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Macworld Expo Digital Photo HighlightsBy MIKE PASINI
The Imaging Resource Digital Photography Newsletter
SAN FRANCISCO -- After posting our keynote story (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/MWSF06/MWSF.HTM) yesterday, we returned to the Expo floor for a brief tour. The entire Expo is contained in the South Hall, with the North Hall vacant. It's been worse, but there were other signs that the venerable Expo could be healthier.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, of course, expositions in general have been less well attended. PMA has seen attendance drop to the 20,000 level and major vendors are either dropping out or significantly curtailing their investment. Kodak, for example, will spend $900,000 less at PMA this year, having shifted that much more to CES. CES continues to grow, now at about 145,000 attendees.
At Macworld, we saw Canon, Epson, Hewlett Packard and Nikon. But Hewlett Packard and Epson are not displaying any cameras, just printers and the odd scanner. Canon has the most representative display. And Nikon was busy showing off its D200 and VR lenses along with its WiFi digicams, but not scanners.
|The Epson Booth
More booths in our previous report
In fact, scanners were hard to find. Microtek isn't at the show at all and Konica Minolta is missing in action, too. Both had been regulars.
San Francisco has a rich photographic heritage and the recent release by Apple of Aperture and by Adobe of Lightroom have brought plenty of enthusiasts and pros into the Expo for a closer look this year. At some booths, we could hardly get a word in.
|Aperture at Apple's Booth
Nice dual displays, too
There are a few companies that sniffed the opportunity, however. We saw nik multimedia there, as usual, and Colorvision, too, showing off its new Spyder. We were also glad to see Lightzone's booth, where the companied showed the Mac version of its Zone System-based Java image editor.
A presentation in progress
Nikon is presenting a show on the advantages of its Nikon Capture software, which it does not bundle with its cameras and which competes with other Raw processing programs. At one counter it is showing off its WiFi digicams. We reviewed the Coolpix P1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CPP1/CPP1A.HTM) recently, BTW. At another counter, there are more Coolpix digicams but the biggest crowd was around the dSLR counter where the rare D200 was being passed around with the new 18-200mm VR2 lens.
Note the Nikon Capture presentation at left
We got our hands on the D200 and nearly dropped it. It's not a lightweight piece of gear, especially with the 18-200mm lens, whose range takes more than a single twist of your wrist to get through. That heft is reassuring to many, however. And there's no denying the comfortable feel of the unit in your hands. The controls as well seemed just where we expected them (in contrast to the FinePix S5200 with which we are shooting the show and is driving us nuts with hidden controls). The high resolution LCD monitor is delightful to scroll through, too.
|The D200 in Action
We asked the Nikon rep about the banding issue. In some forum discussions on other sites, early purchasers have been discussing and displaying images that show a vertical striping. The rep denied the issue was widespread, claiming they had not themselves heard about it other than through the Web reports.
Apart from Uwe Steinmueller's review and Ken Rockwell's review, both of whom purchased the D200, there have been few reviews of the product, which began shipping Dec. 15 and is on allocation to many dealers. Built in Thailand (as it says on the base plate), Nikon told us they are selling them as fast as they can make them.
We stumbled across the Lightcrafts (http://www.lightcrafts.com) booth, where we saw a demo of their innovative image editing software. Focused on tone and color correction in its own color space, Lightzone provides tools familiar to darkroom photographers moving into digital editing. According to the company, this intuitive approach significantly reduces processing time by delivering predictable results with less effort.
The image (which can be a Raw, TIFF or JPEG original) is displayed alongside a narrow column on the left which contains the ZoneFinder, a luminance thumbnail of the image and ZoneMapper, a Zone scale. When you click on a value in the Zone scale, the luminance thumbnail displays the areas of the image with that value, helping you target the areas you want to adjust.
But by dragging the ZoneMapper zones up or down, you can compress the values, lightening or darkening the original. And using the selection tools, you can make these tonal adjustments to just a part of the image.
The selection tools themselves are unusual. They mimic the cardboard cutouts familiar to darkroom photographers trying to dodge or burn a print. They are, consequently, fluid with a great deal more feathering by default than you may be accustomed to working in Photoshop. You can, of course, easily reduce the feathering, but the company doesnŐt want you to think about pixel painting. Instead, the game is luminance editing.
As such, there are no hue shifts when you edit the luminance values in the program's linear color space, which allows more precise calculations for consistent color and predictable results, the company said.
The next version will have more color control and the ability to apply edits, which are recorded as XML files, from one image to a selection of images.
Our quick demo was impressive, despite our recent experience with Aperture (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/APT/APT.HTM) and Lightroom (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/LRM/LRM.HTM). We saw the $249.95 Mac version, which may be downloaded as a 30-day demo from the company's site. But because it is written in Java, the product is cross platform. The Linux version is available fro free and a Windows version will be released later this month.
We'll return to the Expo floor today to visit a few more vendors, but meanwhile feel free to ask any follow-up questions or request specific coverage by emailing us ([email protected]) directly.