The following article was
posted by Jim on
Chip Board on April 18th, 2003
Well, I finally did it! I purchased a digital
camera. It is a Fujifilm FinePix 3800. 3.2 Million Effective
pixels; 6X Optical and 3.2 Digital zoom. Now the purpose of
my telling you this is not to announce my camera purchase
but to share some very interesting information I learned in
researching these pieces of equipment. It would be to your
benefit to print this article out if you contemplate
purchasing a digital camera in the near future.
I am sure John Yee and the other "digital"
experts know what I am about to share with you. However, I
did not know nor I would bet YOU do not know the following
facts involving digital cameras.
1) Most people will purchase a digital camera
with 5.0 or even greater million effective pixels thereby
spending much more money than needed. If you are going to
print pictures up to 11 X 14 or smaller YOU don't need
anything more than 3.0. The 4.0, 5.0 etc. are needed if your
are going to PRINT banners or huge pictures and want to
retain the detail. How many of us are going to do that? Most
of us will print 4 X 6 or 8 X 10. Why spend
hundreds of dollars extra for the overkill when you don't
need it? The main point is 5.0 or 4.0 etc. usually is used
by us lay people to determine printing quality. If you are
not going to print greater than 8 X 10 save your money. You
cannot tell the difference in an 8 X 10 shot with a 3.0 or
4.0 0r 5.0 megapixel camera. If anyone tells you different
they are not being truthful.
zoom is important. It is far more
important than digital zoom. In fact digital zoom really
means very little. Digital zoom comes into play AFTER a
picture is taken. Lets say you want to check the picture you
just took. You would use the digital zoom to enlarge it in
the LCD monitor. Look for a little bigger LCD monitor rather
than greater digital zoom. Most people will use their
digital zoom to check for "red" eye in their flash pictures.
Also, to check a picture to see if you got what you wanted
in the picture. Optical zoom uses the optics or lens of the
camera to move you closer to your subject. This is the
important feature of the camera not digital zoom.
3) Many of the new printers not yet out are
going to utilize the xd - picture card. It's the film thing
you put in the camera. What we use to call film. Sony has a
"stick" and other companies something else. Right now you
will probably have to purchase a cf card adapter if you buy
a printer so that you can print pictures NOW. I recommend
you purchase a camera that utilizes the xd - picture card it
is the format of the future.
4) The camera I bought is USB or Universal
Serial Bus. Most of us are familiar with USB since we hook
our scanners, modem, external hard drives, etc. with this
technique. I have discovered you are better off purchasing a
separate uploader rather than putting the wear and tear on
your camera when transferring your pictures to the computer.
The uploaders are around $20.00 to $25.00 and worth every
penny. The higher end printers can also be used to transfer
your pictures to the computer as well as print WITHOUT using
your computer at all. If the camera you want to buy has
firewire - OK but you better make sure your computer has a
port for it.
5) Always keep the camera set to its highest
resolution. You may not be able to take as many pictures but
you will retain the quality of the pictures you do take.
Once you take the picture you can NEVER increase its
quality! Quality is quality you may be able to mask it but
you can not replace it.
The most important piece of information
involving digital cameras, in my opinion, that I can share
with you is file size.
Most middle priced to low end cameras save
the picture you take in the JPEG format. JPEG stands for
Joint Photographic Experts Group. It is a trade off method
of storing your pictures because it saves space and allows
you to record more images on the memory card. I am sure, if
you upload scans here on Greg's board, you are familiar with
the JPEG format for storing and sending images.
The most important fact you should take away
from the information I am sharing with you, even if you
NEVER buy a digital camera, is EVERY TIME YOU OPEN A JPEG
FILE TO EDIT IT AND THEN SAVE IT - IT LOSES QUALITY.
Overtime it will lose its quality to the point of becoming a
"horrible mess" of a photo that has no resemblance to the
original picture that was first taken.
The reason it loses quality is because JPEG
reinterprets the picture so that it doesn't have to record
exact data for every pixel in the image. Ultimately this
results in lost information that is replaced in the process
with little color anomalies that seem to resemble film
grains. Eventually the entire image loses its quality and in
the end will become a "terrible" looking photo. If you ever
ask yourself "what's happening to my image file? It does not
look like the photo I took?" you will understand the
significance of what I am sharing with you.
There are several ways to avoid the slow
deterioration of your photo images.
1) The first time you open a JPEG image
re-save it to a "lose less format". It has been suggested to
use the TIFF file save or Tagged Image File Format. The
tagged image file format or TIFF will record every pixel in
the exact shade of the 16 million possible colors that the
image sensor in your camera can capture. Every time you save
a TIFF file it will look exactly the same as the first time
you opened it. No loss of picture quality or deterioration
of the image.
However, there is a trade off. It takes much more space on
your computer to save a TIFF file than a JPEG file. So much
space that you will never want to send anyone a photo or
scan in the TIFF file method because it will take them
forever to download. Unless of course you don't like the
person you're sending the image file too than file size will
not make any difference.
2) Another way to avoid the loss of quality
of the JPEG file is to transfer the file to a CD. Once
transferred to a CD the deterioration is stopped. What I
learned is to save the original JPEG file in the TIFF mode
and than transfer the TIFF image file to a CD. You may also
just transfer the JPEG file to a CD and avoid the TIFF file
save altogether. It's up to you. Once you have the images on
the CD the quality loss is stopped.
I know many here on the board save their
scans in the JPEG format and might open and re-save the file
many times. If you want to save the quality of those scans
or photos follow the information I have shared with you. A
scan can probably be replaced if it should lose its quality
by doing it over. The photo once taken can never be retaken
- not ever.
Well that's it for now. There is much more to
learn. Learning as all of you know is an ongoing process
that never stops. I have tried to share what I felt are the
most important concepts one should know in wanting to START
to learn about digital cameras.
I received an email from one of our board
members Bob Touts who shared with me that this months issue
of consumer reports has information about digital cameras.
Perhaps you might want to pick up a copy and see if it
contains additional information that could be useful in the
I enjoyed sharing the information and hope
those who are interested got something out of it.