The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 2, Number 2 28 January 2000

Copyright 2000, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the tenth edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. While Dave has been busy updating the Comparometer(tm) with a shoebox's worth of new images, we've been busy helping you "get the picture" with a new section of the Imaging Resource Web site dedicated to this newsletter. But there's no rest around here with our plans for special coverage on the site of the Photo Marketing Association convention in Las Vegas.


TOPICS

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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: Histograms and the Flu

What better time than cold and flu season (epidemic at that) to settle down with warm liquids by incandescent light fixtures and under flannel sheets to finally come to grips with your histograms? None better than now, we think, particularly if day-time television is getting on your nerves.

Once you've gotten the picture, you'll find histograms not only a very revealing tool, but a useful one for making easy improvements to your favorite images.

WHAT'S A HISTOGRAM

A histogram is a chart. Period. Just a chart. Like something you might see in Excel. In fact, a bar chart.

So what does a histogram graph?

Well, to make a histogram your histogram software (usually an image editing program) reads every pixel (that's a picture element -- or a spot in plain old English) in your image and counts how many of them are black, how many of them are white and how many of them are one gray or another.

A histogram graphs your image's luminosity, in short.

The bottom axis of the graph (where the Years usually appear in an Excel spreadsheet) represents the scale of luminosity values from black (aka 0) to white (255) with 254 grays in between (don't be fooled by 0).

The side axis of the graph (where the dollars usually go) represents the number of pixels for each luminosity value from 0 to, well, whatever it takes.

So if you have no white pixels in your image, the right end of the histogram will be flat. And if you have no black pixels, the left end will be flat.

If you have a black and white image, you will have one tall line at the left end representing all the black pixels and one tall line at the right end for all the white ones. And if there are twice as many white ones as black ones, the line at the right will be twice as tall as the line on the left.

If you have an image that only displays four grays, it will only have four lines. But when you look at your digicam's image you should see a very nice mountain range with no gaps. It may not go all the way from black to white, but don't be alarmed -- that can be an asset.

And what about color?

Well, no, no color. Really? Yes, really. Luminosity only. Brightness. But, you can get this information for every channel of your image. You digicam records images in three channels: red, green and blue (RGB if you're working on your vocabulary), and your software can show either the composite luminosity of all the channels at once, or the luminosity in the red channel, the green channel or the blue channel (which is often the most interesting histogram).

Now that you know what a histogram (and annual report graph) is, you probably want to see one. Not so fast. Your homework assignment is to make one first. And we have just the place to send you: http://www.hofstra.edu/~matscw/stats/histogram.html which is Stefan Waner's Histogram page at Hofstra University.

You'll be asked to enter in two kinds of information. Categories (the top row of the form) is for the light values. So you would enter things like Black, Gray, White. The second line asks for the values themselves. So you would enter how many black pixels, how many gray ones, how many white ones, for example, there are in your imaginary image (just pretend). And then by the magic of Javascript, a histogram will be drawn for you in the bottom window.

Play with the value in the top window (change the number of black pixels, for example) and redraw the histogram to see exactly how a histogram works.

WHAT GOOD IS IT?

You may have stumbled onto Brightness and Contrast controls or Hue and Saturation options in your image editing software and fumbled with various settings to try to improve a picture that just didn't look as good as you knew it could.

You were working too hard.

Using nothing more than what you already know about histograms, you can enhance brightness and contrast and color correct your image.

There's another advantage to using a histogram to do this: control. If you alter your image using Brightness and Contrast, say 10 percent, you alter every pixel by 10 percent. Using a histogram, you can independently set the highlight, shadow and (generally) midtone.

But there's a disadvantage (so don't strut around the neighborhood bragging about histograms). You can only work with those three points (sometimes just highlight and shadow, depending on your software) of the luminosity scale. That's why it's so easy, of course, and fast (and foolproof). But for world domination you need access to the entire luminosity scale -- and only working with Curves provides that. We'll get you there, but not today. Today we're mastering histograms -- or Levels.

LEVELS

Open an image whose exposure you don't like very much (but that you might call typical of a sunny day) and hunt around for the histogram or Levels command in your image editing software.

Your software may offer an automatic correction. Try it. Untry it. Often it isn't pretty. That's because the software can't see your image. It just sifts through the data, redistributing (or remapping) the pixels in a uniform, proportional, even-handed, blind way. An automatic adjustment works well if the only adjustment your image needs is to enhance contrast. Otherwise, it's time to get manual.

The first step is to set the black and white points (or shadows and highlights) of the histogram to match the data of your image. Assuming, we hasten to add, that you don't have a night scene or snow scene before you.

Just slide the triangular input slider on the left to the first group of pixels on that side. And slide the one of the right to the first group of pixels on that side. You can stop just where they start or a little inside that (oh, go inside, be brave!).

What have you done!!?

Well, you've just enhanced the contrast a bit. You've said, hey, map black and a few really dark grays (depending on how far to the right you took that slider) to black, and map white and some really light values to white.

If you did it to the composite image (all the channels at once, which would be the default), you've got contrast nailed down.

But (unless you're working with a grayscale image) you may still have a color shift to deal with.

ADJUSTING COLOR WITH LEVELS

Take that same magic power and a picture that needs some color adjustment. Something with green skin tones, say, or yellow room light. You can do some basic color correction, which often is all that an image needs.

But don't work with the composite channel (or RGB). Instead, look at the channels individually, making our contrast adjustment to each. So select the Red channel and adjust its luminosity, then select the Green channel (it will look different) and adjust its. Don't be alarmed at the strange color effects until you adjust the Blue channel, too. The blue channel often comes up short on lighter values.

Now you have an image with enhanced contrast whose color is (we hope) more balanced. But you may not be happy with it yet.

When we compressed the tonal scale of each channel, we also shifted the midtone (that middle slider). If your image wasn't high- or low- key (snow or night, for example), this may not be a problem. But if the big bump in your histogram wasn't in the middle, you may not like the color cast you're looking at right now.

We can do something about that.

You can, in most applications, adjust the midtone slider too. Dragging the slider for any particular channel (and you may have to do it for each) to the right darkens the midtones (more of them are dark), while dragging to the left lightens them. You'll notice this as a color shift.

That's as fine-tuned as your image gets with a histogram. If that still isn't enough you're ready for the advanced seminar on curves.

KEEPING OUTPUT IN MIND

Outside the lab (where people do not wear white coats socially), these machinations must be done with a particular output device in mind. Either an RGB screen or a CMYK printer, for example. So the channels may vary, and what's white or black may vary, too. Our simple exercises here are intended to explain the tool so you can start using it more than dictate its use.

And the more you use it, the less likely you'll be to sneeze at it.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Sony DSC-D770 Sets the Bar for Manual Digicams

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D770/D770A.HTM on the Web site.)

INTRODUCTION

Sony has long been a dominant player in the digital camera field with their Mavica(tm) line of floppy-disk based cameras. (We'll be testing some of the Mavica units in the near future.) At the high end of the market though, Sony has developed a compelling line of products, incorporating high-quality optics and advanced features found on few competing camera models.

The DSC-D770 is an update of their earlier D700 model, on the market since late 1998. While its 1.5 megapixel resolution is no longer at the top of the current market, the fast 5x zoom lens, true SLR (single-lens reflex) viewfinder and the amazing level of manual control it provides put it firmly in the "professional" category. (It also sports a full-auto mode that is as easy to use as the lowest-end point & shoot.) If you really need control, nothing touches the D770 for less than about $4,000-5,000! Despite its complexity though, we found the D770 easy to use once we got used to the control system.

EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW

The shape and style of the DSC-D770 should charm even the most steadfast 35mm user with its large hand grip and familiar optical zoom and manual focus adjustment rings on the lens. (These features certainly grabbed our attention!) The DSC-D770 is somewhat heavier and larger than many of the consumer digicams on the market, a decidedly minor point when you realize the exceptional manual capabilities it has to offer.

The SLR optical viewfinder with built-in double imaging is a wonderful feature for saving battery power. The center focus target marks help you line up shots while a small information display keeps you updated on the shutter speed, aperture and whether or not the image is in focus. For eyeglass wearers, a dioptric adjustment dial lies on the side of the viewfinder. For a larger image preview, a 2.5 inch, low temperature, polysilicon TFT LCD monitor on the back panel acts as a viewfinder when activated by the LCD button. When the Display button is pressed, the LCD monitor displays image information as well as the number of captured images, quality and resolution settings and other information about flash, white balance, etc.

The DSC-D770 comes with a 5x optical zoom, 5.2 to 26mm (equivalent to a 28-140mm lens on a 35mm camera) f2.0 lens. The manual focus and optical zoom adjustment rings on the lens as well as the 62mm filter threads are a definite plus. Focus can be set for automatic or manual control via a small switch on the side of the lens. A 2x digital zoom can be turned on through the Picture Size Menu (accessed on the Mode dial) resulting in images recorded at 640 x 480 pixels.

Despite its somewhat complicated appearance, exposure control on the DSC-D770 is relatively straightforward -- the setup of the controls takes a little getting used to, but is very clear after you're over the initial learning curve. A variable ISO setting (50, 100 or 400), combined with the adjustable aperture setting from f2.0-2.4 to f11 and shutter speeds from four to 1/2,000 seconds give you a lot of versatility. Additionally, you can choose between spot or center weighted metering options, or you can utilize the AE Lock button to lock the exposure setting on the part of the composition you want to expose for.

Exceptional exposure control is one of the D770's strongest points: Four exposure modes are available for shooting: Program AE, Shutter Speed Priority AE, Aperture Priority AE and Manual. Program AE gives the camera all the control. Shutter Speed Priority AE lets you choose the shutter speed while the camera selects the appropriate aperture and Aperture Priority AE does the exact opposite. Manual Exposure puts you in charge of both (a capability we greatly appreciate). In any mode, you can set white balance at Auto, Hold, Indoor or Outdoor. The Hold setting determines the white value based on a white card held in front of the camera, letting you easily compensate for unusual lighting. When using a flash, the WB Flash setting is available through the settings menu and sets the white balance for flash with the help of a white card in front of the lens, just as Hold does for non-flash shots. (This feature is a first among cameras we've tested.) Exposure compensation is also manually controlled (in all modes except Manual) from -2 to + 2 in 0.25 EV increments.

The pop-up flash has three working modes (Auto, On and Off) and ranges from approximately 3.2 to 8.2 feet (1 to 2.5 meters). Auto puts the camera in charge, On fires the flash with every shot and Off means that the flash never fires, regardless of the light level. An External flash setting works with the external flash hot shoe on top of the camera when a more powerful flash is needed. The Continuous Shooting mode captures a maximum of two frames per second (depending on the available memory and the subject matter). Continuous Shooting allows you to set the exposure based on the first image or the camera can continually adjust the settings (which obviously takes more time). An Interval Shooting mode captures images at predetermined intervals, set through the Record Settings Menu, from one second to 99 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds. The DSC-D770's self-timer counts down anywhere from one to 30 seconds once the shutter button is pressed before firing the shutter.

A very interesting feature on the DSC-D770 is the histogram option, which graphs the distribution of brightness in a captured image. Another great feature on the camera is the ability to establish up to three different users, each with their own settings that can be recalled at any time.

For image storage, the DSC-D770 utilizes either a full-length PCMCIA card or the accompanying Memory Stick/PC card adapter (an 8MB card comes with the camera). Images can be recorded at one of four quality options: Super (uncompressed TIFF), High, Middle or Low, at either 1344 x 1024 or 640 x 480 pixel sizes. To keep images manageable, the DSC-D770 allows you to create new storage folders as you go, and assign keywords to individual images.

U.S. and Japanese models of the DSC-D770 come with NTSC video capabilities for viewing and composing images with the help of a television set (European models feature the PAL format). For power, the DSC-D770 uses special NP-F550 InfoLithium batteries (L series). Battery life is reasonably good, and the remaining-capacity information the InfoLithium system provides is invaluable. Still, we strongly recommend carrying a second battery.

Retrieving images from the DSC-D770 is relatively painless. A PC Card / Parallel Port Adapter comes with the camera along with a software CD carrying the necessary MSAC-PR1 driver for the adapter (for Windows 95, 98 and NT 4.0). No image review or manipulation software comes with camera, as Sony apparently assumes most DSC-D770 users will already own their preferred programs. Mac users must provide their own card reader, as the camera has no serial or USB interface for image downloads.

Overall, the DSC-D770 boasts enough features and manual controls to provide all the control a professional photographer needs, without intimidating the avid amateur. As we mentioned earlier, the familiar 35mm styling sets you quickly at ease with its hefty hand grip and lens adjustment rings. The external flash hot shoe, variable ISO settings and wide range of apertures and shutter speeds give you a lot of exposure flexibility. The DSC-D770 is perfect for anyone looking for full photographic control in a digicam!

HISTOGRAM

The DSC-D770 allows you to check the exposure of a captured image through the histogram option. The histogram displays a bar graph of the distribution of brightness in a picture (the horizontal axis shows brightness and the vertical shows the number of pixels for each brightness level). Examples of over, under and correctly exposed histograms are in the manual to give you a little comparison. This is a phenomenally useful tool for gauging exposure, far more accurate and informative than relying on the LCD image during playback. The D770 is the first time we've seen a histogram display on an under-$5000 digicam, and we hope other "prosumer" digicam manufacturers follow suit!

SHUTTER LAG & CYCLE TIMES

When you press the shutter release on a camera, there's usually a lag time before the shutter actually fires. This time allows the autofocus and autoexposure mechanisms time to do their work and can amount to a fairly long delay in some situations. Since this number is almost never reported on, and can significantly affect the picture taking experience, we now routinely measure it using an electronic test setup that provides values accurate to 0.01 second.

The D770's behavior in this test was quite interesting, in that its unique approach to autofocus results in a range of lag times, depending on the zoom setting, and the relative distance of the subject from one shot to the next. (See our earlier discussion of the camera's optics for more detail on autofocus operation.) For full autofocus, the shutter delay ranges from a low of about 0.5 seconds to a high of 2.5 seconds, depending on the lens focal length setting and how much of the focusing range has to be traversed from shot to shot. (Autofocus is faster in wide-angle mode than at full telephoto.) If the lens is prefocused by either half-pressing the shutter, or by manual operation, the shutter delay drops to 0.37 seconds. This is still a bit on the slow side, as most digicams come in at about 0.3 seconds for this test condition, but not bad. Shot to shot cycle time is extremely fast, at 1.1 seconds in maximum resolution, high-quality JPEG mode, and 1.0 seconds at VGA resolution. In continuous-exposure mode, we clocked the D770 at 1.0 frames per second for full-resolution shots in "Cont1" mode, and 1.3 frames per second in "Cont2" mode. At low resolution, these frame rates increased to 2.0 and 2.3 frames per second respectively. A high-resolution, uncompressed image saves to the memory card in 7 seconds.

All of the above measurements were made using a Lexar Media "4x" CompactFlash card in a PC card adapter. (We used this card because the included 8 MB Memory Stick was too small to give us enough shots per sequence to get good average numbers from.) This card is a fair bit faster than Sony's Memory Sticks, and the camera takes advantage of it. We did repeat some tests with the included 8MB Memory Stick, and found that the continuous-mode timings were much more variable, with shot-to-shot times in Cont2 mode ranging from 0.8 to 1.3 seconds, apparently depending on the state of the camera's internal memory buffer. Also, the time to save an uncompressed image increased from 7 seconds with the Lexar card to 11 seconds with the Memory Stick. For pros, this is good news, in that the camera appears engineered to take advantage of faster storage media, which is often not the case.

CONCLUSION

What a camera! We really liked the exceptional manual control provided by the DSC-D770 and found the overall interface very user friendly. The "real camera" styling quickly puts film based camera lovers at ease with its familiar shape and heft. We also loved the manual focus and optical zoom adjustment rings on the lens and the SLR optical viewfinder which helps save precious battery power. Overall, this is a great camera for the "prosumer" or professional who wants all the features of a fully manual 35mm camera with the convenience of a digital camera. The D770 sets a high standard for full-manual digital cameras, offering features and capabilities well beyond the rest of the sub-$5,000 market. While it currently defines the high end of digicams in terms of manual control, we hope that other manufacturers will follow Sony's lead in bringing this level of control to the serious amateur and professional photographer.

Return to Topics.

New on the Site

Remodeled lately? You know the pains. The dust, the debris, the contractor (hey, where's the contractor?) and the disruption. It's enough to make you volunteer for the Witness Protection Program.

So it is with no little pleasure that we are happy to announce this little newsletter now has a home of its own on the Imaging Resource Web site.

Now you can catch the latest issue by simply bookmarking http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/ and dropping in every now and then. The newsletter home page will greet you with:

And those contents include a few features you've been asking for. Like an Archive of all our past issues, and an Index of every article in them (linked, of course, to the article).

Not to mention easy-to-use forms to subscribe to the newsletter (or unsubscribe if, for example, you are going on vacation to Nepal and won't be able to read your email for a while) and update your email address should it ever change in the course of your long association with us.

In fact, if you've changed email addresses since you first subscribed and the newsletter is being forwarded to you from your old address, it's been impossible to unsubscribe the old address from the new address. But the new forms can even do that.

We've also tossed in a Reader Survey so you can keep us on our toes.

SOME FORM TIPS

At the moment some forms (update your email address, and the reader survey come to mind) rely on a simple protocol called mailto to send the form data to us. For this to work, your browser must know about your mail server. You can tell it everything it needs to know in the Mail Server preference dialog. Ask your Internet Service Provider how to fill out the dialog box (no one else, yourself included, could possibly know).

And those same forms unfortunately don't give much feedback when you click the button to send the data to us. But if you look (quickly) in the small status line at the bottom of your browser's window you'll see the form is being sent.

SOME SEARCH TIPS

We expect our forms to evolve -- and with them our search options.

As it is now, you'll find the Archive of all our past issues (from Volume 1 Number 1) listed newest first on the Archive page (a great place to advertise, by the way). There is a short description of the major stories in each issue, but that may not be enough to tell you which issue you're looking for.

So we built an Index of Articles that includes every ^Feature (including camera reviews), Beginner's Flash column, Advanced Mode column and Just for Fun column. That should help.

To find an article quickly, use your browser's Find command (usually tucked into the Edit menu) to search for any word in the story's headline.

And if that isn't quite enough (and sometimes it won't be), we're working behind the scenes to crank up a full text search engine (so you can find our parenthetical comments in the unlikely event they ever completely fade from memory). The simple interface to the search engine is already on the Index page. You just type in whatever you're looking for and the engine will (one day) find all the files that match and list them for you to click on. At the moment it isn't functioning. You can tell by the "Coming soon ..." in the text field. We'll remove that when we've configured the server to do full-text searches.

SOME WINDOW TIPS

Although the borders have been hidden from view, the frames that let us display the Newsletter masthead, index and current issue at the same time may make clicking on links in the newsletters a little more, uh, fun.

Where we did nothing about it (and we're excellent in that department), clicked links display in the same frame as the newsletter. That's a little cramped for the full camera reviews and external sites.

So we've coded full camera reviews to display in the full window and external sites in new windows. If you find that awkward, just let us know.

If you have any questions about the site or suggestions or want to report UFO sightings (or would that be "sitings"?), you know how to reach us: editor@imaging-resource.com. A mailto link is listed at the bottom of each major page.

We look forward to your visit!

Return to Topics.

Beginners Flash: Test Your Color Vision Online

If you've every wondered about your ability to distinguish colors, the Web can help. We found a number of sites where you can test yourself.

And while the usual caveats apply (the results do have a bit to do with your system's ability to display the color tests in the first place, after all), it isn't a bad idea.

Color vision deficiency is usually (but not always) inherited. Between 8-12 percent of white males and about 0.5 percent of females have some form of color vision deficiency. Of those with the deficiency, 99 percent are unable to distinguish either reds or greens. More rarely some can't distinguish blues or yellows. But total color blindness, where only shades of gray are perceived, is extremely rare. The condition is untreatable.

The online tests we found were all variations of the Ishihara Test for Color Blindness. In this test you look at a circle composed of colored pebbles to see if you can read a number or shape formed by pebbles of a certain color. Seeing one number or another or none at all indicates whether you are red-weak, green-weak or suffer some other color vision deficiency.

While we liked the design of the site at http://www.frambach.com/miramar/Education/testVA/color.htm by the Miramar Eye Specialists Medical Group, the link to one of the images is broken. So drop by http://www.toledo-bend.com/colorblind/Ishihara.html to take the test there. There's also an interesting list of links there if you want to learn more about the subject.

Return to Topics.

Advanced Mode: The Music of Your Images

Few people would include the photographer Ansel Adams among the great composers of our time, including Adams himself. "I am not a composer," he wrote in his 1985 autobiography.

But then he hedged his bet. "Photographers are, in a sense, composers and the negatives are their scores."

So what happens to the music of photography in the digital age, where nary a negative is to be seen?

Adams addressed that (in the same paragraph): "If I could return in twenty years or so I would hope to see astounding interpretations of my most expressive images. It is true no one could print my negatives as I did, but they might well get more out of them by electronic means. Image quality is not the product of a machine, but of the person who directs the machine, and there are no limits to imagination and expression."

When he donated his oeuvre (OK, negatives) to the University of Arizona, he said he hoped they would be performed (printed) by succeeding generations of students.

In fact, his zone system of exposure assumed the photographer's artistic right to shift the tonalities of the world we perceive to different, unrepresentative tonalities in the image the photographer first imagines and then through his craft creates. No, he often bemoaned, his Yosemite pictures are not what Yosemite looks like; they represent another reality.

He took pains to describe how the choice of, say, a zoom lens flattened perspective and made one element larger than it actually appeared. The images, he said, were what he had visualized, not perceived.

A point-and-shoot digicam may not seem to offer much control over tonalities, but image editing software gives more control over an image than Adams ever had dodging and burning prints in his darkroom. Most of the time we're focused on using that power to present a believable image (which, frankly, is hard enough). The color balanced, the right contrast.

But as you master your camera and learn your software, don't forget the creative possibilities. It may be as small a thing as shifting the midtone so the sunlit moss on a tree branch jumps out at you like an accusing finger. Or something as memorable as Adams' 1941 image Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.

Just try thinking of yourself as a composer. An image composer. Who heightens contrast as if it were a crescendo and choses whether to compose an image high or low key. Who plays the tones of a picture like the sounds of an orchestra.

Who knows, you might start humming to yourself when people ask you if that's what it really looked like.

Return to Topics.

Just for Fun: The Missing Oscar

In just a little while the Oscar nominations will be announced (Feb. 15, and where's my press pass, Dave?), but this year (once again) there won't be a nomination for Best Slide Show.

If the mere thought conjures images of glass-beaded screens and upside down family members popping in or out of focus as a projector lamp overheats them, you may be relieved at the Motion Picture Academy's regular omission. But if you've been looking for a way to quickly review your digicam shots, your gloom may be unrelieved.

Why can't anyone make a good, free slide show program?

Let's be clear about our criteria. A good, free slide show program should include these features:

We remarked in our last issue's coverage of Macworld Expo that almost every program we saw had a slide show option, but we weren't talking free then.

And free is important if you want to distribute your images, say on ZIP disks or CDs you've burned. Software you license does not typically include the right to distribute the product.

To make up for the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences' neglect, we're proposing the Ersatz Oscar for Slide Shows and accepting your nominations. Just send them to editor@imaging-resource.com and we'll throw a big (virtual) party Oscar night and announce the (actual) winner.

Meanwhile we have a few nominations ourselves (in case your needs are pressing).

We'd hoped QuickTime 4.1 would provide both Mac and Windows users a basic slide show capability either in the Movie Player or the Viewer, but neither lets us drag a folder of images to it for automatic playback. So much for a cross-platform winner.

On the Windows side of the coin, we found the free IrfanView (named for its author, Irfan Skiljan) at http://hotfiles.zdnet.com/cgi-bin/texis/swlib/hotfiles/info.html?fcode=000ABJ -- but this won't help you if you're using Windows 3.1. It's Windows 95/98/NT only.

On the Macintosh, we're partial to BigPicture 4.1 which, as shareware, won't win the Ersatz Oscar, but addresses almost everything else in our wish list. Another shareware product, GraphicConverter, makes quite nice transitions, but it isn't as nimble as BigPicture. You can, however, try either for free.

On the other hand, UPresent from the University of Minnesota is free. We discussed UGather, the companion organizer product, in our Macworld Expo review, but UPresent certainly earns a nomination in this category.

So, newly-appointed member of the Ersatz Academy of Sliding Picture Arts and Sciences, get your nomination in. If we find a winner, it will be worth a party.

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 this URL (http://www.q-res.com/php3/downloads.php3?refid=imgresource) to receive the special $5-off deal for Imaging Resource readers!

Ofoto has extended its introductory offer of 100 free Kodak prints free prints to those signing up by March 5. And you don't have to use them all until the end of the year. Just visit their Web site at http://www.ofoto.com to sign up.

Software Architects, Inc. has extended the special Macworld price of $24.95 to Imaging Resource Newsletter readers for Great Photo!, its image enhancement product. Just visit http://special.softarch.com to take advantage of the $30 discount. For a look at the interface, see our brief review at http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/MWW00/0105mac.htm from Macworld Expo.

Scansoft, creators of TextBridge Pro OCR, recently acquired the Kai line and decided to combine PhotoSoap2, SuperGoo, and PowerShow into a new product called PhotoFactory. They're offering the three-in-one package for $29.95 -- a savings of almost $50 -- at http://www.digitalriver.com/aladdin/scansoft/22617/ for both Macintosh and Windows platforms.

Return to Topics.

We Have Mail

You can email us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

RE: Not Too Big a Deal

Not too big of a deal but my title is actually "Director of Imaging" not "Ofoto support technician", although I do feel like a support tech at times.

-- Brett Butterfield

(Sorry, Brett. Not only do we extend our iron-clad apology, but we're buttressing it with our brown paper bag guarantee to create virtual names rather than virtual titles from now on. It should save us all some embarrassment. -- Editor)

RE: CD Software

I am considering creating CDs for our local library with slideshows on various topics. I would like to include the software for viewing the images on the CD and seek to find some freeware that doesn't need licensing to do this. Any suggestions?

-- Robert L. Thompson

(We suggest the kindness of strangers. See our Just for Fun department above. -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

Imerge Consulting Group said that digital camera vendors surpassed two unit and revenue milestones in 1999 by selling for the first time over two million units in the U.S. market, excluding toy cameras. As a result, vendors also broke the one billion-dollar barrier in revenue for 1999.


Eveready Battery Co. Inc. has announced a new battery that lasts longer -- in some cases, more than twice as long as standard alkaline batteries. The new Energizer e2 (e-squared) titanium battery is expected on store shelves this summer. The new battery will last 240 percent longer than the average battery in a digital camera or 78 percent longer in a regular camera, spokesman Tom Augenthaler said. A four-pack of Double-A Energizer e2s will cost about $4.59, compared to $3.49 for a four-pack of regular Energizer Double-A batteries.


Nikon has introduced the Coolpix 990 with a 3.34 megapixel CCD and a 3x Zoom-Nikkor lens in an updated design similar to their other 900 models (visit http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000127/NYTH050 for a picture). The Coolpix 990 will hit retail shelves in April for $999.95 list price. Its 3.34 mexapixel CCD with a non-interpolated resolution of 2048 x 1536 creates an file size of almost 10MB. At two frames per second full-resolution image capture, there's virtually no delay between shots, Nikon said. Like the Coolpix 950, the Coolpix 990 accepts all optional Coolpix lenses and accessories, including fisheye, wide-angle and telephoto lenses.


Olympus has announced the C-3030 Zoom 3.34 Megapixel (2048 x 1536) digital zoom camera, the first Olympus camera to use both USB and serial connectivity; a 3.34 Megapixel CCD; 3x Zoom 32-96mm equivalent all-glass lens with continuous 2.5x digital telephoto; QuickTime Movie capability with sound; 15 modes of resolution, including 5 uncompressed TIFF modes; infrared remote; and an improved six mode flash with a new slow syncro with red-eye reduction mode. Olympus said the new C-3030 Zoom is the only camera in its class to offer a 32MB SDRAM buffer for rapid shooting at 3.5 frames per second and real time shooting at all times. The C-3030 is expected to list for $999.


Kodak has announced price reductions on five of its most popular cameras:

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Next Issue

We're planning a full report on the Photo Marketing Association convention in Las Vegas (http://www.pmai.org/), including more news about new cameras form Nikon, Olympus and Canon. But visit http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM for links to our special reports from Las Vegas by Dave Etchells and Mike Tomkins.
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Signoff

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Happy snapping!

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

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