|Volume 3, Number 8||20 April 2001|
Welcome to the 44th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We upgrade our workhorse to support both USB and FireWire, review Canon's S300, explain why the sky is (not) blue and spend some soapbox time on customer service. While munching chocolate kisses and jelly beans, of course.
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 over 41,000 readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We had the old Rumbolino in the shop the other day for several intravenous operations (brake fluid, radiator flush, oil change, lube, the works). The Rumbolino has certainly enjoyed attentive care, and that's most obvious (as you might expect) on the exterior, where its cherry red is always ripe.
"People fall in love with that car," smiled Luigi, only the third mechanic to tinker with the Rumbolino.
"Sure, nice paint -- but underneath, orca miseria," we crossed ourselves.
"Age comes to all of us, Mr. Pasini," Luigi reminded me.
Age makes classics of things like the Rumbolino, but is less than kind to computer systems. We can still gas up the Rumbolino anywhere, but some recent software and hardware we reeled in for review rudely refused to run on the 3.5-year-old Ordinary PC we use for reviews.
So we found ourselves drumming our fingers on our skull-shaped mouse repeating thoughtfully, "To upgrade or not to upgrade -- that is the question. Whether it is cheaper to buy a few accessories or suffer a completely new system and, by reinstalling everything, return to where we were. To crash, to sleep no more or to restart the heartache all over again...."
A never-ending curse, in short, that makes procrastination a pleasure. So how do you decided when or even if to upgrade?
We've been doing the upgrade routine for nearly 20 years now. You'd think we'd have learned something by now.
This time, we didn't need much. More RAM (well, who doesn't?); a few new ports (USB/FireWire) for new cameras, scanners and other devices; and an upgrade to our operating system to support the new hardware. Our Ordinary PC had empty RAM sockets, a spare slot on the PCI bus and enough horsepower to run the current OS. And the total investment, shopping on the Web, was about 10 percent the cost of a new system.
We wouldn't have known that if we hadn't been doing our research. Thorough research.
Which means you can't move too quickly (especially with an OS upgrade). The cutting edge is for those who do not faint at the sight of iBlood, blood2000 or any other blood type.
But that exercise of caution let's you find out what happened to those who did move quickly. The hardware and software reviewers of your favorite publications tend to get things first. Beta testers get them earlier, of course, but 1) there's no point drawing conclusions on unfinished products and 2) they are bound by non-disclosure agreements. So do a little reading while you're waiting for the early adopters to buy the first stuff put on the shelves.
Whether your computer runs Mac OS or Windows, there's a Web site and newsgroups devoted to those who dare not delay their gratification. You can't do better than starting at http://groups.google.com and looking for your subject, product or computer model. It's called learning from other people's mistakes.
Make it a habit to follow the sites of companies whose products you rely on. Drop by every now and then. There's usually a compatibility announcement (every century or so) or, if you're lucky, an upgrade you can download. It doesn't hurt to download the upgrade and, if backward compatible, to start using it before you make the big move. In fact, it's one way we know we're ready to upgrade the OS: when our essential tools have all been either upgraded or certified compatible.
Bookmark those sites that do this for you, publishing manufacturers' press releases and links to downloads. And visit them religiously. If you spend just a few minutes a day (less than five is all it takes) doing this research, you'll hardly feel it.
And when you do need immediate answers to specific problems, the Web can be a wonderful thing, striking with the precision of a surgeon.
Just one example. The Ordinary uses a form of memory that was state of the art in 1997. We looked up the specs from the manual that shipped with the computer, but we didn't know if we had to buy expensive EDO or less expensive Fast Paged Mode chips (FPM was fine) or what advantage interleaved memory might be (speed). A few minutes searching the Internet and we were able to evaluate the wide variety of chips compatible with the Ordinary. We might otherwise have over-bought just to be safe.
A DIFFERENCE (WELL, TWO)
We've rarely seen a home user comfortable with upgrading a Windows machine (unless they were hobbyists themselves; and we've had plenty of long chats with them about what could possibly have gone wrong). It's almost always simpler to drop by the SuperStore and pick up the latest model the size of your credit limit. These days an HP Pavilion seems to solve any problem. Alternately, there's a Dell online with your name on it. And, who knows, Gateway may have found its soul again. In any case, you'll have a functioning, current version of Windows in a size that suits your budget.
Mac upgrades (even processors) have been a bit easier on the psyche. If they are possible at all. If you've got a Performa, you've no doubt learned there's no hope for anything over 256 colors. And while it's still possible to upgrade the performance of the first generation PowerPCs, they can't support USB and FireWire since they are not PCI machines. But the thought of Mac OS X preinstalled in every machine shipping this summer is probably the deciding factor. Wait if you want it or hurry to avoid it.
Professionals have a more compelling reason to replace rather than upgrade: time. Their own. In a production environment, a computer is a tool, not an experience unto itself. Working out the idiosyncrasies of an upgrade can be a business killer. But so can buying equipment that is quickly eclipsed by your competition.
There's no single right answer (we like to upgrade Windows systems), but you should arm yourself with enough information about your options to feel comfortable about making a decision.
So what did we decide?
Journalists, fortunately, get paid to get into trouble and dig themselves out. As long as they get enough space to talk about it. How many movies have you seen where the untutored hero takes control of the airliner and is talked down by the control tower? Were he a journalist, it would be just the opposite. He'd be doing all the talking. "I'm grabbing this joystick now and pulling it back to see what happens. No, don't tell me! Are you getting this down? It has quite a bit of resistance ... can you get the manufacturer on the line? Let's see if there's an update to fix that...."
So we drew the dagger (well, the screwdriver) and decided to upgrade. An inexpensive upgrade (under $300) would last long enough for us to rub our pennies together for a more interesting new system later. And we expected to live to tell about it, too.
Just to make it interesting, we decided to do the upgrades we needed to review our new software and hardware all at the same time:
Next time we'll divulge how much money our secret shopping tips saved us (a lot), our foolproof installation routine (which involves a bathtub) and how much trouble we had getting everything to work (what trouble?).
- Add 128-MB of RAM,
- Install USB and FireWire/IEEE 1394 ports in a PCI expansion slot,
- Modernize the operating system by four (count 'em) leaps (which we had to do for the USB/Firewire drivers anyway), and
- Buy everything online (so we can tell you whether it's a bargain or not).
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S300/S30A.HTM on the Web site.)
Over the last two and a half years, Canon has developed a broad line of digicams that live up to the high standards Canon set in the film world. Last year it introduced several innovative consumer-level cameras, as well as the extraordinary EOS D30 digital SLR. In the "prosumer" realm, the 3.3 megapixel G1 provided a "no excuses" high-end design with all the features serious enthusiasts crave. Finally, the diminutive PowerShot S100 (aka the "Digital ELPH") set a new standard of portability and ruggedness for ultra-compact digicams.
The Canon PowerShot S300 Digital ELPH camera continues the definitive style and tiny size of the popular ELPH line. Small and extremely lightweight, the S300 is very portable with a smooth, sleek design that allows the camera to glide right into most shirt pockets. Similar in design to the previous S100 model, the S300 offers a slightly different control layout and a couple of added external controls (namely the Exposure Compensation / White Balance button and a Mode dial). The S300 features a well designed, retractable lens with a built-in, sliding lens cover (no lens cap hassles!) that keeps the camera's surface smooth with no protrusions when the lens is fully retracted. Its all-metal case design represents some of the highest "build quality" we've seen yet in a digicam and it feels very solid and substantial in the user's hand. All the main controls are on the back panel of the camera, with the exception of the Mode dial, power and shutter buttons. A small, recessed thumb grip on the back gives you a nice, firm hold and a wrist strap provides easy toting.
An optical and LCD viewfinder are both located on the back of the camera. The optical viewfinder features a pair of LEDs that inform you of the camera's status, while a central autofocus target inside the viewfinder helps you line up shots. The LCD viewfinder can be turned on and off with an adjacent button and features a 1.5 inch screen with a low temperature polysilicon, TFT color display (essentially meaning that the LCD monitor has a very sharp display).
