The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 2, Number 24 24 November 2000

Copyright 2000, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 32nd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Tilt your chair back and relax! We've got nik Sharpener (another great plug-in), Canon's G1, a flashy gizmo and lots of deals to feast on 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:
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Check out our wide selection of the hottest digital cameras, from the Nikon Coolpix 990 to the Olympus D460 -- plus everything you need to complete your digital darkroom. We've also got plenty of removable memory and affordable card readers.

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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: nik Sharpener -- Never a Dull Moment

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who use Unsharp Masking and those who've never heard of it. Once you understand it, you won't be without it.

It's so important, in fact, that you'll probably find it everywhere: in your camera, your scanner software and your image editing program.

But unless you're mathematically inclined, you're not liable to have much confidence using it. Until today, that is. Because today, we're introducing you to nik Sharpener, a plug-in from TECHnik (http://www.tech-nik.com/) that handles it with style, smarts and elegance.

But first, what is Unsharp Masking?

THE DEVIL DEFINED

A blurred image suffers poorly defined, soft edges. This can, to some extent, be corrected, by sandwiching a soft mask of an image (made by exposing a sheet of film through the original negative with a glass plate in between, creating a positive but blurred image with no fine detail) with the original image. The final image enjoys the detail of the negative and the more uniform density modulated by the mask. A sharper image, in short.

This technique translates very well to and enjoys some enhancement in the digital darkroom where the edge areas can be mathematically discovered and extended by any factor at all with the effect reined in by yet another variable.

The trick is to effectively calculate these three variables to improve the image. We should probably say to sharpen the image because the image may be just fine until you reproduce it (on press or on your printer). The mechanics of reproduction introduce some blur. USM hedges your bet against that.

Using USM isn't easy but it's always worth the trouble. And after resizing an image, it's essential. Although it is often harmful to apply it too early in the editing process (in camera, say) and almost always fatal to do it twice (you can overdo it).

SHORT CUTS

Your image editor may define them differently, but the three variables are commonly called Amount, Radius and Threshold.

Amount, a percentage, is simply the change in exposure or density you want. Radius, in pixels, is how wide a swath you want to affect around the presumed edge. And Threshold is the cutoff level for determining what an edge is (zero means all pixels get sharpened, which can create noise).

Common superstition suggests using an Amount between 150 and 200 percent, a Radius between 1 and 2 pixels and a Threshold between 2 and 20. But on a recent Jerry Springer episode, Dave confessed he likes to go crazy with 300 percent, 0.3 pixels and 1. And Mike (later on Nightline) revealed he likes to slide between 20/40/60 percent with a Radius of 1.5 pixels and a Threshold of 0.

If you're going to press (where USM is not optional), conventional wisdom is to use an Amount of 100 percent with a 1 pixel Radius and a Threshold of 4 for an offset press. Alternately, you can try an Amount of 200 percent with a pixel Radius of 0.5 to 0.7 and a Threshold of 4. Keep the Amount at 200 percent and the Threshold at 4 but modify the pixel Radius to 1 for newsprint on a web press.

This is, strictly speaking, oversimplifying. Each image likes its own USM tweak. And you should always consult your printer (they know what works best on their presses) for recommended USM values.

In addition to the image itself, these superstitions ignore some other very important factors: the resolution of the image, the quality of the output and how far away the image will be viewed.

If you're getting the feeling the very same image might be sharpened quite differently for printing or displaying on the Web, you're getting the message. How much USM to apply to any given image is directly related to output, not the inherent quality of the image.

NIK SHARPENER

Enter nik Sharpener. We grabbed a copy of the Pro version 1.0e at Seybold San Francisco (you might recall) and have been tweaking our images with it ever since. This Adobe plug-in uses artificial intelligence to scan the image, set the variables, provide you with easy-to-use controls to adjust its settings, gives thorough feedback and is quick and resource efficient. It protects the image from oversharpening, safeguards anti-aliased type and avoids hue shifts (which typically require you to convert your image to LAB mode and do USM on the luminosity channel only). In short, it doesn't just make it easy to use USM, it makes it easy to optimize USM.

