Digital Camera Chronicles
01 -- The Newman Factor
(by Conrad H. Blickenstorfer)
Since you're reading this, you either already have a digital camera, or you're interested in buying one.
If you already have one, you'll find our new magazine to be a great source of information on the latest and greatest new cameras and peripherals, and the software programs to go with them. And since we're coming from the computer side of things, you'll find lots of information on how to best make your camera work with your PC.
But in case that you don't have one yet and picked up this magazine because you want to learn more, here are some of the reasons why we think digital cameras are the greatest thing since the advent of the first personal computers.
Bye bye Newman
If you send out your film for processing, you'll have to entrust the film with those irreplaceable pictures to the US Postal Service. Most likely it'll find its way back to you, but despite the generally reliable service maybe it won't. Or the return envelope gets lost in the ever-increasing flood of junk mail in your mailbox. Or maybe you don't have a roomy, old-fashioned mailbox but one of those claustrophobic little cubbyholes in a community mailbox where folding and mutilating are a fact of life. Perhaps your mail is retrieved by someone unacquainted with the rules of privacy. Whatever the case may be, digital cameras let you cut Newman out of the picture, and that alone may be reason enough to get one.
Bye bye photo lab
If you decide to drop your film off for developing you have to deal with a photo lab. Which means you have to get there and come back later, or the next day, or next week, to pick it up again. Very annoying when you don't even have enough time to make it through your e-mail or finish that presentation. Then there's the chance that something might happen to the film at the lab. It's happened to me, and the fact that they were very sorry didn't get my pictures back. Apart from that, I've never felt very comfortable about others seeing my pictures I don't want to have to worry what the people at the photo lab might think when I take a picture, or that someone makes unauthorized copies. I know that most labs don't do that sort of stuff, but why risk it? Besides, sometimes I take pictures I don't want anyone to see. With a digital camera, you never have to worry about any of this.
With a digital camera, you don't have to wait to see your pictures. You can look at them right away. Instant gratification is a great thing. True, if you want hard copy you need to hook up your camera to your computer and print out the pictures. But you'll always know right away whether the sub blinked or had a funny expression on his face, or if the image shows what you wanted. That removes the anxiety of not knowing what's going to be on those prints once I get them back from the lab. To me that's invaluable.
What's on that film?
How many times have you found yourself staring at a bunch of undeveloped films wondering what's on them, or which one contains the pictures you need? Or you haven't touched your camera in a while and just can't remember what's on the first 17 pictures of that roll? With a digital cam that's no problem. You simply look at the images on the camera's LCD. You al know what's in your camera or on your "digital film."
No more scanning
Over the past decade or so I have probably bought half a dozen scanners to convert my pictures into electronic form. My first scanner could only create black and white images and took forever to do scan a sin picture. The scanner I have now is fast and very handy, but it's still an extra step to have to scan a picture. Often you lose image quality, or the colors don't come out right, or something else goes wrong. With a digital camera you don't have to worry about scanning since the pictures are al in electronic form.
The green factor
If you ever developed your own pictures in a dark room you know that conventional photography involves a lot of chemicals and wasting a lot of clean water. Digital cameras, on the other hand, do not depend on chemicals at all. They are completely clean and environmentally harmless.
A new set of challenges...
As a new technology, digital cameras are not perfect yet, and they offer a whole new set of challenges. The picture quality is still only average, and mastering digital imaging may mean a bigger investment in computers and printers and cables and all sorts of software than you're willing to make.
But the handwriting is clearly on the wall. Digital cameras are the way of the future. Why else would companies whose fortunes and continuing existence rely on chemical film - like Kodak and Fuji - now frenetically be designing digital cameras?