Graphics Workshop Part 1: Digital Cameras

Recently the power of the home PC has reached such a level that it is possible to be used for advanced artistic applications, whether it is through the capture and manipulation of sound, video or pictures.Over the next couple of weeks I’m going to look at several items of hardware that allow you to achieve the latter of the applications listed above; the ability to capture and manipulate pictures.

One of the most exciting developments in recent times is the rapid improvement in digital camera technology.For those of you unsure, digital cameras are very much like ordinary ‘analogue’ cameras that we’ve had for many years, just without the film, all pictures that you take are stored on special memory chips inside the camera and when you’ve finished shooting, they are copied onto your home computer.The advantages for this type of storage are numerous:

·Many digital cameras’ allow you to instantly preview a picture that you have taken on an inbuilt colour screen.If you don’t like the picture then you just delete and retake it.This also reduces final costs as images that aren’t needed don’t have to be printed, especially useful if you tend to have a habit of taking pictures in poor light levels, at wrong angles etc.

·The picture quality on a digital camera is becoming superior to that of a normal camera, the main reason being is that a digital camera eliminates the need to develop and scan the negatives before you are able to print them on to photo paper.Unsurprisingly the fewer times the image is converted, the greater the clarity of the final image.

·The method of developing the image is much faster and so the turnaround time for the photographer is reduced.Also, before printing takes place, a number of effects can be applied to the image using a editing package such as Adobe PhotoDeluxe, for example, to remove the red-eye effect sometimes caused by camera flashes.

·In addition, digital cameras’ are also more environmentally sound as no chemicals are used in the developing process.

So basically to summarise the benefits above, to take pictures using a digital camera, just use it as you would any standard camera, selecting which shots you want to keep as to make the best use of the camera storage space.Take the camera home and connect it to your computer, alter them on the computer if required and then print to a suitable high quality printer.Alternatively upload them to the Internet or save them on to a floppy disk or CD-ROM (depending on your system specification)

There are several things to look out for if you do decide to buy a digital camera.When shopping keep this guide with you so that you will easily be able to compare the specifications of several different products as they vary significantly depending on price and manufacturer.

1)Resolution – Possibly one of the most important factors when choosing a digital camera, the resolution is a measure of how many dots are used to make up the final image; a picture made of lots tiny little dots will be of higher quality than one made of far fewer, larger dots.Resolution is measured in pixels, to be honest the least I’d settle for would be 1280 x 1024 (This means that the final picture will be made up of 1310720 pixels)

2)Amount of memory – The higher the memory capacity of the camera, the more pictures you will be able to store on it at any one time, without having to return to your computer to download them.This should be considered especially important if you purchase a high resolution camera as the higher quality pictures take up more memory space.

3)Weight and Price – Obvious important considerations for most users.Digital cameras start from around £80 and work upwards in price depending on the features of the unit.

4)Interface and software – Discover how easy it is to copy the pictures onto your computer and edit or print them once there.If necessary ask the salesman for a demonstration.

In addition to this, take into account all features you would usually take into account when buying a normal film camera; flash type, warranty, zoom function etc.Nearly all camera shops around Torbay sell digital cameras now and you should find their staff are all properly trained to advise you best, or alternatively you could try an Online Internet store such as Dabs (www.dabs.com) who stock dozens of different models.

About the Author – Chris Holgate works for Refresh Cartridges who supply a wide range of printer cartridges at the UK’s lowest prices.

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