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07-05-2009, 03:11 PM   #1
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New "Amateur" looking for some pic help.

I got my K20D a couple weeks ago. It is my first "real" camera and it has by far the largest file output I have ever seen. My biggest question is that I have played around with settings and am starting to feel comfortable taking "good" shots of various subjects whether indoors or out. When viewing the pictures on my computer, when they are shrunk to fit the screen, they look crisp, clear, sharp and have good detail. When I start zooming in and especially when I view the photo at 100% - actual size, the details just dont seem "there". Is this normal for digital cameras with photos this large? What size photo can I realistically print up and still have the stunning details that I see on what is essentially 8x10 format on my screen? I would like to attach a full photo for consideration but I do not have any software that can crop without killing image quality (hooray for paint huh?). What suggestions do we have for cheap/free good quality cropping/shrinking software?
Thanks in advance!

07-05-2009, 04:43 PM   #2
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Well, you're miles ahead of most on the net, since you can at least spell "amateur".

It is entirely normal for 100% so-called "crops" to be indistinct or blurry in some way. The key is to compare one to another over time and get a feel for what is "right". That is, if you even need to bother viewing images that large. Remember that this is a totally artificial way of looking at pictures. While it might be useful for some tasks, it is not the be-all and end-all.

The single best way to know how large you can print is to print large. Take a shot you really like and try it at several sizes. See what works.
07-05-2009, 04:45 PM   #3
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I use Adobe Photoshop CS4 myself but that isn't free or cheap but I have heard that GIMP is very good and it's free so let google be your friend.
07-05-2009, 04:51 PM   #4
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The higher the camera resolution, the higher quality lenses you need in order to take full advantage of it when viewing images at "100%" (which equates to a poster sized print), and the more important it becomes to use a good tripod, etc.

Basically, if it looks good on your 8x10" screen, it will look good on a 8x10" print.

07-06-2009, 06:14 AM   #5
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Concerning software, I always recommend Adobe Photoshop Elements. They are in version 7 right now. It is significantly less expensive than Adobe Photoshop CS4 that runs several hundreds of dollars. Elements can be found for under $70 and uses much of the same command set as Photoshop. Although I have both Elements 7 and CS3, I use Elements almost exclusively. It does virtually EVERYTHING I want to do with photographs. When I grow up and become a "real" photographer, I may want to use CS more, but for now, Elements does it all.
One other reason I am inclined to suggest Elements is, you can ask a question on this (or any of a dozen other) board, and have answers almost instantly. Ask a question related to some of the other processing software and you might have to wait a while for a response.
07-07-2009, 10:51 AM   #6
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Another thing to consider is that Pentax DSLRs typically do not do much sharpening "in-camera" (at least, not at the default jpeg settings, much to the consternation of camera reviewers everywhere ). Try using a touch of "unsharp mask," as it's called, in a photo-editing program...just a bit, don't over-do it. Then look at it at 1:1 on your screen...quite a difference...but again, "less is more" with sharpening.
07-07-2009, 06:58 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice everyone. I will be sure to look up GIMP and play around with it. If it at least gives me a few "pro" style tools to crop and shrink I can deal with that until I can afford something like Photoshop.
A friend of mine purchased a K20D a couple months before me which is my reason for purchasing mine. I finally got a chance to look at some of his pictures at "100% crop" size and they also lose quite a bit of detail yet he is able to get some pretty large prints that look great so I think I am just concerned about nothing.
07-07-2009, 07:12 PM   #8
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There are also Lightroom, Aperature, Paint Shop Pro which will do cropping and other basic manipulatory functions (some do more than others). Further, you've got Picasa and the various Aviary utilities.

There are probably too many, but that just means someone makes something that'll work well for you.

07-08-2009, 02:42 PM   #9
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I have used Picasa3 by Google to do some basic tasks and quick watermarks. I think it works well and free. Another is Fast Stone, recommended by Heather. This got a PortableApp version as well. Also, InfranView is another free one, you may need a plugin for Pentax Raw format. -Kai
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