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Digitalizing your Photos
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You've got a web site, now you want the world to be able to see a photo of your kids, your pet, your artwork, your product....

The best way to digitalize those pictures depends on many factors.

If you don't want a large investment in equipment and will be digitizing a set amount of photos, the simplest way is to use the new feature being offered by many photo-development stores, and checking the "digitalize my photos, too" option when you have your standard role of film developed. They will either send you a disc or CD with your photos in .jpg format, or will post them on their web site, where you can retrieve them over the Internet.

That's an easy, simple option - but what if you know you'll be needing to update your photos on a continuous basis - or you have older photos you would like to digitalize?

Then it's probably time to invest in either or both....a scanner or digital camera.

Both are fine options, but excel at different jobs.  The scanner is your best choice to digitalize your extensive photo collection, already in your closet or file cabinet.  It also works great to digitalize a few photos that you continue to take with your film-based camera.

If you are wanting to have up-to-the minute photos, take multitudes of trial photos, or dislike the expenditure of developing, a digital camera is the way to go.

General rules:

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Digital Cameras
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These cameras suck battery power.  Look for one that comes with re-chargeable battery pack, or figure a couple of sets of re-chargeable NickleMetalHydride batteries and a recharger into your final purchase cost. 

You need to get the photo OUT of the camera and onto your computer to be able to use it on your web site.  Most cameras come with a serial port cable to do this.  This requires special software and is fairly slow.  Plan on some time and maybe a power adaptor to save on batteries.

Many - not all - in the SONY line of cameras use a floppy disk, allowing you to transfer the photos using any standard 3.5" floppy drive.

Another option instead of the serial cable is to purchase a USB card reader for your specific type of "digital film".  The postings on these readers seem quite favorable as to speed and quality.

Quality of the photos is dependent upon many different factors, the number of pixels per photo, the compression ratio, the format in which the photo is saved.

Decide how you will be using the camera first.  If you are going to be using the photos entirely on the web or to email to friends, then a lower quality camera will most likely do the trick. Remember, the larger the file size of the photo - the longer it takes to download.  Most folks aren't willing to wait for a 300, 400, or 500 kb file that the mega-pixel cameras produce.

On the other hand, the larger file size of the mega-pixel camera means you will have enough information to print a nice-quality photo or crop a small portion of the photo for posting - and still retain high-quality.

If you don't already have a high-quality image program, make sure one is included with your camera.  Even the best photographers need help in adjusting for lighting, red-eye, etc.

Read all you can, look at the specs, but don't forget to go to a retail store and actually hold the camera.  Ask the clerk to put batteries in it if necessary, and take several photos to get a feel for the real process of using a specific camera.  You may love the specs, it might be getting great reviews, but if it's uncomfortable to hold, you're not going to be happy using it.

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