CeePrompt! Computer Connection

Originally published Monday, October 18, 1998
 Digital Photography Clearly Developing

Smile!  You're on Digital Camera.  Digital cameras have finally started to come down in price, making them more affordable for us everyday "hobbyists" who simply want to add a little pizzazz and fun to everyday computing. A digital camera differs from a traditional camera in that is doesn't use film, but rather stores all its images in digitized format on a disk about the size of a Wheat Thin.

In August, I purchased an Olympus D-220L locally from Gluskin's Camera and have been more than pleased. Last February, this camera retailed for $500, and now it's selling for $299. It's not the top of the line, but it's more than adequate for adding a fun, personalized graphic dimension to many areas of daily PC tasks. With the expert help of Scott Wreyford, of Gluskin's staff, I received just enough of a crash course to make me dangerous.

At first glance, the D-220L looks like a regular 35mm camera. Viewfinder, Autofocus and Auto-Flash features all function in the same manner as a standard camera.  The big difference is no film, no developing, and immediate gratification! Up to 80 images can be stored on a 2MB SmartMedia disk.  On the back of the camera is a 2 inch LCD screen that allows you to preview your shots and delete them on the spot if they're not up to par.

The camera package includes cables that connect directly to your PC, or television to view your pictures.  If you prefer, a floppy disk adapter called FlashPath can be purchased for an additional cost. I highly recommend this option as your images can then be transferred to your computer literally within seconds of snapping the shot, without the hassles of cabling. The resultant output is high quality images in 640X480 resolution.

While the old adage, "anything good is worth waiting for", may be true in some instances, the pure pleasure derived from viewing, printing and editing your favorite photos right after you take the shot is pretty awesome. Using the Adobe PhotoDeluxe software that's included with the camera, you can size, crop, and adjust the color of your images, including eliminating any "red eye" effect. Images can then be printed directly to any color printer with amazingly good quality.

For fun, you can use the PhotoDeluxe software to create flyers, magazine covers, greeting cards, labels, frames and t-shirt transfers using your digital images. EasyPhoto, also included with PhotoDeluxe, enables you to save your images in "galleries", for use at a later time. In addition, your favorite memories and special photos can be set as Windows Wallpaper and rotated regularly to keep your desktop interesting.

Using my existing software, I was able to Copy/Paste the images into PrintShop as well as insert them directly into Microsoft Word.  The images are saved as standard .jpg format which makes them easily adaptable to most PC-based programs. From Microsoft Word, choose Insert, Picture, From File and then specify the location of your stored images.  Instantly you've integrated your digitized images into a word processing document.

Keeping Web pages updated with fresh, new content is a natural use for the digital camera.  Once again the immediate output from the digital camera lends itself perfectly to the fluid, instantaneous nature of the Internet. Your favorite e-mail buddies scattered far and wide will appreciate receiving current photos as e-mail attachments.  Simply click the "Attach" button in your e-mail program and specify the photo filename and location.

Once your digital images are stored on your computer's hard disk, you can delete the contents of the photo disk and start all over again. The 2 MB disk that's included with the camera holds 80 standard images or 20 high quality images.  Larger capacity media disks in 4MB and 8MB sizes are also available.

Even if you don't have a computer, you can connect the camera to your television and view the images on the TV screen.  Images can then be videotaped on your VCR for storage. For those wanting photo-quality prints, Olympus offers the P-300 printer especially designed for all the Olympus digital cameras.  Images print on a 4"X 5.5" page on high quality photo paper.

With Christmas coming, be sure to add a digital camera to your wish list. It adds a whole new dimension to personal computing.


Cathi Schuler owns a computer literacy training/consulting company, Cee Prompt! She is a co-author of computer textbooks and can be reached by e-mail at cschuler@uop.edu or cschuler@ceeprompt.com or by mail c/o The Record, P.O. Box 900, Stockton, CA 95201. She is on the Internet at: http://www.ceeprompt.com. Click here for past archived columns. 

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