The Canon 5.4-16.2mm 3x zoom lens (35-105mm equivalent) offers a maximum aperture ranging from f2.8-f4.7, depending on the zoom setting. Focus ranges from 2.5 feet (76cm) to infinity in normal mode and from 6.3 inches to 2.5 feet (16-76cm) in Macro mode. A TTL autofocus function utilizes an efficient AiAF (artificial intelligence autofocus) system which evaluates a broad field in the center of the image for more accurate focusing. There's also an Infinity Focus mode (controlled by the Macro/Infinity button) that quickly sets focus at infinity for fast shooting. The optical zoom lens is controlled by the Zoom lever on the back panel and an optional 2.5x digital zoom function can be engaged by zooming past the optical telephoto range.
The S300's controls are very easy to operate. A mode dial on top of the camera selects from among the major operating modes of the camera, with options of Playback, Automatic Exposure, Manual Exposure, Stitch Assist and Movie modes. A good complement of rear-panel controls lets you control the most frequently-used camera functions without having to resort to the LCD menu system, a feature we always look for. (In particular, the exposure compensation and white balance adjustment functions now appear on a rear-panel button. On the earlier S100, these were menu items and therefore much slower to access.) Once in the menu system, the menu options are very clear and easy to understand, with a nice balance of icons and text. The camera has a "shooting priority" design philosophy, which means that you can pretty much always take a shot just by pressing the shutter button, regardless of where you are in the menu system. This is a great feature, as it makes it much less likely that you'll miss a shot because you're fiddling about in a menu screen.
As for its major exposure modes, Automatic exposure mode places the camera in charge of all exposure decisions, except for flash mode, macro mode, the self-timer and Continuous Shooting. Alternatively, Manual mode allows you to adjust things such as white balance and exposure compensation through a menu system employing the LCD screen and rear-panel controls. (No aperture priority or shutter priority metering options are offered.) Stitch Assist (panoramic) mode allows you to capture a series of images to be "stitched" together as one panoramic shot with the accompanying software, and Movie mode records up to 30 second movie clips with sound. Aperture and shutter speed are controlled automatically in all modes. The Self-timer and Continuous Shooting options are available in most exposure modes, via the back-panel buttons. The built-in flash offers five settings (Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced Off and Slow-Sync). White balance offers six settings (Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent and Black & White) and exposure compensation is adjustable from 2 to +2 in 1/3 EV (f-stop) units. The self-timer gives a 10 second delay and the Continuous Shooting mode allows approximately 2.5 frames per second, depending on available memory and the image quality setting.
Images are stored on CompactFlash type I memory cards (an 8-MB card is included) with quality choices of SuperFine, Fine and Normal and image sizes of 1600x1200, 1024x768 and 640x480 from the 2.1-megapixel CCD.
An included A/V cable connects the digicam to a television for image playback and composition and a USB cable provides high speed connection to a computer. Two software CDs come with the camera and provide Canon's Solution Disk software for image downloading and stitching together panoramic images, as well as a Remote Capture program that controls the camera from the computer. Additionally, ArcSoft's PhotoImpression provides tools for image correction, manipulation and a variety of fun templates and filters and a copy of ArcSoft VideoImpression provides minor video editing capabilities. All software packages are compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems.
Power for the S300 is provided by a Li-Ion rechargeable battery, which is included in the box, along with a plug-in charger. U.S. models do not come with an AC adapter cable though, so battery power is your only option.
Overall, we were very impressed with the S300. It's more than just a worthy follow-up to the previous S100, but rather takes the whole field of ultra-portable digital cameras to a new level. Really an excellent design job by Canon's engineers!
The S300 features a 3x, 5.4-16.2mm zoom lens (equivalent to a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm camera) with a maximum aperture of f2.8 at full wide angle and f4.7 at full telephoto. The AiAF (artificial intelligence autofocus) function uses a broad active area in the center of the image to calculate the focal distance and is very precise, especially with subjects slightly off center. (Which might be missed by more conventional autofocus designs.)
In our testing, the S300's Canon-designed zoom lens seemed to be of very high optical quality, surprising in light of it's being shoehorned into such a tiny package.
Geometric distortion was lower than average, showing 0.57 percent barrel distortion at the widest angle setting and essentially no pincushion distortion at telephoto.
Chromatic aberration is fairly low, although in an interesting way: The colored fringes around the black patterns on our resolution target extend for four or five pixels in the corners of the image. That broad a fringe would normally cause us to judge a lens poorly. What's different about the S300's optics though, is that the degree of coloration is quite slight, making the distortion pretty inconspicuous in most shots. At the telephoto setting, there are only about two pixels of even the faint color visible.
