Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Digital cameras and you

Not too long ago, I mentioned my friend who was preparing to travel; and told you that for the first time he was going to leave behind his 35mm (film) camera gear, and take only a digital camera (see Mondays: love ’em or leave ’em). For the first time, he was going to leave at home his lenses, flash unit, filters, different speed/type film rolls, etc., and carry a single unit.. with a couple of spare memory chips.

I also mentioned that he is the type of fella who does extensive research before making a purchase, like a camera, and I can tell you he bought a pretty fancy digital camera for his trip.. and we’re not talking about a “pocket camera”. But, we’re not talking about an SLR (single-lens reflex) and a whole bunch of accessories, either. I won’t name a specific camera here, but I will say that his choice had 12x zoom, electronic image stabilization, and a nice, large, LCD viewer. When I held it in my hand, I was pleasantly surprised by its comfort and light weight.

No sooner had my friend returned from his travels abroad, then he was at my door with his memory chips containing his pictures, in hand. He knows about my previous life as a professional retouch artist, and he wanted my help with culling, cropping, and color-balancing (etc.), and burning the ‘good ones’ to a slide show on  a CD.

And so I got a very good look at his “product”, and vicariously traveled abroad with him as he narrated the history of each and every shot.. much like a new father describes the wondrous attributes of his first-born. There were several things that impressed us:

I, being an old hand at professional photography, was impressed by the image quality this digital camera produced. No. The pictures weren’t Hasseleblad-quality, but the resolution, color depth and saturation, and depth of field were all remarkably good.. even when enlarged to fill my 20″ monitor. All of my color “balancing” tweaks were quite optional, and I only did two at that.

He, being new to digital imaging, was blown away by how easily and quickly he could edit the shots, put them into the order he wanted, and create a portable slide show he could carry on a thumb drive (I haven’t yet told him about online “albums”.. he was too busy trying to absorb the wonders of Photoshop) or CD. SlideProjector
He had a finished, quality slide show to present to his friends and family in a matter of a few hours — he was used to it taking weeks to assemble, and for him to have to carry around a projector and carousel trays.

Yes.. technology is changing everything. I can no longer be a film-camera snob, and badmouth digital cameras as being inherently inferior. My friend did not break the bank buying his camera, and his choice was roughly in the low end of the middle-grade of digital cameras, if you include SLR’s, and on the higher end of the scale if you limit your choices to point-and-shoot’s. (He spent under $500, including several extra high-capacity Flash Memory chips.)

And, as this tale illustrates, there’s no comparison in the speed and convenience of digital imaging.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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April 23, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, Digital Images, hardware, shopping for, tech | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Made You Look

This is the marketing catchphrase for the new online Photoshop Website, and yes– I did take a look. Adobe Photoshop Express (Beta) is a Web 2.0 application for editing and sharing your digital images, and is seen to be a replacement for a program you buy and load onto your computer. It is — at this time, anyway — a free service (and surprisingly, has no ads).

I would be very surprised if you haven’t heard of Photoshop; it has been around so long, it has become a verb in today’s language — meaning “to create a fake image”. Photoshop is the tool which allows you to put your head on someone else’s body.. or make it look like you’re standing on the moon.. or remove your Ex from your old vacation pictures. (With the right starting photos, there’s almost nothing I can’t fake in Photoshop.)
Photoshop has long been considered the premier digital image manipulation program.

As I discussed in this article, “Web 2.0” is all about us regular folks being able to ‘upload’ to the Web (and “share”/collaborate) instead of simply viewing (‘downloading’) content. And frankly, Adobe is not the first to the market of online photo sharing Websites, nor sites that let you edit your pictures once you’ve loaded them.. Picassa and Photobucket have been around for a while now (to name a few).
Considering Photoshop’s reputation, I wanted to know if Adobe’s online service had superior editing capabilities.

To use Express, you must “join” the club, by providing an e-mail address and creating a user account. While you do that, you create a personalized URL (like, where you can post your pictures in “galleries”, if you want to share them (not required). Once you’re a member, you “upload” your pictures, and you can now edit them, and organize them into galleries, e-mail them, or use them as images on (other) Websites.

The screenshot above shows the image editing screen. Those of you who have ever used Photoshop Elements will be very familiar with this interface. The editing options (left column) provide a thumbnail range above your original so you can see, and select from, adjustments. This makes ‘tweaking’ your image fairly easy and straight-forward, and allows you to experiment without ruining your original.

Is this for you? Well, as it stands, I find that there are some basic image editing features which are missing (it is possible I just couldn’t find the menu..) such as image resizing and dots-per-inch adjustment. You can crop, but not shrink.. nor adjust file type or size.
I am an advanced Photoshop user, and so I find the tools in Photoshop Elements overly simplified, and these even more so– which is precisely what many people want.
While this (at least, in its current state) tool will not let you paste your head onto a super-model’s body, or pose on the moon, it will let you smoothly and easily tweak your images, remove the red-eye effect, and share your pictures with far away friends and relatives.
If you are not already using a similar service.. or are not satisfied with the one you’re using.. you should give this a tryout. It is very slick and easy to use. Click the link in the second sentence, and get started.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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April 14, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, tech | , , , , , , | Leave a comment