Digital Help
Q&A For Digital Photography Page 2


The Future Of Digital?
Q. I'm a recent college graduate and love to take pictures. I love the point-and-shoot, development, picture album experience, but I need to save money. I have a couple of questions. I am on a budget. But, I really want a Nikon D70. Should I buy one and love it even though it will be matched in a year or two by an affordable camera, or buy a good, but cheaper camera and wait on technology? I hate waiting a second or two for my next shot and I want control. Also, I've been told that a good computer program can make up for the difference in a $500 camera and a $1500 one. True? I was thinking maybe I should invest in an Apple and good software and a camera that isn't quite a D70. I need lots of advice!
Mac Bracewell

A. If what you describe as the "picture album experience" is true and accurate, the limited print size involved indicates you really do not need a 6.1-megapixel $1500 prosumer camera.
I would also suggest that Nikon is a good maker of digital cameras, but there are others, including some that will provide somewhat more performance for the money. A good computer and software are essential to doing good digital photography, but if you don't have good quality going into a computer it won't come out as prints of good quality images--there is a long standing computer adage that goes: garbage in, garbage out. That does not say that there is not a lot some skill and a good computer can do to enhance and get the best out of an image, but you must have the potential to begin with.
Unless you are doing specialized photography like action sports or close-ups of nature, and you don't already have an investment in compatible lenses, you really don't need a prosumer SLR. Many of the
4- to 5-megapixel compact digital cameras are quite capable. I would suggest also paying attention to whether comprehensive manual control is provided, and whether the optical performance covers the kinds of photography you want to do. Some of the brands of digital cameras you should explore besides Nikon are Fuji, Olympus, Minolta, and Canon.

Special Effects Plug-In Filters
Q. I have had no luck searching on my own, and thought you might be able to help. I am attempting to find something that will allow me to duplicate the special effects shown during a recent James Bond film (I believe it was Die Another Day). During the credits, the apparently mandatory dancing women appeared to be made of fire or ice rather than human flesh. Have you encountered any software or technique that would allow me to keep the texture and shape of an object, but replace the apparent substance of which it is composed with something else? I think I've seen one print ad where the person in it appeared to be made of water, but can't recall any other examples of this special effect.
Chris Nowicki

A. There are a few companies still selling special effects plug-in filters. One is Alien Skin Software (www.alienskin.com); another is HumanSoftware (www.humansoftware.com); and one that has a lot of selections is Auto FX Software (www.autofx.com).
There are others that are less well-known that you can find using a Google search on "Special Effects Software."

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