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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hey, a free camera! Where do I sign?

I used to subscribe to Scientific American, which is a pretty good read. Now that I'm a student I can read the articles online for free through uni, so I let the subscription lapse. But I still get stuff in the mail enticing me to join the AAAS or subscribe to National Geographic or whatever. The other week I got a National Geographic one, and it came with this leaflet:

Free digital camera with these great detriments!

In case you can't read the blurb:
Receive the famous National Geographic full-size world map and Digital Camera FREE with your paid order. The big, beautiful world map is printed in full color on archival paper. Lightweight and easy to use, the Digital Camera features a traditional viewfinder and built-in memory card and runs on three AAA batteries (not included). Best of all, both of these fantastic items are FREE when we receive your payment. Send in your order today!
I'm not going to heap shit on National Geographic; I'm sure it's a great magazine, the subscription price is very reasonable and you can't complain about getting a free world map AND a free digital camera. But what I love about this leaflet is the way they act as if the camera's shortcoming are actually features. They say it "features a traditional viewfinder" - in other words, it lacks an LCD screen. It has a built-in memory card - meaning that it can't handle the super-convenient SD cards. And it runs on three AAA batteries - which is to say, it lacks a more cost-effective rechargeable battery.

But hey, at least it's free.

When I was scanning that image, I decided to scan it at 1200 dpi to test out my scanner. Saved in PNG format, the file weighed in at 30.1 MB. Here's a full resolution sample:

Home sweet home

I noticed something weird - along the horizontal axis, the pixels are in groups of two of the same colour, like so:

That sucks

What this means is that the scanner's only scanning at 600 dpi along the horizontal axis. If I didn't get the scanner for free, I'm pretty sure I'd feel totally ripped off right now. It also means that I can scale down the image along the horizontal axis by a factor of two, cutting the file size down to 22.5 MB, and it can be perfectly restored without losing any information. Alternatively I can scale it down and then scale it back up with cubic interpolation, and it suddenly looks much smoother, although the file size increases to 39.2 MB. Example:

Looks much smoother amirite

I guess this is what people mean when they say "but I digress".



Blogger Jennifer said...

Heya! I got one of these camera's but having trouble finding a driver for it.

Can anyone help please?


8:15 pm  

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