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rpalmer 09-13-2004 09:07 PM

Misconceptions about Digital Photography
I was on Trainorders.com today and saw yet another series of posts from poor luddites who are wringing their hands with worry over the processing of their beloved Kodachromes. Usually I ingore this stuff, but I but a post stating that digital photographers don't have these worries. I wasn't trying to stir up trouble, but was curious about what these diehards are thinking. The answers so far are pretty scary:


When affordable digital cameras reach the 35 megapixel range (sharpness comparable to a slide), then I'll hang up the film thing too. Until then....
35mp - huh ???

Response #2:

One of the main reasons we railfans take all these pictures is to record what will not be around tomorrow. Kodachrome has a 50 year+ track record of archival quality. Slides taken in the 40's and 50's still hold their color and can be viewed as long as you have a projector that still works. Anyone that thinks these digital images will last more than a few years is living on another planet. Digital is great for many things, but from an archival perspective it's a disaster.
Digital images only lasting a few years ? Are the bits going to fade away ?

So far, some pretty scary stuff. Where do people get ideas like this ??

Chris Starnes 09-13-2004 09:46 PM

35 megapixels, eh? That'll do them alot of good...chances are these are the same people that let their photos sit in slide boxes in their closet and never let them see the light of day.

Its their loss :wink:

cmherndon 09-13-2004 10:48 PM


Digital images only lasting a few years ? Are the bits going to fade away ?

So far, some pretty scary stuff. Where do people get ideas like this ??
They're the World's Greatest Railfans. What do you expect? :lol:

Now as far as the digital cameras are concerned, isn't the highest resolution on the market somewhere around 14 - 16 megapixels or soemthing like that? If these guys want 35 MP, they'll probably end up waiting "a while" as the dispatchers say.

E.M. Bell 09-14-2004 01:08 AM

boy, if thats the case, I have wasted a lot of time during the past Two or Three years organizing, sorting, scanning and digitaly archiving 15 years worth of slide and prints. Some of that stuff has (and will) make it to RP, the rest will be kept for memories sake, but they all will get scanned, as some of the Kodachromes (properly stored) are already starting to see color shift ect.. I have went 100% digital in my photography in the past year, and wont even bother to look back. With frequent backups, multiable copies saved to CD and stored in seperate locations, that stuff will be around a LOT longer than those old slides and prints.....barring any unforseen major magnetic storms in Central KY :)

now, if I can just find time to scan the rest of them...only 8,000 or so to go....

Guilford350 09-14-2004 06:02 PM


Anyone that thinks these digital images will last more than a few years is living on another planet.
I thought that WAS one of the advantages of digital... the ability for images to last a long time without loss of quality. If you store images on a CD, wouldn't they last forever? I have some audio CD's that are a good 12+ years old and they still sound excellent.

Save The Wave 09-21-2004 02:28 AM

Re: Misconceptions about Digital Photography

Originally Posted by rpalmer
Response #2:

Anyone that thinks these digital images will last more than a few years is living on another planet.

What ever that dude is smoking.... I want some! I have many pics taken with an Olympus D700-L in 1998 that are just as good (or bad, depending how you look at it) as when they were shot. There's 6 yrs...

brunswickrailfan 10-11-2004 02:46 AM

CD's wont last forever. JPEG's will be around for a while--CD's wont. They cant last forever, but technology will exist that will stor stuff on a new media. Kinda like when CD-burners came out...we junked our floppies! I haven't used a floppy drive in 2 years!

na4m 10-20-2004 05:17 PM

There's no doubt that the photographic world is rapidly moving to digital.

However, some photgraphic professionals believe that many digital images being captured will not be around for future generations.

They cite problems with a lack of understanding of archival issues, etc.
for many of those happily capturing digital images and thinking that their images will be around in the future for their children, grandchildren, etc.
to connect with the past.

Also hard drives crash, technology changes rapidly perhaps making future compatibilty questionable (how many today are using the same hard drives they had 5 or 10 years ago?) and CD/DVD's age faster than many realize and perhaps making them unreadable to mention a few problems.

Here's a link to the NIST's web page with CD/DVD archival information.



mtrails 10-23-2004 02:27 AM

Digital photography
For starters, I have a 50mp digital camera and I couldn't be more dissatisfied... I have much better photo quality (clarity, color) with film than with digital. Is that the question here? I got the best digital camera available, and have not yet captured a photo worth looking at. As far as archival, I have prints from over 20 years ago that still look great, maybe better since they've aged. Honestly, I can't trust technology at the rate it's going.

CN/NECR 10-23-2004 12:18 PM

You have a 50 m.p digital camera! :shock: The highest mega pixels I've heard of was 11 mp.I cant imagen how big your picture files are!
Well who makes that camera anyway?I would really like to know the manufacturer.

mtrails 10-23-2004 03:58 PM

Digital Photography
I feel like an idiot. I am still new to digital cameras, and I said I had a 50mp camera. It's a Gateway DC-T50, and I decided to verify it's MP with the owner's manual... it's only 5.25mp. No wonder I dislike the photo quality! I was told last year when I bought it, that it was the best digital camera on the market and this was the highest MP available. The pictues are pretty huge, upwards of 2560x1920 pixels. I usually have it set for 1280x960, which results in a file size up to 800kb. It is very hard to crop and reduce the photos into 800x600 resolution and not lose the photo content, and/or image quality.

