|Volume 4, Number 1||11 January 2002|
Welcome to the 62nd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We've got a peek at iPhoto, links to our Macworld coverage and a preview of the world's smallest multi-megapixel digicam to start Volume 4.
And thanks to those who've responded to our appeal for help supporting this publication by visiting http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?prnl to get 25 free enlargements (worth up to $75) plus Printroom's Shoot & Share [W] software for just $9.99 (half of which goes to this newsletter). Cash donations may be made at http://www.imaging-resource.com/buynow.htm if you prefer.
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With Al Gore doing standup comedy (he's concerned about the economy because he was, after all, the first one laid off), it should surprise no one that the mood at Moscone Hall in San Franciso for Macworld Expo was upbeat. Very upbeat. Attendees flattening each other as they raced around the floor merely dusted themselves off, apologized and got back in traffic.
We think that's because everyone could finally see OS X bearing fruit. We've been hearing nine and eleven a lot for a while, but ten is the number for 2002.
OS X may be the kernel to Apple's success, but we were impressed by how all the pieces that have been falling into place since Gil Amelio left are finally coming together. And we were particularly pleased to see Apple apply its new software design paradigm to imaging. That's the real story of this year's Expo.
You can read our three daily show reports (at least 2,000 words and 10 images each) via the links in the "New on the Site" section below. But what follows is our first look at iPhoto.
What Apple CEO Steve Jobs tried to do at NeXT without the hardware, he's been able to do at Apple. The G4 (and G3), inexpensive memory, combo drives (that read and write CDs and play DVDs), LCD monitors and USB are the fresh ingredients that make this pizza simmer. And the lowered prices make it steaming hot.
But if hardware were enough, Dell would be telling Microsoft what to do. Apple wisely redoubled its effort in the last three months to get OS X applications out the door. Several small firms confirmed they got their apps up by sitting down with Apple for OS X total immersion sessions.
And the effort paid off for everyone. Nearly every demo we saw was running on OS X -- and we don't remember seeing a single crashed app or restart or frozen screen.
What they were running, though, didn't resemble software as we've come to endure it: a mass transit system of destinations with no bus in sight. Instead it resembled the uncanny controlled momentum of skateboarding. It was software that anticipated its own use and seemed to defy gravity to meet the user more than halfway.
So we caught the 38 Geary Limited home to download the 14-MB iPhoto (which only runs under OS X) and install it on a borrowed G4 PowerBook.
We don't use OS X on a daily basis and can't pretend much expertise. But it was remarkably helpful, one of the easiest operating systems we've ever used. When we launched the installer, it told us we needed administrator privileges to continue and told us how to find out about that. A readme explained precisely what to do next. We simply clicked on a button, entered the administrator password and installed iPhoto. No need to restart under an assumed identity.
We launched iPhoto (thinking we'd have to set some preferences) and before anything else, it asked us if we'd like it to launch automatically whenever we connect a camera. It set its own preferences.
Well, we had to test that. So we quit, plugged our Average digicam into a USB port, flicked it on to Play and, presto, iPhoto popped up telling us the Average had 31 photos in it.
We noticed the Import button was glowing. So we clicked it. Eye candy is hard to resist (although we recommend you do resist enabling the "Erase contents after transfer" just to be safe).
In a window-wide pane at the bottom of the iPhoto window, a thumbnail and a progress bar with a text readout below updated us on the transfer to our Photo Library. When it was done, we had a contact sheet of thumbnails in front of us.
Now here's a beautiful thing. You can size the thumbnails but OS X makes it possible to do so with a slider rather than a set of preset sizes (small, medium and large come to mind). And the thumbnails grow or shrink in real time, wrapping in the same window and rendering fully when you're done goofing around. Skateboarders don't have to ring a bell to get off at the next stop, after all.
Which was when we remembered the Average doesn't rotate images. We rotate them manually. Normally we do it in a separate application (Cameraid) because it's fast and lossless. But iPhoto has a Rotate button (the icons are all very clear) that shows the direction of rotation. We selected an image, clicked the Rotate button and our thumbnail sat up.
How about rotating the other way? Years of Photoshopping made it natural for us to try holding down the Option key and clicking the Rotate button. It worked!
