The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 3, Number 6 23 March 2001

Copyright 2001, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 42nd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Has Sony developed the ultimate vacation digicam? Why doesn't your camera know how many shots are left? Can you calibrate an LCD monitor? And who won the Oscar? It's all right here, folks!


TOPICS

SPONSORS
This issue of The Imaging Resource News is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ad here. And now a word from our sponsors:
Nikon
http://www.nikonusa.com/
Nikon's new Coolscan Film Scanners are the best way to digitize your photographs, with the power to restore the past!

There's a Nikon Coolscan Film Scanner to meet the needs of every photographer:

  • The Coolscan IV ED for the photographic hobbyist,
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  • The Super Coolscan 8000 ED for those who need to scan medium format film.

All Coolscan Film Scanners use an LED light source for consistent color, have a Scanner Nikkor ED Lens to ensure crisp and clear images, and incorporate Applied Science Fiction's Digital ICE3 technology to eliminate surface defects, restore color to faded or improperly exposed film and reduce the look of grain.

For more information, visit the Nikon Web site!

QBeo
http://qbeo.com/
Powered by ImageOp(tm) technology, QBeo's PhotoGenetics 2.0 instantly allows the casual photographer to dramatically improve digital photos. Complex adjustments to hue, gradient, color balance, saturation and contrast are simple even without any previous imaging knowledge. PhotoGenetics 2.0 also includes powerful digital photo editing tools like red eye removal, cropping, rotating, resizing and printer calibration. And batch processing!

QBeo is offering a special Subscriber Only discount on what Dave calls "a very inexpensive 'upgrade' to your digicam." See Dave's Deals below to qualify!

Amazon.com
http://www.amazon.com
Amazon.com is your Camera and Photo Store!

Think of us when you're in the market for digital cameras (or any other consumer electronics.) We've applied the same expertise we developed to bring you every book in print to electronics. And you can expect the same legendary customer service, backed by our "safe shopping guarantee."

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Shutterfly.com
http://www.shutterfly.com/
Register with our new sponsor Shutterfly to get 25 free prints (and help support this newsletter)!

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You get a credit for 25 free prints plus Shutterfly pays us a "finders fee" the first time you actually order anything from them. So you win twice: free prints and the pleasure of doing an old friend a favor!

To make it simple to register, just click on the Imaging Resource Boomerang Page.


Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by over 41,000 readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

Feature: Sony MVC-CD300 -- The Ideal Vacation Camera

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CD300/CD3A.HTM on the Web site.)

MANUFACTURER OVERVIEW

A little less than a year ago, Sony rocked the digital camera world with the introduction of the first CD-R-based digicam technology. This year, after Sony announced six new digicams at the PMA show in Orlando, we expected a single new CD model might be announced in the spring. But just barely a week after PMA, we were surprised to receive a call with news that Sony would be announcing not one, but two new CD Mavica models in another week!

The new CD Mavicas address two of the primary objections to the CD1000: erasability and image capture cycle times. The 3-megapixel CD300 (reviewed here) and the 2-megapixel CD200 introduced Sony's new rewriteable CD technology to its Mavica line. The net impact is the elimination of most of the objections to the original CD1000's non-eraseable media. On another front, the addition of a hefty buffer memory means you no longer have to wait for the camera to finish writing one image to the disc before you can capture the next. Capping it all off is a much more compact case design (thanks in part to a 3x zoom lens, rather than the 10x zoom of the CD1000) and the much-improved user interface design we saw on the DSC-S75 introduced last month.

With introductory list prices of $699 and $999 for the MVC-CD200 and CD300 respectively, the new models also bring CD-R(W) technology downmarket, competing with conventional digicams at fairly modest price premiums. Given the low cost of the (very high capacity) media and their relatively compact sizes, these new cameras could be the ideal "vacation cameras," perfectly suited for extended trips without a computer to offload images.

EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW

The MVC-CD300 offers many of the same user interface designs we enjoyed on the DSC-S75, with the added convenience and capacity of the CD-R recording media. Much smaller than the floppy-based Mavica digicams, the CD300 is easy to tote in a small camera bag. An accompanying neck strap gives you the option of carrying the CD300 ready to shoot.

The CD300 doesn't have an optical viewfinder, only a large color LCD monitor for image composition. When the LCD monitor is active, the display reports the remaining battery power, CD-R capacity, flash status and the number of available images, plus various exposure settings like aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, image size and quality.

New on the CD300's LCD is a "sunlight assist" feature, which uses a small translucent window above the LCD to direct additional light behind the panel in bright conditions. This boosts the effective brightness of the LCD's backlight, making it much more usable in bright shooting conditions.

The CD300 is equipped with a 3x, 7-21mm Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar lens (equivalent to a 34-102mm lens on a 35mm camera). Our assessment is that it performs better than the lenses on most digicams we've tested. The aperture can be manually or automatically adjusted from f2.1 to f8.0 and focus is automatically or manually controlled, with a distance readout display on the LCD monitor. A 2x digital telephoto function is available through the Setup menu, increasing the CD300's zoom capabilities to 6x (but digital magnification always means decreased image resolution and quality). Macro performance is good, with macro focusing distances ranging from 1.62 inches to 8.0 inches.

A significant feature of the CD300 is its user interface, an implementation of the greatly improved "Year 2001" interface design we first saw in the DSC-S75. With a mode dial and expanded horizontal menu system on the LCD it greatly simplifies the process of setting options. There's also a small thumb-actuated command wheel for setting aperture and shutter speed without entering the main menu system.

In addition to its fully Manual exposure mode, the CD300 provides Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Program AE and Scene exposure modes. The Scene exposure mode provides three preset shooting modes: Twilight, Landscape and Portrait, which optimize exposure settings for those specific situations.

A Spot Metering option switches the exposure metering system to take readings from the very center of the image (a crosshair target appears in the center of the LCD monitor). White Balance options include Auto, Indoor, Outdoor or One Push (the manual setting). Exposure Compensation is adjustable from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents in one-third-step increments. The camera's ISO setting offers Auto, 100, 200 or 400 equivalents. The built-in, pop-up flash features Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced and Suppressed operating modes, with a variable flash intensity setting. As an added bonus, the CD300 offers an external flash socket and mounting shoe, which allow you to connect a more powerful flash to the camera. (Although the flash connector is a proprietary Sony design, restricting you to using only the Sony HVL-F1000 flash unit.) A Picture Effects menu captures images in Solarized, Sepia, Black & White and Negative Art tones and a sharpness setting allows you to control the sharpness and softness of the image.

The MPEG EX option provides extended MPEG movie recording directly to the CD-R. The slower writing speed of the CD-RW drive (as compared to Memory Stick cards) restricts the CD300's movie durations to the size of its buffer memory, but recording times are reasonably long. Maximum recording time at 320x240-pixel resolution is 60 seconds or 360 seconds at 160x112 pixels. A Clip Motion option captures a series of up to 10 still images to be played back sequentially, like an animated GIF. Menu options for the Clip Menu mode include White Balance, Image Size, Flash Level, Picture Effects and Sharpness adjustment.

The Record menu includes a TIFF mode to save uncompressed images; a Text mode to capture black-and-white GIFs (perfect for snapping pictures of white boards and meeting notes); and a Voice recording mode to record sound clips up to 40-seconds long to accompany captured images (great for "labeling" or annotating your shots). There's also an Email record mode to capture a smaller, 320x240-pixel image. (This mode actually records two images: one in the 320x240-pixel format and another at whatever image size is selected through the Record menu.) An Exposure Bracketing mode captures three images at different EV levels. A Burst 3 mode captures three images in rapid succession (0.5-second intervals) with one press of the shutter button, plus a Normal setting.

Images can be saved as uncompressed TIFF, JPEGs, MPEGs or GIFs depending on the Record mode and are stored on the three-inch CD-R included with the camera. An NTSC video cable is also provided for connecting to a television set. (European models come equipped for PAL, but the camera itself can switch between the two standards via a Setup menu option.) A USB cable provides a connection to PC or Macintosh computers. Software supplied with the CD300 includes MGI's PhotoSuite SE [MW] and VideoWave SE [W] for image downloading, image-correction capabilities and a variety of creative templates for making greeting cards and calendars, as well as basic video editing utilities.

The CD300 uses an NP-FM50 InfoLITHIUM battery pack (M series) and comes with an AC adapter that doubles as a battery charger. We really like the InfoLITHIUM batteries because they communicate with the camera, showing exactly how much battery power has been consumed and reporting remaining battery capacity on the LCD. Battery life is also excellent, among the best we've found.

Like Sony's other Mavicas, the CD300 is enjoyable to use and its user interface and function set have something for everyone. The full-featured exposure control options will satisfy the most advanced user, while its auto-everything "Program" exposure mode will meet the needs of the least-experienced novice. Best of all, you get increased image capacity with the CD-RW recording media. Great optics, a 3.3-megapixel CCD and CD-RW image storage give the CD300 a strong edge in the digicam marketplace.

SHUTTER LAG/CYCLE TIMES

Shutter lag on the MVC-CD300 is about average among cameras we've tested, at 0.83 seconds for full autofocus or 0.20 seconds when the camera is prefocused. Manual focus is a bit slower than average, at 0.68 seconds.

One change in the CD300 vs. the earlier CD1000 is its buffer memory, reducing the wait time between shots while the camera writes to the disc. After the first shot, you can snap another in as little as three seconds. There's only one frame's worth of buffer memory though. After the first two shots, you'll find yourself waiting about 7.1 seconds to snap the next one. Cycle time when shooting low-resolution files is much faster on average, but shows an odd variability, with cycle times ranging from 2.7 to 4.9 seconds. We think this could be caused by the buffer filling and emptying as you continue shooting: Only occasionally does it fill nearly all the way, resulting in the 4.9 second figure, while most of the time it's ready for the next shot in only 2.7 seconds.

Like other models in the Mavica series, the CD300 starts up from power-off fairly slowly, as it checks the disc to see how much space is left and where the next image should be stored. The camera obviously has a trick or two up its sleeve in this area though. If you load a new disc (or just open and shut the back door with the power off), the camera somehow knows it has to scan the entire disc to determine space and where the next picture will go. This takes 18.2 seconds. If you just shut the CD300 down without removing the disc though, the next time it starts up, it seems to recognized the disc and startup time is reduced to only 6.5 seconds. Shutdown time is about average for a camera with a telescoping lens.

Other than the long startup and record-to-playback times, we found the CD300 to be a pretty responsive camera: We actually were very surprised to find that it only had a one-image buffer memory, since we almost never ran up against buffer memory limitations in our (admittedly leisurely) shooting with it.

IMAGE STORAGE AND INTERFACE

Sony's CD-RW is a sequential rewritable device, not a random access one. The reason for this is that the head movement and data clock synchronization requirements, which are dictated by true random access operation, would result in performance (write-time) tradeoffs unacceptable for digicam applications. Thus, the "RW" aspect of the CD300's discs has some constraints. Foremost is sequential operation, which means you can only delete the last image recorded. So you can't free up space on a disc by deleting images you shot earlier. You can delete multiple images, but only one at a time, starting with the most recent and working backward. The huge benefit of CD-RW though, is you can "unfinalize" and "format" discs, which (respectively) helps you save disk space when moving back and forth between camera and computer and lets you reuse discs by erasing them.

There's another generic limitation of CD-RW technology to keep in mind. The signal level delivered to the CD-ROM drive by CD-RW discs is quite a bit lower than that from normal CD-ROMs or CD-R write-once discs. Some older CD-ROM drives may have trouble reading the CD-RW discs. As far as we know, drives manufactured in the last two to three years should be able to read a CD-RW disc but if you have problems, try a different CD-ROM drive before assuming it's a problem with the disc or the camera.

When a new disc is inserted, the camera will tell you it needs to be initialized. Not being CD mavens, we suspect (but aren't sure) that this involves writing the "lead in" area for the next session, a roughly 9-MB area reserved for the table of contents information for the upcoming session. Initializing the disc appears to be a more critical operation than normal CD-R recording, as the camera asks you to place it on a level surface and avoid vibration during the process. Once a disc has been initialized, operation of the CD300 is the same as for any other Sony camera, regardless of media.

When you want to read the CD-R in a conventional CD-ROM drive, you must "Finalize" the session. The camera leads you through this process using menu screens similar to the initialization process. Finalizing also appears to be a more critical procedure than normal image writing, since the camera again asks you to rest it on a flat surface. Our guess is that this process writes the lead out for that session and goes back to fill-in the session's Table of Contents in the lead-in area. The first lead-out on a disc occupies about 13-MB of space, subsequent ones require about 4-MB. The space taken by finalizing and re-initializing a disc is one of the major benefits of CD-RW technology over CD-R. With CD-R, every time you finalize and re-initialize a disc, you lose about 13-MB of storage space. With CD-RW discs, you can "unfinalize" a disc, recover that space and allow the camera to write new images to it -- and unfinalizing a CD-RW doesn't erase any files.

To completely erase all images on a CD-RW, the CD300 offers a Format option through the Setup menu, which also requires the camera to rest on a level surface with no vibrations. The Format function takes several minutes to complete. It's our guess that the camera is actually rewriting the entire disc, restoring it to a completely blank, initialized state. Unfinalizing and formatting are only possible with CD-RW discs, not ordinary CD-Rs.

CONCLUSION

Last year the Mavica MVC-CD1000 made waves as the first CD-based digicam on the market. The large amount of inexpensive storage provided by its CD-R drive made it ideal for extended photo excursions, while preserving the trademark "universal media" appeal of the Mavica line. With the addition of CD-RW capability, this year's CD300 (and its little brother, the CD200) eliminates some of the digicam community's perceived limitations to the CD Recordable technology. Other improvements include higher resolution (in the CD300 model), a greatly improved user interface and buffer memory to greatly reduce the shot-to-shot cycle time. In the process, Sony has also significantly reduced the cost of entry into CD-based digital photography. With the CD300's increased capabilities and decreased cost and size, we predict it will be a popular model for the 2001 summer vacation season. Highly recommended!

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New on the Site

At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:

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Beginners Flash: Time Remaining

Must be March Madness. Whatever errand we're on, we're constantly asking ourselves how much time is remaining? Do we have any time outs left? How long before the marque game in that other region begins?

You, too, we suspect, suffer something similar (if only to a slighter lesser degree) when you look down at your digicam hoping to find out how many pictures you have left. It says nine, you take one, it says, hmmm, nine.

Can't this modern marvel of engineering count?

There is a simple explanation, of course (but, like Victor Hugo, we're paid by the word -- which explains why Les Miserables is so long). Let's start by saying your camera can't predict the future.

Sure, your digicam is fully aware of the size of the memory device you stuck into it. Whether it's a CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, floppy or CD (did I leave anything out?), it reads the capacity and proudly tells you how many more pictures it can hold. Incorrectly.

Find comfort in the fact that it generally underestimates the available space. If it says 20, you can probably get 28. If it says 2 more, you may get 3.

The problem is that before you decide what to shoot and the camera gets a look at how to compress it, it can't reasonably tell how much space any image is going to actually use. You can prove this by simply looking at the file sizes of images you've stored on your hard drive. They aren't the same size. At all.

