Digital film and camera software

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DSLRs record images on flash memory cards, sometimes called "digital film." Unlike real film, the choice of "digital film" doesn't affect the picture quality at all; flash cards differ in capacity and speed, but they all record exactly the same data and are error-checked during writing and reading.

To get the images into your computer, just remove the memory card from the camera, insert it into a card reader attached to your PC, and open it like a disk drive. This requires no special drivers on the PC.

Of course, there are good reasons not to ignore the software CD that comes with your camera. It contains drivers that you must install if you want to connect the camera to the computer, either for remote control or to download pictures. Also, there will be utilities to convert raw files to other formats and perform some basic manipulations. Even if you don't plan to use them, some astronomical software packages will require you to install these utilities so that DLLs (dynamic link libraries) supplied by the camera manufacturer will be present for their own software to use.

There may also be a genuinely useful photo editor, such as Photoshop Elements. But you do not have to install every program on the CD. If you don't care for Grandma's Scrapbook Wizard, skip it.

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