|Volume 2, Number 17||25 August 2000|
Welcome to the 25th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Don't toss those old Nikkor lenses out just yet. Or those balky inkjet cartridges. Or your old 35mm strobe. Or those rare books in the attic. Until you've read this issue anyway.
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It may have been a dull week for some, as the digicam world charges its batteries for Seybold San Francisco, but we had quite an adventure. The color cartridge in our inkjet ran out of yellow.
We use our Nameless Inkjet infrequently, and are old hands at unclogging the jets, but we found the whole experience a great deal more annoying than it had to be this time. Especially since we were testing a new paper. So we thought we'd tell you the story. The whole story and nothing but the story.
Where's that guy with the conch shell?
WHO'S ON FIRST
We opened our photo of an antique tea set on a hand-painted Polish tablecloth and fiddled a bit with it until we were happy enough to print it. A few minutes later, we looked at the printout and blinked our eyes in disbelief. The warm, persimmon tones of the bone china had turned into the cool, ice cube colors of an igloo.
A loupe confirmed the obvious: we had magenta, we had cyan, we had black but we had no bananas today. Without yellow, the image was doomed.
Our survival instincts took over immediately. Vote this baby off the island.
But buying a new printer is a little drastic, even if it always is our first reaction. How about a little diagnosis?
OK, is this a computer problem? The quick way to rule out the computer (it can take a while to go through the operating system, color calibration, printer drivers, driver settings, etc.) is to use the printer's own self test. Asking the printer to print by itself might rule out anything going on at the computer.
And, in our case, it did. But if our printer's self-test had looked as gorgeous as the one we printed the day we bought it, or at least the one when we last changed cartridges, we'd have gone back to our computer for the solution.
It's a great diagnostic tool to have a sample printout from your new printer or cartridge. Don't skip it -- and put it somewhere you can find it in an emergency.
Just for fun, we visited nameless.com to make sure we had the latest drivers (we didn't) and to check the Support section and any FAQ that might help (they didn't). If you don't drop by the manufacturer's Web site when you have a problem, we figured, when would you? So, at least we got the latest driver.
JETS NOT TAKING OFF
Having isolated the problem to the printer, we confessed it had been a good long time since we'd turned the printer on (over a month), and we've had some cold (and very hot) days here recently. Ideal conditions for clogging the print head.
Now what exactly do we mean by "print head?" We're talking about the nozzles that spit ink onto the paper. Printer design varies. Your printer, particularly if it's an Epson, may separate the ink cartridge from the print head, keeping the print head in the printer and making it no simple task to clean. Other printers use cartridges that contain the print head, so replacing the cartridge gets you brand new, unclogged print heads.
Both kinds of heads can get clogged.
Especially, we should point out, if you are in the habit of powering your printer on from a power strip rather than its own power button. Using the printer power button will ensure the print heads are properly parked at the "service station" during shutdown. That seals them from evaporation. Leaving them exposed to the air for as little as 30 minutes can clog them.
Shutting down from a power strip can also persuade your printer that it has suffered a power outage of some kind. It may feel obliged to cycle itself, spitting out a blank sheet of paper, when you next turn it on.
But back to the chase. As it happens, the Nameless uses the kind of cartridge that includes print heads.
Whatever kind of cartridge your printer relies on, the first thing to do with a clogged head is to use the printer's own cleaning routine to try to unclog them. This may be a button on the printer, or an option in the printer driver software.
This routine spits out a lot of ink. And even more if you have to repeat it. But it's always worth trying. And it's usually all we have to do.
It didn't help.
ROLLING YOUR OWN
We reasoned (desperate for a new approach) that with only yellow missing there was no sense cleaning the black, magenta and cyan nozzles. So we created a new CMYK document and filled a big rectangle with 100 percent yellow and no black, cyan or magenta.
Just to prove the image had been printed, we added a line of 100 percent magenta.
And then we printed it ... getting nothing but a line of magenta. Several times.
At this point we took a leap of faith and put in a new color cartridge. With, surprisingly, the same results. No yellow.
But rather than revert to our survival instincts, we decided to experiment with the old cartridge. First we made sure the electrical contacts were clean. And left the printer on and waited a few hours.
We'd read somewhere than letting the cartridge come up to room temperature (which could take 4 hours) with the printer on might help. The fact that it was room temperature to begin with didn't impress us because it's a cold room. Not refrigerated, really, but drafty. The whole place is drafty, come to think of it.
