy) - buy a cheap one to start off with, something not over $200, a 3.2mega-pixel with a 3x optical zoom is fine for beginners. Once you start taking pictures and doing whatever with them, make sure you use all the features of the camera. Then as you come across things you can't get out of that camera, research a new one and retire that one to your child. But I do suggest doing at least a little research first.
    • If you want one that is gonna last you. - learn the lingo...Do not plan on going to the store and coming back with one, you won't be happy in the end. I know even being a computer geek there is alot to learn, but you could probably learn alot by visiting an actual camera store (not BestBuy or CircuitCity), then go online, learn more about different things, then start comparing models/features. Stick to the "camera" companies ie: Olympus, Canon, Pentax, Fuji...

Here is a good table based on what kind of photographer you are - http://www.photoxels.com/buyersGuide.html

 


Links for learning


Technical info about digital cameras (still under construction)

 

Whats ratio or aspect ratio?

  • Its the "Width vs Height" perspective.
  • 4:3 ratio is the normal computer resolutions ie: 1024x768, 800x600, 640x480. Most cameras in normal mode take a 4:3 picture. A normal TV is 4:3, a widescreen TV is 16:9.
  • 3:2 ratio is the normal "print" size ie: 4x6
  • so when you take a 4:3 picture and print it to 4x6 and you tell it to crop...it will crop the heads off or cut the edges off(depending on your software). 

 

 

Mega-pixel to print size:

Digicam Resolution vs. Photographic Print Size
 Megapixel Rating
 Typical Image Size (in pixels)
 Maximum Print Size (in inches)
 Less than 1.0
640 x 480
800 x 600
Web/e-mail only.
Maybe 3 x 5 inches.
 1 megapixel
1,154 x 852
4 x 6
 1.3-1.5 megapixels
1,280 x 960, 1,280 x 1,024
5 x 7
 2.0 megapixels
1,600 x 1,200
8 x 10, sharper 5 x 7
 3+ megapixels
2,048 x 1,536
(or larger)
Sharper 8 x 10, 8 x 10 with cropping

 

 

Compression

Resolution
(DPI)

File
Size

0%

25%

50%

300

780.8K

546K

312K

200

468K

273K

156K

150

293K

176K

117K

72*

98K

78K

59K

 

 

This is a table from a 3.2 mega-pixel camera which has alot of options, HQ is the normal mode...

So on HQ mode a JPG is approx 800k (depending on what your taking a picture of)

 

Image Record Mode Pixel Resolution Compression Rate (Approx.) Number of storable pictures (without sound *3) File Size(Approx.)
16MB Card *2 256MB Card *2

Still Picture

TIFF 2048 x 1536 1/1 1 27 9.5MB
  (3:2) 2048 x 1360 1/1

1

31 8.4MB
  1600 x 1200 1/1 2 45 5.8MB
  1280 x 960 1/1 4 70 3.7MB
  1024 x 768 1/1 6 109 2.4MB
  640 x 480 1/1 16 270 953KB
SHQ 2048 x 1536 1/3.3 8 135 1.9MB
  Enlarge*1 3200 x 2400 1/2.7 2 45 5.7MB
  (3:2) 2048 x 1360 1/3 8 138 1.9MB
HQ 2048 x 1536 1/8 20 326 802KB
  Enlarge*1 3200 x 2400 1/8.1 8 136 1.9MB
  (3:2) 2048 x 1360 1/8 22 363 712KB
SQ1 HQ 1600 x 1200 1/2.7 11 181 1.4MB
SQ 1/8 32 515 495KB
HQ 1280 x 960 1/2.7 17 280 926KB
SQ 1/8 49 799 323KB
SQ2 HQ 1024 x 768 1/2.7 26 431 599KB
SQ 1/8 76 1229 212KB
HQ 640 x 480 1/2.7 66 1065 243KB
SQ 1/8 165 2663 922KB
Movie HQ 320 x 240 - 48 sec 774 sec 338KB/sec.
SQ 160 x 120 - 211 sec 3409 sec 77KB/sec.



 


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