The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 2, Number 12 16 June 2000

Copyright 2000, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 20th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. It's summer. And the living is easy. We'll show you how easy it is to turn a digital image into a 3-D marvel, how to use manual overrides to take a tough shot with ease, and how to easily accommodate all those "make me a set" requests at graduation. And if that sounds like too much work, sit back and read Dave's scoop on the Mavica with a CD-R for storage!


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: Adding Depth With Anaglyphs

There's no mystery to getting Height and Width in your image. In fact, it's impossible not to get them both. But what about Depth? How can you turn your favorite image into a color 3-D shot?

Very easily, it turns out.

SPECIAL SHADES

But you will need some special equipment: 3D glasses. Fortunately you can find them very inexpensively http://www.stereoscopy.com/reel3d/anaglyph-glasses.html which sells everything from a handheld cardboard pair ($1 for a sample) to aviator frames ($9.95) -- including clip-ons ($8.95) in case you get bored out there in left field.

If you're tempted to improvise, the rules are the red filter goes over the left eye and the blue (or green) filter over the right.

DEEP THOUGHTS

Anaglyph images, invented (we're told) in 1853 but made practical by Ducos du Hauron in 1891, simulate depth by imaging two slightly different views of the same scene in contrasting colors.

If you look at a red ball in red light, it appears white. But look at it in green light and it's dark. You can, in short, make an image disappear by filtering the light in the same color. And make it appear in a contrasting color.

The reason we perceive depth at all is because we have two eyes which are not inconveniently located on the sides of our head, but in the front, just a bit apart. As you may have noticed.

Each eye sees things from a slightly different perspective than the other. Which is why it's helpful to close one eye when you're composing an image. You'll see the shot the way your one-eyed camera does.

There is no real depth, of course, in a flat picture. Once you've taken the picture, you've only got a one-eyed view to work with. You can't see around the foreground a bit on the left and a bit on the right to reconstruct a real 3-D image.

But an anaglyph can simulate depth.

By filtering what each of your eyes sees, one or the other of the two images in an anaglyph disappears. One eye sees one image, the other eye sees the other and the brain puts them together as one image with depth.

Let's roll up our image editing sleeves and do one.

STEP-BY-STEP

First, pick an image that has something in the foreground. Something, that is, in front of something else.

Open the image in your image editing program. If it came from your digicam, it's already an Red, Green and Blue image, otherwise change the mode to RGB.

Go ahead and make it look as pretty as you like, then save it with a different name. We'll use an extension of .3d (just to annoy our spellchecker).

That Save As is an important moment. Don't do it again until we've finished the process.

Go to the Red channel. This is where the magic is performed. You've been looking at the composite Red, Green and Blue channels, but now we just want to fool around in the Red channel. Which your image editor may display as black and white, not Red.

We want to offset this channel a few pixels to the left. The more you offset it, the more depth you'll create. In general, softly focused images can use a larger shift than sharp images. Try 6 pixels for now.

If your image editing program has an Offset Filter (look under Filter Other), use that. Make sure you Repeat Edge Pixels or the pixels you move will leave the background color behind.

If you don't have an Offset Filter, try selecting the channel and using an arrow key to move it left. You won't be able to easily repeat the edge pixels, but you can crop the final image.

Go back to the RGB channel. Looks pretty bad, doesn't it? Great! Just what we want.

We're going to fix that by painting in the foreground. We want to paint using the original image saved to disk as .3d, which your program may call Reverting. Versions of Photoshop prior to 5.0 used the Rubber Stamp to Revert to the saved image. Newer versions use the History Brush, which can refer to any state or snapshot of the image, not just the one disk. Make sure the History Brush refers to the saved image by clicking that line in the History palette.

In any case set opacity at 100 percent for this, pick a brush size suitable to the detail in the subject and start painting what you want to appear in the foreground.

We're really just restoring the red channel (nothing else changed), but we're using the full color image to guide us. As you paint in your foreground, you'll see that disturbing red-green halo disappear and the normal, full-color, sharply focussed image return.

Believe it or not, you're done. You just have to look at the image through your special glasses. (Yes, you can save it when you're happy with the results.)

MIDGROUND? NO PROBLEM!

What if you want more than just a foreground and background? What if you want a middle ground, too?

Pretty much the same trick, but instead of reverting the foreground, revert the midground with an offset of -6. To do the foreground, offset the original Red Channel 6 pixels to the right (6). The History Brush helps here, but you can do the same thing by opening a second version of the original file and cloning the foreground from that.

You'll need to offset the original Red Channel to the right (6) to do the foreground, but you'll need either a snapshot of reference to the original. You can't just go back to the Red channel after shifting it for the midground. Then just paint in the foreground.

That's all there is to it.

But be careful. If you start leaving your Vuarnets or Oakleys behind to step out in your 3-D glasses, you've gone to far.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Sony MVC-CD1000 -- Not Your Father's Mavica

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CD1K/CD1KFL1.HTM on the Web site.)

For the last few days, we here at the Imaging Resource have had a unique opportunity to test and work with a brand new camera from Sony that we feel is arguably the most significant digicam announcement this year.

Just as their perennially popular floppy disk-based Mavica line seemed headed for a technological dead end, Sony has pulled an amazing hole card and produced a new camera with dirt-cheap removable media and essentially no capacity limitations, all the while retaining the universal usability and "no cables" appeal of the original Mavica line.

The secret? A 3" (77mm) CD-R drive integrated with a 2.1 megapixel digital camera. The CD-R gives the new Mavica 156 megabytes of removable (yet directly archival) storage capacity. Combined with the rich feature set, 2.1 megapixel CCD, and 12-bit digitization of their previous top of the line MVC-FD95, the new model clearly deserves the title of "ultimate Mavica."

THE TRIUNE WAY OF MEDIA NIRVANA

Much to the dismay of their competitors, Sony has more or less dominated the U.S. digital camera market over the last two years, thanks almost entirely to their Mavica product line. This has perplexed many enthusiasts and pundits (ourselves sometimes included), who've pointed to the Mavica models' generally higher prices and lower resolutions than competing models. "Geez," they/we would say to a new or prospective Mavica owner, "you could have bought a camera with twice the resolution for the same amount of money! What's the deal?" To which the Mavica owner would invariably reply something along the lines of: "I don't care, I just stick the floppy in my computer, and I've got my pictures. And they're fine pictures for what I want to do with them."

There are of course other reasons people buy Mavicas, including the much longer than average zoom ratios on the lenses of many models. A 14x zoom lens on an 0.8 megapixel camera gives you the same number of pixels on a distant subject as would a 17 megapixel (!) camera with a 3x zoom lens.

Ultimately though, the Mavica purchase decision almost always ended up being heavily influenced by the fact that the cameras stored their pictures on standard floppy disks. Why is this such an overriding issue with users? Understanding the importance of the floppy is essential to understanding how Sony has consistently managed to capture 30-40 percent of the entire U.S. camera market year after year.

At the root of the issue are three key factors we've puckishly called the "Triune Way to Media Nirvana." Follow the three steps of The Way, incorporate them into otherwise reasonably well-designed digicams, and you too can rule the digicam marketplace. ;-)

Here are the keys to Media Happiness:

  1. Cost: Media of the Way must be cheap, preferably very cheap.

  2. Capacity: Media of the Way must have plenty of capacity.

  3. Universality: Media of the Way can be used in any computer anywhere, any time, without special software or hardware to access it.

FLASHPATH -- AN INTERIM SOLUTION

The floppy disk fulfilled all the requirements of the "Way" when typical image file sizes were under 100K, but had an increasingly hard time as resolution and file sizes grew. One possible solution to the crunch appeared in the form of the FlashPath adapter for Memory Sticks. This clever gadget was developed by SmartDisk Corp., as a variation of their earlier units created for use with SmartMedia cards. The (exact) size and shape of a floppy disk, the FlashPath could be inserted into a computer's floppy-disk drive, and be read and written to just like a standard floppy.

Well, almost.

The FlashPath approach did relieve the capacity crunch, with Memory Stick capacity as high as 64 megabytes. But they unfortunately violate the other two principles of the Triune Way: They're expensive (the FlashPath itself sells for about $100, and a high-capacity Memory Stick is another $100 or more), and some of the universality is lost. True, most computers can be made to read FlashPath devices, but doing so requires the installation of software drivers. While this installation process is simple enough, it's enough to stop many consumers in their tracks. So, the FlashPath/Memory Stick solution was only a partial solution, and one not likely destined to be popular.

OUT OF THE BLUE: CD-R IN A CAMERA

We have to admit we were among those tsk-tsking over Sony's seemingly unbreakable commitment to the Almighty Floppy: "Nice run while it lasted, but now it's time for someone else to have a turn" would about sum up our attitude to the Mavicas. We felt Sony themselves had seen the writing on the wall, with their higher-end CyberShot digicam line moving to semiconductor memory in the form of Memory Sticks, rather than floppy-based storage. True, the newest Mavicas, with their 12-bit A/D conversion, greatly improved low-light capability and higher-resolution sensors did a lot to breathe new life into the line, but we expected the rest of the digicam world was finally going to get a chance to catch up with the marketshare that Sony had built upon the Mavicas' popularity.

We further confess that the idea of putting a CD-R into a digicam never occurred to us. For one thing, as far as we knew, CDs pretty much needed to be five inches (120mm, to be precise) in diameter, although we'd seen those CD business cards along with everyone else. We knew that the CD business cards caused problems in a range of drives, so didn't consider smaller formats to be viable. Well, it turns out that not only are small CDs viable, but there's actually a provision in the official ISO specification for CDs having diameters of both 120 and 77mm. In fact, virtually any CD drive out there can physically handle the 77mm CD size, including the new slot-loading iMacs! And if your CD drive doesn't support the smaller disks, Sony provides an adapter.

Completely aside from the issue of size, the other thing blocking our thought processes about CD-Rs in digicams was our awareness of how finicky CD-R writing can be: We've got more than our fair share of "coasters" (non-functional, written CD-Rs) to prove the point. It seems this is an area where Sony's electromechanical/optoelectronic engineers really worked overtime, in designing a CD-R system with sufficiently robust head-tracking to enable it to write successfully, even in the face of moderate amounts of vibration, changes in orientation, etc.

Not enough hurdles? How about one more: Normal CD writing basically involves burning data into a continuous spiral track occupying the entire data area of the CD. It turns out that "packet writing" provides a way for the CD recorder to drop discrete chunks of data into place, without having to open and close a "session" each time.

To read the resulting disks with a normal CD drive though, you have to "finalize" a session, which eats about 8 percent (roughly 13 megabytes for sessions after the first one, for lead-in and lead-out areas) of the total disk space. Thus, you'll want to view the images in the camera until you're ready to offload a fair number of them. Alternatively, if you have a packet-capable CD-R drive (note, CD-R, not just a CD-ROM drive), driver software from Adaptec (and possibly others) will let you read the disks, even if they haven't been "finalized." This could be viewed as a bit of a limitation, but the MVC-CD1000 also sports the first USB port on a Mavica, allowing images to be read from "unfinalized" disks just as you would from a normal USB-connected digicam.

Notes for Mac owners: Although Apple's UDF Volume Access claims support for version 1.5 of the Universal Disk Format (tm) specification, the Adaptec UDF Volume Access Version 1.04 extension is apparently required to read the version of the UDF format used by the Mavica MVC-CD1000. We can, however attest to the fact that the iMac supports both the 77mm disk size, as well as the Adaptec Volume Access extension, as we were able to successfully read "finalized" CDs from the MVC-CD1000 on our slot-loading 400 MHz DV iMac running Mac OS 9.0.4.

MAVICA MVC-CD1000 FEATURES & TOUR

The close resemblance between Sony's new FD95 Mavica and the just-announced CD1000 is no accident: Rather than build a new camera from the ground up around the CD-R technology (but can that be far behind?), Sony engineers instead opted to simply graft the new CD-R drive onto an existing design. Thus, the body, controls, camera electronics, and most operating menus on the CD1000 are identical to those of the FD-95.

USING A CD-R IN THE CAMERA

Virtually all aspects of the CD1000's operation are identical to those of the FD95. The sole exceptions have to do with the care and handling of the CD-R discs themselves.

Whenever a new disk (or one that has previously been "finalized" is inserted, the camera will tell you that the disk needs to be initialized. Not being CD mavens, we suspect (but aren't sure) that this involves writing the "lead in" area for the next session, a roughly 9 megabyte area reserved for table of contents information for the session to come. (See Adaptec's CD-R site for information on the whole topic, including an excellent glossary.) Initializing the disc appears to be a more critical operation than normal CD-R recording, as the camera asks you to place it on a level surface and avoid vibration during the process. The series of screens at right step you through the process.

Once a disk has been initialized, operation of the CD1000 is the same as that of any other Sony camera, regardless of media. Shot to shot full-resolution cycle times averaged about 5.0 seconds in our testing, while VGA-resolution images cycled in about 4.0 seconds. Full-resolution TIFF files took about 40 seconds to write. We were surprised that the full-resolution cycle times were as fast as they are, given that the CD-R has to spin up to speed before it can write the files. The 4-5 second cycle time compares favorably with many cameras on the market using semiconductor storage.

When you're done with a set of shots and want to set up the CD-R to be read in a conventional CD-ROM drive, you must "Finalize" the session. Our guess is that this process writes the lead out for that session, and goes back to fill-in the Table of Contents for the session in the lead-in area. The first lead-out on a disk occupies about 13 megabytes of space, subsequent ones require about 4 megabytes.

CONCLUSIONS

We said at the outset that we considered the CD-R Mavica to be "arguably the most significant digicam announcement of the last 12 months," and we stand behind that conclusion.

The original floppy-based Mavicas dominated the U.S. digicam market for the past two years, despite the high JPEG compression that the floppy format mandated. The advent of CD-R technology in the Mavica line means compromise is history. Sony has proven themselves capable of creating digicams with no-excuses image quality (witness the recent CyberShots, the DSC-F505V and the DSC-S70), and the CD1000 is a fair existence proof that there's no need for Mavicas to take a back seat to anybody in the image-quality arena anymore. While the current price differential for the CD-R technology is a hefty $300 US (the MVC-CD1000 is slated to sell for a US list price of $1299 in early August, 2000), this premium will doubtless come down as the technology matures and production ramps up.

It's transparently obvious that the CD1000 is only the first of a full spectrum of CD-based products from Sony, that we expect will ultimately span the performance/resolution spectrum. Can a 3 megapixel unit be far around the corner? It'll likely require a different camera body (or a slightly trimmed 2.6 million effective pixel spec, as in the F505V), but we're completely certain one is under development and nearing prototype stage even as we write.

Certainly, the new CD-R Mavicas won't be for everyone: Even a three inch CD still imposes a size requirement on the camera body that precludes the pocket-sized portability so in demand by many digicam users today. Likewise, the CD-R based Mavicas will be even more of a premium-priced product line than current floppy-based models are, restricting them to the upper end of the price curve, and keeping them out of the hands of many potential users for some time to come. Looking back at the extraordinary popularity of the original FD91 Mavica though, (which sold for the princely sum of $999 for an 800K pixel camera at a time when two megapixel models using conventional media were already shipping), it seems safe to predict that the MVC-CD1000 will be a runaway best seller, and once again reshape the digicam landscape.

Return to Topics.

Beginners Flash: Shooting a Dandelion Without Blowing It

You climbed up the side of the mountain forest on a trail littered with obsidian chips the Indians used to make arrow heads. The sunlight barely reached the forest floor. Just in spots here and there.

And now you've stumbled over the rocky trail as it breaks out of the fir trees and bay laurels into a meadow flooded with blue-eyed grass, lupine, goldfields -- and sunlight.

You pause to catch your breath, stop down your eyes, and turning to cool your forehead in the breeze what do you see but a dazzling dandelion standing against the dark backdrop of the forest, lit by the sun from behind.

You want that shot. But can you get it?

This isn't a job for auto exposure. If you just frame the dandelion and press the button, you'll get a white blur against some flatly colored grass and trees. Not dazzling at all.

No, you have to do a little work. But considering the long trek you're on, this little break could easily be considered as a survival skill. Think of it as a way to prolong your break.

The problem of the dandelion is, first, the brightness range of the subject. You have some very dark subjects in the background forest and a very bright one in the dandelion head. Even if your CCD could handle the wide a range of values found in the real sunlit world (it can't; neither can film), your printer can't. In fact, your printer handles even less. A lot less.

So you have to pick. Not the flower, but the brightness you want to capture.

In our case, it's pretty obvious we want a bright dandelion head and we're not too worried about seeing the forest for the trees. In fact, we'd be happy to lose the detail in the trees. The dark background would only help set off our dandelion.

The trick is to expose the dandelion so we capture it with some detail but also the relative brightness that first caught our attention. We want detail in the highlights, in short.

So how do you do that?

First, we have to properly meter the subject. You can do that by switching your metering mode to spot metering, so you're just reading the very center of your frame.

If we take the shot based on our spot reading, leaving the dandelion in the center of our frame, we'll get a drab gray dandelion framed as if we wanted to use it for target practice. Not the dazzling dandelion we want.

We have to tell the camera that the subject we're metering is not gray, but white. To do that, set your exposure compensation to overexpose one stop. That's an EV setting of +1.0.

When spot metering, it's best to think of metering and framing as two different steps. You use your lens to pinpoint the subject to be metered but you won't always want to frame the subject you've metered to be in the middle of the image.

So, after you've metered the subject, hold your shutter release button half-way down to hold the exposure information and then do your framing.

In our case, turn the camera for a portrait orientation and let the dandelion head sit near the top. A portrait of a dandelion.

When the breeze stops to catch its breath, snap the shot.

Did you get it? Well, just take a look in your LCD monitor to see what you think. Need more or less exposure compensation? You can tell right away.

And if you haven't quite caught your own breath yet, just tell your companions you have to bracket your exposure. After all, you want to bring home this trophy as if you'd gotten it with one of those obsidian arrow heads.

Return to Topics.

Advanced Mode: Getting Your Priorities Straight

Correct manual exposure is a two step dance. Without music. The shutter speed and the lens aperture must both be adjusted to allow just the right amount of light to reach the CCD (or film, for that matter).

Automated exposure usually expects you to pick a shutter speed and finishes the job by choosing an appropriate lens aperture. While some cameras let you choose whether to control the shutter or the aperture, rare was the camera that offered shutter speed priority. (Konica long distinguished itself with a shutter speed priority system in the 35mm world.)

Shutter speed priority simply means you pick the shutter speed and the camera picks the aperture setting for the light it meters. Aperture priority means you pick the aperture and the camera sets the shutter speed.

Unfortunately the two systems are not equivalent. Very different images may be captured using one or the other under identical circumstances.

Shutter speed priority gives you the chance to freeze fast moving subjects but takes away your control of depth of field.

Aperture priority gives you control of depth of field but risks blurring moving subjects.

So your subject -- and nothing else -- is the key to choosing an automated exposure mode. Action shots do best with shutter priority while anything that requires control of depth of field needs aperture priority.

How about an indelible example of each?

If you never want to forget how aperture priority works, you have nothing more to do than remember that the noted photographer Eadweard Muybridge made a very famous panorama of San Francisco one bright day in 1878 from the middle of the city with one disturbing feature obvious to even the casual observer. Despite the beautiful weather, it showed hardly anyone at all on the street. Anywhere in the city.

This miracle of timing occurred merely because Muybridge used such a long exposure than nobody actually in motion was still long enough to register on the film. Six second exposures, in fact.

That's the trouble with aperture priority. Moving subjects blur. And sometimes entirely disappear.

The problem with shutter priority has to do with sacrificing control over depth of field. When you (or your camera) focus your lens, you behave as if focus exists in only one plane about an inch deep. Not quite. While that plane is where sharp focus resides, there is an area just in front and behind it that is also in focus, if not quite as sharp. Depending on the aperture, the depth of field can be, well, quite deep. The farther you stop down your lens the deeper it is. And, in fact, these ranges were routinely engraved on 35mm lenses.

Consequently a common technique to "point out" the important part of your image is to shoot with a relatively open lens that narrows the focus to just the subject, altering the shutter speed to compensate.

Using depth of field in the field you can even estimate focus (after long practice), stopping down your lens to bring into focus a subject that otherwise wouldn't sit still for you.

Getting the picture, after all, is your highest priority.

Return to Topics.

Just for Fun: Share and Share Alike

So there we were sitting at the long banquet table, minding our own business, taking shot after shot of our niece opening her graduation presents when the charming aunt (who, if she's reading this, looks as glorious as she did when our niece was born) from the other side of the table (and family) asked us for copies.

"Why, you can make a CD for me, can't you? I've seen them in Office Depot."

Technically, yes. And, brother, she knows they don't cost as much as postage.

"And one for my mother, of course."

How could we say no. Postage isn't that much.

"Oh, are you making CDs?" another close relative chimed in.

We smiled.

"Pleeeease??"

Well. There's always bulk mail.

"He can email them to us!" the first suggested. "Then everyone who couldn't make it to the graduation can see the pictures! Isn't digital photography GREAT!!!"

Oh no, emailing 53 huge files to two dozen relatives. Or burning CDs in our toaster. We'll be up all night. For a week. Is there no escape? Why did we bring the camera???

Frankly, it drove us to gardening the next day. We thought maybe a thunderstorm would wipe out our CompactFlash and we could just email everyone an apology. Two lines in two minutes. To the mailing list we named Long Lost Relatives.

But what were we thinking? This is exactly what photo sharing is for.

We used a little image editing program to print out a contact sheet and took a look at our winnings. OK, this one and that one and maybe this one. About 18 of the 53 for starters. That would be enough to drive everyone nuts.

Each image was about 350K. We'd done as much image editing as we could stand (speed was the thing here; we didn't want them calling to ask where their CD was). Up they went, five at a time (for no particular reason), about a minute each. Much faster than we expected over the old phone line.

Afterwards we captioned them, and even rearranged them into chronological order (I'd skipped one). Then we sat back for a slide show to see how we'd done. The slide show is smart enough to deliver a big enough file, not the whole 350K file. Just fine. Little clock in the corner. Add to shopping cart option (hope I wasn't being too obvious).

Ofoto (our sharing site of choice), by the way, made every one of these operations a breeze. Nothing we had to do (changing the order, editing a caption) couldn't be done -- and very easily. Hey, it was even fun -- but don't tell anyone.

Happy with our little presentation, we zipped off a little email with the Ofoto sharing form, entering all the addresses everyone wrote out for us on the back of their business cards. Before we knew it we had done it.

But the real thrill came when we realized it had only taken 15 minutes. We would only have been burning just the second CD by then. And if anyone wants prints, we'll they can order them right there online. Or just view the online slide show with a click of the mouse.

And we can save our CDs for coasters.

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!

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 at https://secure.teleport.com/~peterwh/pixid/order_ir.html only. See our review at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/WBS/WBSA.HTM on the Web site.

Return to Topics.

We Have Mail

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

RE: CD Media Checker

Hi, I'm an avid reader of your articles and always visit your site before buying new equipment. Couple things I'd like to share about your CD-R article.

First, after burning critical disks, I use a media checker to test them. Lots of them are available as freeware and they will test every sector of a disk you've burned. Very worthwhile tip, because I have found bad disks that other wise appear to be fine. But in reality they have bad sectors on them.

Also, since moving up to the Nikon 990 (great review, thanks), I've been getting much larger files to store. That increases the error rate even more and I've found that backing down my quad speed writer to double speed, gives me much safer writes. That one is truly a file size issue alone. I use a dual Pentium III, ultra2 SCSI drives, half a gig of RAM, the latest version of Easy CD Creator, the newest firmware updates, and can still screw up disks writing at quad speed.

Thanks for listening.

-- Sandra

(Great tips, Sandra, thanks! Interesting problem with the larger files. Have your tried increasing the cache on Easy CD Creator? If the drive itself has a 2M cache, for example, and is a 4x writer, you need 4x2M or 8M as a cache to avoid underrunning the writer's buffer. At 2x write speed, you only need a 4M cache, which may be the default cache setting. -- Editor)

RE: Hot Wax

Great writing, by the way. Creative and accurate!

In regards CD repair, I've gotten pretty good results with one of those scratch remover kits. Judging by the smell and consistency and general use, I swear it is merely liquid auto wax. It fills the tiny scratch grooves after you buff the excess off. Works pretty darn well. You perhaps could have amplified more on older CD players not reading CD-Rs and CD-RWs. Many just plain can't. Sometimes one will be OK with a CD-RW (more reflective), but not a CD-R.

Thanks for the rag,

-- Paul Verizzo

(Thanks, Paul! We're hesitant to recommend "filling" CD scratches because what goes in may come out -- in your player. The trick is not to divert the beam so much that the player's built-in error-correction can't help divine the signal. Now, as far as older players go, it won't hurt to emphasize that they generally can not read the erasable CD-RW discs, a subject we avoided. CD-Rs, properly closed (Write Disc, not just Write Session) should be no problem on older drives. -- Editor)

RE: Scope It Out

For those who want to record important data (and have some knowledge of electronics), you can check with an oscilloscope to see if the tracks are written correctly. Use an ordinary home player for the checking -- they will play your data CD if the TOC is written, that is, if the CD-R is "closed" making further writing impossible. The signal to check is marked RF or HF in your player. Generally, the signal amplitude is 1.0 to 1.4 volt peak-to-peak for normal CDs and 50 to 60 percent of that value for CD-R (and 20 to 30 percent for CD-RW. That's why you can't play your CD-RW in all players). When the scope is correctly in sync, you will see an diamond-shaped signal containing the data.

-- Marc Doigny

(I'd try this but I just can't seem to remember who borrowed my oscilloscope. Probably ended up in some science project. But thanks for the CD-RW explanation, Marc! -- Editor)

RE: Contact Sheet

I look forward to receiving and reading your newsletter each month.

I am curious what other photographers are using as a photo-editing software? This would be the primary software to view the image(s). We have used Adobe PhotoShop for many years, but it isn't an easy program to look at all of the images to pick, say, one of thirty taken. What have you used that works well for you?

-- Don Engler

(Thanks, Don. Since version 5.0, Photoshop has included a "Contact Sheet" option (under File Automate) that will built a page of thumbnails (slowly) for any particular directory of images. Once you save that page, it's pretty quickly navigated and resized. -- Editor)

RE: Printers

My name is Amber & I have my own digital photography & design business. I just wanted to let you guys know how much I enjoy your Web site. The information is very helpful. I love the camera reviews and hope to see similiar photo printer reviews someday. I haven't found any other place with such extensive reviews!! Keep up the good work.

-- Amber-Marie Turner

(Thanks for the vote of confidence! The site is a lot of work, so it's really appreciated when people write to tell us they like what we're doing. (Stay tuned, lots of even more exciting (?) stuff coming later this summer!) -- Dave)

RE: Shameless Plug

This is my first newsletter. How can I receive previous newsletters? I'd hate to miss out on some terrific previous information.

-- Steve Cohn

(Welcome aboard, Steve! We try hard not to improve so our old stuff looks just as good as the new stuff. Just drop by the newsletter site at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/ for our Archive of past issues or our Index of Articles. -- Editor)

RE: Confession

Do you write the entire (fabulous) newsletter, or do different people contribute to the unsigned articles? I wish they were signed. Sometimes I would like to send the author email about them but don't know who wrote them. It probably says it somewhere on your site, but I haven't seen it yet.

-- Judith King

(Great question (we've even put it on our Frequently Asked Questions page at the newsletter site). But to save you a trip, yes, all unsigned articles are the work of the editor. It's a convention we adopted from the very start to save bandwidth and embarrassment. But, if in doubt, any question you direct to editor@imaging-resource.com will find it's way to the author. Promise. -- Editor)

RE: New Inkjets

Correct me if I am wrong, but I haven't seen any mention of the next generation of inkjet photo printers. The first of these are the Epson 870, 875DC, and 1270, which, with their new ink and paper, offer lightfastness of 26 years! Epson has also announced a pro printer, the 2000 for $999 (currently mail order only), which boasts 186 years of lightfastness.

I urge you to look at an independent testing Web site: www.wilhelm-research.com.

Keep up the good work -- I enjoy your newsletter.

-- Hank Bunker

(Thanks, Hank. We do plan to catch up with the inkjets at Seybold in August. -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art recently hosted two fascinating photographic exhibits. We caught them a little late to review here but, fortunately (considering how interesting the shows were and how rarely seen the images), both exhibits have coffee table equivalents.

Felice Beato (1820-1907) tagged along with the British Army in 1860 as they launched a campaign against the Chinese that took them all the way to the Summer Palace, razed just after he photographed them during the Second Opium War. Beato was the first to photograph a military campaign in progress. Mixing his own emulsions, duplicating his fine negatives before they succumbed to the humid climate, and shrewdly composing images intended for resale in Europe, Beato captured some exotic images. His panoramas of Peking/Beijing are practically time machines, taking you back to a world that no longer exists. "Of Battle and Beauty -- Felice Beato's Photographs of China" with a historical introduction by Lyman P. Van Slyke was published in February at 185 pages for $60 in hardback (0-89951-101-5) and $29.95 in paper (0-89951-100-7).

At the same time the museum displayed a very rare collection of prints by San Francisco photographer William Dassonville (1879-1957). Fifty of his painterly images of California's urban and natural wonders were on display, many of them only brought to light in 1997 by his son Donald after being stored for over 50 years in large trunks. Dassonville was also a chemist who developed a photographic paper of unusual density called Charcoal Black. The emulsion coated several kinds of paper with varying textures, much like artists' materials and were very popular. Ansel Adams used them early in his career (and in fact received instruction from Dassonville in the art of printing negatives). "Dassonville" researched and edited by Susan Herzig and Paul Hertzmann with an essay by Peter Palmquist includes 48 color and duotone plates printed at 200 line screen in 112 pages from Carl Mautz Publishing for $65 in hardback (1-887694-16-1) or $35 in paperback (1-887694-15-3). The volume includes a very touching biography of the man who wished to be remembered for his "steady adherence to one's path in life."


Two new digicams were introduced by Kodak: the 3.1-megapixel titanium-body DC4800 at $899 and the 2-megapixel DC5000 at $699. "Photographers familiar with 35mm cameras will feel right at home with the new Kodak DC4800 digital camera which offers superb creative control. While image makers in law enforcement, construction and insurance can rely on the Kodak DC5000 digital camera to get their pictures even in weather-hostile environments," Kodak said.


Together with Wolf Camera and Kodak, eHow.com announced its Capture the Fun Sweepstakes. eHow is giving away one Kodak DC280 Zoom Digital Camera and Kodak Personal Picture Maker PM 100 Printer by Lexmark per week at http://www.ehow.com until June 19. All entries are eligible for the Grand Prize, which includes a Kodak DC280 Zoom Digital Camera Premium Bundle, a Kodak Personal Picture Maker PM 100 Printer by Lexmark, and $1000 in cash.


Digimarc has announced free downloads of its MediaBridge Reader software at http://www.digimarc.com. The software allows consumers to access the Web by showing Digimarc-enabled magazine pages to a Web camera attached to their computers. Advertisements in the July issue of Wired magazine contain a digital code, which when held up to a Web camera on a PC or Mac running the Digimarc MediaBridge Reader software, will launch a browser, instantly connecting readers to opportunities to learn more and buy directly on the Internet, as specified by the advertiser. More than 150 magazines, with over 150 million readers, have been licensed to use the Digimarc MediaBridge system. A stylized 'D' in the lower corner of the page indicates that the page is Internet-enabled.


PhotoHighway.com will launch a Photo of the Day contest June 19 with weekly software prizes and an Olympus 2.1 megapixel camera given for picture of the month. Daily winners will be shown on the PhotoHighway homepage. See http://photohighway.com/home/contest/potd/potdcontest.htm for more information.

PhotoHighway will host a PhotoShop chat June 21 at 8:30 p.m EST, 5:30 p.m. PST with Gwen Lute on a wide range of image editing techniques from red-eye removal to restoring family photographs. Copies of Gwen's Retouching Photos with Photoshop (Amherst Media) will be given away for the most interesting questions.

Return to Topics.

Signoff

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

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

Happy snapping!

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

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