|Volume 4, Number 2||25 January 2002|
Welcome to the 63rd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. A revolutionary approach to running system software, a peek at Pentax's digicams and a new department all beckon below. And don't miss the Ulead Deal!
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.
This issue of The Imaging Resource News is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ad here. And now a word from our sponsors:
Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by over 43,500 readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at [email protected].
Nephew Angelo likes to frequent a daycare classroom where everybody knows his name. To his father's amazement, the two ladies who run the Bunnies Room never get sick. Angelo, like the other kids, gets everything and passes it along to Pop to see if it's fatal.
We suspect their secret is the very same one we use to avoid email viruses and survive beta and review software. An unusually robust immunological system, that is.
We wouldn't recommend our industrial magic for most users, but as new operating systems warrant FBI warnings and email becomes as dangerous to your computer system as Anthrax-laced envelopes to your biological system, we've been trying to condense our experience into some general advice.
In the course of which we found a product that can bulletproof your computer system -- no matter what it is. Now available for Windows (Virtual PC 4.2), Mac OS 9 and Mac OS X (Virtual PC 5.0.1), Connectix's Virtual PC is an elegant and indispensable utility.
We're no stranger to emulators. We started with Code Blue, an IBM-PC emulator for the DEC Rainbow. And pursued SoftPC and SoftWindows on the Mac after that. Those products were glacially slow, if functional.
But when Apple introduced the PowerPC, emulation became a standard part of the operating system. Emulation was (and still is) Apple's way of being able to execute 680x0 code on the newer PowerPC chip.
But emulating Intel code on the Mac has always been a bit more of a problem because the bits in a byte are stored in a different order on Macs and PCs. We call this the big-endian, little-endian problem. Reversing every byte you read is taxing.
But the PowerPC chip has a trick up its sleeve. It includes a special mode to switch how it reads data. It can read it big-endian or little-endian. With the G3 it became truly functional.
Of course, Windows systems don't have the endian problem. But what's the point of running an emulator on Windows?
Well, ever reinstall your OS? Ever fear an upgrade? Ever get hosed by a virus? Or, as a recent reader wrote, ever update your OS (say, to XP) only to find none of your old drivers work?
Products like Roxio's $49 GoBack (http://www.roxio.com/en/products/goback) also promise a safety net, but we find Connectix's approach (enveloping the OS rather than working within it) more elegant.
THE VIRTUAL MACHINE
Connectix has distinguished itself for innovative solutions to difficult technical problems. Their virtual memory scheme (RAM Doubler) is still preferred by many over Mac OS's native version -- no matter how much memory you have. And their compiled emulator for 680x0 code was fast enough to merit the Speed Doubler name, of which their file synchronization scheme still survives. In addition to Virtual PC, their product lineup also includes Double Talk for Mac-PC networking and CopyAgent personal backup software.
Rather than emulate a particular version of Windows, Virtual PC emulates a Pentium chip. Connectix got into the emulation game to solve a problem the long-time market leader's product (Insignia's SoftWindows) couldn't. Run games. PC game software often made direct calls to the hardware to tweak performance. By emulating the chip, Connectix figured, they'd be able to run games. And quickly. They were so successful they even managed a PlayStation emulator that got the attention of Sony's lawyers.
That success means you can load MS-DOS, Windows of any stripe, Linux or anything else that runs on a Pentium on the virtual system (called a Connectix PC) that Virtual PC creates.
And you can load more than one of them. So just as Mac users can run OS 9 or OS X or Windows XXX, so Windows users can run any variant of Microsoft's master work (as long as it's supported by their hardware). You can even install several OSes on your computer and run them concurrently. XP and Windows 98, for example.
But there's another tremendous bonus to running a virtual system. When you shut down, you can elect to abandon any changes made to your system during that session. Installed a buggy driver? Just revert back to the previous state when you exit the virtual machine. Got hosed by an email virus? Revert. Crash? Revert.
Did we say bulletproof?
The price of this robust immunology is lots of disk space, generous RAM allocations and a fast processor. But all this is pretty standard these days. If your machine is a year or two old, you're probably fine.
