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Tips from Tonna for your PC
Do I need a new computer for a digital camera?
by Tonna Kutner

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Q: I want to get a digital camera.  Do I need a new computer to use a digital camera? 

A: The minimum that you want your computer to do is: off load your digital pictures onto your computer’s hard disk and then print them.  This is a fairly simple process.  The computer should be a Pentium, Windows 98 or better and you do need to have a USB port.  This Universal Serial Bus port is on most newer computers.  They are about inch by inch and often come in pairs.  (Note: this is historical information by now...)

For a printer, you want a good color ink jet.  The larger you want your pictures to be, the more dots-per-inch (dpi) you want to get.  Some new printers will print directly from your CompactFlash or SmartMedia card.  These memory cards are the “film” of digital cameras.

Collecting and printing pictures is all well and good, but the really fun part of having digital cameras is all the wonderful manipulations you can create using your pictures.  There are also really cool ways you can organize your pictures and store them using a computer.  This kind of digital dark room work is where a newer computer will come in handy.  We’re talking a Pentium III or better with at least 128 megabytes of memory and a hard drive of 20 gigabytes or more.  More of everything is always nice. 

A good monitor is quite important when editing your pictures.  17” or better is desirable.  Storage is also important.  When you take pictures on your memory card, the next step is to download them to your computer.  It doesn’t take long to fill up your hard drive.  A Writeable CD drive is very useful.  It allows you store your pictures safely off-line and enables you to share them with others (see article on CD-RW drive www.computer-lynx.com/a-cd-rw-drives.htm). 

You might want to invest in some software – PhotoGenetics or Picture Window are quite good in the under $50 price range.  Adobe is great, but it's more expensive.  Digital cameras usually come with software, but sometimes it’s not as intuitive as the camera.

If you’re overwhelmed by now and think your computer might not be up to your digital camera dreams, here’s something to try.  Take a roll of film on a regular camera.  When you get it developed, have it put on CD too.  Most developing outfits offer this now for $2-3 per roll.  Then play with those pictures on your computer, monitor and printer.  You should be able to tell how your computer will interact with digital media.  The danger is that you might start having a whole lot of fun.  But think, with a digital camera there’s no more film to buy or develop – think of the money you’ll save!

If you’re thinking of purchasing a digital camera, here are some web sites that have useful information. 

If you have a computer question you would like answered in this space, send it to tonna@computer-lynx.com.

For past columns of Tips from Tonna, check out the web site: www.computer-lynx.com.

Tonna Kutner, Computer LYNX, works with companies to list and develop their web sites.  Phone (206) 575-3979 or email tonna@computer-lynx.com. Visit Tonna’s website at www.computer-lynx.com.

Printed in "Verve"January-February  2002.  Copyright Tonna Kutner

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