In our resolution tests, the S300's lens produced very sharp, clear images, losing very little sharpness even in the corners of the frame. We begin to see aliasing in the test patterns at about 575 lines per picture height in both the horizontal and vertical directions, although detail is clearly visible all the way out to 700-800 lines. Significantly though, there's virtually no color aliasing present anywhere. All in all, the S300's lens does better than those of most full-sized digicams. Very impressive!
SHUTTER LAG/CYCLE TIMES
Overall, the PowerShot S300 is a speedy little camera. It starts up and shuts down quickly and is quite fast from shot to shot, with cycle times of 2.09 seconds at maximum resolution and 1.85 seconds at minimum resolution. Shutter lag times are a bit slower than average though: 1.15 seconds for normal focusing distances, 2.2 for macro shots.
The really amazing speed though, comes when you prefocus the camera by half-pressing the shutter button before the shot itself. Under that condition, we clocked the S300's shutter lag at an amazing 0.063 seconds. Thus, while the normal autofocus operation is a little sluggish, the S300 could be a great camera for action shots in those situations where you can prefocus it in anticipation of the action arriving.
A welcome addition to the Digital ELPH line, the S300 combines the best of what most digicam consumers are searching for: A tiny camera that takes great pictures. As one of the smallest digicams we've seen, the S300 is ready to go anywhere, its "elfish" size makes it very pocket-friendly. The S300's point & shoot design provides hassle-free operation, though users can opt to select features like exposure compensation and white balance. Movie and Stitch Assist (panorama) modes provide flexible shooting options and a nice complement of software provides more creative utilities. Image quality is first rate. It consistently turned out sharp images with excellent color and very low noise. Despite its slight price premium to larger 2-megapixel cameras, we think it will prove to be a very popular model. Highly recommended.
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:
- Reviewed: The Olympus C-3040 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C34/C34A.HTM) and Sony MVC-FD92 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FD92/F92A.HTM)!
- Massive Comparometer(tm) update (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IMCOMP/COMPS01.HTM)! Compare test shots from the Canon Pro90IS and S300; the Olympus C-2040 and C-3040 (review coming soon); the HP 215, 315, 618, and 912; and the Sony P30, P50, CD200 and CD300. (Phew!) And the Fuji 6800 Zoom is next.
- Reviewed: Two Sony Cybershots, the DSC-P30 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/P30/P30A.HTM) and DSC-P50 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/P50/P50A.HTM) get our full treatment.
- Reviewed: The Fuji FinePix 6800 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/F6800/F68A.HTM) updates the FinePix 4700.
- And don't forget our new Buy Now Page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/buynow.htm). As Dave says, "You can buy with confidence that you'll get a good deal, solid support and be dealt with honestly. And every dollar you spend with one of our advertisers helps keep this great information coming month after month." You win, we win.
Why the sky is blue (generally speaking) has to do with the refraction of light rays through the atmosphere (uh, http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/blue_sky.html). But why that blue sky turns white when you shoot it in Auto mode on your digicam is not so easily explained. It is, however, easy to fix.
The problem, first of all, isn't limited to digicams. If you hear anyone grousing about the "dynamic range of CCDs," don't panic. In fact there has never been a film emulsion or imaging device that has had sufficient dynamic range to capture the full brightness range of a daylit scene.
Part of the art in photography is appreciating the limited range of tonal values you can capture and applying it to the subject matter at hand. Ansel Adams was greatly vexed by viewers of his dramatic Yosemite images who misunderstood them to be portraits of the place. They were in fact, he argued, representations of some other drama. Like musical compositions. Yosemite, he rushed to point out, did not look like his pictures.
That said, what can you do to keep the blue in your sky?
First ask yourself how important the sky is to your picture. Is the sky itself the subject of your picture, as in a sunset? Or would you just like a little richer blue behind the monument you are photographing?
If your subject happens to be a dark one, or have important elements that are dark, aim down a bit (avoiding the sky) to fool your meter into overexposing, press the shutter button halfway down to lock that exposure, recompose and shoot. You'll get a white sky, but you'll also get a better exposure of your subject. Later, in your image editor, you can darken the sky (or even, don't tell anyone, paint one in as if you were working for Dreamworks).
But if your subject can tolerate a bit less exposure, you'll get more blue in your sky by underexposing. You can do this by using your EV compensation settings to underexpose (try a whole stop first). Just set EV compensation to -1.0 and shoot away.
If you can move around the subject, try to point your camera north. A clear blue sky in the north (in the northern hemisphere, at least) is roughly equivalent to what your exposure meter thinks is middle gray. In fact, if you shoot directly north, your sky should be blue (depending on the subject) and white if you shoot south.
And for the more adventurous, a polarizing filter will darken the sky (as long as you're about 90 degrees away from the sun). It also will see through atmospheric haze without obscuring your shadow details.
Finally some newer digicams provide a Scene option to optimize exposure for landscapes. They know all about skies that are too bright and foreground subjects that are underexposed. Don't forget to give them a try.
If you don't catch the blue sky in your camera, though, all is not lost. Your digital darkroom can come to the rescue.
You can often save a burned out sky by duplicating the image in a second layer and setting the blending mode to Multiply. Change the opacity of the multiplied layer to moderate the effect.
You can save an underexposed shot by duplicating the image in a second layer and setting the blending mode to Screen. Same game with the opacity.
And if you only want to change the sky and leave the rest of your image alone, just restrict the effect of the blending mode by selecting the half that needs work. Duplicate the layer, select the sky on the top layer, invert the selection so everything but the sky is selected and fill with the background color (delete, in effect, allowing the background image to show through). Then set the blending mode to Multiply. Too much? Use opacity to cut the effect. Too little? Duplicate the layer again and multiply that.
Knowing your options is a great way to negotiate any difficulty. Fortunately, you have a lot of them when it comes to exposing difficult subjects -- especially if you happen to be shooting digitally.
Subscriber Bob Coffey was puzzled by the sudden appearance of small "crystalline specks" on just some of the prints he'd made on his Epson 1270 inkjet. He couldn't find any help on the Epson Web site or among his colleagues, so he took a shot in the dark and asked us.
We weren't a lot of help, but Bob found out a lot about the problem on his way to a solution, which he generously shared with us. We think the exchange is illustrative in more than one way, so we're sharing it with you, too.
Bob initially wrote:
"I enjoy your excellent newsletter and forward it to members of the Delaware Camera Club.
"I have just encountered a very serious problem with my prints and am approaching everyone I know who has any digital experience for guidance. My camera club colleagues who are also heavily involved with digital printing using the same equipment and paper have not had this type of problem. There is nothing on the Epson Web site that warns about such a condition.
"The surface of my prints on 13x19 Epson Premium Glossy Paper has developed an efflorescence or blooming appearance, especially in the darker areas. It consists of small crystalline specks all over the paper that are readily visible, especially when turned slightly to reflect light. These are prints made for competition that have been stored in a flat Kodak print paper box. They are all mounted on 3x mount board using 3M Photo Mount adhesive. Some of the prints are so bad that they are ruined. This condition did not appear when they were first printed and entered in competition. It showed up after a couple of weeks in storage. Curiously, this has not happened on any of the 8-1/2x11 sizes of the same paper. They are also mounted the same way and have been stored with the other prints. The only unmounted 13x19 print also looks fine.
"Aside from the brief display (less than two hours) at the camera club judging, they have been in my possession and stored in a protective box in my home. I am a professional photographer who has switched to digital printouts using the Epson 1270; however, this distressing development will cause me to switch back to chemical prints until a solution can be found. I would greatly appreciate your advising me if you have heard of such a phenomenon, what could have caused it and how it can be prevented. Thank you."
We couldn't examine the prints, of course, in email, but Bob had described the problem very precisely. Enough so that we vaguely remembered publishing several items in the past year that address the problem. Since we don't have a full text search in the newsletter Archive at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS we did it locally -- a great reason to save your email versions of the newsletter, BTW. Then we replied:
"The Epson issue rings a bell. In our May 5,1000 issue Dave wrote:
> I'm sure there's an official industry-approved term for this, but
> "clumping" describes the effect pretty well. In areas of heavy ink
> coverage, the ink doesn't lie smoothly on some papers, but rather
> clumps up in globs, leaving white areas in between. The result is almost
> an orange-peel or "crackle" finish effect. Definitely not the desired
> effect for your precious memories!
> This problem was probably one of the most persistent and objectionable I
> encountered with third-party papers. The cause is a poor chemical bond
> between the paper and ink: The ink doesn't wet well to the paper and
> clumps up due to surface tension.
"And in our July 14, 2000 issue:
> Epson made an interesting announcement about print stability: "We have
> received a few inquiries regarding an orange color shift on our Premium
> Glossy Photo Paper. This color shift is due to the exposure of the
> unprotected print to some atmospheric contaminants, specifically high
> concentrations of ozone. This shift is not caused by exposure to light."
"They subsequently offered to replace what was a defective batch of paper (from our Dec. 15 issue):
> Epson has reported a bad batch of their first shipment in November of
> reformulated Epson Premium Glossy Photo Paper. The paper produces a
> "powdery residue in the dark areas of the photographs." Batches shipped
> Dec. 15 and after correct the problem and have a sticker on the front of
> the package to help identify them. You can get either a refund or
> exchange through Epson at (562) 276-7235.
"Hope that addresses the problem. Let me know!"
To which Bob subsequently answered:
"Many thanks for your very prompt and helpful response about the print deterioration. Of the three articles that you sent from your newsletter, only the third one seems to fit. That is the one described as a 'powdery residue' in the dark areas.
"I've since contacted Epson and they have acknowledged the problem [with the paper], including my description of a 'crystalline growth' appearance. I had a lengthy conversation with one of the customer relations people who was quite knowledgeable. The condition is known to them and was traced to production lots in November. Any [paper] lots ending in '0' such as mine, BOJJ40610, are defective while the more recent reformulated ones end in a '1.' She is replacing my paper along with a color cartridge for my inconvenience and instructed me to destroy the balance of this lot.
"This phenomenon has nothing to do with mount boards, just the ink. They had discovered the problem last year and had taken the product off the market for a while in July. When reintroduced, only the November lots were affected. She mentioned that exposure to cold accelerated the problem and that explains why my one unmounted print was not affected. The mounted prints had spent the night in the car parked in garage where the temperature probably dropped to the low 40s or upper 30s. For anyone else who may have this problem, the number to call is (888) 668-3266.
"She further stated that Epson had retreated from their claim of 25 year archivability with the Premium Glossy due to the color shift to orange as reported in one of your articles. This is due to high concentrations of ozone in some areas. For that reason, they urge protection under glass or sleeve. They do not have any recommendations of protective sprays as they have not been tested, but they are aware of many photographers who use them.
"Thank you again for your assistance."
It's perhaps too much to expect companies to document their product failures and bad news on their own sites. But if just a little of the budget devoted to trumpet blasting were diverted to customer service, those inevitable problems might be more easily if not publicly resolved. Without downloading the latest Flash plug-in, too.
Meanwhile, places like Imaging Resource are here to help. If you can't find what you need on our site (http://www.imaging-resource.com) or in the newsletter Archive (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS) do what Bob did and drop us a line (email@example.com). And don't forget our forums (http://www.photo-forums.com) where you can tap into an even larger pool of expertise.
In Bob's case, fortunately, Epson came through with what really matters: a thorough technical explanation of the problem and a generous attempt to compensate a customer who was more than inconvenienced. That's what we call Premium Glossy customer service.
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:
- See what people are saying about the Fuji FinePix 40i's MP3 capabilities at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee78d88
- Juliet inquires about the infamous (and ghostly!) 'dust spots' in photos at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee7aba2
- The Nikon CP880 debate rages on at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee760af
- Need massive battery life? Robby details how he constructed both 5-hour and 10-hour battery packs at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee79f39
- Check out the Printers Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b8
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RE: Used Digicams
I trade cameras every six or eight months when a new and more useful model comes out. I'm on my seventh camera since April of 1999 (just two years). I'm now using the Pro 90 after going through the G1, two S100s, Coolpix 800, MX2700 and my first camera, the MX600. I've sold almost all of my used cameras on eBay. If you take care of your camera and document where you got it (keep the receipt), you can get most of your money back.
Let me put it this way: I used to spend $900 each year on film, processing and scanning. Now I spend about $400 a year on camera depreciation (trading up every six months) and about $200 a year on prints from Ofoto, etc. I get a new camera twice a year and I'm still coming out $300 ahead!
-- Frank Phillips(There's nothing quite like putting a problem in perspective! -- Editor)
Personally, I don't have any that I don't use. This includes a 616 Box Brownie, a C-3 and an Anniversary Speed Graphic. The Olympus 340L is running them a hard race, however.
A Hand-Me-Down DigiMarket would be a fine feature a la as is, where is, it is.
-- Otis Kight(I hate to part with mine, too, Otis. They each have their endearing qualities <g>. And, unlike Frank's, they're too old to be worth much. -- Editor)
I'll tell you what I'm doing with my 2.5 year old Oly D620L: "Using it!"
It was top of the line when I bought it -- for top dollar ($1195).
Sure, I could now get the far superior C-2100Z for $800 but I won't. I plan to get another couple years usage out of the 620. (But I really like my sister's 2100Z.) And yes, my next camera will be another Olympus.
I've turned down several $500 offers for the camera. Why? Because the darn thing works so well.
-- John Hess(Another excellent point. It takes some time to get comfortable using these marvels. And by comfortable, I mean second nature. It can be disruptive to hop from model to model. -- Editor)
Hi, I own a Nikon D1. It is an early model purchased when they were hard to get. Can I use an IBM memory unit (the very compact hard drive) with my D1 instead of my CompactFlash card?
-- George Wolga(Generally it isn't wise to use the IBM microdrive in place of CompactFlash unless the camera's firmware was designed to handle the drive's requirements. There are specific memory management and (I believe) file management routines required.... That said, some brave souls have torn apart their 990s to fit a microdrive and report success.... A nice 512-MB CompactFlash might have been a better option, though. Faster, less power hungry. -- Editor)
RE: Elementary, Watson
You mentioned Photoshop Elements to be reviewed soon. I'm sure you'll be wondering why the speed is so much slower and the [program] size so much bigger than [Windows] Photoshop. My guess is that it's not based on Photoshop at all, but rather on InDesign. If so, this is a sort of "Lemonade" solution for Adobe -- they couldn't sell their new technology as a Photoshop upgrade given the performance.
-- Dave Dyer(According to my mud-slinging inside contact at Adobe, Elements is based on Photoshop code, not InDesign's. My hunch is that the large size of the program is an indication of the new help features like recipes and hints. -- Editor)
RE: 4000 DPI Scanners
Read your Web review by Dave Etchells of the Nikon 4000. Quite interesting, mainly because you don't seem to have looked at any other 4000 dpi scanner already available. And as for light traveling in straight lines....
Anyway, apart from that, keep up the good work.
-- Dave Dillon(As it happens, after well over a year of hounding, Polaroid has just shipped us a sample of their 4000 dpi scanner. Canon has also promised us a review sample of their new 4000 dpi model as soon as production units are ready, so we'll soon have three 4000 dpi models available for comparison.... Meanwhile, you're right, we haven't (yet) looked at other 4000 dpi models, so don't have a good basis for comparison on the resolution front. We were surprised though, by the improvement we saw in the 4000 dpi scans relative to 2700 dpi ones we'd seen earlier. My personal opinion had been that the 4000 dpi scanners really wouldn't do much other than show more grain, but that's apparently not the case. Purely apart from resolution, the LS-4000 does seem to be a remarkably low-noise scanner, a characteristic that can be compared with the lower-resolution models already on the market. -- Dave)
Brilliant, I look forward to the review. Thanks for the reply.
-- Dave Dillon
LizardTech (http://www.lizardtech.com) has announced it will acquire Altamira's Genuine Fractals technology. The transaction is expected to be finalized in the second quarter.
Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com) has recently introduced promotional offers on cameras, lenses, binoculars and digital camcorders. Purchasers of a Canon EOS D30 digital camera, for example, will get a free 340-MB Microdrive PowerPack ($437 retail value). Purchase other eligible cameras, lenses or binoculars from April 1 to July 31 to save up to $350 with rebate offers.
Canto's (http://www.canto.com) 99.95 Zip AssetStore Option [MW] works with the entire Cumulus product line to catalog and manage compressed files within Zip archives.
Dell (http://www.dell.com) has announced it will ship Picture Studio preinstalled on Dimension desktop and Inspiron notebook computers. The package consists of Conexant Systems Image Expert 2000 photo management software integrated with a co-branded version of Shutterfly's premiere online photo sharing and printing service.
An updated version of Kodak's Picture Metadata Toolkit is now available at http://www.kodak.com/US/en/developers/tools/02_pmt.jhtml. The update includes a Macintosh version plus bug fixes, enhancements and a few new features.
Rexall Sundown has announced the Sundown Vitamins Picture of Health Photo Contest. The $10,000 Grand Prize winner will be featured in a Sundown Vitamins advertisement. Five randomly selected First Prize winners will each receive a $399 Fuji digicam and 300 Second Prize winners will receive a $9.99 Fuji one-time use camera. Entries must be postmarked by May 15 and received no later than May 21. Contest rules are available at http://www.rexallsundown.com.
Beginning mid-April, Ritz Camera Centers will carry Iomega products throughout the U.S., Iomega said.
Leaf Products has announced the Leaf Digital Large Format solution for large format cameras. It includes an electronic shutter, centrally controlled via Leaf software and uses a standard interface between Leaf digital camera backs and large format cameras. The Leaf Digital Large Format solution will be available worldwide in April via CreoScitex/Leaf authorized distributors.
E-Book Systems has recently released version 1.2.1 of FlipAlbum CD Maker Home Edition [W]. Visit http://www.flipalbum.com/flipalbumcd/upgrade10he.php to download the new version.
To make learning about flash cards and the products that use flash cards simple and straightforward, SanDisk has unveiled a new corporate Web site at http://www.SanDisk.com.
Epson (http://www.epson.com) announced the Stylus Photo 785EPX inkjet printer. Developed for digicam owners, it can print with and without a computer from popular digital camera memory cards and features Epson's patented BorderFree photo printing. The 785EPX is Epson's first printer to include Print Image Matching, to enhance color matching between camera and printer. Featuring up to 2880x720 dpi and Advanced Micro Piezo inkjet technology, it includes a six-color photo ink system with four-picoliter droplets.
The New York Times has settled a lawsuit with the NBA over the commercial rights to game photographs by agreeing to provide a direct Web link from the newspaper's online store to NBA.com.
CHROMiX (http://www.chromix.com/) has announced ColorThink 2.0 [M] with support for Carbon and other Mac OS X technologies including OpenGL. The 3D graphing in OpenGL includes real-color shading of gamuts, transparency, a 3D slicer for accurate gamut evaluation and full integration with ProfileCentral.com.
Rune Lindman has released version 5.0b2 of QPict Media Organizer [M]. The $35 shareware program now supports Mac OS X, Exif metadata, MP3 and boasts a 10x improvement in batch processing speed among many other improvements. Visit http://www.qpict.net to download a trial version.
Version 4.0.7 of GraphicConverter [M] has been released by Lemke at http://graphicconverter.net/. Photoshop 16-bit/channel import and improvements to the Carbon version are among the highlights.
Sapphire Innovations has been busy as a bunny. A hundred sprays in Sapphire Spray Pack 2, 120 tiles in Sapphire Tiles 1 & 2 and 1,000 new nibs in Sapphire Nibs Vol 1 were released for Photo-Paint 10 (sprays are compatible back to version 8). A hundred new nozzles make up Nozzles Pack 3 for Painter/Painter Classic/Painter3D. And Photoshop 6 users get 1,000 shapes in Sapphire Custom Shapes 3 and 1,000 brushes in Sapphire Brushes Vol 8. Visit http://www.sapphire-innovations.com for a demo download.
Kodak Professional has announced the 6-megapixel ITO CCD Kodak Professional DCS 760 digital camera will have a list price of $7,995.
Kodak Professional is sponsoring a series of 30 seminars around the nation on ProShots, an image management and transmission system bridging film photography, digital proofing and online sales. The seminars kicked off April 16 in San Francisco and conclude Sept. 13 in Charlotte, N.C.
A new film strip gate for the Kodak Professional HR 500 film scanner is available now in both 35mm and 120 format. The strip gate allows the scanner to safely and automatically handle film strips ranging from a few frames to an entire roll.
Visit http://www.kodak.com/go/professional or call (800) 235-6325 for more information on any of the Kodak topics.
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