Digital Photography of Plants and subsequent manipulation
Thu, 19 Dec 2002 20:13:23 PST
"John Lonsdale"  writes:

>With respect to printers that have flash card 
>slots, or readers, built in. I advised a friend a 
>few weeks ago who wanted a good new printer 
>not to go this route simply because a lot of 
>extra dollars have gone into non-print related 
>features that I'm unsure of the utility of. 

>Mark - does the card reader on a printer allow
>transfer to the computer or just to the printer?

Hello John and PBS'rs, in answer to the issue of built-in flash card readers 
on printers these days, I assure your that they are quite effective.  It is 
true that such features are marketed towards computer "newbies" who know 
nothing about how to handle images from a digital camera, but in fact, the 
built-in flash card readers and adjunct software behaves exactly as a 
stand-alone card reader device.  The communication is flexible and 
bi-directional.  Your options are the following:

1.  Insert the digital camera flash card into the printer, and then use goofy 
options and buttons on the printer to send the pictures directly to the 
printer.  This is for people who are completely new to computing.  Needless 
to say, this feature is never used here, nor by anyone even slightly familiar 
with the technology.

2.  Insert the digital camera flash card into the printer, then use Windows 
Explorer.  The HP printer-driver software automatically installs and maps a 
drive-letter to the flash card slots (becomes my F: drive on my computer).  
Preview, copy-&-paste, or delete images from the flash card directly from the 
computer, just as you would from any media.

3.  Insert the digital camera flash card into the printer, then use the 
buttons on the printer to select all images, press the "Save" button on the 
face of the printer, and it launches HP software on the computer, asking 
where you want to download the photos on your hard drive!  How convenient!  I 
once used option #2 all the time, now I use this even faster option to 
quickly have the printer/flash-card communicate and download to my computer's 
hard drive.

The printer can connect to the PC via the USB port or the Parallel port, the 
USB port obviously faster than the much slower Parallel port option.  But 
John is right, it's a small price (about $45) for a state-of-the-art card 
reader that's up to 40 times faster than a standard USB device, certainly 
"short dollars" and adviseable.  For me, the built-in capabilities in the 
inexpensive printer was the best "perk" I've seen in recent years of 
purchasing equipment, and I'll gratefully tolerate the slower download speed 
for the time being.

>Mark M also brought up TIF vs. JPG choices for 
>saving images and is quite right that an 
>uncompressed TIF file is higher quality than a high
>quality JPG.

I didn't mean to imply using high resolution TIFF format regularly when 
taking pictures. John correctly points out the downsides: large format size 
and slow disk-write speed.  The middle ground is to use best quality JPG 
format.  When you edit and prep the images for the web, certainly turn on a 
reasonable file compression to make the images load quickly, finding the 
right balance of compression without sacrificing image quality... my 
threshold is 30% compression afterwhich I sense image degradation.  However, 
if you need to print images, either use TIFFs, or use JPG files without 
compression (maximum quality JPG).  A JPG image with 30% compression is 
guaranteed to print with odd pixel distortions and "artifacts", but the same 
file prints adequately when compression is turned off or set to a minimum, 
and resaved to a printable alternative JPG file.

"Elizabeth Waterman" 
>I use Irfanview (a free graphics program to resize
>for sending modest size emails). 

Oh, I'm glad you brought that up.  Yes indeed, Irfanview is an excellent, 
very speedy, feature-rich, well-implemented shareware program (nominal cost 
for business use, about $25), and comes highly recommended!!!  It's a capable 
tool for cataloging images as well.  The only thing I don't like about it is 
it's odd name.

Mark McDonough        Pepperell, Massachusetts, United States    "New England"               USDA Zone 5
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