|Volume 2, Number 15||28 July 2000|
Welcome to the 23rd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Inspired by Walker Evans, we've got a candid assessment of the new Digital Wallet, plus tips for taking candids and more candid talk about false meter readings. Frankly, we're sometimes too candid, but we think the occasion warrants it this time.
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We caught up with the Walker Evans exhibit circulating the country a few days ago. The exhibit was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from Feb. 1 to May 14 (http://www.metmuseum.org/special/se_event.asp?OccurrenceId=%7B26B7F4BD-AE17-11D3-936C-00902786BF44%7D); is now at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, June 2 to Sept. 12 (http://www.sfmoma.org/exhibitions/exhib_detail/00_exhib_walker_evans.html); and will be at the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Dec. 17 to March 11, 2001.
But you can create your own exhibit on the Web. A couple of good starting points are http://www.masters-of-photography.com/E/evans/evans.html and http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/evans_walker.html. And if you get the chance, don't miss the documentary on Evans' life and work titled "Walker Evans/America" on your local PBS station.
You may recognize Evans (1903-1975) from his stark images of how people lived in 1936 rural America. The images he took in Hale County, Ala. that year as he and James Agee worked on an article for Fortune magazine eventually became the book "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men." Their simple subjects bring into focus the impact of the Depression, World War II and the G.I. bill that helped build the world we take for granted.
Even though I'd seen those shots before, seeing them again still hit full force. Evans' art was in part seeing the story and letting it tell itself. You see a bed angled into a corner, or a prized piece of glass on a crude mantel itself decorated with a paper cutout. But you don't feel as if you are intruding in a stranger's life. You feel you are living it. The angled bed promises you rest, the prized glass gives you a sense of pride despite the poverty that surrounds it. Evans lets the picture tell the story, drawing you in and leaving him out of it.
It's a technique best illustrated by the only interior shot he took at Belle Grove Plantation in Louisiana in 1935. He took his picture of "The Breakfast Room" (http://www.masters-of-photography.com/E/evans/evans_breakfast_room.html) many years after it had last been inhabited. As he told it, he set the camera up, opened the shutter and went outside to picnic with his friends. When the party was over he came back in and covered the lens. So much for reciprocity failure.
The story the abandoned room tells is a touching one of long-ago elegance surviving long-term neglect. Shuttered and closed, sunlight leaks in (as it can only in a very long exposure) from every warped crevice. It is, as someone once put it, a sad and beautiful world.
We were surprised to find a translation from the Spanish of a short story that Evans had published, but perhaps we shouldn't have been. He was of Henry James' world (and actually collaborated with Hart Crane on a book about the Brooklyn Bridge called "The Bridge" in 1930), and kept a large library in which he read avidly (when he eventually got up and going around midday). He had a keen sense of the importance of his work despite its indifferent reception. And was annoyed not to have received the recognition he felt he deserved.
As it happened, we walked through the exhibit backwards. The construction of the museum makes this very easy to do, even encourages it, which in itself is an endearing quirk. We are looking back, after all, in time.
What we first saw were some Polaroids. Evans had been given an SX-70 camera in 1973 and all the instant film he could shoot. So off he went photographing images (about 2,600) of street signs and commercial lettering that were inadvertently amusing, as if the gods, too, had to have their fun.
Turning a corner we found a row of pictures taken in Detroit just after World War II that we stood before for a long time. As famous as Evans' pictures of rural poverty are, his candids are no less engaging. Again Evans lets the image tell the story.
Wisely. These photos catch the subject unaware that they are being photographed. He seemed, in the Detroit series done for magazine publication, to be sitting on the curb, or the end of a bus stop bench, shooting up and unobserved at his subjects as they walked alone or in pairs along an expressionless wall.
Black, white, man, woman, couple. Hat, no hat, cap; shirt sleeves rolled up, buttoned down; coat, jacket. No single target but the variety of people walking by just then. Like one of those 24-hours-in-the-life-of-the-planet picture books written small.
That could get boring quickly.
But it doesn't because this is the year after the war ended. These faces have seen a lot. They are worn from the Depression and the factories and the battlefields. They're worn from a hard life that got a lot worse. You don't see faces like this on our city streets today. You see cell phones.
There were other candids in the same room. Some asymmetrically cropped (well, that's life). But always amusing. Did we dress like that then? Did we walk around looking like that? We did.
Age adds some amusement to these candids. The amusement of seeing human vanity hard at work, perhaps. What was fashionable then does not impress us today. It strikes us a hilarious.
But that's Evans. What a comedian.
A little while later, we ran across a docent leading a group of kids through the modern art on the floor below. The room we were in had a huge metal "X" on the floor. As we scanned the walls, we didn't at first see it and nearly stepped on it. We jumped away (unobtrusively) and wandered closer to the walls, afraid of damaging a work of art.
When the kids got into the room, the docent explained just why you can't touch works of art. How much damage the oils in your hands can do over time. But one kid asked the obvious question, "Why can't I touch it if I can step on it?"
The answer? The artist is counting on you to step on it. You are part of the picture, part of the art. X marks the spot, you know.
Evans counted on us being in the picture. He took our portrait even when he was shooting a store sign or a pair of boots. Even though Evans is long gone now, X still marks the spot and we are still the subject of his work. And no doubt there is another Evans out there who will make sure we, too, will be something to laugh at in 25 years. Smile.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/DW/DWA.HTM on the Web site.)
If I had a dollar for every email I've gotten from someone wondering how to store their digital photos on long trips, I probably could have retired by now! This is a crucial issue for digital photography, and an area where film-based cameras have it all over their digital counterparts.
Even at their best prices, memory cards still cost close to a dollar per megabyte, and even at half that cost would still be prohibitive for long-term storage: Despite the "digital film" moniker, CompactFlash and SmartMedia cards are way too expensive to use for any kind of extended picture storage. Combine this with the trend toward ever-increasing digicam resolution, and there's little hope that flash memory will be a viable image-storage option any time soon.
Most of us have resigned ourselves to lugging along a laptop computer for any really long duration picture-taking excursions, but that's a huge price to pay, both in terms of the cost of the equipment, and in the bulk it adds to already overcrowded luggage. Some folks have taken advantage of inexpensive older-generation sub-notebook computers, which can be found for as little as $500 on the used market. These units are much more compact than a conventional laptop, but still are usually bulkier than you'd like, and also leave you with the problem of how best to transfer your megabytes or gigabytes of images back to your main computer when you return.
Early this year, a company called Minds at Work announced a product that promised to solve the portable-storage problem once and for all. The Digital Wallet is intended as a general-purpose portable repository for all sorts of digital files, including MP3 music files as well as JPEG or TIFF digital photos.
Minds at Work had a unusually long gestation period for the new product, leading many in the Internet photo community to suspect it was yet another "vaporware" product. We're happy to be able to tell our readers though, that this is emphatically not the case, as we've actually received and tested a shrink-wrapped retail unit of the Digital Wallet. It works entirely as advertised, and we think will be a real boon to traveling digital photographers when it's released.
BASIC SPECS & DESIGN
The Digital Wallet incorporates a 2.5 inch 6 gigabyte hard drive, a PCMCIA slot to accept memory cards (with adapters), and a USB interface to connect to a host computer. It comes in either silver-gray or translucent blue plastic (for the iMac crowd). It's powered by an internal (but interchangeable) NiMH battery pack that provides roughly two hours of continuous operation. An onboard Motorola "ColdFire" processor makes it completely standalone, meaning you can operate it without a host computer. At 5.25" x 3.75" x 1.25," it's a bit smaller than a typical paperback book, and quite portable, at only 13 oz. (370g) with batteries.
In normal portable operation, you use the unit by itself, with just the main Wallet unit and whatever memory-card adapter you need to fit your particular media. To charge the batteries or connect to a host computer, you attach the "Carry Dock," which connects to the main unit via a socket/plug combination. When connected, it provides a USB socket and power jack for the included AC power adapter.
The total package for an extended trip consists of the Digital Wallet, Carry Dock, and AC Adapter. We'd throw in the USB cable for good measure, in case you want to transfer files on the road. Still, this is a pretty compact kit, much smaller than the previous alternative of laptop or micro notebook computer.
In case you hadn't stopped to add it up, 6 gigabytes is a lot of capacity! At one megabyte per image, that's about 6,000 digital images. Even using 9 megabyte TIFF files from some of the latest 3.3 megapixel digicams, that's still over 660 full-resolution, uncompressed files. Any way you stack it, this is enough storage capacity for even the most voracious digicam tourist!
HOW IT WORKS
Operation could hardly be simpler: The user interface consists of four buttons on the right hand side of the unit, which are used to navigate menu screens appearing on an 8-line alphanumeric LCD display on the front panel. The uppermost button turns the unit on, and it remains on with the drive spinning for 30 seconds after it finishes any operation, or you press any of other control buttons.
Menus are navigated using the lower three buttons on the side, with the top and bottom ones (right and left in the photo) moving a highlight cursor up or down the menu choices, and the center one selecting the highlighted option.
You insert your memory cards into the Digital Wallet via a Type II PCMCIA card slot, also on the right side of the unit. The Digital Wallet will apparently work with essentially any memory device that can be fitted with a PCMCIA card adapter. Supported types include CompactFlash cards, both Type I and Type II (including the IBM MicroDrive), SmartMedia cards, Sony Memory Sticks, MultiMedia cards, or Intel StrataFlash cards. Additionally, full-length type I or II flash memory cards should work just fine as well.
To dump the contents of a card into the Digital Wallet, simply insert the card into the appropriate PCMCIA adapter, insert the adapter in the side of the Wallet, select "Download Content" from the main menu screen, then "Start Download" from the screen that next appears. The unit will tell you it's downloading data, and signal when its finished. You can also check the last download performed, to be sure it came down OK.
The Wallet always transfers the entire contents of a memory card to a folder on its hard drive: You can't pick and choose which files you want to copy. Likewise, when transferring files back to a memory card, it always moves an entire directory of files. And the Wallet never erases files from the cards it copies from.
If there isn't enough room on the Wallet's hard drive to receive a download (unlikely), or there's not enough room on a memory card to receive an upload, the Wallet will tell you so and not copy any files at all. It will also refuse to upload files if it finds a directory on the memory card with the same name as the one it's trying to copy. For digital camera users, this will generally mean that you must have a freshly-formatted card in order to restore images to the camera: Cameras' "delete all" functions usually leave the root folder on the card, which would trick the Digital Wallet into thinking that the files it was trying to copy were already present.
DOWNLOADING FILES TO YOUR COMPUTER
The Digital Wallet has a USB interface on a separate "Carry Dock/Charger" unit, that plugs into the bottom of its housing. The Wallet can connect to computers running either Windows (Windows 98, 98SE, 2000, or ME) or Macintosh (Mac OS 8.6 or higher) operating systems. On Windows machines, you'll need to load driver software from the furnished software CD. Mac users can just plug the Wallet into their USB port and it'll show up on the desktop as a disk drive icon.
Once connected, it functions just like any other disk drive, so you can drag and drop files to your heart's content. You can also rename folders on the Wallet, or rearrange the directory structure to your heart's content. (Note though, that most cameras and other devices expect their files to be located in folders with specific names, and specific locations. Moving things around could mean that your camera wouldn't be able to find the photos after you'd uploaded them back again.)
The Wallet was quite speedy in our tests, both in copying data to or from a memory card, and in its interface to host computers. We tested it with SmartMedia and CompactFlash memory cards, as well as with a 340MB IBM Microdrive. The internal card interface is quite a bit faster than the external USB connection (as you'd expect), but both were quite speedy. We were also interested to note that the USB interface was noticeably faster reading than writing, and that our Mac was slightly faster than our PC. Different memory cards also produced somewhat different speeds, although all of the transfers were easily fast enough so as to pose no inconvenience to the user. (That is, we didn't feel that results with different cards were so greatly different as to justify buying one card over another.)
QUIBBLES, QUIRKS & SUGGESTIONS
As much as we liked the Digital Wallet, there were a few improvements we'd like to suggest to Minds at Work:
- Tougher case. This is obviously a product that will be carried around a lot, and therefore is likely to be bumped, knocked, and probably even dropped fairly often. A really heavy plastic case would make a lot of difference in how the Wallet feels, and we'd like to see one that feels downright bulletproof. Likewise, the doors on the unit that cover the battery compartment and PCMCIA slot feel a little flimsy. Either could easily be replaced if needed, but again we'd like to see a little more heft in a portable product.
- Ability to navigate folder structures on the hard drive, and to organize files in groups thereby. This is a bit of a difficult call, as part of the appeal of the Digital Wallet is it's exceptional (dare we say "brainless") ease of use. If you needed to manage files on a fairly full Wallet while in the field however, your only choice is to scroll through what could become a very long list of folder names. Particularly for folks using their wallet to lug along MP3 collections, it would be nice to be able to organize things into folders and subfolders. (For photographers, we could see wanting to recall files from earlier in the trip, to dump onto a memory card to view on the camera's LCD screen.) That said, we have to admit that trying to jam that much functionality into three buttons and an LCD panel would be problematic at best. Maybe best to leave well enough alone?
- "Stickier" card-eject button. The card-eject button on our eval unit slid in and out very easily. So easily in fact, that it was prone to hanging out the side of the unit if you tilted it sideways. This struck us as an accident waiting to happen, as we could easily see the button catching on a shirt or coat pocket, or hanging up as you stuffed the Wallet into a camera bag.
- More robust firmware. The current design worked fine for us as long as we stuck to the straight and narrow in our usage of it. Any deviation from this "golden path" resulted in frustration. Not a problem for "standard usage," but with computer gadgets, you always end up running into the non-standard sooner or later.
There are a lot of people out there who are looking for something like the Digital Wallet. The combination of small size, huge storage capacity, dead-trivial user interface, and high data transfer speeds make it a near-ideal solution for digital photographers on extended trips. At an initial list price of $499 it isn't cheap, but when compared to the cost of multiple memory cards, it's a bargain. If our past email has been any indication, we expect it will enjoy great success in the digicam marketplace.
The very first thing to learn about your camera is one of the toughest. How to hold it.
With some designs, it's obvious. With others, there's a different grip for shooting than for changing batteries.
First, find the lens. That's one place you don't ever want to touch. So when you've found it, look for the other place you don't want to touch: the LCD monitor. You've got better things to do than clean fingerprints off those two things.
That will help you find a way to grip the camera that will let you actually use it to take pictures. Find that undocumented one-handed shooting grip assumed by the design. Pick the camera up that way and get in the habit of holding it that way.
It would be great if this safe grip worked for removing the storage card and the batteries, but the more compact your digicams the less likely that is to be the case. So find a safe, comfortably, repeatable grip for removing stuff from the camera.
Train yourself like a highwire trapeze artist to only pick up the camera in one of those two ways.
Which means you have to learn how to unsheath it from the case or your fanny pack and put it back in, too.
You may feel silly (we always do), but it's worth it. Find a safe comfortable way to handle your digicam and practice it. After a little repetition, handling your camera will be second nature. Which means you can concentrate on your subject instead of your camera.
The big smile, the firm handshake, the hearty laugh and ... the deed to that swampland in Florida. False friends. What would we do without them? Life just wouldn't be as fun.
It's hard to detect them, of course, because false friends always inspire the most trust in us. Like your exposure meter. Why wouldn't you trust it?
Well, your meter has its moments of riotous humor, too. Not many, but a few. Being aware of them will help avoid some routinely poor exposures. Like those dark beach scenes you get every summer.
Your meter is calculating the correct lens opening and shutter speed to expose for a middle gray or 18 percent reflectance. A predominantly white scene will be underexposed to turn that whiteness into a middle gray. Likewise a dark scene will be overexposed to make the darkness gray instead of black.
Whether you have manual control of your lens aperture and shutter speed or not, you can compensate for these false readings. On an automatic camera, you'll have to adjust the EV or exposure value compensation settings. But that does the job.
