The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 1, Number 5 20 November 1999

Copyright 1999, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.


Welcome to the fifth edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter! This issue has everything from cures for insomnia to tips for staying awake, with Mike Tomkins' report from the floor at Comdex thrown in as a holiday bonus.


TOPICS


SPONSORS
This issue of The Imaging Resource News is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ad here. And now a word from our sponsors:

Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com

Cameraworld.com (800) 226-3721


Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by nearly 40,000 U.S. readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.


Feature: Comdex -- There's Life in the Desert

By MIKE TOMKINS
(Mike Tomkins, who digs up the news for the Web site, and Dave are just back from the Fall '99 Comdex trade show in Las Vegas. Mike said this year's show, the 20th anniversary of Comdex, was particularly busy, even though, with Christmas on the way, most of the major digital camera news for the year has already been made. Still, as Mike's report shows, he found plenty to report. -- Editor)
FUJI

Perhaps the most interesting thing we saw at Comdex, from a digicam point of view, is Fuji's recently announced SuperCCD. While we've yet to see any prototype products based on the new chip, which features octagonal photodiodes in a honeycomb structure, unlike the rectangular photodiode, square structure of a normal CCD, the sample pictures shown by Fuji at the show were very impressive!

According to Fuji, the SuperCCD's layout offers an effective resolution some 60 percent better than a standard CCD, as well as 130 percent better sensitivity, dynamic range and signal/noise ratio, 50 percent better color reproduction and significantly better power consumption (assuming that a SuperCCD with 40 percent fewer pixels can match the resolution of a standard CCD). The logical question is: how can simply changing the shape and orientation of the photodiodes in a SuperCCD produce such a dramatic improvement in image quality? Borrowing heavily from Fuji's own explanation, here's a quick summary of the reasons:

At the same time, Fuji claims two further enhancements with the SuperCCD: both setting the video frame rate and the ability to use an electronic shutter (i.e. turn the CCD on/off) rather than a mechanical shutter, are achieved much more simply than in a conventional CCD. Since the color layout of the SuperCCD features Red, Green and Blue pixels on every horizontal line, it becomes simple to skip horizontal lines when reading from the CCD for video. With a conventional CCD, each horizontal line contains only the R and G or G and B pixels, so consecutive lines must be read to capture full RGB color information, and slowing down video capture. Fuji's SuperCCD can offer skipped readouts at ratios of 1/2, 1/3 and more, offering video frame rates of 30 frames per second at 1/3 of the sensor resolution. The SuperCCD also takes a different approach to how it transfers charge through the transmission path, adding an extra packet to the standard three packets required to eliminat! e the mechanical shutter with a conventional CCD, and at the same time increasing the width of the transmission path to accommodate this. The result is the ability to control shutter speed completely from the CCD itself.

According to the Future Image Report, the SuperCCD should be scaleable up to a maximum of 10 megapixels, and the first SuperCCD-based cameras will show up in spring of 2000. If the samples we've seen are anything to go by, these cameras could make a big step forward over existing digicam quality.

OLYMPUS

Two interesting items hit the news from Olympus during Comdex. First, as we mentioned previously, Olympus has announced a deal with immersive imaging company Ipix, whereby owners of Olympus' D-450Z, D-400Z, D-340L, D-320L and D-220L digital cameras can now purchase an Ipix upgrade kit for $249. The kit consists of Olympus' fish-eye lens (which offers over a 180-degree viewing angle), two adapters, a tripod rotator, Ipix's IPIX Wizard 2.2 software and a certificate for three Ipix 360x360-degree immersive images. The three images must be used within 60 days, and additional certificates can be purchased on a $1 per image basis. Secondly, although not really digicam-related, Olympus announced the oh-so-cool EyeTrek personal TV display, essentially a pair of "glasses" that replicate a 62" wide-screen TV seen from 6 1/2 feet. The Eye-Trek, launched in Japan last year and since then having achieved 70 percent marketshare, features an plastic prism which features compound aspheric sur! faces and achieves an excellent balance of image quality along with very light weight. The Eye-Trek allows the user to still see the outside world in their peripheral vision, and also automatically shuts itself off after a couple of hours use to ensure that the user rests their eyes occasionally. It features either battery power (optional) or AC power, standard NTSC A/V or S-VHS inputs, built-in stereo earphones, color, contrast, tint, sharpness, brightness and white-balance controls, and 2 240,000 pixel LCD displays -- all for a cost of $899.99 in a 3.8 ounce package (separate controller weighs 5.6 ounces). Wow!

MINOLTA

The big news from Minolta was its new Dimage Scan Elite film scanner. Essentially an update of the Dimage Scan Speed, the Elite adds Applied Science Fiction's Digital ICE technology, which automatically corrects surface defects on scans. The Scan Speed's 2,820 dpi resolution and 12-bit A/D conversion with a dynamic range of 3.6 are retained. Until now, the only film scanner with Digital ICE was Nikon's LS-2000, where it really impressed.

SIERRA IMAGING

The folks at Sierra Imaging were showing off their Raptor II chipset, and it certainly has some impressive specifications. Raptor II is essentially a full digital camera reference design which allows digital camera manufacturers to buy the design "off the shelf," add their own touches to it and bring a digicam to market in a very short time. Sierra provides the chips, firmware, software, development kits, and design services, while the manufacturer adds its own "value" to the design in terms of color management, user interface, etc., allowing multiple vendors to bring very different cameras to the market based on the same kit. Raptor II adds a new signal processing architecture which "overlaps" or "pipelines" multiple operations, and is capable of processing a whopping 3.3 megapixels per second. With word from the sensor manufacturers suggesting that 3 megapixel consumer cameras are likely to be upon us in the spring of 2000, this would suggest that we could be seeing digital ! cameras capable not only of these high resolutions, but of providing them with shot-to-shot cycle times of only 1 second!

KODAK

The big news from Kodak at Comdex was a change in pricing for its Professional digital cameras. The price of the 6 megapixel DCS560 and 660 digital cameras fall from $29,995 to $24,995, while the DCS620 drops from $16,995 to $10,795, and the DCS520 drops similarly from $14,995 to $9,995. Interestingly, from what we heard it would appear that the launch of Nikon's D1 has not had an adverse impact on Kodak's sales -- in fact, it appears that the competition may be a good thing, with unit shipments of the DCS620 actually hitting an all-time high in October!

JPEG2000

News at the show was that the JPEG2000 standard should soon be with us, and will feature wavelet based compression. In the meantime, we saw a truly impressive demonstration of wavelet compression in LizardTech's MrSID portable image format (at http://www.lizardtech.com/ you can download their plug-in for Photoshop, Xtension for Quark XPress and a free online viewer). Not only is the compression quite stunning, but the output is impressive even at huge sizes. One particular image that we saw printed on a poster measuring a good 4 or 5 feet tall came from an original 16MB image, and was compressed down to a mere 908KB with MrSID -- and yet was virtually indistinguishable from the original. The up-sampling capability of MrSID was truly phenomenal, with our reaction to some of the prints we saw being one of disbelief at the amazing image quality. Look for articles on this and Altamira's "Genuine Fractals" on the site soon!

This pretty much wraps up the digital imaging side of Comdex. That said, we did see a few other cool things worth mentioning.

The latest thing to hit US shores from Taiwan is CD-R business cards. As the name suggests, these are business cards literally printed onto a mini CD-R disc. The two sides of the disc are cut off, to bring the disc down to the same size as a standard business card, leaving the shorter vertical sides of the card rounded to the same shape as the original CD. The clever thing is that sufficient space is retained to allow about 40MB of data to be stored on the card, offering you the chance to distribute for example, samples of your digital photos with your card. On top of this, the card is probably more likely to be kept and shown to others simply because it is a little unusual, which could help get your name around. From what the manufacturer we spoke to told us, these CD-R cards should work in almost any CD-ROM drive. Standard CDs can also be burned off, which obviously would save you money, but prevent you customizing the discs or updating them.

We also saw what could well be a step in the direction of future PCs. The Qbe (pronounced "Cube") Altus is a letter-sized tablet computer that really goes a long way to offering the latest technology in an interesting form factor. With a Pentium-III 450 processor (P-III 600 planned), 8GB hard drive, 128MB RAM, modem, Ethernet card, CD-RW or DVD-ROM, microphone, stereo speakers, SmartCard reader/writer, magnetic strip card reader, two type-II PC card slots, USB and Firewire ports, and optional digital camera, barcode reader and scanner attachments as well as a 13.3" screen and a maximum battery life of up to 4 hours (8 with an optional extended-life battery), this thing really is a full-sized desktop PC crammed into a tiny tablet! The unit has handwriting recognition, or alternatively can be used with a keyboard, mouse and monitor through the included "Porticle" docking station. The unit should ship next spring for $4,495 with docking station.

And finally, we couldn't wrap this up without mentioning the coolest looking booth of them all. The inaugural "Mike's 'Wow, that is an IMPRESSIVE booth' award" goes to Xerox, for their incredible Grecian ruins, complete with a game-show running in the center of it all! The coolest attraction on any of the booths was provided by Computer Associates, who had the McLaren MP4-14 Formula One car of 1999 double world-champion Mika Hakkinen on their stand. Created from a budget in the hundreds of millions of dollars, this hand-made work of art was arguably the most expensive thing at the show.

Return to Topics.


Feature: Sony's DCR-PC100 -- A Camcorder More Like a Still

By NICK NEWELL
(Does the new Sony camcorder answer Henry Higgins eternal question, "Why can't a camcorder be more like a still?" Nick has the scoop for us. Nick describes himself as "an intermediate-level amateur digital still photographer, and a beginning amateur videographer." We're so impressed with his modesty we're running a condensed version of his review here. But visit the site to see the full story, including his tell-all sample shots. And watch your local theaters for his macro ant movies! -- Editor)
INTRODUCTION

At the consumer level, a slow convergence seems to be occurring between digital still and video cameras. Manufacturers like Sony, Casio, and Toshiba are including the ability to produce short MPEG or AVI clips on their still cameras, while Sony, JVC, Panasonic, and others are adding still camera features to their camcorders. Now Sony has taken this process a big step further with its introduction of the DCR-PC100, the first video camera to produce megapixel stills. The main focus of this user review will be on the still capabilities of this interesting hybrid.

CAMERA OPERATION

The PC100 is very small for a video camera, and fits nicely into the palm of your hand. I found an excellent and cheap padded belt pack, made by LowePro, and, although it is a bit bulky on the belt, I can take the camera with me anywhere. Sony also makes a belt pack, the LCM-PCX.

The electronic image stabilization (Super Steadyshot) works well in video mode, but does not function in still mode, since the camera then needs all of the pixels on the CCD for the image. It can be a challenge to handhold 10x zoom still shots, but its possible if there is not too much wind. The digital zoom, which seems to use a nice interpolation routine, is also quite effective in video mode, but not functional in still mode.

In many ways the camera is a pleasure to use. Sony packed a lot into this little unit, and still managed to make it simple. The menu system is terrific -- once the menu is activated, all navigation and feature selection is done by turning the SEL/PUSH/EXEC button, and pressing the edge in with your thumb. The control layout, with a main mode dial supplemented with the set of illuminated VTR controls, and manual exposure and spot metering quickly available to the thumb, works very well. The main dial itself can be a bit awkward to turn, because it is a bit small, but practice helps with this.

To take still shots, you depress the PHOTO button on the right side of the lens barrel halfway to set focus and exposure, then all the way to take the shot. Total shooting time is about one second, and the camera takes about three seconds to store the image. The PC100 has a very nice burst mode that allows you to take 4 full resolution stills at approximately 1/2 second intervals. To shoot video, you depress the video START/STOP button. If you select anti-ground shooting, the camera will only shoot video for as long as you hold the button down.

In addition to storing stills to Memory Stick, the camera will capture stills directly to tape. The camera will also copy stills from the Memory Stick to tape, copy stills from the tape to Memory Stick, and capture stills from any video source. But all of these transfer operations are limited to 640x480 resolution.

Macro ability on this camera is very good. I was able to achieve a field of view of 3.4 x 2.5 cm without any attachments. With a Raynox 4x macro attachment, I could obtain a field of view of 7mm x 5.25 mm! This corresponds to a magnification of 60x in a linear dimension when the image is viewed on a 17 inch monitor at 800x600. I've started to make macro movies of the ants that plague my kitchen.

The autofocus on the PC100 can be a little bit sensitive -- when an image lacks detail, the focus can move in and out a bit. But if the autofocus doesn't do the job, the nice manual focus ring is always an option.

The Nightshot infrared mode works for stills, and can be amusing. You can shoot in Nightshot with or without the infrared illuminator.

I use a 32MB Memory Stick (just $59) with Sony's MSAC-PC2 PC card adapter. This works like a charm in my ActionTec Camera Connect Pro flash card reader, transferring about one top quality image a second.

I am very impressed with the battery life and charging times, even with the supplied battery. The manual quotes a charging time of 2 1/2 hours, and a typical running time of 1 hour when recording with the LCD screen on. My impression is that performance is at least this good, and Sony makes an optional battery, the NP-FM90, that will let you record with the LCD screen on for 3 1/2 hours! And these Infolithium batteries give you a continuous and pretty accurate count of the number of minutes of use remaining.

Many owners of this camera have noticed that, when the camera is in VTR or OFF mode, the lens rattles when you tilt the camera back and forth in the direction parallel to the lens barrel. If you look into the lens as you do this, you see internal elements freely sliding back and forth! The manual mentions the rattle, and states that it is not a malfunction, but does not explain the cause.

A posting on rec.video, which included a response from Sony technical support on this issue, has provided a very interesting answer to this riddle. Apparently, instead of using an ordinary motor and gear system to move the lens elements during zoom, Sony uses a linear electromagnetic motor, with an internal tube containing the lens elements acting as the "armature!" So the reason that the lens rattles when the camera is not in a shooting mode is that there is no field applied to the internal tube at that time, and it can move freely. One wonders why Sony couldn't have just mechanically secured the lens when the zoom mechanism is inoperative.

I have two significant criticisms of the operation of the camera, and one of these may not be the fault of the camera itself.

The first criticism involves the zoom control slider on the right side of the camera. In the first place, it is too low down for my average-length Anglo fingers to operate comfortably. It may be fine for average Japanese fingers, though, so I can't complain too much about that. But the slider also has insufficient purchase for my fingers, and it moves too easily -- it doesn't provide enough spring-loaded resistance. To top this all off, it accelerates the zoom as you slide it further. All these factors, working together, make it a challenge to get smooth, slow zooms.

The second criticism I have is with the operation of the camera with the optional HVL-FDH3 flash/video light. The PC100 has no built-in flash, and a flash is necessary for indoor shooting to avoid noisy images. The HVL-FDH3 seems to be the only flash compatible with the intelligent shoe. I hope Sony or someone else will correct me if I am wrong, or if the problem described below can be solved any other way. The problem is either that the flash doesn't provide enough light, or that the camera sets the exposure too low when working with the flash. The result is that indoor flash images are consistently too dark. And the camera design has not made it easy to correct this. There is no manual "exposure compensation," just an absolute manual exposure control. And, once you activate the manual control, the exposure system no longer knows about the flash, so, in dim light, the initial absolute exposure value is set very high, and the flash then washes everything out. To fix this, you ! have to guess how far down to take the exposure from its initial setting to compensate for the extra light of the flash. I have found 5-6 clicks to be about right, but it varies with subject. So it takes some trial and error to get good exposures with this flash, and, paradoxically, you must adjust the exposure downwards in order to brighten the image.

THE LENS

The quality of the lens on the PC100 is extremely high. Any barrel distortion at wide angle, or pincushion distortion at high zoom is very minor, and the lens is capable of producing very sharp images. There is none of the indistinct "video look" that images from camcorders usually exhibit. And the 10X zoom is a real luxury for stills, seeming to give the shooter the ability to be in many places at once.

STILL IMAGE QUALITY

Before this camera was released, there was some concern that upping the density on a 1/4" camcorder CCD to the point where megapixel stills could be produced might involve a tradeoff: higher resolution from the larger number of detectors, but greater noise, because a larger area of the chip is taken up by connections and other non-detector surface.

From the point of view of still image quality, this concern is partly justified. The still images from this camera show a bit more noise than images from the current crop of good digital still cameras. But I feel that the tradeoff was worth it. When the images are viewed at 1/2 size or smaller (9.5 x 7.1 inches at 800x600 on a 17 inch monitor), the noise is subtle, but the extra detail from the higher resolution is very evident.

Images from the PC100, when viewed at full size, can also show some "jaggies," particularly on diagonal lines. But these become undetectable as the images are viewed at smaller sizes, and, in any case, their existence is not surprising, given the borderline 1 megapixel resolution of the camera. Its possible to view the images at their full sizes, essentially without jaggies, by upsampling them with cubic spline interpolation, then viewing them at 1/2 of their new size.

My final criticisms of PC100 image quality involve overexposure and color artifacts. The camera tends to burn out light colored surfaces that reflect bright sun, and sometimes, when a very bright area is adjacent to a dark area in an image, there is some color artifacting on the bright area.

This problem is similar to the purple halo problem exhibited by the Olympus C2000 and some other 2MP digital still cameras, so the PC100 is in good company here. Sony makes a neutral density filter, VF-R37K, expressly to deal with overexposure, and I am hopeful that this filter will help with the color artifacting problem as well.

Now the good news about picture quality. At the top quality still image setting (about 600KB in size), images undergo only a minimal compression -- Sony claims just 1/3. This is a lower level of compression than any digital still camera that I am aware of, excluding uncompressed settings of course. And, indeed, compression artifacts on PC100 images are practically nonexistent.

VIDEO QUALITY

The PC100 is my first DV video camera, so I am not equipped to compare its video quality with other digital video cameras. But it uses 690,000 pixels for video, which is at least 50 percent more than other 1 CCD cameras.

Jan Van Der Meer of global-dvc.org says it is in the 3 CCD league in terms of video quality. It may actually have better sharpness than many 3 CCD cameras. My impression is that the video quality is very good.

Jan noticed a problem with "notches" on thin diagonal lines on video from his sample camera. A poster on rec.video has also independently noticed this problem. I have not been able to duplicate the problem with my production unit, but then I have only been able to view the video on my 12 year old TV so far. Jan's camera also "smeared" light down across the image when shooting into bright lights. I can confirm that this happens, but I don't think its a serious problem, as shooting into bright lights is not usually a good idea anyway.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS

Sony has created, in the PC100, a camera that combines small size and great video sharpness with the ability to create stills of a quality that will be acceptable to many consumers. I was filming video of ships in the harbor a few days ago when a seagull landed right next to me, setting up a nice still opportunity. I just turned the camera dial, swung the camera over and shot the still. It felt like the next great thing.

PROS AND CONS

Pros:

Cons:

Return to Topics.


Beginners Flash: It Doesn't Have to Be Dark

We all fell back in fall and now it's getting darker earlier and the sky is about to collapse, too, (surely by New Year's Day). But you aren't worried because you know you can still get the shot with your digicam's flash.

While you're waiting for darkness, though, don't forget your flash can be your most useful accessory even on a sunny day.

You may have been disappointed to see Fido the black labrador underexposed as he played in the snow. Or oddly delighted to find your evil twin subdued by dark shadow in the shot you took of the whole family last summer at the bungalow.

Sometimes there's just too much contrast in the shot for the CCD to handle. But with a little flash you can raise the brightness value of the areas in shadow and actually see what's there.

A "little" flash is the trick. The balance between the available light and the flash is tricky. You want the flash to just "fill" in the shadows without overpowering the available light.

If it's a very bright sunlit day and you just want to pick up Fido, that may not be a problem.

But if the available light is a bit less than that, coming from the side or the back, it's easy to over-illuminate the subject with the automatic flash setting. Which means they'll appear staged at best or glowing with irradiation.

You may be one of the lucky few who have a brightness setting for your camera's flash. This setting lets you set the flash to fire at less (or more) than full power. Set it one or two stops below normal for fill flash. Subtlety is the word here so start at two stops under. You may also have to use the manual exposure setting on your camera for this setting to take effect.

If you can't adjust your flash you can filter it by holding a piece of paper just in front of it (with your third hand). Which piece of paper is the trick. Your average white sheet of bond is a little too helpful, not only knocking the flash down but diffusing it as well so it makes nice soft shadows. Something gray, dark and transparent is what you need.

But better than a trick is to use a filter. And filters can be had quite inexpensively. Lee Filters, for example, supplies a Designer's Edition of filter swatches you can (probably) get at your local camera shop just by asking. A Lee 6 Neutral Density filter covers most digicam flashes and provides a 2 stop drop. The other filters in the swatch book are fun to play with too.

Ready? Make sure the flash is set to fire (on Auto mode it may not) and give it a try. Just adjust the power setting or pick a different filter until you've found just the right amount of flash to brighten the shadows.

Return to Topics.


Advanced Mode: Changing the Date on a JPEG

Your batteries died, you put fresh ones in but forgot to check the date and now you've a bunch of JPEGs with the wrong time and date. Where's Heloise when you need a hint?

Actually, you can fix this. The JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) files your camera creates are just sequences of 8-bit bytes. Macintosh JPEGS may have resource forks to store icons (among other things), but the data fork can stand alone (and does when you put it on the Web, for example). These JPEGs are -- trumpets, please -- a TIFF/EP (Tag Image File Format/Electronic Photography) file. An image file format with tags created by your camera.

Right at the beginning of each JPEG is a small header containing the tags (thoroughly documented at PIMA IT10 Electronic Imaging's site at http://www.pima.net/it10a.htm in the file http://www.pima.net/standards/iso/standards/documents/N4378.pdf if you're having trouble sleeping at night). The tags can contain all sorts of information like the camera manufacturer and model, the aperture setting, the f-stop, whether flash was used and even copyright information. Some slideshow and imaging programs actually do display this information.

The TIFF/EP specification calls for these tags to be read-only.

Which is a problem if, like some of us focused on our subjects instead of our watches, we neglect to set the correct date and time for a set of shots. The camera won't let you edit that information once saved.

You know you can edit the image information in a JPEG using an image editing program, but how do you edit the tag information in the header?

Well, it's easier than you might think. You just need an editor that can open huge files. Many editors (like SimpleText and Notepad) are limited to files smaller than 32K. Your JPEG can easily be ten times that size.

We said editor, remember, not word processor. You don't want to format this in Times or Arial.

In fact all you want to do is change a few numbers. Not add anything or take anything away. If the file size changes when you save it, you've got a problem.

Scared enough to work only a copy? Good. You can destroy the criminal evidence later, when you've assured yourself the edited file is a good, readable image.

The date and time appear in this format: 1999:11:25 13:54:03 (or as we like to say for extra credit, CCYY:MM:DD hh:mm:ss). Twice in the file. If you really took the shots on 1999:12:25 00:01:01 you can use your editor's search and replace function to make the two changes, save the file and act like nothing happened.

Return to Topics.


Just for Fun: Keeping Everyone Awake on Thanksgiving

Some people (who only visit the kitchen looking for ice) believe it's a chemical in the turkey itself. Others insist it's the color commentary on the Cowboy-Redskin broadcast. Still more whisper that it's really the company. But whatever the reason almost everyone manages to nod off during Thanksgiving.

This year, you can restore civility to the occasion with any digital camera that has video output.

Arrive early and play paparazzo (but keep the Vespa out of the kitchen). Don't be cute, really play paparazzo. Get in there and get the shot. The cars parked on the lawn, the turkey in it's various states (better than a clock for telling time), the shirt tails, a close-up of the cashews, Aunt Emily winking behind her gimlet, Gramps waving the remote. A few mysterious close-ups. Some classic shots of the whole room.

The trick is to keep shooting at regular intervals. So hand the camera off to a trusted relation when you want to relax. It will get them to put down the Game Boy.

Then as everyone groans when Grandmother asks for the third time, "Another piece of pie?" sneak over to the television and plug your camera in. As everyone beaches themselves on the sofas and chairs to see the Hallmark special, surprise them with shots of the day.

Just use your slideshow playback, set for about five seconds a shot. And correct the orientation (turn those landscapes into portrait) before you broadcast them to the group. You don't want to tempt them to lie down.

You might bring along a video tape (or three) and record the whole show while you're playing it. They make nice party favors. And if you record a new tape every time they want to see it again, you'll probably already have made copies for everyone.

Return to Topics.


Dave's Deals

Trial downloads of the (excellent) PhotoGenetics imaging program are still available. If you decide to purchase PhotoGenetics, be sure to come back through http://www.q-res.com/php3/downloads.php3?refid=imgresource to receive the special $5-off deal for Imaging Resource readers!
Return to Topics.


We Have Mail

First of all, thanks for all the kind words you've emailed us the last two weeks. Second, thanks for the tips and "amplifications" (like Steve's below). Third, don't forget you can email us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

"In your review of the Oly 2500, you state it uses SmartMedia. It also uses CompactFlash. I think this feature is very desirable, especially for Oly users who already have a supply of SmartMedia. Just my 2 cents worth. Great job."

-- Steve Cifra CIFRA1@aol.com

(Thanks for pointing that out, Steve. And thanks for the kind words. -- Editor)
Return to Topics.


Editor's Notes

Corel has released Mac and PC versions of Corel Custom Photo at a suggested retail price of $59.95. Corel said the program can be used to add text and clipart, adjust lighting and focus or remove scratches. It also helps make photo-greeting cards, postcards, magazine covers, coasters, sports cards, and gift tags. Personalized photo memories such as framed photos, personalized greeting cards and photo projects can be printed, sent over the Internet, or published to HTML for display on a Web page. If users need help, the Notebook helps apply effects, choose paint brushes and access the Corel Custom Photo library.


Digita has released Digita Desktop, software that allows you to control your camera and transfer files to your desktop. It works with any Digita-enabled camera including the Kodak DC220, DC260 and DC265 and the Minolta Dimage EX 1500.

Among the features: Set capture mode, flash, resolution, image quality, time, date and more from the desktop; Control your camera remotely using Virtual Viewfinder; View, sort and file your images and access audio and other Digita picture information recorded in the camera; Edit your images: crop, rotate and mirror, adjust color, brightness and contrast; Create on-screen slideshows with transitions and sounds and export to QuickTime or AVI movie formats; Print proof sheets and image catalogs; Install new releases of the Digita OS and add Digita Scripts and applications.


Sony and Panavision are about to deliver the first prototype 24 frame progressive high definition camera system to Lucasfilm for testing prior to it being used in shooting the next two Star Wars films. The announcement, made during a keynote address by Sony Corp. president and CEO Nobuyuki Idei at Comdex, was hailed by the companies as "the beginning of a new era in high definition digital cinematography."

Over the past 18 months, Sony, Lucasfilm and Panavision have been testing the new technology. The specifications include specific definition of lens complements, widescreen aspect ratio management, system operational needs, supporting accessories, and audio requirements. Evaluation of the quality of 2/3-inch 1920 x 1080 HD digital acquisition combined with the HDCAM(r) digital recording format, when transferred to 35mm motion picture film, constituted a core element of the test.


SmartDisk has announced it has now sold over one million units of its FlashPath(tm) floppy disk adapter. FlashPath allows the transfer of digital images, data and audio from SmartMedia flash memory cards to most PCs without the need for special cards, external connections and interfaces.

The company recently announced two new FlashPath adapters: one for Sony's Memory Stick(tm) to be distributed by Sony under its own brand name called Memory Stick/Floppy Disk Adaptor; another for MultiMediaCard, which SanDisk co-developed with SmartDisk. SanDisk will distribute this FlashPath globally and has placed an initial order for delivery in the first quarter of 2000.


Nikon has reported its experimental "cameras for charity" program raised an extraordinary, record-breaking $55,000 in online donations on Nov. 8, its first day. The company has created a collectors' limited edition series of just 2,000 Nikon Millennium Coolpix(r) 950 digital cameras, and is selling them exclusively on the www.nikonoutlet.com Web site. $500 is being donated to the Imus Ranch, a children's charity, in the name of each purchaser.


Newsweek.com will hold a digital photo contest to showcase the advances that have been made in the medium. Entrants will be asked to email a photo and explain in 50 words or less the equipment and technology used to create it. The contest begins Nov. 22 and runs through Jan. 15, 2000.

Contestants should submit a photo in one of four categories: travel, friends/family, human interest and landscape/nature. Semifinalists and category winners will be featured in the Newsweek.com Digital Darkroom section and receive prizes, such as $2,000 toward a Dell computer system and Kodak digital camera. The judges are from Eastman Kodak Co., Dell Computer Corp., Newsweek and Washingtonpost.com.


We don't see why Dave and Mike Tomkins should have all the fun, traveling to Las Vegas for Comdex, taking in the sites like that new ersatz Eiffel Tower. So we found a nice little virtual vacation for the rest of us at http://www.mcgalliard.freeuk.com/Pictures/paris/index.html where Joan McGalliard has posted an album of her recent Paris trip (where she saw the real Eiffel Tower). There seems to be a growing number of travelers who post images of their trips on the Web -- while they're on the road. Sounds like an upcoming feature we've been (virtually) slaving away on.

Return to Topics.


Signoff

That's it for now, but look for our next issue in about two weeks. Meanwhile, visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM
New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM
Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM
Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM
Newsletter Forum: http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a.tcl?topic=irnews
Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM

Happy snapping!

Mike Pasini, Editor
editor@imaging-resource.com
Dave Etchells, Publisher
web@imaging-resource.com


Go to Imaging Resource Home | News | Tips | Digital Camera Index | Scanner Index