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Friday, December 1, 2006

Infrared Photography

IR Possibilities • Flying With Photo Gear • LCD Viewing • Image Compatibility • Brightness/Contrast Methodology • Sensors & Wide-Angles

Image Compatibility

Are the Adobe programs Photoshop Elements and Photoshop CS2 compatible? If I were to submit to an editor a CD containing a selection of images and metadata put together with Elements, would the editor be able to open the CD with CS2?
Martin Kleinsorge
Centennial, Colorado

A) The choice of image-editing program has no effect on image use. The determining factor isn't the software you use or even whether you use Mac or Windows. What matters is the format in which you save your finished image. The standard formats used to send images to a publication are JPEG and TIFF. I often use JPEGs when I'm sending smaller-sized image files over the Internet. Even though they're compressed, many magazines can use them if the dimensions of the published image are moderate-sized. The files of the images you see in my column in this magazine are almost always JPEGs. When a large file size is required due to a large printed photo size and/or specific demands of the intended publication, I send TIFF formats on a CD or DVD. The editor can open either kind of file in whatever imaging program he or she is using because TIFFs and JPEGs are ubiquitous standards.

Brightness/Contrast Methodology
Q) There are several ways to adjust light in Photoshop, and I use them all. Part of my work includes a tiny adjustment with Brightness/Contrast. I like it because of the spark it adds and how easy it is to work with density and color at the same time. I've heard that this feature permanently changes the pixels in an image. Is this true?
Martha Heilman
Portland, Oregon

First, a clarification—all adjustments in Photoshop that are done directly to the image pixels permanently change the pixels. No adjustments will damage your pixels if they're done with an adjustment layer, including Brightness/Contrast. I seldom use the Brightness/Contrast function because it affects the image globally—that is, it brightens or darkens everything equally—and thus can't be fine-tuned. I much prefer the Levels and Curves functions, which offer adjustments to separately affect shadows, mid-tones and highlights.

Full-Frame Vs. APS-C Sensors & Wide-Angles
Q) I'm switching to digital and have a full range of compatible lenses, but I need to add a wide-angle lens, and I'd like to control my cost. In this context, I'm wondering if I should choose a camera with a full-frame sensor or a less expensive camera with an APS-C sensor?
Roberto Eick
Porto Alegre, Brazil

A) If you want to use your existing lenses, your camera-buying decision will be dictated to a large extent by the system you've been using. Currently, the only full-frame digital cameras are from Canon. These offer potentially superior image quality due to both the number and size of the pixels on the sensor. Many pixels packed together on a small sensor can generate increased noise and give a less satisfactory image at higher ISO settings.

There are excellent wide-angle lenses available for both sizes of sensors, however. A wide-angle lens that worked satisfactorily on film will continue to give the same angle of view with a full-frame sensor. New wide-angle lenses have been developed for the smaller sensors from all of the camera manufacturers and independent lens manufacturers. These wide-angles are formulated to cover only the smaller sensor and can't be used on full-frame cameras. It would seem that all of the manufacturers of digital cameras have a considerable investment in the smaller sensors and will most likely continue to sell such cameras.


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