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GOING DIGITAL - Week 1: Doing My Homework
by Rob Brainard (editorial)

Ok. I thought it would be helpful to others if I journeled my "conversion" from an amateur "film" photographer to an amateur "digital" photographer. I’m not sure what’s all involved, but I’ll soon find out, and I’ll keep track of what I do & need. I'll post each weeks journal on Saturdays.
I've always been terrified of not having a permanent, maximum quality slide/negative of my photos for all eternity, but I guess it's time to step out into a brave new digital world. Maybe this experience can help you out if you’re going to be following me down the same road in life…this journey will probably take a month or two to sort out, but let’s get started…
About me…ok, I am NOT any kind of professional photographer, so take my experience here in that light. I have taken over 10,000 pictures so I do know my way around a camera and how to press the buttons. The pictures have mostly been slide shots (Kodak Elite II Slide Film) of outdoor scenic landscapes, nature shots, family pets, etc. You can see that all this is for real at See, I’m not THAT bad of a photographer after all!
Anyway…I’m currently awaiting delivery next week of my nice, new, shiny (with cool magnesium encrusted body, whipty doodle doo!) Nikon Coolpix 950 (see picture at right). I’ve always used a Nikon N50 which has been a FANTASTIC camera for me since I ALWAYS run everything on fully automatic (what’s an F-Stop anyway???). You'd think that being trained as  Physicist (F.I.T...a small plug for the alma mater), that I would have acquired an affinity by now for f-stops, apertures, focal lengths, etc...but I don’t like tinkering; I just like getting that great shot, with perfect lighting, etc…all provided by good ol’ mother nature, and some luck of course! By the way, for the attorneys among us...I’m not endorsing Nikon over others…that’s just the camera I wanted to get, as I have a long history of using Nikon Film cameras. Anyway, whatever I'm going through will be very applicable to the Kodak, Olympus, Toshiba, AGFA, etc digital cameras as well. The official Nikon Coolpix 950 site also has some information.
The Coolpix 950 is also VERY popular right now, and I don’t want to be a lemming! Anyway, if so many people want one, it must be a great camera, right? I also did my homework by checking out Phil Askey's Coolpix 950 review, Steve's Digicams review, the Imaging Resource review, and the user comments on PCPhotoReveiew.
Before I bought, I also did my pricing homework (very simply of course) by checking the prices listed on our site (20-20Consumer) along with the store satisfaction ratings. I eventually decided to get the camera from BUYDIG.COM, as they had the best price on it at the time. Oh yeah, don't forget to use our 20-20Consumer Tips when ordering.
Anyway, I just couldn't resist all those sexy megapixels!
First Lesson: If you do your homework right so you feel comfortable about what you are buying, you sleep pretty well at night!
With my "Type A" personality...I'm already thinking of all the things I don’t know how to do, but will probably have to figure out real soon:

  • How do the darn batteries work? What if the batteries die when i'm out shooting?
  • How long do they last?
  • Do I need extra batteries?
  • How do I get the darn pictures into my PC?
  • How long does it take to upload them?
  • From there, how do I get them onto my web sites, to friends, to pictures I can hang on the wall, etc?
  • What do I store the pictures on (disk, floppy, memory cards, etc)?
  • How will they look?
  • What cards does it take (CompactFlash, ATA, other...)?
  • What's a floppy adapter?
  • How do I manipulate them?
  • What are all the gizmos I’ll need that will cost me an extra fortune?
  • Do I need a new case, strap, lenses, filters, etc?
  • How can I set up a photo album on the Internet so my parents can see the pics?
  • How much does it cost to convert a digital pic into one I can hang on the wall? How do I do this?
  • How do I print out the pics with a color printer, etc? How good do they look?

Geeesh…the anticipation is killing me. I could go and buy the very well done book on "Nikon Coolpix 950 Photography" book by Dennis Curtin, but nah...I'll do this the hard way, at least for now (that doesn't mean you have to, and I may break down and buy the book next week anyway!).
Ok…stay tuned, and I'll be back next week after my camera arrives.
Adios for now…break a lens cap...

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