The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 2, Number 25 1 December 2000

Copyright 2000, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 33rd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Inexpensive gift ideas, Canon's revolutionary digicam, a festive approach to aspect ratios and our solution to digital clutter light up this issue. Don't blink, you might miss something (like the Cumulus upgrade that reads exposure data)!


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:
Canon
http://www.powershot.com
Are you digital yet? Canon's PowerShot line of digital cameras is introducing an array of widely acclaimed models for every level of photographer.

The PowerShot S100 Digital ELPH is the world's smallest 2 MP digital camera with a zoom lens! It's cool, compact, and ultra-stylish. Find out why any camera can be digital, but only one can be an ELPH! http://www.powershot.com/powershot2/s100/index.html

The advanced 3.34 MP PowerShot G1 represents digital photography's cutting edge, while giving you the creative control you've come to expect from traditional 35mm cameras. The G1's Mode Dial features 12 EOS-based picture-taking modes, plus new Movie Mode with sound. And the G1 accepts a variety of lens converters and EOS EX-series Speedlite flashes. Find out more! http://www.powershot.com/powershot2/G1/index.html

Printroom.com
http://www.printroom.com/
At Printroom.com we offer real photo prints from your digital photos.

Now organizing, adjusting, uploading, and sharing your photos is easier than ever! Printroom.com is pleased to announce their new Shoot & Share software. Shoot & Share helps you organize photos on your computer, adjust them to your liking and then upload entire albums with just a mouse click!

Register at the URL below and you can not only download a free copy of Shoot & Share, but you'll also be entered in a drawing for $500 of free printing services!

To register, visit: http://www.imaging-resource.com/sweeps/printroom/enter.html

Olympus
http://www.olympusamerica.com/
You're not seeing any digital images right now. (This is a text newsletter after all.) But you should see the ones that come out of the most innovative digital cameras in the world!

Click the link below to visit the Olympus Digital Camera Selector!
http://svr2.iadnet.com/fcgi-bin/rotator30/2/54/

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

We've applied the same expertise we developed to bring you every book in print to electronics. And you can expect the same legendary customer service, backed by our "safe shopping guarantee."

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.

Go to Amazon.com Electronics: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/stores/ir1
Go to Amazon.com Digital Cameras: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/stores/ir2


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: Gift Ideas (Giving Dept.)

We had a little chat with Santa's elves the other day (they usually decline to be interviewed but a little eggnog goes a long way). They were a little concerned about how much you have to spend to get into digital imaging. Cameras, for instance, that cost as much as a refrigerator. Printers that eat more supplies than a team of reindeer.

We assured them, however, that there are great economies to be realized in the digital domain. Take holiday gifts, we argued. "Please!" they joked. Olde elves, they are.

We thought you might like to know just what we told them. We gave them an incomplete but broad wrap-up on the various sorts of things you can do to turn digital images into gifts.

Some of these projects require the help of an online photofinisher but others just need a quick visit to your local office supply store.

ELECTRONICALLY WRAPPED

By now you've probably got pictures of everybody in your family on your computer. But just exactly how is everyone related to each other? Ah, the old family tree!

There is no law you have to use specialized software to build a family tree. You will want to use your image editor to crop and resize faces but then you can use anything from a word processor to an illustration program to create your tree. You just have to be able to draw lines, place pictures and add type.

And (talk about economies!) you can give a copy to everyone in the whole family. Who wouldn't want one? Plus, version 1.0 will no doubt engender a few revisions for version 2.0 (filling out some missing dates, for example). So don't worry if it isn't complete.

The only reason we get invited to family events is to take pictures. But that gave us another gift idea. At the end of the year, we collect each family event on a family album CD. We burn a copy for every group in our family.

They seem to like it (no returns yet, anyway). And we don't have to burn CDs all year for them ("Wait until December!" we promise). The CD has even become a sort of right of passage for those recent graduates now living on their own. Old enough for their own personal copy.

A BIT MORE TRADITIONAL

Why should Hallmark have all the fun? When you make your own holiday cards or holiday ornaments with your images, they'll be unique. And you'll know where to get more if you need them.

Special card paper is available at any office supply store (but you can just fold a regular sheet of paper into quarters). And 4-1/8 x 5-1/2 inch invitation envelopes are just the right size.

To make ornaments, you can mount prints of your images on self-adhesive board or with double-sided tape and cut them into holiday shapes (use a cookie cutter to outline the design). Don't forget to do something with both sides (another image -- front and rear views of someone or other might be funny -- or a personal message). Add a ribbon and you're hooked.

And if you're entertaining over the holidays, consider turning your images into personalized placemats. You can adapt existing placemats to display an image of each guest (protected under a little mylar) or make them from scratch, sandwiching the image between sheets of clear Contac paper.

If you use a calendar program, investigate its printing capabilities. You may find you can print next year in an attractive monthly format that can be slipped into a double frame with a set of images to match.

INJKET MIRACLES

This is, indeed, a great time to tap the hidden talents of your inkjet printer.

First, if you haven't already, splurge on some photo paper (office supply stores, photo stores). The special surface really makes a big difference. And lets you create 8x10 enlargements at a fraction of the cost of custom prints. Toss in an inexpensive frame (we've seen 11x14 frames for less than $10) and you've got a very nice presentation of any special moment you've captured.

Ever notice how some people are very fussy about what they hang on their walls but will wear just about any T-shirt? Iron-on transfer media (in the inkjet products at your favorite office supply store) was made just for them. You can iron their image (it doesn't have to be flattering) on a T-shirt and even create a logo for them with your illustration program and some font tumbling.

Follow the directions, of course, but the big trick is to avoid the ironing board (it's likely too soft; although personal preference varies greatly here), keep the iron steam-free and hot, and apply a lot of pressure, going over the image evenly from left to right, top to bottom, just like reading this newsletter.

Door hangers (which we've discussed) are just one of the oddball die-cut paper options you'll find in the same section.

And business card magnets (another idea we discussed last year) resurfaced with your own hilarious outtakes are great stocking stuffers (and can even get through the mail unabated as holiday greetings).

Well, OK, you don't have to make them all gags. Some could, technically speaking, be romantic or even, well, beautiful.

FOR THE PERSON WHO HAS EVERYTHING

There's one in every family. You find out about their latest G-Whiz Gad-Jet about the time they're auctioning it away on eBay. They've got everything.

Give them a coffee mug. Sure, they've got one. But it's gotta be dirty. They don't have time to scour their coffee mugs. These guys are too busy dealing and wheeling. So give them a clean one. Featuring a screen shot of their latest eBay auction.

If you've got a dye sub printer and an oven, you can make your own. You simply print the image in reverse without a protective layer and wrap it around a white porcelain mug, clamping it evenly (ah, there's special equipment for this). Preheat the oven, warm the mug and don't put it in a greasy pan. Follow your printer's instructions.

You can get mugs without special equipment by going to your corner drugstore and ordering one, too. And a number of online photofinishers offer the same service.

And remember, there's no law that says your digital image has to be all photo and no type. If you want to add "World's Best Dad" or "Loudest Mom in the Hood" to your Whistler, feel free.

ONLINE SERVICES

If you've signed up with an online photofinisher to share your pictures online, explore their imaging options. Just a few of the offerings we've seen recently include mousepads, calendars, mugs, memopads, stamps and cookies. Try http://www.photoclub.com/shop/cat/holiday.php for a few more (you wouldn't believe us if we told you), some with free shipping.

And if you're making prints for far away friends or family, take advantage of your online photofinisher's framing options to complete the package.

HOLD THAT SLEIGH!

If this is beginning to sound like a lot of work (as if the holidays aren't busy enough), think of it as a high-tech alibi for avoiding one of those aggravating holiday chores (like stringing the lights on the tree or addressing envelopes). Some things you can delegate, after all, but digital imaging isn't one of them <g>.

The elves were delighted with our brief survey of the many ways digital images can spread peace and joy (and laughs and red faces, too) during the holiday season. We have a hunch that by this time next year they'll have invented even a few more ways to turn your images into gifts.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Canon EOS D30 -- A Compact CMOS Revolution

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D30/D30A.HTM on the Web site.)

MANUFACTURER OVERVIEW

Canon film cameras cover the full range from models such as those targeted at professionals (the EOS 1 and 1N for example, and more recently the EOS 1V announced at PMA last February) to those targeted at the consumer (such as the tiny ELPH series or the EOS Rebel cameras). Up until the Photo Marketing Association Show at Las Vegas in Feb. 2000, however, Canon was conspicuously absent from the higher end of the digital camera market.

Like many others, we continued to speculate that Canon would soon be entering the higher-end digital marketplace with a true interchangeable-lens SLR body based on the EOS camera.

When the official announcement finally arrived, it brought a number of surprises along with it. First and foremost was Canon's choice of a CMOS image sensor: Until the EOS D30, CMOS sensors had been seen as unsuitable for a high-end digital camera because of problems with image quality and manufacturing as compared to CCD sensors. Canon announced that they had developed their own CMOS sensor, and claimed their scientists had managed to find ways to solve CMOS's image quality deficiencies. Along with the CMOS sensor issue, Canon's EOS D30 offered the same maximum "normal" ISO rating (1600) as Nikon's D1, but went one step further at the other end of the scale down to ISO 100. Canon also chose to give the D30 a 32MB buffer memory offering a speedy burst-mode of some 3 frames per second for 8 frames, and a resurrection of the CCD-RAW (only in this case, CMOS-RAW) format which made an appearance on the PowerShot Pro 70.

Inevitably people will want to compare the EOS D30 to Nikon's D1 (albeit with a much lower price tag) but Canon has been quite adamant that the D30 was not a rival to the D1, something that we'd agree with. The D1 features a build which we've described before as somewhat akin to a tank. It is heavy, and very dust/water resistant. The D30 by contrast makes no attempt at the seals and strengthening required of a camera that must be -- in some cases literally is -- taken to the battlefields and back. Not that the D30 lacks chassis strength, by any means, but it's not on the same level as the D1, or Canon's own remarkable EOS 1V film camera. The EOS D30 also doesn't offer as high a shutter speed as the D1, nor as high a flash sync, and so on -- all these features are good by comparison to consumer SLR levels, but not quite at a "Pro" level.

There is a huge pent-up demand for an interchangeable lens digital SLR that accepts Canon EF lenses. Photographers with cases full of Canon EF glass are looking for a digital SLR costing less than $10,000 to use them on. With the D30 list-priced at $3,500 and selling on the street for close to $3,000, it definitely addresses the cost issue. Of course, cost is only part of the equation: Image quality and functionality are equally important. Does the D30 make the grade? We'd emphatically say, "Yes!"

INTERNAL DESIGN

The D30 was designed from the ground up to be a digital SLR, which is a significant part of why Canon was able to make it so compact: Not having to dedicate space to the usual film transport and focal plane mechanism, the designers were able to save considerable space.

Autofocus happens by virtue of a partially transmissive region in the middle of the main mirror. A secondary mirror reflects the light down to the base of the camera body, where it passes through a lens, reflects from yet another mirror, and thence into the AF sensor itself. Focusing can thus be continuous right up until the mirror flips up for the exposure itself.

The through-the-lens flash sensor is at the top of the camera, behind the pentaprism. Here, a small mirror and lens pick off a portion of the light passing to the viewfinder. (Note that this is before the focusing elements of the viewfinder optics, so it achieves more area coverage than you might expect.) The light reflects from a mirror, passes through a lens, and then to the photodiode that measures returning flash energy. This design requires a pre-flash for metering, but is the same system used by other EOS cameras. This means that all EOS-compatible Canon flash units will be fully functional with the EOS D30. This approach also avoids the difficulties inherent in adapting camera designs based on off-the-film flash metering. The disadvantage is that the metering occurs a small fraction of a second before the shutter opens. The strong advantage though is that it alleviates problems relating to differences between sensor and film reflectivity. (We found the flash metering of the D30 to be exceptionally accurate.)

The real "guts" of the D30 is a cast plastic optical box holding the lens mount on the front, the pentaprism on top, and the CMOS image sensor on the rear. This compact arrangement is a major factor in the small profile and light weight of the D30 overall.

Overall, modularity seems to be a key word in the design of the D30: Canon's engineers obviously weren't designing with one camera in mind, but an entire family.

THE CMOS ISSUE

CCDs, or charge-coupled device image sensors, were invented at the end of the 1960s by scientists at Bell Labs. They were originally conceived not as a method of capturing photographic images, but as a way of storing computer data. Obviously this idea didn't catch on; today we instead have RAM (Random Access Memory) chips in our computers which are, ironically enough, manufactured using the CMOS process.

Where CCDs did catch on, however was recording images. By 1975 CCDs were appearing in television cameras and flatbed scanners. The mid '80s saw CCDs appearing in the first "filmless" still cameras. CCDs rapidly attained great image quality, but they weren't perfect. Perhaps most significantly, CCDs required a different manufacturing process from that used for manufacturing other computer chips such as processors and RAM. This means that specialized CCD fabs have to be constructed, and they cannot be used for making other components, making CCDs inherently more expensive.

Interline transfer CCDs consist of many MOS (metal oxide semiconductor) capacitors arranged in a pattern, usually in a square grid, which can capture and convert light photons to an electrical charge, storing this charge before transferring it for processing by supporting chips. To record color information, colored filters are placed over each individual light receptor making it sensitive to only one light color (generally, red, green and blue filters are used, but this is not always the case). Since a pixel only records one color, it relies on its neighbors to provide the missing color information to derive full 24-bit color for the each pixel.

After the exposure, the charge is transferred row by row into a read-out register, and from there to an output amplifier, analog/digital converters and on for processing. This row-by-row processing of the CCD's light "data" is where the sensor gets the term "charge-coupled" in its name. One row of information is transferred to the read-out register, and the rows behind it are each shifted one row closer to the register. After being "read out," the charge is released and the register is empty again for the next charge. Repeat the process a number of times, and eventually you read out the entire contents of the CCD sensor. (Think of a bucket brigade, moving water from point A to point B by pouring it from one bucket into the next....)

A number of disadvantages to this approach to sensor design now become apparent, in addition to the already mentioned cost. For one thing, the entire contents of the CCD must be read out, even if you're only interested in a small part of it (for example, when using digital zoom). There are also a number of supporting chips required for the CCD sensor, each of which adds to the complexity and size of the camera design, increasing cost and power consumption. CCDs also suffer from blooming (where charge "leaks" from one light receptor into surrounding ones), "fading" (a loss of charge as it is passed along the chain before being read out), and "smearing" (where the image quality can be adversely affected by light arriving during the read-out process, leaving streaks behind bright scene areas).

There's also the issue of speed. The step by step process used in a CCD is not exactly conducive to very high speed, and for just this reason a second type of CCD exists. The frame interline transfer CCD features a read-out register as large as the light receptor area, allowing the entire contents of the CCD to be read out in one pass. This, though, adds significantly to the area of silicon required, and hence to the cost of the CCD.

This is where CMOS image sensors step in. CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) is actually a generic term for the process used to create these image sensors, along with numerous other semiconductor items such as computer RAM, processors such as those from Intel and other manufacturers, and much more. CMOS image sensors can be made in the same fabs as these other items, with the same equipment. This technology is, of necessity, very advanced with the amount of competition in processor and other markets contributing to new techniques in CMOS fabrication. Add to this that there is a very significant economy of scale, when your fab can make not only CMOS image sensors, but other devices as well, and you find that CMOS image sensors are much cheaper to make than CCDs.

This cost advantage is even more significant when you consider the way a CMOS sensor works. The active pixel CMOS image sensors used in digital imaging are very similar to a CCD sensor, but with one major difference: supporting circuitry is actually located alongside each light receptor, allowing noise at each pixel to be canceled out at the site. Further, other processes can be integrated right into the CMOS image sensor chip, eliminating the need for extra chips to handle analog/digital conversion, white balancing, and more. This reduces the cost of required supporting circuitry, as well as camera complexity, and power consumption. Plus CMOS sensors require a significantly lower voltage than CCD sensors. CMOS sensors themselves also claim lower power consumption than CCD sensors, with one manufacturer claiming their CMOS sensors draw some 10x less power than equivalent CCD sensors.

CMOS sensors have other advantages, as well. They can be addressed randomly. If you're only interested in a certain area of the image, you can access it directly and don't need to deal with the unwanted data. Blooming and smearing are also less of a problem with CMOS sensors. CMOS sensors are capable of much higher speeds than their CCD rivals, with one CMOS chip we've heard of capable of running at over 500 frames per second at megapixel resolution.

With these advantages, you'd think CMOS would be a shoe-in to replace CCD in digital cameras, but so far it has really only impacted the lower end of the market, with CMOS rapidly becoming dominant in the entry level digital cameras and tethered cameras.

Why hasn't CMOS taken over at the high end? Until now, image quality has not been on a par with CCD. CMOS sensors, with their many amplifiers at each pixel, suffer from so-called "fixed pattern noise." The amplifiers aren't all equal, and this creates a noise pattern across the image. In the D30's CMOS sensor, Canon has tackled this by first taking the image off the CMOS sensor in 10 milliseconds, and then reading just the fixed-pattern noise from the sensor in the following 10 milliseconds. Subtract the second image from the first, and you neatly remove the noise.

There's also the fact that CMOS sensors are generally less sensitive than CCDs. High end "Full Frame" CCD image sensors have a "fill factor" of 100 percent, because the whole CCD sensor area is being used for light capture. But in a CMOS sensor the fill factor is lower, because the extra circuitry alongside each pixel takes up space.

Canon's EOS D30 is the first high-end digital camera we've seen using CMOS technology, and it is likely that the projected price advantage the camera has in comparison with its nearest rivals (the Fuji FinePix S1 Pro and Nikon D1) is in large part due to the choice of the CMOS image sensor. The image sensor in the EOS D30 is only ever so slightly smaller than those used in these two cameras, and significantly bigger than the sensors used in consumer cameras.

Canon thus far has been fairly closed-mouthed about their CMOS sensor technology, but have talked about a few details of it. As with other Active-Pixel CMOS sensors, theirs does in fact have a signal amplifier located at each pixel site. More intriguing though, is that they also claim to have an analog-to-digital converter at each individual pixel site as well. If this last is true, then it must be a very different sort of A/D than is normally used with CCDs, as those circuits are quite complex and space-consuming. We suspect we'll hear more details as Canon's patent position is solidified, but it sounds as though there's been some genuine innovation in Canon's back labs. It's unusual these days to see a company moving toward vertical integration, developing component technology in-house rather than farming it out to specialist companies. As the digicam market continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see whether Canon's sensor technology will constitute a competitive advantage for them relative to other manufacturers.

CONCLUSION

Even though Canon itself doesn't bill the EOS D30 as a "professional" camera, we see it as exactly what a huge number of Canon-shooting professionals have been waiting for.

Its controls, handling, and performance are in every way suited to professional usage. While not coming anywhere near the speed or incredible ruggedness of the EOS 1V film camera or its brethren, the D30 nonetheless shows solid engineering, and at nearly 3 frames per second is fast enough for most applications.

When you toss in its excellent image quality, generous ISO speed capability, superb low-light shooting, excellent flash integration, and compatibility with the full range of Canon EF lenses, it'd be a bargain at twice the price. With a suggested retail price in the U.S. of $3,500, and an initial "street" price closer to $3,000, it represents an incredible value. (Particularly when you consider that this price includes the software necessary to access the CCD RAW file format.)

Even more amazing, this is obviously just the first of a planned extensive line of Canon pro digital SLRs. Look out world, Canon's on a roll, and the digital photography landscape is changing yet again ... for the better! Highly recommended!

Return to Topics.

Beginners Flash: Aspect Ratios for ... Ventriloquists

No yellow Dummies book for this audience. We respect your intelligence. You are, after all, reading what we wrote.

But if you're as smart as we think you are, you may have been confused by all this talk about aspect ratios at your friendly online photofinisher. We can clear that up right here.

An aspect ratio is just an awkward way of describing the shape of your image. Rather than use colorful imagery (as we do in discussing the "bouquet" of wines or the "temperature" of color), we use, uh, numbers. Like 1:1.3. Ugh.

We currently sit on the ANSI committee to standardize descriptive terms for the shapes of digital images. And we are very deep at the moment in boxes of all kinds looking for just the right shapes. Because, believe it or not, not all prints are the same shape.

They're rectangles, yes, but a 4x6 is quite a different shape than an 8x10.

Rather than divulge our colorful language for describing rectangular shapes, we'll offer a simple mathematical proof that print sizes are different shapes. Just for fun, call the short side 1.

How many short sides are in the long side of a 4x6?

That would be one and a half (it takes one 4 with 2 left over, which is half of 4, to make 6). To make this easy, just divide the long side (6) by the short side (4) to get 1.5. The mathematical description of the shape of this 4x6 print is, therefore, 1 to 1.5 or 1:1.5. That's its aspect ratio, in fact.

How about the 8x10? The short side is the 8, so 1 is 8 inches here. How many short sides in 10? Well, it takes one 8 plus 2, which is a quarter of 8, to make 10. Or (more quickly) 10 divided by 8. So it's 1:1.25.

You can see by this what a square would be. The short side is ... well, the four sides of a square are all the same length. By definition. So a square's aspect ratio is 1:1.

Those are all not just different ratios but different shapes. The 8x10, for example, is closer to a square than the 4x6.

"Fine, fine, fine, what's this got to do with my 480x640 image," you ventriloquists say, throwing your voice where we can't find it. Well, what works for inches works for pixels. 480 is the short side. There is one 480 in 640 and 160 left over (which is a third of 480), so it's 1:1.33.

Which is not a perfect fit for either a 4x6 (1:1.5) or an 8x10 (1:1.25). Something has to go. Either you fit the short side or the long side but you can't match both.

Ofoto uses "a zoom-and-trim technique similar to what a traditional photo lab would use, which automatically adjusts the image's dimensions to fit the desired print size." Which means they print the image large enough that it spills over all four sides and then they trim to size. Exactly 4x6, 5x7 or 8x10 (which conveniently slips right into inexpensive prebuilt frames).

So to minimize cropping on a 4x6 print, make sure you have a 1:1.5 aspect ratio (and expect a little trimming). If you want a 5x7 print, make sure you have a 1:1.4 aspect ratio. And if you want an 8x10, make sure you have a 1:1.25 aspect ratio.

We thought we just heard a little voice somewhere say, "How do you make sure?" Ventriloquists can be a tough audience. Select your Crop or Rectangular Marquee Tool and enable the Fixed Size option, entering the pixels or inches of your target print size. That restricts the tool to a crop of that size.

If you'd like to see at a glance the exact number of pixels your image requires to match the aspect ratio of the four most popular sizes of prints, just visit http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS for the online version of this issue. We've plugged in a Javascript Aspect Ratio Calculator right about here.

A S P E C T   R A T I O
C A L C U L A T O R
Enter the dimensions of
your image below:
Short Side: pixels
Long Side: pixels

A S P E C T   R A T I O
R E S U L T S
Side4x65x710x1211x14
Short:
Crop Long:




Crop Short:
Long:




Maximum print size:

Just type in your image dimensions (the number of pixels on the short side and the number on the long side) and it will instantly calculate the pixel dimensions required for everything from a 4x6 to an 11x14. And even calculate a maximum recommended print size (based on the formula we published in our Oct. 6 issue).

It's our little way of thanking you for continuing to welcome this newsletter week after week. Happy holidays!

Return to Topics.

Just for Fun: One Guy's Shelving Solution

We've been struggling with photo clutter for months now. Not so much piles and piles of things, but a little of this here and a few of those there. It was time to do something.

Unfortunately our cabinet-making skills are limited to identifying reruns of The New Yankee Workshop (http://www.newyankee.com). Even worse, none of the tools in our basement have cords on them. So we needed something than any dolt could build.

Not only that but it had to be stylish. We didn't want to have to avert our gaze as we grappled for a CD or CompactFlash.

We'll spare you the details of our quest and cut to the inexpensive solution we found. We can't pretend it's the only or the best solution, but it is certainly a versatile one.

We'd narrowed our focus from shelving in general to CD cases of a particular kind. Not the slotted plastic or wire frame ones, but the compartment-like ones. These are generally about six inches deep with shelves about five inches apart. So you can put things besides CDs in them.

At IKEA (http://www.ikea.com), the large assemble-it-yourself furniture warehouse now sprouting up all over the place, we found just the thing. IKEA calls it a Trysse Shelf and sells it for 14.95. Three rows of 5x5 cubbyholes six inches deep, sort of a pine tic-tac-toe CD shelf. It came with a backboard drilled with two holes so you can hang it on a wall, but it stands up (on a table, for example) just fine. Being the ambitious sort, we bought a couple to stack on top of each other in a sort of photographer's taboret.

Which meant we had to attach the two units together and somehow put the whole thing on wheels. Well, what are rainy days for?

First, let us calm your assembly fears. This was not only an attractive piece (in its simplicity, anyway) but well engineered. The shelves themselves ran the length of the unit with notches cut halfway through at the intersections. Very solid. And the sides were attached to the frame with dowels, just like Norm Abrams would have done. Two screws are all it takes to make a corner in the pre-drilled holes. In a lazy half an hour, you have a CD shelf.

To convert our two boxes into a taboret, we bought $10 of hardware. Four casters and two brass chest handles.

We used the chest handles (with four screws) to attach the two pieces together (and to give us an easy way to pull or lift the whole, lightweight thing).

The casters were screwed into the bottom of a 1x8 board we sawed just a little larger than the 17x6-inch bottom. That gave our skyscraper a little more stability than attaching the casters directly to the shelving unit. We attached this wider base to the unit using just four wood screws carefully aligned to worm their way into the load-bearing uprights of the shelf. Piece of galvanized cake.

Total cost? About $40. Or just $15 for the basic unit. Just don't ask about the elapsed time <g>.

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: Tetra 3030 review

Thought you might like to take a look at this first consumer review of the Tetra underwater housing: http://www.puttmasters.com/Egypt/index.htm.

Depths at Sharm El Sheikh varied with no shot shallower than 20 feet and nothing deeper than 90 feet. Colors look like they might be enhanced with a red filter like a video camera. The skin tones on the diver look like the only thing really requiring the warmth of a strobe. Lobbying LMI to bring one out! I also read today about the new Olympus 3040 with a better low light capability than the 3030. It also adds TTL external flash capability. As it's based on the same body, the Tetra really is the housing to get!

-- Chris Huck

(Thanks for the link, Chris! Great shots, too. -- Editor)

RE: A 6-Megapixel Pentax

This prototype Pentax digicam (http://www.dpreview.com/news/0009/00091402pentaxdigitalslr.asp) will use all Pentax M 42 (universal screw mount) lenses as well as all Pentax K mount lenses. This means that I can use ALL the Pentax compatible lenses made for the last 40 Years!!! Right now the projected price is too right for my blood, BUT ... wait a while.

-- Robert Powell

(Yep, $7,000 is a bit high. But the interesting thing about it is that the CCD covers the full 35mm frame. That is unusual in a digicam (and the price explains why, we think). Makes you really appreciate what Canon has achieved with the D30. -- Editor)

RE: Saving on Inkjet Prints

You mentioned an ink cost of roughly $1 a page for photo prints. That's probably in the ballpark. I recently did a large run of pictures using my Canon BJC 6000 which has separate ink tanks for each color. After I was done, I added up how many 8x10s I had done and then guesstimated the percentage of use of each tank multiplied by the tank capacity of 14 ml. Where our paths diverge is the cost of the tank. I have been refilling mine ever since I got the printer over a year ago with great results. My cost per page is about 10 cents!

The greatest challenge to refilling the Canon type of tank is sealing it off after filling. Tape was too unreliable; sometimes fine and other times it leaked air in which allowed the ink to drain. Now I use a small self-tapping screw from the hardware store. Before I run it down, I place some rubber cement on the shank. A perfect seal!

My favorite paper for a great cost/benefit ratio is HP Professional Brochure & Flyer Paper. While not of the weight or ultimate photo quality of the $1 page papers, it does a very good job for what we usually do with our photos: share them. The price per 50 sheet box took a big jump recently, from $10 to $12 at OfficeBox. If you count the fact that both sides are glossy, in many applications it's like getting 100 sheets for $12! Or, if you make a mistake, just use the other side.

In summary, I print pictures that my very picky father, a published professional photographer, is in awe of for about 22 cents!

Before I sign off, here is another "school of hard knocks" secret: If your printer, like mine, has the option of manually aligning the heads, do so! While it might take five minutes after installing the photo cartridges, the payoff is increased sharpness and better color definition (because the colors are separated instead of lying on top of each other.)

-- Paul Verizzo

(Two excellent points (well, three really), Paul! Thanks for your adding your 22 cents worth. -- Editor)

RE: Fame May Be Fleeting, But ...

I have this book [Eudora Welty's "Country Churchyards" mentioned last issue], too, as well as all her other books. But please don't say Eudora Welty WAS famous! She's still alive and kicking at 91 years of age. Except for killing off a wonderful Southern writer, you guys do a great job!

-- Vicki Crooms

(Oh boy, did we say that? We did. We were famous for saying things like that. Thanks for pointing it out. And our apologies to Eudora Welty. 91? We now have yet another reason to admire her. -- Editor)

RE: X-Rays

The effect of airport security X-ray machines on silver-halide based film is well known, particularly for multiple exposures (cumulative dose) but what effect, if any will these X-rays have on the CCDs in digital cameras? I am thinking in particular of the Olympus E-10, which has a prism instead of a mirror interposed between the CCD and the lens. Since there is little but a plastic lens cap to stop the X-rays 'seeing' the CCD, would damage to the CCD be possible?

-- Paul Brockman

(You might notice an effect from the X-ray machine if your camera were actually snapping a photo as it went through the machine (taking a picture of the inside of the machine?) but that's about all that could really happen.... Radioactive particles can cause problems for semiconductor memory, but not X-rays of the level found in airport machines, AFAIK.... And the level of radioactive particle activity needed to cause a problem is way beyond the point that it'd become problematic for humans. So, as long as the X-ray machine isn't leaving luggage glowing in the dark, you're probably OK. -- Dave)
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Editor's Notes

Did you catch PBS Newshour correspondent Clarence Page's essay Reflections in Black about the exhibit of the same name currently on view in Kansas City which details the history of black photographers since 1840? You can get a glimpse of it online at http://www.si.edu/anacostia/reflections_in_black2.htm.


Canto has released Cumulus 5.0.9. The new version now reads EXIF metadata, which some digicams use to record exposure information for each image. The release, which fixes all known bugs, also includes new or improved filters to better handle PDF, InDesign and Illustrator files, Canto said. We've just tried it (quickly) to confirm this important capability (which we pined for in our recent review) does indeed work. Bravo, Canto! Visit http://registration.canto.de/Customer.html to download the free update.


Sapphire Innovations has announced Innovations 3, 14 new plug-ins for Photoshop 5 or 6 (but Windows only) to produce a wide range of color effects and options, including a framing plug-in. A demo is available at http://www.sapphire-innovations.com.


Zing (http://www.zing.com) has announced it will become an official 2001 sponsor and photographer for Special Olympics of Northern California. To initiate the partnership, 10 percent of Zing.com and the Zing Network stores' 2000 holiday season proceeds will go directly to SONC. Photos will be taken of the athletes at Northern California's Special Olympics year-round events and featured in online albums at http://www.zing.com/sonc. The SONC community -- friends, families, trainers, volunteers, donors and sponsors -- will have access to the free, private albums and be able to purchase posters, custom framed prints, T-shirts, mouse pads, cookies, photo-greeting cards, calendars and other items with the athletes' photos.


Fujifilm has announced a special holiday rebate that gives buyers of its FinePix 40i digital camera a $50 rebate on the purchase of Yamaha's YST-MS201 multimedia speaker system. The offer runs from Dec. 1 through Dec. 23, at both traditional and Web retailers (Best Buy, CompUSA, Fry's, Gateway Country and Egghead.com). To be eligible, consumers must purchase the FinePix 40i and YST-MS201system during the offer period, then send a photocopy of the original sales receipt(s), UPC codes for both products, completed U.S. Fujifilm product registration card and rebate coupon -- which can be picked up at participating retailers or at http://www.fujifilm.com -- to the following address: Fujifilm/Yamaha Rebate Offer, Department #26601, PO Box 52900, Phoenix, AZ 85072. Eligible consumers will receive the $50 rebate by mail.


CreoScitex and Mamiya America jointly announced the formation of Leaf America (http://www.leafamerica.com) to provide digital photography solutions to the professional imaging industry. This new organization will focus on increasing Leaf product marketshare by providing complete digital solutions for all medium and large format cameras. Leaf America offices will be located at 8 Westchester Plaza, Elmsford, NY 10523; voice: (866) 4US-LEAF; Fax: (914) 347-1812.


Over the Thanksgiving weekend, electronics were the most popular products among shoppers comparing prices on Price.com. Brand-based searches done on http://www.PriceElectronics.com show that 25 percent were for Sony products, while the most item-based searches were for digital cameras and MP3 players. Of those, the single hottest gift seems to be the digital camera. Two-thirds of digicam searches were for Nikon or Olympus brands, with the Nikon Coolpix 990 being the most popular camera on the site.


Y Media (http://www.y-media.com) announced that its 3.17-megapixel CMOS C3D image sensor development systems and evaluation samples are now shipping to target customers. Y Media's imaging device offers a low-power CMOS sensor with a high pixel count, proprietary low-noise technology and a 1/2-inch optical format.

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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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