Re: Digital cameras

Subject: Re: Digital cameras
From: Tim Altom <taltom -at- IQUEST -dot- NET>
Date: Wed, 19 Jun 1996 22:32:00 EST

At 03:03 PM 6/19/96 EDT, you wrote:

>Has anyone used digital cameras or their images for tech manuals? Or
>does anyone know anything about these products, other digital cameras, or
>the output images? I'd appreciate any information you have.

>Thanks in advance! Please email your info or suggestions to me directly.

>Cheryl Dwyer
>dwyerc -at- visual -dot- mctec -dot- com

Yep, and I loved it. It gave me immediate access to whatever I needed to
illustrate the manual. Drawbacks at the time (three years ago, more or less)
were acuity, time and file size. Each image was often multiple megabytes,
with color, and required long editing time in PhotoShop to render in B&W. I
forget the brand of camera I used, but it had a small format diskette of its
own that was readable on a special disk drive. The whole rig was several
thousand dollars when new (circa 1989). At the time, the diskette could
handle, as I recall, 11 high-grade shots or 22 low-grade shots. The
wonderful part was the ability to write to the same disk over and over
again, making it a simple matter to retake shots. But I always had to put
the image into PhotoShop and chop out all of the colors, both for size and
because we weren't printing in color. On the plus side, once it was in
PhotoShop, I could do anything I wanted...wipe out annoying backgrounds,
merge two images, repair faulty lighting. The acuity of the image was never
as good as what was possible with high quality professional film, but it was
good enough for our printing methods, which wouldn't exceed 600 DPI at the time.

I haven't kept up with the newer advances, but I've occasionally longed for
another digital camera. The one I used was a conventional camera body, with
a digital detector back and tiny disk drive. If you're used to taking film
shots, it's a snap to move to digital, and it's cheaper to make mistakes.
You can leave your subject set up, run to PhotoShop, download the images,
check them, then run back for adjustments, all on the same disk and with
only the cost of time.

The images were, as might be expected, only in a bitmapped format. They
could be saved as BMP or TIFF or PCX, but nothing was perfect. I'd encounter
some small problem with transfer and reproduction no matter what I used.

I loved using that camera, and I'd only make one big caveat...if you don't
already know anything about photography, learn fast. It was fortunate that
I'd started my career as a freelance article writer, taking and developing
my own shots. The camera I used was good, but it didn't know how to overcome
bad lighting, incorrect angles or mistaken settings. And it took a long,
long time to get familiar enough with PhotoShop that I could do what I
needed done. If all you need is snapshots, it should be simple, but if
you're aiming for a quality standard, you might have to get real experienced
real fast.

Tim Altom
Vice President, Simply Written, Inc.
317.899.5882 (voice) 317.899.5987 (fax)
FrameMaker support ForeHelp support

Makers of DuoFrame, giving you online help and paper
documentation from a single parent FrameMaker document.

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