Digital cameras have two basic uses.
1) Photos to send to family and friends via e-mail and post to the web.
2) Photos to be printed.
Photos for e-mail and the web need to be smaller and compressed so they take less time to download. Photos to be printed need to be larger to have enough detail to print 8-1/2 X 11s. I set my camera for 1024x768 hi detail. This is good for printing but takes up more space in the cameras memory so I cant take as many photos. If I need to e-mail or post photos on a web page I use an image editing program to reduce the size to 640x480 with a 25% compression ratio. The more you compress a photo the worse it looks but the faster it downloads, 25% or 75% depending on which way your image software works is a good compromise. Some use 100% as no compression, some use 100% as 100% compression.
Study your camera manual and make sure you understand how to get the best results as fixing the photos later may reduce the quality and can be difficult and time consuming. Practice and re-read the manual to perfect your photos.
A good place for camera info is www.DPreview.com
Make sure you have good light when you take photos. I almost exclusively shoot using sunlight. If I need to shoot indoors I wait until the sun is blasting in the windows to shoot. Some like flat overcast lighting but I love the sun and think it makes better pics. Make sure you use the backlight setting if you have to shoot towards a window. Most other lighting conditions will make your photos look dark. Most digital cameras have inadequate flash functions. I plan on adding an external flash to my camera for those dark situations. If you have enough light but your photos still look dark its probably caused by camera settings or backlighting. Donít shoot towards windows, as the cameras exposure will adjust to the bright light from the window instead of your subject (backlighting). You can compensate for this using the exposure controls on the camera, moving your subject or bouncing some light off a large reflective surface. Some cameras have a backlight setting to raise the exposure level and compensate.
The next step is to transfer the photos to the PC. My camera uses compact flash cards so I have a small CF reader hooked up to my PC. I take the card out of the camera and put it into the CF drive. I can then read and write files to the card.
On the PC you need image editing software. I use Paint Shop Pro www.jasc.com Use the software to crop and color correct (if necessary) your photos. Select the crop tool draw a box around your framing choice and double click to crop.You can add titles remove red eye or add special effects. Save the changes with a different file name or different folder so you donít alter the original.
I have a folder on my PC called IMAGES where I keep all my digital photos. Keep your originals in a folder called "orig" and the ones you compress or edit in "edited" Be vigilant about organization. If tens of thousands of photos get mixed up on your pc with the same file name and different versions, sizes and compression ratios you'll have a hard time sorting and finding them.
Printing photos requires a photo quality printer 720 DPI minimum. Heavyweight photo, (Glossy or Mate) paper is also required. Use the print setup feature on your image editing software to adjust the print size to match the paper. If you try to print a full page with a small low detail highly compressed image you will get poor results. It takes at least a 1024x768 pixel image to print a full page. Make sure you select the right printer setting for the paper you are using. If you leave the printer set to the default you will just get a regular print and waste a sheet of photo paper. When set to photo quality, the printer will print slower but with greatly improved detail.
It took me a year of experimentation and a lot of reading to get good results. You need to be patient and have the right equipment. I found cheap paper at www.thepaperseller.com for 0.15 per sheet and generic print cartridges on ebay, google products or www.pricewatch.com for $3.00 to $5.00 each. Continuous ink systems and refillable cartridges can be a great money saving option. I haven't heard good things about refilling OEM cartridges. I've had great luck with generic cartridges and aftermarket ones designed to be refilled. I'm about half way thought my six 100ml ink containers and have saved hundreds. Kodak paper looks the great but the cheap paper is almost as good for much less money.
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