Whether you're an amateur shutterbug or a professional photographer, there's never been a better time to go digital. Still not sure? Then check out how these people are making the switch from film to digital cameras. Teachers, grandparents, small business owners...they're all finding out how easy it is. And they're not alone: Even professional photographers are joining the digital revolution. See for yourself how easy it can be.
Go with the pros
Professional photographers and photojournalists absolutely have to "get the shot." That's why at the New York Times, all staff photographers now have digital equipment. The Associated Press began providing its staff photographers with digital cameras in 1994. It's easy to see how the speed and flexibility of digital imaging gives photojournalists the edge they need:
• They get the perfect shot right away.
• Their photos can instantly be transmitted through e-mail.
• They can add to and make use of a searchable database of images from past events.
But you don't have to be a photojournalist to see the benefits of going digital. Take a look at how some "ordinary" people made the switch from film cameras and never looked back.
Freedom from film
When Esther Hernandez decided to get a digital camera, she was a little nervous. Her old point-and-shoot was like a tried-and-true friend, standing by her through vacations, weddings, and the birth of her sons. But when a friend showed her how easy an HP digital camera was to use, she was hooked.
"I didn't want a lot of bells and whistles," she explains. "I just wanted something that worked." She also wanted to save money on film and developing costs, and with her HP Photosmart camera, she has said goodbye to film forever. When the memory card is full, she can transfer photos onto her computer and start over again. "I like the way the pictures are already on the computer, with no scanning," she says. "That way I can e-mail them to everyone in the family."
Esther downloads digital photos from her camera and prints greeting cards, stationery, and lots more. "I put a picture of a quilt on my own stationery," she says. "And I made birthday party invitations for my grandson with pictures of him on them." Esther also created an iron-on sweatshirt with a photo of all her grandchildren. "They get a kick out of it whenever I wear it.”
Growing a business
Julie Kim has a green thumb when it comes to gardening, but taking photos makes her feel like she's all thumbs. She got a digital camera to capture her garden designs and start a small landscaping business. Julie just wanted to create a website and a brochure but wound up using her new camera a lot more than she expected.
"The first thing I noticed about using the digital camera was how much freedom I had," she says. "I thought it would be intimidating, but in fact I ended up being much more adventurous with the kinds of pictures I took. I could take risks with lighting and exposure and not feel bad about wasting film. If I didn't like it, I could just delete it right there." Going digital took the guesswork out of her photography.
Julie used her camera to capture the gardens and landscapes she created at various times of the year. She printed the pages herself on HP Brochure & Flyer Paper, then made a cover and bound it all up with ribbon to create a garden journal. The journal served as both a showpiece for future customers and a bonus gift to current clients. "People just love the journal," she notes. "It's a great promotional tool."
"Going digital is also better for the environment," Julie points out. "Not only are there no chemicals, but there's so much less wasted paper, film and supplies. And that's important to me." A "green" idea from a real green thumb!
Making the grade
As a yearbook teacher at Green Acres Middle School, Peter Cannon uses his digital camera every day...and so do his students. Not only do they save money on film and development costs, but they also create their own proofs right away.
"We can size and crop photos and get a true what-you-see-is-what-you-get page proof before sending pages to the printer," Peter says. "It's a huge timesaver, not to mention that the students love it. I can hand them a few discs with photos and say, 'Take these and give me a spread on the varsity boys basketball team,' and they can be done in an hour."
His advice to anyone considering making the switch to digital? "Get the best camera you can, with the highest resolution possible." He adds, "You can enlarge your pictures more if you've got higher resolution, while keeping the same sharp quality."
In addition to teaching, Peter has a side business photographing special events. He uses his digital camera to capture weddings, plays, birthdays, and many other occasions. With the help of his portable HP Photosmart printer and HP Premium Photo Paper, he can add an extra service: instant prints. "For weddings, the demand is tremendous," he says. "To be able to give the family a copy of a photo right there is a real bonus."
The digital future
Digital cameras have revolutionized the world of photography. Now anyone with a digital camera, computer, and printer has the equivalent of a color darkroom and photo lab in their own home or office. The technology is still being perfected, but in many ways digital photography has surpassed film. It's just a matter of time before photographers everywhere make the switch.