The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 3, Number 10 18 May 2001

Copyright 2001, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 46th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We save you $20 million in this issue (read carefully), add a Deal and report on Olympus' first Brio and the smartest color correction tool we've seen (well, it uses your intelligence). Not to mention our usual round of tips and techniques.


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,
  • The Super Coolscan 4000 ED for the professional photographer and graphic artist, and
  • 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!

And it's Dave's Pick for the easiest-to-use image-tweaking software on the planet! Take a look at his in-depth review to see why then use our special order link.

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."

Check out our Camera and Photo Store!

Lockergnome
http://www.lockergnome.com

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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: iCorrect Color With a Click

The fog was swirling down Geary Boulevard in its color-annihilating way while we warmed the stools at Edinburg Castle (where bagpipe music often accompanies the conversation) with our old buddy Lee. We were waiting for the waiter to return with our order of fish and chips from the Old Chelsea around the corner.

We stared into our lager and limes until the pipes subsided when Lee, a graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology (whose school colors are, we believe, cyan and magenta), asked if he'd ever told us about his job interview years ago at Ziba Color Labs. No, he never had, we seemed to recollect.

"It was real short," Lee said. "Sasha showed me a print and asked me what color correction I'd make."

In the habit of sympathizing on bar stools, we were prepared to gasp in astonishment at Sasha's unreasonably ridiculous test, but from long practice we held our breath.

"I told him what it needed and he hired me on the spot."

Implying, after all, it was a pretty fair test. But one we wouldn't have passed. And if you're like us, the mere thought of color correcting an image is enough to order another lager and lime.

Too much yellow? Correct the green with a shift in the red? How do you tell the cyan from the blue? Yikes. Where's that guy with the bagpipes when you need him?

SEND IN THE CAVALRY -- OR CLOWNS

Besides providing basic color correction tools that themselves offer no guidance, image editing software can often display a range of alternatives or "variations." The current image is usually in the middle. Running clockwise, the alternatives show more yellow, red, magenta, blue, cyan or green. You click on one that looks better than the original.

Programs like Test Strip and QBeo's Photogenetics enhance that process with more sophisticated algorithms that ask you to choose between two images. But even then the choice is often difficult to make and even confusing.

The problem is simple: those programs (asking you to pick a better variation) don't understand the subject of the image. They don't even try to understand it. They just ask you (repeatedly) which alternative looks better -- even if neither does. Trial and error. The blind leading the blind.

But, as we recently reported in our Editor's Notes, Pictographics (http://www.picto.com) has released iCorrect Professional, an Adobe plug-in that provides a smarter way to color correct an image. Running under Mac OS 7.1.1 to 9.x or Windows 95/98/NT 4.0, it's compatible with Photoshop 4.0 through 6.0 (PhotoDeluxe and Elements, too) and requires 32-MB RAM.

We simply fell in love with it. And if you're uncomfortable making color corrections, your heart may beat faster too.

JUST CLICK

Good color may be difficult to achieve but an off-color image is as obvious as an off-color joke. You open the thing and it offends. If you've installed Pictographics' filter iCorrect, you're only a click or two away from decent color.

Take our favorite problem. Flesh tones. Your digicam may handle these fine in sunlight, but do less well with flash. And if you're scanning (particularly one-hour prints), the problem is even worse. Natural skin tones are complex but our eyes are not easily fooled. Sometimes it's so bad it seems like everyone overdosed on various quick tanning creams.

But select iCorrect from the Filter menu, set "Skin" for the target color and just click on the bad skin and presto! you've got flesh tones. Not eFleshTones, not one-hour flesh tones, but real skin color. And race, for once, doesn't matter at all (but clicking on cosmetics can confuse the correction, so shoot for the forehead rather than the cheeks).

Same trick for two other false friends: sky and foliage. iCorrect knows all about these three. You just select one as the subject to be corrected and click on the area that needs help. Click three times if you like. iCorrect will instantly bring the color back into reality. An Undo button lets you backtrack if you don't like the result.

And for images with none of these keys, there's a neutral color correction. You just pick what should be gray (no color) and any color cast is removed.

No evaluation required. No choices. Just tell iCorrect what you're looking at, click on the problem and it fixes it.

PREREQUISITES

Pictographics' expertise is in digital color technology. Among their other products is a digicam ICC profile generator called inCamera (which we're currently testing). And their documentation is among the best we've seen. They don't shy away from the tough subjects, but they put them in an easy-to-grasp context that make you feel like an expert just by turning the page. Really top-notch stuff.

iCorrect's documentation is no exception. iCorrect is designed for images of "unknown pedigree" (without an embedded color profile) but to get results you have to calibrate your monitor. Pictographics tells you how to do that, of course. And frankly, no matter how many lager and limes you've had, it isn't difficult.

WAIT, THERE'S ANOTHER ROUND

iCorrect does more than bring skin, skies and foliage back into the field of play. It will also help you correct the tonal range of the image. For digicam images this usually means compressing the tonal range so something in the image is really black (instead of dark gray) and something really white (instead of light gray). There's a button to automatically set the black point and another to automatically set the white point.

But, just to prove our point about the documentation, we've never read a clearer explanation of why not to use these buttons. No true black in your image? Then don't set the auto black point. Nothing that's actually white? Then don't set the auto white point.

You can refine the correction further with a couple of buttons that give More or Less contrast and another set for More or Less brightness. Click until happy.

CUSTOM COLORS

Skin tones, skies, foliage and neutrals are built into iCorrect but they are actually only examples of up to 10 color ranges or memory colors (as Pictographics calls them) you can describe and store for reference.

Click on the Edit button and there you are. Memory colors are defined by their Hue, Chroma (or saturation) and Delta Hue (representing the hue change between light and dark colors). A gradient shows you just what you've defined. And defining a memory color is as easy as selecting 1) the Color Picker, 2) a Pictographics ColorSynergy palette, 3) a colorimetric measurement file or 4) colors in the image preview with a click. And you can save and load your definitions, too.

SAVE THAT CORRECTION

Finally, you can save the changes you've made so you can apply them to other images by clicking on the "Save ColorCircuit..." button.

Unfortunately it takes another Pictographics product to apply whatever correction you devise to a set of images. But at least that product (ColorCircuitQ 2.0) is a free download (and does a lot more, applying unsharp masking, removing noise, resampling and renaming files).

We really liked ColorCircuitQ, a stand-alone application. It was quick, ran in the background and handled lots of images effortlessly. It was like hiring a team of nine guys to fix all your images. You just drag a ColorCircuit correction file and the images onto the icon and go back to your real work. A couple of blinks later, all your images have been corrected.

Pictographs told us they didn't want to bloat the download file for iCorrect by including ColorCircuitQ and maybe that's a good thing. When you go to the download page you'll find quite a few tutorials, PDFs of their excellent documentation and QuickTime movies illuminating issues in color management all worth the download time.

GLOBAL WARMING

Generally iCorrect makes global corrections, but only on the active layer and only if no selection is active. To restrict the correction just make a selection. You can still apply the correction globally with a selection active by simply enabling the "Entire Image" checkbox.

THE WHINE OF THE BAGPIPES

At the risk of sounding a little like the guy who wanted tartar sauce after the miracle of the loaves and fishes, we do have a complaint or two.

Take those More or Less buttons, for example. We'd prefer a nice slider with a live update in the preview. And we're not alone. Pictograph told us they decided on buttons to make the interface as simple as possible, but they are reconsidering after receiving a lot of requests for sliders.

And the price, Hilda. At $139 for the introductory offer, the people who could most profit from this (like us) may be the least inclined to spring for it. Fortunately Pictographics has agreed to give subscribers a generous discount. See Dave's Deals for details. And think of it as getting iCorrect Pro and ColorCircuitQ together.

CONCLUSION

With iCorrect around, people like Sasha will have to come up with an entirely different employment test. This is really the first color correction tool we've seen that is so well designed even a colorblind operator could improve an image. You may not know how to describe skin, sky or foliage but anyone can point to them. And that's all it takes.

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Feature: Olympus Brio D-100 -- Conceding Nothing

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D100/D10A.HTM on the Web site.)

MANUFACTURER OVERVIEW

Over the past several years, Olympus has been a dominant player in the digicam marketplace. It boasts one of the broadest digital camera lineups in the industry, with numerous models ranging from entry-level, point-and-shoot digicams to the pro-level E-10 SLR. With the Brio D-100, Olympus has crafted an exceptionally sleek little 1.3-megapixel digicam that's the essence of "pocketability." Better yet, they've given up nothing in the image-quality department to achieve the small size and the D-100 displays excellent sharpness and color rendition, easily competing with more expensive models.

EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW

Slightly larger than a deck of playing cards, the 1.3-megapixel Olympus D-100 is the smallest model we've seen in the Olympus digicam line. The camera measures just 4.3 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches and slips easily into a shirt pocket or small purse. Its trim-line, all-plastic black body is accented with gold features and weighs only 5.8 ounces (165 grams) without batteries. A sliding clamshell lens cover serves as the power switch, thus eliminating the need for a lens cap, while the limited external controls and menu options support the D-100's claims of "ultra fast point-and-shoot" design.

The D-100 offers both an optical, real-image viewfinder and a rear panel, 1.5-inch, 118,000-pixel, TFT color LCD monitor. When the LCD monitor is engaged, it automatically displays basic camera information, including the current image quality setting, number of available images and battery status. The built-in fixed-focal-length 4.5mm lens is equivalent to a wide-angle 36mm lens on a 35mm camera and features both normal and macro shooting modes. Aperture is automatically controlled, with two settings at f2.8 and f8 and the autofocus system is based on a contrast-detection system. Though there is no optical zoom available, the D-100 does offer a 2x digital zoom for enlarging images, however readers are reminded that digital zoom inherently decreases overall image quality.

The D-100's simple, point-and-shoot design employs a Digital ESP metering system, which averages readings from the center of the frame to determine exposure. Shutter speeds range from 1/2000 to 1/2 second, limiting the camera's low-light shooting capabilities. The user can adjust exposure compensation from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents, in one-half-step increments, providing a simple method of overriding the autoexposure system. Also under user control is the camera's white balance setting, which offers Auto, Clear Sky, Cloudy Sky, Incandescent Lamp and Fluorescent Lamp modes. The built-in flash operates in either Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-In, Forced Off or Night Scene modes, extending the camera's low-light shooting range slightly. There's also a 12-second self-timer and a Continuous Shooting mode for capturing a rapid series of images.

The Olympus D-100 ships with an 8-MB SmartMedia memory card (larger capacity cards are available separately). Images are saved as JPEGs with three image quality settings available: Super High Quality, High Quality and Standard Quality. Both Super High and High Quality settings record at the 1280x960-pixel resolution size, while Standard Quality records at the 640x480-pixel resolution size. You can connect the camera directly to your computer via a high-speed USB interface to download images and Olympus also supplies a video output cable for connection to a television set. Software shipped with the unit includes Olympus' Camedia Master 2.5 utility package, which provides minor organization and editing tools, in addition to USB drivers for Mac and Windows systems.

The D-100 is clearly intended for those consumers who want an easy-to-use digicam that requires very little user intervention to produce good quality pictures. By eliminating the need for detailed decision making, exposure control and other extraneous features, the D-100 provides the freedom to simply turn on the camera and shoot. Its small size makes the camera very portable, its uncomplicated user interface ensures a very short learning curve and its photos are first-rate.

SHUTTER LAG/CYCLE TIMES

Olympus bills the D-100 as an "Ultra Fast Point & Shoot" camera. While the camera is pretty quick from shot to shot, we're not sure that we'd call it "Ultra Fast." Its cycle times are faster than average among entry-level cameras, but don't approach anything we'd consider deserving of the "ultra" label. The almost 2 frames/second continuous mode is unusual on a camera at this price point, so perhaps that's where Olympus is looking when they reach for the superlative adjectives.

Actually, to be fair, we're perhaps reacting to elevated expectations, having seen the "ultra fast" appellation used on the packaging. If we hadn't seen that, we'd probably have concluded that the D-100 is faster than average for an entry level camera and left it at that. Overall, quite responsive for an inexpensive digicam.

CONCLUSION

The D-100's small size makes it easy to carry along on just about any outing, fitting easily into shirt pockets, purses or even hip pouches (great for hikers). The point-and-shoot design is very easy to use, with no adjustments necessary to make good overall exposures. The camera makes all of the exposure decisions, leaving you the option to change image size and quality, white balance and exposure compensation. The D-100 handles most average shooting conditions well, making it a nice option for consumers who want to take good pictures without puzzling over details. A nice little camera with good photo quality at a budget price!

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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: Do Not Delete

It's human. You make a mistake. But before anyone else can tell, you want to eliminate the evidence. On a digicam, you can just delete the picture.

Not so fast.

We can think of two reasons we're glad we don't delete images from the card in our camera as we're shooting -- not to mention one great reason to do it.

First, we remind you it's our practice to delete all the images on the card only in the camera after we've made two copies on our computer (at least one on CD). And we never use the computer to delete images, only to copy them, to avoid accidentally deleting things we haven't copied. Which will also, by the way, avoid a lot of formatting hassles and mysteriously broken media.

But we're talking about taking a shot, looking at it (maybe with Quick Review) and deciding you don't want to be known in millennia to come as the photographer of that image. So you delete it.

The first problem is that while you are admiring your mistakes, you are missing the action. This may not be an issue if you are shooting still lifes but if your subject is an event, you may regret it.

But even if it's a still life, there's a reason to keep it. The (rather surprisingly extensive) exposure data saved with the image can be revealing. It can teach you something about what went wrong when you have a chance to examine the image at your leisure later. Don't deny yourself that helping hand.

So what's the one reason to delete an image during a shoot?

You need the space for an important last shot. Even then, we prefer to use more image compression to fit a few more images on the card than get rid of what we've already got. But if we have a few clunkers (a shot of the ceiling, say), we don't mind zapping them in favor of what happens next. It happens rarely, but we've done it. We cannot tell a lie.

But we're most happy leaving the evaluation to our calmer, seated self after culling all the exposure information saved with the image. While we're shooting, we prefer to be click happy. Later, we can dump the card, clean it and get ready for another shoot. Right now, we don't want to miss anything.

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Advanced Mode: An Auto Mode for Room Light

The early morning sun was streaming through the windows. The baby was up, tottering down the hall, an empty basket in his hand. The eggs had been hidden with a knowing wink.

We grabbed our digicam, flipped it into Auto -- and startled the poor adventurer with a blinding bolt of on-camera flash. Nope, that was not the Easter Bunny. It was Uncle Mike taking pictures again.

Digicam flash is inherited from point-and-shoot technology. It's too close to the lens to avoid red-eye and about as delicate as a police interrogation. Enterprising souls have devised all sorts of devises to make it more useful but, as we've mentioned before, there's a better solution. Available light. It doesn't take much.

After all, we could see the colorful eggs perfectly well. And they were showing up on Dad's camcorder's flip-out screen. But this time around we used a couple of new tricks you may be able to put to use on your digicam.

The first trick was to turn off the flash (that's the one we've mentioned before). You can often survive just fine (particularly if you have a strong light illuminating your subject, if not the whole scene).

The second trick was to flip into manual mode, if you have it. You are about to learn a perfectly legitimate use for manual mode that does not require any expertise. So if you are considering a new purchase, make sure it does these two things:

With the CCD signal boosted to ASA 400, you're configuring the camera to make the most of the light it captures without relying on the flash. With the shutter fixed by Shutter Priority mode, the aperture will accommodate any change in light, so you don't have to worry about it. It's an Auto mode for room light. Just frame and shoot.

And unlike flash shots, your pictures will look natural with this setup. Shot with available light, they will capture the moment as you remember seeing it.

That even extends to capturing the quick movements of a two year old racing to the sofa to retrieve an egg. He'll be the blur you remember he was. But you'll have sharp stills of him looking around for the next egg to complete the story. And you can always pan the camera to keep up with him.

Finally, if your camera lets you store configurations, this is a keeper. You'll never have to remember it before that first cup of coffee. Because, after all, you can't rely on the Easter Bunny to make coffee before scampering off to hide other eggs.

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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: Here Comes the Bride

All happy wedding albums resemble one another, but each unhappy one disappoints in its own way. To steal a line from one of the world's greatest guest list writers.

HIRING A PRO

When we're asked to photograph a wedding, we offer to pay for a pro. We don't like to work at parties, first of all, but even more importantly, we know the importance of engaging someone who knows what they're doing.

This is, after all, a rare chance to get formal portraits of your family members. And formal portraits mean not only properly posing the subject (flattery gets us somewhere here) but properly lighting the subject, too. Which takes as much knowledge and technique as equipment.

But a pro will also know when what happens and discreetly capture the day's events, charmingly cajole the wallflowers to blossom and generously share the big moments with all the point-and-shooters.

There are, unfortunately, those photographers who confuse themselves with art directors and demand to micromanage the event. They tend to misunderstand the function of the event. It is not a photo shoot.

If you, like us, are among the point-and-shooters, show some consideration to the pro. Ask before you horn in (your flash may spoil their setup) and generally stay out of the way. You can always buy one of their shots, you know (that's how the game is played).

HAVING A BALL

We may decline to do weddings, but we don't leave our camera at home. It's just too much fun to play the photojournalist.

The name of this game is to hunt for candids. Your trophies will be the unobserved moment, not the staged event. While the pro worries about tables and partners dancing, you are free to snap the kids as they unravel their formal attire or the snoring great uncle or whatever you find.

And in no small way you extend the party for the happy couple.

Just a few tips:

PRESENTATION

You may not have your desktop computer and inkjet handy, but waste no time uploading your images to your preferred online photofinisher. You can share them immediately with any guest who gives you their email address (and let them buy their own prints, too).

If you or someone local has access to a printer, printed proof sheets are a great idea for the morning after (when looking at a monitor can be painful).

That's when it will be your turn to make the promises -- for copies.

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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: 80-MB Files?

What digital cameras are taking an 80-MB file? Must cost a fortune! I thought my Canon EOS D30 took terrific photos and went peddling to a local magazine. They said they would consider it if I could provide them with 80-MB files for best resolution. I can see the need if you're going to enlarge the thing for a billboard but is the resolution really that much better than what I should be able to get for a photo they won't print larger than 8.5 by 11? What else is in that 80-MB file?

-- Becky Knight

(Great question! Put on your seatbelt. First, your D30 records 1440x2160-pixel images for a 9.3-MB uncompressed RGB file (a 12.4-MB CMYK equivalent, which is what presses want). The rule of thumb is to have two times the resolution (pixels per inch) of your halftone screen (magazines typically screen at 133 lines per inch, but some books use 150 lpi). So your D30's 1440x2160 image would make a nice 5.4x8.1-inch 133-lpi halftone (at 266 pixels per inch) or 4.8x7.2-inch 150-lpi screen (at 300 ppi). No larger.... The Nikon Coolscan LS-4000 ED (4000 dots per inch resolution for a 3654x5646-pixel image) will build that 80-MB CMYK file from a 35mm negative. No problem. A 133-lpi screen would yield a 13.7x21.2-inch halftone while a 150-lpi screen would make a 12.1x18.8-inch image. Note that 12x18 covers a two-page spread that bleeds.... But the two-times rule is nonsense. With far less data, you can get comparable results (it just doesn't always work for every image) much more efficiently. At 1.5 times the lpi, for example, your D30 image is a 7.2x10.8-inch 133-lpi halftone and at 1.25 times it makes a full-page bleed. See Brian Lawler's treatise on the subject at http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS/LAWLER/CLR2BW.PDF for the details.... Or you can turn your D30 images into 80-MB files with Altamira's Genuine Fractals plug-in (often included with high-end digicams and reviewed on our site by David Halpern at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/GF/GFADD.HTM). But that's like triple-spacing to get a two-page book report in grammar school. -- Editor)

RE: Black & White

In my printer's manual it says, "The Epson Stylus Photo 2000P is not recommended for neutral black-and-white photography."

But I find it quite superior to my Epson Stylus Color 860 for this purpose, which is grainy and does not hold highlight and shadow detail as well, so I have to wonder what the possible reason is for Epson's admission. Have you any idea?

-- Ron

(Epson's taken some pretty hard knocks with the 2000P for black and white use, because it's apparently hard to control the color neutrality across the tonal range. It tends to produce colored shadows (with a tinge of green, I seem to recall) and if you correct for those, the highlights end up going the other way. If the results look appealing to your eye though, go with that and be happy! The reason Epson put that warning in the manual was so people who are upset by the lack of neutrality can't come back and claim that they weren't warned. -- Dave)

RE: Hmmm ...

In your quick review of the Nikon Coolpix 995 in the newsletter, you said, "Nikon includes both the battery and charger with the camera.... There are a few changes relative to the 990 that we're less than excited about though, including the need for the aforementioned extra-cost battery and charger kit."

Is that a contradiction or did I miss something?

-- Clayton Curtis

(The new proprietary Lith-Ion battery is quite a bit more expensive than what it used to take to run a Coolpix, just four AAs. Fortunately you get one with the camera and even better, Nikon has included a charger (a first for them). So for "extra-cost" read "expensive" -- since we still recommend a spare for any camera. -- Editor)

RE: My Friend's CompactFlash

A friend has a lot of pictures on CompactFlash cards that he would like me to transfer to CDs. He hasn't gotten a CD writer yet (I'll hint to his wife for Father's Day).

He has a Canon and I have a Minolta camera. My usual method of transmission is by going directly from my camera via FireWire to a CD.

Can I put his CompactFlash card in my camera to transfer them directly to a CD on my computer or do I have to load his Canon software in first and then transfer from his camera. Or is there a card reader that is universal?

-- Paulette

(If you put his card in your camera, your camera won't see his images. But if you put either card in a PCMCIA adapter and then into a PCMCIA slot on your computer, your computer will be able to read them. If you don't have a PCMCIA slot, any CompactFlash reader will handle either card. You can also just load his software on your computer and connect his camera to it for the transfer. Try the burn in simulation mode first, though, because USB is not as fast as FireWire and you may have to copy to your hard drive first. -- Editor)

RE: USB Drivers for NT?

Last year I bought a Sony DSC-S70 3.3-megapixel camera. It is a fantastic camera, but the only really frustrating thing is that the USB drivers are only provided for Windows 95 and 2000. Surely there must be a lot of people who use NT and Windows 98.

I have tried to get an answer out of Sony if they think of developing a driver for NT, but no luck. Do you have any contacts to find out this information? Do you know of any other drivers?

This is their link for latest released drivers: http://www.sel.sony.com/SEL/consumer/ss5/custserv.shtml

-- Ashley Holling

(Alas, Windows NT 4.0 doesn't include native operating system support for USB. But Windows 2000 (aka NT 5.0) does. Absent Microsoft's support, don't expect Sony to work too hard on this.... You might try http://www.bsquare.com/products/devtools/usbwin40/ but they expressly do not support digicams (just mice, keyboards, printers and cradles). But they don't rule out future support and offer a toolkit (http://www.bsquare.com/products/devtools/usbext/) for developers. You might offer to beta test whatever digicam drivers they are developing or know are being developed.... Then there's the EdgePort converter (http://www.ionetworks.com/support/epdrivers.html). The only report we read on this hardware solution was that the camera software, detecting NT, refused to install. Don't expect USB performance (it plugs into the serial port). -- Editor)

RE: Buying Advice

I'm getting a digital camera mainly for indoor photography and have seen amazing results from quite a few cameras. I actually thought about the Nikon D1 until I saw the price (~$6,000) ouch! I also very much liked the Nikon Coolpix 995, which of course is much more reasonably priced. My only important points are:

  1. The highest image detail and quality, and

  2. The ability to do closer (macro) work on occasion as well.

I've looked at many of your test image comparisons and to be honest, I cannot tell a big difference between the very expensive cameras and the Coolpix! As obvious experts in this area is there any explanation as to what the huge difference in cost translates into for the consumer between the mega bucks 'pro' cameras and the 'consumer' cameras?

-- Aubrey Ayash

(The main difference between the Coolpix-level cameras and "professional" models costing $3,000+ will be the lenses. Pro models usually ship without a lens (more money!), but are built on pro SLR (single lens reflex) bodies, which lets them use a wide variety of interchangeable lenses.... Pro models also excel in shot-to-shot speed. The Nikon D1 shoots up to 4.5 frames per second (!) with bursts of up to 21 frames.... But if speed and lens interchangeability aren't a big issue, then a sub-$1000 camera should do fine. The Nikon line has had some of the best macro performance for a while now, although some Sony models do very well, too. Other cameras can get there with the use of auxiliary lenses. It sounds to me like a 995 or equivalent camera would be just fine for you. -- Dave)
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Editor's Notes

Larry Berman at Berman Graphics wrote to tell us he's posted an interview with Jay Maisel at his site. Maisel, a commercial photographer since the 1950s, is now shooting digital exclusively. The interview was published in the Shutterbug Magazine but at http://www.bermangraphics.com/press/jaymaisel.htm you can read the long version.


Pictographics (http://www.picto.com) has announced they will begin publishing PictoScript, a periodic email newsletter for people who are interested in learning more about digital color technology.


America Online and CVS Pharmacy have announced that CVS will become a premier retail partner for AOL's You've Got Pictures online photo sharing service. Under the agreement, AOL members who drop off their film at a CVS pharmacy for prints can also have their pictures delivered directly to their AOL account.


Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com) has introduced the new $599 PowerShot S110 Digital Elph camera. The PowerShot S110 is a 2x zoom, 2.1-megapixel digicam which incorporates direct print capabilities from the new Canon Card Photo Printer CP-10; 20 frame-per-second movie clips (with audio) at selectable resolutions up to 640x480 pixels; a choice of nine image quality modes; shutter speeds from 1 to 1/1500 second; an adaptive primary color filter for improved color reproduction; automatic exposure sensitivity adjustment; a new high-speed digital signal processing IC with low power consumption; and a high-output light guide flash.


HyperPhoto Network (http://www.imageland.net), Canon's online consumer imaging service, can now burn HyperPhoto CDs to store images from personal online photo albums. Each HyperPhoto CD includes software to view images individually or in a slideshow and images can be enhanced with special features and graphics, the company said.


The $800 Epson PhotoPC 3100Z will be Epson's first digicam to include Print Image Matching technology. The PhotoPC 3100Z 3-megapixel digicam makes it easy to select pictures for printing with a print button on the back of the camera. The digicam also includes Epson's HyPict image enhancement technology, providing 2544x1904 pixel resolution or 4.8 megapixels.


Here's where we save you $20 million. Take an all-expenses-paid virtual tour of the International Space Station Alpha courtesy of NASA. Just visit http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/gallery/vtour/index.html to pan, zoom in and view each of the various sections of the International Space Station.


Not interested in space travel this summer? How about Africa? On Mondays during the next coming months Gondwana & Compass Easy-Find (http://www.CompassEasyFind.com) will take you on a virtual journey through some of Africa's wildest regions. They call it The Bush & the Web, the Gondwana IT Expedition through Africa. No immunity.


Olympus has expanded the Brio family of point-and-shoot digicams with the $449 Camedia Brio Zoom D-150. The D-150 sports 3x optical zoom/6x digital zoom with an f2.4-f4.3 autofocus Olympus zoom lens, pop-up flash and AutoConnect technology for simple data transfer via USB. Available in June 2001, it ships with an 8-MB SmartMedia card, USB cable, video out cable, Olympus Camedia Master Utility software, two AA long-life CR-3V Lithium batteries, strap and manual.


PhotoWorks (http://www.photoworks.com) has acquired selected assets of Storycatcher.com, a digital scrapbook provider focused on creating interactive story albums. PhotoWorks recently purchased selected assets from ememories.com and developed PhotoDVD, a photo slide show on DVD.


Compression Engine Technologies has introduced PhotoStreak, a free program that uses wavelets to maximize image compression and the $29.95 PhotoStreak Pro, which adds lossless wavelet compression. To view the proprietary .wif formatted images you'll also need PhotoStreak Viewer. Visit http://www.photostreak.com to download the Windows programs.


MacInTouch (http://www.macintouch.com) reported that InkJet Mall (http://www.inkjetmall.com/store/piezography-color.html) is shipping "PiezographyColor archival inks for many Epson inkjet printers. The pigmented inks have been designed to display 'virtually no metamerism' and work with a number of older Epson printers [mostly models without the electronically 'chipped' cartridges]; continuous ink feed sets are also available. Introductory pricing on refillable 4-ounce ink sets is $62 for CMYK and $92 for CcMmYK."


Kodak Professional urged imaging professionals to Think Big! as they submit their entries for the Second Annual Innovator Awards (http://www.kodak.com/go/lfinkjet) for large-format image output. Contest winners will be honored and their work displayed at Seybold 2001 in San Francisco, Sept. 24-28. Entries, which must be at least 16x20 but no larger than 36x60, are due Aug. 1 and must be printed on Kodak Professional media.


If you like Google (http://www.google.com) for scouring the Web, you may love iLOR (http://www.ilor.com) which uses Google as a search engine but adds a mouse-over menu to each retrieved link providing several options. You can pick only the results you want, put the best results in lists and save results.


The International Forum Design GMbH in Hanover, Germany has honoured the Leaf Cantare digital camera back with the International Forum Product Design Award 2001. The Leaf Cantare was selected out of 700 competitors from 30 countries, representing more than 1,300 products.


FlipCity.com is offering a free Wedding Proof Album Creator at http://www.flipcity.com/blast_wedding/ido.htm for subscribers to their newsletter.


Snapfish is running a Picture Perfect Weddings contest (http://www.snapfish.com/weddings) to award a $500 gift certificate plus kits of 10 single-use cameras for use at the wedding reception. To enter, simply share an online album with pictures of the happy couple at contest@snapfish.com.

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Happy snapping!

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

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