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Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Need For Speed


Speed Trumps All • More Display Methods • Capturing In RAW + JPEG • Keeping On Budget • Erase, Erase, Erase

Keeping On Budget
With the field of photography constantly advancing, what’s your advice to amateurs who are on a tight budget to stay more focused on image making with simple, old and trusty equipment?
A. Jaleel
Via the Internet


There’s a simple conflict in your question. Yes, the field of photography is rapidly advancing, and serious photographers want to achieve the improved quality and creative opportunity offered by the latest cameras, lenses, computers, software and printers. The latest equipment solves many of the vexing problems of exposure and depth of field that were impossible to perfect with film capture. If taking images is what fulfills you and you’re happy with the results, you won’t need to advance with the field.

How old and simple is your equipment? If you’re talking film and you’re serious about photography, you’ll be increasingly frustrated with your results as parts, replacement equipment, chemicals and/or quality film processing become impossible to find. And your results won’t be competitive with the best of digital.

But beyond the initial cost of entering the digital realm, it doesn’t have to be expensive to maintain a level of competence and to participate in the creative and technical advances. The cost of quality digital cameras has plummeted, and you can get a competent, beginning D-SLR for $600 and low-priced consumer-level lenses that are very capable. Computer skills are essential, but there’s a wide variety of imaging software available. It’s not necessary to upgrade your software each time a new version is issued; you usually can skip a couple of generations. But wait too long, and you may have to learn an entirely new program. Inexpensive training is offered by community colleges, clubs, camera stores and manufacturers and photo magazines. Low-cost opportunities abound for sharing images—at no cost over the Internet or in high-quality, inexpensive photographic printers.

Image-making is still about the basics of photography—composition and image quality—and the ability to accomplish these basics well is vastly enhanced by digital. Sometimes fields don’t just advance—they’re revolutionized. This is the case with photography in the last 10 years, and it’s essential for any avid photographer to make the move to digital.

Erase, Erase, Erase
How long do SD cards last? Can I erase them over and over without them failing?
S. Campos
Via the Internet

SD cards and other media cards like CompactFlash have no moving parts and generally last a long time—from tens of thousands to even over a hundred thousand cycles, according to manufacturers. Usually, the higher number is associated with high-quality cards from Delkin, Lexar, SanDisk and Kingston and others. An inexpensive generic card most likely will fail sooner, but there are other factors to consider when assessing the “life” of capture media.

How the card is handled can affect its longevity. Keep them clean, keep skin oils off the contacts (SD cards), don’t put them through the wash in pockets and care for them as you would any delicate electronic part. With that said, a camera occasionally can corrupt a card, either within its processing or because the photographer opens the door to the card slot while the camera is writing to the media. Corruption or damage also can occur while using a card reader to download data to a computer. You can restore the information and extend a card’s life by using rescue software that recovers the images on the non-responsive card and reformats and potentially repairs any damage the card may have experienced.

The safest process to use in downloading your images is to copy them from the card, be sure you have them on your computer and reformat the card in your camera rather than allowing your computer software to delete the files.

For information about upcoming seminars and digital-imaging workshops, visit www.geolepp.com. If you have any tips or questions, address them to: OUTDOOR PHOTOGRAPHER, Dept. TT, George Lepp, 12121 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1200, Los Angeles, CA 90025-1176 or online at www.geolepp.com.

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