|Volume 2, Number 4||25 February 2000|
Welcome to the 12th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. You'll notice we've promised to revisit a number of topics we raise in this issue. That can only mean two things: stay tuned and save this issue for reference!
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Out of the blue, in the middle of a front yard not very far from here, a hot projectile burned itself into the grass with a thud. The neighbors who had heard it whistle through the air gathered around but didn't recognize it. It didn't look like anything any of them had ever seen before.
So they took it to the local institution of higher learning where an assortment of academically inclined specialists took a look at it and concluded it was indeed man-made. Man-made but from outer space. A piece of space junk, warped into an unrecognizable blob by re-entry, returned home.
What goes up must come down.
WHAT GOES DOWN
Ask anybody who deals with digital images about space junk, though, and you'll find out the problem is really that what goes down must come up.
It isn't so much where to put everything you create with a click of that digital shutter button, but finding it -- bringing it back up -- once it's filed away.
To do it, you need a system a little less random than that used by our unrecognizable blob to get home.
The trick to design a system for yourself that works is to build one that frees you from ever having to think about it. So whether you are so organized you make everyone else nervous or so disorganized you make them crazy, we'll help you design a system you can live with.
You have a lot of options, ranging from exotic image analysis (currently in development) to plain old exploitation of your operating system (a staff favorite).
If you happened to catch the Feb. 17 New York Times' Circuit section, you may have read about a new category of search software for images. But searching for images based on nothing more than their content is a tough nut to crack.
And, as the article by Lisa Guernsey pointed out, several companies are asking themselves if end users wouldn't be satisfied with a more rudimentary image retrieval scheme than perfect matching. Search for images with specific colors or patterns, for example, rather than polar bears or basketballs.
AT&T is developing a product code-named Shoebox (whose screen shots you can salivate over at http://www.uk.research.att.com/dart/shoebox if you like). Images (polar bears, in fact) are analyzed for color, texture and shape before being indexed by the program. A search through the database for images with similar characteristics retrieves thumbnails of the matches. That's where you, as the human observer, come in, weeding out the fur coats from the polar bears.
IBM has developed a technology it calls Query By Image Content or QBIC that also analyzes colors and patterns to characterize images. Visit http://wwwqbix.almaden.ibm.com for an example of the technology at work on a stamp database.
It's no accident these prototypes don't have betas or free downloads to play with. It's difficult stuff still on the drawing board. The engineers don't need to be reminded.
And while it would be terrific to see a program that could retrieve all the images of Nephew Lawrence you've ever taken, it's hard enough to identify them yourself. It isn't easy to recognize old Larry as Baby Lawrence, Kid Lawrence, Teen Lawrence (especially) and Collegian Lawrence, say. Front and rear. Side view. Haircut or not. Sunglasses, too. Halloween masks. You get the picture. This stuff has limits.
STATE OF THE ART
But the problem of organizing images so you can find them has been with us long enough to have a few well-known, reliable solutions. Not to mention its own niche name: media asset management.
For the most part the solutions have been developed for high-end customers handling huge albums of images. A comfortable thought. But even early on the bright idea that consumers could really use something like this flashed in certain minds at, say, Kodak where Shoebox (no relation to AT&T's product) was developed to catalog images.
When Kodak abandoned Shoebox it graciously arranged to update its users at no charge to Cumulus, Canto Software's cataloging software. Now at version 5, Cumulus can be purchased in a $99 single-user version (which is also sometimes bundled with hardware) as well as the enterprise version installed in several large publishing installations.
Cumulus at http://www.canto.com creates a database of thumbnails each of which has a number of keywords assigned to it. Manually. Which can be kind of tedious, but that's the way the database game is played. To its credit the program can be scripted and handles files besides images (like Quark XPress documents).
A similar database scheme is employed by a new product on the scene, FotoStation. Developed in Europe over the last two decades and employed by Hasselblad, FotoStation at http://www.eroket.com also has a rich high-end heritage whose polish can be appreciated in the single-user version. It adds a number of handy image editing and printing functions that distinguish it from the competition.
There is nothing, by the way, to prevent you from using your own database program to track your images, just as you might your CDs or recipes or books. But somehow, this option has always seemed to us a lot more trouble than it is worth.
There are also shareware programs for every platform that promise to do the job.
And for those on the sort of limited budget that stumps even economic wizards like Alan Greenspan, the free UGather from the University of Minnesota at http://upresent.umn.edu catalogs various multimedia files, building keywords from folder and file names.
We intend to use a few of these products over the next few weeks. We'll let you know what happens. If they don't make it easy (fun even) to update your database, they won't be much help when you ask them to find something.
All the features in the world don't mean much if the product makes you feel like you are shoveling snow in winter and mowing the lawn in summer.
ROLL YOUR OWN
So how do you build a system that makes it easy to find your images and doesn't make you feel like you're doing a chore?
Capitalize on the resources built into your system to begin with: your file system. You can't avoid your file system, so you may as well exploit it.
We used to have a standing offer (hereby retracted) of $100 to anyone whose computer problem could not be unraveled by a clear understanding of the four parts of a filename. Before being reincarnated, so to speak, as a lowly editor, we'd thought of developing this into a game show with Regis Philbin as a sort of Ed McMahon walking around with a huge $100 check. But he was booked.
The four parts of a filename, should you ever need to know, are:
This tends to be true for all operating systems, you'll notice, should you have the misfortune to operate more than one of them. You will not be phased by either "C:\DOS\AUTOEXEC.BAT" or "Macintosh HD:Documents:Read Me.txt" ever again.
- The volume name (eg: "C:\" or "Macintosh HD:")
- The directory and subdirectories (if any) (eg: "DOS\" or "Documents:")
- The root name (eg: "AUTOEXEC" or "Read Me")
- The extension (eg: ".BAT" or ".txt")
There are four parts to do four different things. Let's go through them.
The volume name tells us where the file can be found. The internal hard drive (as in our example above), a Zip, a CD, some floppy. Logical device, physical device.
The directory and subdirectories, together with the volume, give us the path name of the file. The path name in our example is "C:\DOS\" or "Macintosh HD:Documents:"
The root name is pretty much what we call a name, period. The basic name of the file. Without the root name, we haven't got anything. Budget, image or email. More on that later.
And the extension is often our only clue to what the file is: .jpg for JPEG, .tif for TIFF, .txt for an ASCII text file, etc. So we don't want to mangle our extensions. Tread carefully here.
Those are the rules. But how do we play the game?
First, think about your images and the way you shoot. Do you shoot business separately from pleasure? Do you shoot more than one event at a time, storing them all together?
Then work out a naming system for your volumes. Give meaningful family names to your external (and infinitely extendable) storage like floppies, Zip disks, SyQuests and CDs. You might name the volumes by year or season or location or client depending on how you work.
These broad categories can, by using well-named directories and subdirectories (or folders), be organized into smaller collections. Just don't overdo it. Remember, you don't want to have to remember anything. A hierarchy of one or two levels is deep enough, Jack Handy.
Fortunately you don't have to think much about the root name at all. Your camera names each image. Let it -- and forget it (see, this forget-it system works).
Although I would be remiss not to mention that some software (like Cameraid) will automatically rename all your images to the date and time, in a format you describe. And if you find that useful, indulge.
So all you really have to think about -- er, design -- is a simple way to file your images in folders.
Here's one scheme, but by no means the only way to do it. You will, like us, prefer some variation.
Name your storage medium (let's just say it's a Zip disk) by the amount of time it takes to fill it. If that's a year, name it "2000"; a month, name it "2000.01" for January. A week? Get a CD-R drive.
On each disk (or disc) create folders named by date. Years, if you have the space. Months within years is nice, too. Use numerals instead of names and they will even sort conveniently for you. In fact, don't be too clever here. If there's a chance of having two Januaries on the disk, use the year name, too (eg: "2000.01" -- yes, even MS-DOS supports extensions in directory names).
Every disk enjoys the same arrangement, which reflects the calendar we all know and love (and if you jot down important dates on your kitchen calendar, save it: it's an index to your pictures).
Every directory enjoys the same arrangement, too. So if you're looking for pictures from Christmas when Franz visited to celebrate the Millennium, you already know the volume name (the disk labeled "1999"). And you know you should be looking in the directory "1999.12/" or "1999/12/" or "1999:12:" depending on syntax of your system. There's nothing to remember.
In each directory named for the month, store directories by shoot number ("01 Labor Day" would be the shots you took on Labor Day, "02 Labor Day" would be the second batch you took, if there were one, thus avoiding overwriting file names). The numbers should have as many digits as shoots in your most active month. If you do a hundred or so a month, that would be "001 SuperBowl". If you're a weekend warrior, stick with "01 SuperBowl" just to impress your friends.
This beats organizing strictly by event (there are a lot of Christmases) or camera model (been there, and barely got back) or image type (what for).
But it is still merely how you set the table, not what you dish up. Dishing up -- finding the shots you're looking for -- isn't simple.
A search of event names (like "Christmas" or "Superbowl") using nothing more than your operating system's file searching tools will list every place (or volume) you need to look. And narrowing the search is the best this system can do. Which is often good enough, considering it maintains itself.
But if you need to hone in more closely, you're ready for the next step up: a database of the images themselves, indexed by keyword. Which means a little time spent cataloging the images.
But then you'll be able to tell "Baby Lawrence" from space junk. Before either of you go into orbit.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/Q8K/Q8KA.HTM on the Web site.)
Casio labels the QV-8000SX a "versatile" digital camera and the product certainly lives up to that billing. It boasts a plethora of features and operating modes, including a full 8x optical zoom lens that swivels separately from the body, flexible exposure options, including aperture and shutter-priority autoexposure calculation, time exposures up to 64 seconds(!) and much more.
We really like the rotating lens concept (invented by Casio, introduced way back in digicam prehistory on their original QV-10), and would like to see it adopted by more manufacturers. The fact that the lens doesn't protrude very much from the camera body is another plus, keeping the entire camera reasonably compact and pocketable (for large pockets, at least). Additionally, the camera is quite lightweight (due to its all plastic body), adding to its portability. Control-wise, all the buttons and levers are laid out so that one-handed operation is feasible (a definite benefit in some shooting situations).
The QV-8000SX relies solely on its LCD for viewfinder operation, making it harder to use in very bright conditions, and also eliminating the power-saving option of using the camera with the LCD turned off. (We're big proponents of the dual optical/LCD viewfinder approach, as seen in Casio's QV-2000UX, which we reviewed previously.)
The lack of an optical viewfinder also makes it more difficult to take advantage of the astonishing low-light capability of the QV-8000, since the live LCD viewfinder display only requires a moderate amount of light to work.
For all that, the LCD is at least big and bright, at 2.5 inches and 122,100 pixels. An information display of camera settings and options can be canceled and recalled by hitting the Display button, with the exception of the flash mode icon and center focus target mark, which are always present. We were pleased with the optional grid function that superimposes a grid of light gray lines over the LCD image, significantly assisting with image composition and alignment.
The QV-8000SX has a 6-48mm, 8x zoom lens (equivalent to a 40 to 320mm lens on a 35mm camera). As we said, the lens actually swivels a full 270 degrees, enabling you to point the lens all the way back at yourself (useful during self-timer shots so you can see the countdown on the LCD panel). Filter threads on the inside lip of the lens accommodate 43mm diameter filters. Focus ranges from 1.3 feet (0.4m) to infinity at the wide angle end and from 3.3 feet (1m) to infinity at the telephoto end. In macro mode, focus ranges from 0.4 to 19.7 inches (1 to 50 cm) with auto focus and from 3.9 inches (10cm) to infinity with manual focus. The aperture can be manually or automatically controlled, with options of f3.2, f4.8 and f8. A manually controlled 2x or 4x digital zoom option extends the optical zoom (8x) capabilities up to 32x, but with lesser image quality as a side effect. Focus options include Manual and Infinity modes.
The QV-8000SX is unusual in that it provides both fully automatic and optional manual exposure modes. You thus have full auto, aperture or shutter priority, or full manual exposure options. Programmed modes such as Night Scene, Portrait and Landscape set up the camera for special shooting, saving time with preset options.
A built-in flash offers four operating modes: Auto, On, Off and Red-Eye Reduction. Auto puts the camera in control of the flash; On fires the flash with every exposure; Off completely suppresses the flash and Red-Eye Reduction emits a small pre-flash before firing the full flash to prevent the Red-Eye Effect. Normal flash power provides a working range from 1.6 to 8.2 feet (0.5 to 2.5m) and from 0.3 to 1.6 feet (0.1 to 0.5m) in macro mode and flash intensity is adjustable, with Strong, Normal or Weak settings.
Six white balance modes (Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent and Manual) are available. Automatic mode lets the camera govern white values based on existing light. Daylight, Shade, Tungsten and Fluorescent settings adjust white balance for various natural and artificial light values. Probably the most accurate when shooting under artificial light, the Manual setting sets the white value based on a sheet of white paper held in front of the lens.
Other exposure options include exposure compensation (EV adjustment), adjustable from -2 to +2 EV in .25 EV increments, resetting after each shot. Three metering options include Multi, Center and Spot settings. Multi averages the exposure based on the entire image while Center averages the values from a large area in the center of the image. Spot metering determines the exposure value from a small spot directly in the center of the frame.
The Quick Shutter and Continuous Recording options enable you to catch fast paced action shots. Quick Shutter records up to five images in approximately one second intervals with one multiple presses of the shutter button while Continuous Recording captures up to five images at approximately 0.25 second intervals while you hold the shutter button down. Shooting intervals in both modes depend on the image size and resolution and available CompactFlash space. To capture moving action, the movie recording mode records up to 10 second movies in 320 x 240 pixel AVI format. An interesting option here is the Past movie mode, which records events that occurred before the shutter button was pressed (the camera actually records images to a buffer memory and once the shutter button is pressed, copies those images to the CompactFlash).
You can also record a 360 degree panorama image (or up to nine consecutive shots) on the QV-8000SX through the Panorama record mode. A helpful feature is that after the first image is exposed, the right edge of the preceding image remains on the screen to help you line up the next shot properly. Images can be linked together in the camera (for playback only) or on the computer via the included Panorama Editor software (Windows users only).
Other recording options include the ability to record images in monochrome black and white or sepia tones, adding a little creativity to your shots. The self-timer counts down from two or 10 seconds once the shutter button is pressed and a separate timer function allows you to record a series of images at set intervals (from one to 60 minutes and up to 250 shots).
For image playback, U.S. and Japanese models of the QV-8000SX come with an NTSC video connection cable (European models come with PAL) to connect the camera to your television set. If desired, the TV can also be used as a viewfinder when composing images, helpful in manually focusing on macro subjects, or in studio settings where you have to interact with the subject from in front of the camera. (Kid photography, etc.) Playback mode allows you to view images individually or as thumbnails, nine to a screen. You can also play back movies and panoramic images in the camera. A playback zoom feature lets you enlarge images and scroll around within the enlarged view.
Four AA alkaline, lithium or NiMH batteries keep the QV-8000SX running (you can also take advantage of the included AC adapter). Since the lack of the optical viewfinder reduces battery conservation options, we highly recommend keeping a spare set of batteries with you.
USB, serial and Mac adapter cables come with the QV-8000SX, as well as a software CD with PhotoLoader, Panorama Editor, Picture Works MediaCenter, QuickTime, Adobe ActiveShare, Adobe Acrobat Reader, Internet Explorer 5.0 and a trial version of Picture Works Web Publisher. For some reason, Casio only includes software compatible with Windows 95, 98 and NT 4.0, so Mac users must fend for themselves, or order the $10 accessory PhotoLoader program for Macs. When inserted into your computer, the CD displays a detailed menu with options to install the various software applications, read about the applications, register your camera online, go directly to the Casio Web site, open the accessory listing or fill out an accessory order form. Most of the software included offers relatively basic image correction and manipulation capabilities, but the trial version of Picture Works Web Publisher creates customized Web pages that incorporate your QV-8000SX images. Additionally, Adobe Active Share allows you to post images to the ActiveShare.com Web site for easy viewing by family and friends
In the end, the QV-8000SX offers capabilities that both the novice and the expert photo consumer will appreciate. From the full manual capabilities to complete automatic control, the camera accommodates a variety of users. Plus, its compact shape and light weight make it a portable option for those of you on the go. We confess to some skepticism when we saw the "ultra versatile" billing on the QV-8000's box, but have to admit it's one of the most flexible digicams we've seen to date.
The 1cm minimum focusing distance in Macro mode can produce some really amazing close-ups. The zoom lens seems to have a much more limited range of focal lengths in macro mode (we'd guess it's only about a 1.2x zoom at that setting), but the detail the camera can capture is incredible: The minimum capture area is an amazing 0.71 x 0.95 inches (18 x 24 mm).
The QV-8000 is actually fairly quick, as digicams go: A full autofocus cycle results in a shutter lag of only about 0.85 seconds: Not blazingly fast, but certainly not bad by comparison with competing cameras. If the lens is prefocused by half-pressing the shutter button prior to the shot itself, the shutter delay drops to only 0.15 seconds, a very good number indeed. Using manual focus, the shutter delay is 0.20 seconds.
Shot-to-shot cycle times are also quite good, particularly when using the Quick Shutter mode. We clocked the camera at 1.6 seconds shot-to-shot using manual focus in high resolution mode and 1.53 seconds shot-to-shot in low resolution mode. Autofocus would presumably add about 0.6 seconds to these times. We never managed to fill the memory buffer in low-resolution mode, as it emptied quicker than we could take the next shot. In high resolution mode, we managed 10 shots before the buffer filled, and even then, cycle time only rose to 3 seconds. In continuous mode, the camera captured five frames in 1.09 seconds, a frame rate of 3.67 frames per second, reasonably close to the 4 frames per second claimed by Casio.
The camera also starts up in only 4.24 seconds (from "off" to the first shot acquired), switches from record to play mode in anywhere from 1 to 3.5 seconds (depending on the resolution mode and how much processing it needs to do on the current image), and switches back from play to record mode in 1.4-2.0 seconds (from playback to the first image captured).
Overall, we found the QV-8000 surprisingly quick compared to the current crop of cameras (January 2000), particularly competing 1.3 megapixel models.
We were frankly surprised by the tremendous functionality offered by the QV-8000SX. Its fully-automatic exposure mode is perfect for novices, yet it offers one of the broadest ranges of exposure options of any camera we've tested. Its 8x optical zoom lens provides one of the widest zoom ranges in the market today, and its low-light capabilities go beyond anything we've seen to date (January, 2000). About the only additional features we could possibly ask for are an optical viewfinder (please!), and an option to connect an external flash. Overall, the QV-8000 is one of the most versatile and capable 1.3 megapixel cameras on the market, and an excellent value for anyone looking for maximum flexibility in a digital camera.
There's no 911 for digital camera emergencies. Sure, there are 800 numbers and manufacturers' Web sites (and you can even try emailing us to try your patience), but what should you do when you've got a problem and no one is around to help?
The first thing to do when all else fails (as Yogi Berra might put it), is to return your camera or scanner or software or whatever else isn't working to what we like to call, tongue in cheek, a Known State.
No, not Hawaii.
A known state is the condition your hardware enjoys just after you've turned it on and it lets you know, by beep or by chime, it's ready for action. This is just before you -- or anyone else -- does anything. You can get to this known state without any problem at all, consistently, just by turning the device off and turning it on again.
Well, that's the theory.
And if it works, if indeed your system is waiting for you to do something, you should be able to repeat whatever problem you had just by, well, doing whatever it was you did.
Easier said than done.
Few of us really know what we did to cause anything to happen. Why should it be any different with high tech gadgets?
But if you start from a known state and keep track of what you are doing, you should be able to repeat it by following the script again. And if you can do that, tech support will love you. And may actually be able to help.
Getting to a known state, however, can be tricky. Does your device modify itself in any way between startups -- as a convenience to you? Saving certain preferences, say, or remembering something like the number of shots left?
If it does, then it may have incorporated the problem into its gene pool.
Scanners don't have that problem (although scanning software does). Digital cameras may or may not.
But before you give up and send your camera back to the manufacturer for repair try this: remove the batteries (and any storage medium), let the camera sit a day or so (to kill any power left in any built-in battery, to keep time for example), attach the power adapter and turn it on.
Doing this sort of a gorilla-style reset of the system should return you to a known state. And if the camera finds that helpful, it may come back to life.
Diagnosing problems with equipment and software can be maddening. To swing the odds in your favor, remember this trick from the real diagnostic wizards: return your system to a known state, then step by step record how you get to the problem.
Some things are better done in order. Julius Epstein, co-author of the screenplay for "Casablanca," felt writing a screenplay was one of them. "Act I, get your guy up a tree," he explained. "Act II, throw rocks at him. Act III, get your guy out of the tree." It doesn't work any other way.
Image editing is like that, too.
Cropping is Act I.
You may need to reshape your image so it fits on your output medium. Or you may want to focus the viewer's attention on some aspect of your image. Whatever the reason, if you're going to crop, do it first. There's no sense manipulating parts of the image you eventually intend to dispose of.
Act II has two scenes.
In Scene One you resize your image (which is now just the pixels you want) to the requirements of your output device.
Except under extreme duress, avoid enlarging your digital images. Once you've taken the picture or scanned the art, you have all the information you are going to get into the image file. Enlarging to any significant degree only degrades the quality of the image.
In Scene Two you sharpen your resized image. Any time you resize, you lose a little sharpness, a little detail. By judiciously using the unsharp masking filter, you can restore much of it. Unsharp masking is the least intrusive, most effective way to restore sharpness so make it a point to always run the unsharp masking filter after resizing.
We'll have a lot to say about unsharp masking another time (how much, which channels, what it actually is, etc.) because it's a fascinating subject and a powerful tool. But we're in the middle of some high drama here, so ...
Act III is when you get your guy out of the tree. Take a look at your histogram, set your highlight and shadow for each color channel, adjust your midtone, nudge your curves if you have to, filter out red-eye, clone defects away. Make it pop, sizzle and sing.
And then ... well, then you can take a bow.
If you missed our Treatise of the Prevention and Removal of Red-Eye in the Practice of Digital Photography a couple of issues ago, you're probably staring at a few 4x6 prints that send chills up your spine. Red-eye in prints, we mean.
Recently on a field trip to the local mall, we wandered from the group (they were obsessed with towel quality, frankly) and browsed among the inexpensive frames where to my delight we found something we'd heard of but never before seen. A little pen that removes red-eye from prints. For $4.99.
Turns out, the little pen really is fun.
It has a "soft-cone tip" (meaning it's flexible and pointed) to deliver its "transparent red-filtering" (uh, green) dye precisely to your print.
The directions (can't help it, we always read them) were pretty intimidating:
"Apply the dye to the eye with a gentle touching motion to create a series of dots in the red area. This builds up the dye until the red-eye blends away. DO NOT DRAW ON, PRESS HEAVILY, OR RUB THE PICTURE'S SURFACE. To remove excess dye or stray marks, carefully wipe with a moist tissue and let dry before reapplication."
Pretty sure they meant to apply the dye to the picture of the eye, but we're not sitting on that jury
It sounded like something any tagger could do, so we forged ahead (these were pictures that arrived here in Christmas cards). Uncapped the thing, took aim and gently spotted the red-eye. Just a touch. Once.
But just to prove it, we left the other eye red and called in a consultant. "What did you do to that eye?" an annoyed appraisal confirmed our handiwork. "What do you mean?" we innocently (and rapidly) replied. "It's red!" we were told in no uncertain terms. "Nothing! I didn't do anything to that eye, I swear!"
No small testimonial.
So it's inexpensive, readily available, requires no skill (as our tests prove), and works. But what fun would it be without a few warnings.
First, just lightly dab (or spot) your prints. Don't draw. Even if the area is large.
Second, running the dye into the darker areas of an eye won't be noticeable, but covering the highlight will give it a nice, extraterrestial green tint. We were hoping at first to be able to wipe the red off the eye like Zorro, but you really do have to spot and avoid lighter colors. The dye is transparent, so it's forgiving on those dark colors (or "lets natural eye color shine through," as it says on the packaging) but watch the light ones.
Third, it does not work on Polaroid prints.
After we'd done a few dozen pairs of eyes (we decided to do both after a while, just to see if we could match them), we went back to my first and held it in the sun at an angle that would expose any irregularities on the surface of the print. We wanted to know if you could tell it was spotted? No, you can not. It does a really nice job. If you stay out of the highlights.
The product we used (there are several) was called Red-Eye Remover by Photoco Inc., 4347 Cranwood Parkway, Cleveland, Ohio 44128. Cleveland rocks, but the Web site is still under construction.
Great fun. Now we want to invite all those people over to show them their Christmas photos. Maybe we can get them to spot a few dozen prints, too. Or whitewash the fence.
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. But hurry. Offer expires Feb. 28.
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.
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I had always believed the story that two brothers developed the process that Kodak bought in the 1930s and called Kodachrome. I think that they were musicians. It's another of those hard to believe stories like Hedy Lamarr inventing spread spectrum communication. Which she did!
There had been an earlier two color process called Kodachrome around 1915, but it wasn't anything like the Kodachrome we know today. Where did your information in the Pathe item come from? I got this from Kodak:
1935 - KODACHROME Film was introduced and became the first commercially successful amateur color film initially in 16 mm for motion pictures. Then 35mm slides and 8mm home movies followed in 1936.
By the way, this was a few years after George Eastman died.
-- Bob(Our source for the story is from Elizabeth Brayer's recent "George Eastman, a biography." Here's a snip: "Eastman stepped up in-house efforts and by the fall of 1914 John Capstaff had devised a two-color subtractive process that produced seductive portraits but unsatisfactory colors for landscapes. Known by a new trademark -- Kodachrome -- the negatives were taken through red and green filters and transformed directly into positives." The story you referred to, according to Brayer, actually began in 1916 when Leopold Godowsky Jr. and Leopold Mannes at age 16 decided to improve on color movies in their school physics lab. Children of musicians, they themselves also played. That attempt relied on projecting through filters. They both went on to get degrees in physics, resume their friendship through musical interests and with funding from the parents develop a subtractive process using layered emulsions. When their parents gave up on them, they approached Eastman in 1922 who was cordial and promised to see what he could do, but according to Brayer, simply forgot. Kodak's Dr. Charles Mees took up their cause, though, and Mannes and Godowsky developed a color film for the amateur market during the Depression. The new film took the old Kodachrome name. -- Editor)
RE: Repair Problems
I can certainly sympathize with Jim Conlow's Olympus repair problems.
I bought a C-2020Z on Dec. 22 of last year, and it didn't work right out of the box. I sent it to Olympus for repair and was informed that it had "internal liquid damage." This voided the warranty, and they wanted almost $200 for repairs.
I took a more aggressive stand, however, and I received the camera today, fully repaired and functioning perfectly with no charge.
This is the third Olympus digital camera I have purchased (D-600L and a C-2000Z being the others), and I have two of their film cameras. This is also the first time I've ever had a problem, but Olympus' actions will have me thinking long and hard before I buy another of their products.
It's very disappointing.
-- Mikel Peterson(Glad you got it resolved. It's no fun being treated like the perpetrator when you feel like a victim. And in cases where you feel -- even though the matter may have been resolved favorably -- that the process stunk, take the time to write to the president of the company. -- Editor)
(I personally had an excellent experience with Olympus service the single time I've needed them (and they didn't know who I was, by the way), but I wanted to underscore the importance of Mike's comment: If you've had a bad experience with a vendor, it's worth investing the time to let someone in authority know about it. Complaining to the person who was the cause of the problem won't do much, although it may be emotionally satisfying. ;-) Best is to find out who's in charge of the department, or who that person reports to (in the case at hand, the right level would probably be the executive the manager of the repair operation reports to), and then write a letter. I can't imagine a company like Olympus having a policy of looking for excuses to duck warrantee repairs: The consequences in the marketplace would be devastating. It may be though, that there needs to be a little "sensitivity training" applied to trust what customers are telling them. Experiences like yours hurt them, and the person who has authority over that area needs to know about it. My experience with manufacturers in general is that when you find the right level at which to air the problem, a solution is usually forthcoming. In the process, you've helped the company improve. Your letter here may do that: I know this newsletter is read by several people at Olympus, so perhaps the issue will filter up to the proper party! -- Dave)
RE: Digital Backs
I am wondering why camera manufacturers like Minolta do not make digital backs to go onto their 35mm SLRs like the Maxxum so that owners can take advantage of their collection of lenses? Is the problem that the size of the image area is too large for the digital imaging systems?
-- Franklin B. W. Woodbury, P.E.(Excellent guess. Indeed if the CCD is not as large as the 35mm film frame, you won't get what you see in the viewfinder. But there's a lot more to a digital camera than the CCD. Processing power, data storage, software, imaging processing capabilities are just a start. And it's hard to cram all that into a film back, particularly if the camera wasn't designed for interchangeable backs. Nevertheless, don't be surprised if.... -- Editor)
RE: White Balance
I spent 13 years in broadcast television before metamorphosing into an attorney and finally into a quasi-professional digital photographer. My question is why, oh why, do digital camera manufacturers not incorporate a white balance button to adjust the CCD image for differing color temperatures? Perhaps I have missed the answer in a previous issue or, perhaps an article on the reason could be in a future issue. Thanks.
-- Vapdragon on eBay(Some do. If you visit the Web site for the full camera reviews, you'll see that Dave goes into this for each model (we just can't fit everything he covers in the newsletter). But it often isn't a button, so much as a menu option to override the automatic adjustment. Which various cameras do with varying success. -- Editor)
(A neat feature more digicams are incorporating is the "manual" or "preset" white balance option. The Casio QV-8000 covered above is one such. This option lets you point the camera at a white surface, press a button, and have the camera adjust the white balance to make the white object turn out white in the pictures. Some work better than others, and there are a variety of ways this is integrated into the user interface (sometimes deeply buried), but I think this is the feature you were looking for. Another neat trick with cameras that offer it is to use an off-white object for the white balance. This will produce a deliberate shift in the color in a direction opposite the color of the reference object. Thus, use a very lightly tinted blue-white card to get a warm-toned image, a yellowish card to get cool tones, etc. -- Dave)
Annie Liebovitz's latest book of images, "Women" (Random House, $75), was suggested, it's said, by Susan Sontag. Sontag wrote the introduction, but this is Leibovitz's show. And worth the price of admission.
On the unpublished front, take a look at Brian Rose's http://www.brianrose.com/lostborder.htm and see if you can find the common element in all 70 photos. OK, we'll tell you: it's the Iron Curtain. Rose writes in an introduction, "The pictures were made in color with a 4x5 view camera, and describe the topography of the border with its fences, watchtowers, and no man's land. To my knowledge, this is the only comprehensive project of its kind dealing with the now-vanished Iron Curtain landscape." It's not too soon to remember.
You may have forgotten Valentine's Day, but we can't let you forget this month marks the 10th anniversary for Photoshop. Which makes our eyes blur Gaussianly.
Epson will include the Digita software operating environment in the ultra-megapixel Epson PT-110W and the PT-110B photo printers.
"This is the next-generation series of Digita-enabled photo printers from Epson. Together, we deliver built-in intelligence that offers customers exciting new options and greater flexibility," said Stephen D. Saylor, executive vice president and general manager of FlashPoint Technology. "This allows photographers to have more control of how their pictures will appear, while providing new capabilities such as personalization, audio narration, and special effects, all without the need for a PC."
"Digita provides the EPSON PT-110W and the PT-110B with a universally compatible digital imaging solution that creates a new standard for digital imaging printers," said Isao Edatsune, manager of inkjet products management group at Seiko Epson. "The PT110W and PT-110B can print images from any digital camera providing a versatile and scalable solution to share pictures with friends, family, and business associates instantly."
The PT-110W and the PT-110B support print formats including panorama (two panorama images on one sheet), poster (maximum A4 x 16 sheet size), photo ID (eight different sizes on one sheet), album print (up to 20 images on one sheet with choice of printing order), and ScanTalk audio barcode-like printing.
The printer supports 44 preprogrammed, packaged filters. There are more than 100 additional ways that users can fine tune the image appearance through custom filters. In addition, the product can handle a number of paper stocks, from standard bond to glossy with the addition of glossy film, OHP foil, and iron print paper. The printer can also play back audio annotations that are recorded with the digital photo.
The product comes in black (PT-110B) and white (PT-110W) outside coloring. It also connects to any PC or Apple Macintosh computer via parallel or serial interface, and is compatible with all leading graphics applications. Initially the product will be available Feb. 26 in Japan only, Epson said.
In a survey of 700 digital camera owners, InfoTrends Research Group, Inc. found that the photographers expect to capture all of their images digitally by 2004. The study asked several questions about how digital photography has changed digital camera owners' film photography usage. The results show that owning a digital camera reduces the need to use a film camera. In fact, 30 percent of digital camera owners no longer use a film camera to capture images for their documents. For those still using a film camera, the digital camera, on average, has replaced 63 percent of the work that used to be done with a film camera.
"Digital photographers are not sufficiently satisfied with the image quality produced by their digital camera to retire their film camera. However, digital photographers are transitioning more of their image capture to the digital camera, because they enjoy the unique benefits of digital capture: convenience, instant feedback, emailing, printing photos at home, and the ability to print only the images that are the best shots," says Michelle Lampmann, market research analyst for InfoTrends Research Group. "As a result, digital photographers capture and print more images than they did with their film camera." The 2000 Digital Camera End User Study shows that, on average, using a digital camera increases the number of pictures used in electronic and printed documents by 86 percent.
In addition to printing more photos, digital photographers are actively using the Internet with their images. Emailing photos has become the most popular way to share snapshots with friends and family, followed by sharing prints. The study shows that users email a median of four images per week.
Another growth area is online photo albums. The study shows that 50 percent expect to post images on personal Web sites in the future, and 31 percent expect to create photo albums on a commercial Web photo site in the future.
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:
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher