Take Pictures Today and Make Money with them Tomorrow


Digital Cameras... The Basics

The camera has one small, slow chip and very little memory to do that interpolation. Your computer has a big, powerful processor and lots of memory, not to mention, no particular need to compromise their software routines to fit into a small amount of memory or trade quality for speed to avoid long delays after taking a picture. In short, your computer will do a vastly better job at interpolating the picture than your camera will, and to top that off you can choose different algorithms (often named after the mathematicians or programmers who created them, like Lanczos or Mitchell) and experiment with how well they work on a particular image. You can even save different versions of the file, including the original, which you can't if the camera is doing the work. There's nothing to be gained by compromising image quality, which is exactly what you're doing if you don't use the best filter you can get your hands on. The interpolated image even takes up more space on your camera's memory card, but it doesn't hold any more information than the original. Finally, as I mentioned above, it adds time between shots, as the camera has to grind away at reshaping your picture before you can take another one.

You can recreate the settings of a favorite shot or repeat a favorite effect, and higher-level information such as special lenses and light metering modes can be invaluable as you advance your knowledge of photography. You can even share this information with friends or colleagues to help duplicate tricky shots, or create a database or spreadsheet of the effects of specific settings to help you recreate effects or types of shots under different conditions. An example would be keeping track of how white balance changes affect the appearance of particular colors. Instead of making notes of what changes you made and what order photos were taken in (particularly when the string of photos were all taken of the same scene), you can skip the notes and compare the settings in the EXIF data instead. Then, when you work on your log, you can copy setting information over and just make a note about which settings worked best.

Rough Side of RAW: RAW formats differ from camera to camera and there are debates about camera programming that provides some control over your RAW files by the camera manufacturer. Where protests have been issued, there is an effort to provide standardized RAW formats that would better serve the consumer where general market software could be used to edit the RAW material. If your computer is equipped with lots of processing memory, RAW data will not be as much a problem, however presently, RAW files take a lot more time to open and process than JPEG and TIFF files. That is where the option to capture in RAW and JPEG simultaneously is a strong benefit. While standard editing software is now offered on the market, the way that software processes RAW files may differ depending on how the software from the manufacturer is recognized by the software. Thus, be sure to find and ask a savvy sales expert. Most sensors record light over a 12-bit range, with intensities of more or less 4096 possible values. Each sensor with 12-bit output is one and a half bytes. So our small chip with 20,000 light cells gives a raw output of 30,000 bytes. In an actual file there is some non-image information, but that can be ignored for simple calculations.

Higher temperatures and long exposures may increase the occurrence of hot pixels. Fixed pattern noise is unique where it often shows similar distributions of hot pixels even if taken under the same ISO speed, temperature and length of exposure. Fixed pattern while the most objectionable visually, is the easiest of the three to remove because it is a repeated pattern. Once the internal electronics of a camera knows the pattern, it can subtract the noise away to reveal the true image. Banding noise is associated with the camera model and related characteristics. It is most visible at high ISO speeds and in shadows. When brightening an image, banding noise may become noticeable when using white balances. It is not always the number of pixels that reduces noise, but actually the greater the area of a pixel in a camera which allows a greater amount of light into the pixel causing the sensor to produce a stronger signal. Cameras with physically larger pixels generally appear less noisy since the signal is larger relative to the noise.

If you are looking to turn your pictures into pieces of art, there are many options available to you, as well. You can turn your print into a black and white picture and hand color some details. You can create beautiful special effects that will really make your digital photo stand out in a crowd, too. As you can image, the tools to create the perfect picture can cost a lot of money, if you have to purchase them. If you are on a budget, or just like to save money, anything you can find for free is a bonus! Well, there are free photo editors out there, you just have to look for them. Since the introduction of the Internet, there are literally thousands upon thousands of pages of information that are geared specifically toward helping you achieve the pictures of your dreams. You don't have to spend one penny to edit your photographs. All you need is access to a computer and scanner and you are well on your way. Just log onto any one of the number of free photo editor applications available and a whole new world of editing possibilities will be right at your fingertips. Don't let your money, or lack of, keep you from making the best pictures, just download some freeware and start editing your own pictures!

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you can take advantage of the extremely short duration of the flash in low-light situations. Flash firing time can be as short as 1/50,000 of a second, and while the camera's CCD sensor will remain active longer than that, almost all of the light in a dark scene that reaches the CCD will be from that flash event. This can effectively "freeze" the action as if you were using a shutter speed faster than your camera can support. Small built-in flash units have a very short "reach," often providing effective light only as far as two or three meters. This weakness, however, can be turned into a strength if you think about how you want to compose your scene. Certainly for "isolating" or emphasizing your subject, the ability to move only a short distance from background objects and radically reduce their light level is handy. In night shots outdoors or low-level indoor shots, the "weaker" flash gives more control over the content of the shot by dramatically reducing the "foreground" and magnifying the effect of distance.

Memory Sticks are used only in Sony products, and Sony is serious about keeping the technology in use. Unfortunately it seems like no one else is. They're available up to 4 Gigabytes in capacity, have good speed, but if you're using a Memory stick, it's probably because you're using a Sony camera and you don't have a choice. The newest common storage media are xD-Picture cards. Developed by Olympus and Fuji as a replacement for the older Smart Media cards, xD cards are compact and durable, with a heftier shell than older designs. They are stable in the market and likely to be around for a while, but they are gaining neither market share nor size rapidly - currently the largest xD cards are 1 Gigabyte. This is probably because only Olympus and Fuji now use this standard. Wide and wafer-thin, Smart Media cards define "legacy technology." Available only as large as 128 Megabytes, this is one technology I would have expected to have been "voted off the island" by now. Alas, they were used in tens if not hundreds of millions of cameras and smart phones, so they are still being made and will be available for some time. You won't find them in any new cameras, however.

Return to Pictures Today