Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I receive all too many reports from people who have purchased a new dSLR camera that they cannot open the camera Raw files, or their computer doesn’t recognize the file format. The same thing with Adobe Photoshop, Elements and even LightRoom users, they can’t access the images from the Raw files their camera saves. Sometimes it as simple as downloading the latest upgrades of Adobe Camera Raw from the Adobe web site. But too often it’s is not that easy. Older Photoshop versions for instance do not support the latest versions of upgrades to Camera Raw, or even the computer operating system will not support these newest dSLR Raw file formats.

Generally this problem can be avoided in one of two ways. First do a thorough search of the camera manufacturer web site relative to the camera you want to buy, and look for “minimum requirements”, especially for software. This is a bit like the fine print in a mortgage loan contract, if you don’t pay attention you may find there is something you signed and thereby agreed to that can become a serious problem down the road - we hear about that in the news almost daily these days. In other words find out what you need in computer system and application software that is essential to be able to use all of the capabilities of the new camera you plan on purchasing. So, be sure the camera you buy is supported by the computer and software you have. And once you do buy a camera, install the provided software that usually includes a Raw file converter application for free. Then at least you have that access to your raw files, and often the best quality of conversion to a standard computer file format like TIFF.

Second, as a general rule with primary hardware and particularly computer operating systems and key applications like Adobe Photoshop whether CS, Elements or Lightroom: register the product you have just installed with the manufacturer and provide your e-mail address. Microsoft, Adobe and Apple provide e-mail notification if you sign up for it for bug fixes, patches for virus vulnerabilities as well a maintenance and new feature upgrades. If you have a broadband connection these patches, fixes and upgrades can even be installed automatically. This is far better than later on finding your system or software is not up to date with the minimum requirements needed to support your new camera or other new hardware and software. Bringing an old computer up to date can be a daunting task because usually the latest upgrade, like SP3 for Microsoft Windows XP, requires that the previous upgrades, SP1 and SP@ were previously installed.

Some of you don’t want to register your system or provide your e-mail address for fear of getting a lot of spam advertising e-mail you don’t want. That does not happen with the major companies if in the sign up you select not to receive e-mail from the company’s partners, Microsoft, Adobe, Apple and other major vendors don’t abuse having your e-mail on file, they know better than to alienate their customers. But what if you don’t have a fast broadband internet connection and use dial-up? Well, large software downloads then may not be a possibility, or on the other hand upgrading your computer and software yourself is just too confusing.

There are professional “computer geek” services available in many communities, or at least a local computer repair shop. An expert computer repair person can upgrade a system usually quite quickly and efficiently. But in times of tight budgets like these days, that may be an expense you don’t want to afford. There may be a more affordable option as close as your local community college or even high school. Most public schools these days have computer technology classes. So call the school and talk to the instructors. I would guess there are a few students, even those that help maintain the school’s computers (my daughter did this when in university) that may also provide computer assistance on call in your home. So you can both support your local community schools and students, and get often very up-to-date computer expertise to assist you for a modest fee.

PS If you bought a computer from Dell, HP or any other brand, besides registering the computer with the maker, also be sure to register your copy of Windows with Microsoft on their web site!!!!!

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