A way to display your digital photos

11 May

The Kodak digital photo frame allows you to display a slide show containing thousands of images. (Photo by Geoff Meeker)

May 11, 2009

By Geoff Meeker

Confession time: sometimes I don’t recognize clever technology when I see it.

I’ve been taking digital photos for about 10 years now. By my reckoning, I’ve easily shot 10,000 photos in that time.

That’s an average of three photos per day, which is not a lot really. Digital photography is like that – you can go to a family outing, a hike or house party and come back with a camera full of photos. Mine tend to collect, in folders within folders, on the hard drive.

But then what? How often do you go back and browse your collection of digital images? If you’re like me, not often.

Have you tried printing them? If so, isn’t that expensive? And do you actually look at them? Unless you frame the photos and put them on your mantel, chances are they’re in an album somewhere, gathering dust.

I confess to being cynical the first time I heard abut digital picture frames, those frame-shaped little screens that display digital photos. I dismissed them as cheap and gimmicky; another piece of consumer gadgetry to clutter up the house.

A while back, I gave them a lingering second thought – and decided to purchase one. After shopping around, I bought one for Mother’s Day. It was a smart move. These devices are brilliant.

My first purchase was a Pandigital with a seven-inch screen, and built-in memory of 512 MB. It seemed like a good buy at $72. However, the image quality was coarse and grainy, with pixels as big as golf balls.

So I brought it back and spent $89 for a Kodak EasyShare frame with an eight-inch screen. It didn’t have built-in memory but that was fine – I had learned by now that it’s easier to use the SD card slot anyway. (SD are those little cards with the big memory, used in most digital cameras.)

Not surprisingly, the image quality of the Kodak frame was much better. Sometimes you just have to go with a trusted brand name.

Screen sizes vary, from keychain size up to 9 inches, and I strongly recommend nothing less than 8-inch (the measure is on the diagonal, corner to corner, so the image area is smaller than it sounds, and a 7-inch screen is tiny).

The small screen means you don’t need to save your images in high resolution. An image size of 250 KB is more than adequate, and allows you to squeeze a lot of images onto a single disc (4,000 on a 1 GB SD card).

It should be noted that this is the most time consuming step in the entire process – retrieving all your photos, examining every image and saving to a separate folder the ones you want to display. The trick, of course, is to edit your photos to remove repetitious, blurry or boring shots. It took me five hours to sort my ‘keepers’ into a folder of about 900 images.

But after that, it’s easy sailing. You plug in the digital frame, slide the SD card into the slot, and the slide show begins.

During photo compilation, I unearthed many shots taken when my boys were quite young; images we haven’t been seen in many years. So when I started up the device on Mother’s Day, the family gathered around and stood, transfixed for quite a long time. The frame will also be the centre of attention the next time relatives visit, since many of them are in the photos too.

The only downside? Your images have to be either all horizontal or all vertical (in my case, at least four of five images were horizontal). You could solve this by putting your vertical images on a separate SD card, stand the frame on its end (this is optional), and change cards.

So I’m a convert. The digital photo frame is highly recommended, and makes a great family gift.

Geoff Meeker is a communications consultant with a soft spot for technology. He also writes a blog about the local media scene, which is hosted at http://www.thetelegram.com.

Photo caption:

The Kodak digital photo frame allows you to display a slide show containing thousands of images. (Photo by Geoff Meeker)

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