|Volume 3, Number 13||29 June 2001|
Welcome to the 49th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Dave not only reviews Nikon's D1x but it makes him reconsider film-based photography entirely. Which won't be a problem for our new friend Matthew, we discovered.
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By DAVE ETCHELLS
When the Nikon D1x professional SLR was first announced publicly in early February, I indulged in quite a lengthy editorial on its significance to the market. Now that it's actually shipping and I've had my hands on a production sample, it's time to update that preliminary report.
I've often been excited by a forthcoming camera's published specs only to be let down a bit by the product itself when it finally appears. In the case of the D1x though, it's been the exact opposite. Excited as I was by the early news of the D1x, the camera easily exceeded all my expectations. The excerpted review in this issue and the full review on our site cover the relevant details in depth, but here I want to tell you why I think the D1x is such a significant product.
RESOLUTION: THE 'DATA POOL'
The 5.74 megapixel (5.33 effective) resolution of the D1x is the image-quality parameter attracting the most attention in the marketplace, so it deserves some comment. But (as we'll see), it's only one component of what Nikon chooses to refer to as "total image quality." Much has been made of the D1x's use of rectangular pixels to achieve high resolution. The CCD in the D1x has the same number of rows, but twice as many columns of pixels as the original D1. (Nikon preferred this approach over square pixels because fewer rows makes it faster to clock out the data, maintaining an impressively high frame rate of 3 fps.)
So when you point it at a resolution target, the D1x shows much higher resolution for horizontal detail than vertical, thanks to the closer pixel spacing along that axis. What's perhaps a little surprising though, is how little this asymmetry shows up in photos of natural objects. In our test photos, we saw no evidence of vertically-oriented artifacts in any of our shots, as we might have expected. If you really squint at the photos, you can see that vertical edges are a bit sharper than horizontal ones, but the net effect is simply one of greater detail overall. Nikon refers to raw sensor data as the "data pool" for an image and points out that the amount of data in the "pool" is much more important than the configuration of the pixels generating it. (Provided of course that you're appropriately clever in the interpolation routines used to translate the results back to the square pixels used by computer screens and print devices.) This view seems to be supported by our real world test results.
IMAGE NOISE -- WHERE IS IT?
Image noise has become something of a fetish in Internet photography circles. Many focus on it almost to the exclusion of other equally (more?) important image-quality parameters. Personally, I wonder what all these noise-obsessed photographers did when they had to deal with film grain.
Of course, image noise is an important image-quality parameter, even if not quite to the overriding extent many users and reviewers seem to feel. It was actually in this area the D1x most surprised us when we looked closely at our first test shots. For all intents and purposes, at low ISO values (125-200, say), the noise just simply isn't there. (!) In fact the noise is so low that our first reaction was to go back and snap a TIFF image of the MacBeth ColorChecker chart, thinking that the JPEG compression might somehow have been obscuring the noise.
No doubt about it, the D1x is one of the "quietest" portable cameras we've seen -- of any resolution and at any price point. Flat tints and subtle gradations show almost no noise at all, lending a buttery-smooth character to its images. While I myself am not as bothered by image noise as some people, I have to admit that the noise-free images produced by the D1x are tremendously appealing. Given the current market attitude toward image noise, I predict that the D1x is going to receive huge acclaim on this score alone.
The reason we were so surprised by the D1x's exceptionally low noise levels is that noise is fundamentally a function of the size of a CCD's pixels (specifically, of the ratio between the pixels' perimeter and area). With pixels half the size of those on the D1, basic CCD noise should have increased, not decreased. In designing the D1x, Nikon apparently went back to the drawing board with a total systems approach to noise reduction, taking into consideration every possible noise source and systematically eliminating them or reducing their impact. The result is impressive to say the least and a key reason why the D1x is such a significant product.
The second dramatic improvement over the original D1 is color quality. While the D1's images were undeniably sharp with excellent tonality, their color was a bit off the mark. Partly this was due to Nikon's decision to use the NTSC color space (of television-standards fame), a very awkward fit with the computer graphics world. Even after performing the appropriate color-space transformations on the D1's images though, their color never rose to a world-class level. The D1x uses sRGB color space as a default, but also has an in-camera option to capture images optimized for Adobe RGB color space, which has a much wider color gamut. (We particularly applaud Nikon's decision to include support for Adobe RGB, as an important step away from the tyranny of the woefully inadequate sRGB color standard foisted on the industry by Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard several years ago.) The bottom line is that the D1x's color is truly excellent -- accurate and bright without being overstated, just what you'd demand from a serious photographic tool.
THE DEATH OF FILM
But the real significance of the D1x is the much larger whole formed by its many excellent parts. Shooting with it, I experienced a personal epiphany that highlights the sea change the D1x will bring to photography. I'm not sure precisely when it happened, but after a day of shooting random subjects with the D1x and reviewing the images on my computer screen, I slowly realized that for the first time, I had no regrets about shooting digitally.
This may come as something of a surprise to our readers, since it'd be hard to imagine anyone more seemingly entrenched in the milieu of digital photography than yours truly. In fact though, when shooting digital, I've always been plagued with the paranoia that I might at some point want to do something with the image that would require more resolution than the digital approach could offer. (I don't know, print high-resolution wallpaper for my living room? Paranoia's not really a rational thing.)
But with the D1x, I had the completely new experience of being utterly satisfied with the image quality delivered by a purely digital device. To be sure, I could doubtless get more image information out of a piece of ISO 50 transparency film with a 4000 dpi film scanner (like Nikon's own Super Coolscan 4000 ED). In reality though, blowing the D1x images up pixel-for-pixel on my computer screen, there was more than enough detail than I'd ever have any rational reason to use. For the first time, I had simply no reason -- or desire -- to use film.
As I said, this was a real epiphany for me. (Online Websters: Main Entry: epiph-a-ny (1) a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something (2) an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking (3) an illuminating discovery, a revealing scene or moment.) Admittedly it's arrived in the form of a camera that I can't (yet) afford or justify for my personal use, but the end of my days as a film user is now clearly on the horizon. It's only a matter of time until the D1x technology appears in a ~$1,000 "semi pro" Nikon digital SLR that I will be able to afford. For a great many practicing pros, for whom the (relatively modest) $5,500 street price of the D1x is a justifiable business expense, the end of film is now.
Of course, the other "cameraness" attributes of the D1x are an important part of the overall equation, too. The D1x is quite simply one of the best-executed cameras I've had the pleasure to use. The real news though, is not that it's a great camera (you'd expect that from Nikon), but that it's the camera that will finally and firmly free a vast number of practicing pros from dependence on film. Kudos to Nikon on ushering in yet another revolution in photography!
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D1X/D1XA.HTM on the Web site.)
In early 1999, Nikon announced their first all-digital professional SLR, the D1. At the time, the specifications and projected price point (2.7 megapixels and a list price of $5,850 for the body) rocked the pro camera world and left many wondering whether Nikon could actually do it. They did.
Now, not quite two years later, they've once again raised the bar, this time with the D1x and its 5.47 megapixel CCD that produces 5.9 megapixel files. The D1x has the same superlative "cameraness" (a favorite Nikon term, describing how the device functions as a camera), but incorporates all-new electronics to accompany the new, larger chip.
We understate the case when we say the results are impressive.
The D1x offers significantly improved color rendition relative to the original D1 and has astonishingly low image noise. There undoubtedly will still be some photographers who'll cling to film, but for many (many) applications, the D1x easily supplants film.
It isn't often that a specific product can be said to substantially redefine an entire market, but the D1x has done just that for professional SLRs.
We couldn't wait to get our hands on the D1x. (We're highly partial to cameras offering full manual control and loads of features and use Nikon prosumer SLRs for our own film-based photography.)
With the familiar F5-inspired body, the D1x offers the look and feel film-based pros are accustomed to and is quick to get to know. The standard Nikon F lens mount means you can attach most of Nikon's 35mm lenses with no problem (great for current Nikon 35mm shooters who already have a full kit of lenses). Although the D1x is quite a bit heavier (2.5 pounds) than other prosumer-level digicams we've reviewed, we feel pretty confident pocket-sized portability isn't much of an issue with this camera's potential buyers. They'll value the extraordinary control and exceptional image quality provided by the D1x far above a few ounces of extra weight. Also, the weight is due in part to the incredibly rugged magnesium metal body, which creates a rigid optical platform designed to absorb unreasonable abuse with aplomb. We were pleased to see the inclusion of an external flash hot shoe on top of the camera as well as an external flash (PC style) sync socket in the design, providing as much flash flexibility as any high-end film-based Nikon SLR.
The very accurate TTL optical viewfinder means you have no need for the LCD panel as a viewfinder -- a good thing, since the SLR optics mean the LCD can't be used as a live viewfinder anyway. (By its nature, barring a "pellicle" mirror, the very design of an SLR precludes a live LCD viewfinder.) In addition to a dioptric adjustment dial and an internal shutter to prevent stray light from affecting exposures when the camera is used on a tripod, the viewfinder displays very detailed information on most of the camera's exposure settings and also shows a set of five focus targets. A very flexible autofocus system means you can determine the type of autofocus (single, continuous or manual), designate how it's used (single area, dynamic area, etc.) and even designate the location of the autofocus target within the frame. Exposure-wise, there are so many features on this camera that you'll have to read the entire review to get them all. We'll just mention here the ones we find particularly noteworthy.
To begin, you have the option of working in Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority or Manual exposure modes. Exposure settings are easily changed by using a combination of control buttons and command dials or through the LCD menu system. The extensive (!) Custom Settings menu provides access to a huge range of camera settings, including how various elements of the user interface itself work. For example, you can decide which command dial controls the shutter speed or aperture, adjust the image sharpness and contrast, determine whether or not the aperture changes as the lens zooms or set exposure variables for the automatic bracketing, among many others (there are 36 Custom Settings menu options in all). With the D1x, you have a broad exposure compensation range, with a variable adjustment from -5 to +5 exposure equivalents in one-third step increments (the increments can also be altered to one-half or one EV unit). White balance also has a lot of flexibility, with options for Auto, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Direct Sunlight, Flash, Overcast and Shade, all of which are adjustable from -3 to +3 (arbitrary units) in their intensity. A Preset white balance setting serves as the manual adjustment and the D1x can store up to three presets.
Metering modes include Spot, Center-Weighted and a very accurate Color 3D Matrix metering option. ISO can be set anywhere from 125 to 800, giving you tremendous exposure flexibility. (Special "ISO Boost" modes are available that extend the effective ISO to 1,600 or 3,200, albeit at the cost of image noise.) The auto bracketing feature takes three exposures of the same subject at different exposure settings (the variation of which either you or the camera can control). There's even a black and white monochrome exposure mode. Continuous Shooting lets you capture up to nine consecutive images as quickly as three frames per second and here again, you can select both the maximum number of shots as well as the frame rate. The camera's flash sync mode menu lets you select when the flash fires. Choose from Front-Curtain Sync, Slow-Sync, Rear-Curtain Sync, Red-Eye Reduction and Red-Eye Reduction with Slow Sync. Because the D1 accommodates a variety of Nikon's Speedlights, specific flash power and operation will vary depending on the particular model you're using.
The 5.47-megapixel CCD delivers image resolutions of 3008x1960 and 2000x1312 pixels. Image quality options include the usual Basic, Normal and Fine but also RGB TIFF, YCbCr TIFF and two RAW data formats (all listed under the High quality option in the menu system). Image storage is on CompactFlash Type I or II and the D1x supports the 340-MB IBM MicroDrive for huge on-the-go storage capacity. The D1x utilizes a custom EN-4 NiMH battery pack for power and an AC adapter/charger is included in the box. (We also highly recommend a spare battery pack). A design plus we really enjoyed here is that the battery pack and card slot are both accessible from the sides of the camera, so you don't have to dismount the camera from the tripod to access either compartment (this is something we always pay attention to, given the amount of studio work we do).
But the real story about the D1x is its image quality. Color rendition is significantly improved from that of the original D1 and the D1x now supports both sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces. The sRGB space is its default, while Adobe RGB can be set via a Custom Settings Menu option. We're pleased to see a major manufacturer provide color space options like this. The Microsoft/HP-dictated sRGB color space is fine for generic computer displays and Web work, but its color gamut (the range of colors that can be accurately represented) is too small for professional work. By making Adobe RGB available as an option, Nikon is helping promote a move away from the overly restrictive "standard" that's dominated the industry for years. The thing that really surprised us about the D1x's photos though, was the almost complete absence of image noise at normal ISO settings. These are some of the cleanest images we've seen from any digicam.
The full manual control, lack of LCD reliance and bevy of features will make the D1x a coveted addition to any photographer's equipment bag and the larger CCD will doubtless tempt many current D1 owners to upgrade. This camera is perfect for the professional photographer as well as the advanced amateur ready for a digicam that's a no-compromise creative tool. We're thrilled to see the carryover of Nikon's extensive exposure controls and features to the digital world and glad to see the return of the familiar styling that made the D1 so easy to get acquainted with.
The D1x's optical viewfinder works through the lens (the LCD monitor is for image playback and accessing the menu system). The circular optical viewfinder features a diopter adjustment dial and a sliding protective shutter that is manually moved in and out of place by a small lever. Nikon states that the optical viewfinder provides about 96 percent frame coverage, which agrees fairly well with our own measurements. (We measured viewfinder coverage at about 95 percent.) An illuminated display inside the viewfinder provides an information readout that includes focus indicators, shutter speed, aperture, exposure mode, metering, shutter-speed lock, aperture lock, AE lock, electronic analog display, frame counter, ready light and five sets of focus brackets. The internal metal shutter can be deployed to avoid exposure errors from light entering the rear element of the viewfinder during long exposures on a tripod.
The LCD panel provides a great deal of information about your pictures after you've shot them. No less than five screens of information are available, but the most interesting is the histogram display, which graphs the number of pixels at each brightness level. This is very handy for determining under- or overexposure. Ideally, the histogram would stretch across the entire width of the display, using the full range of brightness values. An underexposed image will show all the data lumped on the left-hand side, with nothing reaching all the way to the right. An overexposed image will show all the data lumped on the right-hand side.
While the histogram helps tell whether you've got the exposure right, sometimes you'd like even more assurance. Nikon has provided another special display mode simply called "highlights," accessible via the Playback settings menu, under "Display Mode." This mode "blinks" any highlights that are saturated all the way to pure white.
One quibble we had with the D1 that has thankfully been addressed on the D1x is the availability of playback zoom. This as an enormously handy feature and we use it all the time to check the product shots we do for the Web site. The D1x gives you about a 3x playback zoom. We'd like to see an option for even more magnification, for checking critical focus via the LCD display, but we applaud Nikon for adding zoomed playback in response to requests from D1 owners.
You can attach pretty much any lens as long as it uses the Nikon F mount. The D1x features the standard F mount, with both mechanical AF coupling for older lenses and AF electrical contacts for the latest AF-IF or AF-S Nikkor lenses with internal focus motors. With very few exceptions, you can use the D1x with any F Mount Nikkor lens ever made.
With linear dimensions of 15.6x23.7 millimeters, the CCD in the D1x is a fair bit smaller than a 35mm film frame. Thus, the D1x is essentially cropping into the central area of the normal 35mm field of view that any given lens would have. So the field of view of any lens attached to the D1x will be narrower than the same lens on a Nikon film camera. The net effect is that the D1x has a "focal length multiplier" of 1.5.
SHUTTER LAG / CYCLE TIMES
The D1 was phenomenally responsive to the shutter button and very fast from shot to shot as well. We're happy to report that this same performance has carried over to the D1x. Maximum frame rate in continuous mode is a bit slower due to the larger file sizes, but cycle time in single-shot mode is actually considerably improved.
The D1x is a very fast camera. Shutter lag is amazingly fast, measured at 72 milliseconds with our test apparatus. This is slightly slower than the 58 milliseconds we measured for the original D1, but still incredibly fast. This ultrafast shutter response only occurs when the camera is manually focused or prefocused by half-pressing the shutter button before the exposure itself. Autofocus performance will be dependent on the lens you're using with the camera. We clocked the 24-85mm zoom we tested at only 0.26 seconds in situations where the subject was nearly the same distance away as for the previous shot. Needless to say, these shutter delay times are enormously faster than anything we've encountered in the consumer digicam world.
Unlike the D1, the D1x seems to make good use of its buffer memory even in single-shot mode. Shot-to-shot cycle time is about a half second in single shot mode or 0.35 second in continuous mode, not a great difference. This eliminates the complication of special continuous-mode setup required to get the maximum cycle time performance. The buffer on the D1x only holds 4-6 images at the highest resolution/quality setting though, a significant step down from the 21 frames of buffer in the original D1. Maximum continuous-mode shooting speed is 2.8 frames/second, a pretty good clip and pretty amazing given the amount of data the D1x is dealing with.
Finally, the D1s starts up and shuts down quite quickly, taking only 0.73 second from power-on to the first image captured and shutting down in effectively no time at all. It switches from record to play mode very quickly (0.76 second) and from play to record mode almost instantly (0.2 second).
It's rare for a single product to change the ground rules for an entire marketplace, but Nikon's original D1 did just that for professional digital SLR cameras when it first shipped about a year and a half ago. With the release of the D1x, Nikon's done it again. They've managed to simultaneously improve nearly every operating parameter -- from color quality to resolution to image noise -- while at the same time incorporating numerous user-interface improvements and ergonomic niceties.
It'll be interesting to see how the 6-megapixel cameras coming soon from other manufacturers will compare. We can say confidently though, they'll have a very hard time beating the D1x. This digital SLR is truly deserving of the august Nikon name and one we predict will be the deciding factor for many photographers in finally throwing over film for an all-digital workflow. Outstanding in every respect!
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: Canon CanoScan FS4000US film scanner (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/FS4000/FS40A.HTM).
- Reviewed: Olympus D-510 Zoom (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D510/D51A.HTM).
- Reviewed: Ricoh RDC-i700 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/I700/I70A.HTM) in our new "short form" review.
- Reviewed: Polaroid PDC-2300 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/PDC2300/P23A.HTM) in short.
- Comparison images of the D1x and other Pro SLRs (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D1X/D1Xcomp.HTM).
- Massive site redesign completed/deployed! Besides the cleaner look, the new design navigates better and has much faster-loading pages. You'll also find almost 100 new articles recently unearthed from our newsletter archives. Plus a great new keyword search!
As chance would have it, we found ourselves among the guests at a family occasion recently. Little Matthew was being inducted into the clan, somewhat without his consent, since he doesn't yet speak any known language. But there are always some things over which one has little say.
Odd, though, how often that occurs in digital photography, we thought, as relative after relative approached with one or another question as if our little gathering were a user group meeting instead of a family occasion.
"It's too expensive," moaned Ed between beeps on his beeper. "How can these cameras be worth a thousand dollars?" Ed's the only one in the family without a collection of useless (but exotic) vehicles, we should add.
"How's the family, Ed?" we dodged the issue. Ed doesn't believe we write this stuff anyway.
But the stumper of the day came from Donna whose daughter keeps sending her JPEG attachments. "How do I print the pictures?" Actually, she didn't ask. Julio, her husband, dragged her over to the corner we'd painted ourselves in and confided, "She wants to know how to print her pictures."
That's a tough one to answer. And the more we thought about it, the tougher it became.
File Print, is the short answer.
But to take the long route, we'd have to find out what the name of her email program is, what kind of printer she has, explain the difference between the Page Setup and Print commands (and how to set up landscape printing), tip her off to the difference between a plain paper print and a photo glossy print, handle the whole resolution ball of wax (pixels, pixels per inch, dots per inch, lines per inch) and recommend an entirely different application to view, crop, resize and print her favorite images. And in all fairness and fun, we'd also have to explain that she could have it printed for her by an online photofinisher. You know, the whole $695 weekend seminar.
Concerned about our reputation, we hesitated to answer her question. Instead we do what we have always done when confronted with a situation beyond our limits.
"Mom!" we yelled.
Yes, we aren't (too) ashamed to admit it, we called Mom over. She's been dabbling in just that subject herself recently, experimenting with different papers (great prices at Costco, she informed us). We'd hoped to start a support group (Ed could be their leader), but Mom deftly changed the subject to six-month old infants. Matthew, in particular, I believe.
We managed to extricate ourselves by actually shooting pictures (boy, does that scatter relatives) and promising to put an album up on the Web (where everyone can order their own prints). But we came home wondering just what we should have said to Donna.
Actually, we should have told her what we told Ed. Don't think about digital photography quite the same way as film photography.
First, you are suddenly free of every constraint you have ever learned (OK, that's exaggerating a bit, but only a very large byte). Digicamers almost never buy another roll of film (and that means no more processing either). And they also take more pictures than they ever took with their film camera. Take a sober moment to calculate your film costs and you'll find digicams looking a little cheaper.
Second, with a film camera your only option is to drop off the film for processing and prints. And what happens to prints? They get shoeboxed. Stuck in a closet. Why, it's as if they never were taken at all.
Third, the best place to see your digicam shots is on your monitor. Your monitor can show far more colors than any print. You'll find yourself falling in love with on-screen slide shows. Friends and family will huddle around the glow of your monitor as if you'd invented fire.
Fourth, you can share your images with them easily by uploading them at no charge to any of a number of online photofinishers. The best part is you don't have to pay for reprints when you do this. They can order any image they like and even have it inexpensively enlarged -- at no cost to you.
Fifth, you can share those same images even with friends or relatives who don't own a computer with a photo frame connected to the Internet. Late at night when the phone is idle, the frame will connect to the Internet and download from your album whatever images you want to send to the frame. During the day, the frame will run a continuous slide show of the images it has stored. If they leave it on.
Sixth, you can use an inexpensive inkjet and an image editor to print some truly lovely 8x10-inch prints suitable for framing. Your home can be easily stocked with your favorite pictures. And you can change them any time, faster than you can revise your will.
Little Matthew, it suddenly struck us, is going to have only digital images of his first party (there were no film cameras present) and we suspect that's the way he'll learn about taking pictures, too. We won't pretend to know whether he'll regard a 35mm camera the same way we see a butter churn or a paint brush, but we wouldn't be surprised.
We do know, however, he won't have to ask us for prints of his first party.
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:
- Wow! The Minolta Dimage 7 continues to generate a plethora of comments at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee7b7c5
- Sara asks about storing digital photos at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee856ff
- Now that Zing.com is closing, Warren inquires about alternative photo sharing sites at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee85573
- Jerry asks about "Digital Photo Washout" at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8542e
- Check out the General Q & A Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee718ec
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RE: More Framing Tips
I enjoyed your framing article and I thought I'd mention one more framing tip. If you take a sponge and lightly dampen the brown paper on the back, it shrinks and tightens as it dries. I usually run a bead of white glue around the back, lay on the brown paper and let it dry, then trim the paper and dampen it.
I've done a lot of cheap framing in my time and I finally gave up cutting my own mats. It took more time than it was worth and you really have to get a lot of continuous practice to be very good at it. A framing shop will cut a mat for you for very little money. You might reemphasize the importance of acid-free mats and acid-free backing for anything you want to last.
-- Ginger Kaderabek(Thanks for the tips, Ginger! George used to use the white glue trick, but double-sided tape is so much cleaner, he gave it up.... And he would certainly appreciate your tip on custom mats. George charges around $20-$30 to cut a mat by hand, although you can get a machine cut for even less. -- Editor)
Mike, do you not like to use mounting sprays? If not, why?
-- Mounting Spray Association of America(Well, we personally don't like to use them. We keep confusing the cans with hairspray. And we really do prefer, as we said, to put as little adhesive on the print as possible -- even though we're only talking about inexpensively framing your "replaceable" inkjet prints. -- Editor)
RE: The Weakest Link
Recently I have had a few complaints of strange lines on prints printed mainly on Epson printers. After going through the usual (head cleaning and so on), the fault still persisted, so I looked further. After much head scratching and testing, to my amazement the trouble was caused by the USB cable in three cases. I replaced the cable with a better quality one and all was well. Please pass this tip on to see if others find the same.
-- George Maidstone(Thanks, George! Any physical device the data flows through is a possible suspect when things go wrong, including cables. -- Editor)
Your newsletter is great, well written, fun to read.
Interesting about the film sales statistics. Sales are down and they are shifting to the single-use camera category. I don't think the trasha-cam crowd is really a good base to build on. It suggests film is going to be around, but on the trailing edge. So, peering into the future.... Kodak will announce a film that produces results "just like digital." With granular pixelization. Fuji will throw in the towel and announce their new film is called "Legacia." (That's pronounced: "leh gah see ah.")
There's so much hype that people can rationalize whatever they want. If you take a 3-MP camera with a 'big' sensor, I think the war is over. If you really want to scan slides, consider the cost. Digital means taking a lot of pictures. That was a good point you made.
It's unfortunate that there is a lot of processing in the consumer cams. The great thing about digital is tweaking a shot and playing with the balance of light. The cameras seem to equalize the pictures, which limits the creative control.
Thanks for the newsletter. I'd pay for it.
-- George Sears(Thanks, George! The invoice is on it's way.... We found those stats amusing, too. Now if we could just find a resource that has reported the number of images taken with digicams, we might be able to prove film has been the big bottleneck to photography all along <g>.... Not sure what to make of those single-use sales. It's June and they're popular at weddings and vacations, at least under water (the vacations). -- Editor)
RE: CompactFlash Speeds
Is there really any reason to pay extra for "high speed" CompactFlash cards? Do the high speed cards work faster in any old digicam or does the firmware have to be specially written to take advantage of the faster speed? For example, will my PowerShot S10 write pictures faster to an 8x card? Will it be 8x as fast as a "regular" card?
-- Eddy(The speed designation used by Lexar compares the time it takes to transfer images (random and sequential reads and writes) to what a first generation CD-ROM player can do (that's 1x). A 4x card handles sequential writes at 600-KB/second.... CompactFlash cards have a controller built into them, their own intelligence as it were. And that's the reason for the price differences. You are paying primarily for a faster controller. Note, though, that Lexar has just recently dropped prices and if you buy before the end of July, they throw in a free USB Jumpshot cable (no reader needed).... Does it matter? The controller is only one factor in shot-to-shot speed and file transfer performance. In the camera, the CCD sensor's speed and the camera's processing power (to compress the image, for example) also matter. In older cameras they can account for most of the time spent between images.... Higher-end cameras process images faster generally and the card speed subsequently accounts for more of the time. It's a consideration in professional work (say sports photography). At Rob Galbraith's site for professional digital photographers, he benchmarks card speed (http://www.robgalbraith.com/). Take a peek at his Selecting CompactFlash Cards 2001 report.... And visit http://www.lexarmedia.com/products/usb_cf_main.html (particularly the Speed Benchmarks white paper) for more. -- Editor)
RE: SmartMedia Plastic Cases
Thanks for your help [looking for SmartMedia plastic cases]. The suggestion of Peak (http://www.peak-uk.com) led me to PC Card Packaging (http://www.pccardpkg.com). They are very helpful and I was able to purchase stiff plastic cases for my SmartMedia cards directly from them.
-- Frank Ebetino(Thanks for the follow up, Frank! I can already hear their phones ringing. -- Editor)
RE: Erasing the Baby
I accidentally erased all the photos off my daughters Epson Photo PC 3000Z! I did this while reviewing the photos on the camera screen. None of the pictures were downloaded to the PC. Is there any way to get them back? These were photos of the birth of her son and photos of the first four weeks of his life. HELP!!
-- Mary(Yikes! You may have some luck using an external card reader and a data- recovery utility like Norton Unerase or similar. Find someone who has a CompactFlash card reader and a data-recovery utility like Norton. The key things to consider are: 1) Don't Take Any More Pictures On That Card, If You Haven't Already! The images are almost certainly still there in some fashion, with the space they occupied simply marked as "available." If you don't write anything else to the card, you've got a much better chance of recovering the photos. 2) Make sure that whatever utility you (or your computer guru) use, it only copies the data to the computer's disk and doesn't attempt to "fix" the missing files in-place. Computers and cameras write to the cards differently, there's a chance a computer utility "fixing" the card could in fact scramble the card enough to prevent their recovery. 3) She already knows this now, but tell your daughter to always copy her photos to the computer as soon as possible! OK to leave them on the card, just make sure she has one (or two) copies somewhere else ASAP. -- Dave)(If all else fails, Mary, try a data recovery service (in your Yellow pages). These guys aren't cheap, but they do work magic. -- Editor)
I know most of your members are U.S.-based but it would be very helpful if you could, as part of Dave's Deals, give some consideration to passing on information about good deals in the UK. Is this a possibility?
-- David(Dave's Deals are available to any subscriber, David, although there are sometimes export restrictions. If you aren't able to take advantage of a Deal because of an export restriction, just let us know and we'll chase down the proper avenue to complete the deal (if at all possible).... And if you run across a UK deal, please pass it along to us and we'll see if we can include it. We admire every long-suffering subscriber here, no matter where they live. -- Editor)
Larry Berman (http://BermanGraphics.com) has posted interviews with photographers Pete Turner and Ralph Gibson. The Turner interview is scheduled to run in the October issue of Shutterbug Magazine.
Google (http://images.google.com/) is beta testing its Image Search engine with more than 150 million images.
SiPix has announced the SCP-1000 Digital Instant Camera, a combined digital camera and a 2x2.5-inch continuous tone photo printer. The $299 SCP-1000 is 4-MB VGA digicam, a four-mode built in flash, a dual-mode self timer, manual white balance, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and battery charger. The camera uses thermal color transfer technology to produce colorful and vibrant prints. Available in August, it also emulates a mass storage USB enabled device and can act as a dedicated USB photo printer with any compatible PC.
ACDSee has released version 1.6 of ACDSee for Mac (http://www.acdsystems.com/). The new version adds compatibility with OS X, TWAIN image acquisition support for scanners and the ability to read metadata in Exif JPEG images.
Callisto (http://www.PhotoParade.com/) has released Mac OS versions of PhotoParade E-Mailer and Photo Viewer for viewing and sending digital photos.
Olympus (http://www.olympus.com) has announced the 4-MP Camedia C-4040 Zoom with a super-bright F1.8 high-performance 3x zoom lens, a rubberized lens barrel and grip, plus image quality and noise reduction technologies.
Toshiba (http://www.dsc.toshiba.com) has announced the 4.2-Megapixel PDR-M81 digicam. Features include a newly redesigned, all-glass, Canon f7.25-20.3mm lens with a 2.8x optical zoom and a macro mode focusing up to four-inches away.
Toshiba has also expanded its 1.8-inch hard disk drive line (http://www.harddrives.toshiba.com) with the 5-GB Type II PC Card HDD. The $499 drive will begin shipping in late July.
Epson has announced that Nikon, Pentax and Sanyo will incorporate Print Image Matching technology in upcoming digicams. The new partners join Casio, Konica, Kyocera, Minolta, Olympus, Ricoh, Sony and Toshiba. Epson also already introduced its first Print Image Matching enabled digicam, the PhotoPC 3100Z.
Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com/) has released version 7.1.3 of VueScan. The update provides improved color fidelity when scanning film, support for Storm ScanPRO IIe, improved SCSI support on Linux 2.4 and several other improvements.
FlipAlbum 4.0 has been released for $24.95 (boxed) or $19.95 (download). Visit http://www.flipalbum.com/flipalbum/product.php for details. FlipAlbum 4.0 requires CD Maker 2.0 to cut flipbooks onto CDs. CD Maker 2.0 will be available in September.
Sapphire Innovations has announced Sapphire Styles Vol 2, over 1,200 styles for Photoshop. Visit http://www.sapphire-innovations.com for a demo set.
ScanSoft (http://www.scansoft.com) has released OmniPage Pro 11, the first OCR product resulting from ScanSoft's acquisition of Caere in March 2000. The new release recognizes 114 languages and is up to 40 percent more accurate, Scansoft said. It can also convert PDF documents that contain text, tables and graphics into formatted documents users can edit. OmniPage Pro 11 can unlock data in PDF and other image files, the company said. Retailing for $499.99, upgrades are available for $149.99.
Kodak Professional (http://www.kodak.com/go/professional) has announced that the National Aeronautics & Space Administration will take the Professional DCS 760 camera on its upcoming STS108 space shuttle mission to the International Space Station. Images captured with the DCS 760 will be used for research and development of surveys and maps and to capture internal images of the space station and its crew members. NASA plans to fly its first DCS 760 up to the space station on a shuttle mission currently scheduled for Nov. 29.
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher