|Volume 4, Number 5||8 March 2002|
Welcome to the 66th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We sought some professional advice after PMA 2002 and name the winners of the DIMA awards before updating Dave's ground-breaking battery test.
Easiest way to change your address? Visit Subscriber Services at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/ and click on Update Your Address.
Beware the ides of March, folks! The Printroom deal for 25 free enlargements and Printroom's Shoot & Share [W] software for just $9.99 ends March 15. We once again (once is not enough), thank those who helped support us by signing up for this deal (half of which supports this newsletter) and encourage the rest of you to visit http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/pl/pl.cgi?prnl quickly for what Dave's called the Deal of the Century. 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 44,300 readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at [email protected].
Publisher Dave Etchells and Daily News Editor Mike Tomkins returned from Orlando recently with a lot less tread on their soles. Our stint hovering overhead to grab all the satellite feeds is over as well. So after a (very brief) congratulatory toast at the virtual water cooler, we're all back in our regular saddles again.
Except one of us (yours truly) hasn't been able to sleep very well since then. We keep having visions of all the new products suddenly arriving via UPS and FedEx and Airborne. "Signature? We don't need no stinking signature, go have fun!" the delivery person of our dreams laughs.
Normally we'd just write the traditional wrap-up story and get it out of our system. But that assumes the party's over. It isn't. Mike T. is continuing coverage at http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS02/PMAS02.HTML (where you can relive all the show excitement, too).
Instead, we thought that (in addition to the Digital Imaging Marketing Association award winners story below) we should analyze the most important developments.
And for that, we thought we'd visit a pro, Dr. Phil.
DR. PHIL'S PERSPECTIVE
Dr. Phil needs no introduction. He has his own Web site (http://www.philmcgraw.com) and every now and then Oprah Winfrey introduces him, too. Not only does he "get real" with relationship and weight loss advice, but his son Jay recently published a book on getting along with your parents. In Dr. Phil's world everything makes sense (eventually).
This is just the guy we need after a week of blockbuster PMA news.
Is it time to give up our Average digicam (in which we've invested without diversification, let's just say)? Should we dump our Photoshop 6.0 books and CDs into the recycle bin? How are we supposed to evaluate intelligent color plug-ins that are smarter than we are?
So join us as we visit Dr. Phil for his perspective on PMA 2002.
WHY DO YOU DO THAT?
"Nice spread you've got here, Dr. Phil. Mind if we call you Doctor?" we asked.
"Thanks, Mike. You might think you'll get a significant payoff for calling me Doctor, but let me tell you...." Dr. Phil just shook his head.
"Well, not significant, but it does help us distinguish between you and Phil Silvers, with whom you bear a striking resemblance."
"That's why I've got the moustache," Dr. Phil laughed. "What's on your mind, Mike?"
"PMA 2002, actually. There was a flood of press releases, aisles of booths, hundreds of products, contest winners and losers, you name it. We're confused, Dr. Phil. We lay awake all night trying to separate the organic produce from the baloney."
"Shoot, pardner," Dr. Phil settled back to listen to the details.
THE FOVEON X3
"Take the Foveon X3," we started, distress creeping into our voice. "We covered this last week because it's a big deal -- if it works. The first full-color sensor, guaranteed to eliminate edge artifacts from color interpolation.
"And, frankly, we looked forward to some meat on this at the show. But instead, there was Carver Mead demeaning his achievement by showing a video tape (http://imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS02/1014485184.html) of Bill Gates promising to support the new X3 raw file format in Windows!
"What's next, claims that the X3 cures baldness and can make wake-up calls?"
"I can tell from what you're saying how you feel about that," Dr. Phil nodded.
We calmed down a bit. "Well, all we're trying to say is that Windows is an operating system, not an application," we explained. "What does an operating system have to do with the innards of a file format?"
"There's no neutrality, Mike," Dr. Phil steered us back. "Windows either contributes or it contaminates the process."
"So maybe Windows is evolving into an application? Little folders morph into slide show viewers like in XP? File icons mushroom into thumbnails? Do we want our operating system to do that? We kind of miss old invisible MS-DOS 3.1."
"More likely you're mourning the loss of the operating system you wish you had," Dr. Phil pointed out. "How much image editing did you do in MS-DOS?"
"Got us there. Hopeless romantic," we blushed. "Guess we just don't trust Microsoft very much."
"Du-uh. You and a few attorneys general," he smiled. "What else?"
"Well there is one thing that has bugged us since we started packing a digital camera," we continued. "What do you do when you're away from home and your storage card fills up?
"If you've got a film camera, you just buy more film. But with a digicam, buying more storage cards can, well, cut your vacation short. At least the bar bill.
"A few months ago Apple came up with the iPod for music lovers, remember? The first thing I thought was why didn't they make one for photographers? We really need some way to empty our storage cards so we can take more pictures."
"Uh huh," he nodded.
"Then, what do you know, but at the show there was this thing called the Vista (http://imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS02/1014596427.html) that's the same size as the iPod (it uses the same 5-GB hard drive) but it has a USB port and a PCMCIA slot so you can copy images off your camera or its card onto its huge hard disk. But wait, there's a lot more. It's got a color LCD so you can see the pictures, even run slide shows. And it even connects to a television."
"Hey, there you go. So what's the problem?"
"We want one! Or two -- one for backup. But it will probably cost a fortune. The hardware alone is over $200. And Apple sells their much less complex iPod for $400."
"You are guaranteeing the very result you don't want, Mike."
"How's that?" we scratched our head.
"You list all the great things about this Vista and then whine that it costs money. Do you think it should be free if it's valuable?"
"No, of course not, Dr. Phil, we hadn't thought of it that way."
He smiled. "What else?"
"Well, you know, there are a lot of people out there who have been very happy all these years with their SLRs and their lens collections," we observed. "And as interested in digital photography as they might be, they aren't interested in meeting it halfway. They want to see an affordable digital body before they make the leap."
"For them, going digital with a point-and-shoot would be a life-changing mistake," Dr. Phil observed.
"Right! They want a real camera that takes digital pictures, you know? One that respects what they've learned and effortlessly opens the digital door."
"You create your own experience, Mike." He rocked back in his chair, shaking his head. "If you wait for someone else to open that door, let me tell you, it won't open. That door locks from the inside, buddy."
"Well, at the show both Canon (http://imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS02/1014390062.html) and Nikon (http://imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS02/1014280527.html) had new 6-megapixel SLRs that may just slip the key under the door. It really depends on the price."
"Well, isn't it obvious then?" Dr. Phil cut in. "If the price is right, you get it and if it isn't, you don't. You either get it or you don't."
"Right, sure, OK." Then we suddenly remembered something. "Hey, Dr. Phil, we've got a video-taped question for you from our publisher, Dave Etchells."
We tossed the tape in and Dave appeared in the living room as big as Bill Gates. "Hi, I'm Dave Etchells, founder of Imaging Resource and still not one of the richest men in the world. So I'm particularly interested in how Canon will price their new D60 and Nikon will compete with their D100. What do you think they'll do, Dr. Phil?"
"Actually," Dr. Phil answered, "I just heard from a little bird that they're both going to be around $2,000. I think I heard a street price of $1,950 from a list of $2,200, actually, for the Canon. And if Canon sets the peg down there, Nikon will need a real good reason not to join them."
"Wow, Canon had announced the D60 for $2,995 at the show. Maybe we'll get a real price war on these babies," we drooled.
He smiled. "What else?"
"Well, there were these great new color correction plug-ins. Pictographics released iCorrect EditLab (http://imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS02/1014578902.html) and Applied Science Fiction showed ROC and SHOSHO (http://imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS02/1014590917.html)."
"ROC on and SHO what?" Dr. Phil made a (bad) joke.
"No, they're plug-ins. ROC automatically restores color balance to, say, an old faded photo you scanned. And SHO brings out the shadow detail on underexposed images."
"Uh huh. And why do you need that?"
"Well, that's just the thing," we stammered with excitement. "You can do that manually with Levels or Curves -- if you've been reading our tutorials here, anyway -- because the information is in the data, not the software. But these things automate that."
"Why don't you automate that with Actions?" Dr. Phil suggested. "Surely, you've heard us tell people over and over that life rewards action."
"Yeah but no, you can't. An Action is dumb. It doesn't know one image from another. It just does the same thing to every image. It doesn't address the, uh, personal truth of each image, so to speak," we said, stepping over the line (well, he was telling jokes). "These things actually analyze each image before making the changes. So you can automate intelligent color correction."
"Look, Mike, life is managed, not cured. If you've got a disk full of these problems, sounds to me like you should manage the correction with one of these plug-ins. If you only have to do an occasional correction, just do it manually. What's the issue? Like I said, you create your own experience."
"But there are two of them. Why pick Pictographics and not Applied Science Fiction [which won an award, incidentally]? How can you choose?"
"How bad are your pictures, Mike? Let's start with that. You have to own your lousy photography. Because you can't change what you don't acknowledge. Do you own your bad pictures?"
"They're not that bad. It's the scans of old stuff, we're thinking about. Stuff we didn't even shoot, honest."
"And you're telling me these two products are identical? No difference whatsoever?"
"Oh, no. In fact, Pictographics gives you a sort of best of both worlds. If you have a set of images that are off, you can analyze one of them, save the correction itself and apply it to the whole batch with their free ColorCircuit. ASF's plug-ins are one-shot deals and really intended for specific problems rather than general color correction -- but they work great on faded or underexposed images."
He smiled. "What else?"
"Oh, this one really hurts, Dr. Phil," we began. "Adobe announced a new version of Photoshop (http://imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS02/1014579538.html)."
"And that's never happened before?"
"Well, sure. This is version 7. Runs on XP and OS X, has expanded scripting, new retouching tools, file management improvements, tool presets, we can't even remember all the goodies. It isn't fair, Dr. Phil. One show and suddenly everything we use is obsolete!"
"I'm going to quote my father here, Mike. He used to say, 'Spend five percent of the time thinking about whether something is fair or unfair and 95 percent thinking about what you're going to do about it.' So what are you going to do about it?"
"Take naps in the afternoon, Dr. Phil. Forget about sleeping at night."
But just as we were about to whine about the DIMA awards (see below for the winners), we were interrupted by a well-dressed, neatly-appointed attache who served us with a cease and desist order. "This conversation is entirely fictional and, as such, we find it a misappropriation of our client's identity and professional advice."
"Oh, man," we cried, "why didn't we bring our camera?"
Dr. Phil smiled. "Taken any good pictures lately -- with your old beat-up Average Digicam and Photoshop 3.0 cranking out prints from your Ordinary PC to your Nameless Printer?"
"Oh, yeah," we enthused, remembering "this incredible shot we got of the Golden Gate Bridge through the Palace of Fine Arts on a crystal clear afternoon...." Dr. Phil had that twinkle in his eye. And then it dawned on us. "Uh, it's all about the images, after all, isn't it?"
Dr. Phil just smiled.
The Digital Imaging Marketing Association, a section of the Photo Marketing Association, sponsored several special awards during the recent PMA Convention and Trade Show in Orlando, Fla. DIMA presented awards for Innovative Products and Shootouts for Cameras and Printers. Special Merit Awards are marked with a caret (^).
INNOVATIVE DIGITAL PRODUCT AWARDS
Fifteen of the hundreds of digital products on display at the PMA 2002 Annual International Convention & Trade Show were honored with the DIMA Innovative Digital Product Award. An Innovative Digital Product of PMA 2002 is awarded by the judges to companies that use new technologies and/or applications to make their product either unique or the first of its kind. These high-end products often influence the future of digital imaging. Whether the product is hardware or software, amateur or professional, photographic or prepress, or any other segment, is irrelevant. Judges were simply asked to cover the PMA Trade Show floor with an eye to the innovative.
Innovative Digital Product:
Company Product Foveon Inc. Foveon X3 Sigma Corp. Sigma SD9 Leica Camera Inc. Leica Digilux Adobe Systems Inc. Adobe Photoshop 7.0 Minolta Corp. Minolta DiMAGE X Digital Camera Pixel Magic Imaging Pixel Magic Megapixel PhotoStation Nikon Inc. Nikon D-100 Digital SLR Applied Science Fiction Dry PIC Technology Applied Science Fiction Digital ROC Software Phogenix Imaging Phogenix DFX Digital Inkjet Mini Lab Concord Camera Corp. Eye-QIR Digital Camera Hi-Touch Imaging Tech. D2T2 Photo Printer Eastman Kodak Co. Kodak ERI Extended Range Imaging Software Eastman Kodak Co. Kodak Advantix EasyShare Camera Durst Dice America Durst Zeta Digital Laser Photo Printer
DIGITAL CAMERA SHOOT-OUT
Twelve digital cameras were named winners in the Sixth Annual 2002 DIMA Digital Camera Shoot-Out. Fifty-one digital camera entries and 20 manufacturers participated in the Shoot-Out, which took place Saturday, Feb. 23, at the DIMA Annual Conference in Orlando, Fla. The point-and-shoot cameras and prosumer/professional cameras captured images in two live-model studios, while the commercial strobe-based and scanning capture cameras captured images of two commercial product setups.
Images from the point-and-shoot cameras were printed on the Fujifilm Frontier 370 digital minilab supplied by Fuji Photo Film U.S.A. Inc., Elmsford, N.Y., USA. Images from the prosumer/professional category were output through a PC or Mac running Adobe Photoshop 6.0 and printed in RGB on a Fujifilm Pictrography 4000 II, also provided by Fuji. Images from the strobe-based and scanning capture commercial studio cameras were output through a Mac running Adobe PhotoShop 6.0 and printed on an Epson 10000 CMYK inkjet printer, supplied by Epson America Inc., Long Beach, Calif., USA.
Color management support for the DIMA Digital Camera Shoot-Out was provided by Gretag Macbeth, Huntington Beach, Calif.; and ITEC Colorblind, San Diego, Calif.
Professional photo equipment was supplied by Bogen Photo Corp., Ramsey, N.J., USA; Hasselblad USA, Fairfield, N.J.; and Schneider Optics, Hauppauge, N.Y. Color viewing systems providing D5000 viewing conditions were provided by GTI Graphic Technology Inc., Newburgh, N.Y. Digital media readers were supplied by Microtech International Inc., Guilford, Conn. Photo-editing software was provided by Adobe Systems Inc., San Jose, Calif. Photo trimmers were provided by Quality Mounting & Laminating Systems, North Haven, Conn.
Additional technical expertise was provided by Mark Williford, Lee Varis, Claude Jodoin, William "Spook" Bolt, and Bill Smith.
Entries were voted upon by trade attendees of PMA 2002 based on image/print quality and color accuracy. Below are the winners of the Sixth Annual DIMA Digital Camera Shoot-Out.
Point & Shoot:
Category Winner Below $100 Zoran CamMini $100 to $199 Toshiba PDR-M11 $200 to $299 Fuji FinePix 2600Z $300 to $499 Kodak EasyShare DX4900 $500 to $699 Epson Photo PC3100Z $700 to $899 Minolta DiMAGE 5 $900 to $1,200 Sony DSC F707
Digital Video Camcorder: Sony DCR-TRV50
Category Winner $1,200 to $2,499 Minolta DiMAGE 7 $5,000 to $9,999^ Kodak DCS 760
Commercial Strobe-Based Capture:
Category Winner One-Shot^ Jenoptik Presision M6
Commercial Scanning Capture:
Category Winner Scanning Capture Better Light Super 6K-2
Using the same target file, 28 companies made 108 prints for display during the DIMA Annual Conference. Conference attendees cast their votes based on image quality and color accuracy.
Size Printer Paper RIP 52" wide or more Oce Lightjet 500XL Kodak Digital III Postershop 36" to 51" wide Oce Lightjet 430 Kodak Digital III Postershop 11" to 35" Durst Epsilon 30 Kodak Digital III DDA Cheetah Less than 11" wide Durst Zeta Agfa Laser III DDA Cheetah Digital Mini Lab Fuji Frontier 370 Fuji Color Paper
Size Printer Paper RIP Over 72" Vutek Ultra Vu 3360 EC Verseidag US Color Burst Pro 50-72" Ilford Novajet 850i Ilford UM2GP7 Ilford Ripstar 36-49" Epson 9500 Best Proofing Best Xposure XXL 9-17" Epson Stylus 1280 Epson Premium Glossy 8.5" $300+ HP Photosmart 1315 HP Premium Plus Glossy 8.5" $150-299 Epson Stylus 785 EXP Epson Premium Glossy 8.5" $149- Epson Stylus 820 Epson Premium Glossy
Printer Paper Phogenix DFX Phogenix Imaging
Size Printer Paper 8x10"+ Kodak 8660 Dye Sub Kodak Paper 5x7" Mitsubishi CP 8000DW Mitsubishi CK 8000FW4P 4x6" or less Crystal Digital CP-PP10 Crystal Digital
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full story posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/BATTS/BATTS.HTM on the Web site.)
Well, this is a little embarrassing. Thanks to a failing contact in the breadboard socket I used to assemble the battery testing system, an increasing (and variable) resistance in the circuit between the load resistors and the batteries led to a loss of calibration over time.
The result was that recently-tested batteries (like the Rayovac 1600s) tested better than cells tested earlier. Argh!
I discovered this about a week before PMA, just as I was in the midst of the camera-reviewing frenzy caused by the near-simultaneous arrival of the five Sony digicams, Nikon 2500 and Canon D60 (which were, in fact, all reviewed just prior to the show).
I fixed the jig by soldering all high-current connections apart from those between the batteries and battery holder and clamped the latter to reduce contact resistance. The result was much more repeatable results with somewhat higher measured power capacities than previously.
The new "winners" are the Powerex 1800 mAh cells (just arrived as I was retesting the others), although I still have more test cycles to run before I'd consider the results to be anything near definitive. The Powerex 1700s would have been the winners among the previously tested units.
I've retested all the formerly top-performing batteries and added results for the Powerex 1800s and Sanyo 1600s I received a while back from the folks at RipVan100 (http://www.ripvan100.com/). The Sanyos are now the best-performing 1600 mAh cells I've seen.
I have a mess of retesting to do, as well as a number of new cells to test, including Panasonic 1600s, Energizer 1700s, Nexcell 1800s and Sony 1750s. Stay tuned for another update in a couple of weeks as I work my way through more of the retests and new cells. In the meantime, check the battery shootout article for all the latest (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/BATTS/BATTS.HTM).
Brand & Capacity Watt-Hours mAh Min Powerex 1800 7.518 1689 114 Powerex 1700 7.251 1618 109 GP 1800 7.004 1604 110 Sanyo 1600 6.833 1530 103 Rayovac 1600 6.802 1542 105 Radio Shack 1600 6.564 1479 100 Powerex 1600 6.529 1488 102 Kodak 1600 6.488 1474 101 GP 1600 6.126 1413 98 Panasonic (A) 3.407 774 56 Duracell Ultra (A) 3.406 781 57 Energizer (A) 3.301 756 55
Alkalines are marked (A). The emailed chart is formatted for a monospaced font.
Awaiting retest: Nexcell 1600, Quest 1600, Yuasa 1450, Yuasa 1600, Powerex 1550. New batteries awaiting test: Panasonic 1600s, Energizer 1700s, Nexcell 1800s, Energizer Lithium cells.
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:
- Minor Update: "Picky Details" (power, timing, etc.) information posted for Sony DSC-P31 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/P31/P31DATA.HTM), DSC-P51 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/P51/P51DATA.HTM) and DSC-P71 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/P71/P71DATA.HTM).
- Updated: Great Battery Shootout (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/BATTS/BATTS.HTM).
- Event Coverage: Ongoing PMA Report (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS02/PMAS02.HTML).
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 Canon EOS-D60 discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee8a823
Compare HP camera prices at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee860fa
Henk asks about viewing photos via a DVD player at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee8ac7f
Tracy asks about the best box for a Nikon 4000 scanner at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee8ad6d
Visit the Fuji Folder at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6f779
Don your (bath) robes fellow members of the Ersatz Academy of Sliding Picture Arts and Sciences. It's time for your Missing (not just Stolen) Oscar nominations, an annual rite among our subscribers.
In past years, you honored the Slide Show talent and the best Photo Web Sites. This year we change the nature of the award once again.
We're asking for your nominations for the Best Shareware Related to Imaging. Pretty wide open, but it must be:
To submit your nomination, email your testimonial (be as ridiculous as you like) with the subject "Oscar Nomination" to [email protected] before our next issue.
- Shareware. Try before you buy, easily downloadable and still available. Not free.
- Cross-platform a definite plus (but we aren't picky).
- Related to Imaging means broadly that. Image editors, plug-ins, printing utilities, image downloaders, you nominate it.
The winner will receive the Public Notoriety of the Ersatz Academy's Missing Oscar. And, unlike the regular Oscars, may dress any way they like (or not) before, during or after our virtual awards ceremony.
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:
Subscribe for Great Deals!
We deliver -- just
You can email us at [email protected].
RE: On the Foveon X3
The article on the Foveon X3 Color Sensor Chip is excellent! While technical, it was easy to read. I now have a better understanding of what it does.
Now if a camera like the Olympus C-2100 can be made available for less than $1,000, I would buy it. <bg>
-- Lou(Thanks, Lou! We neglected to mention that Foveon claims the new chip will be less costly to manufacture than a CCD of similar size. Just more good news. -- Editor)
Your explanation of your reaction to Foveon is outstanding. However your readers should not be too quick to underestimate Carver Mead. As I recall I read similarly persuasive explanations 25 years ago as to the flaws in the reasoning of Lynn Conway and Mead when they told the semiconductor industry how microchip design was going to change by adopting design methodologies they (Conway and Mead) had developed. The book they wrote had the unique result of being successful before it was published. MIT and Caltech developed VLSI design courses from photocopies of the drafts. I doubt that any microcircuit designer today does not use the structured design systems developed by them
Later Carver Mead thought he could do better designing amplifiers for communications systems (the same Mead-developed amplifier now used whenever I download your newsletter from the Internet.)
Having been mislead by experts once about Mead some years ago, I find your article persuasive but I am cautious about accepting the conclusions without reservation. Surely Carver Mead is not targeting two megapixel chips but more likely very low power, cheap 20 megapixel or more devices. If standard CMOS fabrication is used, I suspect he believes that over time we can be profligate in allocating intelligent support circuitry to each and every pixel and that sensor device development can now ride the same learning curve as CMOS technology.
Well it definitely is not a sure thing. But if Mead is successful, the imaging business is going to be on a luge track. Hold on tight. You're in for the ride of your life.
-- Jim Cunnie(Thanks very much for your considered comment, Jim. Hadn't dared dream of the implications! Very exciting stuff.... Our "reaction to Foveon" however is more a response to the hyperbole of press releases and PR firms than hard science. We understand neither but tend to appreciate the fine line between what we don't know and what we're not being told <g>.... So while we're toasting Mead and sipping the champagne, that's also a polite way of withholding applause. But he does have our (speaking broadly) attention. And with all the noise out there, that counts a lot. -- Editor)
Praise: I think the Imaging Resource Newsletter is a fantastic piece of work, like the rest of the site.
Having followed your pieces on battery performance, I have been meaning to send in the following information for some time in case you wanted to follow it up.
Here in the UK, a company called Maplin Electronics (http://www.maplin.co.uk) is selling batteries under the brand name Pure Energy (in its shops, if not listed in their catalog). These are rechargeable AA alkaline manganese batteries in a pack of four complete with "special" charger (looks like a simple GP NiMH charger I have with different stickers!), is available for about GBP15. A packet of four batteries on its own costs GBP5.99 (about $8.50).
The blurb on the box says the batteries are good for 25-100 recharges, have five year shelf life, are rated at 1.5V and (now) 2000mAh and have "no memory effect; the earlier the recharge, the better."
That's about all I can tell you, but if you manage to track some down and test them I will be interested to read your results.
-- David White(Those sound like the Rayovac Renewal rechargeable alkalines sold in this country. They work well for things like flashlights, where they'd sit for a long time (needing to hold their charge) and then not see a very high load. They're terrible for digicams though, simply can't remotely handle high loads.... They also don't like deep discharges one bit, really are best suited to being lightly discharged, then charged right back up again.... I tried a batch of the Renewal batteries when I first started this site and they were an absolute disaster for digicams. I really, really recommend against them. -- Dave)(While we're big fans of the Rayovacs, we only use them in flashlights, radios and clocks. Which is how we saved enough money to buy NiMHs! -- Editor)
Your article on batteries and chargers was just too in-depth and good. I love all your newsletter but this was exceptional because no one goes this deep into batteries and chargers.
I used to use 1200 mAh Nexcells with a standard charger. Then I got my MH-C204 charger and I have seen a dramatic increase in battery life. This is of course due to the fact that the charger charges the battery more completely than the standard charger.
-- Amit K(Thanks, Amit! Looks like the battery report is an ongoing series, worth checking every few weeks as Dave adds more batteries and long-term results. -- Editor)
RE: Real News
Just got your latest newsletter, thanks.
Launching Digital Photos Online has been an interesting experience. I thought the programming was a steep learning curve, but marketing and promotion of DPO is proving even steeper!
For instance, it was a pleasure to receive your newsletter and to read it. Not only because you gave DPO an excellent write up last month, but also because you are bringing real news to the photographers whether you are paid to or not.
I was more than surprised by the amounts being asked for by the other photography Web sites for any kind of mention of DPO. How Phil Askey from DPReview can say his testing and reviews are "independent" when you have to pay thousands of dollars to be included in a newsletter that cost him nothing other than some editing time to produce, I do not know. I used to publish a successful magazine, so I know what pressures are applied by advertisers, but no way were any of my news or review pages ever sponsored! It was funny, a few people have been trying to give me tips about how to launch DPO and many readers of sites like yours had all suggested the newsletters and review pages and were shocked when I told them the prices being asked for by DPReview.
So thanks for including me last month and thanks for writing up news without a kickback or being biased toward someone signing the bigger check! (But please can you stop news about new and better technology coming out every month reminding us all that the expensive kit we bought this week, will be worthless next week!! Aaaaah! There used to be a time when you knew a camera system would last many years before being upgraded or becoming out of date!)
-- Tim Barnett(Ah, can't do anything about the pace of technology except give you Dr. Phil's URL. Knowledge is the one source of wealth that isn't finite, as Buckminster Fuller pointed out some time ago. Which is why we're happy to cover newsworthy events (and would never dream of charging anyone for editorial coverage). -- Editor)
RE: Going to Press
I am in the publishing business and some of our books use illustrations that are scanned in. Our books are uniformly 9x6 inches (standard size in other words) and the pictures are usually black and white full page, so run maybe 4.5x6 inches or so.
We want good resolution. In the past we sent the camera-ready copy to printer with 8x10 glossies to be reduced and fit in. These days we hope to run all the pix into a file with the book using Adobe Acrobat.
Questions: When a picture is scanned, what should be the image size? Up to now I have been making it about the size of the object being scanned or a bit larger if it is small photo. In what format? Is TIFF superior to JPEG? In which format is one more likely to lose resolution when the photo is fiddled with?
I recall reading a lot about this in the newsletter, but don't have that material now and recall too that there was a program that would prevent any deterioration of detail when manipulating the pic.
And most important, what should the resolution setting be? Both for scanning and then for the setting in PhotoShop or whatever formatting program is being used. We have been scanning at 600 dpi I believe, but saving the pix at resolutions around 180 dpi. That seems out of what, but to save at 300 or 600 dpi results in a huge file.
Your wisdom on this would be appreciated!
-- Jim Hardin(Before we roll up our sleeves on this one, let us suggest a retrieval method for dealing with our growing content. Try the keyword search at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/ on the Index to Articles page. Now to the sleeves.... What matters is what your printer won't charge extra for (one reason you're moving to a PDF workflow, no doubt). Which generally means what they're comfortable with.... Printers traditionally cringe at the mention of JPEGs but we quoted no less an authority than Michael Jahn (who evangelized PDF to begin with) in suggesting no modern RIP is unable to handle a JPEG (just slightly-out-of-touch printers). So, TIFF is only technically superior to JPEG and once the thing is halftoned no one on the face of the earth will be able to tell the difference.... Scan at the final print size no matter what size your original is. If your images are 8x10, 5x7 and 4x6 but they are all going to be 12x18 picas, scan them to be 12x18 picas (well, a bit larger). That way the resolution you capture will be the resolution used.... And the resolution is the real catch. This depends on the halftone screen you and your printer determine is appropriate for your press and paper. Newspapers printed on newsprint through web presses need quite a different halftone screen resolution (expressed in lines per inch) than books printed on coated stock and run through sheet-fed presses. So ask your printer.... The magic formula (2 times the halftone screen) is overkill, as Brian Lawyer proved years ago (http://www.thelawlers.com/essays.html). This means the old recommendation to scan at 300-dpi for a 150-lpi halftone screen took more time than necessary to RIP with no increase in quality over a 200-dpi scan. We've scanned as low as 150 for a 120-dpi screen that worked very well. You never want to ask your printer to work with anything over 300-dpi (and, as you point out, you don't want to do so yourself).... Preserving the image through editing is simply a matter of saving in the Photoshop native format (.psd) until you've finished (taking advantage of layers and layer adjustments), then flattening the final image and saving it as a JPEG (or TIFF, if your printer insists). -- Editor)
RE: What About Fast Lenses?
Am I missing something? To me, one of the most significant features of a camera is the widest lens opening which, of course, is important for available light photos. This was always in ads for film cameras but gets no mention in digital cameras. Why is that?
-- Marty(Great question, Marty! But we think we can answer it, anyway <g>. In the Old Days, those fast lens ads were usually referring to fixed focal length lenses (50mm standard). Most digicams today sport zoom lenses (even 35mm zooms didn't brag about their speed). But I would note that Olympus (perhaps alone) does advertise their faster lenses. -- Editor)
Photopoint (http://www.photopoint.com/statusupdate.html) announced they have arranged to have members' accounts burned to CD. Online orders for the CDs can be placed at the site for $24.95 plus shipping and COD charges.
Hewlett-Packard has announced a recall of 2.5 million AC power cords. Longwell Electronics is voluntarily recalling the LS-7C cords which can break, exposing contacts and thus pose a shock hazard. The gray cords were sold with Deskjet 800/900 and Photosmart 1000/1100/1200/1300 series printers. Visit http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml02/02115.html for details or call HP at (877) 917-4378 for more information.
ACD Systems has announced the release of FotoSlate 2.0, a fast and easy-to-use program for the layout and printing of digital images. FotoSlate 2.0 allows the user to create, save and print professional-looking layouts of digital photos by either choosing from over 450 print templates or by designing a custom-made template. FotoSlate 2.0 is available as a plug-in to ACDSee and PicaView 2.0 and as a stand-alone product. FotoSlate 2.0 is available for download from http://www.acdsystems.com priced at $29.95 or $14.95 for the upgrade from version 1.0.
ACD Systems also announced that ACDSee 4.0, their digital imaging software, was named as a finalist in the Consumer Imaging Software category at the Fifth Annual Excellence in Imaging Awards.
Beta version 1.1.0 of YarcPlus, which converts Canon RAW images into TIFFs and JPEGS, has been posted at http://www.YarcPlus.com and features numerous enhancements. Michael Tapes plans to open a message board shortly as well.
Tapes also said YarcPlus "can apply a special noise reduction technique that we developed called ARF (Artifact Removal Filter). Many people have asked how ARF compares to Fred Miranda's well respected ISOR Pro series of noise reduction actions for Photoshop. So I've posted new pages at our site that hopefully explain and demonstrate [with example pictures] exactly what ARF does and how it compares to techniques such as Fred's ISOR Actions."
Connectix (http://www.connectix.com) has released version 5.0.2 of VirtualPC [M], enhancing scripting support, networking, authentication, NetBIOS information and root access.
Chris Dickman, editor in chief of GraphicsNews.com (http://GraphicsNews.com) wrote, "I have been receiving your newsletter for a while now and find it very informative. I have now added your site to the Digital Photography category of the links directory on GraphicsNews.com. Your newsletter readers might find the GraphicsNews.com site of interest, since it provides a lot of info about plug-ins and other image manipulation tools."
Photoshop Roadmap (http://www.photoshoproadmap.com) offers free Photoshop instruction with over 500 Photoshop and Photoshop Elements tutorials and a large plug-ins directory.
Apple has announced that iPhoto (http://www.apple.com/iphoto) has been downloaded over a million times since its January release. But the installed base includes copies shipped with new Macs since then, too.
Photoshop Cafe (http://www.photoshopcafe.com) offers Photoshop tutorials, tips and tricks as well as an online community and an art gallery.
oly-e.com (http://oly-e.com) is a new resource for owners of Olympus E-series digicams.
Canon has released firmware version 1.3.0 for reducing noise in EOS-1D images (http://www.canon.co.jp/Imaging/EOS1D/1D_firmware-e.html). The company said the update improves images with an ISO setting of 800 and higher. Updating the firmware and the tone curve data in the EOS-1D will reduce the noise even further, Canon claimed.
Canon also announced a modification to eliminate a horizontal noise line, recognizable on the upper part of the frame in some scenes. The modification requires owners to contact their local Canon distributor (see your warranty card).
Boudewijn Pelt has released Toucan (http://homepage.mac.com/bpelt/toucan/), a $15 shareware slideshow program for Mac OS 8.6 and above (it's Carbon). The program features drag-and-drop display and a double-click link to your favorite image editor.
Kepmad Systems has released version 2.0.0 of the $15 ImageBuddy [M] (http://www.kepmad.com) featuring increased integration with OS X and iPhoto for the image printing and viewing utility.
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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