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[at-l] digital photos (long)

David P. Dusenbury wrote:
> >
> > I've considered buying a digital camera for this summer, however the only camera
> > I like so far cost $1000.  Plus the additional 1 to 4 meg memory modules, needed on a
> > longer trips are extra.  Also the resolution is still not all that great.  It's fine for
> > web site development but I wouldn't blow it up much.
> >
> So what about Slide scanners?  I haven't priced yet, but the Nikon
> CoolScan is probably about that, maybe a little bit more.  Shoot
> standard slide film, and do your own scanning.

A digital camera that creates a large enough file size for printed
reproduction (either 4-color printing or various digital printing
techniques) runs from $15,000 to $30,000. It also weighs a ton, and
requires frequent battery recharges. (I'm not including digital
scanning backs for large-format cameras; those are generally
studio-use only.) The small consumer digital cameras generate enough
image data for a web page, or a tiny dye-sublimation print (4x6-inches
max). This may be good enough, but:

The major problem with digital still cameras is image archiving. You
have all of your pictures on a hard drive (usually removeable), and
you have to download them to a computer for viewing and editing, then
save them to an archival medium of some sort (writeable CD-ROMs are a
good solution, albeit pricy). Then you erase the camera's hard drive
and you can shoot more pictures. This is a major pain, especially on
the trail.

Nothing beats a piece of 35mm film for long-term storage of large
amounts of picture information. (Okay, a large format image has more,
but few of us are going to lug a 4x5 camera if our primary purpose is
hiking.) A 35mm negative has about 500MB of picture information, far
more than you can scan out of it for most purposes, and it is easily
stored with thousands of its brethren in plastic pages. You can look
at the image without booting up your computer; show it to your mom and
your friends; and get unlimited inexpensive reprints at your local
1-hour lab.

If you must have lots of digital files, whether for a web page, or to make
image manipulations in Photoshop, then a neg/slide scanner may be a
good investment. For non-professional use, the Nikon Coolscan is a
good scanner (it's a little slow for people who do it for a living)
and it runs under a grand. There are other brands of similar quality
and price. Look in one of the photo magazines, especially at the B+H
Photo ad. With a scanner, you can get digital files of the correct
size for your application, and the original image is stored in a
convenient manner, easily accessible for other purposes.

Still, the least expensive route would be to have your film scanned onto Photo 
CD when it is developed. Unless you have a driving need for more and more 
computer equipment (like the hiking equipment thread), this stuff is expensive 
and takes a long time to learn to use well.


Ken Bennett
University Photographer
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC

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