The digital dawn

CAPTURING THE BEAUTY A view of sunset taken with a digital camera.

CAPTURING THE BEAUTY A view of sunset taken with a digital camera.   | Photo Credit: PHOTOS: K.R.DEEPAK

An art that once strictly belonged to the realm of professionals, has become a passion for everyone born into a time and age with technology, writes NIVEDITA GANGULY

A good snapshot stops a moment from running away. So wrote writer and photographer Eudora Welty.Indeed, it just requires a click to capture the moment for posterity. An art that once strictly belonged to the realm of professionals who toiled and perfected it for years, photography has become a piece of cake for everyone born into a time and age with technology. And the digital photography revolution has taken the markets by storm. A simple wallet-sized device bought from your local electronics showroom now enables you to report on not just the happenings around you, but on your own life from a very different perspective. The explosion of weblogs is testimony to that.And for anyone who already owns a personal computer, making the switch to digital imaging involves one small step for the amateur shutterbug, but a giant step in terms of technology. With the markets flooded with a range of mindboggling varieties of digital cameras, photography has become a passion and hobby for many. "Photography has evolved in leaps and bounds in the past few years. It used to be an expensive and time-consuming vocation before the advent of the digital devices," says noted photographer B.K. Agarwal. The picture quality is much superior and there are several photo enhancement possibilities, he explains. Today you don't need a dark room. "A simple press of the preview button gives you the image." If you are not satisfied, just tweak a few dials and try again. If you still don't get it right, the image editing software will come to your rescue to do all the repair work. So there you can transform the hillock behind your house into Martian landscape if you want to.

Buyer's guide

Choosing the right digital camera can be a quite task thanks to the number of models available in the market. If you follow these simple steps, choosing a camera can be breeze. Digital cameras are divided into three types - consumer, pro-sumer and professional. The consumer ones are wallet-sized cameras that are just for pointing and shooting. Pro-sumer cameras offer most of the settings an SLR offers, but use a single multipurpose fixed lens for shooting. Professional cameras are your digital SLRs. They come body and lens separate, and are the most expensive option around. You should select the one that fits your shooting needs.

Low range digicams

An array of low range digital cameras has entered the market. The most common brands in this category are Aiptek, Vivitor and Wespro and the price starts from as low as Rs.999. This segment includes two models - pen camera and pocket camera. With an in-built memory of 128 MB, these can store up to 150 images having a resolution of 1.3 megapixels. "There is a common misconception that cameras with higher resolutions like 8 megapixels are better," says Mr. Agarwal. The fact is a 3 megapixel camera is as good as a camera with high resolutions. "We must first understand our need. Unless we want big poster size photographs, high-resolution cameras hardly make any difference. It's like taking the help of a crane to lift a 10 kg. sack of rice," he adds.


Most digital cameras will come with a CD or floppy loaded with the software for transferring the pictures to a desktop or laptop PC. Some of them also include a free photo editor to improve or enhance the photos in dozen ways. If you do need to buy a photo editor, Microsoft's `Picture It', which costs around Rs.2,000, would be a good choice. It has a number of user-friendly tools `made for dummies', for adding new backgrounds, removing the `red eye' that comes when you photograph people under flash, and for removing scratches from old photographic prints. For the professional photographers, there are bigger image editors like `Paintshop Pro' and `Adobe Photoshop'.

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