Actual system requirements vary tremendously, so we refer you to the Connectix site (http://www.connectix.com) to calculate your own. But on the Mac they range from 64-MB to 256-MB RAM and 260-MB to 2-GB for OSes from DOS to XP Professional. On the PC, you need from 32-MB to 256-MB RAM and 50-MB to 2-GB disk space. To run Virtual PC 5 under OS X, you also need at least a 400-MHz G3 or G4. To run 4.2 on a PC, Connectix recommends a 500-MHz CPU (266-MHz minimum).
We installed Virtual PC 5.0 for Mac OS on a borrowed 400-MHz PowerBook G4 with 512-MB RAM. At the same time we installed Windows 98, which is the fastest (simplest) Windows OS under the emulator. The process is essentially the same for a PC.
You install Virtual PC like any other software. Pop in the CD, double click on the installer and watch the progress bar. In a few minutes, it's done.
To run this version under both OS X and 9, install it in OS X first. Then make aliases of the Preferences file and the application itself for OS 9. You can then tap into the same environment from either OS 9 or OS X.
We enjoyed our usual installation jinx by forgetting to ask what the administrator password was on the borrowed G4. This sort of thing, we remembered, can be catastrophic, as it was when we borrowed a Compaq running Windows 2000. We inadvertently reset the login password (we did remember it, but W2000 didn't, thanks to a previously fouled up installation) and the system had to be rebuilt when the default administrator password wouldn't allow access either.
Apple, to their credit, has made it pretty easy (and safe) to set the administrator password -- if you have the original install CD. The installer has a menu option to do just that. A few minutes later we were in business.
It was, simply, the fastest Windows install we've ever seen. Essentially, a pre-configured system (Connectix won't confirm, but we believe Martha Stewart has something to do with it) is copied to your hard drive. You can buy these neatly pre-configured systems separately from Connectix for about the price Microsoft charges. Quite a bargain.
Of course, installing a system isn't quite the same thing as getting it up and running. There are drivers for your printers, maybe a USB device or two, etc. that you might like to have handy.
You can install these under Windows as you normally would (and we did so for a USB scanner we were testing) but Virtual PC installs a generic inkjet and laser printer driver that routes output to your Mac drivers. That saved us an installation nightmare since our printers are on an Ethernet network.
We did however have a USB scanner driver to install. We simply popped in the CD and let it go to work. A few moments later (there were actually four installs, only one of which was the driver itself), Windows knew about our scanner.
Unlike past emulators we've used, performance wasn't an issue here. We were able to work naturally, with no delays, on the 400-MHz PowerBook.
Virtual PC runs faster under OS 9 than under OS X (as you might expect) but Connectix released a patch (5.0.1) to speed up performance under X. Here are few other things that can help:
In addition, you can set the priority level of Virtual PC to a higher level than its default 'nice' level of 0. To do that (an AppleScript is floating around that does this for you, BTW):
- Disable both USB and networking in Virtual PC, if possible.
- Run Windows 98 or 95.
- Set Virtual PC to full screen mode.
- Type "ps -auxw | grep Virtual" in the terminal window to get Virtual PC's process number (second column).
- Type "sudo renice <lnice> <lpid>" to set the priority of the process. For <lnice> enter a number between -20 and 20 (lower numbers are higher priority). <lpid> is the process ID from the above command.
A FEW FEATURES
Although we prefer to run in full-screen mode, if you run in window mode you can resize the Virtual PC application window in real time. It snaps to the next available Windows resolution. So you can control Windows' video resolution merely by resizing the Virtual PC window.
You can also map Windows keyboard commands to your Mac keyboard. That adds a welcomed flexibility. There's a slight difference between a Mac keyboard and a PC keyboard (find that Alt key on the Mac or the Command key on the PC). With this setup option, you can configure the mapping the way you like. Other emulators hard-code keyboard mapping, but certain creative typists may appreciate being able to do it their way.
There is DVD support, but only for reading DVD data, not for viewing movies. Resource intensive applications like DVD viewing are best done in the native OS anyway.
We didn't test it but if you have multiple processors, the second is used solely for screen updates, making Virtual PC even more responsive. But we had no complaints about responsiveness (and we're very impatient about screen updates).
There's support for USB, so you can (as we did) connect USB devices that don't have Mac drivers to your Macintosh and use them anyway. There's also support for FireWire. At the recent Macworld Expo, Connectix actually plugged an iPod with a Virtual PC disk image of Windows XP into their Mac and up came that OS.
While Virtual PC supports networking as you might expect it to behave, it also offers a Virtual Switch mode in OS X. In that mode, you can assign an IP address to your Connectix computer and network to your Mac or other computers on your network.
You can also simply share an IP address between your Mac and Virtual PC so a single PPP connection can use Internet applications on either platform at the same time.
A FEW FAVORITE FEATURES
There are a few other features, though, that we've come to really enjoy.
Number one was the "shared disk." You can designate any Mac volume or folder as a shared disk in Windows. That means Windows will also see it, using a drive whose letter you assign when you set it up. For example, your Documents folder might be Drive Z: in Windows. Either OS can use the "shared" directory.
But wait! You can have more than one of them. Very cool!
Even more amazing is the built-in drag-and-drop integration between Windows and Mac file systems. To see a Windows file you may have downloaded to your Mac Desktop, just drag and drop it on the Windows Desktop. You've got it.
Our most favorite feature, however, is the "undoable drive." Get into trouble? No problem, just revert to how things were before anything happened and try again. We brought Windows to its knees a couple of times but Virtual PC elegantly exited, putting everything back just the way it was. That's the bulletproofing we were talking about. Too bad it isn't a built-in feature of every OS.
We'll have more to say about this environment in the weeks ahead.
The best selling package is Virtual PC with Windows 98 ($179) with Windows 2000 ($229) close behind. But you can just buy Virtual PC with MS-DOS ($99) and install whatever Intel OS you have laying around. Upgrades are just $79 and there's a trial version online.
You can also buy OS Packs from Connectix that have various OSes pre-installed as disk images for Virtual PC. A quick copy is all it takes to be up and running. That can be, by itself, worth the price (about $99 each).
Kids get colds, everyone knows, but our computers aren't kids any more. They've grown up from 8-bit CPUs accessing 64K RAM and 160K floppies to 64-bit CPUs chewing through 1-MB RAM with 30-GB drives. Protecting yourself by running a virtual system is an excellent use of all that horsepower.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the quick review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/P330/P33A.HTM on the Web site.)
Pentax is a camera maker with a long tradition in the film-based world, but a relative newcomer to the digital arena. They co-developed several cameras with Hewlett Packard, but now are beginning to step out on their own, with digicams entirely of their own design. One of the first of these is the Optio P330, an ultra-compact 3-megapixel design that actually claims the crown as the smallest zoom-equipped 3-megapixel digicam currently on the market. Despite Pentax's newcomer status in the digital arena, I found the P330 to be a very competitive entry in the ultra-compact digicam market.
The Optio 330 is about the same size as a deck of playing cards, making it one of the most portable digicams I've seen (similar in size to the Canon ELPH series). At 3.6x2.3x1.4 inches and 7.2 ounces without the battery or CompactFlash memory card, the Optio 330 can hitch a ride in just about any shirt pocket. The compact design includes a built-in lens cover which opens like a shutter when the lens telescopes out. The Optio 330's 3x zoom lens offers both manual and automatic focus control, which, combined with the variety of manual exposure options, packs an unusual amount of creative power into a tiny camera. The 3.34-megapixel CCD produces high resolution, print quality images, but also offers options for lower resolution images suited for email. With a good lens and a larger CCD than offered on most digicams this size, the Optio 330 is perfectly suited for active adults and teens who don't want to compromise image quality for portability.
The Optio 330 has a 3x, 7.6-22.8mm lens, the equivalent of a 37-111mm lens on a 35mm camera. The lens can focus over a range of 1.31 feet to infinity in normal shooting mode, with a Macro option covering from 5.5 inches to 1.6 feet. Not only does the Optio 330 offer manual and automatic focus control, it also allows you to change the area of the image that the camera determines focus from, useful when shooting off-center subjects. In addition to the optical zoom, the Optio 330 offers up to 2x digital zoom, (though digital zoom simply retains the center pixels of the CCD image). You can choose between the real-image optical viewfinder or the 1.6-inch, color TFT LCD monitor to compose images, although I found the LCD monitor had the most accurate framing. As is commonly the case.
Exposure can be manually or automatically controlled, a nice feature for novices wanting to learn more about photography. Enjoy the convenience of fully automatic exposure when you want it or full manual control when you want to experiment. The Mode dial offers Automatic, Twilight, Manual and Movie exposure options. Most exposure options are controlled through the LCD's on-screen menu system, which offers very straightforward navigation. That said, you can control the focus mode (auto, macro, landscape or manual), self-timer, Continuous Shooting mode, exposure compensation and flash mode externally. In Manual exposure mode, the user can control aperture (selecting from two available apertures, which range from f2.6 to f4.8 and from f5.0 to f9.2, depending on the lens' zoom position) and shutter speed (from 1/2000 to 15 seconds), in addition to the White Balance, Exposure Compensation, Metering Mode, ISO, Color Mode, Sharpness, Saturation, Contrast and Flash settings (also available in Automatic mode). The Optio 330's built-in flash is effective from 5.52 inches to 12 feet with the lens at full wide angle, with a more limited range at the telephoto setting.
In addition to these basic exposure options (offering surprising flexibility for a subcompact camera), the Optio 330 has a few other tricks up its sleeve.
In Movie exposure mode, the camera captures moving images (without sound) for up to 30 seconds per movie. The Self-Timer provides a 10-second delay, allowing you to get into your own shots. A remote control is available as an accessory, so you can take your time arranging the shot before tripping the shutter.
For shooting fast action, the Optio 330's Continuous Shooting mode captures a rapid series of images for as long as you hold down the Shutter button, much like a motor drive on a traditional 35mm camera. The space available on the memory card determines the maximum number of images the camera will capture and details like resolution size and shutter speed determine the shooting interval.
Multiple Exposure mode exposes one image on top of a previously-captured image, mimicking the effect of a double exposure in film photography. Finally, the Night Scene mode adjusts the camera for taking pictures in darker settings, by slowing down the shutter speed to allow more ambient light into the image (a tripod is recommended).
The Optio 330 stores images on CompactFlash Type I memory cards and a 16-MB Lexar card was included with our eval unit. The camera uses a D-LI2 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power and both a battery and external charger are included. Since the Optio 330 does not accommodate AA batteries (or any other form of commonly available battery), I highly recommend you buy an extra battery pack and keep it freshly charged. The optional AC adapter could also be useful for preserving battery power when reviewing and downloading images.
No bigger than a deck of playing cards, the Optio 330 is one of the most portable digicams I've seen. Its sleek, smooth styling is free from any significant protrusions except for the lens, which telescopes outward when powered on. When powered off, the Optio 330's small dimensions let you stash it in a shirt pocket or even a small evening bag.
The Optio 330's user interface is very straightforward, with only a few external controls and a fairly concise (though three-page long) LCD menu system. For standard point-and-shoot operation, basic features like flash, focus mode and zoom all feature external controls. The Mode dial lets you quickly set the camera's operating mode with just a turn of the dial. When it's necessary to use the LCD menu system, you'll find it simple to navigate. Three menus are available, delineated by subject tabs at the top of the screen. The arrow keys of the Four Way Arrow pad scroll through each selection and the OK button in the center of the pad confirms any changes. It shouldn't take much more then half an hour to an hour to become familiar with the fairly intuitive camera setup.
Color: Overall, the Optio 330 produced good color throughout my testing. The Manual white balance setting most often produced the best color balance, as I often noticed a slightly warm cast with the Auto setting (particularly with the Indoor Portrait shot). Skin tones looked about right and even the difficult blue flowers in the Outdoor Portrait test came out pretty good (this is a tough blue for many digicams to get right).
Exposure: The Optio 330 did a good job with exposure, though I noticed a tendency for some images to go dark. Still, it showed good tonal distribution on the Q60 target of the Davebox and fairly good shadow detail. The camera does have a limited dynamic range when shooting in bright sunlight, losing a fair amount of detail in both strong highlights and darker shadows.
Sharpness: Image sharpness was a little low for a 3-megapixel camera, as I noticed some softness in the smaller details. Purely horizontal/vertical details such as the house trim looked reasonably crisp, but the fine detail in foliage and Marti's hair were a bit soft.
Closeups: The Optio 330 performed somewhat below average here, capturing a minimum area of 5.39x4.04 inches. Good detail and resolution, but with a hint of corner softness from the wide-angle lens setting.
Night Shots: The Optio 330 performed surprisingly well (!) in this category, capturing bright, clear images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) when shooting at ISO 200 and as low as 1/8 foot-candle (1.34 lux) when shooting at ISO 100. Thus, the camera can capture usable images in lighting much darker than average city street lighting at night without the flash.
Overall, I liked the Optio 330 quite a bit. It's a very appealing package, with an excellent, rugged "feel" in the hand. Easy to use in full automatic mode, it also provides a surprising range of "enthusiast" features, such as full-manual exposure control and options for manual focus and white balance setting. Its low light capability means you'll be able to capture great shots after the sun goes down. Color was quite good under most shooting conditions and the manual white balance option let it do a good job even under difficult incandescent lighting.
My two biggest beefs with it were somewhat short battery life (the bane of the ultra-compact digicam) and less-than-stellar image sharpness. You'll be able to make good-quality 8x10 prints, but they won't be as sharp as those produced by a full-sized 3-megapixel camera.
Overall, a good choice for a bring-along compact digicam, with good color and a surprising range of capabilities.
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:
We've updated our reports from the floor of Macworld Expo 2002, including a processed 250 Virtual Reality image of South Hall courtesy of Kaidan (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/MWW02/images/360.mov):
- Reviewed: Pentax Optio 430 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/P430/P43A.HTM), the 4-megapixel sister of the 330 reviewed above.
- Illustrated Review: Wacom Intuos2 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/IN2/IN2.HTM)
And Betsy now updates prices daily for our Preferred Vendor listings (in the right-hand column of every review). Remember, buying through these links to first-class online vendors helps us bring you these services.
- 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
The other day at the virtual water cooler we confessed to Dave that we really didn't have an answer for a reader (it was George) who had asked "for a course for a day or two that I could take to learn the full range of issues surrounding digital photography."
"Why don't you suggest Denny Curtin's Short Courses? George won't even have to travel -- it's all online," Dave said.
We gulped. We were hoping for something in the Caribbean.
"Actually, they make a good after-Christmas guide for how to use your camera," Dave patted us on the back. "He doesn't just tell you that your mode dial has Aperture Priority on it, he shows you what different apertures do for you, how you might use them creatively."
"OK," we hiccupped. "I'll take a look. But if you can't get a tan, it better be good!"
Actually, it is good. Real good. And here's why. Curtin not only knows what he's talking about, he doesn't go on forever about it (like us). Instead, he shows you profusely what he succinctly tells you about. Which means you can cover a lot of ground quickly.
Which makes a perfect technique for a quick tour of the "full range of issues surrounding digital photography."
Curtin has packaged his expertise ingeniously, too. At http://www.shortcourses.com he offers the complete text of his generic illustrated guide. That text is gently folded into editions for specific digicams from Canon, Epson, Nikon and Olympus (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc). The books are printed in about 120 black and white pages and include an eBook CD version with full-color illustrations.
Curtin has published the generic eBook online. Just visit http://www.shortcourses.com/using/index.htm for the complete version of "A Short Course in Digital Photography, A Guide to Using Your Digital Camera."
Here's the Table of Contents:
"A great photograph begins when you recognize a great scene or subject," Curtin writes. "But recognizing a great opportunity isn't enough to capture it; you also have to be prepared. A large part of being prepared involves understanding your camera well enough to capture what you see. Getting you prepared to see and capture great photographs is what this book is all about."
- Camera Controls and Creativity
- Fine Tuning Sharpness
- Fine Tuning Exposure
- Capturing Light and Color
- Understanding Lenses
- Using Automatic Flash
- Exploring Close-up Photography
- Special Features (including Panoramic Images, Photographing in Black & White, Continuous or Multi-shot Photography, Movies)
- Seeing Creative Images
Curtin explains, "To get more effective, interesting, and creative photographs, you only need to understand how and when to use a few simple features on your camera such as focus, exposure controls, and flash.
"You'll be pleased to know that you can learn them on a weekend afternoon. You can then spend the rest of your life marveling at how their infinite variety of combinations makes it possible to convey your own personal view of the world."
If you're looking for a quick but comprehensive overview of digital photography, you can't do better than Curtin's work. Visit his digital bookstore through our shortcut (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc) for his camera titles and his work-in-progress on image editing.
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:
Catch the chat about the Sony DSC-F707 at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee867ac
Compare Canon camera prices at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee860f6
Gunawan has to choose between a Sony or Nikon at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee8809e
"What's the status of PhotoPoint?" R. Melton asks at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee89bf6
Visit the Professional Digital Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6b2b4
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Another new department? Well, this time it was at the suggestion of subscriber Chuck Waugh. From time to time we'll explore particularly intriguing and relevant Web sites and "cite" them here. -- Editor)
I got an email the other day from reader and working pro Tim Barnett. In the best entrepreneurial "necessity is the mother of invention" fashion, he's developed a really comprehensive online solution for pros to manage access to and licensing of their digital images.
Tim's system, running under Redhat Linux, really seems to have it all:
Well, the list goes on and on.
- Real-time price calculators and/or negotiated prices
- Password protection and download tracking
- Automatic watermarking of FPO thumbnails
- Keyword searching (auto extract of keywords from IPTC data fields)
- Credit card gateway if you have a merchant account
There are no hardware, software or hosting hassles either, because Tim's solution is offered as a turnkey service. All you (or your clients) need to access the system is a Web browser. Tim explained, "My dedicated servers are state of the art, multi-processor machines with the fastest connections to the Internet possible in a high-tech, secure data center with 24-hour support. They are purely dedicated to running this software."
Good things don't usually come for free and Tim's system is no exception. It looks like there's a goodly up-front time investment in setting up all your information, price structures, password-protected areas, uploading images, etc. There's also a (pretty modest, if you ask me) $50 monthly fee for using the system, which includes 1-GB online photo storage (about 400-500 high-res JPEGs, Tim estimates). Additional space can be leased ($20/GB) as you need it. "Basically you only pay for hosting. Just the savings in postage should pay for the system," he said.
For a look at the system in action, check out Tim's own site, at http://www.timbarnett.com. "I'm now shooting with the EOS 1D," Tim said, "and it takes a matter of minutes for my clients to have their hi-res images. It's literally minutes to transfer from the camera to my laptop, a few keywords added to the IPTC fields in Photoshop, connect to the Web and upload through my browser. The client can have exclusive access to the image in a private category or the image can be up for sale to everyone the second it's uploaded. Takes a little while on a 56k modem, but if you're on a shoot go to a cyber cafe with ADSL and images are up in minutes!"
If you're a practicing commercial photographer, Tim's solution really deserves a close look. You can get a 30 day free trial with no obligation (http://digitalphotosonline.com).
Looking for special prices on featured products? Because of their time-limited nature, we only publish them in the email version of this newsletter. The good news is that you can subscribe for free on our Subscriber Services page:
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You can email us at [email protected].
Thanks again for your newsletter. I dropped 10 bucks at Printroom on your promotional -- hope it helps.
I own a Nikon 880 and have been perplexed by the "double-flash" (red eye on or off) that it makes, as my 7 year-old daughter can NOT blink for the life of her. I understand that the first flash is for metering and only the second for exposure and that other cameras have this as well? Is there any way to get around it or turn it off??
-- Mike Westover(First, thanks for your support! It's true that some digicams use a pre-flash to set white balance, not just to reduce red-eye. But you can disable it by digging into your custom settings options (take a look in your manual). -- Editor)
RE: Nikon 950 Grip Fixed!
You've been so helpful that I thought I'd offer you something for a change.
I picked up a roll of double sided sticky tape -- the permanent type (not the temporary tape designed to easily peel off). I cleaned both the camera and rubber grip with ordinary rubbing alcohol. Where the old adhesive was thick, I got it off by rubbing it (it tends to form little balls which roll easily away).
After I got everything squeaky clean (no residual oil and don't touch the surfaces once they are clean), I carefully laid down two strips of the adhesive tape in the area of the camera body where the rubber grip is placed. I placed the strips, using tweezers, so that they butted up to one another, but did not overlap. I was careful not to press my fingers into the adhesive. That could have damaged the adhesive. I then used a very sharp pen knife (a razor blade might have been better) to trim the excess tape away.
Finally, I pressed the rubber grip into place and worked all around it and at the edges with my fingers to be certain it made contact with the adhesive tape.
I have used the camera a fair amount since I made this repair and so far so good. The tape cost me about 2 bucks. There's got to be enough tape to make the same repair at least 50 times (4 cents a repair). It took me about 10 minutes, less time than it would have taken me to pack and mail the camera back to Nikon. So I figure that if I have to repeat this operation every 6 months, I'm still ahead of the game.
-- Dave Williams(Thanks for the follow-up, Dave! Double-sided tape is right up there with duct tape on our wall. -- Editor)
RE: Glycee Pre-thanks
Did I miss it? Did you yet have an issue concerning gyclee? Thanks ... whenever you did ... or do!
-- Anxious(Our deep-down suspicion is that glycee printing is less and less relevant in the era of the photo-quality Inkjet. Especially with off-the-shelf inks promising 70 years longevity. But we'd love to hear from readers who use it. -- Editor)
RE: Another Recommendation
Have you folks seen or evaluated CompuPic or CompuPic Pro? This is a very versatile and capable program that has gone through many upgrades and improvements over the last few years. I would like to see your review and comments. Please check at http://photodex.com for further information.
Love your site and the incredible amount of info. I have been involved with photography for more than 30 years as a pro and semi-pro. About ten years ago I just lost interest; but my new Sony DSC-707 has excited and energized me.
My photo specialty is super close up of nature forms. So far pictures and prints are pretty good, but after film Nikons, there is much to learn and different techniques to apply. Thanks for being a wonderful resource!
-- Dwain H. Hansen(Thanks, Dwain! We don't have a suggestion box -- just insatiable curiosity. So we're off to see what CompuPic can do. It looks very exciting. -- Editor)
RE: More on Digital Flash
I shot a whole catalog of glass/crystal items with my Olympus C2000Z a couple of years ago. I initially hooked it up to my flash slaves, but found it very difficult to get properly exposed photos. I ended up going with regular, constant photo bulbs, usually using two at a time (one on each side) and sometimes adding a third (boom). They only last 3-4 hours and my slaves sit lonely in their box, unused.
But I'm very happy working that way (it's more "what you see is what you get" and I'm happy with the results). The only hook-ups to my camera are now the AC adapter and the cord linked to a 13" TV I use as my monitor. All photos at http://www.eurokristall.com were taken that way.
Even though I have subsequently bought the Olympus RS100, I continue to use the C2000Z for the studio shots for the higher resolution; I use the 1600x1200 uncompressed TIFF setting (on Aperture priority) and then resample them to about 5-7 inches at 300 dpi and they come out great in the printed catalog. Hope this helps.
-- Janet(Great solution! In fact, we just received a new, inexpensive studio lighting setup for review. It will probably see the light in February.... And we'll also publish a piece covering flash alternatives shortly. -- Editor)
You discussed the issue of high voltage regarding non-dedicated flashes for digital cameras in the latest issue of your newsletter. I haven't found the perfect answer you are looking for, but I did discover a few useful details in my own search.
First, the Vivitar 283 (and probably some other current strobes, as well) have low voltage trigger circuits. I purchased one about six months ago and it is totally different than those I've been using for the past 15+ years. If I put my digital voltmeter across the PC contacts of the new 283, I read a few volts instead of several hundred on the older models. This wasn't just a recent design change though, so it's worth checking if your 283's are relatively recent.
My studio strobes have low voltage triggers and my radio-controlled slaves do, as well. Even if I just put the transmitter on my camera without using the remote tripping feature, I am protected. These are more expensive solutions, of course and only make sense if you need the additional capabilities they offer.
I still shoot film for most of my work, but last year I bought a Kodak DC4800 digital to experiment with. I was initially concerned about this voltage problem, but I finally reached a Kodak rep with the right information. This camera will stand high flash trigger voltages up to about 500 volts. So even the old 283 flashes are no problem. I know that the Nikon cameras -- both film and digital can't take the high voltages, but I don't know about other brands.
Years ago, any photo magazine worth its salt published an article and diagram on how to build a low-voltage sync circuit. The purpose at that time was to prevent high-voltage arcing from burning the sync contacts. I suspect that someone out there could probably come up with a design for the current needs too, but the days of photographers building various electronic gadgets with a soldering pencil and some Radio Shack parts may be long gone!
-- Bill Tilton(Our 283s measure 280-300 volts, which makes them handy for emergency power. Even worse, they don't run off 1.2-volt rechargeable NiMH batteries, requiring genuine 1.4-volt AAs. But it's quite true that new 283s (which can be had for less than $100) are safe.... Maybe we should sponsor a design competition for the most elegant safe sync built from commonly available parts. -- Editor)
Larry Berman (http://BermanGraphics.com) writes that the Feb. issue of Shutterbug Magazine covers shooting digital infrared and includes eight infrared images by Chris Maher taken with his Coolpix 950. "We also have a companion Web site at http://irdreams.com/ with various infrared galleries, an extensive resource section and a forum where infrared issues can be discussed."
Exif Viewer (http://homepage.mac.com/aozer/EV/index.html) is a 60K Mac OS X application, based on Matthias Wandel's jhead, to display Exif information in JPEG files coming from digital cameras.
If you visit Wandel's site, be sure to read his adventure turning a scanner into a digicam (http://www.sentex.net/~mwandel/tech/scanner.html).
The Plugin Site (http://www.thepluginsite.com) has released Dark Season, Volume 3 of Photo Galaxy. Dark Season is a collection of over 1,000 royalty-free digital photos on CD-ROM with mostly autumn and winter themes.
Sapphire Innovations (http://www.sapphire-innovations.com) has released Sapphire Innovations vol 6, 20 color threshold plugins for Photoshop [W].
Sapphire Innovations has also released the $21 Sapphire Brushes Vol 11 [MW] with 450 random, grainy, smeared brushes for Photoshop-compatible image editors.
FlipAlbum (http://www.flipalbum.com) has released FlipAlbum Professional 4.0 (version 4.1) to create CD catalogs, proof books or scrapbooks on CD. Version 4.1 supports multiple albums per CD, video on any album page and MPEG video files. Visit http://www.flipalbum.com/flipalbumcd/specialfapro40.htm to order.
Jan Esmann has updated his <A HREF="http://www.powerretouche.com" TARGET="_new">PowerRetouche</A> SharpnessEditor, which speeds sharpening 50-MB at blurwidth 2 to about a minute. Version 4.0 also supports CMYK, multilayer mode and duotones (bi, tri and quad).
iView MediaPro [M] has been updated to version 4.1. The new release (http://www.iview-multimedia.com/bin/ivmp.sit) of the Mac OS image organizer includes a backup feature, JPEG lossless rotation, mouse wheel support, OS X thumbnails (and improved performance), plus a number of fixes.
Wiebe (Techhttp://www.wiebetech.com) has announced its $99.95 FireWire Keychain, a keychain-sized, FireWire/IEEE-1394 device for CompactFlash cards, will ship in March. Measuring 1.75x2.35x0.75 inches, the small device can transfer up to 5-MB/second.
Lemke Software (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released GraphicConverter 4.2.1 [M] with support for zoom depth to 1000 percent, lossless JPEG rotation with correct Exif entries, FTP uploads and a few bug fixes.
Plato Grande Software has updated its $30 ImageViewer [M] (http://www.imageviewer.com/index.html) to version 6.0.1. The OS X and Classic cataloging, browsing, and image editing software automatically builds local or Web-ready HTML contact sheets.
Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released version 7.4.2 of VueScan.
For just $150 an insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).
Curtin Short Courses: http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc
Fast Ritz CF cards: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?ritzmem
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