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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Getting The Most From D-SLR Camera Systems

You bought more than just a camera body

Recent versions of Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements include Adobe's Camera Raw RAW-image converter (Camera Raw is also available as a plug-in for earlier versions of Photoshop). There are also stand-alone converters, such as Phase One's Capture One and Pixmantec's RawShooter. Apple's new Aperture software, DxO's Optics Pro and Digital Light & Color's Picture Window 4.0 include a RAW converter, too. These programs offer the advantage of being able to open RAW files from many camera brands and models, but be aware that they might not be able to open RAW images from newer cameras until the software manufacturer adds those via updates. Also, each RAW converter uses its own RAW-processing algorithms to render its own rendition of a given RAW image; in theory, the camera manufacturer's RAW converter should give the best results with its RAW files. Some D-SLR users have more than one RAW conversion program, trying each to find the one that works best for a particular image.

RAW conversion programs aren't the only software available for D-SLRs. There's also remote-operation software. Canon EOS Capture allows you to control operation of Canon D-SLRs and some compact digital cameras from your computer (a desktop for studio operation, a laptop for field work), while Olympus Studio software does the same for Olympus E-series D-SLRs. Nikon Capture software, in conjunction with an optional wireless transmitter, allows you to control some D-SLR settings from your computer wirelessly.

There are also programs such as DxO Optics Pro, which corrects lens problems such as distortion, softness, vignetting, color fringing and astigmatism, reduces image noise, enhances shadow and highlight detail in RAW images, and more, with images made using supported digital cameras and lenses.

As its name suggests, firmware fits somewhere between hardware (camera bodies, lenses, etc.) and software (programs that come on disks). Each digital camera body contains its manufacturer's firmware, which basically is "permanent" software that directs camera functions. There are no firmware options to choose among—you get what the manufacturer puts in the camera.


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