The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 3, Number 5 9 March 2001

Copyright 2001, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 41st edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Stephanie spells out just how PhotoGenetics works while Dave puts it in perspective. And we take a look at Kodak's suit for patent infringement.


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Feature: PhotoGenetics 2.0 -- A $30 Digicam Upgrade

By STEPHANIE BOOZER and DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PGEN2/PGEN2.HTM on the Web site.)

QBeo's PhotoGenetics 2.0 is unique among the many sophisticated (and not so sophisticated) image editing programs currently on the market, performing a variety of image editing operations in a greatly simplified manner. It's sort of an "Image Editing for Dummies" application.

Borrowing terms from the genetics field, PhotoGenetics uses "Genotypes" to represent filter effects and employs an "Evolution" function to make progressive improvements to photographs. But this very basic "image fixing" program is not designed to compete with Adobe Photoshop or other high-end imaging programs. At just $29.95 for the download version and $39.95 for a CD-ROM version (with some expanded features), we see PhotoGenetics 2.0 instead as a very inexpensive "upgrade" to your digicam.

HOW IT WORKS

Based on QBeo's proprietary ImageOp technology, the PhotoGenetics Evolution function displays side-by-side previews of suggested improvements to an image and then allows users to choose their preferred level of adjustment -- from "no change" to "change completely" -- based on the software's suggestions.

While these changes affect color temperature, contrast, saturation and brightness, the beauty of the program is that it guides you through each step of the Evolution process without ever revealing the specific adjustments the software is making. You don't have to know -- or worry -- about complicated technical terms like gradients, curves, gamma or color balance to get great results.

PhotoGenetics also provides easy-to-use batch processing and printing capabilities, plus rudimentary printer calibration.

In fact, PhotoGenetics' real power for digicam owners lies in its batch processing capability. It's easy to develop a few standard "Genotypes" matched to various standard shooting conditions (outdoor sun, outdoor cloudy, indoor without flash, etc.) and then automatically apply them to all your shots. With just a few mouse clicks, you can auto-correct dozens of images at a time.

PhotoGenetics is so effective at correcting the minor (or even major) color and tonal problems we see in virtually all the digicams we test, that we've come to refer to it as "The $30 camera upgrade." If you use a digicam with any frequency, PhotoGenetics is likely to be the best $30 you could spend.

WHO IT'S FOR

PhotoGenetics was created for casual photographers who want to "fix" their images without having to learn a complicated imaging program. It's perfect for those users who don't know anything about graphic design or digital imaging and, frankly, don't want to know. Developed by QBeo Inc. (formerly Q-Research), PhotoGenetics is designed to help people "enjoy and share their memories through pictures."

Even experienced users will find PhotoGenetics useful though, given how quickly it can correct large numbers of images. Even if you're highly experienced in Photoshop or other high-end image editing programs, a quick pass through PhotoGenetics first could save you some time.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

To run PhotoGenetics on Windows 95/98/NT 4.0/2000, you'll need a 133-MHz or better Intel Pentium processor. To run it on Mac OS 7.1 or higher, you'll need a 133-MHz PowerPC. In addition, both require at least 16-MB of RAM and at least 16-bit (thousands of colors) video.

GETTING STARTED

We chose the "Easy Install," which loaded the standard application setup on our iMac with no trouble. Installation was just as smooth on a Windows 98 system we tested. We only had to supply the registration code to complete the setup.

Our evaluation copy didn't come with an instruction manual, but the QBeo Web site offers a full tutorial. The program is so straightforward, however, we doubt you'll even need a manual, once you know the basic layout of the program.

A built-in Image Browser displays a file directory tree on the left and an index view of images in the selected folder on the right. The browser can access any drive or disk, as well as TWAIN devices like digicams.

Across the bottom of the browser window are three layout options for the index thumbnail display with two, three or four images displayed in a row. You can choose which file types to show -- TIFF, JPEG, Photoshop, PICT or All Images -- and sort them by Date or Name and in Ascending or Descending order.