E.M. Bell 10-23-2004 06:15 PM

5.25mp is more or less middle of the road now. I just got (today!!) a cannon 20D..it produces 8.2mp in raw or JPG high mode, and I believe (and correct if me if im wrong) that is the highest MP currently available....although that will chagnge I am sure.. now, if the sun would just come out for I could go play with the new toy...iv taken about all the pics of the cats that I could with it sinceit came out of the box ):

Aaron 10-23-2004 06:47 PM

There are higher MP than your camera, I am not sure of manufacturer or model names, but I have seen 10+ MP advertised in some HIGH END photographer magazines, ads, etc. No matter how you slice it, 8.2 is more than you are probably going to be using unless you plan on doing some huge blow ups! I have a 3.2MP, and I have it set at the second highest quality when taking pictures and when I have 4 x 6 prints my friends cannot pick out the digital picture from the film picture. I love digital, even though my camera is pretty basic, however, digital is great! I have not used my SLR camera in almost 8 months.

E.M. Bell 10-23-2004 06:51 PM

I will be using the 8.2 for work, doing poster size prints of aireal shots and such, so it should come in handy...the fact I have it at my disposal for railroading is just gravy :) I have not shot a single frame of film since may when I got my first DSLR, and unless things go horriably wrong, I wont!

dsktc 10-24-2004 02:40 AM

E.M., congrats on the 20D. If you need any
advice on it, let me know.


mtrails 10-26-2004 05:44 AM

Digital Photography
Can anyone recommend a good photo editing program? Believe it or not, I have been using Win98 "Paint" to edit my .jpg photos. It does the job, but pixelates the photo when I resave. :roll:

Guilford350 10-26-2004 04:28 PM

I would recommend Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0. It's great and is only about $90.

rock_505507 10-30-2004 07:23 AM

The most common misconception about digital photography, is that the Mega pixel count has any thing remotely pertaining to quality. This is going to burst some bubbles, but before you think that Iím just talking out of my posterior, let me state the facts.

The Mega pixel count is NOT the quality, it is the maximum photo area in square pixels that the camera can save. That is, if you took photos with your camera with the maximum size, then you would be utilizing the full Mega pixel count. Quality (or resolution, these are the numbers that tell the quality) is rated in DPI, or Dots per inch. A normal CRT monitor can only produce about 72dpi, whereas a normal printer will print about 600dpi. One dot = 1 pixel.

It breaks down like this: take the height and width of a digital image, and multiply them, and that gives the MP count. Example: and image that is 2048 x 1536 has an area of 3,145,728 square pixels, and thanks to marketing, is rounded up to 3.2M pixel. If I shoot my photos at 1280 x 1024, then my MP count (on the same camera) drops to about 1.3 MP, and so on, and so forth as I make them smaller. A 640 x 480 picture is only 0.3 MP

Seriously, go ahead and multiply the height and width of the maximum size of photo your camera will take, and you'll get the number that they've BS'd everyone into thinking is the Quality.

In fact, the MP number is totally irrelevant, to the extent of what the normal customer is looking for.

Most of the photos that Iíve seen on this site have been 1024 x 768, or 0.7 MP

Mostly, the quality of the digital photo relies on the quality of the optical hardware (same as normal cameras) and the quality of the electronics inside. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. Experience has taught me that the best bang for the buck will come from a Sony. Theyíre relatively inexpensive, with higher quality hardware. If youíre thinking of getting a camcorder that can take digital photography, well, you get what you have coming to you with that.

Like what was said earlier, you only need higher MP if you want a bigger picture, thatís it, thatís all that the MP means.

The cameras are already there, folks, now the monitors and printers have to catch up.

So, now, the next time you hear them whine about the fact that cameras donít have a high enough MP count, you can tell them they have no idea what theyíre talking about. And, if you even thought they deserved it, and in most cases itíd be wasted breath, could actually explain what a mega pixel IS.

As for photo editing software, I recommend Adobe Photoshop 7.0. Granted, itís fairly expensive, but if youíre truly serious about digital photography, I would highly suggest it. My wife prefers Paint Shop Pro 8, but then again, sheís not the one typing this post. ;)

I do have extensive training in Computer hardware, software, and peripherals (printers, scanners, etc.) so if anyone needs advice, or help, please feel free to contact me anytime.

Joe 10-30-2004 02:19 PM

So you are saying that MP is size, not quality, but the bigger picture you have on a PC, the better quality it is...If you took a 1MP photo and a 5MP photo and blew the 1MP shot to the same size as the 5MP shot, the 5MP shot would be way better quality...So in a somewhat indirect way, the more MP, the better the quality if you have two same-size photos.

