The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 3, Number 12 15 June 2001

Copyright 2001, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 48th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Secrets of a professional framer, a peek at the new Sony 4-MP digicam and an image editing trick we've been playing with await you below.


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:
Olympus
http://www.olympusamerica.com/
This issue Olympus highlights the Olympus C-2100 Ultra Zoom Filmless Digital Camera.

The C-2100 Ultra Zoom features a 10x optical zoom (a 38-380mm 35mm equivalent) to let your photos get up close and personal. Optical stabilization ensures sharp and jitter-free images and the 2.1-megapixel CCD yields sharp, clear 8x10s. You can't get any closer to perfection than the C-2100 Utra Zoom!

For more information, visit Olympus' Web site.

Nikon
http://www.nikonusa.com
Nikon's expertise in camera design is clearly evident in the new Coolpix 995.

The latest incredible 3.34-megapixel camera from Nikon features a 4x optical Zoom-Nikkor lens with macro capability to 0.8 inch and an extremely precise Autofocus system, all of which work together to create great quality images.

The Coolpix 995 has a pop-up flash, minimizing redeye, and includes everything you need: a CompactFlash card, USB cable, video out cable, rechargeable battery and charger.

The Coolpix 995 has set a new standard in digital camera performance -- and value. See Dave's review for more information.

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.

Ceiva
http://www.ceiva.com/
Celebrate Father's Day every day! Give Dad the Ceiva Internet-connected digital picture frame to share your digital photos (and your life) with him every day. It's so easy to set up and use, he doesn't even need a computer or second phone line. You send photos right to his frame! Perfect for any Dad or faraway Grandpa.

Visit the Ceiva Imaging Resource Boomerang Page to learn more!


Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by over 41,500 readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

Feature: Secrets of a Master Framer

Rochester, N.Y. is the Lourdes of imaging, the Plymouth Rock of photography, the Cooperstown of snapshots. From Kodak's headquarters to the $300 million Infotonics Center of Excellence for optics research (which is just on the drawing board), it's a Disneyland for any imaging enthusiast.

When we're in town, our first stop (we'll report on a few others in upcoming issues) is always George F. Bailey's framing shop, now located (although somewhat obscurely) at 565 Blossom Road. George always has a pot of coffee on and a few people slaving away at the framing table as one or another artist or photographer calculates exactly how long they might have to hang around until George orders a pizza.

Over the years we've learned a bit about custom framing by watching the pros at George's place. And we've adapted what we've learned to our workbench at home to enjoy a little higher standard of framing than we might otherwise.

A GOOD FRAME

A good frame does two things:

  1. It marks off a spot of reality as something special. This square foot of space, it says, is sacred. Observe!

  2. It protects what it frames from flying spills, insipid humidity, eternal dust and even stray sunlight.

Sometimes (as George would tell you) you need a professional framer.

A good framer knows his stock. The hand-rubbed gilded laminates, the painted plaster, the carved moldings, the modular metal frames.

They know what accent color to put in the fillet of a double mat. They use archival materials to protect your originals (and, as one look at old George would confirm, they're experts in preservation).

They mount your work so it stays flat before matting it. They build a perfectly-mitered frame then seal the back from dust, attach rubber bumpers to protect your walls and screw in hook eyes and wire so you can hang your masterpiece. Then they label the piece with whatever identification it has.

But beyond this craftsmanship a master framer also has an eye for design. George's eye for color is unfailing. We would have to wrestle with invisible demons to make such an elegantly complementary choice of frame and mats. But don't ask him how he does it. It's a little like asking a magician to reveal his secrets.

Unfortunately the pro isn't cheap. Which is where we come in.

FRAMING SUPPLIES

Unlike the pro, the home framer can't stock yards of uncut frames and walls of uncut mats. Nor does the home framer enjoy the pro's specialty tools like oval mat cutters and mitre saws powered by compressed air.

We keep an eye out for inexpensive but attractive and well-joined frames whenever we're foraging the malls. We often find discounts and close-outs anywhere from the local drugstore to the local superstore. And we're also fortunate enough to have a great discount frame shop in our area (Cheap Pete's).

Don't be too concerned about damage to the frame (frames with cosmetic damage can be real bargains). No one actually looks at a frame, after all, and they're easy to touch up with no more than a dark felt tip pen. George keeps a selection of colored felt pens just for that.

Look for a frame with glass (plastic doesn't break but it does scratch) whether it's made of wood, plastic, metal or plaster. Never a buy a frame whose corners you can't inspect. Glass clip frames (like Pico) and those very small, inexpensive, black plastic frames (like MCS Industries' Format series) are great for less formal display.

Don't be shy about buying sizes larger than your prints. All they need is a mat, and a mat keeps the surface of your print from sticking to the glass, which can ruin it.

MATS

Some frames larger than 4x6 inches include mats. But they are often cut a little small for photos (sacrificing nearly half an inch in each direction) and often not very well cut.

While you can buy precut mats, they only come in standard sizes. Again they may be a little tight.

But cutting your own mats just takes a little practice. And you can decide whether to invest in acid-free archival mats or less expensive ones.

TOOLS

George has more power tools than Norm Abrams in his New Yankee Workshop. After all, as he likes to say, "I've got a corporation to run." But he prefers a silver, handheld Dexter mat cutter to cut everything but ovals. A sharp blade is essential and keeping the blade sharp by cutting the new mat over an old mat is smart. A self-healing cutting mat is an inexpensive ($12) luxury.

You do need a straightedge to guide the Dexter. We like our hefty old aluminum T-square. No straightedge is quite hefty enough, though. You'll want a coffee can half full (or so) of pennies to weigh down the far end.

A metal ruler (for precise measurements) is a good idea, too, and a couple of triangles help make guide lines perpendicular to the straightedge. All of which would be useless without a mechanical pencil (whose point never broadens and whose sleeve can ride cleanly along the straightedge as you draw your guidelines).

The only other tool you need, really, is a paper cutter that can slice through mat boards.

Among our favorite supplies are double-sided tape, single-edge razor blades, self-stick bumpers and hanging hardware.

CUTTING THE MAT

Measure the crop you want and scribe guidelines on the back of the mat to those final dimensions. Extend the lines well past the corners because the cutter guide is well ahead of the blade.

Line up your straightedge about 1/4-inch outside one guideline (exactly how far depends on your particular mat cutter) and put the penny can at the far end so the straightedge is anchored.

How far to start before the corner and how far to go beyond the far corner requires a simple calculation. Just add 1/16-inch to the width of the beveled edge your cutter will cut and start that far in front and go that far beyond each intersection.

Cut (with firm pressure) until you are past the opposite corner. Repeat for the other three sides.

The inside should fall out easily, but you aren't done yet. Flip the mat over and "burnish with a bone" by taking a hard piece of plastic and rubbing the corner cuts back into the surface so they are invisible. Invisible corners are the mark of a master mat cutter.

We rarely cut a second mat but, if you want to double mat, select a light color for the outside mat and a highlight color for the inside or fillet mat. Let the inside mat show just 1/8 inch all around. If it's doing its job it will be the color of some small detail in the image, pulling you into the picture.

MOUNTING

Mounting helps keep the print flat. Let as little material as possible contact the print, though.

George likes to use a dry mounter that melts a plastic adhesive to the back of the original so it can be fixed to a hard board. Well, he does if the original can take the 150-180 degrees needed to melt the plastic (and inkjet prints on plain paper don't, although photo glossy paper survives well). The danger is that the image will transfer to the release sheet that sits between the image and the press.

To mount an image, we simply use paper tape, archival tape or pocket corners on all four corners to attach the print to either the cut mat or a backing board. This lets the paper expand and contract naturally with the weather.

ASSEMBLY

Now it's time to clean and assemble. Use a glass cleaner on both sides of the glass. A can of compressed air is handy for removing anything on the surface of the image but a big drafting brush is forever. Then just drop the matt/image/backing assembly onto the glass in the frame.

Take a peek to make sure everything is clean and correctly lined up. And if your image is in contact with the glass, check for Newton rings (those circular rainbows) that occur when the print presses too tightly against the glass.

To eliminate Newton rings reduce the pressure. If that doesn't work try squeezing a bottle of talcum powder so it puffs out a cloud of powder and then running the print quickly through the nearly invisible cloud. Enough powder will stick to the print to separate it from the glass without actually being visible. You have to be subtle (don't dust the print) but a little goes a long way. Krylon matte spray works, too. The glass will restore the glossy finish.

And that's important because a matte finish or non-glare glass reduces light transmission up to 20 percent, dramatically diminishing the density range of your image. The best way to avoid glare, according to George's chief technologist Tom Abbott, is to just "move your head."

It's far preferable to avoid contact between the glass and any print you can't easily reprint, though. Moisture can make the print stick to the glass. And removing a stuck print almost always damages it.

Fix the assembly in the frame with whatever device (staples, brads, springs) is included with the frame.

To cover the back (protecting your work from dust), use plain brown paper. Nothing fancy. Run double-sided tape along the back of the frame as close to the edges as you can and then lay the paper on top, stretching it tightly across the back as you put it down. Use a razor blade along the outside edge to trim off the excess.

Attach a self-stick bumper to each bottom corner to avoid marring your walls.

Measure down a quarter (portrait) to a third (landscape) of the length of the frame from the top for the hook eyes. Start them with a small hole made with a nail, twist them in until they sit up straight, then lace them with a brush handle or screwdriver and spin them in.

If you have a label for the image, use double-sided tape to attach it to the back and you're done.

HANGING

Except for hanging.

Molding hooks, if you have them, are a fine idea. They let you vary the display every now and then without repainting. Instead of heavy wire, monofilament fishing line is fine (and rated for weight).

Height matters. Eye-level is the ideal (we are all different heights, but your height is ideal for this provided your feet reach the ground).

If your frame hangs unevenly just use two hooks, but the bumpers cure this, too.

When you're done, step back and admire your work. And then start thinking about all the fancy effects (double and triple images) you can now indulge in.

DON'T GO

George is an inspiration there, too. He's such an incorrigible framer, he miters two-by-fours into packing crates for the frames he ships. And if, like Theodore Roosevelt, you happen to write the shop a thank you note, he'll even frame that.

After a while, we take our leave of George so he can get back to work. "Leaving already?" he frowns. "Don't go!" But we do. Because if we didn't, we'd never get to visit again.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Sony DSC-S85 -- Excellence Upgraded

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S85/S85A.HTM on the Web site.)

MANUFACTURER OVERVIEW

Sony digicams have long enjoyed enormous popularity with consumers. In Spring 2000, they stunned the digicam world by announcing no fewer than six new models. This year, they once again announced six new units, with some additional releases following in their wake.

Introduced five months after the DSC-P30, P50 and S75 were announced, the Cyber-shot DSC-S85 broadens Sony's S-series Cyber-shot offerings from a single product into a two-model lineup. The 4.1-megapixel CCD features 14-bit digitizing for superb highlight detail and low image noise -- further enhanced by the ultra-sharp Carl Zeiss lens with 3x zoom capability first seen in the DSC-S70. In addition to improvements introduced with Sony's 3.3-megapixel S75, this model includes an expanded Burst 3 capture mode and a new Exposure Bracketing option.

This review is based on a late-model prototype unit. The user interface characteristics should be in final form, but some aspects of image quality may change. (In our experience, image noise levels usually improve between prototype and production and color is often tweaked somewhat in production models. The S85 we tested had excellent color, but image noise was a bit higher than we're accustomed to seeing in Cyber-shot cameras.)

EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW

The DSC-S85 offers the highest pixel resolution yet in a Sony Cyber-shot digicam. Its 4.1-megapixel CCD delivers images in five file sizes, from 640x480 to 2272x1704-pixels, with either Fine or Standard Quality compression modes. Advanced features include 14-bit analog-to-digital conversion, fully manual control options, high-quality Carl Zeiss 3x zoom lens and a variety of creative recording options like Sony's High Quality and Extended MPEG movie formats, Voice recording, Clip Motion and Burst 3 modes.

The compact black body measures only about 4.6x2.5x3 inches (11.7x6.4x7.6 cm) with the lens retracted, so it should fit neatly into a large coat pocket, purse or small camera bag. The functional design includes an improved LCD menu system (introduced with the earlier 2001 Cyber-shots) and more external camera controls, including a Mode dial and Jog Dial navigator for adjusting manual focus, shutter speeds and apertures.

The S85 has two options for image composition: a real-image optical viewfinder and 1.8-inch color LCD monitor. The optical viewfinder accommodates eyeglass wearers reasonably well, with a diopter adjustment dial to compensate for variations in vision. The eye point is just a hair low (about average for cameras we've tested), so you have to press your glasses against the viewfinder eyepiece. The optical viewfinder and small status display panel on the camera's back panel help conserve battery power by not relying completely on the LCD monitor to adjust settings (although you have to activate the LCD screen to change menu options). When the LCD monitor is active, an information display reports the remaining battery power, Memory Stick capacity, flash status and the number of images remaining, plus various exposure settings like aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, image size and quality.

The S85 is equipped with a 3x, 7-21mm Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar lens (a 34-102mm 35mm equivalent). Apertures, shutter speeds and focus can be manually or automatically controlled, with a distance readout display provided on the LCD monitor in Manual focus mode. A 2x Digital Zoom function is activated through the Setup menu, increasing the S85's zoom capabilities to 6x (although with the usual decrease in resolution and quality that results from digital magnification). Macro focusing distances range from 1.62 inches to 8.0 inches.

In addition to Manual exposure mode, the S85 provides Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Program AE and three Scene exposure modes (Twilight, Landscape and Portrait).

A Spot Metering option takes 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 flash features Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced and Suppressed operating modes, with a variable flash intensity setting. The S85 also offers an external flash socket and mounting shoe to use a more powerful flash. 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 S85 features Sony's new MPEG EX movie format, recording movies directly to the memory card. This eliminates arbitrary movie length limitations imposed by internal buffer memory, so you can record as long a movie as you have card space available. The MPEG Movie mode includes sound capabilities, plus all of the above exposure controls except flash and ISO. A Clip Motion option, available through the Setup menu, works like an animation sequence, allowing you to capture a series of up to 10 still images to be played back sequentially. Menu options for the Clip Menu mode include White Balance, Image Size, Flash Level, Picture Effects and Sharpness adjustment. A significant improvement in the standard MPEG movie mode is the ability to record 320x240- and 160x112-pixel resolution movies for as long as the memory card will allow, without having to hold down the shutter button (you simply press the shutter button a second time to end the movie). The Movie mode's highest quality option, 320 HQ, is still limited to a maximum recording time of 15 seconds, but provides a higher-quality image, as well as a higher audio sampling rate.

The Record menu includes a TIFF mode for saving uncompressed images; a Text mode to captures images as black-and-white GIF files, perfect for snapping pictures of white boards and meeting notes; and a Voice recording mode for 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 that captures a smaller, 320x240-pixel image size quicker to email, in addition to the primary image size you've selected through the Record menu. An Exposure Bracketing option takes the same image at three different exposures: one normal, one overexposed and one underexposed by +/- 1.0, 0.7 or 0.3 EV (selected through the Setup menu). A Burst 3 mode captures three images in rapid succession with one press of the shutter button (actual frame rates vary with the pixel resolution size and the amount of image information to be recorded), 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 8-MB Memory Stick included with the camera (cards up to 128-MB are available). An NTSC video cable is also provided with the camera 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 high-speed connection to PC or Macintosh computers. Software supplied with the DSC-S85 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 S85 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 via a small readout on the LCD screen. This really helps avoid lost shots when your batteries die unexpectedly. Battery life is also excellent, among the best we've found. Despite the excellent battery life, our standard recommendation of keeping a second battery pack charged and ready to go still stands, especially when the AC adapter isn't convenient.

VIEWFINDER

Our one significant complaint about the S85's viewfinder system is that the optical viewfinder shows only about 83.6 percent of the final image area at wide angle and about 83.2 percent at telephoto. Most point-and-shoot cameras show about 85 percent and we personally prefer to see something closer to 90 percent coverage.

The S85's LCD monitor produced much more accurate results, showing almost exactly 100 percent of the image area at all zoom settings and image sizes. Since we generally like to see LCD monitors as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the S85 performed very well in this respect.

EXPOSURE

We were glad to see the inclusion of a Manual exposure mode, which wasn't available with the earlier Cyber-shot models. In all three adjustable modes (Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual), the Jog Dial wheel adjusts the aperture or shutter speed settings.

We suspect others may find Sony's Jog Dial wheel confusing at the outset, as we did. A yellow arrow on the LCD screen points to one adjustable setting, such as aperture, shutter or exposure compensation and pressing in on the wheel highlights that setting in yellow, allowing you to make adjustments by simply turning the wheel. Pressing on the wheel a second time removes the yellow highlight, so you can move the yellow arrow to a new adjustable setting.

Where we got into trouble was apparently in pressing it too quickly in some modes, causing it to ignore the actuation and making it seem like nothing was happening. There may be a "debounce" delay on the pressure switch for the wheel, producing a "dead" interval after each actuation. Whatever the case, once we calmed down a little and operated the control in a more deliberate manner, we had no further trouble. In Automatic exposure mode, the only adjustable setting you can access via the wheel is exposure compensation.

SHUTTER LAG/CYCLE TIMES

Oddly, the S85 showed longer shutter lag times than the S75, possibly a consequence of the prototype status of the camera we tested for this early review. Its performance is thus somewhat below that of other high end cameras. (We consider 0.8 second lag time to be the average among top-end prosumer cameras.) Lag time in manual focus is also slower than average, but prefocus lag is somewhat better than average (0.19 seconds, versus 0.3 for the average in its class). Cycle time from shot-to-shot is pretty good at 4.1 seconds.

The camera doesn't appear to use an internal memory buffer to speed capture for the first few shots. The downside is that cycle time is only a little faster than average, but from a more positive perspective, that cycle time is never slower than 4.1 seconds. Continuous mode provides a shot-to-shot interval of only 0.71 seconds, for the first three images captured. (There's obviously a buffer memory here, so we can't understand why it isn't used in normal single-frame shooting.)

CONCLUSION

Overall, we found the Sony DSC-S85 to be a very pleasing upgrade to the already excellent S75 model. The fully manual and automatic exposure modes -- along with adjustable ISO settings, Scene Preset modes, advanced Movie features and automatic email option -- make the camera features perfect for pros and amateurs alike. New camera electronics and higher image resolution have further improved the S85's excellent image quality and speeded some aspects of camera operation.

As we've said before, we really like Sony's new user interface, which employs a less involved LCD menu than earlier models and provides far more external controls, dramatically decreasing reliance on the LCD monitor. Maintaining the compact size and easy portability of its predecessors, the S85 is a welcome addition to Sony's Cyber-shot digicam line, with a wide range of features that should please almost any consumer.

Our only (minor) complaint was the lack of provision for nonproprietary external flash units. In every other way though, we found the S85 to be of excellent design and a real value leader with Sony's aggressive pricing at introduction. 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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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:

A "SuperCCD?" See what people are saying about the Fuji S1 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee75ee5

Tom asks about photomicrography using an Olympus E-10 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee85253

The lively debate rages on about the Nikon Super Coolscan 4000 ED Scanner at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee7b152

Saeron asks about using the Sony DSC-S50 for action shots at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee793f4

Check out the Troubleshooting Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f84f

Return to Topics.

Just for Fun: Be (Trigger) Happy

There's got to be an explanation. Maybe it's years of flipping through magazines that publish shots that 'capture' the perfect moment. Or years of paying for double prints, processing and film. Or years of trying to sharpen our focus.

Whatever the reason, we have a tendency to take just one shot of a scene and wait for the next 'moment.' Right, just one.

This is ingrained economy of some sort, we think, rather than any infallible sense of timing. As we've said before, your digicam begs to take multiple shots of a scene, whether you are firing the shutter several times a second or letting several seconds pass between shots.

But right here we'd like to suggest something we've been having a lot of fun with using a series of shots. It looks a lot like double exposure, but there's no reason to limit the fun to two if you have more shots.

A familiar variation of this technique uses a close up of a face, ghosted back quite a bit in favor of a smaller full body shot. You've probably seen a wedding shot like this, the bride's smiling face a backdrop to the couple walking along the beach at sunset, for example.

After you've got your sequence of shots (maybe a successful Little League at-bat or a present unwrapping), select just a few to tell the story. Pick one to be the base image or key frame. This should be the one that either has the most scene-setting information in it or is the best punch line.

Add the others to layers on top of this one in your image editor. You can reorder the layers, of course, but the top layers should all enjoy a reduced opacity so you can see the base image through them. How much to reduce the opacity varies greatly. Start at 50 percent and use the opacity slider to see what works best. Give yourself a moment to reorient yourself to the image, too.

Alternately, with images stacked in the order they were taken, you can erase the older image where it overlaps the newer, creating a sense of action.

If you have elements that repeat in each image (like a table edge or window), align them, even if it requires rotating the layer. You may decide to erase them later (perfectly legal) but they are great alignment guides at the very least.

If you do have to rotate (it's actually unavoidable with handheld shots), you'll notice your canvas has expanded (and your image needs cropping). Crop the image before you're done but not before you've finished composing the sequence.

It can also be helpful to turn the visibility of older layers off as you align a new layer. It helps both alignment and composition.

Composition is the fun part though. This isn't assembly-line work. Try a number of different things, play around a lot and don't worry about being efficient. Surprise yourself.

When you're done, you'll have a picture worth, well, several thousand words.

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Dave's Deals

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We Have Mail

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

RE: Columbo

I loved the Columbo angle on the latest newsletter. Way cool!

-- Vicki Crooms

(Thanks, Vicki! We're actually trying to get him to join the staff. We still find a lot of this stuff mysterious. -- Editor)

RE: SmartMedia Followup

I am sooooo glad I subscribe to your newsletter! Your article on SmartMedia card failures was right on time.

I have had a Fuji 4700 for the past year (my review is on your site...) and loved it, but recently, I have been shocked to see: CARD ERROR! upon inserting a card or starting up my camera. I have four 32-MB cards and two 16-MB cards. The last time this occurred, I went through every card with the same result: Card Error!

I panicked and tried to read the cards in my FlashPath adapter. It was touch and go, but after literally, waiting for awhile, my camera was able to recognize the cards. Reformatting wasn't an option, because I had images that needed to be retrieved.

Now I know what was happening. At home, I use the supplied USB cable to download images from the camera as if it were another drive. No problems. But the deal is, most of the time I download the images at work, where I use the FlashPath adapter. Yeah, it's slow, but I start downloading and get a cup of coffee.

Here's the rub: My modus operandi is to create a new folder in my master directory, select the files on the A: drive (the FlashPath) and move them to my computer's hard drive, effectively erasing them from the card, saving me a step, right?

Now I know that the reason for the CARD ERROR! is that the camera's operating system (it is a miniature computer, after all...) is confused when reading a card that had data on it the last time it was in the camera's "drive," but all of a sudden, doesn't. The camera says "wait a minute, something's not right here!!!"

Thanks again! Just one more reason to praise the best digital camera site on the 'net.

-- Tony Reynolds

(Thanks for the followup, Tony! "Confusion" is more about incompatible formats than remembered states, but the trick (as you point out) is don't move/delete/erase SmartMedia on your computer. Do it in your camera. -- Editor)

One of my 32-MB SmartMedia chips turned up dead after two months of storage in a vinyl slipcase, inside one of the plastic cases. My Olympus C-3000 said it either needed formatting and could not format or that it was an unreadable chip. In fact it contained 40 hi-res snapshots. I had clearance from Olympus to return it under warranty, after trying venerable pencil erasers and rubbing alcohol to clean the contacts.

However, when I plugged the camera into an AC adaptor, the chip fired right up and read old snapshots just fine. I'm guessing the batteries were not putting out the extra voltage punch.

Great eMagazine. Thanks. (I pay attention to the sponsors!)

-- Rick Rayfield

(Hey, I like "eMagazine," Rick! Some people think this is merely a newsletter <g>.... We should have suggested checking the batteries as a first resort! And the simple way to eliminate them as the cause of a problem, as you point out, is to use the adapter. -- Editor)

RE: Cases

Help! Do you have any idea where I can find stiff plastic cases for SmartMedia cards? They all seem to be shipped in soft plastic sleeves. Customer service with several suppliers, SanDisk for one, have been no help.

-- Frank Ebetino

(We like Microtech's aluminum MediaVault (http://www.microtechint.com/qs-mediavault.html), which is not as expensive as it looks (under $20). Olympus makes a six-card wallet, too (http://www.precision-camera.com/digital/olympus/Accessories/200561.htm). And Peak (http://www.peak-uk.com/card_accessories/card_cases.htm) has simple individual plastic cases. Just for starters. -- Editor)

RE: CompactFlash

You have been most helpful to this newcomer to the digital world, both through the newsletter and directly. I need your expertise again.

I'm the happy user of a Nikon 990 in the process of acquiring more memory to be able to shoot during a vacation. It seems you can buy CompactFlash for about a dollar per megabyte and for the price of such a device I can purchase enough memory to carry me over during vacation.

There are many offers at eBay for cards that are not USB enabled. Will I be able to transfer the contents of one such when it is installed in the camera and the camera connected to the computer through a USB port?

BTW, I find the cap for the Coolpix a bit hard to handle at times. I found a prescription bottle cap just the right size. I carry a couple spares in my bag. If I drop one and it rolls too far, I simply ignore it.

-- Henry Arance

(Thanks for the lens cap idea, Henry! And don't worry about "USB-enabled." "USB-enabled" simply means there's intelligence in the card to mate with Lexar's low-cost JumpShot connection kit (a cable and some drivers). See http://www.lexarmedia.com/products/usb_cf_main.html for more. -- Editor)

RE: Nasty Lines

Can anyone give me any help on nasty lines running through my prints? I use an HP 950c printer. It doesn't happen all the time but seems to get the glossy photo paper most. After I've cleaned the cartridges according to the instructions, it might go well for a couple of prints.

-- Martin

(It first depends on which direction the lines run, Martin. If they run in the same direction as the printhead (across the short dimension), suspect a clogged ink nozzle. On the HP, that means replacing the cartridge (which is something you should seriously consider after six months, anyway, according to HP). If you see the lines in the long direction, suspect some foreign material (perhaps from a paper jam) scratching the surface of the sheet.... Glossy paper holds out ink more than uncoated papers (in which the ink bleeds into the fibers and can mask this a bit), but it also tends to be a heavier weight stock.... We had the devil of a time with lines at the end of our otherwise fine glossy prints at one time. Increasing the coverage (using the Darker setting in the ink options) helped but the real problem was old cartridges. -- Editor)

RE: Resampling?

Your newsletter tells me to turn off Resample. I think this must be an error. I find that turning off Resampling causes me to loose the capability to do much of the rest that's described in that step (i.e. setting the height and width to fit my page and still keep the ppi at 150). In the past (and in the future it will remain the same) I have always had Resampling turned on when manipulating the size (physical H & W) and setting the pixels-per-inch when setting up to print an image. Just FYI I am using a Epson SC 880 printer (2880x720 max dpi). I usually set the ppi in the image size window somewhere between 240 and 300, depending on which printing resolution I decide on, especially when printing out large (8x10) prints. I have had pretty darn good results using my method so far. Where have I gone wrong? Please advise.

-- Galen Heslet

(Resampling is a last resort, Galen, not a routine operation. So we advise you make sure it's off before determining what size to print.... Once it's off, set the height or width of your image to fit your print size. Now compare the pixels per inch of your image against what your printer needs. Your print driver converts your image data into a frequency modulated halftone screen that depends on how small a spot your printer can put down. Changing the ppi in an image by resampling does not itself alter the halftone screen's resolution. Whether you feed 150 ppi or 450 ppi to a 720 dots-per-inch screen, it will still be a 720 dpi screen.... The task is to give your printer enough meaningful data. Too much data is OK, it just takes longer to process. But too little data produces artifacts like stairstep diagonals. Meaningful data is what your camera produces, not what resampling up creates.... So you should always start with resampling off (constraining file size), knowing what print size (for any particular printer) your image data supports. If you decide to resample up after that, at least you'll know how much information you are inventing. -- Editor)

Thank you for your rapid responses to my query and its follow-up feedbacks. You can't imagine how much it is appreciated. Imaging Resource is still the tops in the business.

-- Galen Heslet

RE: A Rose By Any Other Name

Just wanted to let you know that although I have never written to you with a question or comment, I DO, IN FACT, read and enjoy your newsletter. Thanks for taking the time.

-- Janet

(All the more sweeter, Janet! Thanks! -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

David Ezequelle, Zing Network CEO, has announced the July 2 closure of Zing.com in a letter published on the company's Web site (http://www.zing.com/). "We are saddened by this and will miss the wonderful interaction with you, our members," Ezequelle wrote. The letter also tells members how to download their images from the site.


Mario Westphal has released verson 3 of IMatch (http://www.photools.com), a Windows image management application that features an XML-based metadata structure for storing image metadata. The current version supports IPTC metadata, but Westphal told us he "put the term 'Exif support' nearby the top of my 'to-do list' for the next interim release of IMatch. An import function for Exif comments to populate the IMatch property database and an Exif Editor to view and modify Exif comments in the image file. Shouldn't be too hard to implement ;-)"


Nikon has re-launched NikonNet (http://www.nikonnet.com), its Web site for photo sharing and education. The new site boasts a completely redesigned back-end and a suite of new features to make uploading, storing, editing and sharing images faster and easier. NikonNet also sports several proprietary tools to create personalized e-cards and photo albums, as well as a unique new photo album slide show. The new features work seamlessly with the new One Touch Upload To The Web feature on Nikon's Coolpix 775. The site's new Your Turn community allows NikonNet visitors and members to submit pictures to the Editor's Choice and Publish Your Passion sections for a chance to have their images published on the site and win prizes.


Fuji has introduced the $999 FinePix 6900 Zoom with a magnesium alloy, gunmetal black body similar to an SLR and Fujifilm's second generation 3.3 million-sensor Super CCD which generates a 6-megapixel image. A 6x Super EBC Fujinon aspherical zoom lens (f/2.8-11) with a focal length equivalent of 35-210mm on a 35mm camera and a quick frame rate of 0.2 sec/frame for up to five frames complements shutter speeds from 3 to 1/2000 sec. and adjustable ISO sensitivity of 100/200/400.


Olympus has announced the $199 D-370 digicam, updating the D-360L, will be available in August. The D-370 comes with a new long-life battery circuit allowing hundreds of shots in normal operation with four AA alkaline batteries (while using the LCD display and flash half of the time). With the LCD and flash turned off the 1.3-megapixel digicam can capture thousands of images on the same AA alkaline batteries. With Olympus' long-life LB01 (CR3V) batteries, battery-life is extended by about three times.


Polaroid has introduced the $170 PhotoMAX PDC 640 CF, offering consumers expanded image-storage capabilities with two image resolution modes and a memory slot for a removable CompactFlash card. The 640x480 digicam includes multiple resolution settings, 2-MB of internal memory and an LCD monitor/viewfinder. Photos can also be uploaded instantly to a personal Web page on PolaroidDigital.com, where users can create postcards and display their latest photography work.


Lemke Software has released Graphic Converter 4.0.8 [M] (http://www.lemkesoft.com/us_gcabout.html). The new version supports several new formats, improves support for others and fixes several bugs.


Sony has introduced two digital photo printers. The DPP-SV77 digital photo printer with an LCD preview display will be available in July for about $500. The DPP-SV88 digital photo printer with CD-R/RW archiving functionality will be available in October for about $800.


Kodak Professional (http://www.kodak.com/go/professional) said Kodak will discontinue the DCS 600, 500 and 300 digicams, replacing them with the Kodak Professional DCS Pro Back digital camera back, the DCS 760 and DCS 720x digicam and the family of Better Light scanning camera backs. In addition, new digital cameras based on Kodak Professional's fifth-generation professional digital camera architecture are in the planning stages.

Kodak Pro's inkjet experts have completed a study on the longevity of large-format inkjet images. Their white paper (http://www.kodak.com/go/lfiwhitepaper) offers a practical look at lightfastness claims and test methods.


Film sales in the four weeks ending May 20 declined 19 percent for Polaroid, 3.6 percent for Kodak and 3.8 percent industry wide. Only Fuji showed a gain at 0.6 percent. For Kodak it was the eleventh decline in 12 months, after an increase in April. Sales of single-use cameras offset a decline of almost 10 percent in 35mm film sales.

Return to Topics.

Signoff

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

Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM
New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM
Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM
Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM
Newsletter Forum: http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a.tcl?topic=irnews
Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM

Happy snapping!

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

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