|Volume 2, Number 27||15 December 2000|
Welcome to the 35th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We've got a few timely tips for getting acquainted with new equipment, a review of the unique Olympus optically-stabilized digicam, a review of a Photoshop 6 book and -- at last -- some help for those who want to turn their digital images into slides (ho, ho, ho).
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's exciting. You can't wait to open the box. You don't wait. You open it, something falls on the floor (forget it, you'll never be able to get it back in the box), you mistake the vinyl case for the camera (well, it's the big thing in the box), you drop the manual. And suddenly it's not exciting any more, it's scary.
Scanners and printers may be increasingly simple to set up, but how do you make friends with a strange digicam? And all those little things rattling around with it in the box?
As you open the box, look for the stack of papers on top, one of which will no doubt scream, "Read Me First."
This is a good excuse to regain your composure. Just stare at it until you calm down, catch your breath and can see straight again. We recommend dawdling over the part where the manufacturer congratulates you for having the brilliance to choose their product.
We know it's no fun to actually read packing lists, but now is the time to do it. The various included items will never again be more centrally located. And you'll immediately discover if any crucial item is missing (like the neck strap or the USB cable) without having to hunt for it all over (including the garbage).
It's helpful to know you have a manual and a CD of software in that pile over there with the registration form (which you'll probably do over the Web anyway, since it saves you postage, is quicker and will instantly tell you if any field you skipped -- like average age and household income -- was really essential). There's probably also a little document listing all the ways to get support.
And while we're big advocates of reading everything before touching anything (terrified as we are of breaking anything because we didn't know how to handle it), we appreciate you didn't get this camera to read about it.
The real job here is making friends with the camera.
It's going to be a long-term project. You'll eventually find it second nature to swing the thing into action, set the flash for red-eye reduction, zoom in and snap the shoot. But today and for a few weeks after, you're going to be putting your fingers in the wrong place (on the LCD, or the lens) and pressing the wrong button in the wrong mode. Don't let it get to you.
Most manufacturers provide a Quick Start Guide that illustrates how to 1) insert the batteries, 2) insert the memory card, 3) turn on the camera in automatic mode, 4) set the time and date, 5) confirm some basic settings (like flash mode), 5) compose the photo and 6) take the picture.
That's a lot of steps (there's actually 13 in the one we have handy). But it gets you going without having to excuse yourself to read through a 100-page manual (which, we hasten to point out, you only need to read in one of its four languages).
We have a good deal of experience with new digicams (unpacking them, packing them, making friends with them, breaking them, fixing them, everything). So we thought we'd share a few tips.
First, find the lens. That's a place you don't want to touch. So when you've found it, look for the other place you don't want to touch: the LCD monitor. You've got better things to do than clean fingerprints off those two spots.
And when you've found them, you might has well clean the fingerprints you've already put on them. It's impossible to pick up a new digicam without fingerprinting it.
For tips on cleaning your lens take a look at our article "Clean Your Lens" in the Aug. 25 issue (and see the Letters section of the following issue Sept. 8 for a link to the LensPen cleaning pen).
Once you know where not to grab your camera, you're prepared to find a way to grip it so you can actually use it to take pictures. Find the one-handed shooting grip that's undocumented (well, it might be documented; look at the illustrations for a hint). Get in the habit of picking the camera up that way.
Digicams are a little too compact for this "safe" grip to work when removing the storage card and the batteries. So find the safe, comfortable, repeatable grip for removing stuff from the camera, too.
For more on this critical issue, see our July 28 article "Get a Grip."
Pop some batteries in. Pop them out. Find a way to do it that won't endanger either the lens or the LCD.
The next thing to do is get comfortable with the controls. But not all at once. You'll just overwhelm yourself with arcane trivia unless you learn the controls in some hierarchy of importance.
Let's start with where the power switch is. You'll never use the camera without it, after all. And, as you make your acquaintance, we'll bet you notice it does more than turn on the camera. No doubt it has two main modes: record or play. And record may have two modes of its own: automatic and manual.
Play tends to consume less power than record (often half as much). And it's the way you'll review your images. Which you'll capture in one or the other record mode. Try flipping between modes. Observe how long it takes the camera to finish its initialization sequence in each mode. This is an important issue when you are trying to get ready for a shot.
You'll want to know how long it takes your camera to get ready so you don't have to wait for it. If it's a long time, explore your auto shut-off options. It may be quicker to let the camera shut itself off, waking when you half-depress the shutter, than it is to cycle the power off and on between shots.
The LCD monitor may be flashing ominously at you as you fiddle with the power button. Don't worry about it. It probably just wants the date set. That's as good a first exercise as any. It will acquaint you with the menu system and how to navigate and set options.
That usually involves a button, often the shutter button. And may lead you to a whole new meaning for "digital" camera: finger-intensive menu acrobatics. Limber up. Alternately, naproxen sodium tablets in 220 mg doses (our arthritis expert recommends Aleve) every 8 to 12 hours may help <g>.
Once the date is set, you want to focus on what it takes to frame the shot and snap the shutter. If you've got a zoom lens, find the zoom control. Your finger should naturally have found the shutter button when you learned how to pick up the camera. But you should also try out the monitor and the eyepiece for framing. Compare them. Adjust any diopter lens on the viewfinder.
You don't have to know everything about the viewfinder right now (all those target marks). There's time for that when you go through the manual (for the third time). You just want to acquire a feel for it.
The next step is to get a sense of the auto exposure overrides you'll need. How, for example, do you pick a flash mode? Try turning the flash off, or setting it for half power. How do you change the EV setting? Where on the camera does it indicate the setting? And how about changing into macro mode? Or using the self-timer?
Again, it isn't important to remember all this right now. Just try to get an idea of how the camera expects to be spoken to and how it tells you what you need to know.
When you've got a feel for the auto exposure overrides, step through the manual controls. You probably have to shift into manual record mode for that. Just review them. Find out how to set aperture or shutter priority. F stop. Manual focusing. Whatever your camera offers.
About now you'll no doubt have to replace the batteries <g>.
READ ALL ABOUT IT
That's a good time to flip through the manual. Find out what's in it. There's not going to be a test. But you want to know where to go to find out about quality settings, or what slow synch flash mode does or how to take a movie.
When you go back to the camera, pick it up in your shooting grip. Try a few features out. Switch to play mode and see what happens.
By establishing a safe, comfortable way to hold the camera, touring the main features and studying the more elaborate ones in the manual, you'll quickly become familiar with what your equipment can do. Before you know it, setting the camera to do anything you want will be second nature.
Which is just about the time you'll start thinking about upgrading and starting the whole process all over again.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C2100/C21A.HTM on the Web site.)
By far the most exciting feature of the Olympus Camedia C-2100 is its integrated 10x optical zoom lens, which provides an impressive 7-170mm zoom range (equivalent to a 38-380mm lens on a 35mm film camera), and features an electronic image stabilization function to compensate for camera shake during long handheld exposures. When set in Full-Time Auto Focus mode, the camera automatically keeps the image in focus at all times, whatever focal length you choose to use. By activating the Manual Focus mode, you can bring up a focal distance scale on the camera's LCD monitor which allows you to manually select the optimum focal point in your scene.
While the body is slightly smaller than a standard 35mm SLR (approximately 4.5 x 3 x 2.5 inches without the lens), the 3.5-inch lens adds more bulk than is typical with other consumer/prosumer digital cameras. Olympus has compensated for this by counterbalancing the weight of the lens with a large, rubberized hand-grip on the right side of the body. In spite of its large size, however, the C-2100 is surprisingly lightweight and comfortable to carry.
The Camedia's 2.7x digital telephoto feature is activated through the Record menu, thus preventing accidental slippage into the digital zoom range while shooting. The C-2100 offers both optical viewfinder and LCD monitor displays for composing images; each of which provides live video preview and camera setting indicators such as lens aperture, shutter speed, frame count, flash mode, and various menu selections when activated. A control panel on top of the camera displays a total of 23 function indicators -- everything from flash intensity control to the number of seconds remaining in a movie recording.
The C-2100 provides a great deal of control over its many features. While some are selected from within the Record menu system (activated by the bottom button adjacent to the back panel monitor), you can also set some of the more basic options using buttons and dials located on the top and back sides of the camera. Flash, Macro setting, Exposure Compensation, Shutter Speed, Aperture settings, Manual focus, Autofocus, and Metering modes can all be set without accessing the Record menu. Likewise, in Playback mode, functions like Delete, Write Protect, and Print can also be controlled by the external buttons.
The Camedia C-2100 provides as much or as little exposure control as you want via the Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, and Special Program exposure modes. These exposure settings, along with the Movie and Playback modes, are selected using the Mode dial on the top right side of the camera. Shutter speeds range from 1/800 to 1/2 second in Shutter Priority mode, and 1/800 second to 16 seconds in Manual mode. Lens apertures range from f2.8 to f8.0. In all modes except Program, the camera indicates whether an exposure is going to be too dark or too light, giving you a chance to alter the exposure settings before you take the picture. The on-screen display of the automatic aperture and shutter speed settings is also quite valuable.
The camera's metering system offers a choice of Center-Weighted, Spot, and Standard (digital ESP metering) exposure settings. These are selected using the center button on top of the camera and to the left of the Control Panel. The White Balance setting, which determines how the camera's CCD will respond to changes in light temperature, is selected in the Record menu. WB options include Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Incandescent, and Fluorescent.
The built-in flash provides all of the standard flash modes: Auto, Redeye Reduction, Fill-in, and Off (when the pop-up flash unit is closed). These first three flash modes can be used in combination with slow shutter speeds to achieve low-light exposures in Slow-Sync mode (selected from the Record menu). In Slow Sync mode, the flash may be synchronized with either the opening (Slow 1) or closing (Slow 2) of the lens shutter to achieve different effects. There's a five-pin sync socket for connecting the optional FL-40 external flash, which can be used alone or in combination with the camera's built-in flash. External flash units made by other manufacturers can also be used with the C-2100, with an optional adapter cable.
You can override automatic flash exposures by adjusting the Flash Intensity setting in the Record menu. Intensity adjustments range from -2 to +2 Exposure Equivalents, in 1/3 EV increments. Combine this feature with the variable ISO options (100, 200, or 400) and you get an excellent range of exposure control options, especially in low-light situations.
The C-2100 provides a nice range of capture options -- Single-Picture Shooting, Sequential Shooting, AF Sequential Shooting, Self-Timer/Remote Control, and Auto Bracket modes -- which cater to a number of shooting situations. These are accessed with the button marked "Drive" on top of the camera.
Special Effects or "Function" options are available in the Record menu to enhance a variety of shooting scenarios. The effects include Black and White, Sepia, White Board, and Black Board. Another bonus is the C-2100's ability to record sound, both with movie recordings and still images. While this feature can add interest to your QuickTime movies, or help annotate your still images, don't expect optimum sound quality from the Wave format recording device. The C-2100 has no internal speaker, so you'll have to wait until your movies are downloaded to a computer before you can hear the audio track. (The lack of sound recording was a frequent complaint heard from owners of the earlier Camedia C-2020.)
The C-2100 offers a range of image resolutions -- from 1600x1200 pixels to 640x480 pixels (four sizes in all) -- with a variety of quality settings. Files are saved as JPEGs with an option for uncompressed TIFF format at all image sizes. Images are stored on SmartMedia cards. The C-2100 supports both USB and standard serial interfaces, accommodating either PC or Macintosh users (only the USB cable comes standard with the camera). Additionally, an NTSC video cable enables you to play back movies and captured images on your television set. You can even use the TV as an expanded viewfinder for image composition. (European models come equipped for the PAL video standard.)
Camera accessories include a spring-lock lens cap and an inch-wide neck strap, as well as four NiMH rechargeable batteries, an Olympus Camedia battery charger, USB computer connection cable, audio/video connection cable, 8MB SmartMedia card, and an RM-1 remote shutter control.
Overall, the C-2100 Ultra Zoom is an impressive addition to the Olympus digital camera line. Its 10x zoom lens, wide array of resolution choices, great image quality, and excellent exposure controls make it extremely flexible and user-friendly. The C-2100's features will appeal to many levels of users, from beginners to experienced professionals.
Among the most exciting aspects of the Camedia Ultra Zoom is the 10x optical zoom lens. The aspherical glass lens features a focal length range from 7-70mm (equivalent to 38-380mm on a 35mm camera). But its most unique feature is a very effective "Image Stabilization" anti-vibration system, which allows you to handhold the camera at the maximum telephoto setting, even when using fairly long exposure times. Using some basic camera support practices (such as resting your arm on a table or bracing it against your chest) the Image Stabilizer does an excellent job of steadying the image in the viewfinder without a tripod (though we certainly recommend using a tripod when shooting at slow shutter speeds). Even low-light movies seemed to show a minimum of camera movement.
A 240-step manual focus option is activated by pressing the OK button on the back panel. Use the right arrow key to switch to manual focus and a distance meter appears on the right side of the LCD monitor. You can then adjust the focus by pressing the up and down arrow buttons. This feature is great for difficult focusing situations such as low-light environments. You can choose to have measurements displayed in either meters or feet by accessing the Mode Setup option in the Record menu. (Scroll down to Mode Setup, press OK, scroll to m/ft, and use the arrow buttons to select meters or feet. Press OK twice to get completely out of the option menus.)
The manual focus options on many digicams are of limited usefulness because there generally isn't enough resolution in the LCD screen to see whether the subject is sharply focused or not. We were thus very pleased to see that the C-2100 Ultra Zoom kicks in an automatic 2x zoom on the viewfinder display (the display only, not in the final picture) whenever you adjust the focus manually. This actually makes it fairly feasible to focus the camera manually, without having to refer to the distance scale and knowledge of your subject's exact position. Another nice touch is that the manual focus system lets you know what the usable focus range of the lens is at all focal lengths: Like most zoom lenses, the C-2100's can focus more closely when set to shorter focal lengths than at maximum zoom. The camera lets you know this by refusing to move the focus-distance indicator bar to shorter readings than the minimum focusing distance for any given zoom setting.
And the C-2100 Ultra Zoom has exceptional low-light shooting capabilities. What's even more remarkable in a digicam is that it can also focus at those light levels, and in fact focuses just fine even in complete darkness. This "see in the dark" capability is due to a bright autofocus-assist illuminator LED that projects a beam of light onto your subject when the light level is too low for the camera to focus on its own.
SHUTTER LAG/CYCLE TIMES
Overall, the C-2100 Ultra Zoom is a pretty fast camera. Autofocus time is about average among cameras we've tested, while prefocus shutter delay (when the shutter button has been half-pressed prior to the exposure itself) was very fast. Cycle times from shot to shot are quite fast as well, thanks to good use of internal buffer memory.
One feature we particularly appreciated was the way we could simply press and hold the shutter button immediately after an exposure was taken, to get the next shot as quickly as possible. For some reason, many digicams "penalize" this behavior, refusing to fire if you've pressed the shutter button again too soon after taking the previous shot, unless you release the button and press it a second time.
Wow, what a camera! The 10x optical zoom with image stabilization piqued our interest, and the camera's very extensive exposure controls definitely kept our attention. The full manual exposure mode and the ability to finely tune metering and focus makes the C-2100 Ultra Zoom an interesting option for prosumers who want a lot of control, while the full automatic and preset shooting modes keep it simple for novices. This is a great camera for novices who want to learn more about digital photography, as several levels of exposure control allow you to learn as you go. Great image quality and color balance, a bounty of features, and an exceptional lens system make the C-2100 a camera you won't want to leave behind. Highly recommended!
They're back. The Pruitts, that is. Ramona Pruitt, a graphic artist, and Joshua Pruitt, a systems administrator, who together run Mid-TN Network, a Web hosting firm. And this time they've taken on the newly-released Photoshop 6 in Coriolis' Visual Insight series. With ImageReady thrown in for good measure.
Along with a detachable Keyboard Shortcuts card, the book approaches Photoshop from two angles: a Techniques and Tasks section and a Projects sections separated by a 16-page color Studio insert.
"Techniques and Tasks" covers 10 chapters whose topics include Photoshop Basics; Working with Color; Selection Essentials; Image Editing Fundamentals; Introduction to Layers; Channels and Masks; Using Paths; Working with Type; Artistic Helpers: Filters, Actions and More; and Photoshop and the Web.
Part II of this weighty tome is our favorite. Among the "Projects" covered are Working with Link Art, Photo Repair and Management; Projects Using Layers; Effects with Masks; Text Effects; and Creating Web Elements.
An appendix covers the various (and increasing) file formats Photoshop supports.
The book was written "with the novice to intermediate graphic artist in mind -- whether a beginner who is starting to learn the essential concepts behind digital graphic design or an accomplished user who wishes to become more familiar with the new features in the latest release of Photoshop." The novices will appreciate the almost classroom approach of the Techniques and Tasks section which pairs each paragraph with an illustration, presenting Photoshop in bite-sized chunks.
We're great fans of Adobe's Photoshop documentation. It's clearly written, copiously illustrated and well indexed. When we need to know the whole story, we burrow into the book and come up for air fully satisfied. But the Pruitts' approach, while not as detailed, gives new users better footing. You can almost race through their well-organized presentation without getting lost. And getting lost is very easy with a program as powerful and versatile as Photoshop. The Pruitts get you up to speed quickly.
But our enthusiasm for this book is the part that will put you to work, the Projects.
The graphically-challenged among us are intrepid collectors of clip art. But we may struggle so long to find the right image in our vast collection and be so timid about the competence of our own eye that we are just grateful to place the darn thing in our work. But the Pruitts show you how to make clip art your own "using a few simple colorization techniques." Which takes you through Desaturation, Levels, Paintbrush, Dodge, Multiply blend mode, Radial Gradients, Airbrushing and Blurring. Yep, sounds simple. For Renaissance artists. But actually the presentation makes it very simple to follow without missing a beat.
Photo restoration is a digital miracle that is easy to perform if you know a few image editing tricks. Here the Pruitts quickly take a torn, wrinkled and discolored sepia print and turn it into a pristine antique image. You don't need to be a make-up artist to follow along, either.
Text effects are some of the hardest to achieve without instruction. But the Pruitts reveal the tricks to metallic text, glow effects, reflectivity and applying believable text to real-world objects (like the side of a van).
There's more. Particularly for Web designers. But we're just glad to see the same approach we praised in their previous Coriolis title for Paint Shop Pro adapted to the new version of Photoshop.
Photoshop 6 Visual Insight by Ramona Pruitt and Joshua Pruitt, 379 pages, in paperback at $29.99 or $23.99 from amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1576107477/.
We spent some time in the company of a two year old recently. He'd only just become two, so he wasn't inclined to litigate everything, but he was old enough to notice everything around him. Which he greeted with a "What's that?"
It wasn't feasible to explain exactly what anything was to him, though. The paraphernalia required to turn an ordinary hill or two into a city isn't easily comprehensible to someone of such limited experience. It's hard for someone who finds that a diaper service satisfies their requirements to fully appreciate the role of a dry cleaner, for example.
We remembered him fondly the other day strolling through The Anderson Collection at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. "What's that?" we found ourselves asking about nearly every canvas, sculpture and drawing.
Hunk Anderson (the Hobart grad who founded Saga Foods) and his wife Moo have, in their lifetimes, collected more than enough modern art to fill three floors of this spacious museum. In fact, some of it has even spilled over into cyberspace so you join us in bewilderment by exploring 15 of the works in the collection at http://www.sfmoma.org/anderson/index.html.
It is, certainly, a collection of marvelous imaginary things, but they happen to be real, too. Three dimensional. Right before our very eyes. And yet so imaginary that they seemed to come from another universe. A place where no one wore diapers but the adults were impossible to wean from squeezing paint tubes.
But our delightful confusion changed into excitement when we turned a corner and thought we recognized something.
It was a large teal monochrome painting of Yosemite. The falls. A familiar image. In fact, the title of the piece turned out to be "Yosemite Falls [Homage to Watkins]".
Carleton Watkins (1829-1916) was one of the first to photograph Yosemite and consequently published the first widely distributed images of that wonder. This particular homage to him, painted by Mark Tansey (http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/tansey_mark.html) in 1993, was inspired by a Watkins print published around 1865-1866.
Lovely (and familiar) image. We approached to admire it in detail. Only to discover that Tansey had painted the falls without water!
Yes, instead of water cascading over the cliff, Tansey has tripods, view cameras, 35mm SLRs, camcorders. Everything you can imagine -- except digicams.
Oh, to be born after 1993, we smiled and continued on....
Andromeda (www.andromeda.com) is offering special holiday pricing for any three of its Adobe plug-ins (LensDoc, VariFocus, Photography Plug-ins and more) at $199, any two at $129 or 25 percent off any individual plug-in. Just call (800) 547-0055 and tell them we sent you.
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 (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 email@example.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; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.watchandsmile.com.
You can email us at email@example.com.
RE: Having a Ball at the Square Dance
Thanks for all of the info you give out on digital photography. I am a neophyte, having purchased a Kodak DC215 about eight months ago and have been having a ball playing with it. The camera is (or was) about midrange and is great for non-professional use.
I call square dancing and am finding many ways to surprise my dancers with the "instant images." I think I have also made a few converts to digital. It is not as great as my old 8x10 or Crown Graphic but I can put it in my pocket and have a ball.
I have Adobe and Lexmark software but will be looking for something more advanced in 2001.
-- Charlie Brown(You already sound armed and dangerous, Charlie, but you can easily double your fun in the digital darkroom. We're currently testing a number of software filters compatible with several image editors. Andromeda's VariFocus and Series 1 Photography filters, to be precise. Being able to extend the power of your favorite image editor is often more useful than switching software. Pick a partner (image editor <g>) for our upcoming reviews. -- Editor)
RE: Fun With Layering
I enjoy your newsletters and, since I am the owner of an Olympus 2020 and love it, I also am trying to learn Paint Shop Pro and layering (about which you gave some excellent ideas that I can't wait to try). It seems as if layering is a little difficult to learn but I guess once I do it a few times I'll be OK. Please keep up the good work, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.
-- Ellen(Thanks, Ellen! If you get stuck, remember we're here to help. Not just to get the job done, but to have fun doing it. Although we do draw the line at square dancing <g>. -- Editor)
RE: Another Holiday Idea
I took pictures of the stained glass windows in our church and turned the one of the nativity scene into a holiday card. In Photoshop I was able to straighten out the perspective lines and make the jewel-tone colors look as brilliant as they really are. On the back I gave a little explanation of where the window was installed. It has been a big hit.
Photographing the stained glass was fun. First you have to have a sunny day for it to work very well. I had to go back to the church several times to get the sun on both sides of the church to take pictures of all the windows. Photoshop came in handy for the parts of the windows that were always in shadow from architectural obstructions.
Then I trained the autofocus on the most important feature (the faces in this instance) and took bracketed exposures based on that reading.
I learned that flash didn't work at all, even though I thought it might be neat to get some of the woodwork around the stained glass. That idea didn't work for me. It worked best if the surrounding area turned out almost totally black. I also used a tripod.
-- Judith King(Well, there's a great idea! We still have time to make it to the Post Office, too. Thanks, Judith! -- Editor)
RE: How to Make a Sale
May I add a few comments about the in-store digital photo samples?
As a salesperson engaged in promoting and selling digital cameras, I could not encourage the use of and indeed sell as many digital cameras as I do without the portfolios I have personally put together over the last three years.
My format is to show the interested party a portfolio of pictures that Mr. Average would take in A4 size, printed on good quality inkjet paper with a middle quality printer.
The prints don't fade because they are in book type folders and I add and remove them as I take new pictures. And I sample all new stock from manufacturer's reps. This gives me the opportunity to test and produce pictures for my portfolios and keep up-to-date with technology.
I also manage a digital portrait studio which is proving to be very successful. The finished photograph is printed by the Kodak dye sublimation method, which has a life longer than most of us.
I am in my 64th year and have been involved in photography for 50 of them and may I say I have experienced a few changes but none better than digital photography.
-- George F King from Maidstone, Kent, UK(Thanks for your insight, George! It's clear you're not the average salesperson. Let's hope your letter inspires a few who may be to follow your sterling example. -- Editor)
RE: Making Slides from JPEGs
I really enjoy your newsletter. Have a Great Holiday Season!
Next is, have you done any checking on photo sites that will make negatives and prints from the negatives of the digital prints sent in?
Thanks for any info and HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL.
-- David(Thanks, David! We've done a little research on online slide companies but haven't done any testing. Usually we recommend you try local photo labs with dupe departments. Some of these guys have indeed invested in film recorders and don't mind outputting to them (despite the relatively small image resolution of a digicam file; they like 2,000 pixels in the long dimension), trimming the output to slide size and mounting them.... But recently we've found a few online vendors that are moving into digicam files from presentation images (PowerPoint shows). Visit http://www.slides-online.com (low prices) and http://www.slides.com (great information) for a couple of options. Prices vary but run around $2 to $5 each, with deals for quantities. -- Editor)
RE: A Miracle
I need your assistance. I am trying to fix the problem that you can see in the picture I have attached [Ron sent us some sample images].
The picture was taken by an Olympus C3030z. I use a SanDisk FlashPath Floppy Disk Adapter to transfer images to my computer. I have Windows 95.
When I use the playback mode in the camera the images appear good -- no problems. The same thing happens when I use the thumbnail views in the Camedia Master. But as soon as I try to open an image I get the results as seen in the sample [the top portion of the image is fine, but the next third shows a bizarre color cast and horizontal image shift which occurs with a different color cast and shift in the bottom part of the image]. I have tried opening the same image several times and on a few images the problem disappears and on others it goes from bad to worse.
The problem seems to occur only when I open the image on the computer. I have three SmartMedia cards (16-, 32- and 64-MB) and the problem happens on all three.
I've changed the batteries in the FlashPath and uninstalled the program and then installed it again. The problem continues.
-- Ron(We don't think the camera is doing this. The shift of the image detail in the various sections is too neat to happen in real time. And we'll bet if you open the images on the cards on any other PC you won't see the problem. So the cards wouldn't be the problem, either.... This looks to us like corruption of the data in video RAM. That would explain the change each time you open the image, the color cast and the detail shift. So our suggestion is to confirm your system is using the right video driver for your hardware. -- Editor)
Thank you for the helpful information. I reinstalled my video drivers and the problem disappeared. I sent those same pictures to Olympus and SanDisk and both companies could not come up with a solution. Thanks again. Happy Holidays.
-- Ron(You mean we were right? It's a miracle! Very glad we were able to help, Ron! -- Editor)
Altamira (http://www.altamiragroup.com/) has released Genuine Fractals 2.0 LE for customers using entry-level digital cameras, scanners, and ink jet printers. Altamira technology allows users to work with smaller, more agile images, which can be easily transported, stored, or increased in size while maintaining the sharpness of the captured image. For example, a consumer digital 1.3-megapixel camera can typically produce a 3x4 inch print, at 300 dpi. With Genuine Fractals 2.0 LE, an 8x10 inch print can be generated. Genuine Fractals 2.0 LE is available at Outpost.com, Egghead.com and all the major software catalogs for $49.95 list.
Vincent Granville has posted a free interactive mathematical background generator to create textures, patterns and palettes. Visit http://www.datashaping.com/matgrounds.shtml and http://www.datashaping.com/artwork.shtml for a peek.
Kodak (http://www.kodak.com/go/professional) has announced a holiday promotion for the Kodak DCS 560 and DCS 660 digital cameras through Dec. 31. Purchasers will receive a bonus coupon worth $1,000 for photo accessories and/or supplies from authorized Kodak dealers.
By the end of the year, 10 million U.S. households will be enjoying digital photography and as a result, according to a survey by Gartner Dataquest, the worldwide installed base of photo kiosks is projected to double by the end of 2001, reaching 60,000 devices. The new photo kiosks will allow consumers to input digital images or scan photos to print, upload to a Web page or otherwise communicate their photos. The survey found that most digicam owners are "very satisfied" with their newest digicam and are most interested in electronic viewing and simple sharing via email of their digital photos. Kodak has already expanded its Picture Maker product line, and Pixel Magic expects to expand placements of its PhotoDitto and Digital Print Station. New self-contained kiosks from Digital Portal Incorporated (a joint venture between SanDisk and KIS/Photo Me Group) and Gretag as well as terminal-type kiosks from Agfa and Fujifilm that feed digital minilabs will start appearing in stores early next year.
Sapphire Innovations (http://www.sapphire-innovations.com) has announced Volume 1 of Sapphire Patterns. The over 300 royalty-free patterns are supplied as Photoshop PAT files and can be used in layer effects, pattern fills, fill content and more. The patterns can also be saved and converted and used in other applications.
Pixami has announced that their Photo Upload technology will soon allow PhotoLoft customers to navigate their hard disk from a Web page, view their digital photos, and select single or multiple images for upload to the PhotoLoft site. The first implementation of the Pixami Uploader by PhotoLoft was completed for FutureShop (http://www.futureshop.ca/photo).
According to a gift survey of 1,023 men age 18 or older commissioned by buy.com (http://www.buy.com), 32 percent said they would like a digicam, 16 percent hope to receive a cell phone, and 13 percent put MP3 players on their lists. The guys (56 percent anyway) cited fruitcake as the worst individual gift and flannel pajamas as the least favorite item to receive for 13 percent.
Epson has reported a bad batch of their first shipment in November of reformulated Epson Premium Glossy Photo Paper. The paper produces a "powdery residue in the dark areas of the photographs." Batches shipped Dec. 15 and after correct the problem and have a sticker on the front of the package to help identify them. You can get either a refund or exchange through Epson at (562) 276-7235.
We just this week got our hands on Peter iNova's Mastering Nikon Compact Digital Cameras (http://www.digitalsecrets.net/secrets/s.html). We'll be publishing a full review of this important work in an upcoming issue, but we've already read enough to give it an editorial nod -- not just for owners of the featured Nikon 950 and 990 models but for anyone new to digital imaging. There's a lot here on the basics of digital imaging.
A free driver update for the Kodak Professional RFS 3600 film scanner is now available for Macintosh and Windows 98/SE/NT4.0/2000 systems at http://www.kodak.com/go/drivers. In addition to new film terms, Kodak said Version 1.1 of the host software provides improved memory management, increased stability on Macintosh computers, and enhanced low-resolution scan performance. Besides correcting some minor problems and anomalies found in the original host drivers, Kodak said the new software adjusts the sensitivity of Color Balance and Levels & Curves controls, making minor image adjustments with these tools easier.
We'll next see you Dec. 29, when we resume biweekly publication. In the meantime we're taking the Imaging Resource subscriber list to the North Pole where, with a little merge-and-purge ("checking it twice" is the local idiom, we understand), we'll do what we can to make this holiday season the happiest it can be for the folks who have made this such a memorable year for us.
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:
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher