"Quick Look:" Amazing in-camera
Flashpoint's Digita is for more than just "scripting!"
(Review posted 16 April, 1999)
The Digita Operating Environment and Scripting Language
In the course of reviewint the Kodak DC265 digital camera, we had the opportunity to also check out an amazing software application that actually runs inside the camera. The program is Digita F/X, by FlashPoint, the creators of the Digita "Operating Environment" and scripting language. The following makes frequent reference to the DC265 camera, but the application will run on any Digita-equipped digital camera, as long as it has the correct revision level of Digita firmware installed. - Other cameras also supporting Digita at this time (April, 1999) include the Kodak DC260, and the Minolta EX-1500.
When the DC260 was announced, it was the first camera to use the Digita environment
and language from FlashPoint, and information on the scripting language, its
capabilities, and development tools was hard to come by. A year later, the software
developers kit (SDK) is readily available from FlashPoint on-line, people
are routinely developing programs in it for various vertical applications, and
some genuinely useful functions are being implemented. (We used the "resolution
series" script to automatically capture images at every combination of
image size and compression ratio, for many of our test shots. This app saved
us literally hours of picture-taking time!)
A full treatment of the Digita language is far beyond the scope of even an Imaging Resource camera review, so we'll instead refer readers to several online resources for more information, including FlashPoint's own site, and the DigitaCamera web site. We did want to give some sense of what can be accomplished in Digita, so we present here a brief sketch of FlashPoint's just-released "DigitaFX" application, which provides for rudimentary image manipulation within the camera itself(!)
There's been a lot of talk about the Digita operating environment and the associated scripting language, but few people realize that the "environment" also permits the creation of complete APPLICATIONS. These applications can go well beyond the limits of simple scripting, essentially using the camera's processor as a general-purpose computer.
One of the first (and most interesting to date) of these applications is Digita F/X, a surprisingly capable image-manipulation package that runs INSIDE the DC265 and other Digita-equipped digital cameras! The possibilities here are intriguing, particularly when combined with the recently defined "Digital Print Order Format" or DPOF, which is also supported by the DC265. DPOF allows camera users to mark images for later print output by hardcopy devices also supporting DPOF. (Such as Kodak's latest generation of Print Magic stations now in about 30,000 locations worldwide.) With the addition of Digita F/X, you now have a complete imaging solution, without any need for a computer in the middle! (We can imagine Intel and Microsoft execs cringing as we write this.)
While Digita F/X won't let you retouch your images, it does provide a surprisingly complete range of image-adjustment tools, including an auto tone adjustment, brightness & contrast, color correction (RGB, as well as hue/saturation), sharpening & blurring, and a host of special effects. - For the sake of a $20 piece of software (taking about 800K bytes on your camera's CF card), you can turn your camera into a complete image-processing system!
We'll give you a (very) brief tour of Digita F/X here: See the Flashpoint web site for more details.
You launch Digita F/X by selecting a menu option while in "Review" mode, which shuts down the camera. Pressing the power button brings the camera back up running the Digita F/X application. You quit the app in similar fashion, by pressing the "exit" key and rebooting again. Here's what it looks like when it's running:
|When Digita F/X boots up, you'll see the index screen that lets you scroll through the images stored on the camera's memory card, and select the one you want to work with. Once the desired image is displayed in the lower portion of the window, you can choose to either "adjust" it, or apply an "effect" to it. Adjustments include automatic tone and color balance, tonal balance (brightness and contrast), sharpen, blur, color balance (RGB adjustments), conversion to a grayscale image, color saturation, "colorization" (hue and saturation), and posterization. Effects include emboss and pixelate, textures (mosaic, stucco, underwater, and water color), and transformations (mirror, flip (top/bottom), and rotate 90, 180, or 270 degrees). (Image rotations aren't supported on the DC220 camera, only the DC260 or DC265.)|
When Digita F/X boots up, you'll see the index screen that lets you scroll through the images stored on the camera's memory card, and select the one you want to work with. Once the desired image is displayed in the lower portion of the window, you can choose to either "adjust" it, or apply an "effect" to it. Adjustments include automatic tone and color balance, tonal balance (brightness and contrast), sharpen, blur, color balance (RGB adjustments), conversion to a grayscale image, color saturation, "colorization" (hue and saturation), and posterization. Effects include emboss and pixelate, textures (mosaic, stucco, underwater, and water color), and transformations (mirror, flip (top/bottom), and rotate 90, 180, or 270 degrees). (Image rotations aren't supported on the DC220 camera, only the DC260 or DC265.)
You select an adjustment or effect by scrolling through a set of thumbnails showing previews of the effect, while descriptions of the operations appear in the lower part of the screen. (The screen shot at right shows the screen for the Pixelate Effect option.)
|Once an adjustment or effect is chosen, you'll be taken to a screen showing a larger preview of the effect chosen, along with controls to adjust the relevant parameters. (The screen shot at right shows the control screen for the Tone adjustment.)|
|After you've made the changes desired, you can save the modified image, via the control screen shown at right. To guard against fatal errors of judgement, Digita F/X always saves the image to a different "album" on the memory card, and gives you the option of changing its name as well. (If you decide you don't want to modify the image, choosing "Un-Apply" will cancel the operation, and take you back to the adjustment/effect selection screens.|
There's plenty of room for creative license with Digita F/X: The shots below are cropped from a full-resolution camera image, showing "before" and "after" versions, with the "Watercolor" effect filter applied.
It strikes us that the real utility of Digita F/X will be in applying fairly prosaic modifications to captured images, such as sharpening and tonal correction, before printing the images out on a PictureMaker or Digita-equipped inkjet printer, using the DPOF capabilities of the DC265. One also wonders though, if FlashPoint will provide for the Digita Scripting capability to be combined with Digita F/X operators, allowing fully-automated, in-camera image processing.
This has been a rather lengthy excursion into the functions of one specific Digita-based application, but we wanted to give some sense of the potential of Digita in the course of talking about the DC265's other capabilities. We think there's a lot of potential here that is only just now beginning to be tapped!