The digital darkroom, what you should knowEdit
Learn good digital darkroom practices. There are procedures to improve the image that can be done with a lot of different software.
Learn how to master a good image editing program. Make a lot of experiments and read the manual. You can also follow tutorials on the Internet or buy books about it.
Learn how to choose the equipment you buy. Choosing the more adequate digital darkroom equipment requires a lot of study.
Two types of computers work in digital photography, the Macintosh and the Windows PC computers. The Mac has many advantages in this area, however the PC has many more programs available. There was a time when the Mac was the king, but as the Mac and Windows operating system have developed, and the advancements in hardware speed, the advantages that Mac once held has been greatly diminished.
If you can´t afford, or if you prefer, you can also use "Linux" Operating system instead of "Microsoft Windows" or "MacOS". "Mandrake Linux 10.1" when used with KDE (default) has a very useful tool for calibrating your monitor. "Gimp" is widely considered as the best open source photo editing software.
Usually "Linux" operating system and other "Linux" software are free.
For your venture into Digital Photography, your computer should have at least a 500 MHz processor, and 512 MB RAM. You should also have a large hard drive to store your images. A disk burner is also a necessity to backup your image files.
If you start your photography with a digital camera probably you don't need a scanner.
If you need to scan negatives or slides with some quality, you'll need a dedicated scanner, one that just works with negatives and slides.
Print scanners are good for prints, not for transparencies. (Name given to negatives or slides)
Photoshop is the professional choice for anyone who needs a program for professional use. Its the most complete package for image processing and a standard in prepress world.
GIMP is a very nice program, its free and can be downloaded in the web. It lacks features to be considered a program for professional press use. However its fine for anyone who wants to learn and print their own portfolio, or to build a web page.
Paint Shop Pro is also a very good alternative to Photoshop, and it costs much, much less.
Picasa is a very good album organizer software. It's great to search, catalog and display photos.
FotoTagger is a free software tool for annotating digital images. You can place location-specific, easy-to-hide labels on a picture to identify persons, landmarks, put comments, etc. Stores annotations in the metadata section of a JPEG file. Supports publishing to Flickr.
Exifer is a free software to edit embed information on Jpeg's. You can edit "exif" and "iptc" info.
ULead PhotoImpact is a low-cost alternative to Photoshop. Intuitive interface. Comes with additional bundled components.
Printers can be used for printing one's photos. However, a quality printer will be of need if wanting to print high resolution photos.
Photo printers are the newest thing and are exclusively good for printing photos. One can simply insert a photo card into the printer in order for the printer to bring up all the photos on the card and print off from that.