|Volume 2, Number 18||8 September 2000|
Welcome to the 26th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Our Seybold coverage, a peek at Nikon's 880, a metering trick and a scanning tip are only a few of the reasons to read on.
This issue of The Imaging Resource News is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ad here. And now a word from our sponsors:
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We promised to report on Seybold San Francisco in our last issue and here we are with our report, but we got a head start with daily coverage from the expo floor. If you missed our two daily reports, you can still read them (with pictures) at:
But that's not all we found noteworthy in the bowels of Moscone. And rather than rehash what we've highlighted online, we'll use this space to fill in the blanks.
- Our Tuesday report (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/SEYF00/0829sey.htm) covers Steve Jobs' keynote address, looks at the G4 Cube and the underbelly of the new mouse (intrepid reporting there, folks), iMovie 2 and Photoshop 6 (which we discuss in depth here), a brilliant (we've been playing with it) plugin to do unsharp masking, the inside dope on Corel (KnockOut! and Photo-Paint updates) and the uncanny Studio Artist upgrade. Plus a few side shows.
- Our Wednesday report (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/SEYF00/0830sey.htm) took a look at several photo-quality inkjets (with a special look at the Epson Stylus Photo 2000P's archival inks), a couple of new Nikon and Olympus cameras, Chromix's intriguing ColorThink ICC profile management tools and Andromeda's LensDoc plugin (the show special price is still available) that turns your computer into a view camera.
Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) unveiled a new Photoshop at the show. We've been wondering since version 3.0 what they could do to improve the product, and they just keep improving it anyway. Good thing we don't work there.
The big news in this forthcoming $199 update is a new level of maturity in the user interface. The palette clutter that cried out for multiple monitors has been alleviated with a context sensitive options bar that sits just below the menu bar. Pick a tool on the tool bar and the options bar instantly reconfigures itself with that tool's options. It's a bit deeper than the menu bar, but if that squeezes your working area too much you can convert it back into a floating palette. You can also anchor it to the bottom of the screen.
The options bar even makes it a bit easier to use Photoshop because some obscure (keyboard only) options are now check boxes. Like adding or subtracting from a selection.
Our favorite part of the options bar, however, is the palette well. First came palettes, then tabs for palettes stored in the same palette window and now we get a well, which displays (on monitors at least 800 x 600) just the tabs. Click on a tab and the palette pops down.
You get a palette into the well just by dragging it. And you can drag it right back out again, too. Got a few on the desktop? You can now dock them above or below each other so they move together as a super palette (as in Illustrator).
But palettes aren't the only thing that got reorganized.
A preset manager organizes patterns, brushes, gradients, contours, shapes, styles and swatches. No more hunting expeditions. Just pick the type of preset you want to manage, and click the load, save, delete or rename buttons.
The tool palette has been refined as well with flyout panels that list each tool's name and keyboard shortcut. And the crop tool has been restored to prominence there, too.
Every release of Photoshop has touted a vastly improved type tool (usually sporting a "new engine"). And here we go again. I'll believe it when Adobe sends me a copy and says, "Mike, you've suffered since version 1.0 -- that's long enough; here's an upgrade on us for being a good sport."
Meanwhile, this will have to do. The text dialog box is gone. You type directly on your image, formatting the type from the type palette which looks lifted from Adobe's other products (ah, they're speaking to each other again). In fact, there's even a paragraph palette to set indents, word spacing, justification, inter-paragraph spacing and hyphenation.
And in case you're not phased by the grandeur of their paragraph formatting, they've enabled character formatting at last. You can now color individual characters in a text block.
While you still can't align text to a path, you can warp it to death. And it all remains fully-editable vector type.
And what you can do to type, you can now do to shapes (custom polygons, rounded rectangles, you name it) which remain editable vectors. And what you can do with shapes, yes, you can now do with editable vector masks.
But wait, as Adobe's Russell Brown would often scream, "There's more!"
Layers can now be, uh, organized (grouped and even color-coded) and saved in sets of styles you can manage with the preset manager. There are even cute little tweaks to adjustment layers and a new fill layer.
You can now use an alpha channel to vary compression settings (which sounds a bit like Adobe has finally tapped into JPEG's variable compression feature so well handled by the ProJPEG plugin).
And if you spend much time slicing your images for the Web, you'll be thrilled with the new dynamic and intelligent slicing built into this update.
There's a liquify function (remember Goo?) that makes it as easy (and fun) to warp bitmaps as type or shapes.
But enough about Photoshop. Or we'll start in on the improved ImageReady and GoLive! integration....
Genuine Fractals (cf. the user review on the site) from Altamira Group (http://www.altamira-group.com) is now shipping with several Nikons and we'll be taking a look at their "resolution on demand" plugin. Their proprietary file format encodes at a 2:1 lossless file size reduction ratio and 5:1 near lossless ratio.
Digital Publishing Japan introduced VFZoom (http://www.vfzoom.com) or Vector Format for Zooming which, they claimed, converts a bitmap into a vector format that can be enlarged indiscriminately without losing quality. And during the demo we did see the Mona Lisa crack up (enlarged enough to see paint cracks interpolated).
At the Epson booth we'd barely put both feet on the ground before a red-shirted Epsonian asked us if we had any questions. "Who makes your paper?" we tried. He didn't know, he confessed, but he'd find out. He found out it was proprietary information.
You can save a few pennies buying papers sold by the paper manufacturers (like Hammermill) rather than the printer manufacturers (like Epson and HP). We tried, but we couldn't find out who makes Epson's.
We did find (at the Jobo booth, of all places) a line of PhotoByte products (http://www.jobo-usa.com) that included "kanvas" art paper, "hi-gloss" greeting cards and business cards, as well as the regular glossy paper and film. They also sell a sample pack (two of each) for just $3.
Desktop Diecuts at (800) 328-7310 distributes their die-cut paper products (like door hangers and numbered raffle tickets, not to mention adjustable paper easels and roll-a-dex forms) at Kelly Paper and Arveys, but call for a dealer near you.
BACK IT UP
Not just your files, but your prints, too. We were delighted to find Pres-On's Henry Giantasio at the show. His company, celebrating their 50th anniversary, developed a spray-on adhesive they put on anything. Pres-On Self-Stick mounting boards (even padded ones for needlework), mounting foam, puff-up mason jar lid covers, even fashion frames. The line even includes clear "backmounted" products so you don't need to sandwich your prints between glass and a board, just stick them on the clear UV-inhibitor backmount available in rectangular, heart and circle shapes. Their adhesive squares stick anything on nearly anything else. Not to mention their Self-Stick Speaker System, 1.5-inch thick speakers whose grills are your images. "So how do people get this stuff?" I asked. "Just call us," Henry said. (800) 323-1745.
MORE, MORE, MORE
Alien Skin Software (http://www.alienskin.com) is offering a free public beta of Eye Candy 4000, a filter set for Photoshop that lets you create special effects like wood, smoke, chrome, marble, motion trails, drips, bevels and fire, among others.
And we'll be taking a look at Extensis' PhotoFrames plugin (http://www.extensis.com). Version 2.0 includes an interactive mode in addition to quite a few pre-built edges and frames -- and instant access to Dynamic Graphics' eFrame borders. They've got a plugin to put type on paths, too, by the way, which may come in handy while Adobe tries to figure it out.
We caught a glimpse of Olympus' 4-megapixel SLR, the E-10, which will be available in October. At $1,999 we could only glimpse. A 4x zoom (35-140mm in 35mm) made with "extra dispersion" glass to provide even coverage across the 2240x1680-pixel CCD attaches to the black body. A variety of similarly matched lenses will be available shortly, according to Olympus.
The camera can use either SmartMedia or CompactFlash (Types I or II), has a 32MB buffer with a three frame per second burst mode, sports less than 1.2 second shot-to-shot speed and an under 100 millisecond shutter lag.
And we also glimpsed the Foveon studio camera (http://www.foveon.net). We've seen it before, actually admired it, too. It's something of a computer with a camera attached that mounts on a tripod. Using Canon zooms and the Canon TS-E 24mm Tilt-Shift or Sigma macro and aspherical lenses, it writes directly to a hard drive. But the intriguing thing about its 12M images is that no color interpolation takes place on shutter speeds from 1/8000 to 2 seconds. A separate Foveon CMOS image sensor is dedicated to each RGB channel by a prism that splits the light. No color artifacts. They've got over 20 patents on the sensor array.
You might think that's all we have to say about Seybold, but if we missed a favorite subject of yours just email us at [email protected] and we'll dig through our notes. Meanwhile, we'll uncurl our fingers from the keyboard and put our feet up. Where they belong.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C880/C88A.HTM on the Web site.)
Nikon has long been a leader in the consumer digicam market, developing an exceptionally strong following ever since they introduced their original Coolpix 900 over two years ago. From the start, Nikon's digital cameras have reflected Nikon's heritage as a camera company, with strong user interfaces and features photographers love.
With the introduction of the 880, they're bringing over a new concept from their film camera lineup: "Assisted Creative Photography." Say what? The idea here is that there are a lot of people out there who really like taking pictures beyond the snapshot level, but who also have no love of the intricacies of exposure compensation, f-stops, shutter speeds, flash levels, white balance, etc., etc.
The 880 aims at this (large) body of photography enthusiasts by offering special "scene" modes preset for common photographic situations (like "beach/snow," "party," "fireworks," etc.). Each of these modes brings into play a variety of camera settings and options to configure the 880 for the specific shooting situation at hand. For instance, a beach scene would call for a small aperture, with a goodly amount of positive exposure compensation to handle the glare of the sun on the sand. We expect this approach to be very popular with people who like photographs, but not necessarily the mechanics of photography.
In other areas, the Coolpix 880 is a very strong performer as well, with many of the features and functions found on the much more expensive (and much larger) Coolpix 990. All in all, the Coolpix 880 packs a wallop in a small package with features for both the advanced photographer and "visual artist" alike.
You'd expect the Coolpix 880 to be a simple upgrade of the earlier Coolpix 800. In fact though, the 880 has much more in common with the top-of-the-line 990 than the earlier 800. It's an extremely compact, feature-laden camera that can tackle just about any shooting situation. Like the Coolpix 800 it features a telescoping lens that extends when the camera is powered on and retracts when it's shut off. Additionally, the more extensive control layout remains well laid out and uncomplicated to use. The camera still maintains both a real image optical viewfinder and an LCD monitor display for image composition, with a very detailed LCD information display reporting a lot of exposure information, including aperture and shutter speed settings. In Playback mode, the LCD gives an equally informative readout on captured images, and offers an index display of thumbnails and a playback zoom option.
Optically, the Coolpix 880 is equipped with an 8-20mm, 2.5x zoom lens (equivalent to a 38-95mm lens on a 35mm camera), made up of nine elements in eight groups (all made from environmentally friendly glass, we might add). Zoom is controlled via the W and T buttons on the back panel and two different lens apertures, ranging from f2.8-f4.2 or f7.8-f11.3 in the Aperture Priority and Manual exposure modes, with actual values depending on the lens zoom setting. A 4x digital zoom can be turned on and off through the settings menu and offers an incremental zoom range in 0.2x steps. The Coolpix 880 also provides a wide array of focusing options, including Continuous and Single autofocus as well as manual control. Under the autofocus setting, you can set the desired focus area, or let the camera decide (which displays a set of five targets on the LCD and bases focus on the object closest to the lens). You can also activate a focus confirmation mode, which outlines the area of the image the camera is focused on.
Exposure-wise, you get fairly extensive control under the Manual exposure setting. When you turn the camera on, you have the option of Full Automatic, Scene, Programmed, Aperture Priority, Manual or Custom exposure modes, in addition to the Play and Setup modes. Under the Full Automatic exposure mode, the camera handles everything, from the shutter speed to the white balance. The Scene exposure mode lets you choose from a variety of preset "scene types," such as Beach, Portrait, etc., where the camera automatically adjusts the exposure to handle specific lighting situations. Programmed mode puts the camera in charge of shutter speed and aperture, but gives you increased exposure control over ISO, white balance, focus, etc. Aperture Priority gives you the same amount of exposure control, only you can adjust the lens aperture setting while the camera chooses the appropriate shutter speed. Manual gives you total control over everything, which is something we really like. Shutter speeds are adjustable from eight to 1/1,000 seconds (with a bulb setting for longer exposures) and you have two choices of aperture, varying slightly with lens focal length as described above. Finally, the Custom exposure mode works along the same lines as Manual mode, only you get to determine a series of exposure presets for shooting in the same conditions frequently. The camera remembers all the settings for each preset, allowing you to recall them quickly.
The Coolpix 880 continues Nikon's other outstanding features like Auto Bracketing, the Best Shot Selector, and a variety of continuous shooting modes. In addition to the Continuous and Multi-Shot 16 shooting modes, the 880 also offers an Ultra High-Speed Continuous (approximately 30 frames per second with a total of 80 QVGA shots) and a Movie mode (up to 40 seconds of QVGA sized images at 15 frames per second). There's also a VGA Sequence mode which captures approximately two frames per second as long as the shutter button is held down. We also enjoyed the extensive white balance menu (Auto, Preset, Fine, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent and Speedlight) and the variety of metering options (the famous 256 Matrix mode, Center-Weighted, Spot and Spot AF Area). The camera also has several image enhancement tools, including the ability to alter in-camera sharpening, increase or decrease the contrast and brightness, or turn the image into monochrome black and white.
The Coolpix 880 uses CompactFlash for image storage and runs off an optional rechargeable Nikon EN-EL1 lithium-ion battery (charger included) or the included 2CR5 lithium battery. The camera supports both USB and standard serial connections (using a dual purpose port). There's also an NTSC video cable (European models ship with PAL) for connecting to a television set.
One thing we really liked about the Coolpix 880 was the unusual amount of exposure information that's (optionally) provided on the LCD screen in either playback or Quick Review modes. In either mode, pressing the "info" button (dual-purpose with the landscape/macro/self-timer button) cycles through no less than five screens of information covering all aspects of the exposure, including aperture, shutter speed, ISO setting, white balance, active focus zone, and an especially useful and well-implemented histogram/hot spot display. Overall, one of the best information displays we've yet seen in a digicam.
Especially useful is the way the histogram display highlights any areas of the image that are blown out, pushed to pure white. (Good exposure control with digicams is all about avoiding losing detail in the strongest highlights. For advanced photographers, the combination of histogram display and "blown highlights" indication is invaluable.)
This is one of the few beefs we have about the Coolpix 880: It ships with a 2CR5 lithium battery, but no rechargeable or charger. The 2CR5 will last for perhaps a couple of days of shooting, after which you'll need to go out and buy a new one for $10-20. Yikes! This is totally unworkable as a power option, except as a backup to a rechargeable. (Lithium primary cells are great for power backup, as they hold their power for years on the shelf.) Nikon sells an "optional" EN-EL1 lithium-ion rechargeable battery and charger in a kit for $99.90, and this really has to be considered mandatory.
The Coolpix 880 is an excellent addition to the already proven Coolpix line. We see it as an excellent "bring along" camera for the confirmed photography enthusiast. Perhaps its biggest audience though, will be among those who want extended picture-taking capability without the need to master the intricacies of exposure and lighting. We think Nikon's concept of "Assisted Creative Photography" will find many happy users among people with a creative vision for great pictures, if not the technical dexterity to execute it in the conventional manually-controlled camera world. At the same time, the 880 provides most of the creative control that advanced users crave. Something for everyone and great pictures, in a compact package. Highly recommended! (Except for the deplorable requirement of an "optional" $100 battery/charger, that really isn't optional at all.)
Our biggest goal here at The Imaging Resource has always been to provide a solid, standardized basis of comparison between digicams. The problem with the Internet though, is that we tend to share and look at photos as prints, rather than on a CRT. Throw in the fact that different CRTs are really different, and things get even further complicated.
Well, through a special arrangement with our friends over at Ofoto.com, we're setting up a massive archive of our test photos in Ofoto albums. Our readers can now visit any of our Ofoto test image albums to order high quality photographic prints. (Ofoto seems to regularly win in quality comparisons, a recent study showing that fully 80 percent of people polled in a blind test preferred the Ofoto prints.)
We've created two types of test photos for each camera listed: a composite of six of our test shots (intended for printing at 8x10 size), and sets of individual photos pretty much as they came from the camera. We've stripped-in IR and Ofoto logos, camera and copyright info, but not otherwise manipulated the image.
The prints aren't quite free, but well worth it if you're spending a few hundred dollars on a digicam. If you're new to Ofoto, you get a quantity of free 4x6 prints when you sign up. 8x10s currently cost $3 each. Bottom line, for $10 or so, you could get a really good idea of how two or three different digicams you're considering compare to each other under real-world conditions, including real-world photo printing!
We're very excited about this, and will be adding to the nearly 30 cameras with albums already, the plan being to do this routinely for every camera we test from here on out. So check it out at http://www.imaging-resource.com/OFOTO.HTM!
We were polishing the old Rumbolino's stainless steel bumpers the other day when we wondered what the point was. We were working pretty hard to create unphotographable specular highlights. We should, we thought, really only polish up to a certain reflectance, checking every rub or so of the clean cotton cloth with a carefully aimed spot meter.
OK, we'd been out in the sun too long.
But if you're photographing your car, you're probably getting a false reading from your meter. Especially if it's set in matrix mode. We'll bet the dice hanging from the Rumbolino's rear view mirror (hey, they're vintage dice) that your shots are disappointingly off color.
It's those shiny, spectral highlights.
Now we could go on another 500 words about changing meter modes (but you read that piece a while ago) to avoid the problem, but there's an easier way. And it applies to a lot of situations in the field (uh, real life) where you just can't trust your meter because the light is tricky.
It is perfectly legal to point a bit to the left or right to avoid the sun peeking through the trees or the shine of a bumper or any other way-too-bright object in the scene (like the sky) to get a more reasonable reading of the scene. You can lock in that reading by depressing your shutter button half way.
Make sure, though, that you are focusing on something the same distance away because you may also be locking in the focus.
With the shutter button depressed half way, just reframe your shot and finish the job with a click.
If you're framing the shot through the optical viewfinder, you won't see the difference, but if you frame with the LCD monitor, you should see a big improvement in the image even before you take the shot.
In our case, we read the middle-gray asphalt near the car, swing back to the Rumbolino's enamel paint job and the uncorrected 'maroon' becomes cherry red. And the bumpers have all the shine they need without extra buffing.
It fell to us recently to restore some very old prints, the earliest of which were made in the late 1800s.
While it's as feasible to copy prints with a digicam as a 35mm, assuming the proper setup (illumination angled at 45 degrees on either side and the camera squarely mounted), we preferred to scan these.
Scanning has several advantages:
But you can do quite well in a pinch, as we've said before, copying photos with a digicam whose image size can accommodate your print size. Once you've got a reliable setup, it's faster and it can accommodate even awkward originals. Like those framed heirlooms.
- Even illumination. No worries about setting the lamps or strobes at 45 degrees and checking for even coverage.
- Flat subject. No worries about paper curl. If you shoot with the camera through glass, you're liable to get nice sharp photos of dust on the glass.
- No lens distortion to worry about.
- Custom (and precise) cropping.
- Variable resolution. A number of these prints were quite small. Our target size was 8 x 10 inch prints, so we wanted to be able to scan the originals at a high enough resolution to get a printing resolution of roughly 150 dpi.
In addition to setting our sampling size (or resolution) to somewhere between 300 and 600 dpi, we set our capture mode to grayscale. These antiques were, of course, made well before color photography was common. A few were sepia toned, but we decided to standardize them all as grayscale images.
That was an artistic decision. We simply wanted them all to match. If we later decided to print them in sepia, we could run a Photoshop action to convert them to sepia prints whose tone would be consistent.
Our Obsolete Scanner has a very functional Photoshop plugin that lets us do all sorts of things which we usually prefer to do post-scan (where we can undo or fade the effect). It's very good at picking the highlight and shadow, though, so we let it do that when we can make an intelligent selection. And it shows us what it's done in the preview, so if there's any confusion, we can set the highlight and shadow points manually before the Obsolete grinds away.
But no matter what we did on a couple of the images, our black was just a horrible, gray shadow. No black at all. Turns out these images (which were not the oldest) were printed on a textured paper. A sort of linen-embossed texture. Excellent for napkins. Lousy for Obsolete Scanners.
All, fortunately, was not lost. By scanning in RGB mode, the scanner's native mode in fact, we were able to pick up a black in these prints on difficult papers. A conversion to grayscale in Photoshop then let us continue on our merry way.
Moral: to get the maximum density range from a difficult black and white print, try scanning in RGB mode.
Our unusually candid Phil 1A professor (who had reputation for being a bore) confessed to all 900 of us that he never used to dream. When he brought this to the attention of his physician, the doctor replied, "You look like you don't dream." Which cured him immediately of that problem, he said.
Remembering them is another trick. Unless they happen to be, as ours was the other night, branded. A well-known manufacturer of digicams actually appeared in our dream.
It was NBC's fault. We fell asleep watching that story about the young woman journalist who disappeared from a beach in Jamaica. After watching Monday Night Football (yeah, Dennis Miller actually kept us awake).
In our dream, somehow, an old friend of ours looked us up after years and years of near solvency. He'd finally seen his ship come in. It had been a submarine. Had to be. No one else ever saw the thing.
We were nearly delighted to see him. And invited him out to dinner while we still had our silverware.
He was happy to accept, but first he had a favor to ask. He had to meet some business partners and wanted us to tag along. We could, just us, go to dinner later. There was a hungry look in his eyes. A carnivorous gleam, as Dennis Miller might postulate (can't tell the jokes without a program now, Dano). But we accepted. Not happily.
Anyway, the business partners were really just one: an NBA star (dreams are like that) named Dennis Cousins (well, that's how we dreamed it). His entourage made him plural. And it included his girlfriend. Who had her own entourage.
We met in a field (around the Ram's 35 yard line) and followed the entourages back to the Cousins mansion (which had a Jamaican body shop on the right). Ominous small talk gathered around us as we bumped into the uncomfortably chic furniture. Someone offered a drink. We politely lunged for it hoping it was a mickey. We were already out, after all.
Our old buddy boasted to Cousins that we were into digital photography. "Yeah," he bragged, "he's probably taking photos right now through his hat." A security fetish of ours.
"That right?" Cousins said, like anybody with an entourage (or two) behind him.
"Name's Mike," I tried to change the subject, tipping my hat toward the ceiling. But it was too late.
"Tell me, man -- my girlfriend's into that bit," he mumbled over bad reception on the satellite dish, "what's the best camera?"
It was our worst nightmare. Really.
"Well, it depends ..." we began, tinkling the cubes in our mickey and aiming our hat back down in self defense.
"She's got a Sony Something," he helped. "Hey, Babe! What's the name of that Sony?"
Which is when I woke up sweating bullets, swearing to get out of this business and seriously take up philosophy again.
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; [email protected]; http://www.watchandsmile.com.
You can email us at [email protected].
RE: Why 72 Pixels?
I am in the process of printing some favorite photos from vacation. I open my digital images in Adobe Photoshop. When I choose the photo size it always has a default size of 72 pixels.
I realize that this is fine for Internet image viewing, but what is the proper pixel size you should enter for printing on a 2400x1400 dpi printer to get the best clarity in the final print?
-- Muri(That is a confusing issue, Muri. Photoshop displays your images at 72 dots per inch because that's what your monitor displays (it's usually 72 dpi on the Mac and 96 dpi on PCs). One image pixel per screen pixel. What size you can print it is another subject, and depends primarily on your printer's resolution. Look for the Image Size command and resize the dimensions of your image (to something that fits on the page) without resampling to scale it to fit on your printer. Then just make sure you have enough pixels per inch to keep your printer happy. About 150 ppi for a 600 dpi printer, or 200-300 ppi for a 1200 dpi printer. But you can get good results with less. -- Editor)
RE: Scanner Differences
I'm not sure if this is up your alley or not but I thought I'd try. I have a Microtek Scanmaker E3 plus scanner. I believe it scans at 300 dpi and 30 bits. I'm wondering if the new scanners that scan at 600 or 1200 dpi and 42 bits are that much better than what I have? On occasion I would sure like to scan 35mm negatives and positive slides. I don't have the adapter for my E3 Plus and even if I did I'm not sure what the quality would be because of the scanning resolution. Do you know of a decent but inexpensive scanner to do this?
-- S. Adams(It is, indeed, up our alley. Double parked and blocking traffic, too.... In general a 600 dpi scanner will deliver significantly more detail than a 300 dpi scanner. Four times as much: height and width. So imagine what you get at 1200.... And more bits of depth (depending on how they are allocated) lets the scanner "see" more tonality, even if it doesn't, in the end, deliver it. By which we mean, the file you are saving is likely not all 30 bits, but 24-bit color. The scanner simply decides which 8 of the 10 in each RGB channel it should save.... But we don't recommend scanning 35mm images using a flatbed (unless its the Agfa Duoscan). Remember that the 35mm format is intended to be enlarged quite a bit. At what resolution will you have to scan a 35mm image to be able to print it at a reasonable size? The answer depends on your printer but 35mm scanners (like Nikon's) typically scan about 2700 dpi to do the job. And with Nikon's built-in defect removal via Digital ICE technology, they can be worth the bump in price if you have a lot to scan.... You can rent them by the hour at some places to see the difference (or do the job) yourself.... Alternately, some digicams (like the Nikon 950 and 990) can be outfitted with an inexpensive slide copier that approaches the 35mm scanner, but falls a bit short.... Hope that puts it in perspective. Thanks for the great question. -- Editor)
RE: Those 24-Hour Guys
Does anyone manufacture an "interface" for digital media so that prints can be made at a 24 hour photo operation? Motophoto, Genovese, etc.?
-- Jon(There's a scramble to get your print business on the Web -- see the Best Buy story below. Our sponsor Ofoto (at ofoto.com) is offering free prints just so you can give their service a try, and they constantly win the comparisons (Forbes, as we mentioned two newsletters ago, most recently rated them first). There's also some work being done in the cameras themselves so you can select a number of images, upload them to a service and have them printed without ever transferring them to your computer. But turnaround is by mail (although you have options) so kiss the 24-hour deadline good-bye. You might, however, drop into your local drugstore for a Kodak kiosk that can read either floppy or CompactFlash to make prints for you on the spot. -- Editor)
Dave, thanks for the newsletter tips, particularly on keeping your camera lens clean. I didn't realize you are a big fan of the microfiber cloth. But I have a tip for you and your readers, one that is perhaps well known already.
One word, two syllables: LensPen
Check the comparison out at http://www.lenspen.com/comparison.html.
-- Ulysses(Ulysses, Pen(elope). I get it! Another Dennis Miller moment. -- Editor)
RE: Inkjet Cartridges
Regarding cleaning inkjet cartridges, my present system is to use a lint free cotton rag (very fine old worn-out t-shirt scraps) and Kodak or other lens cleaner, to wipe the jets and to clean all areas where dried ink collects. The next best thing is to use the printer frequently. My printers are both HP, but I am planning to upgrade to Epson as soon as the budget allows.
I enjoy your articles. Do you plan to discuss quadtone printing?
-- Tom Levy(Thanks for the tips, Tom. Frequent use is certainly the trick. Using all four colors to print grayscale images is a popular graphic arts trick because it greatly extends the tonal range achievable on press, but it's also handy for those inkjets that don't print grayscale very well. For the same reason, in fact. We'll certainly look into it (we're done divulging our dreams). -- Editor)
RE: Date Imprinting
Let me say how much I enjoyed reading about your encounter with the 'nameless' (HP?) printer cartridge! I don't think that I would have had your patience!
I bought my camera some 15 months ago, a Fuji MX700. Last week it occurred to me that, should I want to, I could NOT show the date taken on my prints. So I wrote to Fuji to seek their help and this was their reply: You have two options, either you purchase a Fuji printer like the NX-70 or you go to our Web site http://www.fujifilm.co.uk/technical and click on Digital Input, then click on the FinePix 4700 and download the software for your computer.
Within the software bundle, you need to only install EXIF Viewer. Once you have this installed it basically acts as a browser. You can right click on a thumbnail and go to print. You then get a print option box where you check the box that says "Date Imprinting." It would appear that this software was not available at the time of my purchase, so there may be others out there who are in the same predicament!
Keep those newsletters coming ... you have at least ONE fan in the UK.
-- Maurice Grant(Thanks for the tip, Maurice, and may there always be an England! -- Editor)
Want to see how to build a 30G FireWire drive for $300? Visit http://www.rugebregt.com/rudy/FireWireDrive.html.
Irfan Skiljan has updated his freeware Windows image viewer, IrfanView (http://stud1.tuwien.ac.at/~e9227474/english.htm), to version 3.25. New features include: LWF-PlugIn now saves images up to 4096x4096 pixels; support for LDF files (LuraDocument format, from LuraTech GmbH, Germany); multipage LDFs; selection/crop/cut now possible in zoom mode; support for lossless JPEG rotation/flip; new advanced batch option: 'Crop'; new save option for PNGs: 'Set compression level'; 'Fit big images to desktop' moved to View menu; and some minor bugs/features fixed/added.
Best Buy and Hewlett-Packard have announced an alliance to co-develop and maintain Best Buy's online photo center. Customers will be able to access the photo center online at or through in-store Web stations at Best Buy's more than 350 retail locations nationwide. As part of this alliance, Shutterfly.com will provide printing services enabling Best Buy customers to order 35mm-quality prints and other print-related products, and have them mailed directly to themselves, friends or family.
Canto (http://www.canto.com) has released the Cumulus Developer Program to help end users tailor off-the-shelf Cumulus products to their specific needs, and vendors to develop add-on options for the Cumulus product line or integrate their products with a Cumulus solution. Participants are entitled to developer and technical support and development training classes will be offered. Canto said it will promote Cumulus developers on its Web site and through other marketing activities.
Entry-level VGA cameras, with fewer features and lower price points than standard point-and-shoot cameras, are driving the rapid expansion of the digital camera market. According to IDC (http://www.idc.com), U.S. VGA digital camera shipments hit 565,000 units at the end of 2Q00, a 214 percent increase over the previous quarter.
Nonbranded, "white box" cameras led the charge, many of them shipped to various Internet companies as promotional incentives for attracting new customers. In addition to nonbranded players, traditional vendors are also making an impact in the VGA segment. Polaroid leads the way with shipments of 265,000, a 36 percent share of the market in the first half of 2000. KB Gear has also been successful in this space grabbing 9 percent of the market. These vendors are aggressively expanding into the mass merchant and computer superstore retail channels with Kmart, Target, Circuit City, Best Buy, etc.
The point-and-shoot segment of the digicam market has also made great strides recently, IDC reported. U.S. shipments reached 1.06 million in 2Q00, a 55 percent increase over the first quarter. Sony tightened its grip on the top position of this market with 31 percent marketshare.
Hewlett-Packard (http://www.hp.com) has unveiled three inkjet printers delivering photo quality, fast print speeds and time- and money-saving "smart" features like optical paper sensing and infrared wireless printing. The new printers are the HP DeskJet 990Cse/Cxi Professional Series printer ($399), the HP PhotoSmart 1218/xi printer ($499) and the HP PhotoSmart 1215 printer ($399).
The HP DeskJet 990Cse/Cxi Professional Series printer features enhanced color layering technology, which precisely places and layers tiny drops of ink. The printer also includes an alternative photo mode that offers 2400 x 1200 dpi on photo paper.
HP PhotoSmart 1218/xi and 1215 printers, in addition to delivering the same quality and versatility as the HP DeskJet 990Cse/Cxi printer, provide additional photo-printing capabilities. The printers come with CompactFlash and SmartMedia memory card slots that enable printing directly from a digital camera, no computer needed.
Epson (http://www.epson.com) is shipping three new 2880x720 dpi USB inkjets for the Mac: the 8-ppm Stylus Color 777 ($99), the 12-ppm Stylus Color 880 ($149), and the 13-ppm Stylus Color 980 ($249).
Eastman Kodak (http://www.kodak.com) plans to market worldwide its line of digital-camera sensors to increase revenue and the company's share of a sensor market expected to exceed $1.7 billion in sales by 2003. Kodak also announced the availability of five new image sensors, including its first two CMOS imagers and a new 16-million-pixel CCD sensor with the highest resolution of any sensor on the market.
Kodak also unveiled a number of new digital imaging products:
- The 2.3-megapixel Kodak DC3800 digicam ($499) weighs "less than three candy bars" and fits in the palm of a hand. The Kodak EZ200 ($149) takes digital still images and captures short video clips, doubling as a PC video camera for videoconferencing.
- Kodak Pictures Now software, bundled with the Kodak USB Picture Card Reader, provides a hassle-free solution to image creativity and control, Kodak said.
- Kodak One-Touch Printing system automatically configures a printer to Kodak specifications for media type and color management. Users select the Kodak paper type, printer model and click the print button. The software is bundled with the Kodak Premium Picture Kit for Borderless Inkjet Print Products and the Kodak Picture CD software.
- The new Kodak Personal Picture Maker 200 ($299) by Lexmark does not need a computer to print and offers a full-color screen that previews images before they're printed. Joining it are the Kodak Personal Picture Maker 120 ($179) and three new ink cartridges specifically designed for use by the Personal Picture Makers.
- The Kodak Smart Picture Frame ($349) displays digital pictures in an electronic frame, one at a time or in a rotating display of up to 36 pictures. Using an analog phone connection and the Smart Picture Frame's built-in modem, users can send and receive pictures to other Smart Picture Frame owners and view information, such as news, weather, traffic, sports and entertainment through the Storybox Network.
Corel (http://www.corel.com) and Canto (http://www.canto.com) have announced that the soon-to-be-released CorelDraw 10 Graphics Suite will include the newest version of Canto Cumulus. CorelDraw 10 Graphics Suite will ship in November for $569 or $249 to upgrade.
Pixami (http://www.pixami.com) has announced it will offer its complete suite of online photo enhancement technologies on the Linux operating system. Pixami technologies, based on a proprietary code base of digital imaging technology that took over 10 years to develop, were initially offered on the Windows NT platform. These technologies, which include keepsake photo album pages, photo uploading, editing, special effects, textures, and templates, provide advanced digital imaging functionality to users through partnering relationships with online photo sites.
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