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Saturday, September 1, 2007

Memory Card Sizes

Is Bigger Better? • Windows Or Mac, One More Time • Full-Frame Dust • Preserving RAW Files

Full-Frame Dust
I’ve read some reviews on the Canon EOS 5D, where people were complaining about getting dust on the image sensor. Is this a problem with just the EOS 5D or all digital SLRs?
B. Ilovi
Via the Internet

In my experience, the full-frame sensors (featured only in the Canon EOS 5D and 1Ds MKII) tend to gather dust more readily than the small-format or APS-C-sized image sensors. The electrical charge of the sensor seems to attract dust. Ironically, the sensors that gather the most dust and need the most cleaning also are the most expensive, so it’s scary to maintain them properly. You can’t be sending them off every couple of weeks to the manufacturer for cleaning, so you just have to do it yourself.

An ideal tool for viewing the condition of your sensor is the Delkin SensorScope. This lighted magnifier replaces the lens and allows you to see every particle that needs to be removed. The actual cleaning can be done with a number of effective tools. You can see them all at www.cleaningdigitalcameras.com. I find this website gives unbiased information and will help you to demystify a task that can be quite daunting.

Preserving RAW Files

Upon reading a few websites on RAW, I get the impression that every camera manufacturer uses a different format for RAW. Moreover, they suggest that there’s no guarantee that the programs that can read RAW files today will be able to read RAW files that are created now or in the future, say, 10 to 15 years from now. Is there any truth to this? If so, is it prudent to archive our work in RAW or should we archive in some other format?
A. Jaleel
Ottawa, Ontario

Every new camera typically has a proprietary RAW format. For those of us who work with prototypes of the new cameras before they're released, this becomes a major problem because programs like Photoshop can’t open the files. We can’t use the RAW image files unless we use an advance copy of the manufacturer’s RAW converter. This problem can be generalized to all digital photography in the future if software manufacturers stop supporting early RAW formats.

Adobe has attempted to address the problem by coming up with a file format called DNG (or Digital Negative) that can incorporate all the different RAW file formats into one universal RAW file. It would be ideal if the camera itself would write in such a universal format, and while some now do, none of the major camera manufacturers do. The alternative today is to convert RAW files to DNG in either Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. There’s also a free DNG converter that can be downloaded from Adobe (www.adobe.com).

The concern pro photographers have is that the common DNG format won’t be sustained because of the lack of support from the camera manufacturers, so some photographers have been reluctant to use it for archiving images. I use both methods. The DNG converter works perfectly, and I convert my files to this format in Lightroom. At the same time, I continue to archive the RAW files to a separate location. Regardless of the form you choose now, be vigilant to trends in the industry and be ready to convert your files to the new standard when it arrives. In the digital age, that shouldn’t be too difficult.

For more information on the Digital Negative, go to www.adobe.com/products/dng/. You may want to Google DNG for more commentary on how photographers are using this format.

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