Windows XP / Beginners

Scanning photographic film

You can purchase an accessory for many flatbed scanners that enables you to scan photographic negatives and transparencies. This accessory goes by various names such as transparency unit or transparency adapter. Its essential purpose is to light negatives and transparencies from behind.

These units do an adequate job, but they have one big weakness: They can't increase a scanner's optical resolution. A resolution of 1200 DPI is plenty when you're scanning an 81/2 x 11 inch page, but it doesn't go nearly as far when you're scanning a 1 x 11/2 inch frame on a piece of film. If you enlarge that tiny image to a decent size, the results look pretty bad.

You have several solutions to this problem:

  • If you expect to scan a lot of negatives and transparencies, buy a film scanner - a scanner designed just for this purpose. Film scanners have much higher optical resolution than flatbed scanners in the same price range.
  • If you need high-quality photographic scans only occasionally, send your film out to a service bureau to be scanned.
  • If you need occasional photographic scans and don't need really top quality, have prints made and scan the prints. That way you can do the job yourself without having to buy any additional gadgets.

Picking a digital or video camera

A digital camera captures images in electronic memory, from which you can transfer them to a computer. A digital video camera does the same thing for movies.

Digital cameras and digital video cameras are more convenient than conventional cameras because you can see their images without waiting for film processing. They are less expensive to use because they record on reusable media, and you don't have to pay for processing - but then again, the cost of batteries (if you don't quickly buy and use rechargeable batteries) can eat away at what you save on film.

An Internet camera, or Webcam, is a camera that connects directly to a computer and depends on computer processing to record an image. A computer can use one to capture either still pictures or video. Most Internet cameras use a USB interface.

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