Sunlit snow or water bedevil the device. If you're shooting scenes with these tricksters taking up most of the frame, don't trust your meter alone. Instead open up your lens two stops or increase your EV to +2.0. Your meter is reading too much light for the shot.
If the subject is sand, sky or snow in shade open up a stop or increase your EV to +1.0.
Those adjustments assume the frame is filled with tricky reflected light. But if it's only half the frame, your meter reading will be only partly off, so you'll want to make less than the full adjustment. And if you mix and match (hard to avoid on the beach where you have sand and sun on the water), pick a value between the two.
If your subject is giving a false reading simply from too much sky in the picture (on a grassy field, for example), aim your camera down a bit to eliminate the sky from the shot and press your shutter button halfway down to lock the exposure before reframing and taking the shot.
When the scene confuses it, you can use your hand to help out. Your palm reflects about one stop more light than an 18 percent gray card. Meter your hand and close down a stop or set your EV to -1.0.
If you follow this advice, you'll be having so much success you'll never want to go home, which means at the end of the day you'll be wondering how to shoot the sunset.
This is one case in which metering the sky is a good idea. But avoid metering the setting sun itself. Instead, pan either to the right or left of the sun (that's north or south to you intrepid adventurers) for your reading. Pick the side that most looks like what you want to shoot, of course. And try to shade your lens with your free hand. Then just set the exposure with a half-depressed shutter button and reframe for the shot.
One friend that is never false is your LCD monitor. Trust it in tough situations to give you reliable, if limited, feedback. The color may not render truly (especially compared to the phosphors on your monitor or the dyes in your printer) but the brightness range should be telling. You may have to learn just how telling, but your LCD should give you valuable feedback.
As the saying goes, a friend in need is a friend indeed.
You don't have to be Walker Evans (or Alan Funt, for that matter) to take candids. A martial arts degree may come in handy, but a few precautions are even better.
What is a candid, anyway?
Well, let's make up a definition (this is just for fun, right). Candids are not posed. And they fall into two categories.
In one type of candid the subject knows you are taking pictures, just not when. Say at a wedding when everyone is dancing or pleading with you not to take their picture after they've just taken a bite of cake.
In another type of candid the subject has no idea you have a camera. This is where the fun (and martial arts) come in.
Funt hid his camera, Evans pointed it (seemingly) away using mirrors and other devices to get the shot. Neither had the advantage of today's digicams.
Our favorite digicam for the unsuspected candid employ a swivel design. You can shoot sideways, over your shoulder and even from your lap looking elsewhere without an audible click. Spy cameras never had it so good.
But an LCD monitor alone is often enough to fool the unsuspecting (at least until the day everyone and their grandmother has a digicam). As long as you aren't holding the camera up to your face, people will not suspect you are framing a shot. They may think you are particularly stupid about using a camera, staring at it so long, but they're accustomed to particularly stupid people in the wild.
On the other hand the camera isn't always a welcome intrusion and simple social courtesies should never be entirely dismissed, even by artists if they intend to inhabit the species a bit longer.
And then there's what happened to us the other day. Which illustrates an entirely different kind of candid.
Inspired by Evans' shots of public typography (well, we're still working on our ABC's) we walked the neighborhood with a camera we weren't entirely familiar with shooting inanimate shop signs. We were confident we weren't intruding on the signs' privacy. Until an ominous voice beamed down from an apartment behind us, "Excuse me, sir. Any reason why you are talking a picture of my car?"
Well, you can imagine the first thing that came into our mind. We've been trying to memorize Richard William Pearce's poem "Repo Man" for a solid year (with intermittent success), so we tried right then to recite it: "Repo, Repo / He stole my jeepo; / He takes the things / I try to keepo." In our defense it's as close to world literature as we get these days.
"Uh, I'm not shooting your car, man. I'm shooting the building across the street," we said, with our best appraiser's grin. Fortunately for him we were too far away by the time we finished explaining to actually practice our martial arts training. And fortunately for us, in all candor, we think we returned that martial arts video on time.
Just remember, candid is as candid does.
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.
Last chance to download the latest Mac OS version of QPict from http://www.glunet.se/qpict and send an email to [email protected] titled "July QPict Contest" with your full name in the body of the message and the first item in the Scripts menu (to prove you've got it). We'll pick 10 winners at random by the end of July.
Binuscan is offering Imaging Resource readers a discount on Watch & Smile from $89 to $49 (plus shipping and sales tax). To order, contact Binuscan, Inc., 437 Ward Avenue, Suite 101; Mamaroneck, NY 10543; voice (914) 381-3780; [email protected]; http://www.watchandsmile.com.
You can email us at [email protected].
RE: Back to School
Is there a Web site to find out more information on the [Olympus] class that Robert is teaching? If you can find any info. on that school by that URL you're a lot better at it then I am!!!!
-- Arnie(You mean http://www.olympusamerica.com/p.asp?s=12&fit=13&press=133 didn't help? Try the phone number: (800) 622-6372 ext. 6161. -- Editor)
RE: Transparent Backgrounds
On several occasions I have wanted the backgrounds of some images I have edited to be transparent. I am using Corel Photo-Paint. This is particularly useful when I want to use parts of an image for clip art. The help screen is of no use so far. Any ideas? Thanks.
-- Phillip J Loss(There are several different ways to get transparency, but they depend on where you want to achieve it (on the Web, in a printed piece, within an application).... On the Web, you convert your image to GIF, identifying one color as the transparent one. In a printed piece, you have to create a clipping path. And applications vary on how they address the issue (layers, alpha channels).... For clip art, use a clipping path.... Not really transparency, per se, but irregular cropping. -- Editor)
RE: Sick With Love
I am a sculptor and have some of my digital files (no slides, just files!) of my art work in JPG format. I have had them for some time, and now suddenly they all appear with ".jpg.vbs" after the file name instead of ".jpg" ... that is an additional ".vbs" has been added after the file name. I am unable to access them with my Adobe PhotoDeluxe, nor can I insert them into my Microsoft Word documents. Can anyone HELP me. No one seems to know what this ".vbs" is.
-- David.vbs(Bad news, David. This is the Love Letter virus. You can find out more about it here: http://www.symantec.com/avcenter/venc/data/vbs.loveletter.a.html. But there's no time like the present to develop a backup strategy to protect you from just his sort of thing. -- Editor)
RE: Locked Up; No Key
I just returned a new Coolpix 950 for a lock up problem. When it came back it was worse. I have returned it again with a request to be replaced.
Nikon's user feedback board is loaded with similar lock up problems.
Can you shed any light on this? I will say that when it did work it made beautiful, well balanced pictures.
-- C. Baines(Yes, it's an old problem. Popping the batteries out (as you probably know), forcing a reset, will get you back in business. Why it happens (intermittently but after about 200 shots) only Nikon would know -- and clearly they don't yet. Do let us know how the story ends. -- Editor)
RE: Can I Get There From Here?
How do I get our Sony DSC-S70 pictures into my PC. I already know how to use TV to show pictures but I need help inputting them into the computer. Thanks.
-- Fred(There are two ways to get from your Sony into your computer: either using a USB cable connection (if your computer and software support USB devices) or mounting the Sony Memory Stick removable storage in the camera on your desktop as if it were a floppy disk or hard drive, which requires a reader of some sort. It depends what interface you have (USB/serial/floppy/PCMCIA) on your computer. -- Editor)
RE: Workplace Candids
After reading your recent review of the Olympus D360L, I decided that the time had come (after 50 years of serious photography) to try digital. I bought one and have been having more fun than should be legal! Aside from the obvious print-size limitations of a 1.3 meg file, the photo quality is excellent.
I've started a collection of casual people-in-their-workplace portraits. Digital is still enough of a novelty that everyone wants their photo made, especially when you tell them they can see it immediately on the LCD screen. Also, the panorama mode is super. I've been amazed at the software's ability to automatically and seamlessly stitch frames together.
Thanks for a great newsletter!
-- Bob Mathews(Thanks for the kind words, Bob. Sounds like there's a little Walker Evans in you! Hey, do people smile at work? -- Editor)
RE: Age Shall Not Wither It
I'm considering purchasing an older professional level digital camera. I recently read of video camera CCD's losing pixels after 4-5 years. Is this a problem with digital cameras? Is it age related or use related? If its use related, a video CCD is used considerably more a digital camera's CCD.
What other problems could one expect as a digital camera ages?
Thanks for your help!
-- Doug(My hunch is that worries about use/age are more appropriate to mechanical devices than electronic, solid state ones. The most vulnerable part of the CCD, the filters, aren't even exposed to light very much. -- Editor)(If properly made, CCD sensors really shouldn't be subject to "aging" like this. CCDs are more sensitive to problems in semiconductor processing than purely digital circuits though, so it's possible that a manufacturing defect that would be no problem for a digital chip could result in pixels "going bad" over time. Should really be the rare exception though. -- Dave)
I found your original description [of how to turn your picture into a 3D image] clear and pretty easy to follow. However, I couldn't complete the final step (of painting the foreground image with the history brush). I'm using Corel Photo Paint, which allowed for all of the steps you described, except for that last step. What did work for me seemed fairly simple. I returned to the original picture and just cut out the required foreground image, then pasted the cutout as a top layer in the adjusted picture. That works just fine. Thanks for the fun suggestion.
-- Warren Koch(You're welcome. And thanks for the alternative explanation. We ran out of space in the original feature two issues ago just when we were breathlessly trying to explain how to get three levels of depth. So we expanded on it last issue in our Letters section. -- Editor)
RE: A Label a Day
I am making many photograph albums using FlipAlbum CD Maker. But I had a problem:
I tried five different programs, well-known names. They all worked at some level of competence or incompetence. Only one excelled: CD Label Maker by Data Becker.
- Finding an acceptable CD label program.
- Finding adhesive label stock that will produce a decent photo image.
Good price at Home Depot. It came with cleverly designed self-positioning labels that, nevertheless, made terrible photo images!
In fact all of the programs are packaged with labels made of inferior paper (in ink-jet terms). Even the various high-cost glossy re-fill labels are poor!
At last, I tried Avery #8931 labels. GREAT! These are made of a properly coated paper and make images of great contrast and resolution. The box I bought contained 30 disk labels with 30 sets of insert sheets (for the crystal cases), for the (rather steep) price of $33 at Office Max.
-- Gene Widenhofer(Thanks for the tip, Gene! We're inclined to think CDs should be heard and not seen, but we do have some advice about labeling programs. Save your pesetas and spend a little time laying out a template for both the jewel box and the CD label. A scanner helps a lot here but a ruler will do. -- Editor)
If it's July, it must be Macworld Expo in New York. The show generated some interesting news for Mac digital photographers:
- Radialogic at http://www.prosofteng.com/radialogic.asp previewed CD Master, a CD authoring application supporting audio, data and video formats. Among the intriguing features: disc duplication and background burning. The program can convert MP3 and AIFF files to audio CD format while burning another CD. And the audio tracks can be set to true zero pre-gap to play continuously.
- Ixla at http://www.ixla.com/ has announced ixla Photo Easy DualCam Edition for the Mac for $149.95 at CompUSA, The Wiz, J&R Computer, Fry's, DataVision, Cyberian Outpost, MacMall, Club Mac, Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com. The package includes the ixla Digital DualCam 640 camera with 480 x 640 resolution, 2MB memory storing up to 32 photos (or 16 high quality), fixed focus from 3 feet to infinity, self timer, built in non-expiring flash and auto flash sensor, USB connection and cable connection to TV. The ixla Photo Easy DualCam Edition for the Mac also comes with a strap, 2 AA batteries and Corel Photo House software to enhance and manipulate photos, Corel Project Designer to create projects with photos and Cantos Cumulus to organize and create slide shows.
- Connectix at http://www.connectix.com/ unveiled CopyAgent for $39 (with a $29 upgrade price from Speed Doubler) to automate and streamline backups and copy jobs. CopyAgent includes the much-missed SmartReplace for OS 9 users, Synchronize, and can copy up to two times faster when performing a backup over a network. CopyAgent also includes TurboKeys, a utility that allows users to input commands using their keyboard instead of their mouse and allows user to assign key commands to automate repetitive tasks.
Olympus and Polaroid have jointly announced the introduction of the C-211 Zoom, a filmless digital camera with a built-in instant photo printer. The companies have christened a new imaging category, "digital photo printing cameras," just for the camera. The C-211 Zoom provides both professionals and consumers a portable, mobile digital imaging solution that produces digital instant prints on silver halide film without a computer. With a list price of $799, the camera will ship in October with an 8MB SmartMedia card, Polaroid Type 500 film pack, two lithium batteries, Camedia Master software, Mac/Windows USB cable, strap, instruction manual and quick start guide. For more information visit http://www.olympusamerica.com/.
Dave's Note: Olympus has promised us a unit to review as soon as they have final production samples available. Although the unit won't show up in stores here for a while yet, we could have a test sample in as little as another 2-3 weeks. Stay tuned, this looks like one of the most entertaining cameras to come along in quite a while!
The first chipset to deliver 3-CCD color quality to 1-CCD cameras at 50 megapixels per second has been introduced by NuCore Technology, Inc. The two chips are the NDX-1250(tm) analog front-end and the SiP1250(tm) Smart Image Processor (SiP(tm)). The company claims no other combination of chips comes close to NuCore's 50 megapixel-per-second image processing with 12-bit resolution. The chipset lets designers build a hybrid camera: a single consumer device that can be used as both a high-quality still camera and a high-quality video camera. NuCore said it has never before been possible to build one camera that can acquire, enhance, compress, display and store 4-megapixel silver-halide-quality, digital still images continuously at a rate of 12 per second and 1.3-million-pixel video at 30 frames per second with 12-bit accuracy.
Fuji has announced that the Fujifilm FinePix 40i Digital Camera, an ultra-compact supporting digital imaging, MP3 audio and digital video, will be available to the U.S. market in late August for $699. Using the same Super CCD in the FinePix 4700 Zoom, the super-small (3.4" W x 2.8" H x 1.1" D) FinePix 40i has an ISO sensitivity of 200, built-in flash, five programmed exposure modes, a USB port and a 1.8-inch LCD. Using SmartMedia(tm) cards, it can capture 80 seconds of continuous AVI video with sound. And you can download music to the FinePix 40i via its USB port. All MP3 controls are on a tethered remote which also hosts the FinePix 40i's provided headphones (or your own). The remote control can be used with the camera to take and view pictures, and control the camera's digital zoom. In addition to Fujifilm's traditional silver, magnesium alloy housing, a limited supply of metallic blue FinePix 40i digital cameras also will be available. Bundled with the camera: two NiMH batteries, a charger, Adobe ActiveShare photo editing software and RealJukebox digital audio software.
Canon, Kodak, Fuji and Matsushita have announced that they have jointly developed a version 1.10 of the digital print order format for printing, transferring, and viewing photos from digital cameras. Where version 1 defined the auto print format for directly printing images, version 1.10 further defines the format for auto transfer and auto play of the images stored in the removable media. The new version of DPOF offers a variety of new functions: Multiple Image Print (to print multiple pictures on the same sheet), Specific Size Print (to select different sizes for printed images), Automatic Transfer (to transmit image files by email or fax), Automatic Play (to create slide shows) and Unicode (to support different languages).
Digimarc has announced that its free Digimarc MediaBridge Reader software is now available for the Apple Macintosh platform 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 and editorial content in Popular Mechanics and Wired magazines 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 or buy directly on the Internet.
ActivePhoto has announced the first commercially available end-to-end image publishing and management system for businesses and consumers. ActivePhoto's one-touch system allows pictures to be transferred wirelessly from a digital camera to the Web. ActivePhoto's proprietary camera application software lets you label images directly on the camera, transmit them via a data-enabled cell phone or dedicated wireless modem, intelligently archive them based on user-generated label information and instantly publish them on the Web. From image capture to online viewing, the entire process takes less than one minute per picture.
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