We like it so much (hey, we're in love) that we asked TECHnik if they'd give our readers a discount. For a limited time only, they've agreed to take 10 percent off their entire line of products. For the details, take a look in Dave's Deals below.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

The plug-in runs under Mac OS and Windows 95/98/NT. TECHnik recommends 32-MB RAM (modest, considering image editors today like 64-MB). Sharpener runs under any program that conforms to the Adobe plug-in architecture, including Photoshop, Illustrator, Corel Photo-Paint and Corel Draw.

INSTALLATION

Installation is so simple we almost screwed it up. Just copy the folder of filters to the Filters folder of your Plug-ins folder. Do it right and you'll see a set of options fly out from the nik Sharpener option in your Filters menu.

The options you see depend on which version of the program you buy. The Pro version has seven options: color laser (autoscan or not), inkjet (autoscan or not), Internet (autoscan), offset press (autoscan or not). But these options are a bit more generic than they might seem. You can, for example, use the Internet option when the output device is unknown and if you are printing on a black and white laser printer, the manual suggests which inkjet or offset settings to use.

USAGE

We always recommend working on a copy of your original image. Think of the original as a musical score which can be interpreted in performance many different ways. Keep an archival copy of that score so you can perform it later in a different way.

But when you are done editing your image (crop, final size, color correction, etc.) for any particular "performance," it's time to sharpen.

Just select the appropriate filter and the plug-in will present a dialog box (cf. http://www.tech-nik.com/ for a picture).

AUTOSCAN

If you select an option that autoscans, Sharpener Pro analyzes the image before displaying the dialog box.

Autoscan determines the type of image source (slides, digicam images, scans, etc.) and the "real" resolution of the image (which TECHnik defines as the level of detail in the image, regardless of the number of pixels, expressed as a number between 1 and 500 and usually between 90 and 250). Sharpener will sharpen the image differently based on the quality autoscan detects.

One of the most valuable benefits of autoscan is learning whether or not the image has sufficient detail (not to be confused with sufficient quality) to print. A lot goes into this calculation: image content, resolution, printer type and distance viewed.

And some things get tossed out: up to three scratches, for example (which could skew the sharpening).

A small text window at the bottom of the dialog box gives you instant feedback on what Sharpener Pro has found, its USM settings and any pertinent warnings. You can easily adjust the sliders to alter the effect.

SLIDERS

Sharpener's interface displays from one to several sliders alongside a zoomable image preview.

The image preview, warns president and developer Nils Kokemohr, is "a bit of a contradiction." You can't, he notes, evaluate sharpening for print output based on screen appearance. But as a relative indicator of the various settings, it's useful.

The settings (which vary by filter) include:

Our single complaint (OK, it's just a sigh) about Sharpener is that it doesn't remember our settings. You can save and load settings in the Pro version but we'd just like it to remember them. No big deal, really, but we're spoiled. If we tell the inkjet filter that our printer is a 600x600 dpi printer, we don't think we should have to load and save a setting.

VIEWING DISTANCE

The factor most often missing from most output calculations is the distance at which the image will be viewed. Sharpener Pro doesn't make that mistake.

It does however, make it a little obscure. There are five settings: Book, Small Box, Large Box, Small Poster and Large Poster. We prefer to think of them as a scale of 1 to 5 from Near By to Far Away.

PERSONAL PROFILE

Meet Anna, John and Zap (he's the dude in the shades). They're "styles" of sharpening in the Pro version that range from the modest to the radical. Well, more radical than modest, at least. The real function of these "personalities" is to let you nudge the program in a direction you, personally, are comfortable with. We tend to prefer Anna, as a general rule. Most of our friends, we suspect, would prefer Zap.

IMAGE PROTECTION

Sharpener Pro's artificial intelligence can apply USM settings selectively. Not all edges are edges. Sharpening foliage or a beach of pebbles can obscure the real subject of an image. Tiles, checkerboard patterns and fences, likewise.

Sharpener Pro also includes a hue protection process to minimize color changes (artifacting) that can occur during USM.

And it sports anti-aliasing protection to miraculously avoid confusing anti-aliased edges (commonly employed to render fonts) with blurred ones.

ACCELERATION

You can control how long Sharpener Pro spends sharpening with the "accelerator" button. It's quick enough that you needn't accelerate it when sharpening individual images, but if you are batch processing a group of images, running Sharpening in accelerated mode will get good results quickly.

BATCH PROCESSING

You can record the nik Sharpener filter in a Photoshop Action to subsequently batch process a group of images. TECHnik suggests using the Autoscan Internet filter (which sharpens independently of output) to get both a safe and effective effect for large numbers of images in the shortest period of time.

ONLINE HELP

Help is very nicely integrated into the plug-in. It even restricts itself to discussing the filter you've selected.

PRICE

Are you sitting down? The Pro version runs $329.95 while the Standard version is $129.95. The Standard version, in our less-than-humble opinion, lacks too many important features to satisfy us as either a consumer or prosumer product. TECHnik does, fortunately, offer the Pro Internet Autoscan filter with its Inkjet filters for $199.95. If it was up to us, it would be bundled with every digicam.

THE VERDICT

So how has Sharpener Pro done in the few months we've used it?

First, we haven't been sharpening for offset printing around here lately. We're sharpening for monitor display (the Web) and for prints (both inkjet and dye sub). If you try the shortcuts above, you'll see the modest but noticeable improvement we look for in our images. But we generally don't sharpen digicam images unless we change size. Then we always do it, inertia or no.

Well, we took a 463x636-pixel scan of an antique photo and prepped it to send via email (Web quality here). We asked Sharpener to work its autoscanning Internet magic and it came up with a setting for each of its personalities (the only setting in the dialog box) that we would never have divined.

In all of the following cases Sharpener Pro figured the Real Resolution Index of the image at 147.

Anna produced a lovely effect with a sharpening Radius of 0.084 or 0.5098 pixel. John came in politely but a little sharper with a Radius of 0.105 or 0.6373 pixel. Zap came in with a loud thud using a Radius of 0.121 or 0.7328 pixel. Comparing Sharpener's results to those of our suggested ones above confirmed Sharpener is operating at a different level of sophistication.

Using just the Inkjet Autoscan filter and a 600x600 printer setting with "good" printer quality (the highest setting) and "book" eye distance with an Anna personality, we got a Radius of 0.160 or 0.9666 pixel.

The same settings without Autoscan yielded a Radius of 0.070 or 0.4225 pixels. No printing information was available without Autoscan, but Sharpener added the Image Source slider (small slide).

We obviously got a bit of USM culture shock leaving things in nik Sharpener's hands. But both our screen images and print images weren't just sharper, they were etched and polished without degrading anti-aliased type overlays or creating color artifacts. Had it been developed in a different era, who knows, the f64 Group (who prided themselves on the sharpness of their images) might have called themselves the nikNacks. We're content just to call ourselves lucky to have found nik Sharpener.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Canon PowerShot G1 -- A Killer

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G1/G1A.HTM on the Web site.)

MANUFACTURER OVERVIEW

Canon U.S.A. has been an active contender in the digital market this year, releasing a full complement of new digital cameras, all designed and engineered to live up to Canon's high standards. Its two May announcements, the PowerShot S100 Digital Elph and the EOS D30, are perfect examples of how versatile Canon's digital line has become. In a body which originally debuted as the "world's smallest" APS film camera in 1994, the 2.1-megapixel Digital Elph was redesigned on the inside for digital capture, but still maintained its super-sleek, ultra-compact physique. The EOS D30, built to look and feel like a conventional 35mm SLR, was introduced as a prosumer version of Canon's professional digital line, which included the EOS D2000 and EOS DCS-1. Now the 3.3-megapixel PowerShot G1 takes its place in Canon's digital line-up, with the look and feel of a compact SLR and the user-adjustable features of a pro model.

EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW

The compact shape of the Canon PowerShot G1 may fool you into thinking it's an ordinary point-and-shoot digital camera, but if you look more closely, you'll see the extensive exposure mode offerings on the mode dial, the external flash hot shoe, and a very intriguing, rotating LCD panel. One of our favorite design elements is the rotating LCD monitor, which actually lifts up and off the camera's back panel and swings to face forward, as well as rotates a full 270 degrees, with locking positions in the forward, up, back, and down positions. This added flexibility in the LCD's design allows you to compose images for self-timed photography while standing in front of the camera, and also means that you can view the LCD monitor when shooting from odd angles. For example, you can view the monitor while holding the camera at waist level, or look up at it while holding the camera over your head in a crowd. The best part is that you can turn the LCD around to face the camera's back panel, and then snap it back into its compartment to protect the LCD screen from fingerprint smudges or scratches.

Maintaining the portability of the PowerShot digicam line, the G1 measures about 4.7 x 3.0 x 2.5 inches, and weighs approximately 14.8 ounces. While this may seem a little hefty when compared to other compact digicams, the G1 is surprisingly light, considering the extensive amount of features and controls it offers. The camera should fit into a large coat pocket or purse, but also comes with a 0.5-inch neck strap.

An eye-level optical viewfinder zooms along with the 3x lens and features a central autofocus/exposure target for composing images. The diopter adjustment dial on the left side of the eyepiece controls the viewfinder focus for eyeglass wearers, and two LEDs on the same side report the camera's ready status. The LCD monitor display is activated by the Display button, which also controls an information readout. When in Shooting (or record) mode, the LCD reports the exposure, flash, and single or continuous capture modes. The small LED panel on top of the camera reports settings such as file size, battery power, the number of frames remaining, and various other functions as they are enabled.

A telescoping, 3x optical 7-21mm zoom lens (34-102mm on a 35mm camera) offers both manual and automatic focus control. The through-the-lens autofocus system operates in either continuous or single mode, controlling how often the autofocus mechanism actually adjusts the focus. Manual focus mode is accessed by holding down a button on the upper left side of the camera and adjusting the focus with the up and down arrow buttons on the "Omni selector" pad on the back of the camera. A distance scale on the LCD monitor indicates how far you are from maximum and minimum focus, but does not mark the distance numerically. Focus ranges from 2.3 feet to infinity in normal mode, and from 2.4 inches to 2.4 feet in macro mode. Digital zoom is controlled through the record menu, with 2x and 4x enlargement options.

The G1 provides as much or as little exposure control as you want. The main exposure modes, which Canon refers to as "Creative Zone" functions are selected using the Mode dial on top of the camera. These include: Auto, Program AE, Aperture-Priority AE, Shutter Speed-Priority AE, and Manual. Shooting in Auto mode puts the camera in charge of everything except the flash. Program AE lets the camera choose the aperture and shutter speed settings, but gives you control over all other exposure options. Aperture and Shutter Speed Priority modes allow you to set one exposure variable (aperture or shutter speed) while the camera chooses the best corresponding one. Manual mode gives you full control over all exposure controls. The camera's aperture can be set from f2.0 to f8.0, and the shutter speed ranges from 1/1000 to 8 seconds.

The G1's remaining exposure controls, accessible via one of the on-camera buttons or through the Record menu, are quite extensive. They include a White Balance setting with seven options: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash, and Custom; adjustable ISO sensitivities from Auto to 50, 100, 200, and 400; Exposure Compensation from -2 to +2 EV, in one-third-step increments; Auto Exposure Bracketing with a total of three exposures; a choice of Center-Weighted Averaging and Spot Metering modes, and Automatic Exposure Lock. The G1's built-in flash offers five operating modes (Auto; Red-Eye Reduction, Auto; Red-Eye Reduction; Flash On; or Flash Off) and a variable intensity control from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments. The Flash Exposure Lock function allows you to lock the flash exposure setting for one specific subject in the frame.

The G1 also offers several special "Image Zone" shooting modes on the Mode dial. They include Pan Focus, Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Night Scene, Black and White, Stitch-Assist, and Movie. Pan Focus, Portrait, and Landscape all make automatic camera adjustments to optimize shooting under specific conditions. For example, the Pan Focus fixes the lens focal length to its widest angle setting and hyperfocal distance to give you maximum shutter speed and depth of field to cover unpredictable subject movement. The Portrait mode uses a low aperture setting to focus on the subject, while maintaining an out-of-focus background. Landscape mode slows the shutter speed and maximizes depth of field.

Night Scene mode illuminates your subject with flash and uses a slow shutter speed to evenly expose the background. The Stitch-Assist mode is Canon's answer to panorama mode, in which multiple, overlapping images can be captured horizontally, vertically, or in a clockwise grouping. Images are then "stitched" together on a computer using Canon's bundled PhotoStitch software. Movie mode allows you to capture up to 30 seconds of moving images and sound at about 15 frames per second.

Other special shooting modes, accessed via on-camera buttons or the Record menu, include: Macro, for subjects within a range of 2.4 inches to 2.3 feet at the maximum wide-angle setting, and from 7.9 inches to 2.3 feet at maximum telephoto. Continuous Shooting mode captures multiple, successive still images, at about 1.7 frames per second, as long as you hold down the shutter release. The Self-Timer/Wireless Remote Controller can activate a 12-second countdown shutter-release function, as well as trigger the shutter remotely with the accompanying wireless infrared controller.

Images are saved onto CompactFlash Type I or II memory cards, with available resolution sizes of 2048 x 1536, 1024 x 768, or 640 x 480 pixels (movies are saved at 320 x 240-pixel resolution). Three JPEG compression levels are available, as well as a raw data file format (Canon ZoomBrowser EX software is required to process raw images). A USB cable is provided with the camera for speedy connection to PC or Macintosh computers, and two software CDs offer an impressive selection of utilities. Canon's own Digital Camera software package includes tools for downloading and organizing images, processing raw files, stitching images captured in Stitch-Assist mode, and a unique application that allows you to operate the camera remotely through your computer (RemoteCapture 1.1). RemoteCapture not only controls the shutter, but provides a histogram of the subject so that you can check the exposure. A copy of Adobe Photoshop LE 5.0 is provided for more extensive image editing and enhancement capabilities.

U.S. and Japanese G1 models come with an NTSC cable for connecting to a television (European models are equipped for the PAL standard). Combining the television composition and playback with the capabilities of the remote control can turn the camera into a useful presentation tool. Power for the G1 is supplied by a rechargeable BP-511 lithium-ion battery pack, which comes with the camera, as well as an AC adapter. A battery charger is available as an accessory, as is a car AC adapter kit, which plugs into an automobile cigarette lighter.

Overall, we were very pleased with the PowerShot G1. It offers the extensive exposure control we're accustomed to seeing in much larger digicams, with the benefit of a reasonably slim, portable camera body. Its varying levels of exposure control are great for novices who want to learn camera functions gradually, but will also satisfy more advanced photographers. Great image quality, plus loads of features, makes the G1 a versatile, user-friendly digital camera that should appeal to a wide variety of consumers.

SHUTTER LAG

The G1 proved to be a little slow "getting out of bed" but very fast once it was operating. The full autofocus shutter lag is a little faster than average, at 0.75 seconds in our measurements, but this number drops to a mere 0.12 seconds when the camera is prefocused by half-pressing the shutter button before the exposure itself. Canon's data sheet claimed a prefocus shutter lag of only 0.075 seconds, but our testing didn't support that (extremely fast) number.

Still, at 0.12 seconds, the G1 is twice as fast as the average camera we've tested. Which is good for action photography, if you can prefocus. The shot-to-shot cycle time is also very fast, at just 1.12 seconds between frames in large/fine resolution mode, for the first four frames shot in series, and then only 5 seconds until the next shot can be taken. In small/coarse mode, this time drops to only 0.7 seconds between frames -- and the camera captured 64 (!) frames without a pause.

CONCLUSION

Its compact size, excellent exposure controls, and unique rotating LCD monitor, make the Canon PowerShot G1 a great option for novice consumers who want a camera with room to grow, and the raw data file format and RemoteCapture computer-control capabilities should also entice more advanced digicam consumers. Overall, the G1 produces excellent image quality, good color balance, and is accompanied by a robust software package. All things considered, we think the G1 is a great solution for anyone who wants the utility of a fully manual digicam, with the ease of automated control. Clearly, one of the strongest performers in the three megapixel arena.

Return to Topics.

New on the Site

Ever wonder where to find that interesting article you saw a few months back on the D30? Looking for a directory to all the camera reviews on the Web? Is your bookmark list over-full and under-organized? We have what you're looking for!

Our new Photobot search engine (http://www.imaging-resource.com/search/) is a hierarchical directory that you can contribute to and help grow. Our goal is for it to be the most comprehensive, authoritative directory to imaging information on the Web.

Like Yahoo and other portals, entries are arranged in categories and subcategories. You can search on keywords or just burrow down the categories to find what you want.

What's more, everyone can contribute. You can submit your favorite sites for inclusion by navigating to the category where you think the site should appear, click on "Submit a Link" at the top of the page and fill out the form. Entries go into a queue for approval that we check regularly. Pretty much everything and anything in imaging is fair game (as long as it's rated PG or better). Have sample pages from a digicam? Navigate down to that digicam's category and submit your album or pages. See a cool FAQ on some obscure technical topic? Navigate to the "Gadget Hacker" category and post a link.

Our staff has populated a little over a thousand links already (yup, there are over a thousand links already in there), but the more the merrier!

Return to Topics.

Advanced Mode: Synching at High Trigger Voltages

Recently (in "Two-Fisted Flash" at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/archive/v02/20000825.htm#adv) we wrote about adapting a 35mm external flash rig to a digicam. We were delighted to be able to use our vintage Vivitar 283, a PC cord and a Kodak DC290 to take some shots illuminated only by our off-camera flash (which has come to feel like an extension of our left arm).

Moving the rig to the Nikon 990, however, hasn't been as simple.

One problem is the trigger voltage of the 283. Understand that we don't even play an electrician on television (but our brother is one), so we aren't going to suggest you pick up a volt meter at your local Radio Shack and electrocute yourself trying to measure the trigger voltage of your old flash. After all, it's the holiday season. How are you going to return stuff if you aren't here any more?

The problem with the popular 283, apparently (it's hard to confirm this from any reliable source), is that models manufactured before 1984 use a trigger voltage of 200-300 volts. Models since then use a less titillating 10 volts (under the 12 volts most autofocus SLRS warn against). Guess what digicams want? Well, don't guess. Find out.

Nikon says the trip voltage should not exceed 5 volts (one reason Nikon only recommends their SB units). More than that may (eventually if not immediately) fry the camera, Nikon hints. Fortunately <g>, Nikon doesn't provide a standard PC cord to connect external flash, so we couldn't experiment. To synch external flash with a 990, you have to buy Nikon's external flash cord (AS-E900 for $35 or SK-E900 with a bracket at $60). The cord connects to your flash via a hot shoe or PC connection.

That, however, doesn't protect your camera from the 283's 200-300 volts. Or, perhaps even more electrifying, a studio strobe setup of 300+ volts. But we found a solution to accommodate both.

It's the tiny Wein Safe-Synch HS voltage regulator (catalog no. 990-550 at http://www.saundersphoto.com/html/body_wn_accss.htm). The Wein slips into a hot shoe and is tightened safely into place with a thumbwheel. Hey, a real thumbwheel. Connect your flash to the Safe Synch's PC connector to enjoy its 6 volt maximum trigger voltage protection.

We found a nicely illustrated site showing the Wein in action with a studio strobe setup at http://www.e-zonesystem.com/990flash/. It isn't a cheap gizmo at roughly $50, but as an insurance policy it's quite a bargain.

So you don't have to wean yourself off external flash just because you're using a digicam. Just "Wein" your external flash.

Return to Topics.

Dave's Deals

TECHnik (http://www.tech-nik.com/) is offering a 10 percent discount on their entire line of products to Imaging Resource readers. That includes three configurations of nik Sharpener reviewed in this issue (the $129.95 Sharpener, $329.95 Sharpener Pro and the 199.95 Inkjet/Internet) as well as nik Color Efex, nik Color Efex Pro, nik Efex and nik Type Efex. To get the discount, visit http://www.tech-nik.com/ir/.

Printroom.com's new Shoot & Share not only helps organize all your digital photos, but also lets you upload entire albums with a single mouse click. No more tedious one-at-a-time uploading through your browser, just click the button and relax! To celebrate their new software, they're sponsoring a sweepstakes just for Imaging Resource readers, with a prize of $500 of free printing services. (That's a lot of prints, including any mix of 4x6, 5x7, or 8x10 enlargements!) To register, just visit http://www.imaging-resource.com/sweeps/printroom/enter.html. Then download and enjoy your free copy of Shoot & Share for Windows. There'll be a random drawing Jan. 15, and the winner will be announced both here and on our site.

Canto, you may have heard, has just announced a special Christmas deal on the $99 Cumulus 5 Single User Edition. Just $49.95. Which might upset you if you took advantage of their $84 offer here (via IROrders@canto.com) that ended Oct. 20. Except -- hold on to your hat -- Canto is reducing your price to $45 (you can get a refund via fulfillment@canto.com) and extending the $45 price to all our readers through the end of the year.

PhotoParade is offering Imaging Resource readers a special $9.99 price (regularly $12.99) on Photo Viewer, their new Windows software to view and manage digital photos. You can display, browse, rotate losslessly and rename photos and turn them into desktop wallpaper or view date and time taken, shutter speed, aperture, and resolution if available. Just visit http://www.photoparade.com/coupon.asp?code=IR3 to get the discount.

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: Paper Tip

I do an annual holiday newsletter with color photos incorporated in the text. While my new Epson 870 printer is superb on coated paper, it is only coated on one side and yellowish on the other. Ink on normal paper, 20 or 24 pound, bleeds through when you print two-sided, and card stock (65 lb.) doesn't fold nicely.

But I have just discovered a perfect paper for two-sided color printing and thought you might like to share it with readers who have similar needs. It's Avery "Color Rich Plus" 3145 Ink Jet paper. It's 35 pound weight and comes in packets of 50. I got mine at Office Max.

-- J. Wallace

(You can never have too much paper! Thanks for the tip. -- Editor)

RE: The Digicam Kit

A very useful article and one I wish I had read before I got into digital photography. That being said I feel you've overlooked an important storage medium.

I use a 2.2-GB Orb drive (http://www.castlewood.com/). The Opti-Mag disks are $29 and the drive itself is $150, Great speed and rewritable. Can't beat it.

-- Rich Weiss

(We'll certainly add the Orb to our list of external storage devices. Thanks for the recommendation, Rich! -- Editor)

I enjoyed your scenario piece on what it would take to display sample images in a digicam sales area. I also thought of one other drawback.

Whoever went to all that trouble would have to replace the images about every month or so since the colors would shift and fade very quickly in a well-lit sales area. Of course, that may be changing with the new photo printers.

-- Judith King

(Good point, Judith. But my hunch is that the technology is changing faster than prints can fade <g>. -- Editor)

I found your comments about the lack of printed samples in the stores that sell Digicams interesting. You see I am one of those sales people who sell digital cameras. I work in a small family business that is into photography and digital photography in a big way. I like to think of our store as the biggest little camera store in the area. We don't have a hundred digital cameras but we do have over 20 different still digital cameras and over 110 film-based and digital cameras to pick from.

Just today I had a customer ask me why the heck didn't we have sample prints from each and every digital camera. There are just too many factors involved in producing prints form each and every camera we sell. We would not only have to produce prints from each camera but from each printer that a customer might own and from each situation that the customer might photograph.

We do offer an in-store printing service for the digital photographer and we have produced some sample prints from our commercial grade printer. So we do have a nice sales tool to show people what digital cameras can actually do.

I would much rather see a potential customer download images from the digital camera they are thinking about purchasing and print them on their own printer at home. And I have suggested this to several customers in the past.

So let's see some samples in stores so customers can get some idea as to what digital cameras can do in general but let's keep it reasonable and cost effective.

-- Randy Mitson, Bents foto source in Waterloo, Ontario

(Thanks for the view from the other side of the counter, Randy. Here's one more idea for customers who'd like to see prints: http://www.imaging-resource.com/OFOTO.HTM where you and/or your customers can get a test print of any camera we've reviewed. -- Editor)

RE: Lenses

We are considering purchasing an Olympus C3030. In your 11/17 newsletter you mentioned a prime focus lens and front-element add-ons. What is the difference and what does it mean to me?

-- Jon Momberger

(Our apologies, Jon. The difference isn't as technical as we made it sound. If you've used a 35mm SLR, you may have been able to pull off the 50mm or 35mm lens it came with to attach a 28mm or a 105mm lens. Those are all prime focus lenses. Nothing sits between them and the film plane.... But a digicam is (usually) sealed up tight to protect the CCD. You don't (usually) pull lenses on and off a digicam. Instead, you screw converters onto the built-in lens. -- Editor)

RE: Lens Cap

Just a quickie regarding the lens cap for the Oly C-3030 and the CLA-1 extender.

Because the base thread for the camera is 41mm and the end thread for the extender is 43mm, the supplied cap will stay on the extender -- but not very tightly.

The next problem is not losing it. My solution is to utilize a length of thin nylon cord (e.g. overhead light cord). I made a small hole in the rim of the cap in a convenient place and threaded the two ends of the cord through and knotted it. The knot prevents the cord from coming out. All that is then necessary is for the loop end to be threaded thorough the strap anchors and voila. A virtually zero cost lens cap retainer.

-- Duncan Robertson

(A tip of the cap to you, John! Thanks. -- Editor)

RE: Release Me

In newsletter 31 Bob Hitchcock asked about a cable release for the Olympus E-10. Olympus offers an optional cable release for this camera (E-10 Instruction Manual, page 116). The part number is RM-CB1. It plugs into a socket on the left side of the camera and supports the 'half press' function. Should work fine to prevent shake at slow shutter speeds.

-- Paul H. Brockman

(Thanks, Paul! -- Editor)

RE: Alexa and Privacy

I really enjoy the Imaging Resource site and the newsletter. However, I would refrain from directing anybody to Alexa. It looked like a great idea to me two years ago, but it's a horrible thing to have on your computer; especially for privacy purposes.

-- Malachy Hackett

(Alexa has a new privacy policy, which you can review at http://www.alexa.com/company/privacy.html. According to the new policy, "Alexa does not attempt to determine the identity of any Alexa user by analyzing Web usage paths." But it's always a good idea to look over any service's privacy policy. Thanks for the reminder, Malachy. -- Editor)

RE: Framed Again!

I'd like to know if there are any inexpensive digital photo-frames, essentially something that can hold say 10-20 or more photos which can keep moving in a perpetual slideshow, similar to a normal print photo-frame. Or am I too much ahead of today's world?

-- Srinivas Thangirala

(Well, not inexpensive (at least for our budget), Srinivas. The problem seems to be primarily what the LCD screen costs. When that comes down, we may see exactly this kind of product. That runs (we dare to hope) without batteries! For an overview, visit http://www.infotrends-rgi.com/press/2000091280958.html. They mention five companies currently shipping: Ceiva Logic, Digi-Frame, Sony, VideoChip and Weave Innovations (now sold by Kodak as the Smart Picture Frame). But here's a pretty good roundup (with urls to those companies): http://cgi.mercurycenter.com/svtech/columns/testdrive/docs/ml102900.htm. -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

Maybe it was Halloween, but we can't get Country Churchyards out of our mind. Published by the University Press of Mississippi for $35, it includes 100 black-and-whites of Mississippi cemeteries shot by none other than Eudora Welty (who is famous for her prose, too). Probably should be enjoyed only by flashlight.


FlashPoint (http://www.flashpoint.com/) has announced the release of the OPSiS iRemote+ system which allows cameras running the Digita operating system to be controlled by a wireless remote control. The iRemote+ is a control module that attaches to the serial port of Digita OS cameras, allowing users to control (with the provided key fob infrared remote or a standard RC5 TV remote control) the camera's shutter release, exposure, zoom and other camera settings from up to 100 feet away. Available from PhotoSolve and on the OPSiS Web site (http://www.digital-opsis.com) at $100, the iRemote+ system is compatible with the Minolta D'Image, Hewlett-Packard C500, and the Kodak DC260, DC265 and DC290 digital cameras.


Kodak Professional is offering big bargains on selected digicams and accessories at http://www.kodak.com/go/shop. The discounted models include the Kodak Professional DCS 460, DCS 460 IR, DCS 465, NC 2000e and EOS DCS 1 digital cameras.


eZedia Inc. has announced eZediaMX 2.0, an affordable, easy-to-learn software package for managing, distributing, and presenting digital media assets like photographs, scanner images, animations, sound files, and video clips. eZediaMX 2.0 for both Windows and Mac OS platforms provides a "drag-and-drop" user interface that "completely eliminates the need to master complicated scripting languages that are typical of multimedia authoring and integration products presently in the market," according to the company. Visit http://www.ezedia.com for a 30-day trial copy of the $199 product.


This has nothing to do with anything but for that very reason seems somehow essential. If you find a strange parallel between Dennis Miller's Monday Night Football commentary and intentional grounding, visit The Annotated Dennis Miller at http://www.britannica.com/bcom/original/article/0,5744,15669,00.html (this week) where it is all explained weekly (no, not weakly). Turns out he had an intended receiver.

Return to Topics.

Signoff

That's it for now, but between issues 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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