|Volume 3, Number 20||5 October 2001|
Welcome to the 56th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Apprehensive about the future? Read our report on Seybold or Dave's preview of the new Coolpix 5000. And if that doesn't help, maybe some "horse sense" will.
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Seybold has always been about the future of publishing. Companies and attendees intent on being part of that future have always attended with more than a little excitement.
In the old days it was the thrill of getting your hands on a drum scanner (or the vendor that failed to deliver it). But in more recent years, the excitement has been about the changing nature of publishing as it moved from iron and ink to bits and networks.
Digital imaging was a big part of Seybold even in the iron age, but this year Seybold was a very different show than it had been.
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. were only part of the reason. Some 22 companies -- among them Kodak and Nikon -- of approximately 300 did cancel in the two weeks between the attacks and the show. And the paralysis of the nation's transportation system made the show more local than it has been. But there's plenty of local talent.
The big change, though, preceded the events of Sept. 11. The number of conference attendees dropped to about one-third of normal despite the most ambitious conference agenda in Seybold history. There are simply less companies now with fewer people paid to attend the conferences. Fortunately show attendees (admission is free) kept the aisles busy.
But Seybold wasn't a ghost town. It resembled the Seybolds of just a few years ago. Attendees were serious about the industry__ not T-shirts and promotional gear. And they could actually carry on a conversation at the various booths. Only one of which featured actors -- and that didn't last long.
Nor did the initial ban on photography at the event last long. That was lifted Tuesday after impromptu security measures for photographers were implemented. Some exhibitors (Apple, most notably) nevertheless asked us not to shoot. You can see our illustrated show reports on the Web site (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/SEYF01/SEYF01.HTM).
In this round-up, we'll revisit the products we found most important -- with the advantage of hindsight.
MAC OS X UPDATE
OS X (http://www.apple.com) got a little more real Tuesday morning when the 10.1 update was released. In a special keynote scheduled after Apple cancelled its Paris Expo, Apple's Steve Jobs insisted this version was the one. And Phil Schiller, vice president of worldwide product marketing, showed why.
It's a lot faster, launching applications 2-3 times faster and resizing windows 5-10 times faster than its predecessor. It adds support for burning DVD-Rs, includes a new DVD player and iDVD 2, improves network connectivity and enhances the user interface with options like a customized dock.
That's welcome news, but other aspects of the new OS will delight digital imaging enthusiasts even more:
Next to that, the free 22-MB beta of Microsoft Word v.X (http://www.microsoft.com/mac/download/WordTestDrive) didn't sound quite so interesting.
- ColorSync (now at version 4.0) is now fully integrated into the operating system, capable of automatically calibrating your monitor and automatically applying ICC profiles to files.
- The built-in Image Capture application automatically recognizes devices like printers and digicams, embeds profiles automatically and enables color proofing on your monitor.
- AppleScript can now handle imaging tasks like rotating and resizing images.
- A set of color-neutral desktop backgrounds have been added.
In the week since the show, we installed the upgrade to OS X and System 9 (bringing it to 9.2.1) and played with Image Capture and a Nikon 990. We were pretty impressed.
Plug your camera into the USB port and presto, you have a window that reports the camera (Nikons and Canons at the moment) and what's in it. You can either download all the images or a selection, but the fun is in previewing the images.
Thumbnails are downloaded to your drive and displayed in a window. You can also display the images in list view -- and that includes some Exif metadata like f-stop, exposure and flash setting. You can select which items to list in Preferences, but not all the metadata is available. Still, very nice and quite simple.
Particularly handy for Coolpix owners, the thumbnails can be rotated so they are correctly oriented when copied to your disk. You don't actually work with the images in the camera (although it seems like it).
Image Capture can also delete images on your digicam after they've been downloaded to the Mac. But it's smarter to let the digicam do it after you've backed up your images. You can never be too careful.
Also among its preferences are options to set the camera time and date on connect. So when you plug the USB cable from your Mac to your digicam, it will synchronize your digicam's clock to the Mac. Utter genius (Fall back, BTW).
In fact we've taken Image Capture to heart. Of all the ways we've used to move data from a camera to a computer, this one is our favorite.
Image Capture can be scripted with AppleScript (http://www.apple.com/applescript). And it comes with a number of scripts to do things like rotate or scale images. Even embed an ICC profile so your images are automatically color corrected. All these operations can be done automatically, greatly enhancing the possibility of color management.
With an image processing engine built into the OS, Apple's AppleScript guru Sal Soghoian demonstrated how to pull images from the camera to the desktop, rotate them and size them in Explorer to fit in a browser window with no more magic than a script.
We chatted with David Hayward, Apple software engineer, about the magic in ColorSync 4 (http://www.apple.com/colorsync). It relies, he said, on USB protocols and sub-protocols to identify devices as you plug them in.
He plugged in a Canon D30 before our very eyes and OS X recognized it. Image Capture popped up and displayed thumbnails of all the images in the camera, let us rotate them and download them to the hard drive. The camera's preferences included which ICC profile to embed in its images and the destination folder for the downloaded images.
Similarly printers identify themselves to OS X and their profiles are automatically engaged. You can still select different ones for different media in the Print dialog box. But you don't have to bother with the Chooser anymore. USB does all that for you.
And built into every Apple LCD display is rudimentary color data that permits OS X to build a profile for it. It's fixed data, so it doesn't account for life after the display leaves the factory floor, but it's a starting point for calibration.
At the GretagMacbeth booth we heard, once again, how much more stable LCD displays are, requiring recalibration every six months rather than the monthly checkup a CRT typically needs in daily use.
GETTING THE UPDATE
Apple is making it easy to get the update. It's available at no charge as an update from Apple dealers through Oct. 31. The full product retails for $129.
In the week we've played with it, duplicating with our own equipment what we saw on the show floor, we've sensed this is more than marketing. We have our reservations about technologies like PRINT Image Matching, which are undeniably convenient in skirting around sRGB's limitations but not necessarily smart. But what we've seen of OS X tells us there's a lot of smarts under the hood that is making life easier for the digital imager already.
RODS & CONES
We had the pleasure of attending a ColorSync presentation at Web 2001 just prior to Seybold given by Son Do, Rods & Cones president. His company (http://www.rodsandcones.com) customizes color management and workflow for graphics professionals. And while Rods & Cones will build ICC device profiles for customers for $100 each, they'll also edit them to suit (and over the phone, too).
But when we chatted with him at Seybold, we learned some interesting things about calibrating cameras and printers. He doesn't feel it's worthwhile to calibrate digicams, inkjet and dye sub printers. The output of the printers is too variable to nail down, he said. And the conditions in which you use a digicam make calibration useless. You simply have no control of the light.
We've found it useful to impose some order on inkjet and digicam chaos with ICC profiling. But we haven't had the success we'd hoped for. And Do's explanation illuminates the problem. Color calibration is a tough act, making color management ever more elusive.
One of the show's stars was a beta of Idee's Espion (http://www.ideeinc.com), which has been integrated into Canto Cumulus to retrieve images by, well, looking at them (rather than using keywords).
Image searching software based on visual comparison has been another very tough nut to crack but the demo we got from Leila Boujnane, Idee chief executive officer, gave us more than hope.
Espion indexes images according to several criteria: shape, color, texture, foreground, background, composition, contrast and luminance among them. It actually scans the bitmap of an image to evaluate each criteria. One image requires between 0.5K to 1.0K for the index entry and Espion is smart enough to reindex any modified image on the fly.
Boujnane searched a database of 3,895 photographic images using several methods. None of the searches took more than a few seconds to list possible (and, it turned out, useful) matches graded by percent. Some hits were in the 90s and credible matches existed down to about the 60s. Boujnane said the usefulness of the match drops off significantly around 30 percent.
The index criteria are evenly weighted at the moment, but will be selectable so users can weigh, say, shape over texture.
Meanwhile, Boujnane demonstrated a really slick "sketch" mode where the reference image used to key the search is, well, anything you sketch in the image window. Now you can actually retrieve an image that "looks like" some scrawl you can draw! Charades will never be the same.
At the Apple booth we noticed they were using the new Eye-One spectrophotometer device from GretagMacbeth (http://www.gretagmacbeth.com) to calibrate their LCD displays. So we hustled over to the GretagMacbeth booth to chat with Patrick Endaya, director of sales, who gave us the complete demo.
Unlike color calibration devices for CRTs, the Eye-One has a soft rubber gasket where it touches the LCD screen and a strap with a rubber weight to keep it against the flexible display (rather than the suction cups used to attach devices to the hard glass of CRTs).
The GretagMacbeth solution isn't cheap at $3,000 (down from their professional version for $10,000), but it was easy to use and understand and can also profile printers and scanners. And it's a full-blown spectrophotometer.
In addition, Endaya told us GretagMacbeth has set up a Web site (http://www.i1color.com) to help foster discussion of color calibration.
THE ULTIMATE UNERASE
Since digicams were invented, photographers of all stripes have wanted to know one thing: "How do I unerase my storage card?!" We have dutifully enumerated every trick we've learned, explaining the physical and logical formats and the software options available.
But if all our advice fails you, DriveSavers (http://www.drivesavers.com) won't. Even, we were assured, if you reformat your card. Yes, even then (because cameras only do a logical format).
For $140 they'll scrape everything off your CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Memory Stick or MMC and write it to a CD. And if they can't help, they won't charge you. Make a note. Now.
We couldn't miss one rather large booth in the North Hall -- not because of its size but because of the gorgeous images on its walls. In fact, it seemed to be something like a gallery.
Indeed it was. The work of Stephen Johnson (http://www.sjphoto.com), the large framed scenic prints were imaged with a Dicomed and Better Light 4x5 digital camera, transferred to a PowerBook and printed seamlessly on various papers. Each image is a 140-MB file. But Johnson also makes 370-degree panoramas of over 1-GB. Gorgeous stuff.
ANYBODY HAVE A PEN?
We've used a 4x5 pressure-sensitive Wacom graphics tablet for years. There are, simply put, things you can do with a pen that you can't with a mouse. Even if you are just burning and dodging.
So we were intrigued to learn Wacom (http://www.wacom.com) introduced two new products at the show.
The Cintiq interactive pen display is to dream about. It's a 15-inch diagonal LCD display with 1024x768 pixels that tilts from 18 to 73 degrees. On the side is a removable (and adjustable, up and down) pen stand. It's attached to the LCD because you draw on the LCD itself, not on a graphics tablet.
We were glad to hear it comes with an ICC color profile. But we were even happier to hear it's half the price of its predecessor. At $1,899 it still isn't cheap, though. And we found it a little sluggish, the effect trailing the pen movement slightly and noticeably with more complex brushes.
But Wacom has also updated its Intuos line of graphics tablets to the Intuos2 in five sizes ranging from 4x5 to 12x18. The Intuos2 features a new pen, two new high-resolution mice and oversampling technology.
The new pen adds a pressure-sensitive grip to the barrel. The rubber sleeve is removable, as is the rocker-style DuoSwitch that protrudes from it, so you can replace it with a solid grip with no switch on the barrel.
With the Intuos2 line, Wacom now includes a cordless, battery-free, no-ball (but not optical) mouse. The two small tablets include a 2D mouse while the larger tablets feature a 5-button 4D mouse (whose belly is illustrated in the picture).
Wacom claims the two-time oversampling provides significantly improved "data quality" over previous models. It also makes the pens and tables incompatible with previous devices.
Drivers compatible with OS X and Windows XP are supplied, but the mice will function during startup on USB tablets without a driver installed.
NEW MINOLTA FILM SCANNER
We got our first look at the new Minolta DiMAGE Scan Elite II film scanner (http://www.dimage.minolta.com) due for release in November. Dave has just reviewed its big brother (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/DSMP/DSMA.HTM). It is certainly compact, with plastic carriers for both 35mm film strips and mounted slides (with an optional APS adapter available, too).
And at under $1,000 with Digital ICE defect removal, Digital ROC color restoration and Digital GEM grain management technology, there isn't much this 16-bit scanner can't handle. In fact, if legacy faded slides are giving you Photoshop nightmares, Digital ROC will let you sleep like a baby.
The scanner features a 4.8 dynamic range, 2820-dpi resolution and multiple-sample scanning (to reduce noise by reading the same area 2-16 times).
We found the software straightforward and easy to use. Unique to Minolta, the software lets you save "snapshots" of scanner corrections in the left-hand column. Try a few variations, save each, compare them with a click. Once you've found settings you like, you can save them, too.
There's also a very handy color negative conversion setting.
The scanner includes both a USB 1.1 interface and a FireWire/IEEE 1394 interface but we'd recommend you use FireWire. A 35mm preview takes about 7 seconds and a scan 33 seconds with FireWire.
We notice a trend developing in software bundles. We're starting to see Photoshop Elements (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PSE/PSE.HTM) bundled with a number of products. The Wacom tablets and the Minolta scanner both include Elements.
NEW UMAX SCANNERS
UMAX (http://www.umax.com) showed the $99 Astra 4400. With a USB interface, the 1200x2400 dpi single-pass scanner does 48-bit color. The 4450 model includes a transparency cover that illuminates up to 4x5 size film for $129.
Both models include buttons to quickly scan, copy or email/fax images. And software to "instantly edit" scans in Word or Excel.
But we were a little more interested in the slightly larger $129 Astra 6400 and the $179 Astra 6450 with the same transparency cover because they upped performance with a FireWire/IEEE 1394 interface (don't worry, it includes a PCI IEEE 1394 card for your PC). Specs are a little less spectacular at 600x1200 dpi and 42-bit color, but more than adequate for photo imaging.
LEARN PHOTOSHOP ON A CD
Lynda.com (http://www.lynda.com), owned by Lynda Weinman, has put together a series of CDs on Photoshop 6. We took a look at the beginner CD titled "Learning Photoshop 6," which was the most popular title sold at the show. But "Advanced Photoshop 6" and the combo "Learning Photoshop 6/ImageReady for the Web" CD also whetted our appetite, so we asked for review copies.
From what we could see on the show floor, the CDs provide a simple-to-use interface to a series of QuickTime movies covering a wide variety of topics (even in the beginner title). You follow along as the presenter tells you what he's doing and why at a leisurely pace. There are hours of instructional material on each CD.
Since we first saw a Russell Brown QuickTime tutorial included with Photoshop, we've liked the idea of CD tutorials. So we have high hopes for these $149.95 titles.
LOSE ONE, WIN ONE
We were miffed that Canon (http://www.canon.com) didn't have an EOS-1D for us to play with, until we learned not only did the new Canon stay home but so did all the staff from New York. The Canon booth was manned entirely by West Coasties. And they all drove to San Francisco.
But they were having fun. The digicam booth was busy as always and just a step or five away, Canon had set up a backdrop with the Golden Gate Bridge where attendees could pose to have their picture snapped. By the time you got off the set, the image had been printed on a Canon CP-10 300-dpi dye sub printer cabled directly to a Canon PowerShot digicam and presented to the attendee.
Our disappointment at not getting our hands on "the world's faster digital SLR" was slightly ameliorated when Canon's Michael Nadler showed us the product comparison between the EOS-1D and its competitors that he put up on the G4 PowerBook prominently displayed at the corner of the busy booth.
"I downloaded your product comparison," he confessed. "You're the only guys who have all the specs. And you guys tell it like it is." And there it was, straight from our camera comparison database (http://imaging-resource.com/CAMDB/compare_cameras.php).
We got our peek at the future -- as we've been accustomed to getting it -- from Seybold once again. It's a time we can't wait to inhabit, after all. A reassuring sentiment, we note, after other recent events.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full preview posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C5000/C5A.HTM on the Web site.)
With Minolta and Sony recently announcing 5-megapixel cameras, many wondered what Nikon had up its sleeve. Well, wonder no more. Nikon has announced its 5-megapixel Coolpix 5000. The unit we received for evaluation was an early prototype, not a candidate for either sample photos or our usual quantitative performance tests.
The Coolpix 5000 is a significant departure from the swivel-case designs of prior high-end Coolpix models. Rather than split the case to allow the lens and LCD screen to swivel independently of each other, the Coolpix 5000 uses a "Vari-angle" LCD design that's a dead ringer for the design we liked so much on the Canon Pro 90 IS and G2 cameras. This results in a more conventional camera body design, but retains the viewing flexibility formerly provided by the swivel body. We personally find the Coolpix 5000 easier to work with than the 995 and its predecessors.
The shape of the Coolpix 5000 is rather tall and shallow (front to back), with dimensions of 4.0x3.2x2.7 inches. It has a pleasant heft, neither particularly heavy nor light. With the battery installed, it weighs 14.4 ounces. Fans of earlier Coolpix cameras will also applaud the return to an all-metal body design last seen in the Coolpix 990 model.
Another big change from previous Nikon consumer digicams is the provision of a full hot shoe atop the camera, a welcome move away from the proprietary strobe sync adapter seen on the 950, 990 and 995 models.
From the front, the camera looks a lot like any of a dozen current digicams, although its rather tall profile is a little unusual. Visible on the front panel are the large flash tube (its size apparently not translating into any greater flash range though), the window for the optical viewfinder and the AE/AF-lock button. Just above and to the right of the AE/AF-L button are two small holes for the microphone, used to record audio when in movie mode. At the top of the body, just to the left of the flash tube, is a tiny opening for the flash exposure sensor.
The sloping front of the hand grip holds the shutter button, on/off switch and a mysterious clear window that apparently will not be present on production models. We were told that this was a flash sensor, but it looks a lot more like a lamp of some kind. We wonder if Nikon had considered adding a focus-assist light to the 5000, but dropped it for some reason at the last minute. A shame if so, because focus-assist illuminators, increasingly common on high-end digicams, are seriously useful for low light photography.
Finally, here's an interesting little item. There's a small plastic plate next to the battery compartment that pops out quite easily. When we asked Nikon about it, they said this is where the power/vertical hand grip will plug in. We confess that up until that point, we somehow hadn't grasped (no pun intended) that the power pack using six AA batteries was going to plug in as a hand grip. Six 1700 mAh NiMH AA cells will provide about 2.5 times the power of the standard EN-EL1 internal Li-Ion battery.
The Coolpix 5000 offers a real-image optical viewfinder, as well as a color LCD monitor for composing images. The optical viewfinder zooms along with the lens, but does not reflect any digital zoom (which requires the LCD monitor to be active). The viewfinder optics have a fairly high eyepoint, meaning that most eyeglass wearers should have little trouble using the viewfinder for framing. And the viewfinder eyepiece is close enough to the left edge of the camera that right-eyed users can use it comfortably without mashing their noses against the back of the camera.
The 1.8-inch, 110,000-dot, low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD monitor features a swivel design. The LCD monitor actually lifts up off of the back panel, flipping out toward the left side of the camera. Once opened, it can swivel around to face up or down with a radius of 270 degrees. You can also turn it around to face the camera and then close it to protect it from scratches. We really like swiveling LCD designs, as they greatly increase the camera's shooting flexibility, allowing you to hold the camera at a variety of angles and still clearly see the LCD display.
Built into the Coolpix 5000 is a 3x Nikkor 7.1-21.4mm lens, equivalent to a 28-85mm lens on a 35mm camera. The all-glass lens is made of nine elements in seven groups. Maximum aperture varies from f2.8 to f4.8, depending on the lens zoom setting, with the largest aperture available when the lens is at its maximum wide angle focal length. Apertures are adjustable in 10 steps with 1/3 EV increments and are created by a seven-blade iris diaphragm. The seven-blade diaphragm is a nice but subtle touch -- it will produce less distortion in sharp, specular highlights than apertures made by diaphragms with fewer blades in them and hence more irregular shapes. The seven-blade iris also provides finer-grained aperture control.
The lens itself has a set of body threads around its base and it apparently can use many of the broad range of Nikkor accessory lenses developed for previous Coolpix models. A new very wide-angle converter will be available for the Coolpix 5000, providing an equivalent 35mm focal length of 19mm.
In its promotional literature, Nikon touts the speed of the Coolpix 5000. The lens on our prototype did appear to zoom in and out quite a bit faster than that on the 995, but it made much more noise.
The Coolpix 5000 features a built-in flash with five flash modes including Auto, Flash Cancel, Anytime Flash, Red-Eye Reduction and Slow-Sync.
To our mind, one of the biggest features added to the Coolpix 5000 (apart from the obvious boost in resolution) was the top-mounted hot shoe. You can easily connect a more powerful external flash unit, either a Nikon dedicated unit or a generic third-party one. The shoe connects to Nikon Speedlight models SB-50DX, 28DX, 28, 27, 26, 25, 24, 23 and 22, although we were surprised to learn from another reviewer (Steve of Steve's-Digicams) that the shoe mount didn't make use of the zoom head on an SB-50DX speedlight. A major oversight.
The other benefit of a hot shoe is that it's an easy interface to studio strobe systems. Previous Coolpix cameras required a proprietary Nikon flash sync connector.
SHUTTER LAG/CYCLE TIMES
The prototype seemed a bit faster than the 995 we tested not too long ago, but not dramatically faster than other digicams on the market.
The Coolpix 5000 runs on a rechargeable EN-EL1 lithium-ion battery pack, housed inside the hand grip, or the optional AC adapter which plugs into the front of the camera. The camera can also use one 6V 2CR5/DL245 lithium battery or six AA batteries via an optional external Power Pack. Nikon estimates that a fully-charged battery pack should provide about 100 minutes of recording time, with the LCD monitor on.
We'll defer complete power testing of the Coolpix 5000 until we receive a production model. But we took a peek at the prototype's power consumption. To our surprise, it was fairly modest, actually about the same as its little brother, the Coolpix 885. We calculated its worst-case run time at about 95 minutes, pretty close to the 100 minutes claimed by Nikon. With the LCD off though, it can happily stay powered-up in capture mode for more than 24 hours (!) without draining the battery.
The Coolpix 5000 looks like a promising entry into the 5-megapixel derby. We really like the articulated LCD screen and hot shoe flash mount, although we can't understand why Nikon didn't support the cool zooming flash heads on their speedlights.
Overall, the Coolpix 5000 shows a great deal of promise, but the final call depends on how the production units deliver picture quality, color accuracy and operating speed. Stay tuned, we'll have our usual full report as soon as we can get our hands on a true production model!
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:
- Previewed: Canon PowerShot S30 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S30/S30A.HTM) & S40 cameras (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S40/S40A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Toshiba PDR-M71 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/M71/M71A.HTM).
- Reviewed: Canon EOS-1D (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EOS1D/1DTHMBS.HTM).
- Reviewed: Minolta Dimage Scan Multi Pro (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/DSMP/DSMA.HTM).
- Illustrated Review: Canto Cumulus (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/CM/CM.HTM).
- Reviewed: Fuji FinePix A201 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A201/A21A.HTM).
- Reviewed: Nikon Coolpix 885 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C885/C85A.HTM).
- Reviewed: PowerBank (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/PB/PBA.HTM).
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:
Read about the Canon EOS-1D at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?128@@.ee87117
Compare Casio camera prices at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee860f7
A user asks about cleaning camera LCDs at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?128@@.ee865cc
Visit the Batteries & Power Solutions thread at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee86c1d
Visit our General Q & A Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee718ec
We tucked our bundle of just-updated offsite CDs under our arm like a football the other day and set off toward Golden Gate Park.
Our offsite storage location is five miles away, not far from Ocean Beach on the other side of the park. We don't usually make a hike of it, but with Seybold looming before us we thought it was a terrific opportunity to get into show shape.
But just as we entered the park a chill ran up our spine. And not just from the cold wind that swirled the fog through the trees. It suddenly occurred to us it was crazy to be walking five miles in the fog with our precious data.
Particularly because it was the week of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Anything could happen. Anywhere.
We told ourselves we were just being silly. Again. But the chill only turned into a shiver.
As we passed the Japanese Tea Garden and turned west near the Arboretum, we heard the unmistakable clip clop of the mounted police behind us. Two mounted officers, in fact, riding side-by-side on the paved path.
We stepped aside to avoid being trampled. We expected them to turn off at Stow Lake, but they stayed on our path. So we followed them at the respectful (and hygienic) distance of about 20 yards. And, since we walk about as fast as a horse (as we found out), we maintained that distance until the mounted patrol turned off for the stables, their shift over.
Only some time later did it occur to us that our offsites have never had quite that level of security. We had been protected all the way through the park by a mounted police escort!
As someone (was it Alexis de Tocqueville or Robin Williams?) once said, What a country!
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RE: Scanning Textures
Thanks to Kim Brady for a really interesting article. There is one thing that was not touched on, however: the problems in scanning matte (pebble) finish photos. Anyone who has tried to do so at any significant resolution will find that there are many, many points of reflected light all about the image. What desktop scanner can deal with this problem, Kim?
-- Robert Perkins(I asked one of the industry's top scanning experts, Herb Paynter of IX Software (http://www.ixsoftware.com). Herb said that pebble and matte finish papers represent two separate problems, because they each have different surface characteristics. Pebble surfaces behave very much like screened prints (those that have been separated for graphic arts printing), while matte surfaces behave more like low-contrast prints and can benefit from some of the same adjustments you would make on a low-contrast image. -- Kim)(The problem is the scanner's perpendicular light source. Take the same print to a copy stand (where you can illuminate at 45 degrees) and shoot it with a digicam (or just copy the print in a bright part of the room, out of direct sun) and the problem disappears. See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/genphoto/message/682 for a similar solution.... At the scanner, the best results we got (and not as good as a digicam copy) of a linen-finish print were done by descreening the image as if it had a halftone. That blurs the image enough to get rid of the specular highlights. But it does blur it. Unsharp masking helped that, but the digicam copies were clearly sharper. -- Editor)
I appreciate your and Kim's reply and have to say that, IMHO, Imaging Resource is and has been my fave for years. I also have enjoyed participation in the forums, too. Thanks to you and all at Imaging Resource for all your helpful information for us prosumers. Incidentally, you may be interested in my Web site (http://www.digitaloils.com). I have perfected a machine that uses oil paint to print on stationary canvas.
(Looks like you're having as much fun as we are! -- Editor)
RE: More on Scanning
Have been enjoying your articles in the Imaging Resource newsletter since I subscribed some time back. Today's column about scanning was very interesting.
I have an Adara Imagestar II flatbed scanner, which I purchased a couple years or so back. The company sold out to Microtek, whose E6 is supposed to be an exact duplicate of the Adara. I would like to get some updated drivers but can't find any place to obtain them. I tried the E6 drivers sometime back and for some reason, I couldn't get them to work very well. Would you happen to know anywhere I can get a CD with the updated drivers?
Thanks very much for the opportunity to read your columns.
-- Roy Holland(Thanks for your inquiry (and your kind words), Roy. Visit http://www.techadvice.com/support/a/adara/adara-main.htm for links to all available Adara drivers. But unless you've upgraded your operating system, the old driver should work fine. -- Editor)
RE: Image Stabilization
I'm dying to get a camera with a 10x optical zoom. Inevitably, I've compared the Olympus C-2100 with the C-700. The major difference is an image stabilized lens. I'm sure it's important (even reviewers mentioned it), but none of the reviews I can find seems to describe the feature and why it's important. Your explanations are always so clear, I'm hoping you can help me (and other readers) improve our understanding. Thanks.
-- Clayton Curtis(Think camcorder. You're walking down the stairs with it in record mode. Thump. Thump. Every step, the camera view bounces with you. This is an unstabilized image.... Flick on image stabilization. You start down the stairs again. You trip, fall, roll down to the basement and the camera bounces away, rolling to a stop under the car. Play back the tape and you have a smooth descent into your basement and a sweepingly smooth pan of your garage, including a free check of your exhaust system.... In still photography, this feature helps keep images sharp that otherwise would suffer some blur from camera movement during (a long) exposure. Dave wrote about it in a review of the Olympus C-2100 Zoom in the Dec. 15 issue: "When set in Full-Time Auto Focus mode, the camera automatically keeps the image in focus at all times, whatever focal length you choose to use. By activating the Manual Focus mode, you can bring up a focal distance scale on the camera's LCD monitor which allows you to manually select the optimum focal point in your scene." -- Editor)
RE: Batch It
I am an avid reader of your newsletter and frequent your site often. Great info, keep up the good work. Right now the biggest frustration with my complete conversion to digital photography is simply printing out a bunch of snapshots to stick in a photo album or whatever (this need is especially in demand from my wife!)
Photoshop 6 plus my Epson Photo 890 is great for occasional 8x10s or a snapshot here and there. But, how does one batch print a bunch of photos without having to go into Page Setup and Image Size to make new settings for each and every photo? The 4" wide roll paper printing feature of Epson's printers begs this capability even more. In addition, Photoshop's automation features don't cover the proprietary dialogue boxes associated with various printers, making it impossible to automate this within Photoshop.
-- Nathan(Our guess is Dave wrote an action to print every already optimized image saved in a ready-to-print folder. We make very few prints ourselves and not just so we can recycle our shoeboxes. It's because no one looks at them twice. Put a little note to your wife in your existing photo albums along the lines of, "Free Weekend in Paris!" and see if she ever brings it to your attention.... Albums with prints are just not the way to handle the huge volume of images you start to acquire with a digicam. You burn CDs. You look at them on your monitor. And you can not possibly interrupt them with offers for free trips to Paris if they're read only! -- Editor)
The Fall buying season has kicked off with price reductions from several manufacturers.
Fuji (http://www.fujifilm.com) reduced the price on its FinePix 4800 Zoom to $499, FinePix 6800 Zoom to $699 and FinePix 6900 Zoom to $799.
Epson (http://www.epson.com) has reduced the price of the Stylus Photo 785EPX inkjet printer to $199 and the PhotoPC 3100Z digicam to 599.
Kodak (http://www.kodak.com) dropped the price of the DX3600 Zoom to $299.95.
With a simple software upgrade to Epson Software Film Factory, the Epson Stylus Photo 785EPX can now support PIM through the computer. Epson (http://www.epson.com) also released a new driver for the Stylus Photo 780, 890 and 1280 printers. Call (562) 276-7296 M-F, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. PT and on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT for the free CD-ROM upgrade.
Hewlett-Packard (http://www.hp.com) announced several new digicams, an expanded line of photo-quality color inkjet printers and premium photo papers.
The $199 Photosmart 318 and $299 Photosmart 612 digicams feature 2.31-megapixel resolution, 2x digital zoom, a 1.75-inch liquid crystal display, automatic exposure control, red-eye reduction, automatic flash and an at-a-glance, energy-saving status display. The Photosmart 612 digicam adds 2x optical zoom. The $499 Photosmart 715 digicam sports 3.3-megapixel resolution, 3x optical zoom, a large, 46-mm lens threaded for accessories and automatically changes between shoot, view, play and download modes.
The $179 Photosmart 100 photo printer prints photos up to 4x6 inches directly from CompactFlash, SmartMedia and Sony Memory Stick memory cards without a computer. Top panel buttons allow users to select which photos to print, photo sizes or an index sheet that prints all the photos saved on the memory card. The $199 Photosmart 1115 and $399 Photosmart 1315 color inkjet printers print at 2400 dpi from CompactFlash or SmartMedia memory cards slots located on the printer. The Photosmart 1315 printer also features a Sony Memory Stick card slot. The Photosmart 1315 can crop, rotate, adjust image brightness and add borders and a date stamp.
HP also introduced Photo Paper Glossy and Everyday Photo Paper Semi-gloss.
The 2001 Worldwide Digital Camera Forecast Summary from InfoTrends Research Group (http://www.infotrends-rgi.com) projects worldwide shipments of low-end digicams will reach 17.7 million units in 2001, 21 percent of total worldwide camera sales. Film camera sales in Japan, North America and Europe are declining largely as a result of the growing digicam market. By 2006, digicam sales are expected to capture 63 percent of the total worldwide camera market with revenue forecasted at $9.9 billion.
Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com) unveiled its $159 TV Photo Viewer, a compact device designed to view digital photo albums on their TV screens. Up to 40 JPEG images from any source can be saved to a standard floppy disk. Photos can then be sorted, cropped or rotated; captions or numbers added; and a title page inserted. You insert the floppy disk into the TV Photo Viewer to see the album on television.
Imaging Technologies (http://www.itec.net) has announced the release of ColorBlind Professional and Matchbox 4.2 for Mac and 4.0 for Windows. All products will be sold as stand-alone products or bundled with Color Management and application training at the ITEC ColorBlind Academy. ColorBlind Professional provides advanced ICC profiling to service bureaus, newspapers, digital pre-press and design studios. ColorBlind Matchbox is also ICC color workflow software but in a more economical package for smaller commercial and corporate users.
ACD Systems (http://www.acdsystems.com) has released ACDSee 4.0 [W] for $49.85. Version 4.0 has almost 40 new features including a redesigned user interface. Among the new features: faster image viewing, browsing and editing; more powerful image management; advanced multimedia compatibility; new printing and sharing features; and optimized image capture capabilities.
QImage Pro author Mike Chaney (http://www.ddisoftware.com/prism) has released Profile Prism [W], to generate ICC profiles for digicams and scanners.
Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released version 7.1.18 of VueScan [MW]. The new version adds an "Image|Flip" command (and keyboard shortcut) and fixes a problem with UMAX scanners.
Canon (http://www.canon.com) has announced the $399 six-color S820D, a Bubble Jet Direct printer that connects directly to two new Canon PowerShot digicams, the PowerShot S30 and PowerShot S40, via a proprietary cable and to a computer via USB cable. The printer features Canon's Advanced Microfine Droplet Technology to achieve 2400x1200 dpi resolution with a four picoliter droplet.
The $799 4.0-megapixel PowerShot S40 and $599 3.2-megapixel S30 (http://www.powershot.com) feature a high-resolution 7.1-21.3mm 3x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 35-105mm in the 35mm format), 3-point autofocus and an extensive selection of 13 shooting modes ranging from fully automatic to fully manual.
Canon also introduced the $6,499 EOS-1D, a 4.48-megapixel digicam that combines the best features of Canon's EOS-1v 35mm SLR with the highest overall performance (8 fps for 21 consecutive full-resolution shots) in a digital SLR, the company said.
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher