|Volume 2, Number 28||29 December 2000|
Welcome to the 36th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. The last of the century. In which we peg the most frequently asked (and answered) questions from digicam newbies and Dave gets, well, framed. And still, there's time to look in the mirror for a few year-end reflections.
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 [email protected].
Our holiday greetings (like some of yours, no doubt) extend well past Christmas morning, the phone ringing with calls from long-lost friends, distant relatives, acquaintences from previous lifetimes. All of them with need-to-know-now questions about their new digicam. Scanner and printer owners seem less prone to panic, fortunately.
We've found expertise is more in knowing which question to ask than in knowing how to beat to death an irrelevant subject. Which is why there are no dumb questions, just varying levels of expertise.
So we thought we'd put together a First Questions FAQ for everyone to use (whether you want to ask them or have to answer them). If your question isn't on it, just email it to [email protected]. We enjoy making stuff up.
We've covered a lot of this before (just visit the Index of Articles at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS if you want a longer treatment of one of these subjects) but there's nothing like a stitch in time.
THE FIRST QUESTIONS FAQ
Q. How do I attach the lens cap to my new digicam?
A. However you like. This goes for any other camera, too. The important thing is to make sure it does not get in the way when it's off and that it's around when you need it.
On the 990, which does not have a telescoping lens, some folks like to wrap the cord around the swivel joint. But my vote goes to attaching it to the shoulder strap (which we always have to yank out of the way anyway). It just barely makes it that far, but it does.
On cameras with telescoping lenses (with their auto lens eject function <g>), we really recommend the same thing.
Q. What kind of batteries did you say to buy?
A. There are two kinds of digicams: ones with proprietary lithium batteries and ones that take off-the-shelf AAs. This question involves the second. And only because manufacturers of AA digicams invariably toss in four wave-goodbye alkaline AA batteries to drain your initial excitement as quickly as possible.
AA digicams actually need Nickel-Metal Hydride rechargeables. You can find these NiMH batteries everywhere these days (Target, Radio Shack, Thomas Distributing at http://thomas-distributing.com/batteries.htm, Fry's, you name it). As long as they are at least 1.2 volts and 1200 mAh, you're going to love them. For years. Recharge before each session and carry a spare set. These days, you're probably going to find 1600 mAh batteries, which means they'll last even longer.
Of course they have to be charged before you can use them and that takes a long time the first time (did you say 13 hours, Bill?). So we recommend buying a set of lithium AAs (any drug store equivalent will have them). They hold their charge (unlike the NiMH) and they last longer than any other battery (which is why they're a favorite at the trade show booths). Unfortunately, they aren't rechargeable. But they're the ideal backup.
Forget alkalines, rechargeable alkalines and Nickel Cadmium (NiCds) batteries. Life is short but theirs are even shorter.
And get a one-hour charger (http://thomas-distributing.com/nimh_battery_chargers.htm) for your NiMHs that monitors the battery charge so it can cut back to a trickle when near a full charge and you can leave a set in without worrying about overcharging.
Q. How do I connect my USB camera to the serial port on my computer?
A. There's nothing funny about snapping your first shots only to realize you need a USB port on your serial-based system to see them. Serial port support seems to have vanished (though parallel port support is still widespread) in favor of USB capability. So Mac users may find themselves without life support.
Fear not. Your computer has lots of ways in: SCSI, ADB and probably a floppy drive.
If your digicam uses SmartMedia, you can work around the problem with a floppy disk adapter (http://www.SanDisk.com/support/driverfaq/FlashPath/) for about $80. Install the drivers, drop the SmartMedia into the floppy adapter (after installing its batteries) and slip the floppy into your computer. Slow but sure.
You can also look for a SCSI card reader. Microtech at http://www.microtechint.com/ makes SCSI-based readers for about $300-$500 list. But that's a lot of money to throw at the problem.
Adding USB ports to a pre-Jobian Mac requires more serious engineering: a PCI card with USB ports (like the Keyspan at http://www.keyspan.com/ if you have a PCI bus) and Apple's USB drivers, which usually means an upgrade to Mac OS 8.5 or so (which may mean more RAM). Still, the right card reader will let you cable directly to the camera or attach a USB card reader (much preferred) to mount CompactFlash or SmartMedia on your desktop.
You might think about adding FireWire at the same time. We found an interesting combo card comparison at http://www.barefeats.com/fire6.html.
CompactFlash users fortunate enough to have a PCMCIA port (or reader) can just buy a $20 adapter to slip their cards into the PCMCIA port. SmartMedia users can too, but those PCMCIA adapters costs around $50.
Our advice is to set something up that does not rely on cable connections. They're slow and a nuisance to plug in every time you want to upload images. And they require special software and drivers to wake up the camera and control the transmission. And if that isn't enough, they drain your digicam batteries (unless you also plug in an adapter). The alternatives simply and quickly mount the storage device on your desktop like a hard drive.
Q. Why don't my prints look like my screen?
A. Because. Nevermind the different gamuts of transmitted and reflected color or phosphors and pigments. They just don't and never will. But that isn't quite the problem you're having, we'll bet.
It may be very hard to get a good match, but a believable inkjet equivalent is easily achieved. But only with the right printer settings. You'll have to spend a minute or two in the Page Setup and Print dialog boxes to make sure your printer knows what kind of paper is in it (it makes a big difference) and what kind of data you are sending it (photo quality isn't the same as draft text).
And, yes, try some photo quality paper. It's worth it.
Q. Is the extended warranty worth it?
A. Never. That's why they sell them. Use a credit card that doubles the manufacturer's warranty if you're worried about it.
Q. Why does it take so long to email someone a picture?
A. It shouldn't. Because it takes as long to receive one as to send one. So don't email a full resolution JPEG fresh from your camera. Be a good netizen and resize it for screen viewing.
Open your megapixel-plus image in an image editor and resample it down to 640 pixels in the long dimension (which will, with proportions constrained, bring the short side to around 480). That will make a nice small file suitable for emailing. Your recipient is just going to look at it on the screen and 640x480 will fill small ones and cover large ones just fine. Save the smaller file with a new name. And for extra credit use unsharp masking to sharpen it up a bit first.
A number of programs can do this in batch mode for you. But if you're doing a lot of them, you're ready for online photo sharing. Just upload everything once to an online album and send an email to anyone you like inviting them to see your pictures online.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/SF/SF.HTM on the Web site.)
I have to admit that when I first saw Kodak's Smart Picture Frame, I thought to myself, "Oh yawn, another $350 yuppie photo gadget." (I can get away with yuppie-disparaging remarks, being a yuppie myself.) The more I dug into the product, though, the more I realized how wrong my initial reaction was. This is a really cool product!
The unit itself is pretty straightforward, but obviously packs a lot of electronic horsepower into a small package. It's a cherry-framed LCD panel, about 7.25 x 8.5 inches in size, with a roughly 4x5-inch color LCD panel in the middle. The cool parts are the CompactFlash memory socket on the side and the RJ-11 telephone jack on the bottom.
That's right, this baby is designed to connect to the Internet. You can upload images to the Frame from a CompactFlash card, transfer them from the frame to a Web album, or download images into the frame automatically over the Internet.
If you don't have far-flung family members, this may sound vaguely interesting, but when you factor a many-states-away Grandma or Grandpa (or Sister or Brother, or even a Best Friend [what about Uncles, Dave?]) into the equation, it gets downright compelling! My own parents are no longer around, but if they were, I'd immediately buy one of these gadgets for them to see photos from the soccer tournament or church musical the next day. Even better, Grandpa doesn't need to be a computer whiz to use it (assuming you set it up for him), it's a completely brainless and painless gadget. It just sits on the counter, table, or desk and serves up a constantly cycling series of pictures.
Actually, forget Grandpa, I want one of these right on my desk! And another on the kitchen counter for my wife! It's silly, but around our house, the digital camera is often referred to as the "digital black hole." The photos go in, but only reluctantly come back out again. (Sit at the computer, page through a few hundred shots, select a few I like, upload them to the online service, order the prints. It happens a lot less often than it really ought to.) The Smart Frame won't make poring through the photos any easier, but the idea that I could surprise my wife with a fresh set of photos a couple of times a week, with no more than a few minutes effort at the computer (don't tell her it's that little), is worth a lot. What better way to say, "Hi honey, I'm thinking of you even though I'm at work," than by surprising her with a few new photos on the Smart Frame.
Like I said, I want one on my desk too. When it comes to dealing with pictures and frames and putting new ones around my office, I'm the stereotypical male klutz. (Embarrassing confession time: Dave Etchells, uber-digital-photo-nerd has exactly zero (0) photos of his family on his desk!) With a Smart Frame next to my computer, I could easily update it with favorite vacation shots, photos of family events, etc. I mean, it'd almost be like having a life: "Hey, look at that -- I actually had fun last July!"
And that's not all. You can also subscribe to optional network services, including MSNBC, The Weather Channel, and TrafficStation. How about getting a local traffic update beamed to your desk automatically every day at 5 p.m.?
Of course, the Frame isn't for everybody. For one thing, there's the $349 cost of the basic unit. Then, you need to sign up for at least a $5/month subscription to Weave Innovations Storybox Network services. (That's how the photos get onto the frame from the Internet.) And setup wasn't exactly a breeze either. But, all that said, I think the Frame is a harbinger of things to come. The price will doubtless come down as production volumes increase, setup is bound to get easier, and $5/month isn't a lot to pay for the level of enjoyment it can bring.
Probably the most surprising thing about the Frame for me was how completely it turned my own thinking around. This is potentially one of the most "humanizing" innovations in digital photography I've yet seen.
At first glance, it looks like a high-quality, desktop picture frame, but wait a few minutes and you'll see a virtual slide show of personal photographs displayed on its backlit, color LCD display. Plug the frame into an analog phone jack and you can log on to Weave Innovation's StoryBox Network, from which you can send or receive photographs and greeting cards or scroll through the day's latest headlines, entertainment news, weather, traffic, and sports. About the size of a conventional 8x10 tabletop picture frame, the Frame's traditional cherry finish accents any decor -- and it can be accessorized with snap-on bezels to accommodate your personal tastes.
The Frame measures 7.25 x 8.5 inches and weighs under two pounds. Its 6.4-inch diagonal, active matrix, color LCD display shows pictures at 640x480 resolution, more than adequate for high-quality, on-screen presentation. The built-in 8-MB memory can store and display up to 36 images (in JPEG and BMP file formats) and the CompactFlash slot on the side of the frame accepts Type I and II CompactFlash cards, as well as SmartMedia cards with the "appropriate adapter." (We have to confess, we don't know what a SmartMedia adapter would look like.)
The top of the picture frame features several function buttons, including a Menu button, Left and Right Arrow buttons for scrolling through images, an OK button to set menu selections or choose photos, and a Share! button to initiate transfer of images over the network. There's an On/Off switch on the back of the frame and a Photos/Channels button on the side to toggle between image display and information channels. The telephone and power jacks are located on the bottom of the frame. The power cord is easily disconnected from the frame when it's picked up or moved around (we lost power once while updating information on our test unit). But this is easily remedied by holding the jack in place with your finger whenever you move the unit.
The Smart Picture Frame's internal 8-MB memory can store and display up to 36 640x480 images. The CompactFlash slot on the side of the frame allows you to import captured images from a digital camera or computer, or to view images directly from a CompactFlash card. Using the Frame's menu and arrow buttons, individual images can be rotated, moved, or deleted to create a favorite sequence for viewing in Still Picture Mode (one at a time), or Slide Show Mode (pictures advance automatically). By leaving a CompactFlash card in the frame's card reader, additional images can be automatically incorporated into the frame's slide show.
The Still Picture Mode is set in the Slide Show menu by selecting the Pause Show option. Once the Still Picture Mode is set, you change the image by returning to the Slide Show menu options and changing your selection, or by using the arrow buttons to scroll through stored photographs. If you want your Frame to continually rotate through the images, return to the Menu, reselect the Slide Show option, and use the arrow keys to change the time interval between each image (five seconds to one day). At any point, if the menu option doesn't allow you to back out, you can press the Menu key to return to the main image display.
To download images from the CompactFlash card to your Frame, simply press the Menu button, select Copy Pictures, and press OK. Then select "From CF Card to Frame" and the Frame displays thumbnails of each image on the card. Use the arrow buttons to select the images you want to copy and press OK. Continue until you've selected all of the images you want to copy, then press Continue. Once you've reviewed the images, press OK. Up to 10 images can be copied at a time, converting them to full-frame files for on-screen viewing (high-resolution images are automatically scaled to fit into the 640x480 display window). A 140-degree LCD viewing angle maintains image visibility from most viewpoints and in most lighting conditions, but the Frame should never be exposed to direct sunlight.
The Frame automatically turns off at midnight and back on again at 6:00 a.m. You can adjust the automatic shutdown and power-up times using the Frame's Menu options or by setting the times online in the personalized My Frames section of your StoryBox Network home page. This feature not only saves energy, but extends the life of the LCD (which Kodak claims will last up to 10 years if properly maintained).
You can also use the Frames menu to set a lock code on individual pictures, which prevents others from altering settings, deleting files, sharing images or ordering prints from your files without your knowledge. (For added physical security, an optional lock cable can be purchased and attached to a lock slot on the back of the frame to prevent theft of the unit.)
CONNECTING TO THE STORYBOX NETWORK
To take advantage of your Frame's capabilities, you'll want to establish an account with Weave Innovation's StoryBox Network. Through this network, you can share images with friends and family, store image files, create photo albums, personalize information channels and remotely manage your Smart Picture Frame functions. You must register your Frame on the StoryBox Web site (http://www.storybox.com) before you log onto the Network with your Frame for the first time. If you don't have Internet access, you can call the toll-free customer service number and they'll walk you through the registration process.
Setup and connection are our biggest criticisms about the Frame. It took us several calls to tech support before we finally connected successfully, what with initial connection problems, difficulty finding a local access number, and the all-too-typical technological murk that seems to accompany any product with a computer chip inside it. To their credit, the StoryBox Network tech support staff were unfailingly pleasant and helpful. We did eventually manage to get the device working, but it really should have been a lot easier.
Once registered, your Frame can access your StoryBox account. The Frame's telephone cable must be connected to an analog telephone line (it will not work with digital phone lines). When you turn it on the first time, it prompts you to set the date and time. Then it asks if the Frame has been moved since it was last used. For your first Network access, select "Yes." This prompts the Frame to dial the StoryBox Network toll free number to get a local access number. Once connected to the Network, selecting the "Update Now" option automatically adds any special features you selected during the registration process. Future log-ons will automatically update information to the Frame without any prompts.
Every StoryBox member gets a secure personal StoryCenter. There you can upload images from the Picture Frame or a computer, retrieve images from other StoryBox members (these can be sent to your private InBox or directly to your Frame) or add images from other Internet sources to your personal collection. You can organize, edit, and store images in your InBox, arrange them in digital albums or add them to your online Virtual Picture Frame, where they will be held until the Frame dials in for an update, at which time they will be automatically downloaded to the Frame for viewing (provided enough memory is available).
The beauty of the Kodak Smart Picture Frame is that you can send and receive images electronically without owning a computer. As a StoryBox member, you can maintain a list of up to 10 people or groups with whom you wish to share pictures on your personal StoryCenter Share! List. This list can include the names of other StoryBox members, as well as email addresses of nonmembers. If you do not have Internet access via a personal computer, you can create or modify your Share! List by calling the StoryBox customer service center. An updated list will be automatically downloaded the next time you log on to the StoryBox site with your Frame.
As a safety precaution, anyone sending images to a member's personal StoryCenter must have permission to do so (their name must be listed in the receiver's address book as an approved sender). But you can send images to anyone as long as you have their email address entered on your approved Share! List.
And the Frame lets you share photos directly from the Frame itself. (Very handy when you've set up a frame for a non-computer-savvy friend who also has a CompactFlash-based digital camera.)
In addition to sending photographs, the StoryBox Network provides an online greeting card service for anyone on your Share! List. You can also order prints from your digital images and shop for decorative, snap-on bezels and other Frame accessories.
StoryBox Network also offers a 4x6 print order service through the online [email protected] processing center. Kodak plans to offer a variety of printing options, including 5x7 and 8x10 prints, photo mugs, mouse pads, puzzles, T-shirts, and sweatshirts. At the moment though, it's important to note that photos loaded into the frame are resampled to match its 640x480 resolution, really only barely adequate for the 4x6 print size, and nowhere near enough for 5x7 or larger.
Your Smart Picture Frame also doubles as a mini Internet terminal, receiving regular news and information updates from a half-dozen online services, including MSNBC, The Weather Channel, Traffic Station, CBS SportsLine, E! Online, Corbis, and Getty Images. The Pictures/Channels button on the side of the frame alternates between image and channel displays. Once in the Channel mode, you simply use the right and left arrow buttons on top of the frame to "change" channels.
Paid subscribers to the StoryBox Network can choose which channels they want to access, how frequently they want updates and the kind of news to retrieve. Two different StoryBox subscription plans -- Snapshooter (Basic) and Shutterbug (Premium) -- provide different levels of channel access. These can be customized to dispense information on only local traffic and weather, specific news headlines (such as science and health) and scores from your favorite sports teams.
Beware! If you turn off the power on your Frame, previous channel displays will not be saved. This isn't an issue if you leave the frame connected to the phone line at all times, but a point worth mentioning.
Included in the purchase price of the Frame ($349) is a six-month StoryBox Network Premium Plan subscription. After six months, you have the option to subscribe to the Basic Plan for $4.95 per month or the Premium Plan for $9.95 per month. Basic includes two automatic updates a day, 15 instant updates a month, unlimited photo sharing, additional connections/updates at 10 cents each, five basic channels and 40-MB of storage space for up to 275 images. Premium includes four automatic updates a day, 60 instant updates a month, unlimited photo sharing, additional connections/updates at 5 cents each, 10 basic channels, and 60-MB of storage space for up to 500 pictures. The Premium Plan also receives weekly deliveries of art and photography from the StoryBox Gallery with selections provided by online stock agencies, Corbis and Getty Images.
Initially unenthusiastic, we quickly joined the ranks of true believers. The Smart Picture Frame extends the boundaries of digital photography, reaching beyond die-hard technophiles and making "live" viewing of digital photos accessible to anyone. In the online photo-sharing space, the Frame finally moves digital photos out of the computer and into the living room (or kitchen, desk, etc.) where they can become part of your daily life. Combine its slide show capabilities and extensive information resources with what appears to be a strong platform for other image-related services, and the StoryBox Network holds the promise of a whole new way of interacting with pictures and information.
Kodak and Weave's biggest challenge will be in communicating the excitement of the Frame experience to consumers. If they can manage to do this, we predict a promising future for the product. That could be an uphill battle though, given that even confirmed digital photo "tweaks" like ourselves didn't immediately appreciate what a Smart Picture Frame has to offer.
Ah, mirrors. Sure, they're "decorative." Put one in a gilded frame and it may even make the room more elegant. But they aren't members of the family, even when they butt into those shots at the dining table or in the living room. Worse yet, they have a real fondness for the spotlight, or should I say on-camera flash.
To keep our mirrors on the wall and out of the group shot, we use off-camera flash, bouncing the light off the ceiling. That spreads the light out well enough to cover the dinner table or the six-deep gathering of our relatives. And eliminates red-eye (completely and forever) and mirror reflections.
But that isn't possible with on-camera flash. Which just means you have to be a little more imaginative.
It's worth repeating the old rule about mirrors as a starting point, though. If you can't see yourself in the mirror, you're OK (unless the way you got out of the mirror was to turn on the self-timer and run over to the group).
The important thing -- whether it's a mirror or a window or any flat, reflective surface (including shiny walls) -- is to angle the light coming from the flash so it bounces away from you (not back at you) after it hits the reflector.
This is not a tough calculation. In fact, it's a law. The law of reflection. Which is that light rays leave the mirror at exactly the same angle they reach it. We call that the angle of incidence coming in and the angle of reflection leaving. Try to angle no less than 45 degrees.
Practice at the pool table. Same principle (uh, law of reflection) off the cushions.
You may find that shooting mirrors from the side can make for some amusing shots. Parakeets, children and undercover relatives adjusting their disguises aren't likely to realize they are being observed until it's too late. Call that a candid reflection.
So, mirrors tackled, how do you handle light coverage and red-eye? With onboard flash, your best bet is to do it in an image editing program. And enjoy the party.
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 extended 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 [email protected]) that ended Oct. 20. Except -- hold on to your hat -- Canto is reducing your price to $45 (you can get a refund via [email protected]) 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; [email protected]; http://www.watchandsmile.com.
You can email us at [email protected].
Thanks for your worthwhile newsletters; I've enjoyed and benefited from them.
I've lived through the evolution from manual through the different auto modes and now into digital. I currently use (but don't much enjoy) a Cannon Rebel that I acquired when bifocals made my favorites (OM2 and M2) too difficult to use. I've experimented with a borrowed Nikon 950 that, although it gave good results, required so much time and attention to menus that it lacked spontaneity and fun. I'm much more comfortable and efficient with control knobs than with LCD-screen menus.
Did a newsletter compare available digicams by whether they used control knobs or menu screens? If not, is there a resource that you could point me toward?
-- Larry Root(Thanks for the kind words, Larry! You can read the control enumeration section of the hardware reviews by just clicking on the link published at the very beginning of each review.... We sympathize with your observations about menus. For a recent project we wrote a few Digita scripts to run a Kodak DC290, all of them menu-driven, and it drove us mad trying to whittle them down to something that was not a chore to use. Even for something as simple as adjusting EV. Which is exactly what knobs were invented for, as you point out. -- Editor)
RE: Bullet Bitten
I finally bought a digicam. My choice was based 95 percent on your reviews, and I KNOW I got the best one for me. The Kodak DC4800 has all the stuff I know I need after 40 years of photography: wider wide angle than most, aperture priority and exposure compensation instantly available, adjustable viewfinder diopter, small and light, and color nearly as good as my favorite Fuji film. The menu controls are logical, quick and easy, but seldom even required. The Kodak software installed correctly and works perfectly (take that, Bill Gates).
Also, based on your advice, I got the DC4800EZ package: TWO Li-Ion batteries and a 64-MB CF card for an extra $60.
I still love my Fuji TX1 (true panoramic) and HP film scanner (40-MB files!), but I'm taking a lot more pictures now with my new Kodak.
I will now be brewing my coffee BEFORE reading your newsletter, though. THANKS!!
-- Luke Smith(Two batteries and a 64-MB CF card for $60? That's a great deal, Luke!! Yep, taking a lot more pictures is one of the seldom-mentioned but greatly appreciated benefits of digital photography. -- Editor)
RE: Trigger Finger
First, let me commend your efforts to propagate good sense and information in the digital imaging world.
I had been following the development of the Sony Mavica MVC CD-1000 camera and as soon as it came out I bought one. Basically it is terrific, though a recent trip to America to take photos of trains in the snow in Pennsylvania disclosed a few nasty issues I had not perceived.
Being an old 35mm guy, I was used to instantaneous shutter activity (and motor drives, sigh). What I have found (or felt I found) was that the image taken was not exactly the one I saw at the time I pressed the shutter button. I had lots of trains with the noses cut off or other issues which forced me to think there is a delay between the shutter activation and the actual collection of the digital image. Any thoughts?
-- Rob Clarke(That -- to our mind, anyway -- is the single biggest drawback to some digicams. And why we usually include in our hardware review excerpts the shutter lag results of Dave's extensive testing. We do actually measure that.... While not all cameras behave the same, they all have the same problem (setting exposure and focus and white balance, clearing the image buffer, etc.). No matter which digicam you have, you can usually speed things up a great deal merely by depressing the shutter button half way. This usually locks the focus and exposure settings. In addition, you can try setting the camera to multi-shot or continuous mode (under any of its various names). The trick is to 'unautomate' as much as you can, so the camera just has to worry about the shutter (not red-eye reduction, focus, exposure, white balance, etc.). -- Editor)
Great newsletter, enjoy getting it. Why don't you include the prices in the articles of the products you review?
-- Larry(We pop prices into the editor's notes items when relevant (but they're usually list prices, unless we're reporting a deal). And when we do a software review we ask the publisher if they'd like to extend a special deal to our subscribers (which we publish in Dave's Deals). But hardware prices vary dramatically in the course of the hardware review cycle. We do try to indicate the general price level and the datasheet includes price info, but your best bet is to do a little comparative price shopping when you're ready to buy <g>. -- Editor)
RE: Peer Pressure
I found your Web site via DigitalFOTO and am very impressed with the amount of information available.... I can see that I've got a LOT of reading to do. <g>
I will be sharing your url with my fellow members of the North Shore Photographic Society at http://www.nsps.ca currently exploring digital photography. I'm sure that the ensuing conversations will be quite interesting.
-- Richard H. Weiner, Editor of "In Focus," the NSPS newsletter(Thanks for the kind words, Richard! Yeah, there are a lot of words. As it happens, we did a rough count the other day and we can recommend no editor ever count them. Very scary <g>.... And welcome aboard to everyone! We look forward to hearing from them. -- Editor)
RE: Slide Theaters
Thanks for the references in the Dec. 15 newsletter to the services for turning digital images into 35mm slides. Slides and equipment and facilities for them are still the most universally available and effective medium for formal presentations to large audiences. New auditoriums will have facilities for plugging in your laptop at the rostrum and have excellent images appear on a projection screen but such facilities are very expensive. I imagine retrofitting old auditoriums might be impractical, so change will be slow. I personally have seen only one new auditorium completely equipped this way, for both regular slides and digital image projection, on two huge rear projection screens. This is the new auditorium at the Heard Museum in Phoenix.
-- Jeff Gonor(Fascinating! And not only laptops, but wireless handheld devices some day soon, one might hope. When the resolution -- and price -- improve. -- Editor)
RE: Sending Photoshop Files
Look forward to your newsletter -- good resource. Anyway, I completed a course in Photoshop at my local college and am doing a lot of portrait work (non-professional) with my digital camera. Is there an online resource that will print professional quality photos using the Photoshop file format?
-- A Student(We use Photoshop's native file format when we are working on an image but when it's time to release the image, we flatten the layers and save it in a more efficient (and final) format like JPEG. JPEGs are smaller so they can be transmitted more quickly than native Photoshop files. And they are universally accepted by online photofinishers. -- Editor)
RE: The Way
As your reader from Maidstone in England reported, DIGITAL is the way to go. I'm also over 65 and have been into photography for over 50 years. YES, AGAIN DIGITAL it is the way to go.
-- Capt. B. Martin(We share your enthusiasm for getting out of the darkroom into a chair to do our cropping and printing. Although we do miss the bracing whiff of glacial acetic acid early in the day. But never running out of film makes up for that. -- Editor)
RE: What a World
I stumbled across your Web site while doing a search engine search (google.com if you are interested) for data on my next digital camera. Your complete review of digital cameras is incredibly thorough and invaluable to my decision process. Your site is undoubtedly the most comprehensive review publication I have ever encountered, and it is free! What a world!
Thank you. I will visit often.
-- Bradford(You're welcome, Bradford. This newsletter is free, too, but we do try to stay in orbit. -- Editor)
RE: Crying Uncle
While I did enjoy your only somewhat veiled references to our luncheons and various dining engagements over the Thanksgiving Holiday just past [What's That? Dec. 15], I do wish for the sake of accuracy and consequently, integrity, you had consulted with me before publication.
I do not, in fact, employ a diaper service. While perhaps not as environmentally conscious or sensitive, I prefer disposables, individually and carefully plastic encased upon disposition.
I was also somewhat dismayed to have been characterized as some toddling, uninformed inquisitor (you must have me confused with my male caretaker and man-friday William). You failed to portray the actual depth and breadth of our discourse. Have you forgotten my treatise on "Over there," "Pizza yummy," "There's the city," "'Zat you, Sanny Claus?" and of course, "Go Bears!" I found your characterization most limited given what I had believed to be the soaring scope of our actual encounters.
While I continue to respect our relationship, I would hope in the future you would do the same, especially when representing my character and good name in public.
I do not in this instance feel it necessary to direct my representation to take legal action at this time. I will not hesitate to do so in future.
Regards for a joyous holiday, Uncle.
-- Angelo Luigi(Your Christmas present is going to be a little late, Angelo. -- Editor)
It's not just the end of the century, but Dec. 31 is also the end of your free Ofoto prints deal. Remember to order your free prints before the end of the year!
Price.com said the most popular products searched for this holiday were the Nikon Coolpix 880 digital camera, the Palm Pilot IIIxe and the Plextor CD-Rewritable drive. Price believes that the popularity of CD-Rewritable drives could be due to the growing number of consumers downloading music from the Internet (but it probably has to do with all those digicam sales).
Juri Munkki has released Cameraid 1.1.4 and announced that the beta for version 1.2 will be available next month. This Macintosh image utility at http://www.cameraid.com can download images from a number of cameras, rotate them losslessly (and quickly), perform batch optimizations and features "JPEG-aware image enhancement." This update (essentially identical to the 1.1.4b2 beta) enhances Mac OS 9 compatibility and handles some USB-to-serial adapter issues.
Kodak Professional has released Photo Desk, a new image browser for both Macintosh and Windows platforms. The browser, available for download at http://www.kodak.com/go/professional, manages files produced by Kodak Professional DCS 300,500 and 600 series digital cameras. It shares many of the features of the Kodak Professional DCS Acquire Module and DCS Twain Data Source software, but offers the advantages of a stand-alone application, such as browsing multiple folders and images with drag-and-drop file management.
Kinko's (http://www.kinkos.com) has announced an integrated campaign with America Online (http://www.aol.com) to build awareness of Kinko's digital photo printing capabilities and AOL's You've Got Pictures services. AOL members can print a complimentary, 8x10 photo-quality print from any image in their You've Got Pictures account, using an Internet-connected Kodak PictureMaker kiosk at a participating Kinko's branch. The promotion ends Jan. 31, 2001.
Andromeda has announced a new online service, http://www.eARTservices.com, to offer fine art created specifically for use in digital media. eARTservices premiered with three studios offering a collection of fine art paintings and sketches. Studio 1 Flowers is a collection of impressionist floral paintings originally hand painted in acrylics then converted to digital format. Studio 2 Animals offers hand-rendered charcoal sketches and pen and ink drawings of wild and domestic animals. Studio 3 Monuments is hand-rendered pen and ink sketches of architectural monuments from around the world.
ACD Systems has released the ACDSee PowerPack, which includes the image viewer and browser ACDSee plus a collection of plug-ins for digicam users. The package includes ACDSee 3.1 SR-1; FotoCanvas, a new photo editor; and FotoAngelo to make customized slideshows. ACDSee PowerPack is available for trial or purchase for $79.95 at http://www.ACDSYSTEMS.com/english/products/acdseepowerpack/.
CardStore.com (http://www.cardstore.com) has announced an agreement with Eastman Kodak (http://www.kodak.com) for the launch of a card service for Kodak's [email protected] Internet photofinishing service. Under the agreement, users visiting the [email protected] service will be able to create, personalize and mail high-quality, custom-printed greeting cards and photo cards with next-day printing and mailing to a user's address book.
RemoteReality (http://www.remotereality.com) has announced a preview of an upcoming enhancement to its single-shot OneShot360 Immersive Picture System. Expected in the first quarter of 2001, the OneShot360 Plus will add the capability of easily capturing full 360x360-degree images for interactive virtual tours on the Web. Current owners of OneShot360 systems will be able to purchase an option that will add this new capability to their systems.
PhotoChannel has launched PhotoSite and Albums at http://www.photochannel.com. PhotoSite enables users to build their own photo Web site while Albums allows users to create Albums from the pictures uploaded to the site. Users can now create, view and share their PhotoSite and Albums and organize uploaded photos to Albums, customized with personal touches including various text styles, overall appearances and layouts.
Hamrick Software has released version 6.4.4 of VueScan (http://www.hamrick.com/vsm.html), its Mac and Windows scanner driver.
We're resting our feet, doing a half dozen reps of the old weight shuffle, practicing our That's-Incredible jaw drop and rehearsing our Can-We-See-A-Quick-Demo eyebrow raise. What's got into us? We're preparing to cover the upcoming Macworld Expo. We'll have a full report in our next issue on Jan. 12.
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