|Volume 4, Number 9||3 May 2002|
Welcome to the 70th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We learn image editing with three CDs, take a look at the new Canon ELPHs, disperse four tips and see a movie based on the work of Dorothea Lange.
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We were watching the sun set the other day into the happy little waves of the Pacific Ocean when we had one of those (green) flashes. Why is it, we wondered, we hate training videos but love training CDs?
We're no fun at sunsets.
The question was on our mind because we've been exploring Photoshop training CDs from lynda.com (http://www.lynda.com), Virtual Training Corp. (http://www.vtc.com) and Adobe, which includes a training CD with Photoshop 7. They each offer a different approach to the material.
While these CDs are cross-platform, they all require QuickTime. That limits them to a 256-color palette and a small screen but you're not going to watch these things for the IMAX experience. The interfaces to these QuickTime movies are different (lynda's is slickest, with bookmarks we found very useful, while Adobe's relies on your browser). And so are the presentations (VTC's delivery is more direct than lynda's). But really it's a matter of style.
The CD training companies provide more than one title on the subject. Lynda.com sent us Learning Photoshop 6 (2 CDs), Advanced Photoshop 6 (2 CDs) and Learning PS 6 with ImageReady 3 for the Web (two CDs). VTC sent Adobe Photoshop 6 (2 CDs) but also sells a title covering special effects.
Photoshop 7 titles are no doubt in the works. Should you wait? Not necessarily. Adobe's new release builds on rather than upends the design of its predecessor, so we find these CDs still very relevant. And they do a great job explaining the significant changes 6 introduced.
For the new features, Photoshop 7 ships with a one-hour plus video workshop of its own, hosted by Deke McClelland (who has written extensively on imaging software) and published by Total Training (http://www.totaltraining.com). The Mac version covers both OS 9 and OS X.
Unfortunately, on our venerable Ordinary PC (which runs Photoshop 7 just fine) the CD played very poorly in Netscape. We moved up from a 2x to 4x CD player but didn't fare any better. If you have an older machine, you'll do a lot better with one of the other titles.
McClelland introduces what he calls "our New Yankee Photoshop," inspired by Norm Abrams' New Yankee Workshop for woodworkers regularly seen on PBS (and featuring every power tool known to man). McClelland even wears a plaid shirt (but unlike Norm he doesn't button it up and tuck it in).
Lesson 1 covers the new File Browser, batch renaming images, the new Auto Color command, the new Healing Brush and Patch Tool and the Picture Package command.
Lesson 2, aimed at Web designers, addresses the new multi-lingual Spell Checker, transparency support, making multiple colors transparent, using vector-based shapes and rollovers.
Finally, Lesson 3 covers "your artist side," discussing the Pattern Maker, new Brush Stroke options and shape dynamics, the Airbrush setting and more.
So the workshop ably complements the existing training titles, discussing just the new features of Photoshop 7.
When we first saw Learning Photoshop 6, we rolled our eyes. Bruce Heavin presents the material in a very relaxed manner, let's say. So relaxed, we were reminded of Bob Ross.
You might have seen Bob Ross sometime over the last 20 years on one of his 403 "The Joy of Painting" shows broadcast on PBS. He taught his "wet on wet" method of oil painting while selling painting supplies and dashing out a canvas of "happy little trees" and other landscapes in 26 minutes.
We grew to enjoy Bob Ross. It was a very relaxing show to watch. Whenever he made a mistake, well, it wasn't a mistake, just another "happy accident."
And we grew to like Heavin in much the same way. His ambling approach may annoy you as he goes over the toolbox, but you'll appreciate it as he shows you how to colorize an old black and white photograph, a sequence that in itself should win an Oscar. Ideal for the individual student concerned with the creative possibilities of Photoshop.
The lynda.com CDs have a very nice interface that makes it easy to navigate the set and easy to return to key segments (even mid-movie). Their one drawback is the unusually hefty (for QuickTime) system requirements. A 16x CD-ROM drive and 64-MB RAM for either Mac OS 8.5.1 on a G3 or Windows 98SE/ME/NT4/2000 on a Pentium II.
Their Advanced Photoshop 6 title, by the way, is presented by both Bruce Heavin and Joe Maller. Having a second presenter was a very nice touch.
If we had to buy a training CD for the office library (for nameless others to watch), we'd pick up the VTC CD presented by Andrew Hathaway. Its 13 hours of 129 lessons are to the point. And VTC has a deep library of titles, going back to Photoshop 3.
