Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Race to Digital

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The Race to Digital

Article excerpt

A TECHNICAL REPORT FROM THE FIELD

DIGITAL CAMERAS WERE almost de rigueur at the Goodwill Games this summer, even for the hometown New York newspapers. Barton Silverman, the New York Times' premiere sports shooter rolled in with his on the second day of the track and field events on Long Island, and even the New York Post had one of their photographers, Francis Specker, shooting digital at basketball games in Madison Square Garden.

But the big digital guns were USA Today and the wire services. USA Today's Robert Deutsch had two new Canon-Kodak digital bodies, when most other newspaper's photographers were waiting for their first one .These cameras, sold as the Canon EOS D2000 or the Kodak DCS 520, were also being used by Agence France-Presse and Reuters photographers at the games.

Don Emmert, New York bureau chief for AEP, was shooting with a Kodak DCS 520, which he said was a big improvement over the old Canon-Kodak DCS-3. Among the hardware features he liked were the tiny screen on the back of the camera that allowed a user to check the images in the camera and a vertical release that was missing from the DCS-3.

With the built-in preview, he explained, the camera allowed him to ascertain whether the image was captured or if he should try again. Another new feature Emmert liked was the removable battery that could be charged outside the camera.

The principal downside of the camera is its narrow exposure window. Emmert and others using this camera were seen constantly checking the light with incident light meters. He said it was "like shooting with chrome (slide films)."

VERY LARGE IMAGE FILES

As with previous digital cameras built on Nikon and Canon camera bodies, a laptop computer (a Mac Powerbook in Emmert's case) is an essential part of digital news photography, and it better be a powerful one. The Kodak driver for the new camera requires 80 megs running in Photoshop for the acquired module to work according to Emmert.

His laptop builds an 8-meg file for each image from 5.7 megs of raw file from the camera for transmission in compressed form over phone lines. The older Canon digital camera's raw file was only 3.6 megs.

Besides the so-called toning of the image to bring the contrast into a proper range for reproduction and, if necessary, opening a shadow or two, the users of the new camera are using an unsharp mask in Photoshop's lightness channel to sharpen images. This compensates for the effect of a new anti-aliasing filter that tends to soften images.

This Photoshop technique was developed by Rob Galbraith, a Canadian newspaper photographer who has written a book, The Digital Photojournalist's Guide that is available from Penn Camera in the United States. Earlier editions of his book covered digital photography with the Nikon N-90-based AP Newscamera 2000 and 2000E and was highly thought of by AP photographers.

CORRECTION TECHNIQUE

Galbraith, reached by phone at his home in Calgary, Canada, said he developed a chart that you photograph with the new Canon-Kodak camera to develop the numbers used in the Photoshop technique.

He called the anti-aliasing device, which he described as an optical filter between the camera's lens and the CCD array, a worthwhile improvement whose image softening was easy to compensate for in Photoshop. …

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