A small pane on the left showed us we were looking at our Photo Library (essentially everything ever imported into iPhoto, which is stored in the Pictures folder of each user's Documents folder). Below that was a link to the last import. With our images imported, we were ready to Organize them.
So we created a new Album, named it incorrectly and discovered renaming is as simple as it should be. Just click on the name and type. We called our Album Macworld Expo and did what came naturally. Selected all the images and dragged them to the new Album.
Calling it an Album makes it immediately obvious even to newcomers what's going on. We had to spend a lot of time explaining Cumulus' Catalogs just because no one has any idea what a catalog is. But everybody knows what a photo album is.
That could have been enough Organizing but we noticed a double row of Keywords in the bottom pane. A prominent blue switch determines whether you are assigning keywords (the default) or searching on them.
But we didn't know how to create a Keyword (like Printers, Scanners, etc.) so we used Help. We found the answer right away. Just Edit Keywords, type a new keyword in a blank keyword box and press the glowing Done button.
Then all we had to do was select the images and click on the keyword.
Funny but we didn't want to stop playing with iPhoto. We hadn't hit a wall. We didn't crash. Everything worked. It seemed to like us. What else, we wondered, could we do?
THE SHOW GOES ON
We noticed a funny button with an arrow on it that seemed lifted from a remote control. We clicked.
A side show! Full screen, black background with nicely-timed crossfades. And music!
How, you might ask, could we possibly be charmed by a simple slide show? How many dozens of them have we had to use, review, recommend? And yet, we were charmed. Because the designer knew what we wanted. We wanted to watch the show, not run it. We didn't have to make any decisions about backgrounds, intervals, transitions, controls. We just sat back and watched wide-eyed.
You can fiddle with its options, of course, changing the music, etc. but this kind of software isn't about that. You can take the Geary bus to a lot of places but it isn't much fun and mostly you skip them, anyway.
OK, so maybe you noticed a little red-eye in one of your flash pictures.
You can edit in iPhoto. Draw a marquee selection around the eyes and click on the red-eye tool.
The red is desaturated (our preferred way of removing red-eye). But if the face has red in it, it may turn black. Draw a tight marquee to minimize the problem. A magic wand would do better -- if it was obvious what a magic wand does. A marquee is obvious and you can get it to work with a little sleight of hand.
Cropping is simply beautiful. Thanks to OS X, there are no marching ants to indicate the crop. Instead, the part of the image to be eliminated is ghosted. Which means you can actually see the crop before you execute it. And a simple popup lets you constrain the aspect ratio to what you need for a DVD or a 4x6 print (in either landscape or portrait orientation), among others.
THE BIG PICTURE
Let's stop a second and look at what we've done. We've transferred our images, we've rotated them, we've organized them (optionally with keywords), we've gotten help, we've run a slide show and we've done some red-eye correction. Pre-OS X that's five applications on our system (Nikon View, Cameraid, Cumulus, Big Picture and Photoshop, not to name names). Five manuals, five installations, five registrations, five updates (you still there?).
Jobs described that sequence of operations as a chain of pain. And for folks new to imaging, it can be fatal to the fun. But what has to be done has to be done. And here's an application that taps into both the powerful hardware of the Macintosh and the elegance of OS X to make it a snap, even a pleasure. That's design.
iPhoto 1.0 has a number of limitations (like every other program in our suite) but they don't get in the way of our images. Where other applications make you feel you're bunting for base hits, iPhoto gives you the feeling of having just hit your 74th home run of the season. That's a new record, folks.
Slide shows aren't the only way to display your images. We won't go into the simplicity of the Print panel (pick a printer, pick a paper, pick a layout, print -- all with the help of ColorSync in the background, even to the extent of reading ICC profiles attached to your images) or how easy it is to make a Web page (or upload it to your iDisk) or how easy it is to get prints from Kodak or even a linen-bound book from Apple. See our keynote report for that. We'll just tell you it's only a click away from where we left off.
What's all this cost? Free if you're running OS X now. If you don't own a Mac, it's just the price of the hardware. A G4 iMac for $1299, say. Or go portable for as little as $1,199 with an iBook. About the price of four wheels and a board these days. But you won't need any protective gear.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DX/DXA.HTM on the Web site.)