The system requirements are much less stringent. A 4x CD-ROM drive with 32-MB RAM and a 100-Mhz CPU running Windows or Mac OS 8.
Highlights include a nice demonstration of what a graphic tablet can do in Photoshop, a healthy section addressing productivity (which includes the use of Actions) and a good introduction to the power of using Curves.
On the first CD, Hathaway analyzes Photoshop's individual capabilities rather than image editing tasks. That makes it easy to brush up on, say, using Channels.
In the second CD, Hathaway is deep into image management, fonts, layers, filters and printing. It ends with a case study demonstrating how to realistically composite two images, a large apple imposed among a few hotels.
VTC delivers both single user products and multi-user products. The latter sport compressed audio and fewer frames per second so they can be run over an intranet on machines that meet the system requirements.
Adobe started all this some time ago when they introduced new Photoshop features by including a CD with Russell Brown QuickTime movies in their upgrade packages. We loved the format because it showed you in real (but repeatable) time how to do things. And we're thrilled to see Adobe return to the medium with McClelland.
The two more comprehensive products vary more in style than substance. We find either more useful than a weekend seminar you can't revisit or a book that simply stares back at you (although we wish they were priced like books).
If you don't have a resident Photoshop pro handy, these are great alternatives.
Learning Photoshop 6, eight hours of QuickTime instruction with Bruce Heavin, published by lynda.com (http://www.lynda.com) for $149.95.
Adobe Photoshop 6, 13 hours of QuickTime instruction with Andrew Hathaway, published by Virtual Training Co. (http://www.vtco.com) for $99.95.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S330/S330A.HTM on the Web site.)
In both the film and digital worlds, Canon has become known for their high-style, diminutive ELPH cameras. Long a popular brand for APS film cameras, two years ago Canon brought the ELPH to the digital world with the original S100.
The S330 marks the first of the third generation of the design (and the S200 followed right behind), with the longer 3x zoom lens seen in last year's S300 and a number of minor design tweaks and enhancements. At the same time, image quality has noticeably improved with better sharpness and color rendition.
The S200 is very similar to last year's S110, with the same 2x zoom lens and 2-megapixel sensor, but with a number of new features and a greatly improved user interface. The S200's color is also better than last year's model, as Canon's engineers continue to refine their color management algorithms.
While this review focuses on the S330, it includes a comparison with the S200 as well.
Building on the trim, stylish looks of Canon's Digital ELPH line, the new $399 PowerShot S330 retains the solid design and great performance of the previous S300 model, but adds a host of new features and a redesigned LCD menu system. The ELPH cameras continue to rank among the smallest digicams I've seen, small and rugged enough to truly qualify as "take anywhere" cameras. With the available underwater housing you can even take the S330 snorkeling or scuba diving! The S330's rugged, all-metal body can handle heavy use and the flat camera front (with lens retracted) makes it very pocket friendly. With its 2.0-megapixel (effective) CCD, the S330 captures good quality images, suitable for printing 8x10s.
The S330 has a 3x, 5.4-16.2mm glass zoom lens (35-105mm 35mm equivalent). Aperture is automatically controlled, but the maximum setting ranges from f2.7 at full wide angle to f4.7 at full telephoto. A maximum 2.5x digital zoom option increases the S330's zoom capabilities to 7.5x. Focus ranges from 2.5 feet to infinity in normal AF mode and from 6.3 inches to 2.5 feet in Macro mode. An Infinity fixed-focus mode is also available. The S330 uses the sophisticated, three-point Artificial Intelligence Autofocus system now seen on other 2002-model Canon cameras. I find the AiAF system to be very precise, especially with subjects that are slightly off center. The S330 also has a built-in AF assist light, which greatly aids the focusing system in low light. The S330 has a real-image optical viewfinder, as well as a 1.5-inch color LCD monitor. In Playback mode, a histogram reports the tonal distribution of a captured image, very unusual on consumer-oriented cameras like the S330.
Like the rest of the ELPH line, most exposure control is automatic. The S330 does provide some manual adjustments though, as well as a range of exposure modes for specific shooting situations. The Mode dial selects Auto, Manual, Stitch-Assist and Movie modes, in addition to Playback mode. Shutter speeds range from 1/1,500 to 15 seconds, with the 1.3- to 15-second end of the range only available in Long Shutter mode. Long shutter mode automatically engages a Noise Reduction system, producing surprisingly clean images even in very dim light. In straight Auto mode, the camera pretty well controls everything about the exposure except for file size, flash mode, etc. Manual mode provides more hands-on control, with White Balance, Exposure Compensation, ISO and a range of creative effects.
The S330 uses an Evaluative metering system, dividing the image area into zones and considering contrast and brightness variations between the zones to determine the best exposure. A Spot metering option reads only the center of the frame. Exposure Compensation ranges from -2 to +2 stops in one-third steps, in all modes except Automatic. White Balance settings are Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H and Custom (manual) settings. Custom white balance, usually associated with higher-end digicams, is a pleasant surprise to find on the S330. The Photo Effect menu adjusts image sharpening, color and saturation.
In Auto mode, the camera automatically adjusts the ISO (light sensitivity) rating across a range from ISO 50 to 150, but in Manual mode, the available ISO range increases and includes 50, 100, 200 and 400 ISO equivalents. The S330's built-in flash has Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced On, Suppressed and Slow-Synchro modes.
The self-timer offers 2- and 10-second options. Stitch-Assist lets you shoot up to 26 consecutive images to be "stitched" together into a panoramic photo with the accompanying software. The S330 also has a Movie record mode, which records with sound for as long as 30 seconds per clip. Finally, Continuous Shooting mode captures a series of images much like a motor drive on a traditional camera. Shooting speeds in continuous mode range from about 1.2 to 1.5 frames per second, depending on the resolution and quality setting.
The My Camera settings menu sets the camera sounds and startup image to a particular theme. You can choose one of the default themes (Science Fiction and Bird Themes) or download another one with the camera software. You can even record your own sounds ("say cheese," for example). In playback mode, you can record short sound clips to accompany captured images, great for captioning vacation photos or party shots.
The S330 uses CompactFlash Type I memory cards and includes an 8-MB card, but I really recommend picking up a larger capacity card.
The S330 uses a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack, which comes with the camera along with a battery charger. An A/V cable, a USB cable and interface software are also packaged with the camera. The S330 is Digital Print Order Format compatible, with detailed print settings in the Playback menu. Canon also offers a selection of direct-connect printers, simplifying printing even more.
Color: The S330 produced really excellent color, both outdoors and under studio lighting. The S330 also did particularly well under standard room lighting, using its Incandescent white balance setting, producing good color accuracy and saturation in what's usually a very difficult light source for digicams. Its auto white balance setting didn't fare so well though, producing strong color casts.
Exposure: The S330 did a great job here, exposing the difficult outdoor portraits and house shot well. The camera captured great midtones in the harsh lighting of the Outdoor portrait and accurately exposed the outdoor house shot as well, with a good dynamic range. It had a bit more difficulty in the indoor portrait tests, requiring quite a bit of positive exposure compensation for both the flash and available-light shots.
Sharpness: Image sharpness was good in most cases, as the S330's 2.1-megapixel CCD and lens produced good detail and definition. Optical distortion was very low at both wide-angle and telephoto lens settings and chromatic aberration in the corners of the image was very faint.
Closeups: Somewhat below average here, capturing a large macro area of 6.25x4.68 inches. Detail was strong but all four corners of the image were quite soft. Color and exposure were both good, however, with just a slight warm cast. The camera's flash almost throttled down too much for the macro area, with quite a bit of falloff in the corners.
Night Shots: The S330's maximum shutter speed of 15 seconds gives the camera excellent low-light shooting capabilities. At 100, 200 and 400 ISO settings, the S330 captured bright, clear images at light levels as low as 1/16 foot-candle (0.067 lux). The camera captured good exposures as low as 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux) at the 50 ISO setting. Image noise was also very well controlled despite the long exposures.
Battery Life: Like most compact digicams, the tiny battery leaves the S330 with much shorter battery life than larger models. It appears to run for about an hour in record mode with the LCD turned on. I therefore really advise readers to purchase a spare battery for it, to keep charged and ready as a spare.
S330 OR S200?
Given their strong family resemblance, you might wonder what the differences are between the S330 and the new S200. The two models are very similar, but there are some significant variations between them. The biggest difference is in the lenses, the S330 sporting a 3x optical zoom, the S200 a 2x one. The S200 also lacks a speaker for sound playback and doesn't have the My Camera settings of the S330. The S200 also looks a good bit smaller than the S330, but the actual difference amounts to a scant 0.3 inches in length and height and 0.1 inch in thickness.
I have consistently been impressed with the quality and versatility of the ELPH series and the new S330 continues this trend. Its tiny size makes it convenient and travel worthy and the flexible features give it an edge over many other point-and-shoot digicams. Though actual exposure control remains automatic, the ability to adjust ISO, White Balance and access longer shutter times increases its shooting range considerably. The 2.1-megapixel CCD and sharp lens deliver good quality images with the excellent color I've come to expect from Canon. Following the stellar track record of its predecessors with incremental but noticeable improvements in many areas, the S330 should be every bit as popular as the Digital ELPHs that have gone before.
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:
- Drive Project Page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/DRV/DRV.HTM).
- Updated: Minolta Dimage S404 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S404/S44A.HTM).
- Reviewed: Canon S200 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S200/S20A.HTM).
- Reviewed: Kodak DX3700 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DX3700/DX37A.HTM).
- Quick Review: Canon S330 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S330/S330A.HTM).
- Subtle Changes Dept.: We've just begun to automate thumbnail generation for our camera reviews which will let us provide screen-sized images for test shots (with links to the full-resolution versions).
The other night the phone rang and we heard brother Dan on the other end of the line. He had just turned his tax refund into a digicam.
He was not only thrilled with the great price he got on the Canon A40 from Costco, but the thought of never having to buy film again was making him silly. He'd already invested in a laptop, an Epson photo quality printer and a CD writer. All he had to do now was roll up his sleeves.
He'd even taken our advice and bought a larger memory card before he left the store -- and read through the manual, familiarizing himself with his new friend.
So he was all set for his first shoot, a First Communion of the child of some friends the next day. Or was he? What advice did we have for him, he asked.
Three things (it always has to be three, for some reason):
OK, we squeezed in more than three essential tips for his first shoot, but he's our brother!
- Get Batteries. His camera uses common AAs so he was going to rely on the alkalines that came in the box. "Don't!" we pleaded. "They won't last the day. Get some NiMH batteries, 1600 mAh at least and a smart one-hour charger. If you can't find any tonight [he did], buy a set of AA lithiums." And always take along a spare (and charged) set. Stock up at Thomas Distributing (http://www.thomas-distributing.com) after reading Dave's battery report (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/BATTS/BATTS.HTM).
- Shoot a Lot. It's hard to convince that index finger to fire shot after shot when you've trained it to save money on film and prints. But you have nothing to lose with a digicam. "Take a lot of shots," we told him. "A lot." We told him to stick to the highest JPEG setting (which would take 200 images to fill his card) and go wild. And hold the shutter button half-way down before firing to get the quickest shutter response -- something that's not obvious.
- Beware the Flash. Don't rely on the onboard flash to make a good shot. In fact, we suggested he set the sensitivity to ISO 400 and try to shoot in available light before resorting to flash. Built-in flash is likely to be underpowered and deliver enough red-eye to spoil the fun.
A couple of days later Dan emailed us a few of his first images. Beautiful! Looks like he's got nothing more to learn from us.
Spring has bloomed again so there we were struggling up a hill in Annadel State Park realizing there was no way we could capture the full brightness range of the dappled light falling through the dense forest.
That's why it's an art, we kept telling ourselves. You select the range in which you want to show detail.
To do that, you either work in manual mode or impetuously stay in auto while cheating the EV setting one way or another.
But how do you know you got what you want?
Well, you look at that little LCD monitor and evaluate the exposure, right? Sure. Even zoom in a bit to see what kind of detail is there. Unfortunately, we've found it very difficult to tell from the LCD if a +0.3 EV or +0.7 EV was what we wanted. And we've been surprised, later, to discover we were even closer with the auto exposure (because not only do we always bracket, but we humbly gamble on auto, too).
Partly this is because it's awfully hard to see that LCD in the field. Either the sun is too bright or the shade too dark to reliably get a sense of what's going on. You can use a hood like the pros (http://www.hoodman.com) but that's one more thing to fumble with as you swat horse flies.
Then it occurred to us to delve a little deeper into the electronic wizardry built into the camera, availing ourselves of the one tool that will tell us precisely what our exposure captured.
We flipped to Play mode and a couple of clicks later found ourselves looking at the histogram of the image. Not all digicams provide a histogram but it can be very handy.
We wrote extensively about histograms earlier ("Histograms and the Flu" in the Index of Articles at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS). To recap, a histogram charts the luminosity of your image, showing how many pixels are black, how many are white and how many of each gray are in between. The horizontal axis runs from black to white and the vertical axis indicates the number of pixels. As a simple graph, it isn't much bothered by the light falling on it. You simply have to learn to read the shape of the thing.
If you see a big bump on the left side of the graph, you have probably underexposed generally. That will preserve detail in your highlights, so if that's the game, you may be thrilled with a histogram that looks like that.
If the bump plants itself on the right side of the graph, you probably overexposed, preserving detail in the shadows.
It isn't necessary to stretch the hill of luminances to both ends of the graph. You probably can't print at the extremes, anyway. But a very compressed hill will appear as a very flat image (nothing very dark or very light). Fine for a foggy day, but not a day at the beach.
It helps if the histogram shows the quartertones by dividing the scale into four sections. Then you can consider whether you want more pixels in one part of the histogram than another. Another helpful feature on our histogram display is a (really small) thumbnail of the image. The blown highlights (a telltale digicam "feature") are indicated by flashing pixels.
But learning to read a histogram means understanding where your subject falls on that simple graph. If you're shooting a high-key subject like sunlight hitting fern, you don't much care about the surrounding underexposed flora. If you're shooting a low-key subject like the bark of a redwood tree, you won't mind overexposing the sky.
It takes a minute to switch modes and click over to the histogram display so we don't do it on every shot. We bracket using our best judgment and a wild guess or two, even betting against ourselves rather frequently. But then we review the results as histograms to get a clue about the shooting conditions we're experiencing and let that clue inform subsequent wild guesses.
We'd love any excuse to stop for a break on the climb up Annadel's hills, but "stopping to check our histograms" has the authoritative ring of a medical excuse. Good medicine it is, too.
Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:
Read about the Minolta Dimage S404 at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee8a0db
Compare prices for over 140 digicams at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee86028
Visit the Buying and Selling Folder at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6b2ac
Dan asks about the Epson 2450 scanner at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee8b9d2
Visit the Hewlett Packard Folder at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6f77b
We never mind standing in line for the San Francisco Film Festival. Years ago at the Palace of Fine Arts (we still fondly recall), the usual line mumble was broken by a frantic mother pleading, "Ocean, don't play in that puddle!"
And just the other day we enjoyed imagining what stories lay behind the wonderful faces standing in line with us to see "Photos to Send," a documentary revisiting the faces of County Clare that had captivated Dorothea Lange in 1954.
Lange (1895-1965), who began her career in the 1920s as a commercial photographer in San Francisco, is best known for her Dust Bowl black and whites from the 1930s (see for example her famous "Migrant Mother" at http://xroads.virginia.edu/~UG97/fsa/lang.html). In 1954 Life magazine sent her to Ireland where she shot 2,400 images (now in the collection of the Oakland Museum at http://www.museumca.org/global/art/collections_dorothea_lange.html).
The photo essay in Life and a subsequent book "Dorothea Lange's Ireland" (ISBN 1570981825) published only a hundred or so of the images but that was enough to capture the imagination of Dierdre Lynch, a Bay area news cameraperson. Nearly 50 years after Lange, Lynch returned to County Clare to visit the subjects of the stills she had studied at the Oakland Museum.
Lynch's documentary of the experience is titled "Photos to Send" (http://www.photostosend.com), taken from a note Lange made to herself on an envelope in the collection. It includes footage of Lange who talks about her work (filmed as prints and contacts, including crop marks in grease pencil), the experience of reliving the shoot by reviewing the contact sheets years later and her comments on various images. But her first comment rings through the whole film. You can't tell beforehand, she said, what key in which to play the story, you have to listen first.
Listen she did, befriending her subject on their doorstep, sitting at the fire over a pancake and tea and having a chat before ever venturing to photograph them in nothing but "God's light" (which is no flash, the local photographer explains).
And Lynch listened, too. She'd expected to document the migration of a generation off the Irish farm. Instead she found the more compelling story was told by those who stayed.
She finds them, shows them the old pictures and some from the archives they'd never seen. And hears what happened to them since.
One by one, happy story or sad, the black and white image of 1954 becomes the color video of just a while ago. We laugh, we cry. We can't imagine recognizing a picture of yourself by the horse standing behind you. Or having only that one Lange photo of your Dad to remember him by. Or seeing that close-up of the sunny face of your older sister in the rain just before she died of a burst appendix.
There's an inevitable scent of mortality to this sort of story. Time, like each of us, passes. But there's no need for pity. Lynch admires these Irish countrymen as Lange did before her. Their humor, their laugh, their kettle whistling, their dog obstinately seated in the middle of the road all explain the sparkle she still finds in their eyes as they talk about their farm, their husband, their life.
But one thought, much later, saddened us. Fifty years from now, there'll be no one to follow Lynch as Lynch followed Lange. Except for a First Communion, the Irish children that captivated Lange were absent from the film.
Leaving the theater there was no line, but we couldn't help wondering whatever happened to Ocean. We hope she made a big splash. But she'd have been lucky enough to live the life of these charming people.
Keep an eye out for "Photos to Send" -- and an Irish linen hanky at the ready.
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Now that Photoshop is coming out with their OS X version, it will be a pain to have to shift to OS 9 just to print. I was told April was the month for the new Olympus P-400 driver, but not yet. Great article and references.
-- Gudmund Iversen(Apple has been good about distributing OS X drivers -- when the manufacturer makes them available. But you're right, Photoshop 7 on OS X is pretty useless without a printer driver. -- Editor)
After our recent spate of back-and-forth mail, most of it having to do with driver problems (read: "manufacturer support" problems), IR's upcoming driver page will, I'm sure, prove invaluable, even for people who actually know how to root out the latest drivers. I've gone to those sites that are huge collections of downloadable drivers, I've gone and then left in a hurry. There are many things I understand, but driver-speak is definitely not one of them. May your camel know the location of each oasis.
-- Barbara(You were indeed the inspiration for the page. The camel's long gone, but if the Rumbolino knew where to find the cheapest gas, we'd be happy. Meanwhile the driver page is now up (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/DRV/DRV.HTM). -- Editor)
RE: Lose One
I believe that common law and many statutes provide protection from being sent bad merchandise, as well as from misrepresentation.
Perhaps some complaints to the source state Better Business Bureau or state consumer protection department would assist. Or threats of same.
-- Tom A. Trottier(Thanks, Tom. Believe me, the thought of pursuing this with a higher authority has occurred to us. Our case isn't unusual (or we wouldn't have written about it). And that's what scares us. We never did accept the merchandise the vendor sent or the manufacturer tried to repair -- and yet we couldn't return it to either (each said the other should exchange it). Past the 30-day mark, we called the loan company again and found a sympathetic ear. "They've had adequate time" to resolve this, they said. "I'm going to initiate a dispute." Until it's resolved -- to our satisfaction -- we don't pay anything or incur any interest charges. -- Editor)
I recently responded to an ad from A&M Photoworld for an Olympus E-20 for $1,099! 50 percent off? I called. Grey Market? No, all English. Stolen? No, warranties, etc.
Mama didn't raise no fool, I knew I wouldn't get it for 1G. Salesguy pointed out, you'll need batteries, memory, etc., etc. I only had a couple of 48-MB cards, not enough for a 5-MP cam. By the time I was done, the salesguy sold me the camera, a high rechargeable capacity battery pack, a 256-MB CompactFlash and a filter set for $1,900. By this time I'm shaking at the prospect of my new camera. I figure I'm STILL under the 2K mark for the camera AND accessories. OK I'LL DO IT!
Camera arrived as promised in two days (fast, methinks). I open and unpack to find: 1) $100 shipping from New York to Boston -- UPS ground! 2) a photocopied manual and 3) the software (Camedia Master 2.5) is a copy with a paper label!
A phone call revealed, "Well we have to insure the packages ourselves thus $100 shipping. Sorry about the manual and CD we ship them out as we get them from the dealer." When I suggested Olympus does NOT ship photocopied manuals, I was directed to customer support -- on Monday.
Well, I love the camera. It all works and my real complaint is that I got stuck for $100 and a "shady" software and manual. Perhaps the camera is a factory refurb. Seems to work fabulously.
Always nail the final price in writing.
I heard from someone that when they insisted on the camera for the advertised price with no add-ons, the vendor's supply suddenly dried up and they were on endless backorder.
-- Donald(Ouch. Don't patronize people who photocopy copyrighted material. Patronize our preferred vendors (listed alongside every review) and you'll make an honest deal. That supports some decent people. Which will make you feel better than just saving a few bucks. -- Editor)
RE: More on Burning Archive CDs
In your last newsletter, there's a letter about burning CDs that mentions creating a "640-MB volume" on your hard disk. Does that mean a 640-MB partition? I think so because your response clarifies it. My two cents is that "partition" is a more understandable word than the confusing "volume."
-- Amit Kulkarni(Yes, indeed, it's a partition -- but on the Mac OS, a partition is also known as a volume. Just as subdirectories are known as folders. Thanks for pointing that out, Amit! -- Editor)
Read your feature about CD-R and using Toast. After going to the Roxio Web page and reading about Toast, it seems to me that Toast is only for Mac operating systems. Did I draw the correct conclusion? If not, please explain how you use Toast with Windows Me or 2000. Thanks so much!
-- Dan(No, you're right about Toast. We try not to limit discussion to single OS problems but this one was hard to avoid. So thanks for the opportunity to finish the story <g>. Roxio's Windows equivalent of Toast is Easy CD Creator. Version 5 is XP compatible and greatly extends the built-in CD burning capability of XP (which is actually Roxio's burn engine). The important lesson of the story was that when we found variable packet writing (DirectCD on either platform) unreliable (and you may not), we were able to burn our backups using multi-session ISO 9660 instead. That's what you really want to look for. Although we probably should also have noted one more factor: the firmware revision of your CD writer. Just make sure it's up-to-date. -- Editor)
RE: Archive Suggestion
Only today did I discover your Archive section after having enjoyed the newsletter for a long time.
My only frustration with the Archive would be relieved if you would somehow indicate the original date of publication. Given the rapid rate of changes in this field, I am not certain the information is truly current and/or accurate.
-- Jon Veigel(On the Archive page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS) issues are grouped by year of publication with the publication date as the link. On the Index to Articles page the publication date is shown on the status line at the bottom of your browser window in the filename (CCYYMMDD.htm). Accuracy is guaranteed but as far as current goes, Jon, you'll have to be content with our impersonation of immortality <g>. -- Editor)
RE: SCSI to FireWire/IEEE-1394?
I have a Nikon LS-2000 film scanner that requires a SCSI card. I would like to use it with my Dell Inspiron 8100 notebook. Is there some way to adapt it? My OS is Windows XP.
-- Marty Fields(You need a FireWire/IEEE-1394 to SCSI converter. Fastware's converter (http://www.fastware.net/a0800/scsi.html) requires no driver for XP. They recommend using VueScan (http://www.hamrick.com), which supports the LS-2000. -- Editor)
RE: Genuine Fractals
Now that I have Windows XP and lots of RAM, I am again interested in large digital graphics. Is Genuine Fractals format (.stn) still widely used or has something else taken it's place?
-- Judith King(We can't say if it's widely used. Nothing we know of does quite the same job, although there are a number of equivalents. But feel free to use Genuine Fractals. Just keep in mind there's no need to send your .stn file to anyone. In fact, it isn't a good idea. You'll want to resize your .stn to the specs you need for your output project, fiddle with it until you like it and then save it in the format your commercial printer or software prefers (JPEG or TIFF, likely). Think of the .stn format as a nice way to save your image without resorting to a bitmap. But since you need a bitmap to print, you'll always want to do the conversion yourself. -- Editor)
RE: Fuji's Megapixels
I'm confused. The Olympus 3030 spec states 3.34 megapixels, which is calculated from the 2048x1536 pixel matrix. The Fuji 4900 spec states 2.4 megapixels, but its matrix is 2400x1800 which calculates to 4.3 megapixels. I recently saw the Fuji advertised at auction as a 4.3-megapixel digicam whereas Fuji's spec states 2.4 megapixels.
-- Ken Ekern(Fuji's Super CCD technology arranges pixels diagonally rather than horizontally. To write the square array of pixels of the final image, they interpolate. So a Super CCD sensor of 2.4 megapixels writes an uncompressed file of about 4.3 megapixels. Camera specs are generally based on the number of sensor pixels (since file size is subject to a number of factors), hence Fuji's use of 2.4 megapixels in the spec for the 4900. -- Dave)
Postcards from Hell (http://www.ciriello.com) was maintained by Italian photojournalist A. Raffaele Ciriello before his own recent death and remains online "fully dedicated to war/conflict areas all over the globe, which I covered, as a photojournalist, since 1992. You may enjoy a wide collection of picture portfolios from several conflict theatres of these recent years."
Epson (http://www.epson.com) has introduced the $699 Stylus Photo 2200. The 2880x1440-dpi printer can print a color 8x10 in four minutes that can last 80 years using UltraChrome inks which provide a color gamut close to that of the six-color, dye-based Epson inks, the company said. A new lower density black ink called Light Black helps produce more neutral grays with a lifespan of 100 years.
Lumero (http://www.lumero.com) has announced patent-pending technology to automatically detect and correct red-eye. Lumero's system, featuring a very low false detection rate, desaturates red only in those areas of the image identified as red-eye. Two versions of the Red Eye Detection Library are currently shipping: a desktop (Win32) and a server (Win32, Linux and Solaris) version.
Broken New York (http://www.brokennewyork.com) is how David Wondrich and Kenneth Goldsmith celebrate the mythic idiosyncracies of their city, complementing the 2002 Whitney Biennial Exhibition with this contribution to the Free Biennial. A digicam their only accomplice, we should explain.
Imagematics (http://www.imagematics.com) has released StillMotion Creator to create Flash SWF and AVI files from still images.
Dell (http://www.dell.com) has introduced the $1,299 Inspiron 2650 with a Pentium 4-M processor and NVIDIA graphics. The Windows XP-equipped Inspiron 2650 includes an integrated modem, 10/100 Ethernet port and, optionally, a Dell wireless networking PC card. It can be configured with up to 512-MB SDRAM, up to a 40-GB hard drive and a choice of 14- or 15-inch display. Other options include CD-ROM, DVD, CD-RW and a multifunction DVD/CD-RW combination drive.
Are CompactFlash cards destroyed by new airport X-ray machines? The CompactFlash Association (http://www.compactflash.org) has warned that U.S. Postal Service's new e-beam irradiation process will "irreparably damage" the cards. But they note at the same time that airport X-ray machines have no affect.
Apple (http://www.apple.com) has updated its G4 PowerBook with a higher resolution screen (1280x854, a 23 percent increase from the previous 1152x768) that's also brighter with improved color saturation, level 3 cache, a sound-in port and the ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 graphics controller. Missing in the new models are VGA output (an adapter is included) and infrared, but a new Digital Visual Interface port is included. The new machines, running at either a 667-MHz or 800-MHz, are priced about $200 less than their comparably equipped predecessors.
Apple's OS X has been updated to version 10.1.4, providing iPhoto support for Casio 300ex and Sony DCS-F707 digicams. iPhoto itself is threatening to go 1.1.
Dying to try a plug-in with Photoshop 7 under OS X? Visit Reindeer Graphics (http://ReindeerGraphics.com/free.html) to download several free ones.
PowerRetouche (http://www.powerretouche.com) has released the $54 Toned prints Converter, a new plug-in filter to convert color images to black and white and upgraded the $199 full pack to version 4.5. All filters now support CMYK except the Transparency editor, which has improved transparent mask handling. Macintosh versions are expected in June.
Best Buy (http://www.BestBuy.com) has launched Learning Place interactive e-learning tools at its 492 retail stores and online. Among the self-paced courses is "Digital Pictures and Video," to teach how to operate digicams and camcorders, send pictures and produce video clips. Content, available by subscription, was developed by Boston-based Instruction Set.
Asiva Photo version 1.1 is in beta and will be released shortly, according to the company (http://www.asiva.com). It includes additional file support, improved Render To and improved Correct Color operation. The new version will be a free download for registered users. The company also said they are porting the product to Windows 2000/XP/98/NT4.
Michael Tapes and Bruce Henderson have released YarcPlus 1.6 for Canon images (http://www.YarcPlus.com) providing full D60 support and histograms for all camera types.
Andromeda (http://www.andromeda.com) has released the $98 ScatterLight Lenses Photoshop plug-in. It includes DreamOptics Lenses for glows; SoftFocus Lenses for portraiture; SoftDiffuser Lenses for mist and fog; and StarLight Lenses for glints, sparks and flares.
The Plugin Site (http://www.thepluginsite.com) has released version 1.50 of their $49.95 Plugin Galaxy for Windows, a collection of 21 Photoshop-compatible plug-ins with over 150 effects (Page Curl, Star Field, Rippled Glass and more).
The $17 Mac photo printing program ImageBuddy (http://www.kepmad.com) now includes Exif support.
Microsoft has launched a Windows XP Digital Photography site (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/digitalphotography). If you can handle the 40-MB download, you can check your system for XP-worthiness with the XP Upgrade Advisor (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/howtobuy/upgrading).
Rune Lindman (http://www.qpict.net) has released version 5.1 of QPict Media Organizer [M]. The new version adds iPhoto Import and advanced font file support. Support for creating super sharp Finder Icons has also been added.
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
Lockergnome's Free Digital Media Newsletter: http://www.lockergnome.com
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher