New Digicam Technology Highlights
Three New Items That Enhance The Digital Photography Experience

New Digicam Technology

Cool new technology to make photography easier for first-time digital camera users was evident at this year's PMA. Three major players in the digital imaging field made presentations worthy of owning their latest products.

Redeye Gone?
One of the biggest problems facing the beginner camera user is redeye on pictures taken with flash. This doesn't only apply to digital, though the solution we're going to describe does. With the manufacturers making smaller and smaller cameras, the flash and lens are getting closer together. Some cameras have a small pop-up flash to try and separate it from the lens, but redeye is still there.

Nikon, in its latest release of NikonView 6, has incorporated an automatic redeye reduction. In the demonstration we were given, the program was able to detect the eyes of a boy wearing a bright red shirt, and automatically eliminate the redeye, making the picture look extremely natural. The approach Nikon is taking is, redeye--so what? Shoot all the flash pictures you want and it'll fix itself afterward. The technology is based on pattern recognition from Pixology. If the eyes aren't detected automatically, switching over to manual mode lets you draw a circle around the eye. Clicking within the circle eliminates the redeye.

Exposure Woes Gone?
Another major problem facing compact digital camera users is the tendency for highlights to be overly light (digital photographers refer to it as blown out) and not hold detail. Fuji, always on the cutting edge of digital, has created a new "Super CCD SR" chip that is said to capture both the highlight detail and shadow detail, expanding the dynamic range of pictures taken with one of their new digital cameras. Formerly, photographers who were used to shooting transparency film had less of a problem, as they understood how to expose for a "highlight bias" and the exposure they made in their digital camera would be the same as they had previously used in their film cameras. But with this new technology, well-exposed photographs are within the reach of any level of camera skill. It will be interesting to see if Fuji is going to incorporate this new technology into their professional line of camera bodies.

Organizer's Dream
Adobe's Photoshop Album (Windows-users only) revolutionizes the way people organize and sort their photos for sharing. This is the software for people who are new to digital photography and don't understand the inherent problems of image organization. After all, most people keep their photos in a shoe box under the bed. Well, Adobe looked under many beds and figured out a way to take those photographs out of the shoe boxes and sort them in albums so they can easily be sorted and browsed.

Clearly, this program is for the average inexperienced user but has many sophisticated features. After a 15-minute demonstration, we could easily see how many digital camera users could benefit from its ease of sorting photos from their hard drive on the fly. You can easily sort photos by the date they were taken. Let's say, for example, you went to Paris for two weeks last year and have all the photos, along with the photos from the week you spent in London first. You can easily create a folder for the specific range of time you spent in Paris and see all your Paris photos as thumbnails at one time.

You can create folders for sorting and tags (keywords) within folders. Photos can be assigned more than one tag by selecting them and dragging the tag onto them. And, in searching, multiple tags can be specified so that photos can be selected that fit more than one label simultaneously, making it easy to narrow down the search until a particular photo, or group of photos, is found. And, in keeping with Adobe's image-editing excellence, you can select a thumbnail and have it open in your favorite editing program.

It gets better. As soon as you select a photo for editing, a duplicate is created and the original never gets touched. In the preferences, you can specify standard smaller sizes as the default for e-mail and, for selected images, duplicates are created and sized for e-mail and automatically dropped into your default e-mail program as an attachment, ready to share. We wonder when someone will make digital life as simple for working professionals.