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Digital cameras put you in the picture

by Gordon Black

computer and photos Magical moments from your daughter's third birthday, your son's graduation or your parents' wedding anniversary are the stuff of every family photo album. Tumbling prices for digital cameras may now signal the decline of the ubiquitous point-and-shoot camera that takes film. With a digital camera, capturing images takes on a whole new realm of creative possibility.

By combining a digital camera, software, and your PC, you can alter, size, and crop picture images. Then send them in e-mail, print them out or even use them for screen Wallpaper. Since the image storage device is reusable, you can keep only the pictures you like.

Unlike conventional cameras, which use film, digital cameras store their images electronically. There are several types of storage media for digital cameras, and they work like the hard drive in your computer by storing information digitally. Viewing your family photo album now becomes a matter of clicking through the images on a computer.

Memory Stick, CompactFlash and SmartMedia are among the brands of storage media in common use.  Some cameras accept standard diskettes. Although the different media storage formats are not interchangeable, all are designed to allow you to transfer images to your computer. As with other emerging technology one, or, possibly two, formats will triumph. But you need not worry if the camera you bought has the "winning" format of image storage. What's important is being able to easily transfer your images from the camera into your computer.

From snap to happy
A majority of cameras use some type of cable that will link your camera and computer, allowing the transfer of images. A common method is a cable that plugs into the camera and into a vacant serial port on your computer. A connection cable is normally included with the purchase of the camera. Some cameras may allow you to plug the storage media directly into your computer, or even offer a wireless connection, which transfers the images by use of infra-red technology, between camera and computer.

Once you have set up your computer to receive images, you're ready to make the most of them. If you're using Microsoft® Plus! 98, you already have picture editing software installed. If you're using Windows 98 or Windows 98 Second Edition, you can use the software that comes with your digital camera. It normally takes a few minutes to install the software, and you will need to shut down your computer and restart it to complete the installation.

Say it with a photo
Once the image is in your computer you can send photos by e-mail or create a Wallpaper image from a favorite shot. To send a photo by e-mail in Outlook Express:

  1. Save the desired image in a folder that will make it easy to find.
  2. Compose an e-mail message in the normal way, entering the recipient's address and a subject line. Type a message, if desired.
  3. On the Insert menu, click File Attachment.
  4. Locate the file containing the image you want to send by browsing through your file folders, then click Attach .
  5. Click Send.

Note: how the recipient views sent images depends on the image format. For example, .jpg or .gif files can be viewed using the browser. The more efficient format for storing images is .jpg. Microsoft Paint, which comes with the Windows operating system, can be used to view .bmp files. Other types of graphics software may handle all or most graphics file formats.

Picture It! Express
If you purchased Microsoft Plus! 98, your computer is already equipped with picture-editing software. Picture It! Express allows you to import images in a range of popular file formats, such as jpeg and gif. You can then resize, remove red eye, alter color and tone and crop to a range of shapes and patterns.

To load Picture It! Express:

  1. Click the Start button point to Programs, and then click Microsoft Plus 98.
  2. From the drop-down menu, select Picture It! Express.
  3. You can take images from your digital camera and import them into Picture It! Express for editing before sending them off in e-mail or preparing them for use in a publication.

With a virtual photo album inside your computer, it's no chore to dash off a picture of the little 'uns birthday party to the grandparents or for them to send you a photo taken at their anniversary dinner.


Gordon Black

Gordon Black has started a virtual photo album in his computer.

Windows 98 & Microsoft® Plus! 98 users:
If you use a cable or wireless connection, your computer needs to be set up to receive the information from the digital camera. To do so:

  1. Click Start, point to Settings and then click Control Panel.
  2. Click Scanners and Cameras.
  3. Click Device, and then click Add.
  4. Select the camera type from the names displayed or insert the disk supplied with the brand of camera you own.
  5. Follow the instructions on the Installation Wizard.