Digital Photo Viewers Tips

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A Handy New Way to View Your Photos

You're on vacation. You've just spent the day hiking through Yosemite and you want to share your pictures with your friends back at the hotel. Until now, that meant downloading your pictures to a computer, hooking it up to a TV or passing around your digital camera so people can view little, tiny pictures on the camera's LCD screen.

But who wants to have to haul a computer around on vacation? And are you really going to remember to pack the right cable to connect your digital camera to your hotel room's TV? Chances are, you're stuck with option #3 - and those tiny shots of Half Dome just won't impress.

Enter the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj - the world's first compact camera with a built-in projector. No computer? No problem. Forgot the cable? Forget it. Tiny screen? Who cares? With the S1000pj, you can view your photos and movies on a screen or wall at widths up to 40". You can even create slideshows with music in-camera.

The S1000pj features a 12 MP sensor, a 5x optical zoom lens (28 - 140mm in 35mm terms) and movies with sound. Plus, of course, that handy projector. And it's all in a 4" x 2.5" x .9" package, weighing in at about 6 oz. with the battery.

The S1000pj comes with a handy projector stand. Nikon even throws in a remote control that operates both camera and projector.

The projector is rated at 10 lumens - strong enough to throw an image 40" wide from about 6'. But it's easy on the battery. Nikon estimates the projector will run about an hour on a fully charged battery. That's more than enought time to run your Yosemite slideshow - and impress the heck out of your friends.

   

Getting More Out of a Digital Photoframe

Digital photoframes have been around for several years, and they've improved steadily. But Sony's new DPP-F700 (avialable January 2010) evolves the digital frame one step further.

For $200, the DPP-F700 not only gives you a 7" (diagonal) photoframe, it also gives you a 300 dpi printer. The handy little device allows you to display your pictures... and if anyone happens to like one, you can print them a 4" x 6" copy on the spot. Thanks to an image-capture feature, the DPP-F700 helps you pick the right photo, even if you're in the middle of running a slideshow.

Seven inches isn't large by today's digital photoframe standards... but this compact black frame makes a nice little addition to a desktop or endtable. And with it's 1 GB of internal storage and auto-resize feature, you can fit about 2,000 photos in memory.

Optional print packs come in 40 and 120-sheet sizes, with ink cartridges. The 4" x 6" print size limitation doesn't offer a lot of flexibility, but there are several output options, including "ID photos," calendars and multiple-image sheets.

Input is a snap, thanks to Sony's decision to support memory card formats other than it's proprietary Memory Stick. The DPP-F700 will also download from SD, MMC, x-D and CompatcFlash cards... as well as directly from a PC via it's USB connection.

As an added plus, the DPP-F700 digital frame/printer also comes with a remote control that manages most major functions.

   
What is a portable digital picture viewer?

Viewers to Go

Another popular digital device is the portable digital photo viewer. Many are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, but still hold 50 or more digital photos in memory.

Most models have a USB port to download files, and some accept multiple file types. (JPG and BMP appear to be the most common.) A few even come with sliding or hinged covers over the LCD screen. But the best feature of these miniature photo viewers is price: "Keychain" models start at less than $20. Slip one in your pocket or purse, and you can share your latest photos without worry.

And don't worry about running out of power. The small LCD screens on these photo viewers don't use a lot of juice, so they often last for 6 hours of viewing or more.

   
What are cell phone photo viewers?

Phone in Your Photos

One small - and handy - device you can use to display your digital photos is your cell phone.

Today, phones are designed to do a lot more than take calls. Many also take pictures... and even record video. Photos taken with a camera phone can be viewed right on the screen. And, with an Internet connection, shared with other phones or home computers.

Camera phones are great for catching photos or videos of unexpected moments, and you can use them to capture some nice candids. But most camera phones are low resolution. Photos taken with cell phones don't enlarge very well. So if you're thinking of printing or enlarging your photos, be sure to bring your digital camera along.

   
What other devices can you use to view digital photos?

The Portable Hard Drive Grows Up

There are a lot of options out there for portable photo viewers. Cell phones, PDA's, iPods... They all have their advantages. But for my money, there's only one way to go if you're a serious photographer: a portable hard drive storage device.

Though most of these devices are a little too large to comfortably fit in a pocket, they easily ride in a medium-sized camera bag or a backpack. And they provide enough storage space to download an entire vacation's worth of high-resolution photos - and then some.

While there are a handful of brands to choose from, when you consider features vs. price, I believe Digital Foci's Picture Porter comes out on top. The Picture Porter includes built-in slots for 10 flash memory card formats. It's compatible with five photo file types - including RAW files - four video file types and four sound file types - including MP3 and AAC.

For travelers, the Picture Porter can also serve as an entertainment system. You can download your favorite music and listen via the built-in speaker or with headphones. Plus, you can record video ( your favorite movies, perhaps) to the Picture Porter and play it back on the bright 3.6" color screen. There's even a built-in FM radio and direct audio-recording feature.

If you take a lot of digital pictures, or use RAW or TIFF formats, you'll go through memory cards quickly. A portable hard drive device such as he Picture Porter could be just what you need to store and organize your pictures on the go.

   
How can you see your digital photos on your TV?

View Your Photos on Your TV

Most newer DVD players can read and play photos fromCD's or DVD's. So you can burn your photos to a CD, pop it into the DVD player and share your photos right on your TV. Think of it as your grandad's slide shows for a new generation.

Be sure to read your DVD player's manual. Not all models can read photos from CD or DVD... and you wouldn't want to get everyone gathered around the TV to watch a blank screen.

If your DVD player can't read photo files, you may still be able to use your TV as a digital photo viewer. Many digital cameras offer you another option: They connect directly to your TV and play back a slide show stright from the memory card.

This digital camera feature can be great fun at family gatherings. You can shoot the celebration, edit out the bad shots right on the camera, plug into the TV and play back all the fun while everyone's still there. (It's also an easy way tofind out who wants copies of which pictures.)

   

Will the iPad Change Photo Viewing?

In a word, "Yes." The introduction of Appl's iPad will clearly change the way we share photos. Here's why:

Digital photo frames are a hot item. They allow you to display hundreds of your favorite photos in an undending slideshow. Now picture a good-sized digital photo frame that's easy to carry and has a 10-hour battery.

Kiss sharing photos via your phone or digital camera's tiny screen good-bye.

Memory is another issue. iPads come with up to 64 GB of memory. Most people can fit their entire photo library on that. in other words, you can share more than ever before. (Whether or not you should is an entirely different question.)

Finally, there's the "app store thing." The iPad can run virtually every app - including photo editing software - in Apple's App Store. And those apps are cheap.

So photo editing on the iPad wil be both easy and cheap. Photoshop Mobile may not be super... but it does enough to clean up a lot of small problems.

I'd say we're entering a whole new age of photo viewing.

   
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Heidi Splete