To view the file information for an image, click on the preview icon once to highlight the image and then click on the "Info" tab next to "Browse" at the top of the Browser window. This displays the file size, type and color information of the image, as well as the date and time it was last altered.

More advanced features of the browser window include the ability to rotate the preview 90 degrees left or right, delete images, select and process images, make multiple prints and assign Genotypes.

SOFTWARE FEATURES

When a selected image is opened, it's displayed in an adjustment window, with two separate tool windows nearby (Navigator and Genotypes).

The Navigator window allows you to zoom in and out of an image by clicking on plus or minus signs at the bottom of the window or by using a slider bar. A red frame indicates what part of the whole image is currently being displayed in the main window. You can navigate around the whole image just by moving the red frame with a "move" (hand) tool.

IMAGE EVOLUTION

To begin the Evolution process, simply click on the Start Evolution button at the bottom of the main image window. The screen displays the current, unedited version of the image on the left and a modified version on the right. The modified version reflects what PhotoGenetics 2.0 determines to be the best first adjustment of the image.

A clickable arrow bar, called an "evaluator," appears below the image, allowing you to control the degree of adjustment. As you slide the cursor over the arrow bar, a message at the bottom reads, "don't change," "change just a little bit," "change a little," "change a lot," and "change completely."

Simply click on the evaluator arrow to initiate the change. The right-hand image will merge into the original on the left, to reflect the adjustment. Immediately, a new adjustment image appears in the right screen. If you don't like Evolution's suggested adjustment, just click on the red "don't change" area of the arrow bar.

The Evolution process cycles through a series of adjustments, including color levels, lightness, darkness, saturation and contrast. True to its design, the software never tells you "what" it is doing, it just shows you another variation of the image.

So if you have enough image editing experience to know you want to increase the contrast, you're out of luck until the program randomly selects that stage of the Evolution. Even then, it may be difficult to recognize. It does, however, always give you the option of lightening or darkening the image when you apply any Evolution adjustment.

When you've finished making the adjustments, just click on the Stop Evolution button.

At the bottom of the "evolved" image you'll see two choices:

GENOTYPES

Genotypes, like filters in other applications, apply a specific effect to the entire image. For example, the X-Ray genotype applies a negative effect and the Pop Art Genotypes offer a variety of extreme or creative color adjustments. You can also save a particular set of your own image adjustments as a Genotype, so they can be applied to other images later on, either as a batch process or individually.

After you've Evolved an image, you can save the adjustments to apply to similar images by selecting "Save Genotype" under the File menu. It will automatically save the image to the "My Genotypes" folder in the Genotypes window.

Genotypes are the real magic of PhotoGenetics. They let you easily save even very complex image adjustments for later replay with just a mouse click or two.

In addition to its creative and color adjustments, PhotoGenetics provides a series of Dewarping Genotypes designed to correct lens distortions. Inside the Dewarp folder in the Genotypes Options preview is a list of digicams, each of which has specific distortion corrections. If your digicam isn't listed, check the QBeo Web site (http://www.qbeo.com) for a downloadable plug-in.

BASIC IMAGE EDITING FUNCTIONS

Several basic image editing tools are available apart from the Evolution or Genotype processes.

Adjustment shortcuts include a Dewarp adjustment, Crop tool, Adjust color temperature and Remove red eye.

The Set Image Size dialog box allows you to resample an image by typing the desired dimensions in the "New Size" fields.

A High Quality check box in the lower left corner of the box activates an extrapolation algorithm to improve the quality of printed images. QBeo claims enlarging an image may actually result in better prints, because of the "very refined extrapolation algorithms." We were wary of this claim, but found that with very small increases in image size, say 20 percent, there appeared to be some image sharpening and no noticeable degradation of the image. However, if we tried to make a very low-resolution file (640x480 pixels) large enough for a good size print (1600x1200 pixels), the resulting image was noticeably pixelated.

The Adjust Color Temperature includes a rainbow-color slider and a box that reads out the image temperature in degrees Kelvin (-3,000 to +5,000). Move the slider left for a warmer (red) tone in an image or right, for a cooler (blue) tone.