This actually helped.
After a couple of hours, we had a desperate little striped pattern of yellow in our box. No bananas yet, but we could smell them.
And a little while later, the pattern was filled in enough for us to try our print again.
We were delighted to see the persimmon pop out -- for the first inch of the print. Then, the cartridge really did run out of yellow ink.
Why isn't there a law that all inkjets must tell you how much ink is left in the cartridges?
THE DRAWING BOARD
You can (a) always find more yellow at the drawing board, and (b) dream about finding more yellow, too. So before going back to the drawing board, we went to bed. Sleep on it, we reasoned.
In the morning, after a scientifically extracted cup of espresso, we got technical. We hit the Web sites pretending to know.
And we learned a lot.
If you've got an Epson with clogged jets (and you've followed the recommended procedure at http://support.epson.com/webadvice/wa0006.html), you'll want to read Blake Patterson's "How to Clean Clogged Inkjet Printheads" at http://www.weeno.com/art/0899/140.html not only for his sobering experience but for the 50 responses to it. To summarize, he dropped 7-10 drops of isopropyl alcohol in the receptacle where the cartridge sits, replaced the cartridge and ran the cleaning routine 15-20 times. Fellow Epsoners refill a cartridge with isopropyl alcohol for just this purpose, but he found it a bit messy in concept.
Our problem was a little different. We'd run out of yellow in the old cartridge and the new one wasn't printing yellow. We have to admit the new one had been sitting around for a while (about a year and half, actually; no make that two and half). Long enough to clog.
Rather than wait another four hours, we thought we'd try a few of the, uh, solutions we'd found, the least radical first, to revive our $40 investment.
The first was hot water. Someone had suggested boiling water, but why melt the reactor on our first attempt? Hot would be fine. Several articles suggested hot running water, but we thought we might easily damage the fine nozzles doing that or contaminate the triple-distilled water-based ink itself (forcing water into the cartridge rather than drawing it out).
We remembered (distinctly) some advice at nameless.com not to use tap water on the print head. They recommended distilled water only to avoid impurities that might react with the ink.
We don't have triple-distilled water coming out of our tap, but we did have a paper napkin wetted with the hot water on our side. A bright idea, we thought, since the napkin (and gravity) would draw the ink to it through the natural capillary action of its thirsty fibers.
Of course, if it drew very well, we'd have ink running through the napkin, so we needed something to protect the rest of the kitchen. A saucer was one recommendation, but we didn't think our bone china tea set needs another distinguishing mark, so we found an old dish and flipped it over (so our work wouldn't be detected by subsequent generations of bargain hunters).
Some sites recommend spiking the hot water with bleach. Up to 50 percent bleach, in fact. But this is color we're messing with here, we reasoned. Let's not bleach it. Another punch recipe called for adding isopropyl alcohol. Just a bit, to soften the dried ink in the jets. That sounded fine to us -- if we needed it.
An article by A. Lee Piepmeier at http://www.image-control.com/inks.htm explained more than we wanted to know about ink formulations for inkjet printers. But it was interesting to learn they are water soluble. From 50 to 90 percent of the ink is water, acting as a solvent. Actual colorant (which varies from a fairly transient dye to a longer-lasting pigment) runs from 1-15 percent. And chemicals to prevent evaporation from 2-20 percent.
Back in the kitchen, we followed the advice we found at http://www.weink.com/support/notes/tssod2.htm. We touched the print head to the wet napkin folded over a couple of times, holding the cartridge up in its printing position, and it immediately began to bleed. We saw yellow at last.
But back in the printer, the self-test showed, oddly, no yellow.
OK, it was time to get serious. Out came the isopropyl alcohol. We wiped the heads with it and tried the self-test again. Still nothing.
DEFEAT SNATCHED FROM THE JAWS OF ...
Was it the electronics in the printer itself? Could we have contaminated the print head? The only way to tell would be to start with a new color cartridge.
With nothing left to loose (that's freedom, Janice), we decided we might as well prime this cartridge using the cleaning option in the driver. If we have to replace it anyway, we might as well get some use out of it.
We might have tried one other suggestion we found sufficiently scientific if somewhat desperate. That was to cover the nozzles and then hurl the cartridge like a 90 mph fastball -- without actually letting go. Centrifugal force would, the theory, goes, free those clogged pores. But we don't have a 90 mph fastball. Junk, yes, but no heat.
So we cleaned. And we primed. Twice. And for the first time saw yellow. The crowd cried out for more, as someone once sang.
"What are you doing?" came the cry from the kitchen. We'd left our surgical implements -- and all those dirty napkins and cotton swabs -- lying around the sink. We really should have disposed of the evidence.
"Working!" we confessed, extracting the only drop of revenge we could think of from this ridiculously difficult, two-day attempt to use our simple Nameless Inkjet to test some very nice paper (Hammermill's Jet Print Photo, Superior Gloss Finish, at $13.99 for 15 extra heavy sheets at OfficeMax).
"Yeah, I'm writing this article for the Journal of the American Medical Association comparing the effects of various techniques of reviving an inkjet cartridge on blood pressure."
"Oh. You finally got the printer to work?"
As if it had been that easy.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S1/S1A.HTM on the Web site.)
Fuji has long been a player in the digicam arena, creating a line of popular consumer-level models over the last couple of years. It's apparent that they've been very successful in doing so, as we consistently note a "happy" tone from Fuji users that really stands out amid the flood of correspondence we receive.
Now, Fuji has entered the interesting ground between upper-echelon amateur and cost-conscious pro photographers, building an all-new digital SLR combining a SuperCCD sensor with a Nikon N60 film-camera body. The resulting FinePix S1 Pro SLR has been both much awaited and much debated on the Internet, not the least of which because of its maximum file size of 6.1 megapixels. Now that the camera is actually shipping in the U.S. and full-production test units are available for evaluation, we're finally able to bring you a full review of this remarkable new camera.
We say "remarkable" because of the exceptional image quality it delivered in our tests: The FinePix S1 Pro has the distinction of delivering some of the best color we've yet seen from any digicam at any price point. It also offers exceptionally good low-light shooting capability, and a really excellent user interface that makes using it a pleasure.
Overall, a dramatic entry in the SLR digicam arena, and one sure to significantly affect that market.
Based on the Nikon N60 film-camera body, Fujifilm's new FinePix S1 Pro digital SLR camera is a welcome addition to the prosumer digicam marketplace. Its familiar 35mm styling includes the ability to accept Nikon's F series lenses, which should thrill any Nikon photographer with an extensive lens collection. Compared to the consumer-level digicams we usually test, the S1 is a bit chunky to handle, measuring 5.8 x 4.9 x 3.1 inches (149 x 125 x 80mm). Weighing in at 28.2 ounces (800 g) without the lens, you'll definitely want to take advantage of the accompanying neck strap. Next to digital SLRs based on pro-model camera bodies though (like the Nikon D1 and the Kodak SLR series), the S1 Pro is positively svelte by comparison.
Probably the biggest buzz about the S1 is its CCD. Using the Fuji-developed "SuperCCD" honeycomb sensor pattern, it actually carries 3.4 million active sensor elements, which are used to produce either 3.5 or 6.1 megapixel final file sizes. Fuji's initial presentation of the S1 as a 6.1 megapixel camera caused a lot of controversy, as many felt that the camera should be rated by its sensor resolution, rather than the file size produced. For their part, Fuji claimed that the innovative honeycomb sensor layout allowed greater interpolation than did the normal rectangular pattern used by conventional imagers. (Just for the record, all single-sensor digicams interpolate, it's just a matter of to what degree.) In our full review, we delve into the issues of sensor resolution, comparing the output of the S1 to cameras with more conventional imagers. Bottom line, there may be some merit to Fuji's claims for improved interpolation accuracy, but overall we feel that the S1 is best considered as just a very good 3.4 megapixel camera.
One of the benefits of SLR digicams like the S1 Pro is the TTL (through the lens) optical viewfinder, which gives you a more accurate representation of what the camera is seeing, complete with a small information readout at the bottom of the screen that reports aperture, shutter speed, focus, etc. We found the optical viewfinder of the S1 Pro to be very accurate, showing between 94 percent and 97 percent of the final field of view. A 2.0 inch color LCD monitor on the back panel displays an image preview, complete with histogram functions, and also reviews captured images when in Playback mode. The downside of the SLR design though, is that the LCD monitor can't provide a "live" viewfinder display. Optically, the S1 features a lens mount that accommodates most of the Nikon F series lenses, although advanced metering modes only work with the more recent models. A manual/auto focus switch on the front of the camera allows you to change between the two focus modes.
The S1 provides a great deal of exposure control, with a wide variety of exposure modes and adjustments available. The main exposure modes include Full Auto, Programmed, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual. There's also a handful of special exposure modes, including Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports and Night Scene. The main difference between the Full Auto and Programmed modes is that in Full Auto, the camera controls every aspect of the exposure (except flash). In Programmed mode, the camera still maintains control, only the user can select from a range of equivalent exposure settings as well as adjust the exposure compensation (from -3 to +3 EV in 1/3 EV increments, an unusually broad range). Aperture and Shutter Priority modes allow the user to select the named exposure variable (aperture or shutter) while the camera selects the other one. Aperture settings will vary with each lens used, but shutter speeds range from 30 to 1/2,000 seconds. Of course, Manual exposure mode gives the user control over both exposure variables. The special exposure modes are designed to work in specific shooting situations, and each one is relatively self-explanatory. However, we should mention that the Sports mode also features a Continuous Shooting function, which captures up to five consecutive frames at approximately 1.5 frames per second.
The S1 provides a wide array of other exposure controls through the function buttons and the small black and white LCD data readout on the back panel. White balance can be set to Auto, Sunny, Shade, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, Incandescent or Custom values. ("Custom" is a manual preset option in which you use a white reference card to set the white balance for the current lighting conditions. The camera's light sensitivity can also be adjusted, with available settings of ISO 320, 400, 800 and 1600 ISO equivalents. Color, tone and sharpness settings can also be adjusted through the Function menus, and exposure metering automatically alternates between three systems (3D 6-zone multi-pattern, standard 6-zone multi-pattern and center-weighted), depending on the exposure mode. The inclusion of the smaller rear LCD data readout for the Function menus and the top LCD panel for exposure settings is very beneficial in saving battery power, as you can change nearly all of the exposure settings without resorting to the larger LCD monitor.
For flash photography, the S1 features a pop-up flash and a hot shoe for connecting a more powerful external flash unit. The built-in flash works in several modes, including Auto, On, Off, Anti Red-Eye, Anti Red-Eye with Slow Sync and Slow Sync. In Self-Timer mode, a self-timer counts down from two or 10 seconds before firing the shutter, and flashes the AF assist light on the front of the camera during the countdown.
One of the other really great design elements on the S1 is the memory card slot, which actually accommodates CompactFlash Type I and II as well as SmartMedia cards. This definitely increases your memory card options, and enables you to use the IBM MicroDrive CompactFlash cards, now available in sizes up to 1 gigabyte(!). A USB cable accompanies the camera, as well as a software CD loaded with Adobe Photoshop 5.0 LE, Fujifilm Camera Shooting Software, USB drivers for Windows 2000, 98 and Macintosh, Fujifilm EXIF Viewer, Fujifilm EXIF Launcher and Fujifilm DP Editor (for use with DPOF Digital Print Order Format printing devices). The Fujifilm software basically allows you to connect the camera to the computer and download or browse images, while the Photoshop LE application provides basic image editing and correction tools. An interesting application included with the camera is the Camera Shooting Software, which allows you to remotely operate the camera from your computer, using the USB connection.
U.S. models of the S1 come with an NTSC video output cable for connecting to a television set, and we assume that European models will be equipped for PAL timing. For power, the S1 utilizes four AA batteries(NiMH rechargeable highly recommended) and two CR123A lithium batteries, with an AC adapter and battery charger available as accessories.
SHUTTER LAG / CYCLE TIMES
Shutter lag is really good: Full autofocus time strongly depends on the lens, but ranged from 0.5-0.8 seconds, with prefocus (half-pressed shutter button) at 0.12 seconds, and manual focus at 0.10 seconds.
Cycle times are very good also, at about 0.60 seconds shot to shot at maximum (JPEG) resolution for the first five shots or so.
With its Nikon N60 look alike body, its ability to accept a large range of Nikon F series lenses, and its superb color rendering, we expect the S1 will find a large following. While not as fast as some more expensive SLR digicams, its performance is enormously far ahead of the average consumer digicam, even "high end" models. Likewise, it doesn't have the environmental seals of a "professional" level SLR, but shows excellent build quality throughout, again superior to the "prosumer" cameras we frequently review. Thus, if 1.5 frames per second is fast enough for your applications, and you don't plan on shooting under unusually inclement conditions, the S1 Pro could very well be the camera you've been waiting for. It offers flexibility, good speed, fantastic images, and a wonderful user interface. Very highly recommended!
No matter how careful you are, sooner or later the inadvertent fingerprint or the accidental smudge or the attractive dust bunny is going to find its way to the surface of your lens.
If you're lucky, your lens is protected by some sort of transparent material so it never gets touched even when exposed. If the surface is flat, that may indeed be what you have. Otherwise, your lens is naked.
Prevention is really the best approach to lens cleaning. So get in the habit of using any lens cap provided by the manufacturer, removing it only when you turn the camera on to take shots. The Kodak DC290 actually removes its own lens cap by pushing it off as the zoom lens extends on power up. And other digicams incorporate shutter-like built-in caps that slip out of the way. But if you have to do it manually, do it.
Even then, it's smart to check the surface of the lens or the filter or optical glass protecting it before you start shooting. Is it clean?
To clean a lens, you need some special equipment: a very soft brush (camel's hair, for example) used only on your lens and some lint-free cloth or tissues. We use a brush with a rubber bellows attached (available at any camera store) that both brushes and blows (with a squeeze of the bellows). We have also occasionally resorted to Kodak's lens cleaner (CAT 176 7136) with Kodak's lens cleaning paper. But the 1-1/4 fluid ounce bottle is a lifetime supply. And Dave is sold on microfiber lens cloths (see below).
Brush away any dust or dirt. If you see any smudges, fog the lens with your breath and wipe it with your cloth or tissue using very light pressure and a circular motion. You don't want to mar the reflective coating. If that doesn't do the trick, escalate your efforts with a drop of the lens cleaner fluid on a sheet of disposable lens cleaning paper. Use a light, circular motion.
The less that comes between your lens and your subject, the brighter and sharper your pictures will be. So protect your lens from accidents with the lens cap, check it when you turn on the camera and clean it, but only when necessary.
Dave's note: Those "microfiber" cloths are absolutely amazing! They just slurp up fingerprint oil with no cleaning solutions and very little rubbing. Firm pressure, gentle, slow movements -- and the fingerprints just lift off. Pricey at $5-10 each, but they rejuvenate with a pass through the clothes washer, so they're pretty cheap in the long run.
One of the things we have most missed from our 35mm press photography gear (it was in a previous life, Shirley) has been our external flash.
The other day Kodak was kind enough to lend us a DC290 Zoom -- which just happens to support external flash. We're delighted to see this feature on more and more digicams.
Off-camera flash is the best way to avoid red eye, period. But, with the right unit, it can also give you more options than any built-in flash. From various fill settings to extraordinary bounce options, it easily turns difficult flash situations into pieces of cake.
Our press configuration (well, we got it from Bill Harvey, who in 1997 was awarded the lifetime achievement award by Press Photographers Association of Greater Los Angeles) has served us admirably for social occasions like weddings and dinners, too. We wondered how it would translate from the 35mm world to the digicam frontier.
It starts with a Vivitar 283 flash unit, which we were astonished to see is still being sold at http://www.vivitar.com. Just set the ASA, swivel the sensor to one of several distance settings and look up the color-coded distance setting on the illuminated dial to find the correct f stop.
Its big brother, the 285 added zooming capability to the flash head, but we don't shoot direct flash with the 283 anyway. We bounce.
You can use a rubber band and an index card to do it but to keep up professional appearances, we bounce the light off a plastic reflector made by Sto-Fen of Boulder Creek, Calif. (http://www.omni-bounce.com/). Sto-Fen makes several accessories for the 283, as well as Canon and Sunpak strobes.
The one we generally use is the Twin Panel Bounce. Its clever design eliminates hot spots and covers lenses from 24mm up. Our standard 35mm zoom is a 43-86mm, so we're covered no matter what we do.
But we're also fond of their Omni Bounce, which is a white plastic dome with a black panel on the back that sits right on top of the 283 lens.
Either bounce comes with a black plastic mount that just snaps over the 283. Very simple, very elegant and very reliable. We've been using ours for over 20 years.
The 283 has a removable sensor. A very big feature in our eyes. We can mount the removable sensor on the camera's hotshoe, but move the light around. This isn't through-the-lens precision, but it's close. It keeps the sensor with the camera, and that's plenty good enough.
We like to move the flash an arm's length away, up high or even to the other side of the camera, depending on the subject. We know the sensor will adjust to whatever we're forced to do, rather than forcing us to do something the flash expects.
We can wave the flash around because it's mounted on a very nice, molded Vivitar grip. The grip pops on and off a bracket that attaches to the camera via it's tripod mount. Couldn't be simpler.
The whole rig is a bit ostentatious, making us look like we actually know what we're doing. But it's very easy to use, very comfortable and lets us paint the picture with the light of the flash.
So we were anxious indeed to try it with the Kodak.
We were pleased to see how easily the Kodak mounted (and really pleased it weighed less than our 35mm body, motor drive and lens). But we did miss the hotshoe. The Kodak has a synch cord outlet. Which would have to do.
With everything attached we just had to tell the Kodak to use the external flash (or the built-in strobe would fire, too) and set the f stop. That done we unleashed it on a very nasty subject.
It's a small clay figure of Pinocchio we've wanted to photograph for some time. But our Average Digicam with its built-in flash makes a mug shot out of it and the natural light is never bright enough where we've displayed the puppet to make a decent shot. We needed to bounce some flash at it.
And the Kodak did a great job. Soft shadows, great exposure, up close.
The remarkable thing isn't the image, but that the 35mm setup transferred so well to the digicam. When we get around to replacing our Average Digicam, we'll look for a hotshoe and an external flash option.
But we still don't think we'll turn in our 283 very soon.
We were browsing without Navigator or Explorer the other day. In, well, a bookstore. Not a virtual reality bookstore. A real, smell-the-trees bookstore.
But an odd bookstore. This place only sells books published by university presses. Suffice to say no path is sufficiently unbeaten that we will not trek there for our readers. Who knows what we'll find.
Well, we found CDs. A collection, in fact, published by Octava Digital Editions.
We were actually trying to scan the heavily discounted used titles when we looked up and saw an iMac on the top of the bookcase. It was running a demo of the Octavo CDs.
Turns out these CDs are photographic images of some very, very, very rare books. Benjamin Franklin we'd heard of ("Experiments ... on Electricity" -- hey, just the thing for that balky Gateway). And Galileo, Copernicus, Chaucer, Milton, Newton (Isaac) and even that Shakespeare fellow that Gwyneth Paltrow fell for.
Octavo actually photographs these rare books, one spread at a time. And digitizes them in glorious full color (well, if you buy the one of the 16th century French illuminated manuscript). The resolution of the master images are up to 8,000 x 10,000 pixels.
Color accuracy is achieved by highly calibrating a digital camera and recording the color environment of each master image for reference. But since much depends on your own monitor, Octavo offers a simple monitor calibration routine at http://www.octavo.com/support/start.html#calibration to help set brightness and contrast.
The company presents these rare books on the CD using Adobe Acrobat. So you get not only a slide show (with zoomable images) but you can search the text and print the images. Acrobat 4.0 Reader for both platforms is included on each CD.
Unable to control ourselves, we bought one: the illuminated manuscript, "Horae Beatae Mariae ad usum Romanum" -- which looked like Red Hat Linux to us -- for the color and hand-drawn type. Gorgeous thing.
You can see for yourself at http://www.octavo.com. Prices for a single CD range from $20 to $75 with bundles for certain collections.
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.
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; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.watchandsmile.com.
You can email us at email@example.com. But if you emailed us around Aug. 15 and didn't get a reply, we weren't ignoring you. That's when we switched mail servers and a message or two may have slipped through the virtual cracks. Apologies if it was yours. Please just resend and we'll (finally) reply.
RE: Light ... and Sound
Thanks for an informative newsletter. Brian was asking about software that can create stand-alone slide-shows to put on to a CD-ROM. I can heartily recommend Firehand Lighting II for this purpose. I have been using it for a few months and it rocks. As well as making an executable slideshow, the product can also make very good Web pages. It is "project-based," so once you assemble all your pix and audio annotations, you can generate either a stand-alone slide-show, a set of Web pages, or both, with the same material. As well as providing for audio annotations for individual pictures, you can also have a background audio track for the whole slide-show.
I have put slide-shows on CD, and by including an autorun.inf file the slide-show starts automatically when the CD is inserted in a drive. I just got back from a week on Mt. Desert Island in Maine and I took about 180 pix with my Olympus C3030 Zoom. Almost every picture has an audio annotation, thanks to the sound recording capabilities of this camera. One pass with Lighting II and I have my trip on a CD, and I never have to wonder "where was that taken?"
-- Mark(Thanks for the tip, Mark! You can find out more at http://www.firehand.com/lightning/ where you can grab the player, too. Windows only, gang. -- Editor)
RE: Back to School
Steve wrote asking about learning resources for digital imaging. You gave a good list, but you did not include the digital SIGs (Special Interest Groups) at local computer societies. At the Golden Gate Computer Society in Marin County (California) we have a very active imaging SIG that meets monthly.
-- McGerity in Marin(Thanks for the tip! Just check your local computer publication for a SIG near you. -- Editor)
RE: Take Notes
Getting some good information from your newsletter. I started with PhotoDeluxe 3 a few months ago and still haven't mastered all of its features. Fortunately our local college is offering Photoshop and I've signed up for it. There are a few books out now on photo editing techniques but it really comes down to a lot of intuition and "seat of your pants" experimentation to get the results you want.
And take notes while you work! Can't tell you how frustrating it is when you can't remember how you created some masterpiece. Even when I sent a picture of my masterpiece to the programs' technical support team THEY couldn't figure out what I did either. Eventually I did recreate it after getting a clue from cryptic scribbles -- I had combined techniques from two programs.
-- Pandora(Imaging editing software doesn't leave many tracks. Inexpert users do, however. So not being able to tell what you did is sort of a compliment. But I love your suggestion about taking notes. And for those who can't read their own writing, trying recording your voice. -- Editor)
RE: Digital Wallet URL?
I couldn't find a url listed in your article from Vol. 2, No. 15, about Minds at Work and their Digital Wallet product. I've done some searching on the Internet and I'm not coming up with either. Any help would be appreciated.
-- Alan Brown(If you visit http://www.mindsatwork.net/Products/Products.htm I think you'll find it. -- Editor)
RE: CompactFlash Capacities
I bought 64 meg CompactFlash cards from two different vendors and they have different capacities. Why?
I tried reformatting the disks with the camera. The Viking shows 62.5 megs available for 69 pictures but the Sandisk shows only 60.9 for 67 pictures.
The other strange part is when I plug the CompactFlash card into my computer through a PCM-CIA card, they come up with different drivers. (Viking uses a generic driver, Sandisk seems to have its own).
-- Melvin Perry(See what SanDisk has to say at http://www.sandisk.com/cons/flash_faq.htm about their "unique hardware implementation" engineered to maintain the card's performance as it fills and their directory configuration "designed to mimic the file structure of a disk drive" with 512 byte sectors instead of 4-64K sectors.... Also, that 67/69 picture figure is just an estimate. Each image compresses differently depending on its content. With smaller sectors, you may actually get more images out of the Sandisk in actual use. -- Editor)
Want to know what's hot at Seybold San Francisco -- without getting out of your chair? Just visit http://www.seyboldreport.com/Specials/HotPicksSSF2000/intro.html for the Seybold editors' hot picks. But if you do want to get out of your chair, you might want to take along a Tracks Hiking Stick. These lightweight traveling companions have a walnut knob that unscrews to reveal a camera mount, turning that stick into a $65 monopod camera support. Visit http://www.trackspoles.com for more information.
E-Book Systems has introduced FlipBrowser for viewing flipping albums online. With Browser works like Internet Explorer, allowing you to view photo albums online with flipping pages, search 77,000 online photo albums, and view regular Web pages organized like an ebook. And the pre-release version is free at http://www.digitalflip.com. To search and use FlipBrowser to view thousands of flipping albums, visit http://www.fliplibrary.com.
Zing has acquired eframes.com, which will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Brian Dunham will remain as president and chief executive officer of eframes.com. eframes.com and Zing e-commerce product lines will be combined to offer a complete photo merchandise store for Zing.com and the rest of the Zing Network. eframes.com will continue to support its existing partners, including i-drive, PrintRoom, and others, and will pursue new partnerships both independently and jointly with Zing.
Toshiba's digicam customers will get Shutterfly prints and services as a result of a recent agreement between the two companies. Shutterfly and Toshiba will offer free prints from Shutterfly with the purchase of a Toshiba digicam. Toshiba and Shutterfly said they will also collaborate toward providing software to make it easy for Toshiba camera users to upload their digital images to the Internet to redeem their free prints.
A new feature from PhotoWorks (http://www.photoworks.com) and partner BigNose.com (http://www.bignose.com), allows you to turn any picture stored in the PhotoWorks archive into a poster or art print on canvas or watercolor paper as large as 36 x 48 inches. Digicam users can upload images into the PhotoWorks archive, while traditional camera users can either send in a roll of film for regular processing or mail in pictures to be scanned. Once the picture or image is in the PhotoWorks archive, it can be made into a poster ranging from 18 x 24 inches to 36 x 48 inches on a variety of standard paper finishes including gloss or matte finishes. You can also personalize it with custom headlines in a variety of text styles and sizes. BigNose.com said it can produce and fulfill an order within 48 hours of its submission. Prices range from $14.95 for an 18 x 24 inch, $24.95 for a 24 x 36 inch and $39.95 for a 36 x 48 inch standard poster. Custom sizes and additional premium papers such as artists canvas, and watercolor paper and finishing such as lamination and mounting on foam core are available at additional cost.
Olympus (http://www.olympusamerica.com/digital) has announced the C-2100 Ultra Zoom, a 10x optical zoom/2.6x digital zoom, EVF digicam. The C-2100 is the first Olympus filmless camera to offer a 10x image stabilized all-glass aspherical zoom lens from 7-70mm (38-380mm equivalent in 35mm photography) to remove unwanted user camera shake for a clearer image. For extended range, the 2.6x digital produces a 35mm equivalent telephoto over 980mm. At f2.8-3.5, the lens is fast and bright with 1/3 step aperture control to f11 throughout the zoom range to maximize camera control. Other features include: 16MB SD-RAM buffer for a burst mode of 3 frames per second and 1.2 second shot-to-shot performance; an electronic viewfinder SLR viewfinder design; and iESP TTL or spot autofocus and focusing illuminator to focus from macro to infinity.
The C-2100 includes an 8MB SmartMedia card, 4 NiMH batteries and charger, lens cap, strap, USB cable, NTSC video connection cable for TV or VCR, Olympus Camedia Master Utility Software, Adobe PhotoDeluxe image manipulation and creation software and instruction manuals. The C-2100 Ultra Zoom will be available this month with an expected street price of $999.
FlashPoint (http://www.flashpoint.com) has released its Digita Application Software Development Kit in two versions, Standard and Professional, available at http://www.digitadev.com. The Standard version, targeted for inside-the-camera applications distributed as freeware, is available for $399. The Professional version is $2,995 and targets commercial development projects. In addition, this version comes with additional tools and resources from FlashPoint and Wind River. Both versions contain a selection of sample application source code for accessing the APIs.
Epson has reduced the price of its PhotoPC 800 two-megapixel USB digicam to $499. The Epson PhotoPC 800 combines pocket-sized portability with Epson's revolutionary HyPict(tm) image enhancement technology, for breathtaking prints up to 11 x 14. The PhotoPC 800 features a 2.14 megapixel CCD sensor, 8 MB of memory and a built-in microphone for voice recordings up to 10 seconds. It also supports both serial and USB image transfer for fast and easy image download.
Epson is also offering two mail-in rebate offers. Buy an Epson digicam with an Epson Stylus color printer to receive $50 back by mail. A $30 rebate is also available with purchase of an Epson scanner with an Epson digicam. Both rebate offers are available now through Dec. 31.
PhotoHighway.com announced that throughout September their Pic of the Day photo contest will give away a Sony UP-DP10 photo-quality printer ($389 value) each day Monday through Friday. A total of 21 printers are sponsored by Sony to promote their new personal lab printer. Winners will be shown on the PhotoHighway homepage. Information about how to win the printer will be posted on http://www.photohighway.com beginning Aug. 29.
PhotoHighway will host a Tips & Tricks in Outdoor Photography on Sept. 5 at 7:00 p.m EST, 4:00 p.m. PST with Heather Angel on a wide range of image editing techniques from red-eye removal to restoring family photographs. Copies of Heather's book will be given away for the most interesting questions.
Look for our complete coverage of Seybold San Francisco in our next issue.
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
Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher