New Technology makes it easier for digital photographers
New technology introduced at this years PMA show by Nikon, Fuji and Adobe is making it easier than ever for digital camera users to make good photographs. Addressing three different kinds of digital photography problems, these solutions provide easy fixes for previously difficult situations.

It’s a fact of life that as digital cameras get smaller the flash and lens keep getting closer together. Now, small point and shoot cameras are great, but the closer the flash is to the lens, the greater the probability of your subject suffering from unpleasant red-eye effects. Some cameras have a pop up flash to increase lens/flash separation, but those are only somewhat effective at reducing red-eye. Preflash can help, but they use up battery power and often result in the subject moving before the real flash picture is taken. Now Nikon, in its latest release of its NikonView 6 software (shipping with the CoolPix 3100 camera) has incorporated an automatic post processing red eye correction tool. In the demonstration’s we saw, the program was able to detect the existence of red-eye and then automatically retouch the subject’s eyes in a very natural way. Nikon accomplishes this feat using pattern recognition technology from Pixology. Even difficult cases, like the eyes of a boy wearing a bright red shirt, were accurately detected and fixed. If the program fails to recognize the eyes, you can switch over to a manual mode and draw a circle around the eye. Click within the circle and the program eliminates the red eye. In the past, we have seen few reasons for using the camera maker’s image transfer software beyond translating RAW files. Transferring data directly from the memory cards through a memory card reader was faster and easier. However, this technology effectively solves a common problem and adds value beyond what others are doing.

Another major problem facing compact digital camera users is the tendency for highlights and over exposed areas to be recorded with no detail. Unlike many digital camera quality problems, these “blown out” highlights cannot be fixed later, and are major exposure issue. Fuji, always on the cutting edge of digital imaging technology, has introduced its new “Super CCD SR” chip. This sensor uses varying size photo diodes arranged in a double honeycomb pattern with the large sensors capturing shadow and mid tone detail, while the smaller sensors capture highlight detail. This has the effect of increasing the cameras dynamic range and preserving highlight detail. Not only does this improve image quality when shooting high contrast scenes, it also will help novices make well-exposed photographs under a wide range of conditions. The first camera to be released incorporating this new technology is the Fuji FinePix F700, a 3.1 megapixel (6.2 million effective pixels) point and shoot type camera, slated to be on camera store shelves in April 2003 for under $600. It will be interesting to see if Fuji is going to incorporate this new technology into their professional line of camera bodies.

Both these new technologies will make it easier for novice digital photographers to get good pictures. Of course, being able to quickly find your good pictures long after you have shot them is important also. This is where the next program enters the picture.

Adobe's Photoshop Album (Windows users only) promises to revolutionize the way people organize and sort their photos for sharing. This is great software for people who are new to digital photography and do not understand the inherent problems of image organization, or even those of us whose hard drives seem to constantly sprout new directories full of images. Remember the simple days when people kept their photos in a shoebox under the bed? Well Adobe looked at the problem and figured out a way to take those photographs out of our virtual shoe boxes and sort them in albums so they can easily be organized and browsed. This program was designed with an inexperienced user in mind but has many sophisticated features. After a 15-minute demonstration, we could easily see how Larry’s 83-year-old father could benefit from its ease of sorting all the photos scattered around on his hard drive.

The major difference between this and other major graphics viewing programs like ACDsee is the clever use of a time line and the programs capability to do custom sorting on the fly. Photoshop Album searches your hard drive for image files and shows you them all in one folder. Then you can quickly sorts photos by the date they were taken. For example, say you went to Europe for two weeks last year and have all the photos in various places on your hard drive. You can easily create a folder for the specific range of time you spent just in Paris and see all your Paris photos as thumbnails in one place. You can also create folders for sorting and use tags (key words) within folders. Images can be assigned more than one tag, and tags can be assigned to multiple images at once by selecting them and dragging the tag onto one of the selected photos. In searching, multiple tags can be specified making it easy to narrow down the search until a particular photo, or group of photos is found. And, as you might expect, you can click on a thumbnail and to open in your favorite image-editing program.

It gets better. You know how it’s important not to make changes to your original image files, don’t you? Well, as soon as you select a photo for editing, a duplicate is created and the original never gets touched. Now that’s a nice touch. In the preferences, you can specify standard smaller sizes as the default for e-mail and, for selected images, duplicates will be created and sized for e-mail and automatically dropped into your default e-mail program as an attachment, ready to share. I wonder when someone will make digital life as simple for us working professionals.

So, there you have it. Three different applications of new technologies that will make it easier for a novice photographer to become comfortable with the digital process. Now your family can spend more time enjoying the photos you have been creating with your digital camera, you can spend less time sorting and editing them.

Contents of this page © 2003 Chris Maher and Larry Berman and is protected under United States and International copyright laws and may not be reproduced, stored, or manipulated without written permission of the authors.

All photos on this site are available for stock or fine art sales
contact Larry Berman for more information

Slide scanning for ZAPP and other digital jury systems

Jury Slide Photography

1970s ABA and NBA Basketball photographs
specializing in Julius Erving (Dr J) photographs

Order prints from any gallery

Support BermanGraphics

Contact Us

Participate in the Art Shows Forum

Web site content © Larry Berman

email Larry Berman - larry@bermanart.com