|Volume 2, Number 7||7 April 2000|
Welcome to the 15th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter featuring reviews of Fuji's SuperCCD digicam and Pixid's Whiteboard Photo -- and paper recommendations from our board of experts (uh, you).
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:
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By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/F4700/F47A.HTM on the Web site.)
Fuji has been producing digicams for several years now for both themselves and other companies (Toshiba and Leica).
Recently, Fuji announced their "SuperCCD" technology, which promised higher light sensitivity and greater interpolated image resolutions than were feasible with conventional CCDs. The FinePix 4700 is the first of their SuperCCD cameras, using a 2.4 megapixel sensor to create image files 2400x1800 pixels in size.
Fuji drew some harsh criticism when the camera was first announced because they labeled it a "4.3 megapixel" camera, referring to the final image size, rather than to the underlying sensor pixel count. Fuji's contention was that the SuperCCD technology facilitated a higher level of interpolation than did conventional CCDs, justifying the higher pixel count. In the production release of their camera (at least here in the U.S.), Fuji has dropped the "4.3 megapixel" labeling, referring only to the pixel dimensions of the final file.
This is the first public review of a production-level 4700, so we've tried to be particularly careful in our testing to ensure accuracy in setup of the shots and handling of the files. (We had our hands on a prototype unit a few weeks ago, but wanted to wait for a production model before presenting any test shots, given the scrutiny they'll doubtless receive.)
Was the 4.3 megapixel resolution claim justified?
Well not entirely, in our humble opinion, but we tend to agree that there's some justification for a claim beyond the 2.4 megapixels of the sensor itself. We feel that there is some benefit to the unique design of the SuperCCD sensor, albeit not as great as Fuji initially claimed.
This highlights an important issue in the consumer digicam market: We badly need a universally agreed-upon standard way to specify and refer to image resolution. The ISO-12233 resolution target that we use in our own tests was designed to address that, but in its simplest usage, the numbers derived from it are still subject to interpretation, while in its most rigorous application, the results it produces are too complex and confusing to be of any use to the average consumer.
Following the compact design aesthetic of their previous "pocket camera" models, Fuji's new 4700z fits easily in a typical shirt pocket. Its ultra-modern, silver body design is attractive and functional. One design element that keeps the camera's facade smooth is the retractable lens. Protected by a mechanical cover that slides out of place when the lens extends outward (which it does when the camera is turned on), the fully retracting lens keeps the camera face free of any protrusions when it's stowed. Also adding to the camera's sleek appearance is the pop-up flash design, which neatly hides the flash when it's not needed. We liked the design of the four way arrow buttons on the back panel, which encircle a small, black and white LCD display that reports the current functions of the surrounding buttons, and the status of the settings they control. What's great about this display is that many of the camera's settings can be controlled here, meaning you don't have to rely too much on the LCD based menu (which is only available in Manual exposure and Playback modes), saving a significant amount of battery power in normal use.
Another interesting feature of the 4700z is that it allows you to program a startup image that appears on the LCD monitor every time the camera is turned on. This is a nice touch for businesses who want to put their logo in the startup or anyone who just has a favorite image they want to program in.
The 4700z features both a real-image optical viewfinder, with autofocus target and cropping marks, and a two-inch, low-temperature, polysilicon TFT color LCD monitor for image composition. An information readout can be displayed or removed from the LCD monitor and reports a variety of information about the camera's settings, depending on the exposure mode you're in. When shooting in Manual mode, the settings menu remains at the bottom of the screen, while the battery status and image count is displayed at the top. When the shutter button is half-way pressed, the aperture and shutter speed settings are revealed at the bottom of the screen. An interesting feature of the LCD in Playback mode is that it allows you to create a 25-image index display from captured movies (not stills) so that you can grasp the content of the movie without playing it back. You can also zoom into captured images up to 15x (!) and scroll around to check details. You can do this during the preview display as well, which gives you a chance to examine images captured in Manual exposure mode before recording them to the SmartMedia card.
