Working with Digital Cameras

Digital cameras are generally more expensive than their analog companions. Remember though that you can get by with a camera resolution as low as a 2.1 megapixels. The convenience offered by a digital camera might just help you make a deadline. The elimination (and cost) of developing and scanning makes these a viable choice for video pros. I encourage you to add a digital still camera to your video production equipment; it will come in handy both in the field and back in the office.

Using Raw Files

If you are in the market for very high quality, take a look at cameras that support raw file formats. When digital cameras first launched, manufacturers settled upon JPEG files as a compromise. Storage options were very expensive and JPEGS are very small files. These days though, JPEG is being replaced by raw files.

Newer digital cameras (usually pro models) offer newer formats that capture the raw image data. These new formats offer several benefits over shooting JPEG. Most raw files have a depth of 12 Bits/Channel instead of the 8 used by JPEG. This higher rate allows for a greater tonal range. This gives you better exposure for shadows and highlights.

Camera raw files can be two to six times larger than JPEG files. This extra data is used to hold more image data. This can reduce, or even eliminate, compression artifacts. However, that extra space can take longer for the files to write to the memory card. If you aren't currently acquiring images using a raw file format, I highly encourage you to switch.

Raw Takes More Space

^ Camera raw files can be two to six times larger than JPEG files; they also require additional processing with the Adobe Camera Raw interface. For more on the Camera Raw.

Importing Digital Photos

There are two major ways of acquiring images from a digital camera. The first involves plugging the camera in with a USB cable. Usually this cable is included with a camera, but a spare is easy to come by at most computer stores. The advantage of this method is that there is no need to purchase additional hardware. The primary disadvantages of this method are that it ties up the camera. It is also easy to damage the delicate ports on the camera by frequently plugging the cable in.

You can purchase stand-alone memory card readers that can read one or multiple formats. Some allow you to read only, which is fine for copying files. Others allow you to read and write, which is helpful for erasing the memory card when you are done copying. A wide variety of manufacturers sell USB card readers priced between $25 to $60; check the packaging for compatibility. Laptop users with a PC slot can purchase an effective card adapter for around $25 for most formats.

Managing Digital Photos

As your digital library continues to grow (and grow) you will need to turn to a digital asset management solution. Depending upon your budget and the volume of photos you have, take a closer look at the following solutions:

• Adobe Lightroom: This catalog and imaging solution is provided for both Macs and PCs. It is targeted to towards imaging professionals.

Video #3 An Overview of the Camera Raw Interface

To see the Adobe Camera Raw interface in action, be sure to check out the book's DVD-ROM for a video tutorial.

A Better Bicubic

Newer versions of Photoshop offer two additional versions of Bicubic Sharpening. You can choose Bicubic Sharper for better results when shrinking an image. If you are going to attempt to up-res an image, then be sure to choose Bicubic Smoother.

Adobe Photoshop Album: This catalog solution is targeted towards less savvy or budget-conscious users.

• Apple Aperture: This cataloging application is designed to harness the power of modern Macintosh computers. It offers several flexible options for managing and processing digital photos.

• Apple iPhoto: This solution works well for the Mac (and it's bundled with new machines as part of the iLife suite). You can also modify iPhoto's preferences so that double-clicking a photo opens it in Photoshop.

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