We also found a "Colorbar" check box under the Preferences setting of the File pull-down menu. Once enabled, the color bar (located in the top right corner of the toolbar display) reports the red, green and blue levels as the mouse slides over the image.

The Printer Calibration tool (under the Edit menu) isn't a true color management system, but does allow you to adjust print output to your liking. The process starts with a grayscale adjustment, as your printer will print a black-and-white copy of the image in the calibration setup. What you do is compare the printout to the image on the screen and select the option that most closely matches the print. The same process is used for the color calibration. With this type of color matching, you can establish a calibration setup for each printer you're using by saving the individual calibrations as "Printer Genotypes" (selectable in the Print dialog box).

BATCH CONVERSION & PRINTING

Among the most valuable features we found in PhotoGenetics are its batch conversion and batch printing features. (In our view, this is really the heart of the program's appeal for digicam owners.) While they're not clearly marked in the software interface, the online manual walks you through both processes and we found them very simple to figure out (once we knew where to look). Batch processing multiple images is done in the Image Browser window. It's a very simple procedure and fully automatic once you get it started.

PERFORMANCE

PhotoGenetics 2.0 has incorporated several improvements over the previous version. For example, the Evolutions interface no longer makes suggestions in "batches" of five. Suggested improvements are continuous as long as you cycle through them and are applied immediately rather than at the end of each batch.

We found that in most cases, the best Evolution adjustments were made in the first few selections offered by the program. (And QBeo claims it should only take a few minutes to make a perfect picture.) Just stick with your instincts and nail the image when you're happy with the results.

While the new version does not incorporate any major changes or additions to its feature set, the Evolution process appears to be faster and more responsive and the user interface is improved. It does what it does a little faster and better.

All that said, we feel the real value of the PhotoGenetics software is its ability to batch process. We've observed that almost all digicams have some characteristic color flaws that show up in all their pictures. Likewise, some cameras have a very hard time with incandescent or outdoor lighting, but at least do so consistently. If users spend the time to develop three or four Genotypes for their cameras, they'll be able to very quickly tweak all their photos and obtain dramatic improvements. (It really is a $30 camera upgrade.) About the only adjustment we found missing was one for noise, which can be a handy tool for cleaning up low light or digitally enlarged images. Still, the red-eye remover and color adjustments take care of some of the most common imaging problems.

CONCLUSION

PhotoGenetics' simple, straightforward approach to image editing and enhancement should win anyone who wants to clean up and print their digital images without any hassles or technicalities. The software is easy to use and you don't have to know anything about digital imaging to improve your images. PhotoGenetics 2.0 retails for $29.95 as a download and for $39.95 as a CD-ROM (but see their special offer for Imaging Resource subscribers in Dave's Deals below). The QBeo Web site offers a 30-day trial version, as well as an online demonstration and tutorial. Whether you're a beginner or advanced digicam user, you owe it to yourself to test drive this program!

Return to Topics.

Feature: The Kodak Suit

On Feb. 23, Kodak filed suit against Belgium's Agfa-Gevaert NV, Japan's Sanyo Electric Co. and Seiko Epson Corp. and their U.S. divisions for infringing on patents covering digicam buffers, image compression, removable storage and red-eye removal. The action, filed in U.S. District Court in Rochester, N.Y., seeks an injunction as well as compensatory damages.

The suit follows the Feb. 13 patent-swapping agreement with Olympus reported in our last newsletter. And Reuters reports indicate that Kodak had been in active licensing negotiations with at least one of the defendants prior to filing suit. "We are astounded," Agfa spokesperson Rene Willems told Reuters. "Throughout all of 2000 there have been talks between Kodak's lawyers and ours."

THE PATENTS

There are four patents at the heart of Kodak's suit. Their abstracts are followed by comments from publisher Dave Etchells and Web site visitor Gary Siftar:

Patent 5,016,107 (May 14, 1991) -- Electronic still camera utilizing image compression and digital storage

An electronic still camera employs digital processing of image signals corresponding to a still image and storage of the processed image signals in a removable static random access memory card. An image sensor is exposed to image light and the resultant analog image information is converted to digital image signals. A control processor controls the exposure section and the A/D converter, delivering digital signals to a multi-image buffer at a rate commensurate with normal operation of the camera. A digital processor operates on the stored digital signals, transforming blocks of the digital signals and encoding the signals into a compressed stream of processed image signals, which are downloaded to the memory card. The digital processor operates at a throughput rate different than the input rate for better image capture and optimum utilization of the camera.

Dave's Note: This is incredibly broad, as it covers just about any form of digital camera! There's literally no way to make a digital camera using current technology that wouldn't infringe on this patent. As Kodak's strongest card, it could be enough all by itself to force the other manufacturers into licensing agreements.

Gary's Note: People have been compressing digital data and storing it for years. Having a unique algorithm might be patentable, but this patent is way too broad.

Patent 5,164,831 (Nov. 17, 1992) -- Electronic still camera providing multi-format storage of full and reduced resolution images

An electronic still camera employs digital processing of image signals corresponding to a still image and storage of the processed image signals in a removable static random access memory card. An image sensor is exposed to image light and the resultant analog image information is converted to digital image signals. A control processor controls the exposure section and the A/D converter, delivering digital signals to a multi-image buffer at a rate commensurate with normal operation of the camera. A digital processor operates on the stored digital signals, transforming blocks of the digital signals and encoding the signals into a compressed stream of processed image signals, which are downloaded to the memory card. The digital processor operates at a throughput rate different than the input rate for better image capture and optimum utilization of the camera.

Dave's Note: Again, very broad, as almost all digicams use some form of buffer memory. Low end cameras may only have a single frame's worth of buffer (and hence no speed advantage from frame to frame), but it looks like this patent could be construed to cover any use of buffer memory, so it again could affect virtually every product in the digital camera space.

Gary's Note: People have been using buffered memory for over 25 years. The various camera makers need to figure out which of Kodak patents are enforceable and that they need [to challenge]. Perhaps as a group they can get at least these three thrown out or at the very least have the claims reduced to only unique ideas. Kodak has been a real innovator and next to IBM and the old Bell labs has been a leader in engineering and protecting intellectual ideas. They deserve to have protection for their innovation, but we need to reign in the patent office and this looks like a good place to start.

Patent 5,477,264 (Dec. 19, 1995) -- Electronic imaging system using a removable software-enhanced storage device

An electronic imaging system includes a digital electronic camera for capturing and storing images in a removable storage device, which is also preloaded with enhancement files for [a]ffecting the operation of the system. The camera includes an optical section for establishing the optical parameters of image capture, an image sensing section for electrically capturing the image and a signal processing section for operating upon the electrically captured image prior to storage. The several sections of the camera are coordinated and controlled by a programmable processor, which is capable of receiving the enhancement files preloaded into the storage device. These files may contain software for updating the operating code of the camera, for modifying the electrically captured image in selected ways, for modifying [the] camera in special situations or for communicating non-captured image-like data, such as text and image overlays, to the camera.

Dave's Note: Much more narrow, involving preloaded software/firmware on the memory card affecting operation of the camera. This directly impacts Olympus' SmartMedia cards with "panorama enabling" firmware preloaded on them, but wouldn't seem to have major impact on the general design of cameras.

Gary's Note: Various systems have had PCMCIA cards with microcode in them for years and before that floppies. Using them to enhance their device is old technology. It would be like someone patenting wheels for a car and me patenting a wheel for a bicycle and someone else patenting a wheel for a lawnmower.

Patent 5,493,335 (Feb. 20, 1996) -- Single sensor color camera with user selectable image record size

An electronic camera is adapted for processing images of different resolution to provide a user selectable image record size. A buffer memory is provided for storing color image pixels from a sensor as baseband signals corresponding to at least one image. A timing controller responsive to a resolution mode switch controls the order in which color image pixels are selected for storage in both vertical and horizontal directions. The order selected by the resolution switch includes a full resolution mode and at least one reduced resolution mode in which the color image pixels are subsampled such that each chrominance image pixel is selected to be spatially adjacent to a selected luminance image pixel. Additionally, the buffer memory can store a burst of low resolution images.

Dave's Note: This patent again mentions buffer memory, but the bulk of the claims in this patent have to do with specific subsampling techniques used to generate lower-resolution images from a higher resolution sensor. Still very significant though, since Claim 2 asserts: "A camera as claimed in claim 1 in which said storing means stores a plurality of different resolution images in said output memory, depending on the resolution mode selected by said resolution mode switch for each image." This would cover virtually every digicam currently on the market (most of which offer multiple resolution options), but the claim is weakened by the phrase, "A camera as claimed in claim 1," which restricts it to cameras using a specific method of subsampling the high resolution image.

ANALYSIS

Dave first:

"First, the claims are exceptionally broad and in combination cover virtually every digital camera manufactured today -- or conceivably manufactured in the future.

"Second, other companies have a lot of other patent claims that likewise tie up chunks of digital camera technology. Thus, it's likely that most first-line digital camera manufacturers are likely to have complementary suites of patents that they can use to horse-trade with Kodak for rights to some of Kodak's intellectual property. Even allowing for this though, it clearly appears that Kodak has the dominant position for intellectual property in the digital photography arena.

"How Kodak chooses to prosecute this advantage could determine a lot about the future of digital photography and Kodak's future profits. If they mount too heavy-handed an attack, they could literally stifle the entire digital camera marketplace: Nobody is really making significant money in the digicam market yet, so there aren't any large sums of money to be obtained by Kodak at this juncture. On the other hand, they need to put a stake in the ground and defend their IP to establish their right to future compensation. In the past, Kodak's proven to be anything but rash (its critics would claim the exact opposite), so we see hope in this both for the long-term health of the digicam business and for Kodak's profit potential.

"This will be an interesting drama for the digicam industry, stay tuned for further details as the story unfolds. Note though, that the full 'unfolding' of this one could easily take years, given the glacial pace of typical patent litigation."

Site visitor Martin Reynolds:

"A quick review of the patent indicates that Kodak acknowledges the pre-existence of the digital camera CCD-to-storage. Their patent appears to relate to the use of a storage buffer from which the compression is done, implicitly capable of storing multiple pictures.

"An electronic still camera employing nonvolatile storage of digital image signals is described in U.S. Pat. No. 4,489,351. Analog color information from three charge-coupled device [CCD] image sensors is converted into a digital bit stream and transmitted through a peripheral memory control unit to an integrated circuit memory."

Ron Tussy, principal analyst of Imerge Consulting Group:

"These patents and alleged infringements, some going back as far as 1981, will reverberate through this industry like nothing we have seen over the past five years. Billions of dollars are at stake.

"Sanyo, Seiko Epson and Agfa were singled out in the lawsuit most likely because they were holdouts and are not currently in negotiations with Kodak. Olympus had something to trade, their lens technology that Kodak needed. Kodak does not own patents on lens technology specifically related to digital cameras that require a unique construction. We believe Sony, Nikon, Canon and other top-tier vendors were not mentioned in the federal lawsuit because they are currently in negotiations with Kodak.

"We also believe this is a shot across the bow of Taiwanese digital camera manufacturers who were about to become price leaders in the low-end as two of the three vendors named in the suit utilize Taiwanese manufacturing and a U.S. chipset designer. Kodak now has leverage over every single digital camera vendor that it will try to turn into a revenue stream. We cannot overstate the broad impact this will have on the worldwide digital camera industry. These licensing fees may be high enough to push vendors with low margins out of business. We'll just have to see how it all shakes out."

Bret McKee (on a lighter note):

"I was reading your patent commentary and wanted to make sure you saw this one: http://www.delphion.com/details?pn=US05443036__

"What, the USPTO issuing frivolous patents? Nah.

"Not at all like these two, which are fine examples of U.S. innovation at work: http://www.delphion.com/details?pn=US06195650__ and http://www.delphion.com/details?pn=US05915114__."

Dave concludes:

"Worthwhile observations all, many thanks to all for taking the time to write. It does seem that the earlier patent 4,489,351 would significantly weaken some of the claims of the principle Kodak one. Likewise Gary raises good points about some of the other issues.

"As Gary noted, the USPTO has come under increasing fire in recent years, for granting patents that are either (a) absurdly broad or (b) involve 'common sense,' obvious or generally-understood prior technology, rather than unique innovations. Whether the Kodak patents at issue here fall into any of these categories isn't clear at this point. Kodak has clearly invested a tremendous amount in digital imaging R&D for a number of years, so it's likely they'll emerge from the fray with at least some valid, patentable issues. As we noted previously, the impact of this could be huge on the digicam business as a whole, not to mention Kodak's bottom line for years to come.

"All in all, this is a very interesting development in the digicam world and one that we'll continue to follow as the weeks/months (years?) go by."

Return to Topics.

New on the Site

There are lots of new links on the site after PMA (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM), including an expanded version (with images) of our converter story. Here are a few highlights:

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In the Forums

Can't wait for the next issue? Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to exchange notes with other digital imagers. Recent topics of interest include:

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Just for Fun: Missing Oscar Time Again

Longtime subscribers of this esteemed publication know their role is not all fun and games. For the last two centuries about this time of year, we call on them as members of the Ersatz Academy of Sliding Picture Arts and Sciences for nominations.

Not just any nominations. Oscar nominations. And not just any Oscar nominations, but Missing Oscar nominations, that is, Oscars missing (and not just stolen) from the Motion Picture Academy's extensive list.

It's that time again, folks.

Last year, you honored the Slide Show talent. This year we propose an equally inexpensive yet inexplicably elusive genre. The Photo Web Site. Here are the criteria:

A special category will be reserved for self nominations (so it would be wise to have a friend nominate your own site).

Nominations for any Imaging Resource site or subsidiary are, moreover, excluded from the competition. We're looking for fresh blood. In any form, frankly. Collections of photos, advice about particular cameras, editing tips, photo diaries, photo supplies, etc.

To submit your nomination, email the uniform resource locator (the dot-com part) and your testimonial (be as ridiculous as you like) to editor@imaging-resource.com before our next issue.

The winner will receive the Public Notoriety of the Ersatz Academy's Missing Oscar. And, unlike the regular Oscars, may dress any way they like (or not) before, during or after our virtual awards ceremony.

Now that that's out of the way, we feel a small elbowing in our side to explain where Ersatz came from. As you know, we don't like using big words (preferring initials to acronyms, for example) and this is nearly one. What or Who is or was Ersatz?

But perhaps we should leave you with that question as an excellent propellant to your quest for a suitable nomination.

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Dave's Deals

Looking for special prices on featured products? Because of their time-limited nature, we only publish them in the email version of this newsletter. The good news is that you can subscribe for free on our Subscriber Services page:

Subscribe for Great Deals!

We deliver -- just Subscribe!

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We Have Mail

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

RE: Bitmap Formats

My question concerns bitmaps. Just how many types are there?

-- Charlie Young

(There's a frighteningly comprehensive list of the formats at http://www.dcs.ed.ac.uk/home/mxr/gfx/2d-hi.html with a link to the File Formats FAQ for viewers at the bottom of the page. -- Editor)

RE: A Deal

You so kindly reminded your readers that Qimage has released a new version but you neglected to mention that they are one of the few, so very considerate, software developers who provide all upgrades to registered users at no cost. All you have to do is download their demo and activate it with your original password. What a class act and an easy-to-use piece of software.

-- Bill Hepp

(Good point, Bill! While that's a common practice among shareware authors, it isn't often found in image editors. -- Editor)

RE: A Searching Question

Mike, I'm new to your newsletter. I really appreciate the detail you go into on technical subjects. Rather than print out specifics for future reference, I would prefer to be able to search past newsletters for a particular topic. Do you currently have a way to do this and if so, how can I find out more? If not, do you expect to have something anytime soon?

-- Bob

(Well, Bob, we do offer the brute force method but we're still waiting for some magic on the server to implement full text searching <g>.... Brute force isn't too bad, though, because we've organized it into an Archive by issue (with the three main topics listed) and an Index of Articles at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/ (which is also the first link in every newsletter).... Just pull up either the Archive or the Index and use your browser's Find command to search for the subject you're interested in. The Index also has some links to quickly move to one or another kind or article (reviews, columns, etc.). -- Editor)

RE: Online Storage

The newsletter is terrific. Thank you so much for keeping us up on the world of digital photography! I have been struggling to find a satisfactory solution to the problem of storing photos for download by a publisher. I will keep an eye on the Kodak enterprise. Meanwhile, can you list some of the solutions for online storage that you would feel comfortable to name. Criteria certainly includes ease of upload; integrity of quality; security; and costs. Along with this is the issue of the growing problem of using the Internet highway to send a large file to a publisher and not have your browser or theirs deny the submission for any number of reasons they give.

-- Becky Knight

(Publishers, frankly, should provide anonymous FTP uploads to their servers. It takes about 15 minutes to implement. It's free, it's secure and it's easy enough to use any of the free FTP programs or your browser to move your files to their server.... But our concerns about online (and offsite) storage were really about protecting your data. Online photofinishers are currently only one-way streets, but other online companies specialize in providing megabytes of storage for backup at little or no cost (including your own ISP). Sounds like an article to us <g>. -- Editor)

RE: A Newbie Reflects

I just wanted to give you some feedback on the Imaging Resource newsletter.

My wife gave me a year subscription to PC Photo magazine for Christmas. And honestly, I've spent more time reading the last two Imaging Resource newsletters and visiting the Web site than I have spent with the PC Photo magazine.

As a newbie (8 months) addicted to my Mavica, I appreciate a publication like Imaging Resource that doesn't talk above my head on photo concepts or over explain specs in product reviews.

Thanks and keep up the good work!

-- Shaun Nelson

(Very much appreciated! Dave works very hard on the site and we goof around a lot with the newsletter -- but the thing we keep hearing from people is what fun digital photography is. We try not to spoil that! -- Editor)

RE: Good Work Habits

Thanks, as usual, for a great issue chock full of useful and interesting info. In your article on prepress (specifically how to avoid JPEG artifact problems), you make this statement: "Secondly, during image editing it's important to avoid referencing compressed data repeatedly."

True, certainly, but shouldn't that be a non-problem if you follow good work habits?

After downloading my images from camera to Mac, I open them (the more promising ones, that is) in Photoshop and save them in Photoshop format. I never put them back into JPEG except as a final step when using them for Web-viewing-only. I retain that original downloaded image until I judge that my editing is finished and/or that I'll have no future need for it.

Have I missed something?

-- Capt. Rob

(We were thinking of making more than one edit that involved interpolating pixels. An example came up in our LensDoc review a while ago (Oct. 20). There the problem was removing lens distortion and rotating the image, both of which involve putting pixels where they ain't. LensDoc makes both edits from the original data rather than one on the interpolated data, making the second edit a little more faithful to the original.... A small point, but one to keep in mind if you have to do lots of these.... Good idea, BTW, to save in the native format for multiple editing sessions. -- Editor)

RE: But What About Metamerism?!

Your newsletter is excellent. Persuaded me to buy the Nikon 990 and I'm really happy with it. You have given the Epson 5500 a rave review. But you don't mention whether they have cured the problem of metamerism as evident on their Epson 2000P, which I have. This means that there is a noticeably bad color shift when viewing b&w prints (printed using color inks) between natural ambient light (too green) and tungsten light (too magenta). There are workarounds -- print using black ink only, print only for one lighting condition, adjust green curve, use matte paper -- but the results are mediocre. Any ideas and comments would, as always, be welcome. Thanks for the hard work you guys put in!

-- Olaf

(You're welcome, Olaf! Thanks for the kind words.... We've heard that the smaller drop size reduces the metamerism problem. "Reduces" leaves a lot to the imagination, though.... -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

Iomega (http://www.iomega.com) has announced the PocketZip 100-MB drive for handheld consumer electronics devices with the new 100-MB disks retailing for as little as $10 each. PocketZip 40-MB disks are also readable in the new drives. Iomega said the new PocketZip drive and disks will be available internationally in the third quarter of 2001.

Iomega also announced its acquisition of the software product line of Asimware Innovations Inc., a Canadian developer of CD-RW software. Under the agreement, the Asimware software engineering team will immediately join Iomega. In the fourth quarter of 2001, Iomega expects to introduce full-featured optical drive software which includes a unique "skins" technology to let users customize the look and feel of their software.


PicSmart (http://www.picsmart.com) recently launched a new Web site to facilitate the licensing of digital images. After registering, photographers can upload images for sale. PicSmart charges a 30 percent commission for each sale executed on the site.


Olympus (http://www.olympusamerica.com) has introduced the $299 Camedia Brio D-100 with a 5.5mm f2.8-f11 Auto Focus Olympus lens, digital 2x telephoto, 1280x960 image size, a shutter release of 0.3 seconds and a USB connection. The compact Brio D-100's was developed by the same team that created the Olympus Stylus and Epic film cameras. Weighing just six ounces, the camera is about the size of a cellular phone and starts up in less than one second. The Brio D-100's Burst Mode shoots two frames per second.


NBC Internet Inc. has chosen Ofoto, Inc. (http://www.ofoto.com) to provide online photography services for NBCi's Photo Center. Visitors to the co-branded NBCi Photo Center (http://nbci.ofoto.com) can upload and store their digital images to private online albums at Ofoto, use custom editing and enhancing tools, share their pictures with family and friends and order prints, enlargements, photo cards and other merchandise.


FlashPoint (http://www.flashpoint.com) has licensed Turbo Treck TCP/IP from Elmic Systems (http://www.elmic.com). FlashPoint's Digita Photivity is a wireless imaging platform that enables connectivity between a Digita-enabled digital camera and the Internet. FlashPoint used Elmic's Turbo Treck TCP/IP as a component technology of the Photivity in-camera software that integrates an imaging device wirelessly with a gateway infrastructure and a Web-based photo collaboration system.


Cabela's and DuPont Thermolite Insulation have partnered again to support a Web site (http://www.cabelasiditarod.com) devoted to the Iditarod 2001 International Sled Dog Race. The site features race updates three times daily via satellite phone, laptop computer and digital camera, from former 1989 Iditarod champion Joe Runyan. In addition, visitors will be able to download a wealth of information including biographies of the mushers, race history, trail maps, sled dog details and weather updates on the site. Last year the site received more than 20 million hits and this year the site is expected to receive twice as many.


Be Here (http://www.behere.com) has announced the availability of its latest version of the 360-degree Photo System. The system allows users to capture a seamless, 360-degree image with just one-click of a camera without stitching the images together. The 360-degree Photo System consists of Be Here's software and 360Lens for the Nikon Coolpix 880 digital camera, which enables the user to capture the full 360-degree environment in a single image. In addition to the new one-click feature, Be Here's 360-degree Photo System now includes increased portability, improved light sensitivity and time-saving digital image processing.


The recently released GraphicConverter 4.04 (http://www.lemkesoft.com) for Mac OS now supports Auto Levels in AppleScript, among its many enhancements.


KeeBoo (http://www.keeboo.com) has added enhanced photo album tools to KeeBook Creator 2.3. Available in five languages, KeeBook Creator builds virtual books with content from both the Web and the desktops. The software, available for free download at the site, has a new skin designed to showcase digital pictures and automatically optimizes image display. Minimum requirements are AOL 5 to 6, MSN Explorer 4.01 or Netscape 6; PC with PII 350, Windows 95/98/NT 4.0/2000/ME, 64-MB RAM and 30-MB of hard disk space.


Andromeda (http://www.andromeda.com) is running a Spring Fever deal, offering Shadow for $79 ($20 off), LensDoc for $69 ($20 off) and Cutline Filters for $54 ($15 off). Visit http://www.andromeda.com/info/spring_fever.html to get the discounts.

Return to Topics.

Signoff

That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

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Happy snapping!

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

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