The Fujinon 3x, 8.3-24.9mm lens (equivalent to a 36-108mm lens on a 35mm camera) offers aperture settings of f2.8 or f7.0 in normal, wide-angle mode ranging to f4.5 of f10.8 in telephoto. With a normal focal distance from 31.5 inches (80cm) to infinity and 7.9 inches (20cm) to 31.5 inches (80cm) in macro, the 4700z offers both automatic and manual focus options in Night Scene, Manual and Continuous Shooting exposure modes. A 1.88x/3.75x digital telephoto extends the camera's telephoto range to effective focal lengths of 203 or 405mm, but only for the smaller image sizes.
Exposure control on the 4700z is very simple, as the camera controls most of the settings. A variety of exposure modes set the camera up for different shooting scenarios: Night Scene, Landscape, Portrait, Auto, Manual, Continuous Shooting and Movie. The majority of exposure modes puts the camera in charge of all the exposure choices (including white balance and exposure compensation). This is convenient for some people, who don't want to worry too much about the details. Manual exposure mode gives you control over everything except for the aperture and shutter speed. You have several white balance options (including three different types of fluorescent lighting), sharpness controls, metering modes, optional manual focus control, exposure compensation, flash intensity, flash mode (Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed and Slow-Synchro), ISO (200, 400 or 800) and more. We found the user interface a little tricky to decipher at first, as the Shift key provides shortcuts to several Setup menu options such as changing file size and quality. However, a quick read of the manual answered all of our questions. Once we were accustomed to it, we really liked the combination of LCD readout and jog control, making a number of camera settings very accessible without resorting to the LCD menu system.
The Continuous Shooting mode allows you to take up to three consecutive shots at approximately 0.2 second intervals (!), depending on the amount of SmartMedia space and image information to process. Because the flash is unavailable in this mode, the only feature you can control is manual focus. Movie mode allows you to capture up to 90 seconds of moving images with sound at approximately 10 frames per second. All movies are recorded at the 320 x 240 image size. As we mentioned earlier, you can create a 25-image index of each movie for quick review and there's even an option to play movies backwards, if you so desire.
One of the more controversial aspects of the FinePix 4700 is the way it creates 4.3 megapixel files from it's 2.4 megapixel SuperCCD sensor. We're reluctant to step into the ring to argue the pros or cons of image interpolation, but can say the 4700's resolution as measured by our studio tests is clearly better than typical 2 megapixel cameras, but equally clearly doesn't rise to the level of the best 3.3 megapixel units currently on the market.
Images are stored on a SmartMedia card (a 16MB card comes with the camera) with three quality settings and three image sizes available. A USB cable is included with the camera for quick image transfer to a PC or Mac and a software CD provides basic image viewing and editing capabilities with Exif Viewer and QuickTime 4. The camera ships with a complement of software for both Mac and Windows platforms, letting you download, view, and manipulate images on both platforms. An included NTSC video cable (US and Japanese models, PAL in Europe) means you can connect the camera to a television set for image playback or composition, using the television screen as a large LCD monitor.
The 4700z uses two AA NiMH or NiCd batteries for power, or an optional AC adapter. Most likely because it uses only two batteries, we found battery life to be rather short, even though you can opt to shoot without the LCD monitor: We strongly recommend keeping a couple sets of freshly charged batteries handy. We also recommend purchasing the AC adapter for tasks like downloading or reviewing images. Kudos to Fuji though, for including a set of high-capacity (1600 mAh) NiMH rechargeable batteries with the camera, and a compact charger for recharging them.
Overall, this is a great camera for a consumer looking for hassle-free shooting, portability, and large file sizes for high-quality prints. Because the camera always has control over aperture and shutter speed, the most you have to worry about is an exposure-compensation adjustment, and whether or not you need flash. The camera's extremely compact design makes it a good candidate for consumers on the go who don't want to fuss with a camera bag. The high resolution means you'll be able to make true photo-quality 8x10 prints from your images. The 4700z is a fun camera that definitely won't be left behind.
SHUTTER LAG / CYCLE TIMES
The 4700's shutter lag was just slightly longer than average, at 0.9 seconds for full autofocus (average is probably about 0.8 seconds), dropping to a slightly better-than-average 0.19 seconds for shots in which the lens is prefocused by half-pressing the shutter button prior to the exposure itself. In manual focus mode, the shutter delay is about 0.42 seconds.
Cycle times at maximum resolution and quality are quite fast, about 1.5 seconds between the first and second shots, increasing to about 2.5 seconds for subsequent ones. Cycle times at minimum resolution and quality hover around 2 seconds, regardless of how many shots have been taken. (The internal buffer memory apparently comes into play for the first one or two high-resolution images.) Overall, this is a very fast shot-to-shot performance for a camera of this resolution. In Continuous mode, successive shots are captured every 0.24 to 0.25 seconds (Fuji's official spec is "about 0.2 seconds"). We measured the frame rate in movie mode at exactly 10 frames per second.
The Fuji FinePix 4700 is clearly one of the more controversial digicams in recent memory, which is why we elected to wait until a final production model was available before publishing our review.
In contrast to at least one recent review, we feel that it does just fine as a 2.4 megapixel camera, as long as you're not fooled into thinking that softness on-screen means low resolution. There's clearly a full ~2.5 megapixel's worth of resolution in its images, just spread out over 4.3 megapixels worth of file "real estate." (We base this conclusion on extensive comparisons between files from the 4700 and a large number of other cameras in the 2.1-3.3 megapixel range.)
In the plus column for the camera, we'd count good color and resolution (again, subject to the 2.5 megapixel note above), the excellent compact Fuji camera design, nice user interface (we really liked the "soft key" jog control buttons), higher than usual ISO speed, and nicely-implemented movie functionality.
On the downside, we'd just as soon have seen fewer pixels in the final images, and battery life is a bit short, at about 80 minutes of continuous playback. The included high-capacity NiMH cells are a definite plus, and we recommend buying another four or so high-capacity AAs to pack along with you on outings. We see this as a good camera producing high resolution, good color, and good light sensitivity for the "road warrior" (or soccer mom) who wants a compact camera that won't get left in the drawer, more so than for the technophile enthusiast interested in extensive exposure control.
Would we buy one? Well, we never answer that question, but will admit to owning a Fuji MX-1700 that's our "bring along" digicam, and the 4700 does have more resolution and better low-light performance than that model....
By STEPHANIE BOOZER with DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the illustrated review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/WBS/WBSA.HTM on the Web site.)
I served long years of career purgatory (well OK, maybe it wasn't that bad) in the aerospace industry, and a few years more in large-corporation software development. During that time, I developed a real love/hate relationship with the ubiquitous "whiteboards" -- those slick white surfaces filled with colorful marker scribblings. The love part was that they were a great way to sketch out ideas, brainstorm, diagram, etc. The hate part was because there wasn't any way to do anything with the information after the meeting! Someone would have to be delegated to try to copy the scribbles onto a piece of paper, copy and distribute them to everybody. That was hassle enough, but how about those times when you sit down in the conference room, only to discover that the previous group has left every inch of whiteboard surface covered with irrelevant scribbles, & dire "Do NOT Erase!!!" messages all over them!
The product that's the subject of this review is one of those neat little "Aha!" products that does its job so cleanly and effortlessly, it's worth its weight in gold! (Actually, probably quite a bit more.) Check it out, this is one of the slickest little applications for a digital camera I've seen in quite a while.
NB: This isn't just for Corporate America! How about students and teachers? Imagine instead of frantically scribbling notes while the prof writes on the board, just snapping the shutter every few minutes? Whooee! I would have killed for a trick like that in college and grad school! Great for teachers too, wanting to make easy handouts of class material. Hey, how about the ubiquitous college note-taking services? The more I thought about the application, the more universal it seemed to be! Check out Stephanie's review below: It really is as easy to use as it sounds!
A NEW IDEA
Ever missed an important business meeting or conference? Or, suppose you made the meeting but were unable to quickly copy down the notes from the flip chart or whiteboard.
Whatever the scenario, we've all been there at some point. And the folks at Pixid must have too, because they've come up with a new software package that will be praised in conference rooms around the globe.
Whiteboard Photo is the answer to many a conference dilemma because it converts digital images of whiteboards, flip charts and chalkboards (even amazingly bad ones) into polished printed reports. All you need is the software, a digital camera and a printer. In a nutshell, you simply snap a digital picture of the whiteboard, import it into the Whiteboard Photo software for a little highly-automated cleanup and then output it to your printer or email. Simple as that! You don't even have to be a good photographer.
- Windows 95, 98, 2000 or NT 4.0 or higher
- CD-ROM drive for installation
- 486 based PC (Pentium recommended)
- SVGA video card with 256 colors (or better)
- 20 MB hard disk space
- 32 MB RAM or higher
- Digital camera or alternate source of digital images (640 x 480 or greater)
Whiteboard Photo is simple to install. Just insert the CD and double click the setup icon (if the Wizard doesn't go ahead and take control).
We enjoyed the extensive help system, which serves as a complete guide to the software and also offers helpful tips on getting the most out of your digital camera in the conference room, complete with diagrams and setup guidelines. Clearly, it's one of the most comprehensive help systems we've seen, particularly thoughtful in addressing what to do before the image gets to your computer!
Launching the application brings up the main screen, which features a page preview window and several option buttons as well as five basic menus. The top menu bar features the File, Edit, View, Tools and Help menus and a tool bar beneath features quick access buttons for a variety of features such as save, open file, etc.
You can quickly open a photo by clicking on the folder button or the digital camera button to pull an image directly from any TWAIN device. You can also go through the File menu.
After opening a photo, the program automatically selects the whiteboard area with a dashed line. (It "knows" what a whiteboard on a wall looks like, and is surprisingly adept at finding it and picking out the boundaries.) Because the selection isn't always perfect, the selection lines are adjustable by clicking and dragging the white boxes into the appropriate shape.
Whiteboard Photo even lets you compensate for lens distortion (barrel or pincushion distortion), just by dragging the control "handles" in the middle of each side of the selection area to match the curvature of the board's image. You can adjust for almost any distortion your camera or an awkward shooting situation is likely to produce!
Once you've adjusted the selection, all you do is click on the Clean Photo icon on the toolbar (you can also go through the Tools menu).
Voila! You have a cleaned up, legible version of the board. You can also use the selection process to select only certain areas of the board.
Whiteboard Photo did an amazing job but the colors ended up a little washed out.
A REAL WORLD EXAMPLE
We tested a white board Dave drew up, which was probably fairly typical of a real-world whiteboard digicam shot. The lighting was all wrong for the camera's meager white balance to handle, so there was a significant overall color cast. There was also some glare in the frame, from other objects in the room.
But Whiteboard Photo handled our more "typical" shot with ease! Imagine how easily you could take notes in the next meeting. Or how easy it'd be to keep up with that manic Prof teaching 2nd-semester Thermo!
Dave's Note: No lie, there was a professor at the college I attended who could write on the blackboards with both hands simultaneously! Students would pair up to tag-team the note-taking, alternating blackboards full of material between them. Whiteboard Photo would have made mincemeat of that course!
Speaking of blackboards, Whiteboard Photo isn't just for whiteboards! There are separate settings for blackboards or greenboards too! Just open the Options menu to select the appropriate background color. Note that the Options menu also lets you set how you want Whiteboard Photo to size the files it creates, and what quality you want it to use when saving as a JPEG.
BTW, the Edit menu that gives you tools to rotate the image to the right or left, also sharpen, darken, lighten or convert the image into line art.
Still not enough? How about using Whiteboard photo to clean-up hand-drawn illustrations made on pieces of paper. In that respect, it lets your digital camera work like a scanner, only even better, automatically adjusting brightness, contrast, and saturation for a perfect result every time!
Printing cleaned-up photos is just as simple as the clean-up process. Just press the Print button on the toolbar. To make a few alterations before printing, accessing the Page Setup screen (through the File menu, shown below) allows you to assign a title, select the paper size, select the orientation (portrait or landscape) and change the margins of the image. Additionally, if you're incorporating the image into a presentation, you can invert the background through the Edit menu.
What if you want to incorporate your Whiteboard images into a presentation, where they'll be projected in a dark room? White-on-black illustrations work much better in that context, the light-colored lines showing up much better in a darkened presentation room.
Well, guess what? Whiteboard Photo also lets you invert the color of the background, leaving the colors of the lines intact.
Dave's Note: Pretty tricky piece of image-processing that!
Here's how it works. Just go to the Edit menu, and select the Invert Background option.
Finally, because you might have several images from the same meeting, Whiteboard Photo offers a batch conversion option that lets you load, clean, save and print many photos at once, saving huge amounts of time. The Batch Conversion Wizard lets you specify where to get the images and where to save them, and does all the work from there on.
Interesting that most first reactions to hearing of Whiteboard Photo were a bit of a yawn. "That's great for a few corporate types, but how many people would really use it?"
But after playing with it a bit, we think the answer is a LOT! We can see this being used not only in the corporate presentation room, but by almost anyone.
Any kind of educational setting is a natural for it, whichever side of the podium you're standing or sitting on. Teachers in any grade can use this to make accurate handouts easily. As noted, students should love it as a great shortcut for note-taking.
(Tip to parents: For graduation, think about buying your about-to-be college student a nice digicam with a good zoom lens and reasonable low-light capability, and a copy of Whiteboard Photo. We'd bet the improved note-taking accuracy will translate into a full letter-grade boost!)
HOT TO GET IT
Whiteboard Photo is available directly from the Pixid Web site at http://www.pixid.com -- and Pixid is offering Imaging Resource readers a deal of $20 off the usual $99.95 list price, for a net of only $79.95. (Small enough to fit on even the stingiest of petty-cash vouchers, and easy to cost-justify in just one meeting!) They also offer a full 30 day money back guarantee (but from what we hear, haven't had to pay out on many of those!)
The software supports any TWAIN interface and many file formats including JPEG, bitmap, TIFF, Targa, Windows Metafile and Photoshop, among others. We were impressed with the software's ability to convert really wretched photos into legible and printable files that can be incorporated into a presentation program or emailed (although we obviously got the best results from well-shot images). Additionally, the quick installation process and the very short learning time make Whiteboard Photo a really viable option for many businesses. You don't need great photography skills and you don't have to spend a lot of time learning a new application. Bravo, Pixid, for an excellent solution to a common business problem!
Since we launched the Web site for this newsletter (immortalizing our errors with a complete Archive and making them easily accessible with an Index), you've had the power to control your own subscription (or add a friend) from our Subscriber Services page. Instantly.
Which has recently enjoyed a modest improvement.
After a few months of personally processing your changes of addresses (which we do once every two weeks), we've automated the process. It looks the same to you. Just enter the old address and the new one along with your name. But behind the scenes, your verified addresses are sent immediately to the list.
You receive instant acknowledgement of your superior technological savvy and subsequent email confirming the old address has been removed and the new one started.
We've tested this so thoroughly we haven't gotten around to other chores on the site, but if you have any problems with it, just let us know.
You may have seen (in one cartoon or another) that beret-crowned smock-robed painter, his palette perched behind him to balance his out-thrust arm, thumb up, one eye clamped shut, as he measures his subject.
Ever wonder what, exactly, he was doing?
The thumbs up part is not a tip to his critics. Just a convenient way to measure the relative size of near and far objects. And the wardrobe screams Fashion Emergency.
But you can take a lesson from that one-eyed way of looking at things.
Whether you are sketching a scene on canvas or composing an image in your viewfinder, you are reducing a three-dimensional world to just two dimensions. Which accounts for another source of beginner disappointment. Those great shots you happen upon that somehow never look so good through the camera.
How come you can see them but your camera can't?
The problem, often, is that you're seeing the world with two eyes while your camera sees it with just one. Two eyes gives you an unfair advantage: depth perception. And when you compose an image with a foreground and background subject (say a distant building framed by a nearby tree), depth perception gives it a dramatic perspective your camera just can't see.
Sometimes moving a little to the right or left will help you find in two dimensions some approximation of what struck you about three. But there's no real cure.
Instead, get in the habit of looking, now and then, camera or not, with just one eye. See a nice panorama? Ask yourself how it would look to your camera by closing an eye. Train yourself, in short, to compose images without depth perception.
Just don't overdue it. People might think you're winking at them. ;)
In the digital darkroom, you open an image file that's a certain number of pixels wide and a certain number high on a monitor that displays a certain number of pixels an inch (depending on its resolution) to print on a printer that prints a certain number of pixels an inch in screens composed of dots that are a certain number of lines an inch.
So how do you figure out what size your pictures are?
The size of your image depends, ultimately, on the resolution of the output device you choose to display it.
Let's take a simple example: your monitor.
The unaltered image file displays at different sizes on your monitor depending on the monitor's resolution. A 17-inch multisynch monitor set to display 640x480 pixels will display your 640x480 image full screen. Roughly 9x12.
But set it to 1024x768, say, and those 640 pixels in the image width, for example, only crawl a little more than halfway across the 1024 pixels on the screen.
Different resolution, different size.
By varying the resolution (not the pixels, but pixels per inch) of any image, you vary its size. Let's make this a little more fun and print a hypothetical 640x480 image to demonstrate.
That 640x480 image printed on a 200 dot-per-inch dye sub printer is about 3x2 inches. Printed on a 600 dpi laser printer using an 80 line per inch screen at a resolution of 120 pixels per inch (let's just say, unless you want to enroll in our halftone seminar, too) it becomes a 5x4, roughly. And if you print it on your 600 dpi inkjet at 72 pixels per inch, it's almost 9x7. Posters meant to be seen from a distance of a few feet can be printed at even lower image resolutions.
Notice, again, that even though the size of the print changes, we have not changed the actual number of pixels in the image.
What changed was the resolution -- the number of pixels per inch. From 200 to 120 to 72. And the change was dictated, in each case, by the printer we were using. The dye sub wanted 200, the laser was using an 80 lpi screen, and the inkjet was happy with just 72 (probably because it was using a proprietary screening algorithm, not to mention four inks).
In real life, you probably are quite attached to one printer and would like to make prints of different sizes. Why not just resample to the size you want?
Resampling is never simple. Downsampling deletes information. And upsampling, while technically possible, invents it. If you use your image editor's unsharp masking filter, you can restore a downsampled image's apparent sharpness, but upsampling is usually much less successful.
For those times when your image file just doesn't have quite enough pixels, try reducing the resolution before resampling.
There are Photoshop plug-ins that claim to let you upsample your image with little loss of quality. MrSID and Genuine Fractals, for example. A review of the latter has been posted on the Web site. But they seem to do best with files that are already high resolution to start with.
Great minds think alike, or as the Germans say, "Zwei Idioten, ein Gedanke," (two idiots, one thought). As we've been wondering about it, you've been writing in to ask, "How you can travel with a digital camera?" Sans laptop, as the French might insist.
The problem is that, unlike a conventional film camera, once you fill up your storage media (floppy, SmartMedia, CompactFlash or other), it isn't easy to replace it. Can't just pop into the farmacia and whisper, "Quiero Kodak film," as you might in Baja.
It isn't just a question of capacity. On the road stuff happens, bro, as they say in Hawaii. You want redundancy, too. Copies.
Sure, you could invest in a 5-pack of your favorite storage media, but then how would you pay for your tickets?
And without that laptop to store your images (so you can erase your floppy, SmartMedia or CompactFlash and get back to work), how are you going to take more than one day's worth of pictures?
If you've solved the problem, let us know.
Meanwhile, we'll keep pestering Visor to develop an attachment to read camera media with software to transmit the contents to our photo album on the Web site our of choice. Like Ofoto.com, for example.
Until then, unfortunately, there's no place like home, as they say in Kansas.
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!
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.
Whiteboard Photo, available directly from the Pixid Web site at http://www.pixid.com, is available for Imaging Resource readers at $20 off the usual $99.95 list price, for a net of only $79.95.
Besides Dave's mention last time of AGA Chemicals' Pictorico paper and Celcast, readers came up with a number of paper recommendations. You, too, can reach us with our thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have been very pleased with an economical coated inkjet paper you might want to look into. It is Riverside Array, a bright 24 lb. paper, coated on both sides, smooth matte surface. It does a nice job on photos with my Epson Stylus Color 600. I have bought some at Costco and Office Max. At the former, when they had it in stock, it was 300 sheets for $6. Office Max was $1 more.
The latest newsletter was truly worth the wait! I now know more about JPEG compression than before. Thanks for a great article.
As far as inkjet papers go, I've only used three papers to date. Hammermill, Epson and Kodak. The Hammermill paper seems to be the whitest. I use it for printing greeting cards.
I have gotten great results for my digitized photos with Kodak inkjet paper. Since I'm using an Epson Photo 700 printer, I use a lot of their paper also. So far no problems.
-- Charlie Young
On the matter of inkjet paper, I have been using Great White, a 37 pound paper coated on BOTH SIDES. I don't have to guess which side is UP and I can put images on both sides, when I put together a catalog.
I am a sculptor and the finished image is not the product in itself, is not an art product per se, but only a means to a communication end, so my requirements are lower than that of a photographer, but some of your readers might, like me, find the 10 cents per sheet (at a local discount) useful for many purposes. And, while coated, it is still matte, which I prefer for my purposes .
-- D. Shapiro
I love Great White's "Imaging and Photo Paper." Matte finish, coated on both sides, 92 brightness, 37-pound weight ($10 for 100 sheets at Wal-Mart or Office Max). Perfect for my Epson 1200. Want glossy? I laminate using Ibico 3-mil laminating pouches ($20 for 50 at Office Max) in a Royal Sovereign RPA-5954 heat laminator ($80 at Sam's). This stuff makes me look as if I know what I am doing!!
Thanks for the great work!
-- Gene Widenhofer
I have been using Pictorico glossy film with my Epson photo 700 for about 6 months now and have been absolutely thrilled with the results. If you test it make sure you use the glossy film setting on your printer (I believe that applies to all Pictorico papers not just the glossy film), and use the highest quality settings on the printer (1440 and microweave on the Epson).
I would also like to suggest that you do an article on the new digital minilabs that are springing up all over the place. We recently got in our Fuji Frontier 370, and are able to print directly from the media card onto regular RA4 photographic paper. I would be interested in your opinion of the results.
-- Butch Black
(Sounds like more work ... for Dave. I'm all for it! -- Editor)
RE: Paper -- The Final Word
I follow your newsletter, and in the sections where you feature items like "looking good on paper" you might want to throw in this reference to Ric Ford's MacInTouch site (http://search.macintouch.com/printpermanence.html) which details the difficulties people have with the permanence of the prints from their printers.
There is an issue here, which is no one should expect to think these prints will substitute for a photographic print. They will fade (and quite quickly too). So do your readers a service by mentioning this fact. It could keep folks from making errors in their choices when the time comes to output.
-- Jody Joy
(A good suggestion. Particularly if you intend to market your prints, as opposed to your images. But this also highlights another advantage of digital photography over film: it's much easier to print out another digital image than to get a decent reprint made from a negative. Archive your image files prudently and you'll have the last word on permanence. -- Editor)
RE: Flip Album
I have a new program called Flip Album CD creator. It allows you to put photos on a CD and then display them in an album.
You can get it from www.ebooksystems.com. Go to http://download.cnet.com/ You will come to flipalbum 3.0. Click on download then click on developers site. It should bring you to the page with info on the new CD maker.
Hope you can find it OK. A great program.
-- Mary in N.C.
(Gene Widenhofer also mentioned Flip Album CD Maker by Ebook Systems at http://www.flipalbum.com/, noting it's a $40 shareware application for Windows 95 and up. It actually animates pages flipping in an album. Hence the name. -- Editor)
The National Gallery of Art at http://www.nga.gov/feature/stieglitz/asmain.htm has a special exhibit of the work of Alfred Steiglitz. You'll also see Georgia O'Keeffe there.
The $100 Nikon 950 rebate we mentioned last issue is now available. To qualify, buyers mail in the application with proof of purchase. The rebate program started April 1 and extends through June 30.
Toshiba has introduced a CMOS image sensor with an analog-to-digital converter that achieves the industry's lowest power consumption in this class of device. Available in either color or black and white, the sensor's small size and high performance is expected to show up in cellular phones and other portable devices with built-in cameras.
Nikon and Altamira Group Inc. have reached an agreement to bundle Altamira Genuine Fractals limited-edition software with Nikon's Coolpix 990 digital camera. The Altamira software can save images as "resolution-free files that can be enlarged well beyond their original size with unmatched fidelity to the original," the company said.
A U.S. Federal District Court has ruled that Lexar Media, Inc. of Fremont, Calif., has infringed a fundamental solid state flash memory card patent held by SanDisk. The ruling was announced by U.S. Federal District Judge Charles R. Breyer of the Northern District of California in San Francisco. The patent, Flash EEPROM System (U.S. patent no. 5,602,987), was issued Feb. 11, 1997. The judge also denied motions by Lexar claiming SanDisk's '987 patent is invalid and requesting a partial summary judgment of non-infringement.
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