Thursday, May 22, 2008

Cameras and Fotosizer

Originally published as "Random Thoughts: Cameras and Fotosizer", the Idaho PC User's Group 08.02

As many of you know, I finally bought a new Digital SLR to replace my 15-year-old 35mm film camera. There was nothing wrong with the old camera except for the film. Over the years I've become very stingy when taking pictures; often only taking a frame or two in order to save money. Of course, that lead to a roll of film sitting in the camera for a month or two. As I've watched all my digital friends, they blow off pictures like they were movie cameras. I wanted to be part of the "in-crowd."

The new camera is a Pentax K10D, which is considered an advanced amateur camera, just shy of professional-grade. I'm happy with this category because it perfectly describes my needs and abilities.

Old Lenses, New Camera

The real reason I bought this particular model was the compatibility with my extensive collection of existing lenses. But this proved to be a white-lie not adequately explained in the literature or by the sales staff. Giving Pentax credit, all of their lenses, from the most ancient to the current, fit on any of their cameras. But, unbeknownst to all the salesmen, Pentax has "old" lenses and they have "old-old" lenses. I have the latter, where all of my lenses are 25 years old (they are considerably older than the original camera). They fit on the new body but the metering system can't make heads or tails out of the aperture. Since I don't use hand-held meters, this effectively retired the lenses.

Although I bought the digital camera for Landscape work, I've not had the chance to use it as such; instead, I've been taking sports photos of my daughter. Sports photography is not something that I'm particularly good at and I lack the proper lenses and flash; this has made the photos somewhat disappointing. But, it is neat to be able to take as many pictures as I want without concern. I am improving.

This caused another problem. I bought the new camera with a standard Zoom lens that replaced 5 of my fixed-length lenses. My intent was to buy an additional wide-angle lens for the serious landscape work. With this in mind, I got a new, smaller camera bag - one that could hold the camera, the extra lens, and some paraphernalia. The trouble is last week I borrowed a friend's long sports/action lens and quite unexpectedly had a lot of fun. This now means I'm inclined to buy two additional lenses; a long and a wide -- along with another new camera bag...

All this lead up to a sad day last week when I took the old PZ-1 film camera and all of its lenses, and put them in deep storage, probably never to be used again. Since then I have learned digital is no panacea; I now spend more time editing and sorting photographs than I ever did with film. And, there are a lot more photographs to deal with. This has been surprisingly time-consuming.

More Photos; More Editing:

The new camera generates 2 to 4MB photographs, which are too large to share with most people. With a couple of hundred pictures of that size, you are talking some serious disk space. Knowing that 95% of the photographs will never be printed, there is no reason to keep them at this resolution. But there is an old adage in digital photography: "It is easy to remove pixels, it is really hard to put them back." For that reason, I always shoot at the highest resolution and pare them down later.

FotoSizer: A Great Program

As I'm sorting photographs, those pictures that are particularly interesting are copied to a "high-resolution" folder and the remaining snapshots stay where they are. Then, using a nifty freeware program called "Fotosizer" (, I can batch-convert all of the snapshots to any resolution I'd like.

In two minutes you can download, install and use this program. This is slick. If you like it, they ask for a ten-dollar paypal donation. A bargain.

See this article: How to use Fotosizer

I had to laugh when I converted one batch of files, and then later decided to print a few of them. The results looked like crap. Knowing the camera was flawless, I cursed the printer. It turns out I was a little aggressive with Fotosizer. Each of the photographs were compressed from 4MB to 30K. What would you expect?

2011 Update:  Since this article was written, I have since upgraded to a Nikon D5100.  See this blog for details:

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