You definately bursted my bubble... :lol:

mtrails 10-30-2004 04:39 PM

Digital Photography
Well this is nice information to have! I wondered why the camera had picture settings upwards of 2560x1920 pixels. Displayed on a monitor of 800x600, the picture is insanely huge, though the content looks really clear. The camera doesn't even have an 800x600 setting, which is pretty inconvenient for viewing. I could up the resolution on my monitor to view a larger photo, but then my eyes would go bad looking for the desktop icons!

I have noticed that pictures viewed on the monitor, that were taken at 640x480 vs. 1280x960, don't look as clear, and lines (such as the rails on a loco) are more blocky.

I don't have a good photo editing program, and resizing a photo (up/down) results in a distorted photo. I have learned to take a shot in 1280x960 and allow room to crop it down.

rock_505507 10-30-2004 07:00 PM


If you took a 1MP photo and a 5MP photo and blew the 1MP shot to the same size as the 5MP shot, the 5MP shot would be way better quality
This is correct, because computers can compress images to a smaller size, but they can't add resolution. Which is very frustrating at times, because when the internet was young (I'm talking about even before 56k was out for very long) people got into the habit of making the pictures as small as possible, for quick downloading, and monitors couldn't really do more than 640x480 at that time. The newer versions of windows, has the lowest setting possible as 800 x 600, at least.

With the advent of broadband, this is no longer much of an issue. Which is a real pain in the rear when trying to get data off of a freight car, from a pic that's been online since the mid 90's. :D

cmherndon 10-30-2004 08:01 PM


Originally Posted by rock_505507
...people got into the habit of making the pictures as small as possible, for quick downloading...With the advent of broadband, this is no longer much of an issue. Which is a real pain in the rear when trying to get data off of a freight car, from a pic that's been online since the mid 90's. :D

Maybe not for most, but then there are a few of us still in the "dark ages" :lol: using dialup. On my website, I've resized most of the photos down to about 650x450, medium quality JPEG (file sizes less than 150K) to not only save space, but for quicker downloads for everyone and quicker uploads for me. Besides, I don't think anyone would want to look at a photo straight out of the camera (over 1 MB) as it would be a bit on the large side.

What I post to RP are 800x600, maximum quality images with file sizes between 250 and 400K.

blueangel-eric 11-16-2004 03:39 PM

Re: Digital Photography

Originally Posted by mtrails
Can anyone recommend a good photo editing program? Believe it or not, I have been using Win98 "Paint" to edit my .jpg photos. It does the job, but pixelates the photo when I resave. :roll:

For a free program Irfan View is totally reccomended. http://www.irfanview.com/

I also use Photo Impact 8 from Unlead. I think they have 9 out now.
photo impact i think is under $100 but has alot of features and you can even make backgrounds for webpages with different variations of patterns. It's not Photoshop but it's advanced. I don't think I would notice the difference in features from it and photoshop.

mtrails 11-18-2004 02:19 AM

Eric, thanks for the link to the irfanview freeware! That program is great! I am amazed at it's capabilities. It is so easy to use. The best part, is that after editing a photo, and resaving it, there was virtualy no loss in clarity! Wow. :shock:

hcstevens 12-29-2004 04:50 PM

there are a few misconceptions within this thread. you can not compare apples to oranges, they too different, as are film and digital based imaging.

the issue of megapixels has clearly been exploited by the vendors as have the CPU speed in computers. the MP number tells you how many pixels there are in the imaging device. if the size of the sensor is 5 inches square and boasts 6 MP, the pixels will be much larger than a sensor that is 2.5 inches square with the same 6 MP. which one will look better enlarged?

the sensor size is as important as the number of pixels it contains. only being given 1 number is not enough to evaluate the performance of the camera. the Nikon D70's sensor is 23.7 x 15.6mm and contains 3008 x 2000 pixels. compare that to the Canon Digital Rebel's sensor that is 22.7 x 15.1mm and contains 3072 x 2048 pixels. the Canon has more pixels per mm than the Nikon, so the Canon boasts better resolution (in theory), but given the minute difference in size, they are comparable. now you can start to look at the other specs to steer your dollars.

once you have the camera of your choice, you can not simply expect the images to be drop dead gorgeous straight from the camera. hopefully you are shooting in RAW mode (you paid for the pixels, why throw them away?) and as a result, you get to be the color lab and processing machine. you decide on balance, curves, and contrasts - you have to do this for every single image. this is the price of flexibility.

to do this correctly, you need to have a working understanding of the entire process. go to www.luminous-landscape.com and read everything on that site to get you started in the right direction.

as for rob's query, chaulk it up to uninformed decisions or ones made with misinformation. as Peter Furnee's two page spread in Railpace shows, a 6MP dSLR is quite capable for magazine work. i personally shoot with a Nikon D70 and feel it has the right amount of resolution and features that fit my ability and budget. if my needs change, i'm certain there will be another dSLR in the future to take it's place.


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