We did a little archeology on our own drive to find the size range of JPEG images made by half a dozen recent digicams. Olympus, Kodak, Nikon, Canon were among the culprits. We found the difference in image sizes ranged from 12.5 percent on the smaller CCDs (where image size was typically under 100K) to as much as (are you sitting down?) 86 percent on the 3.34-megapixel digicams.

Put a simpler way, if your 16-MB card has 1-MB left, that 3.35-megapixel camera might store as many as nine more images or as little as just one (and probably two, easy). Because the JPEG image can end up anywhere from 102K to 450K to 728K.

What determines that?

There are several factors, but assuming you haven't changed the "quality" setting on the camera, the big factor is what's in your picture. A lot of blue sky? A completely black night scene (except for the subject leaning against a wall)? A complex bed of flowers? The more area covered by one color (like the sky) the higher the compression can be.

The other large factor is just how much compression you tell your camera to apply to each image. Right, the "quality" setting. No doubt you have several choices. And you may be surprised to find that using the most compression (a lower quality setting) works very well for birthday parties, say, when you are running out of space. Increase the compression to get a few more shots you otherwise wouldn't. No one will notice.

A roll of film is only so long. If you're careful, you can get a couple more images than the rated number (26 for 24-shot cartridges, say), but there's no fudge factor after you load the film.

Your digicam is different. It can't know your subject ahead of time, so it estimates the number of images it can still fit on your storage medium. And even then you can squeeze a few more in, if you want.

Which we think is so accommodating, it should be applied to college basketball tournaments. You know, you call a time out but only use a few seconds to get back on the floor, so you have only used up part of one. Do that a couple of times and instead of running out of time outs, you still have one left. Sponsors would love it, too. Ah, well, back to the madness (if we ever really left).

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Advanced Mode: Monitor, Monitor, on the Wall ...

Whenever we're marooned at the mall, we amuse ourselves by stepping into the television section of any consumer electronics store and gazing up (with the salespeople) at the banks of screens. We try to find one whose color balance seems neutral. It's always harder than it looks. So we're usually a little late for our rendezvous.

Looking at only one monitor (a favorite pastime when we're marooned in the, uh, den), it can be hard to appreciate the color shift that screams at you from a wall of monitors. We adjust. It's our nature. But a little calibration goes a long way toward making your screen the fairest of them all.

Calibrating a monitor is something you can do for free -- or something you can spend $1,000 to do -- but as we were researching the subject for our upcoming tutorial (or confession) on color calibration, we ran into an interesting issue.

The cathode ray tube with its phosphorescent screen (on which we have depended for ages) is being challenged by the liquid crystal display screens that used to confine themselves to laptops. The LCDs cost a little more than the old CRTs, but they're less bulky and sharper. They may even sport a greater dynamic range and, well, look more like a page than a beheaded alien (at least from the side). Which is so cool it gives us goose bumps.

The problem is that this development seems to have caught the calibration industry off guard. CRTs and LCDs do not behave the same.

We recently enjoyed trampling through the first edition of the CHROMiX ColorNews, published by Steve Upton, the guy behind ColorThink (http://www.chromix.com/colorthink), and edited by Carolyn Hobart. It included a wonderfully clear explication of calibrating monitors in a nice question-and-answer format. Highly recommended, as Dave likes to say. But nowhere did it mention how to work with an LCD monitor.

How come is that, Steve? we asked.

"Most of the advice does apply to LCD displays but there are caveats," he replied.

The three main issues, he pointed out, are:

  1. Only the GretagMacbeth Spectrolino can accurately calibrate and profile an LCD -- at the moment. The problem is that both the calibration measurement and math is different for LCDs. Upton predicted there would be new products fairly soon to address this void.

  2. While a CRT has a choice of white points (5000, 6500 and 9300 degrees Kelvin) an LCD's white point is determined by its fluorescent backlight. You should live with the native temperature of an LCD, he recommended.

  3. And finally, the big one: viewing angle can cause color shifts. Significant ones. Maybe that's why we never see an LCD in the television section of those electronic stores. All of us slackers would have to line up behind each other to see it.

We confess to an infatuation with LCDs. We're a sucker for sharpness. And we have thrilled to see them stand side-by-side with their CRT competitors at computer stores or trade shows or product launches (uh, free seminars). They can hold their own.

Upton's caveats are worth noting, however, if you plan to rely on one for color work. Apple has been good about releasing ColorSync profiles for their LCDs, but it's worth finding out before you buy if an ICC profile is available. Something (from the factory) is better than nothing (being able to build your own).

So while we wouldn't rule LCDs out (the future tends to arrive faster than the past recedes), we have to admit that for the moment the answer remains CRTs. Oh, yes, the question: Monitor, monitor, on the wall, whose the most calibrated of them all?

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In the Forums

Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:

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Just for Fun: Presenting the Missing Oscar (Again)

Members of the Ersatz Academy of Sliding Picture Arts and Sciences (namely, you) have made your nominations for this year's award of the Missing Oscar. That's the one never returned to that other Academy and which we have appropriated for our own amusement.

This year it honors the Photo Web Site most admired by our members. Those of you, anyway, who emailed your nominations to us.

Anyway, without further ado, the photogenic nominees were:

OK, unlike that other Academy, we do not have the luxury of using PricewaterhouseCoopers but we do use the same technology: a hand count. So a show of hands, please, for the nominees. Thank you.

Give me a moment to slip into something more comfortable and I'll announce the winner ... ah, The Masters of Photography! Congratulations!

[tears, applause]

Now where is that Oscar?

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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: The Kodak Suits

In the latest newsletter, I read Dave's and Gary's analyses of the Kodak patents mentioned in their suits. As a patent attorney, I have the following comments.

The scope of a patent is determined by its claims and not by other portions of the patent specification, the drawings or the abstract. To be sure, these areas are used to help explain what the heck the claims mean, but it is the claims that provide the legal breadth of an issued patent.

Dave and Gary noted that the abstracts seemed to be very broad. That is because they are supposed to be an abstract of the patent disclosure and not an abstract of the scope of the claims of the patent. Although the Patent and Trademark office is prohibited from using words in the abstract to limit claims, the courts are not. Therefore, patent attorneys generally always have the scope of the abstract broader (and in some cases much broader) than the claims themselves. This ensures that the claim scope cannot be narrowed by the abstract scope in a later litigation, for example.

Unfortunately, this makes the abstracts almost useless to determine what the patent covers and instead they only provide a guide to the general area of the patent.

Dave noted in one of the patents that claim 2 was incredibly broad. As he correctly surmised, because claim 2 was "dependent" on claim 1, all of the limitations of both claims 1 and 2 are used to determine the actual scope of claim 2. Therefore, claim 2 is even more narrow than claim 1.

The proper way to determine the scope of a patent is to look at all of the limitations in each of the independent claims (those that do not depend from another claim). If a competitor's device does not include all of the elements of the independent claims or does not perform all of the required steps in a method claim, the device will not infringe the patent.

Also as mentioned, generally, camera companies may have dozens or hundreds of patents that are routinely infringed by other companies and vice-versa. Usually, the breadth of infringements of each company are compared, a valuation of the difference in infringement amount is made and a payment is made in a license agreement.

Thanks for your great newsletter. I just wanted to bring you up to speed in this area.

-- Kevin Ross

(Much appreciated, Kevin! But we should point out that our newsletter story was a distillation of fuller coverage from our news page. We included only the abstracts as the smallest comprehensive explanation of what each patent addressed. In fact, the news coverage gave links to the full text of each patent (which we should have pointed out). -- Editor)

When I first heard about the Kodak lawsuits it reminded me of the old Fuji Film dumping suits in the early '90s. I am disappointed that a company as big as Kodak seeks to bolster its market position by threat of lawsuits to its competitors instead of making necessary changes to go with the market changes. As a consumer it re-enforces my decision not to buy Kodak products whenever possible.

-- Butch Black

(I appreciate your comments, Butch. It's hard to see what good this does consumers. But it isn't something that only Kodak does. Companies that invest heavily in research and development protect that investment by filing patent after patent. The inventors may get a buck for the rights (by the terms of their employment) while the company files the patent. Other companies who find the technology useful usually prefer to license it rather than expose themselves to a lawsuit. Generally that does help consumers by providing some sanctuary for the investment in research and development.... And, if it's any comfort, it happened to Kodak itself in the 1980s when Polaroid sued for patent infringement over Kodak's Instant Film. That case didn't do consumers any good. An innovative (and to some minds superior) instant film was removed from the market solely because the transport mechanism in the accompanying camera resembled the one Polariod had patented. -- Editor)

RE: The Show Must Go On (a CD)

I need software that I can use on my Mac that will let me take old family pictures and put them on a CD. The thing is I need for anyone with any computer to be able to open these and to view them. Yes, it would be nice to have titles and special effects, but I just need a simple easy-to-use product that will let me do this. Do you know any solutions??? I sincerely love your e-newsletter and I appreciate getting it!! Thanks for any suggestions you may give me!

-- Lisa Green

(The trick is to write JPEG images to the CD and to format the CD as a hybrid CD so both Macs and PCs can see both the disc and the files on it. This is a little tricky, but if you follow the instructions in the manual and test before you burn, it's a cinch.... On the Mac side of the disk we include Big Picture (so people can easily view the images) and on the PC side we add Irfanview. That's all there is to it, really. JPEG images, a viewer for each platform and a hybrid format.... When we want to caption things, we resort to platform-independent HTML pages. There are free Web page and thumbnail builders for both platforms. Mac users can grab a copy of John A. Vink's PhotoPage at http://www.javworld.com/PhotoPage.html and go nuts! Windows users can download Albumatic at http://www.basepath.com/Albumatic for a similar thrill. -- Editor)

RE: Foto(No)Show?

With great expectation I received my FotoShow and have discovered that it only serves as an external Zip drive when used in tandem with a computer (it appears that all its image software was meant to be used primarily with a television -- could this be?). If this is the case, then the benefits for its use with a computer are extremely limited. Am I missing something or Have I REALLY MISSED something in making my decision to purchase this product?

-- Nicholas Zavolas

(You're partly right.... The FotoShow (http://www.iomega.com/fotoshow) functions soley as a an external drive when connected to a computer. Untethered (with a PC-formatted disk) it can be used to both 1) copy images from digicam media and 2) display and edit the images via any TV plugged into the back of the unit.... It's intended primarily to free you from the need for a computer (but we found it a little bulky, as we wrote in our Macworld report on it). -- Editor)

RE: We Had to Ask (What 'Ersatz' Means)

The word "Ersatz" is German for "substitute" or "something like" as in burnt oak acorns instead of coffee beans. It got wide usage 50-60 years ago during THE other war. In today's language, "spin doctor" vs. truth.

-- Allus Otis

(Oh boy, now we'll forever associate spin doctors with burnt acorns <g>. We hate to ask but we have to wonder, Allus, if you happen to know where the Missing Oscar is, too? -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

William J. Duiker's recent biography of Ho Chi Minh reveals that the former president of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam was employed as a photo retoucher in Paris at the end of World War I. He'd previously worked as a pastry chef under August Escoffier at London's Carlton Hotel. You just never know.


Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) continues to improve VueScan (now at version 7.0). This update supports the Nikon LS-40, reorganizes the interface, adds zoom to the Preview and Scan images and fixes some bugs.


Kodak (http://www.kodak.com) has introduced the Kodak Professional DCS 760 digicam combining 6-megapixel ITO CCD image quality with Nikon's F5 pro SLR camera body. The digicam sports an ISO range of 80-400 (pushable 2 stops), burst rate (1.5 frames/sec.) and burst depth (24 frames). Available in May, pricing has not yet been announced.


Microtek will include a limited version of Ulead's Photo Explorer (http://www.ulead.com) with every ScanMaker scanner and Microtek digital camera shipped after March, the companies said. Photo Explorer integrates tightly with the Ulead iMira photo sharing site, offering Microtek scanner and digital camera users a quick and easy way to organize images and post them to the Web, Ulead added.


Olympus (http://www.olympus.com) has introduced the $799 Camedia C-700 UltraZoom, featuring a 10x optical zoom lens equivalent to a 38-380mm lens on a 35mm camera with 27x seamless digital zoom that extends the camera's maximum zoom range to 1,026mm. The 2.11-megapixel digicam also includes Quick Time mode with sound; Sepia, Black and White, Black Board, White Board modes; and rotated image video out.


BigNose.com announced custom photo posters and canvas prints are now available to users of the Picture It! on MSN (http://www.pictureit.msn.com) online photo service. Sizes range from 11x14 inches to a 24x36-inch poster on a variety of papers including photo gloss, satin, watercolor paper and stretched canvas.


Sapphire (http://www.sapphire-innovations.com) has released Sapphire Filters Vol. 1, 70 Photoshop filters ranging from color effects, inverse/negative effects, displacements, bar/line effects, warping effects, ringed/radial effects, interference patterns, oddball colour shift effects, light effects and more.


Kyocera (http://www.kyocera.com) said its Finecam S3 is the world's smallest 3.34-megapixel digicam. The size of a credit card, the Finecam S3 shoots has an all-glass, 2x zoom lens (35mm equivalent of 38-76mm) to ensure image quality exceeding 200 line pairs per millemeter. The camera is equipped with a high quality Polysilicon TFT Color 1.5-inch LCD and records images on a postage-stamp-sized 16-MB MultiMedia card.


FlashPoint (http://www.flashpoint.com) has announced DigitaX, the latest release of its DigitaOS embedded software platform for digital imaging. DigitaX has a smaller footprint, more modular architecture and uses simpler industry-standard development tools. The result is faster development and simpler integration for digicam manufacturers. In addition, by opening critical software interfaces, DigitaX gives camera makers complete flexibility in defining their unique hardware architectures while maintaining compatibility with FlashPoint's embedded platform. DigitaX also offers increased network connectivity while preserving programmability and peripheral connectivity.


Digicam ownership doubled in 2000 to reach 25 percent of U.S. Internet households and consumer purchase plans indicate it may double again in 2001, according to a new survey of over 1,000 U.S. Internet households by InfoTrends Research Group (http://www.infotrends-rgi.com). Substantial growth is occurring in low-cost, low-resolution entry-level cameras, according to the survey. Among digicam owners, 7 percent received the camera for free or won it. Additionally, another 20 percent paid less than $200 for their cameras. In 2001, first-time buyers expect to pay an average of $278 for a digicam. Most prints are made at home, but printing at online sites, retail stores and photo kiosks is growing. CDs are the most popular storage media among a wide variety of methods that include Iomega Zip disks, hard copy prints and online services.


Photoloft (http://www.photoloft.com) has announced, "There will be a fee associated with uploading photographs to Photoloft.com. Viewing photos, sending e-cards and using the guest book will still be totally free." Jack Marshall, Photoloft co-founder, explained the $2.99/month fee became necessary because "well over $1 billion of venture capital money has been spent, most of it wasted, to create competitive offerings." Existing photos will remain on PhotoLoft for a period of 30 days before being removed. Existing member accounts will be frozen from adding any more images until a membership plan is chosen at http://www.photoloft.com/home/s_viewmembership.asp?s=plft&popup=No.


Mike Chaney (http://www.charm.net/~mchaney/imaging) has released another major update to Qimage [W] and renamed it Qimage Pro 2001 v1.1. Prominent among the new features is the three-fold reduction in system resource usage.

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