December 11, 2004

CAMERA STUFF: Ed Cone emails: "thnx for the digital camera post, somehow a blog entry is more accessible than a mag article -- my wife is a serious amateur photog, shopping for a digital cam for xmas, she got a lot from your piece." I'm glad. It's not as if I'm a photography columnist, but maybe that makes my stuff more accessible.

Peter Ingemi emails: "Have you considered a side link specifically for the camera advice stuff or am I just trying to make more work for you?" The latter -- though entering "camera" in the search window will collect them all, I think.

Meanwhile, Peter August wants what he calls post-photo advice: "Any advice on what software to use to help manage the picture, I hear Adobe has a good product, or any advice on any of the photo quality printers available."

My main color printer is an Epson Stylus Photo 900, which does an excellent job, though it occasionally has trouble rendering almost-black regions faithfully. I bought it because it prints directly on CDs and DVDs.

I'd like to own this Canon i9900, which is getting rave reviews and which prints up to 13" x 19" prints. But I've used the Exposure Manager site to make prints up to 20X30, at very reasonable rates, and with excellent quality.

James Lileks has this cheaper Canon and seems to like it except for some stylistic elements. ("The printer has the regrettable retro-70s styling Ė looks like a computer for a Cylon child Ė but since itís on a shelf under the desk, I donít care.")

For software, well -- most of what you see posted here is done via PhotoShop Elements -- though I'm still using 2.0 and haven't upgraded to 3.0. For quick-and-dirty stuff I often use MicroGrafx Picture Publisher 7, an ancient program that is still available for, basically, free. I can open a picture, edit it, and save it, in the time it takes PhotoShop to open. (JASC Paint Shop Pro, which came bundled with my Dell laptop, seems to be an updated version, but honestly I prefer the older one.)

A kind reader sent me a copy of PhotoShop CS a while back, and it's certainly far more capable when major image surgery is called for. For most people -- and especially where your main interest is in putting images on the Web -- it's massive overkill, though.

There's also GIMP, a freeware package that will run on OS X, Windows XP, and Unix. I haven't used it, but it's supposed to be good. And it's free.

Meanwhile, I'm not the only one camera-blogging. Megan McArdle has a post on the subject, too (featuring a rare self-portrait), and Jim Miller has further thoughts. Apparently, this is a popular topic all around. Bear in mind that there's lots of good stuff -- written by people who know more than me -- over at the Steve's Digicams and DPreview sites listed on the right.