Thanks to its unique, vertical lens design, Minolta's new Dimage X has a tiny, extraordinarily thin body size. At a mere 3.3x2.8x0.78 inches and 4.7 ounces without the battery or SD memory card, the 2-megapixel Dimage X is smaller than any other multi-megapixel digicam on the market, including the Canon Elph series, the Kyocera S3 and the Pentax Optio models.
The sleek design includes a built-in lens cover which conveniently slides out of the way whenever the camera is powered on, freeing you from any worry over losing a lens cap and the all-metal case is rugged and solid-feeling. The 3x zoom lens, combined with the full automatic exposure control makes the camera suitable for most standard shooting conditions.
Given its fully automatic exposure system, I was quite surprised by how well it handled dim lighting and light sources with strong color casts. It seems able to bring back at least a usable image in just about any situation, even rather dimly-lit interior scenes. The 2-megapixel CCD produces good high resolution images for printing, as well as lower resolution images better suited for email.
With an uncomplicated user interface, a very short learning curve and an agreeable price (estimated to be under $500, I'm personally hoping they'll be able to get it under $400, but that's just a wish on my part, don't in any way count on it), I think the Dimage X is going to find its way into a lot of consumer pockets and handbags!
The Dimage X has a 3x, 5.7-17.1mm lens, the equivalent of a 37-111mm lens on a 35mm camera. Focus covers a range from 9.8 inches to infinity. Depending on the lens zoom position, the maximum aperture ranges from f2.8 to f3.6. In addition to the optical zoom, the Dimage X offers 2x digital zoom (though I always remind readers that digital zoom always decreases the overall image quality because it simply enlarges the central pixels of the CCD image). You can choose between the real-image optical viewfinder or the 1.5-inch, color TFT LCD monitor to compose images, although (as usual) the LCD monitor provides the most accurate framing.
Exposure is automatically controlled at all times, with only a few exposure options available. An On/Off button on top of the camera powers the camera on and a Mode switch allows you to select between Record and Playback modes. Thanks to the all-internal lens design, there's no need to wait for the lens to extend before you can shoot, so startup times are very short -- a bit under 3 seconds.
Most exposure options are controlled through the LCD's on-screen menu system, which offers very straightforward navigation. That said, you can control flash mode, exposure compensation and the lens zoom externally, via buttons and controls on the camera's rear panel. Shutter speeds range from 1/1,000 to 2 seconds, though the setting is not reported to the user. The right and left arrow keys on the camera's back panel control the Exposure Compensation, adjusting it from -2 to +2 exposure values in one-third step increments.
White Balance is adjustable through the settings menu, with options for Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent and Fluorescent light sources. The Dimage X's built-in flash operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed or Slow Sync modes.
In addition to the basic exposure options, the Dimage X also offers a few extra shooting modes (controlled through the settings menu). In Movie exposure mode, the camera captures 320x240-pixel resolution moving images (with sound) until the memory card is full. (The included 8-MB SD card should hold approximately 19 seconds worth of movies.) A Self-Timer mode provides a 10-second delay between the time the Shutter button is pressed and when the camera actually takes the picture, allowing you to get into your own shots. For shooting fast action subjects, the Dimage X's Continuous Shooting mode captures a rapid series of images when you hold down the Shutter button, much like a motor drive on a traditional 35mm camera. The amount of available memory space determines the maximum number of images the camera will capture in the series and details like resolution size and shutter speed determine the shooting interval (approximately two frames per second). Finally, Audio Recording mode allows you to record sound clips as long as 90 seconds without an image. The Dimage X also features a Voice Memo option, for recording short sound clips to accompany recorded images.
The Dimage X stores images to an SD memory card and an 8-MB card accompanies the camera. The camera includes an NP-200 rechargeable lithium-ion battery along with the necessary battery charger. While the Dimage X's battery life is better than most ultra-compact cameras, I still highly recommend picking up an additional battery pack and keeping it freshly charged. The optional AC adapter is also useful for preserving battery power when reviewing and downloading images or when viewing images and movies on a television, via the supplied A/V cable.
The "big news" about the Dimage X is how tiny it is, particularly how thin Minolta's managed to make it. The secret to the Dimage X's compact design is its lens, mounted internally, stretching vertically up the side of the camera rather than protruding from the camera front. An internal mirror reflects light from the subject down into the lens itself, almost like a periscope. The internal lens mounting means that there's no wait for the lens barrel to extend when you power up the camera, making startup times very quick. Less than 3 seconds from power on to the first shot captured.
The front of the camera holds the lens window, flash, optical viewfinder window and self-timer lamp. A shutter-like, retractable lens cover protects the lens window whenever the camera is powered off, sliding quickly out of the way when the camera is turned on.
The design almost dictates a single-handed grip, something that took a little getting used to. I realized that I almost always hold a camera with both hands, to give me a more stable shooting platform, minimizing camera shake. With the Dimage X, when I steadied the camera with my left hand, I at first found myself frequently putting a finger over the lens opening. Not a big deal, as I quickly got used to just using a couple of fingers on the bottom left corner of the camera, but something to watch for when you first start shooting with it.
Since I've only seen a prototype model of the Dimage X at this point, my remarks here are only preliminary. I likewise won't offer a detailed analysis of the test images until I've had a chance to test a product model. Even so, the preliminary results are very encouraging:
Color: Color was accurate and appropriately saturated in the limited tests I performed. I was particularly impressed by how well the camera did with even quite dim incandescent lighting indoors. The auto white balance option did leave a fair bit of warm cast in the images, but the Dimage X overall did better than most cameras I've worked with in dealing with the strong color cast of the household incandescent lighting so common in the U.S. I wouldn't go so far as to call the Dimage X's color "stunning," but it was very workmanlike, entirely acceptable in my opinion.
Exposure: While I didn't put it through the wringer I use with full-production cameras, the Dimage X did quite well in the exposure department. It tends to lose some highlight detail in contrasty scenes under sunlit conditions, but not more than I'm accustomed to seeing in other digicams. The biggest surprise I found was how well it did under even fairly dim indoor shooting conditions, where it could produce sharp, well-exposed images even under rather inadequate living-room lighting. The flash also did a very good job of filling in the shadows without blowing out the rest of the images. Very nice.
Sharpness: Image sharpness is about average for a 2-megapixel camera, though I noticed a little corner softness from the lens (apparently one of the things slated for improvement in the production models). Optical distortion was about average at wide angle, a bit higher than average at telephoto. Overall, a very decent performance from such a compact camera/lens system.
Closeups: The Dimage X's macro capabilities were about average, with a minimum capture area of 3.3x2.5 inches. The macro shot from my test sample was a tad soft (not bad, but enough to note), but it's possible I pushed the camera a bit too close to the target. I'll retest this (along with all my test shots) when I get a production model.
Night Shots: As I noted earlier, I was surprised by how well the Dimage X did in dim lighting. Looking at the results of my official low light tests, I see that it's actually only a bit better than average, producing bright images at one foot-candle and usable ones at 1/2 foot-candle. (By way of reference, a well-lit city street at night is a light level of about one foot-candle.) I guess part of my surprise was that the camera did that well with fully automatic exposure, not needing to resort to a special "manual" mode to get that dark.
Battery Life: A new category in my "Test Results" for short-form reviews, but it's important, so I added it. Most ultra-compact digicams have very limited battery life, simply because batteries and power consumption don't miniaturize along with the electronics. The Dimage X somewhat falls prey to this. Battery life in capture mode with the LCD turned on is only about 69 minutes, about typical for an ultra-compact camera. The big surprise here though, was how amazingly little power the Dimage X consumed when the LCD was turned off. It took only 6 milliamps of power, giving a projected run time in capture mode with the LCD off of 118 hours. This is really excellent. You could easily leave the camera powered up all day in capture mode with the LCD off and not make a dent in the battery life.
Overall, I was quite impressed with the Dimage X. I honestly hadn't expected a lot, as ultra-compact digicams seem to require a lot of compromises. Much to my surprise, the Dimage X took great photos under a wide range of conditions, offered a decent range of exposure control (exposure compensation and white balance adjustments) and had a surprisingly long battery life when the LCD was left off.
This looks to me like a great "take anywhere" camera, appealing to both non-techies and enthusiasts alike. For the non-techies, it's very easy to use and takes nice pictures. For the enthusiasts (taking myself as an example), it looks like a great "second camera," something that you'd just toss in your pocket without thinking. Final judgement will await a production model, but for now, I'd say the Dimage X is definitely "highly recommended."
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
Read our reports from the floor of Macworld Expo 2002:
- Monday's Keynote: http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/MWW02/0107mon.htm
- Tuesday's Opening: http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/MWW02/0108tue.htm
- Wednesday's Safari: http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/MWW02/0109wed.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 ongoing comments about the Canon S30 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee87265
Compare Toshiba camera prices at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee86101
Bettina asks about pixels in the Fuji 4900 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8978a
Ralf asks about 'dynamic range' in dpi at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8914e
Visit the Accessories Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee6b2e5
In a recent Letters column in the New York Times Magazine an unmarried reader explained he wasn't merely a nomadic hedonist running loose in the city but was actually a member of an urban tribe. This tribe of a handful of friends had known each other for years, met regularly (even ritualistically) at cafes and bars and paid close attention to the trouble each member was getting into. Particularly engagements.
So they aren't all living lonely lives of quiet desperation. They're nurturing tribes. When the opportunity arises they leave the tribe but bring with them a caring for others that stands them well in their more intimate relationships.
Naturally we saw the parallel to digital imaging immediately.
We aren't just one-eyed finger-twitching romantics who tell people to look at imaginary "birdies" all the time. We're a tribe. We take care of each other. On the Web.
Membership is fairly nomadic. You became a member of the Imaging Resource tribe by visiting the site and signing up to get this newsletter. No blood oaths. No annual membership fee. Nothing in between either.
But the benefits are tangible. Reviews, tips, discussion forums, even free email consultation. And while we spend many restless nights trying to dream up even more benefits to tribe membership (like our Preferred Vendors), we do occasionally notice there are a handful of other sites out there worth your time and trouble.
Which is why we publish about 50 unique links in every newsletter.
Recently Robert Cooper, ACD Systems newsletters editor, suggested we take a look at what's happening at the ACD site (http://www.acdsystems.com). You may know ACD Systems for ACDSee [MW], a fast, full-featured image viewer, browser and organizer supporting over 40 file formats.
Dave got there first and summed it up, "There's definitely some handy nuggets of info there that we should point folks to."
Indeed. You become a member of the ACD tribe when you register ACDSee. And about 250,000 have. That gets you their newsletter (there are four variants), too. A recent issue, for example, covered digital zoom in the My Camera department, gave Tech Tips on getting free prints and archiving images, provided a Photo Tip on sharing photos and discussed Memory Cards in the Hot Gear column (among other reviews).
You can see from that brief peek that more is going on at ACD's site than just product promotion. They're making an effort to enhance their customers' understanding of digital imaging. "Have a look at our Community Section (http://www.acdsystems.com/English/Community/index.htm)," Rob wrote. "I think you'll find it a fairly non-biased source for a lot of digital photography/digital imaging content."
Of course, you don't actually have to be a customer to profit from their efforts. Just a member of the tribe. And these days, the more tribes you belong to, the better. You can give any of their newsletters a try at http://www.acdsystems.com/English/Community/Newsletters/Signup/index.htm for the same low price (free).
Which reminds me to welcome ACD newsletter subscribers to this publication. We don't have any application development to distract us, so we spend a lot of time relating our Adventures in Imaging (most with happy endings). But we, too, try to explain the unfathomable and will make up answers to your questions. We're all here to help. Especially when it comes to having fun.
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RE: White Balance Woes
I have had a Nikon 950 for over a year and a half (since April 2000) and have been very pleased with it. (I had selected it because of their fantastic macro capability.) I have just recently upgraded to the Nikon 995 expecting to get a 950 with higher resolution, more optical zoom, better red-eye reduction (offset flash) and a bunch of other new and improved features. I did not expect to lose anything, so I was surprised when I began to use the 995.
First of all, the CCD sensor is a lot noisier. In fact, I had to send the first 995 back because of a bad area in the sensor. The second one is much better but still not as good as the 950. But I can live with it.
Second, it's too soon to tell but I have a sense that the 995's battery doesn't last as long as a set of high capacity (1600 mAh) NiMH batteries in the 950. I won't know for sure until I do some extended shoots. But, again, I can live with it.
Last, but most important, is the white balance on the 995. I have taken a lot of indoor available light pictures with my 950 using automatic white balance and have been very pleased with the results. The automatic white balance on the 995 is awful! Oh sure, it does OK with natural sunlight but I'm talking about indoors with artificial light. My kitchen is lit with recessed halogen lamps and the cabinets are pure white so it is a good testing ground for the auto white balance. I put together a comparison using the two cameras and put the results on a Web page (http://home.earthlink.net/~bellrlincoln/).
Halogen obviously is not the same color as incandescent which means that the only choices are to shoot with automatic white balance or manual (measured) white balance.
I would think that automatic white balance is done in software (firmware) in the camera so I am surprised that the 995 is so bad. Do you think that Nikon would consider fixing it if enough people complained?
By the way, great newsletter. I look forward to every issue. Keep it up.
-- Roger Bell(You make a good point, Roger. Halogen lighting is not uncommon. There should be a setting for it. Let's complain. -- Editor)(I learned a while back why essentially all of the Japanese digicams do so badly with incandescent lighting. Japanese households are lit almost exclusively by fluorescent. There apparently isn't any such thing as "household incandescent" in Japan! I think pretty much every digicam has its "incandescent" WB option set to 3200K, the color temperature of professional tungsten studio lighting. By contrast, most household incandescent bulbs are way down around 2500K or so. The "official" value is 2800K, but when I tested a bunch around my house with a color meter, most were 2300-2500K. -- Dave)
RE: Windows XP
Added Windows XP operating system and now find that my HP scanner doesn't work at all. My Casio digital can no longer work through its Photo Loader, my Adobe can no longer change my digital photos to JPEG files, my CD burner won't work with its correct programs and my Epson printer no longer prints fine photos. None of the software/hardware providers has been helpful in providing fixes that work.
Anyone had this experience and how did they deal with it? Think I can uninstall XP and go back to the good old days or have I lost everything?
-- Warren McGoldrick(Upgrading your operating system takes nerves of steel, Warren.... We always start with a fresh backup of what we last used. But we have the luxury of convenient tape backups here. With a CD burner, though, you should be able to copy your OS to CD.... Lacking that, you do start from scratch, reinstalling everything.... The more complex your setup is -- and with digital imaging, it's complex -- the more trouble you are going to have with drivers. Don't assume anything is compatible with a new system. Wisest to track the manufacturer sites for drivers that are explicitly XP compatible before making the switch. -- Editor)
I cannot buy PhotoGenetics anywhere any more since the company went out of business and I am stuck using a demo version that will run out in a couple of weeks.
It is the only thing that works well fixing my Fuji incandescent color balance. (Yes and I have Photoshop -- doesn't do the trick no matter what I do.)
Help! Please please please please PLEASE!!!!!
-- Neil Slade(Take a look at iCorrect. We used it to color correct the lighting in Moscone Hall shots for our Macworld Expo reports. Piece of cake. -- Editor)
I found a solution (http://www.mediachance.com/digicam/castfx.htm)! Its free and has a preset for the Fuji brand glitch -- amazing. I also note the iCorrect program, but alas, that's $39.
-- Neil Slade(I'll dig through my archives, see if I can't find personal contacts for some of the people I knew at QBeo (erstwhile publishers of PhotoGenetics). Maybe there's some way we can breathe some life back into the product. It truly was the easiest solution for tweaking digital images I'd seen anywhere. And the ability to batch-correct images with presaved "genotypes" was simply brilliant. Keep your fingers crossed, we'll see what I can come up with! -- Dave)
RE: Digital Flash
Could you do a piece on Digital Flash (dedicated and non-dedicated) as well as flash slaves. I own an Olympus C-3040Z camera and I am trying to find an external flash other than what Olympus offers (too expensive). Thank you.
-- Herb Morrison(We've been wrestling with that one for a while, Herb! We have the same problem and our gear is, at the moment, all over the place as we try to connect our Vivitar 283 system to one or another digicam. Many require a special sync cord but all of them would be fried by the 300-volt trigger flash on these circa-1980 units.... So a slave would seem smart, except my old slave fires the flash as soon as its lithium batteries bring it to a full charge. And while there are Wein Safe Syncs out there to knock the voltage down to the 5-6 level required, the one we need is always 'back-ordered.' Apparently Wein is dying a slow death... We don't mind shooting without a 'dedicated' flash at all. And often the dedicated units do less on a digicam than an SLR. In any case, freeing yourself of built-in flash is going to dramatically improve flash pictures. So the topic is high on our list. -- Editor)(Check out http://www.srelectronics.com for "intelligent" slave flashes and a smart trigger that sync to digicams that use a "metering" pre-flash before the main exposure. Olympus makes an adapter to connect a conventional strobe via a PC-sync socket, but they're scarcer than hens teeth. -- Dave)
RE: The Elusive SMPREP.EXE
Thought that I would let you know that I think I have found the elusive SMPREP program at the following link: ftp://ftp.scmmicro.com/dm/drivers/PCD32SM.zip
-- Mark(Ah ha! That physically reformats those ready-to-trash unrecoverable SmartMedia cards. But beware! It can also change the brand the SmartMedia card thought it was. Which is why it's so hard to find. -- Editor)
RE: More on Printroom.com
Thanks for your great newsletter and for making me aware of Lexar's Shoot & Share software and their Printroom.com service. I bought Shoot & Share (through your newsletter link so you would get part of the proceeds) and love the program. Within a couple days of installing it, I converted to using it as my primary albuming and editing program. It is very easy to use and handles my routine editing chores well. I use it both with my digital camera and with my scanner.
I'm currently scanning in a large suitcase (literally!) full of old family photos my parents gave me. Thankfully they checked with me before throwing them out. Shoot & Share interfaces well with my Epson's TWAIN driver and makes it a snap to scan in and cleanup the old snapshots (many of them are 40 to 70 years old and in poor shape). I recently combined some of the scanned pictures with digital pictures I have taken to make custom 2002 monthly photo calendars for close relatives ... each calendar customized with collages of family pictures that would most interest that person. Folks really appreciate seeing the old pictures showing family members throughout the years.
I also used Shoot & Share and Printroom.com to make custom coffee mugs as Christmas gifts. I am very pleased with the mugs from Printroom.com and their service. I'm about to order additional custom photo mugs for upcoming gift giving occasions. I also plan to use Printroom.com as my primary online print service when I want traditional prints. (Though, I rarely make printsdigital albums meet my needs better and at less expense.)
Thanks, again, for your great newsletter. I look forward to each issue.
-- Rick Foster(Thanks for the kind words, Rick -- and the great ideas! Dave works hard on his Deals, but he only works with top drawer outfits. Something about the company you keep, we think <g>. -- Editor)
As promised, I thought I'd send a quick note to let you know how my first REAL order with Printroom.Com turned out. In a word ... GREAT!
I ordered a mix of about 90+ photographs (three different soccer teams with group and individual photos) ranging from wallet sheets to 8x10s. They all came out beautifully and the order was run correctly (nothing missing!). It was turned around in three business days, just as they promised. Needless to say, I sent them a CD rather than uploading all those images and that worked out fine as well.
My order consisted of about 28 8x10s so, thanks to your discount offer, I got 25 of them for free! The $9.95 Shoot & Share CD is still sitting on my computer desk waiting to be installed (maybe) someday ... but even if I never install it, it was definitely a worthwhile purchase in order to get the free 8x10s!
Thanks again for the discount, the Web site and the weekly newsletter. Your efforts are definitely appreciated!
-- Janet(Thanks for the follow-up, Janet! Very glad you enjoyed Printroom.com's service. -- Editor)
RE: Image Stabilization
I was looking into the Olympus 2100uz and found it had been discontinued. Have you heard any news on its successor? I shoot mainly sports and like the 10x optical with stabilization, along with the ease of use.
-- Roy Holleman(We asked Olympus today at Macworld Expo and it turns out that they are indeed dropping the 2100 (although they had a couple there). It was a marketing decision, they said. But, the Olympus rep happened to own one himself and so did a lady who was listening in and both of them said it is the best camera they ever owned. You can still find them at CompUSA for about $500. -- Editor)
RE: Great Guest Spot
Great article on the circle of confusion -- thank you! Hope you have more like that.
-- Gene Hastings(So do we, Gene! -- Editor)
RE: Much Admired
I have always "much admired" just about everything in DPN and always look to Imaging Resource for its reviews when I get the "itch" to acquire some new piece of digital equipment (one of my shortcomings!), but I was delighted with Vol 3, No 26 and look forward to always reading the newsletter for many years to come.
Next purchases this year are a "digital album" and a digital pen and pad -- IR has helped me along the way! My initial encounter with cameras was in 1954 when I acquired a Hasselblad by turning in a dual-lens reflex and adding some extra dollars; my acquaintance with computers came in 1972. I was always "in love" with photography and, as time went on, with computers so when I had the opportunity to combine both, it was like a match made in heaven. Both are still going strong for me. Besides, they relieve the daily occurrences of stress and tension and it's more fun spending hard-earned dollars on both than on a "shrink."
-- Claudette Freeman(Thanks very much, Claudette! As a wise man once said, "If it isn't fun, why do it?" -- Editor)
RE: Victor Hugo
I really enjoyed your article about Victor Hugo and was writing to inquire where I might view them when I realized that rare quality of writing where this was of the essence of a few words being worth a thousand pictures. Some true imaging. Keep up the excellent work! Thank you once again.
-- Russ(Wow. Thanks very much, Russ. I wonder if Hugo, who was paid by the word, would have slung a camera around Paris if he could have gotten the equivalent of a thousand words a picture <g>. -- Editor)
Larry Berman (http://BermanGraphics.com) has published an interview with Freeman Patterson at the site. "And for those who do art shows or are considering them as a possible income source, we've created a few resource pages that take a look at how the top art shows in the country define digital and photographic art. This is part of an ongoing look at the art show industry," Larry added.
Canto (http://www.canto.com) announced version 5.5 of Cumulus 5 will be released in early February. New features include a Palette View Mode, improved IPTC support, server/client asset transfer, as well a few features customers have requested like contact sheets, sorted lists with type-ahead functionality, an improved slide show feature and HTML output that accommodates thumbnail orientation.
Canto also announced its Upgrade Advantage program for the Workgroup and Enterprise editions of Cumulus. Available in early February, it provides all Cumulus updates and upgrades without charge during the subscription period.
The latest Epson printer driver checks the brand of ink cartridge, according to some users. If the cartridges are not Epson brand, printer settings are automatically changed, resulting in inferior prints, they report.
The Plugin Site (http://www.thepluginsite.com) has released a download version of Edge & Frame Galaxy [MW], over 400 edges and 50 colored frames for Photoshop, Corel Photo-Paint, GraphicConverter, etc. for $19.95. A CD version (with 1,600 edges and frames) and a demo are also available at the site.
PEI magazine has honored iCorrect Professional 3.0 with one of its 2001 Cool2 awards in their January issue. To celebrate, Pictographics is offering 20 percent off iCorrect, iCorrect Professional, inCamera Professional and ColorSynergy during January when you enter the discount code "Cool2" at http://www.picto.com/drbuy.htm.
Legion Paper (http://www.legionpaper.com) will be providing color profiles for all their digital art papers. The profiles are hardware, ink and media specific and will be available free of charge at http://www.legionpaper.com/digital/icc.htm.
Rune Lindman has released QPict 5.0.1 (http://www.qpict.net/). The new version, with support for Canon RAW files, is now available for Mac OS 8.6-9 in addition to Mac OS X. QPict fully supports meta data such as ANPA and Exif photo information.
Erica Aitken of Rods & Cones announced that the next Northern California Color Management Users Group meeting at Apple Computer in Cupertino will feature Adobe guest speakers Russell Brown and Chris Cox. The meeting will be held Jan. 24 at 6 p.m. Register at http://seminars.apple.com.
Sapphire Innovations (http://www.sapphire-innovations.com) has released Sapphire Patterns Vol 7 -- Hexagonal Glows [MW] with 100 new super bright hexagonal glows in Photoshop pattern library format.
Toshiba (http://www.toshiba.com) has reduced the price of the PDR-M71 by over 20 percent to $399. In addition, Toshiba is offering a $100 mail-in rebate for its top-of-the-line PDR-M81, effectively cutting its price to $599. Toshiba is also extending its free Photo Kit offer to buyers of its PDR-M81, PDR-M71 and PDR-M21 cameras. A $100 value, the kit includes an extra 32-MB SmartMedia card, a Case Logic SmartMedia case, a sturdy camera bag, plus four Energizer e2 lithium photo batteries.
For just $150 an insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).
Fast Ritz CF cards at http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?ritzmem
Lockergnome's Free Digital Media Newsletter: http://www.lockergnome.com
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
Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher