The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 2, Number 20 6 October 2000

Copyright 2000, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 28th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Cumulus, a printing digicam, a quick trick for calculating print size, some CueCat resources and some photo collections worth a click await you below. Plus some very special deals this week!


TOPICS

SPONSORS
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:
Olympus
http://www.olympusamerica.com/
Olympus is pleased to announce the remarkable P-400 high speed photo quality printer. This is a true breakthrough product, with a suggested list price of only $999, thousands less than competing models. It produces true continuous tone prints that look like lab-developed photographs in only 90 seconds. Amazingly, the cost per print is less than that for ordinary inkjet output. Print from either Mac or PC computers, or directly from your filmless camera memory cards. Finally, true pro-quality dye-sublimation printing at an affordable price! See the URL below for more details.

Amazon.com
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Think of us when you're in the market for digital cameras (or any other consumer electronics.)

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Ofoto.com
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Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by nearly 40,000 U.S. readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

Feature: Canto Cumulus -- Doing the Dance

If you missed our introduction to Cumulus in the last issue, we recommend you breeze through it. The terminology (capitalized here) is a prerequisite for the following adventure.

And an adventure it is. You may want to consult your physician before proceeding <g>. Feel free to skip around (it's good for your heart).

WHAT EXPOSURE INFO?

We'd hoped to capture exposure information embedded in the JPEG header (see the EXIF specification at http://www.pima.net/standards/it10/PIMA15740/exif.htm) but Cumulus version 5.0.7 isn't quite up to it. This despite Cumulus filters that list several of the fields and also despite a Kodak DCS filter that can parse exposure information for DCS files (but only as raw TIFFs).

We wanted to automatically retrieve fields like Camera Manufacturer, Camera Model, Exposure Compensation, Aperture, Flash Compensation, Flash Mode, Focus Point, ISO Speed, Shutter Time, Focal Length, White Balance Mode, Self Timer Time, Exposure Program and a few other tidbits it would be nice to know about any image. They're all named in the Cumulus Metadata Support module, but the program simply doesn't know how to grab them at the moment. We were told it will, shortly.

That's just one of Cumulus' endearing quirks.

Its behavior on launch is, well, non-standard. It remembers the last database you used and by default opens it. And if you launch the program by clicking on the database document itself, you get two windows opened on the database. Standard behavior would, of course, be to just open the database, thank you very much. And provide a program preference to open the last database, nothing, or prompt for a database using the standard file dialog.

THE DRILL

Setting up a Cumulus database beyond the default arrangement (which may be fine for your needs, but we were after gold) requires you to perform the following dance steps: create a new file, configure it to understand your files (JPEGs, we presume here), configure it with the fields you want to track and configure it to display those fields in at least one of two places.

In detail:

  1. Start Cumulus and create a New Catalog. If it's the first time, you'll get a dialog box that lets you create a new database. Otherwise close the open database and select New Catalog from the File menu. This lets you name and create a Catalog file anywhere you want.

  2. Set up your Cataloging Options under Catalog. General options, Assets options and the critically important Asset Formats options (wherein you tell Cumulus what kinds of files you are tracking).

  3. Set up your Catalog Properties. Same menu, a bit father down. Properties (you might think of them as program behaviors) include General properties, Asset Location properties, Sharing properties, Record Fields properties and Category Fields properties. This is, essentially, where you add fields like Compression to the database. And where you tell Cumulus you'd like it to create an index for searching on a particular field. It's also where you remove fields that have no use to you, to create a more efficient Catalog. Very important stuff.

  4. View Customize is optional but handy. This menu option lets you determine exactly what Cumulus displays when you look at the database in either Thumbnails view (the pictures, in any of three sizes) or Details view (the data in columns). You can pick color, size and font for the text and move fields up or down.

  5. Drag and drop one of your Assets (an image file, in our case) into the Records pane of the open Catalog window. You need one for the next step.

  6. Under Asset, select Information. (Here's a tip: under Edit Preferences you can tell Cumulus that a double-click on a record can pull up the Information display rather than Preview the Asset (or, in our case, display the image). Information is a separate program (seamlessly integrated) that chews up a bit more memory all its own.

  7. Edit Customize to add your new fields (from Step 3 above) to the display. Otherwise, even though Cumulus will catalog them, you'll never see them. You can also rearrange things (well, move a field up or down in the display) and play with your fonts. Close Information.

  8. Back in Cumulus itself, Catalog New Empty Copy to make a nice blank for safe keeping. And if this is the way you plan to live with Cumulus, Set Default will make your setup somewhat permanent.

Cumulus has a Backup command, but we caution you that any application-based backup scheme is half-baked. Strong feelings here. You want to back up your entire environment.

Plan all you like (and plan you will after a few drills), you'll want to refine your Catalog as you work. And Cumulus lets you. It's easy to add fields later, or change which fields are displayed. Just remember to manually Update all the records after adding or removing fields.

There are a few maintenance functions (Compress and Rebuild) to be aware of (which become more important as you use the Catalog), but not glamorous enough for us to spend your time on here.

Sorting (on any field) and sort order (ascending or descending) are simple menu selections.

ON FIELDS

Cumulus records some information (like Thumbnails) without any help. But to track other information your images may contain (like Compression), you have to Add the field to both your Catalog and the Information display.

Adding involves activating a Cumulus filter that knows about the field you want. For our EXIF data, this would have been a JPEG filter that could read EXIF data. Cumulus ships with three JPEG filters but filters are not documented. To see what one does, you can snoop at its Properties, but that doesn't always help.

Canto recommends changing the order of the filters if the program isn't cataloging what you want. And order does matter. If Cumulus finds Compression with one filter it isn't inclined to look for it with another, although by changing the Properties of the field itself, you can alter that behavior.

Filters are marvelous things, and Cumulus ships with many, including a Generic Filter for any Asset that doesn't have a filter of its own. But since a filter's job is to dig out the details of the particular file format you're cataloging, you are really relying on Canto and friends to develop them. As we saw with our EXIF experiment, it's easy to be disappointed. That data has been around for years, many image display programs support it, and yet there's no Cumulus filter for it.

Somewhere between here and there are custom fields you can build yourself from Cumulus's extensive data types. Automatic entry of this information, of course, is limited to dragging and dropping or selecting from a pull-down list or using a default entry. You can always keyboard the information, of course, but that isn't automatic. A typical example of a default entry might be copyright information (although that should properly be pulled from the image by our mythical EXIF filter).

To actually see fields you add, remember to tell Information about them. Edit Customize will do it.

CATEGORIES

While Cumulus will use your (well-named) directory structure by default for its category names, don't feel constricted by that. You can tell Cumulus not to use directory names at all and even develop a complementary category structure. The tutorial develops three complementary categories.

Why bother? So a record can be found by looking for it in any of several ways: by Asset type (images, movies, sound), by project (non-profit, corporate, private jobs), by subject (aircraft, animals, clouds, trees). By client, perhaps, or by content. By who's in the picture or what event was photographed. Lots of reasons.

This is feasible because you can assign these categories to records (and records to categories) by dragging and dropping one to the other, either way.

ON WITH THE SHOW

After all your hard work planning, designing and building your Catalog, there has to be some tangible benefit, a payoff, some fun. Let's try a slide show.

Just as the record information display window is a separate application (Information), so is Slide Show (under the Collection menu). It depends, however, on QuickTime (3.0 or later). But that isn't quite as annoying as it sounds. Unlike other applications that perform slide shows, being able to create one means you can email it (Cumulus will do it for you) and save it to disk. And since you can annotate your Assets with sound notes, your slide show can even include commentary. Slide Show also permits you to record audio from a separate file (music, maestro).

In addition to image and sound, Slide Show offers a number of special effects. The transitions are pretty wild. Cross Fade seemed like a safe choice for our images. Even if a few should be Exploded.

While it doesn't quite produce a full-blown presentation, it does make a more useful slide show. Unfortunately, it has some overhead (you are building a slide show, not just running one), so your basic image viewer slide show is not yet obsolete for flipping through a few images.

LEARNING SOMETHING

The point of a database isn't to make your executor's life easier. It's to learn something about your craft. And consequently make your heirs richer.

That's why it's important to be aware of the data you are cataloging with your images and to use that data to learn about your photography.

Which is why we're so disappointed (OK, downright annoyed) we can't extract the EXIF data.

Imagine you could sort all your images by shutter speed. You'd be able to tell in a flash where hand holding gets shaky for you just by scanning the thumbnails. And what if you cataloged the Camera Model with your images? You might find you can hand hold at 1/30 second with one camera but not with another. Get the picture?

IMPORTING, EXPORTING

There are those who worry about proprietary database formats, which is what Cumulus Catalogs are. They aren't dBASE files or Paradox files or FileMaker files. We don't worry (a lot) about that because when a product is a market leader, usurpers are obliged to write conversion utilities to be taken seriously. With Cumulus, there are a number of export options that should cover any contingency (including a script to export your records to FileMaker, and menu functions to export a Cumulus Record Export file or Category Export. Everything or just a selection.

Those exports are designed to be imported by, uh, Cumulus. They serve as archives, according to Canto, as well as cross-platform Catalogs supporting 8-bit character code translation. So the ding bat you use on your G4 will be the same one displayed on your Dell.

Our sense of this is that it's a nice option to have but not required for ordinary use. Even copying records from one Catalog to another is just a matter of drag and drop -- unless you only have one of the Catalogs and the import file.

HTML

Yep, Web pages. Automatically. Any Collection of your Catalog you like. With the option to create a JPEG from the original image suitable for Web display (which Canto calls a Thumbnail) automatically linked to a JPEG preview (which is what the rest of the world calls a thumbnail). You can also just link to the original, if you prefer.

You don't need the optional Web Publisher for this. You only need Web Publisher if you are running a server and want an online Catalog to be updated live. For which Canto provides a very neat, cross-platform package including the server software, CGI scripts and HTML pages. Generating an HTML page of your images, however, is built in to Cumulus.

AUTOMATING

Do a little cataloging and you start fantasizing about job-related injuries. This is repetitive, boring stuff (did we mention shoveling snow and mowing the lawn?). As disappointed as we are with the failure to read EXIF data in JPEGs, we salute Canto for its cross-platform support of scripting.

On the Mac OS, it's AppleScript and on Windows it's OLE automation. And on either, it's all of Cumulus. Scripting fans (like ourselves) know that a lot of software that touts automation delivers only the basic required suite (rarely useful). We have to celebrate a product that implements its entire command structure.

So if you use AppleScript, OneClick or Frontier on the Mac, or Delphi, Visual Basic, Visual C++, Powersoft or Frontier on Windows, you've got scriptable Cataloging under your fingertips. AppleScript examples are provided as editable files. Visual Basic examples, however, have been compiled.

Cumulus itself relies on the technology to implement a number of its own functions. That's proof in the pudding. Look in your Cumulus directory and you'll see a folder called Menu Commands that mirrors Cumulus' menu bar. Inside? Scripts for each item on the menu bar. Add your own, move them around, whatever you like.

You can assign a selection of records to a selection of categories (and vice versa) using one supplied script. Others assign a status to any selection of records, update the location of records on a renamed remote or removable drive, count file formats with a tally of the number of Assets in each, remove a category from a selection of records (and vice versa), export to FileMaker [M] or Access [W], find records based on selected categories, set up a hot folder and much more.

THE WEB SITE

As sites go, the Canto site at http://www.canto.com/ is a simple but slow one. It's also somewhat trying to navigate. The search option returns nothing, for example, if you search for something as elementary as "filters" -- which the manual suggests you do every now and then.

We've been by a lot in the past few months and found one or another thing just not working (like email support that, after we located ourselves on the globe, failed to provide an email form or address for us to get help -- that would be support@canto.com, by the way).

When we got desperate (trying to find the Web Publisher option, for example), we looked for the Customers link. That was where we found things.

CONCLUSION

If Cumulus read EXIF data, we'd be clicking our heels in the air. But Cumulus' scripting power brings music to our ears. So we're dancing with this partner. And though it may step on our toes now and then, it's better to be dancing than never to have cataloged at all.

And there's still time to take advantage of Canto's special offer to Imaging Resource readers, which makes this application about as expensive as competing shareware. Just click on the Cumulus link in the Dave's Deals section below to get your copy.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Olympus C-211 -- Point, Shoot and Print!

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C211/C21A.HTM on the Web site.)

EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW

The $799 Olympus C-211 is not your typical point-and-shoot digital camera. The camera body measures 7 x 5.25 x 2.5 inches (17.78 x 13.34 x 6.35cm), and weighs 1.67 pounds (760 grams) without batteries, printing media, or SmartMedia card. This may sound a little large and bulky, but this larger size accommodates a very cool feature -- the ability to directly print your digital images to Polaroid 500 film. No matter how you use it, the combination of digital capture and instant printing is a welcome departure from the norm.

The Camedia C-211 Zoom design is very straightforward. All of the controls (except for the shutter release) are within thumb's reach on the back of the camera, and the hand grip on the right side of the camera fits comfortably in the palm of your hand (a neck strap is included). Both the battery compartment and SmartMedia slot are fully accessible when the camera is mounted to a tripod.

A 3X, 5.4-16.2mm, aspherical glass zoom lens (equivalent to a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm camera) is built into the camera, constructed with eight elements in six groups. The automatic aperture ranges from f2.8 to f8.6, depending on the zoom setting. The through-the-lens autofocus can focus from 31 inches (80cm) to infinity in normal mode, and from 8 to 31 inches (20 to 80cm) in macro mode. Some manual focus presets are also available for quick-shooting situations, with set focal distances at 8 feet (2.5m) and infinity.

There is no optical viewfinder on the C-211. Instead, a two-inch, color LCD monitor remains activated whenever the camera is operational, displaying menu items, flash settings, focus modes, and digital telephoto settings in addition to the CCD image display. The camera's lens cap snaps securely inside the threaded lip of the lens barrel; and comes complete with a safety string so you can attach it to the neckstrap of the camera and prevent loss when not in use.

Exposure is automatic. The user makes manual adjustments by selecting different flash modes or by adjusting the exposure compensation, white balance, or light metering. Shutter speeds range from 1/1,000 to 1/2 second, though they are not displayed on the LCD. The built-in flash has six operating modes: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Off, Fill-In, Slow Sync, and Slow Sync with Redeye Reduction. An External Flash mode enables the camera to work with a remote flash and slave unit, but there is no sync terminal for an external flash head.

White balance offers five modes: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, and Fluorescent. Exposure compensation ranges from -2 to +2 in 0.5 EV increments, and is conveniently adjustable without calling up the Record menu. Two metering options include ESP, which averages several points in the image, and Spot, which meters light at the center of the LCD.

In addition to the standard still capture mode, the C-211 offers several special recording modes. Sequence shooting allows the user to capture up to 45 sequential shots, at approximately 1.3 frames per second (depending on image size, quality, information, and the amount of memory available). A Movie mode records up to 15 seconds of moving images without sound, at the 320 x 240 pixel image size. Two text capture modes (Whiteboard and Blackboard) are available for photographing meeting notes or chalkboards. When using an Olympus SmartMedia card, a Panorama mode enables the user to capture a series of photographs that can be stitched together later on a computer. Olympus also offers a variety of special function memory cards.

Images can be recorded at either 1,600 x 1,200 or 640 x 480 pixels, with fine and normal JPEG compression levels available. An uncompressed TIFF quality setting is available for larger image sizes. All files are recorded on SmartMedia cards and an 8MB card is provided. A USB cable connects the C-211 to either a Windows or Macintosh computer, and an accompanying CD-ROM is loaded with Camedia Master software, which provides image downloading and organizing utilities. Camedia Master also features limited image correction tools, some creative templates, the ability to piece together panoramic images.

Power for the C-211 Zoom is supplied by two CR-V3 lithium battery packs, which are provided with the camera. Four AA alkaline, NiMH, lithium, or NiCd batteries can also be used. We highly recommend that you invest in the optional AC adapter and battery charger.

Models distributed in the U.S. include a video cable for NTSC television and VCR devices, and European models are presumably equipped for PAL timing.

Naturally, the biggest news about the C-211 is its ability to print images directly on Type 500 Polaroid film. Images develop in a couple of minutes, and you can print as many copies as you like. Four adjustments extend the camera's printing capabilities. Located in the Setup menu, they are: Brightness, Contrast, Red/Green Color Balance, and Sharpness. Very impressive!

Overall, we found the C-211 to be a surprisingly versatile camera, despite its fully automatic exposure control. The image quality is fairly typical of a midrange 2-megapixel digicam, but clearly, the most unique feature is the Polaroid printing capability. We miss the sophistication of direct aperture and shutter speed control, but realize that the C-211's intended audience is more oriented toward point & shoot operation than choosing its own exposure settings. Despite the simplified control system, the availability of multiple white balance settings and exposure compensation adjustment make for a dramatic extension to the capabilities of purely film-based Polaroid photography. If you need both instant prints and digitized versions of your photos, the C-211 should be an easy choice.

PRINTING

Probably the clearest statement to make about the C-211's output is that it looks every bit like the Type 500 Polaroid prints you may already be familiar with from Polaroid's own Joycam or Captiva camera models. The prints measure 4.38 x 2.63 inches (111 x 67mm), with an image size of 2.88 x 2.25 inches (73 x 57mm). Color rendition and image resolution appear to be very typical of Polaroid Type 500 film, meaning that, to our eyes, the C-211 takes full advantage of the film's capabilities.

The Polaroid film pack lives inside the front of the camera, behind a large, hinged door. Type 500 film (also sometimes sold under the earlier designation of Type 95) has 10 prints per pack, and the C-211 keeps track of how many prints have been made, displaying the number still remaining in the pack whenever it's in Print mode.

Print Mode is a separate selection on the mode dial on the camera's back. In this mode, pressing the large green Print button will print as many copies of the currently displayed picture as you selected in the print-mode setup menu. You also have the option of printing individual frames from movie files, or index prints showing the contents of your memory card. The C-211 will also print the date or time when the picture was taken along the edge of the image area, or the image's filename from the memory card. To avoid inadvertent film waste, you must confirm the print operation by hitting the "OK" button after pressing the green Print button. Once you do this, the print will slowly eject from a hatch on the top of the camera, taking about 20 seconds to finish. Once ejected, the Type 500 film develops in a couple of minutes.

We're not huge fans of Polaroid film's image quality compared to the best quality conventional prints from a photo lab. But the C-211 actually offers some significant improvements over film-only Polaroid technology.

In the C-211's setup menu, there's a screen of options you can set that govern the printing process. You can adjust brightness, contrast, green/red color balance, and image sharpening, each across a range of 5 units on an arbitrary scale. Our experimentation with these settings revealed that they provided a very useful range of adjustment in their respective parameters. The one adjustment that was lacking, and that we sorely missed was a yellow/blue color correction option: Shooting under incandescent lighting, most color errors are in this dimension, rather than the red/green one offered by the C-211.

While the tone and color adjustments provided by the C-211's print engine do allow you to improve the prints, we suspect they're part of a nefarious plot to sell more film: If we hadn't had the option to change anything, we probably would have been quite content with the default prints from the C-211. With all these controls at our disposal though, we quickly burned through a pack of film, just playing with the various options.

Although we bemoaned the absent yellow/blue color control, we in fact discovered that the red/green correction was a better fit for the needs of most prints from the C-211. Perhaps it is typical of Polaroid film, but we felt that the prints from our sample unit generally looked a bit better with just a little green correction dialed in.

Another pleasant surprise is that the C-211 let us zoom in and crop out just a portion of each image, with a maximum "magnification" of about 3x. To crop into an image, push the zoom lever in the telephoto direction. Successive actuations of the zoom lever increase the magnification in steps of 1.5, 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0x. When zoomed in, the printing area shows on the LCD display as a green rectangle. You can move this rectangle around the image area with the arrow buttons to select the portion of the image you want to print.

SHUTTER LAG/CYCLE TIMES

Overall, the C-211 Zoom is a surprisingly fast digicam, with fairly rapid startup and shutdown times, decent shutter lag under normal conditions, and a very fast 2.0 second cycle time. The shutter delay was a little perplexing, as our normal electronic test setup seemed to confound the camera's autofocus circuitry. (Possibly due to the rapidly flashing numerals.) In any event, while we measured times on the order of 1.5 seconds with our normal test setup, the old Digital Eyes camera timer showed lag times on the order of 0.7 seconds fairly consistently. Thus, we'd rate the cameras shutter delay as 0.7 seconds in normal usage.

CONCLUSION

The C-211 breaks new ground in the digicam marketplace, combining digital photography with instant printing via readily available Type 500 Polaroid film. As a purely digital camera, the C-211 Zoom takes good (if not category-leading) photos with solid two megapixel resolution and good color rendition and tonal range. It's in the instant-printing area that it really excels though, exploding the limitations of conventional film-based Polaroid photography, dramatically facilitating expanded use of a proven, decades-old color print technology. While something of a "niche" product, we see it breathing new life into the instant-print photography business, opening a range of commercial applications and personal usage patterns that weren't previously feasible. If you need both instant prints and digital copies of your photos, this camera is the one to get.

Return to Topics.

Beginners Flash: Count Quarters

How big does your image have to be to get an 8 x 10 print at online photo printers like Ofoto, Shutterfly or Print@Kodak? One way of (roughly) calculating the biggest size you can get from your image is to double your image file's smallest dimension (in pixels) and divide by 250.

Part of the trick to this formula is that these photo finishers use output devices with a resolution of about 250 pixels per inch. So if your image is 768 x 512, you would double the 512 to 1,024 and then divide 1,024 by 250 to get roughly 4 inches, for a 4 x 6 print.

Which is easier than it sounds. It's just like counting quarters to find out how many dollars you have.

A 1,536 x 1,024 image would give you a little over 2,000 on the small dimension, which like $2 has 8 quarters, so you could get an 8 x 10 out of it. A 1,280 x 960 image doubles the 960 to 1,920 which (like $19.20) has 7 quarters, so you can get a 5 x 7 out of it, but an 8 x 10 would be a stretch (watch the 5 and the 8, not the 7 and the 10).

It's not impossible to go larger. You're just crossing the quality line. But now, at least, you know where it is.

Return to Topics.

Advanced Mode: CRQ's CueCat: Who's Scanning Whom?

If you subscribe to Wired or Forbes, you got a cute little cat-shaped bar code scanner recently, the CueCat from CRQ (http://www.crq.com/). If not, you can drop into your neighborhood Radio Shack and get one -- free. But it might not be quite the deal it seems.

The CueCat reads universal product codes, ISBN, Codabar and Digital:Convergence Corp.'s printed bar codes from ads and articles. The accompanying Windows software (a Mac version (http://www.crq.com/mac.html) is in the works) can also analyze audio from radio and TV broadcasts for special (uh, subliminal) tones that function like a printed bar code. The object of the game is to link products to Web sites. No more, "dubya-dubya-dubya what-me-worry dot com." Just swipe and you're at the site.

But there's a catch. With each swipe the software tells CRQ what you read or listen to and where you surf. No matter which way you point the CueCat, without an opt-out, it's an invasion of privacy.

CueCat Resources at http://www.beau.lib.la.us/~jmorris/linux/cuecat/ lists a number of programs (including a JavaScript Web page that will show you just what your cat is cueing) that decode the scanner. And there's a mirror list of decoder links at http://www.logorrhea.com/cuecat/mirrors.html if you want to learn more about this intriguing device that would certainly like to know more about you.

Return to Topics.

Just for Fun: The Internet Attic

If spring is for cleaning, fall is for remembering. And the Web, like your attic, is a great place for it -- especially in inclement weather. Here are just a few links to some old photo collections:

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Dave's Deals

Canto is offering Imaging Resource Readers a limited-time discount on their Cumulus 5 Single User Edition. The $99 product can be purchased for $84 (plus shipping and taxes) through Oct. 20. To take advantage of this offer, just send an email to IROrders@canto.com.

Andromeda Software is offering our readers a special price on LensDoc, their Photoshop plugin that corrects lens distortion and perspective which we briefly but enthusiastically reviewed in our Seybold coverage last month (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/SEYF00/0830sey.htm) and are currently testing. Through the end of October you can get LensDoc for $69 by calling (800) 547-0055.

PhotoParade is offering Imaging Resource readers a $5 coupon good toward the purchase of the Standard Edition of PhotoParade 3.0, which includes PhotoParade Maker 3.0 and 4 of their themes. The Standard Edition of this Windows slideshow and screensaver program normally sells for $19.99, but with the coupon at http://www.photoparade.com/coupon.asp?code=IMAGING-RESOURCE it's yours for only $14.99.

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; info_usa@binuscan.com; http://www.watchandsmile.com.

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We Have Mail

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

RE: Unerasing Files

First let me say that your periodic newsletters have been a great resource to me. It helped me not only choose my digital camera (Olympus C2020), but I have gotten several very handy tips as well.

Here's what I have been able to do with an "erased" file:

I use the Lexar Media Digital Film Reader for transferring images from my Smartmedia cards into the computer. (USB beats the COM port, hands down.) In this situation, Norton Unerase, from System Works 2000, works rather well; whether I have deleted the image "in-camera" or via a cut and paste on the computer. All you need do is fill in the first character of the file name. In the case of the Olympus it's always a "P".

Keep up the good work.

-- Dan B.

(Thanks for the feedback, Dan! Anybody else? -- Editor)

RE: Not Badly Disguised, Guys

Just wanted to pass along my overdue kudos for an excellent newsletter. In an age when most e-zines are no more than badly disguised ad copy, you guys consistently manage to inject qualitative and interesting news and articles into every edition

I've forwarded past issues to several of my co-workers, with the suggestion they subscribe immediately. Keep doing good.

-- Art-in-Albuquerque

(Forwarding is good, Art. Thanks. And thanks for the kind words about our editorial policy. There's a lot of exciting stuff out there, but a candid assessment of our experience with it all is what we're about. No disguises. Promise. -- Editor)

RE: No Prints?

I am interested in a digital camera and have gone to a couple of camera stores and they can never show me a print or find one for me. How can people buy a digital camera without seeing a print from one? I'm interested in a good camera with a 3.3 megapixel CCD. I would like my prints to be as close to 35mm as possible. Could you help me out? Thank you very much.

-- Frank

(We share your frustration with the stores. They never seem to have batteries for the cameras we want to fire up. And we hate those tethers, too. Can't turn the camera around without having them snap back at you.... Prints are another story, though. You can print some tests yourself, using our new test print program. The stores may not provide prints, but we do at http://www.imaging-resource.com/OFOTO.HTM. Just pick a few cameras you're interested in and let Ofoto send you our test prints for them. -- Editor)

RE: Smart? Cards

I have a lovely Olympus camera that takes both CF and SM cards. I have never had ANY trouble with CF cards; I have had nothing but trouble from SM cards.

I have not pulled them from the slot without pushing first to release. I have not done one darn thing but I now have two cards that have simply gone BLOOEY -- lost a bunch of vacation pictures from Cayman; lost others as well.

They have quit functioning as cards; both the camera and the PC say they cannot be even reformatted.

Questions: (1) Is this a common experience or do I just have the white thumb of death? and (2) If it IS a common problem, how can the format survive against the CF? It seems too fragile to be useful.

Might be a worthwhile discussion.

-- James M Wallace

(How about it readers? -- Editor)

RE: Charge(d) Cards?

Hi. I'd like to second the oft-repeated praises of your newsletter, and also ask a follow-up question about SmartMedia. You said that semiconductor memory is notoriously sensitive to static discharges, and suggested that this may be a reason for some failures of SmartMedia cards. You also said that they should not be left on desktops but rather should be stored in the special packaging that comes with the card. I have three SmartMedia cards. Two are in the special packaging, but the biggest one (32-MB) stays in the camera. Is it protected there, or is that as dangerous as leaving it on the desktop? Or are some cameras safer than others?

-- Juan

(In the camera, your card is protected, don't worry about static discharges (from you to some metal). Worry (but just a little bit) about your card when it is neither in the camera nor in the protective package it came with -- which goes for CompactFlash and floppy disks, too. If you're in an environment where a few steps across the rug gets you zapped every time you touch something metal, ground yourself on something other than your SmartMedia card. Knock on metal. -- Editor)
(In the camera the card should be perfectly safe: The thing is to not have any high voltages appear between the card contacts. This would never happen in the camera, where all the contacts are touching the corresponding fingers of the card socket. I don't know just how sensitive the cards are: We're pretty cavalier with our own in the test studio, but then again, we did have one go bad. -- Dave)

RE: No Busy Signal

Dave and Mike,

I just wanted to thank both of you for taking the time to write back with an answer to my question about static. I know how busy you guys are.

-- Juan (again)

(If you aren't too busy for us, how can we be too busy for you? -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

Ofoto has announced international shipping making Ofoto prints (http://www.ofoto.com) available in over 180 countries. Once customers chose the destination for their prints or framed photographs, they simply click the Ofoto shopping basket, fill out the address information, and the order can be shipped around the world. Ofoto said international orders typically arrive within in 3-12 days, depending on the destination country and the shipping service chosen. For photographic prints, international shipping costs $4.79 and $19.99 for air express mail. Shipping for framed photographs is $15.99 and $22.99 for air express mail.


Amazon.com has launched its Camera & Photo store (http://www.amazon.com/photo) and announced an alliance with Ofoto. The new store provides photo-related products and online photo services for both digital and film camera users. Beyond products and expert information, Amazon.com Photo Services, provided by Ofoto, will offer high-quality prints for both digital and film images. Customers can also store their digital or film photographs online, organize and enhance them in online photo albums, and share the albums with friends and family. And preview photos online in a wide selection of frames before selecting one. Amazon.com said the Amazon Camera & Photo store will offer product information and specifications, customer reviews, expert editor reviews, tips from renowned photographers such as Art Wolfe, product comparison tools, and buying guides to help customers find the right products.


Adobe will be offering a free seminar on the new features of InDesign 1.5, Illustrator 9.0 and Photoshop 6.0. Register online at http://www.adobe.com/totalpublishing for the 1-4 p.m. seminar held through November at various sites across the country (see the site for details).


Kodak has relaunched kodak.com at http://www.kodak.com, a photography Web site combining the Kodak Picture Center, Kodak Photo Communities and exclusive kodak.com editorial content, as well as the existing Print@Kodak Internet photofinishing service and the Shop@Kodak online store.


According to a study by InfoTrends Research Group, digicam sales now represent 13 percent of total worldwide camera sales. While digicam sales have not begun to erode film camera sales or film usage on a worldwide basis, steady market growth will inevitably begin to replace film camera adoption, InfoTrends said. As a result of continued market growth, many new products and services are springing up out of this digital landscape, including digital photo frames, cable TV picture services, and online photofinishing services. The study projects that worldwide shipments of sub-$1,000 models (not including toy digicams) are growing at 50 percent annually through 2005, and the market is forecast to reach over $13 billion in revenues in 2005.

North America is the leading market for digital camera sales, and should remain so through the forecast period. In 2000, it represents 52 percent of the worldwide market. North America's substantial lead through 2005 is primarily due to growth in the entry-level segment, defined as cameras under $200. Japan is currently second with 23 percent of digicam sales, though sales of digicams in Europe should surpass Japan within the forecast period. Olympus, Sony, Kodak and Fuji are the worldwide market leaders with over 60 percent combined unit marketshare.


Altamira will provide an unlimited site license for the full version of its Genuine Fractals Print Pro software for use across the Rochester Institute of Technology campus of 15,000 students. Altamira Genuine Fractals is used to crop and resize digital image files. With Genuine Fractals, a medium-sized image can be scaled to significantly larger sizes yet still have the image quality of the original.


Epson has lowered the price of the Epson Stylus Photo 870 to $249 and Epson Stylus Photo 875DC to $299. The printers feature 1440 x 720 dpi hardware resolution and Epson's Advanced Micro Piezo ink jet technology, a six-color photo ink system creating incredible detail, beautiful skin tones, sharper contrast and an ultra-wide color range designed ideally for photography. They also offer four-picoliter, variable-sized "unvisible" droplets, delivering up to 69 levels of tone.


Sanyo has developed the world's first digital camera to use photo magneto-optical disks for data storage. The camera enables users to record roughly two hours of moving images and can store 11,000 still pictures, Sanyo said. A 730-megabit MO disk is competitively priced at 3,500 yen, sharply lower than other data storage devices, including Sony's 64-MB Memory Stick at 15,200 yen, a Sanyo spokesman said. The camera's format was developed jointly by Sanyo, Olympus Optical Co Ltd and Hitachi Maxell Ltd. The camera, called the IDC-1000Z iD, will go on sale on Dec. 8 in Japan. Sanyo plans to produce 10,000 units in the first month, but has yet to decide future production volume. It expects to launch the camera in overseas markets next spring, the spokesman said.

Return to Topics.

Signoff

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

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

Happy snapping!

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

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