DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY

My interest in digital photography began in the Spring of 1998, when I took Art 071, an experimental class in digital photography at Stanford University. It was taught by Greg Lam Niemeyer and Joel Leivick, and forced a somewhat unnatural mingling between art students and computer science geeks. The entire class used Sony Mavica FD-7 cameras, but I managed to borrow an Olympus D-220L from a friend (I liked the D-220L because it didn't compress images as heavily as the Sony camera did). In fact, the old opening image of echeng.com was a self-portrait taken with an Olympus D-220L. I was sitting in front of my television in the Rains graduate apartments on Stanford Campus, looking at my own image in the television screen (the camera was plugged into it). However, both of those cameras were capturing images at only 640x480 pixels, which was a deficiency I wanted to overcome. At that point in time, state-of-the-art consumer digicams had only 1.3 megapixel CCDs, and eventually I mustered up enough courage to purchase an Agfa ePhoto1280 for the ungodly sum of $999. It became my primary digital camera for the class and started me down a path that would lead to an eventual abandonment of film.

I was still shooting film until late 2000, when I finally bit the bullet and purchased a Canon D30 Digital SLR, which was a camera I had been waiting for for a long time. It was the first "affordable" digital SLR that I could use with my existing collection of Canon lenses and accessories. Abandoning film has been a great experience so far; it has definitely been worth it because all of my photography needs can be fulfilled in the digital realm.

- Material Setup -

I have a weakness for photo equipment. I shoot with a Canon 1Ds dSLR, a Canon 1D Mk II dSLR, Canon SD10, a Canon D60 (modified for infrared use) and Nikon Coolpix 990 (modified for infrared use). I shoot with the 1Ds underwater, as well.

I also use a few devices for image acquisition -- a firewire compact flash card reader, a Delkin Cardbus CF PC card reader, an inexpensive Canon flatbed scanner (for prints, etc.), and a Nikon Coolscan IV ED (for negatives and slides). I use an Epson Stylus Photo 2200 and Pictopia's lightjet printing to make prints. These are all hooked up to a separate, cheap machine, as I found that when I connected all my acquisition/output hardware to my main development machine, all hell broke loose. Computers are bad at controlling lots of peripherals at once. :)

Image editing and publishing is done mostly on IBM Thinkpad T41p running Windows XP Professional, which isn't the best solution for color, but it's what I have to use since I'm on the road so much.

 

 

- Stuff -

August 5, 2006 - Fujifilm FinePix F30 low-light sample images

January 15, 2006 - Fuji FinePix Z1 vs. Canon SD400, Low Light

April 9, 2003 - See 100% crops from a processed D60 image

March 5, 2003 - See a superficial comparison of the Canon 1Ds, 1D, and D60
(Authors: Adam Tow and myself)

- Useful Software Tools -

Adobe Photoshop - the king of image editing software [www]

BreezeBrowser/Downloader Pro - "The fast, efficient way to view, rotate and annotate JPEG images from all digital cameras. Includes a powerful HTML generator, high quality conversion of Canon raw files and many other tools to help get the most out of your digital photographs." Worth every penny. [www]

ACDSee - the best image viewing program I've found. Also has keywording, printing, and editing, but I don't use those features. [www]

Grasshopper's ImageAlign - corrects camera tilt and lens curvature distortions [www]

CaptureOne - the best (and most expensive) RAW format converter [www]

Equilibrium's DeBabelizer Pro - great software for batch conversions [www]

Panorama Tools - great free program for viewing, editing, and remapping panoramic images [www] [faq]

Fred Miranda Actions - inexpensive Photoshop actions, often camera-specific [www]

Qimage - A fantastic program for printing photos. [www]

Photools IMatch 3 - the best image management program I've found (I don't like Cumulus nor Portfolio) [www]

- Interesting Reading -

Digital Photography Review - http://www.dpreview.com
Up-to-date news, reviews, and forums about digital photography. Forums have a low s/n ratio.

Steve's Digicams - http://www.steves-digicams.com
Up-to-date news and reviews about digital photography

Luminous Landscape - http://www.luminous-landscape.com
Many, many useful articles and tutorials about digital photography
Specifically: [digital workflow] [digital blending]

FredMiranda.com - http://www.fredmiranda.com
Sells useful, low-cost Photoshop actions. Good forums.

Rob Galbraith Digital Photography Insights - http://www.robgalbraith.com
News, excellent forums, and a compactflash database

Digital Outback Photo - http://www.outbackphoto.com
Many, many useful articles about digital photography

Wetpixel.com - http://www.wetpixel.com
Underwater digital photography. I run this site.

Photo.net - http://www.photo.net
Highly educational. Old-school, highly opinionated, and from the "unlimited-funds" school of photography.

- Hardware -

Sto-fen Diffuser - compact diffusers for your external flash [www]

Wallace Expo/Disc - a tool for custom white balance. absolutely indispensable! [www]

If you are ordering photography equipment, please consider supporting wetpixel.com!
Click over to wetpixel and order through the Ritz Camera link on our home page. :)
FILM vs. DIGITAL
I run into the occasional film snob, or a person who is generally skeptical of digital imaging. I usually try to explain that digital imaging technology has finally reached a point where it competes favorably against film (and even surpasses it) in many areas. It normally just takes a nice print on photo paper to convince someone that a digital camera can produce beautiful results. However, if I sense extreme stubborness, I almost always stop arguing. What's the point? The migration to digital imaging is inevitable -- it has already started -- and a whole new generation of kids are growing up used to the grainless look of digital pictures. One of my friends always says, "Youth is king." The unbelievers will die out, eventually. It doesn't really matter, though; what's really important is how you want to pursue the capture of images.

I still like film, but I find it too complicated and inconvenient for my post-Y2K mentality of general impatience. Film still surpasses digital in many ways, but if we look forward more than a few years into the future...? I'll bet that film will be dead.