|Volume 4, Number 11||31 May 2002|
Welcome to the 72nd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Eureka! We've found the unerase utility for anybody. And we've got a double Coolpix review, too. And a trick to tone down contrast.
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We've spent years perfecting our Disaster Simulator. While some people think it's just a wind-up alarm clock with glow-in-the-dark (radiating, that is) numerals, most realize it's not innocently ticking away. Disaster, we've found over the years, is just a matter of time.
We're not talking about the common ordinary kind that merely ruins lives. We mean those infuriating nuisances that can ruin your day. Like reformatting the memory card you hadn't yet copied or erasing the wrong folder of images in your camera.
The Unerase problem has plagued digital photographers for far too long. And while you've generously shared your Windows recovery stories, Mac users have simply never had a solution. You can't unerase an MS-DOS format using an HFS+ utility.
This is particularly aggravating because the MS-DOS format used by these little cards is no mystery. Any utility that put its mind to it should be able to salvage files from them. We'd hoped some show-off in computer science would tackle the subject, releasing it into the public domain for pedestrian fame and fleeting glory.
TO THE RESCUE
But while we were waiting (and the Disaster Simulator was ticking), DataRescue (http://www.datarescue.com) developed PhotoRescue with an impressive list of features:
- Runs on Windows or the Mac (but only OS X);
- Inexpensive at $29 -- or $49 for both Windows and Mac versions;
- A portion of your purchase supports Imaging Resource if you download the demo from our site (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM);
- Previews recoverable image files as thumbnails (it's optimized to work with JPEG, TIFF and other typical file formats);
- Handles any card media (CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Memory Sticks, IBM Microdrives etc.) as either a logical or physical device;
- Creates disk image files for backup or recovery;
- Never writes to the cards, so it's always safe to use;
- Recovers even after other recovery methods have corrupted the cards; and
- Includes free updates for a year.
To run PhotoRescue, you'll need:
- Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP (although DataRescue says it "may run" on some versions of Windows 95) or Mac OS X.
- A media reader (or camera that emulates a USB mass storage device). The reader can be USB, FireWire or PCMCIA.
- At least 1-MB disk space but it may require up to twice the size of the card being recovered for workspace.
In our tests PhotoRescue recovered every image we erased and every card we reformatted. But the data has to reside on the card to be retrieved. And that isn't always the case. Let's look at what can and can't be done.
According to DataRescue, "Nikon and Canon digicams usually do not fully erase cards. Olympus digicams may or may not fully erase cards during a format. Sony digicams always seem to do a complete wipe."
- If you simply erased files on your card from your camera, PhotoRescue can retrieve them. After that, things get interesting.
- If you used the card to capture more images after erasing, you are overwriting whatever PhotoRescue might be able to recover. Something may be recoverable (from the part of the card not yet reused), but not everything.
- If your camera can't read your card, PhotoRescue may still be able to recover your images reading the card in physical (rather than logical) mode.
- Because IBM Microdrives can suffer mechanical failures, data retrieval by software alone may be impossible. But you can still try a disk recovery firm like Drive Savers (http://www.drivesavers.com).
- Using your camera (or computer) to reformat your card may make recovery impossible.
Our Average digicam, like Nikon and Canon, does not fully erase. So even after an in-camera reformat of the card, PhotoRescue recovered exactly what we had recovered after merely erasing the card.
If you use SmartMedia, you should always manage your card from your camera, not your computer. We did recover CompactFlash files that had been deleted on the computer, but we do not recommend reformatting any memory card in your computer. Always reformat in your camera.
When bad things happen to good cards, they can suddenly become unrecognizable to your computer. But PhotoRescue can read the card as either a logical device or a physical device. Reading a confused card in physical mode, PhotoRescue can still recover your images.
To check if you've got recoverable data after a reformat, use PhotoRescue's Image the Input command. That will create a file on your hard disk that mirrors the data on your card. Compress that disk image with a utility like Winzip or StuffIt. If the resulting archive file is very small, there wasn't any data to compress.
Installation is as simple as uncompressing the distribution file for your operating system:
The documentation is available separately online:
- Windows: http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?prw
- Mac OS X: http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?prm
Recommended Windows operating systems are Windows 2000 and Windows XP. But PhotoRescue also runs under Windows 98/SE/ME/NT, although some features may not be available. On the Mac, it's OS X or nothing.
- An 8-page PDF PhotoRescue User's Guide (http://www.datarescue.com/photorescue/man.pdf)
- A 2-page PDF Quick Startup Guide (http://www.datarescue.com/photorescue/photorescuequickguide.pdf)
- A small FAQ on the PhotoRescue support page.
DataRescue also recommends you use the program with a card reader rather than directly from your USB-tethered camera. They recommend the Zio in particular for Mac users.
We normally take such recommendations seriously, but in this case they merely reflect the limited testing done at DataRescue, a small Belgian firm.
We were able to recover erased files on CompactFlash cards under OS X using nothing more than a PCMCIA adapter. But PhotoRescue couldn't see the card in our digicam when connected to the computer via USB.
So we'd expect any USB/FireWire card reader with current drivers to work. And any media mounted with a PCMCIA card, too. But don't expect it to find your card in any particular camera. The trick seems to be whether the card mounts as a volume on your desktop. If it does, PhotoRescue can find it.
If you have any doubts about your setup, the free demo will resolve them. If it displays thumbnails from your memory card, you're in luck.
HOW IT WORKS
PhotoRescue is refreshingly simple to use. Just mount your card (which it calls "input") and launch the program. It reports the card format and enables the OK button. When you click OK, it analyzes the drive, then displays a list of filenames with thumbnails for any image files it finds. You select the ones you want to recover and tell PhotoRescue where on your hard disk to save them.
That's how easy it is to use PhotoRescue. But to appreciate its power, let's walk through it, click by click.
After the sign-on screen is dismissed with an OK butto, the report window appears with a Photo Drive window floating above it.
The Photo Drive window allows you to:
Expert mode lets you tell PhotoRescue:
- Specify the way you want PhotoRescue to read the card: either logical (preferred), physical (for severe corruption or physical damage) or file (a disk image of your card) mode.
- Determine card size or not. If your card is damaged it may not know its own size and may report a false size. You can tell PhotoRescue to figure it out.
- Cache the input. Card data is read into RAM and PhotoRescue reads that data rather than the card itself. For this to be faster than reading the card from a USB reader, you need at least twice as much RAM as the size of the card. PCMCIA adapters probably won't benefit noticeably from caching.
- Enable expert mode. Think manual mode. It's required when the card is physically damaged, when its system information is available but modified and when there's a discrepancy between the detected and reported card capacity. Do this to override whatever CHKDSK or Norton Unerase has done to the card.
Click on OK to start recovering data and a Status Screen appears. The Status Screen displays an Analysis and a Totals section on top and a window at the bottom which narrates the recovery session operation by operation.
- The actual card size (what the card is labeled: 4-MB, 16-MB, etc.)
- The cluster size (well, just pick 512K, if possible)
- Whether to ignore the directories and File Allocation Table on the card
DataRescue points out that this screen won't be very helpful to you but it may be essential to tech support in debugging your recovery session.
We do appreciate, however, that PhotoRescue doesn't use baby talk about disk format issues. The correct technical terms, intimidating as they are, have been used.
When the analysis is finished, the Continue button is enabled. Click Continue to go to the report window listing recoverable file names and image previews. Select the ones you want and save them to your hard disk (via contextual menu, menu command or drag and drop).
This may sound like a long process but it's over in seconds. All you have to do is insert your card, launch the program and click the OK button. It's so simple, you can recover your images even while enjoying a full-blown, cardiac-arresting panic.
IMAGING THE INPUT
PhotoRescue can create a disk image of your card, too. The disk image is a file that can be mounted just as if it were a card itself. This feature isn't available in the Mac OS X version, but you can use Disk Copy's New Image from Device command to do the same thing.
This can be handy for creating a backup of the card, to recover cards that suffer physical damage or to allow you to try other recovery utilities without working on the one problem card.
Bravo to DataRescue for outlining a three-phase recovery strategy in their Quick Startup Guide. When your business is disaster, you understand that things don't always go as planned.
Recovery is likely when PhotoRescue is able to display thumbnails of your images after scanning your card. The demo stops there but the full version allows you to save those images to your hard disk. You'll need about twice the amount of free space as your card's capacity.
First Run. The first time you run PhotoRescue, let the default options do their magic. There's no risk to your missing data because the program never writes to the card, it just tries to read from it.
Second Run. If nothing (or not enough) is recovered by the first run, click on Expert Mode. On the second option screen click on Ignore FAT & Directories. And set the cluster size to the minimum (512K if possible). If your computer freezes, it may be because the card has physical defects. Reboot and uncheck the Determine Card Size option. Then use Image the Input to make an image backup of the card on your hard drive and run PhotoRescue on that rather than the card.
Third Run. There is no third run.
There are only more complex cases. To handle them, select Graph the Input from the File menu (not available on OS X). Three things can happen:
- If the graphical display shows all black, the card has no recoverable data, which can happen after an in-camera format on some digicams.
- If the display is striped black and green, there's data on the card but either a hardware failure or driver problem is making life difficult for PhotoRescue. DataRescue suggests you contact a data-recovery company.
- If the display is green, the card does indeed contain data. Call DataRescue's tech support.
We popped a recently erased 15-MB CompactFlash card into the PCMCIA port of a PowerBook G4 after launching PhotoRescue. It recognized the card's format and enabled the OK button. One click and a minute later we were looking at long lost thumbnails.
This card is rarely used to its capacity, serving as a third backup, so we had everything from our last run a week ago and some things from three months ago. They were all successfully retrieved.
Very impressive. So we reformatted the same card in our Average digicam and tried it again. Once again, everything was retrieved.
We did the same tests with a 16-MB and a 64-MB CompactFlash. No problems.
We tried running the program with a Lexar Jumpshot and with the camera attached to the USB port but PhotoRescue couldn't see the card either way.
THE ACID TEST
Mac users who delete images on their cards from the desktop are actually using the Mac OS to delete MS-DOS files. This can confuse recovery utilities (as we learned to our horror some time ago), so we tried PhotoRescue on a card whose images had been dragged to the Trash in Mac OS X and 8.1. In both cases all files were recovered.
We've found no single generic unerase utility that works on memory cards across all Windows versions. Readers report success most frequently with RecoverNT (http://www.recoverNT.com) which also publishes PhotoRecovery for Windows 95/98/ME/NT/200/XP at $39.95 plus $10 for one year of updates.
Mac users who are not running OS X might try Andrew Toth's just-released Salvage 1.0 (http://www.andrewtoth.com/salvage) for $25. It requires OS 9.1 with MRJ 2.2.5 and Disk Copy 6.3.3. You create a disk image of your card, tell Salvage which disk image to recover, where to write the recovered files and start recovering.
But we prefer PhotoRescue. It's inexpensive, very easy to use, the thumbnails are a blessing and it runs on either Windows and Mac OS.
With PhotoRescue around, we may never have to wind up the Disaster Simulator again.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full reviews posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C5700/C57P.HTM and http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C4500/C45P.HTM on the Web site.)
EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW: 5700
Released as an update to (but not replacement of) the Nikon Coolpix 5000, the new Coolpix 5700 builds on the 5000's prowess with an 8x zoom lens and an electronic optical viewfinder. Internally, the 5700 offers the same 5-megapixel CCD and very similar exposure options, though externally it has a rather different control layout and appearance. A pop-up flash replaces the 5000's fixed internal flash and a longer lens barrel dominates the new body design. Where the 5000 model seemed slightly tall (due to the top-mounted optical viewfinder window and flash unit), the 5700 has a lower-slung appearance, appearing more compact despite the large lens. Too big for either shirt pocket or purse, it really begs for a camera bag, but its neck strap eyelets are well positioned to let the camera hang level.
The biggest news on the 5700 is its 8x Nikkor 8.9-71.2mm ED lens, which provides a 35-280mm 35mm equivalent zoom range. Focus can be automatic or manual, with an adjustable, five-point AF area. In addition to the 8x optical zoom, the 5700 also provides up to 4x digital zoom, depending on the image size selected. An electronic viewfinder offers a miniaturized version of the LCD monitor for through-the-lens framing, complete with a detailed information display. For a larger view, the 1.8-inch LCD monitor has an articulated design similar to that of the 5000, popping out from the back panel and swiveling around approximately 270 degrees. The LCD can also flip around and fold flat against the back panel, giving it the familiar rear-panel position common to most digicams. Finally, it can be closed (turned with its face against the camera body) when not in use, protecting the monitor from dirt and scratches.
Following the standard of prior high-end Nikon Coolpix models, the 5700 offers a very extensive set of exposure controls. Program AE, Flexible Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual exposure modes are available, each with a wide range of features. Shutter speeds range from 1/4000 (1/2000 in most modes) to eight seconds, with a Bulb setting for exposures as long as five minutes. An optional Noise Reduction system decreases the fixed-pattern image noise that would normally be present in long exposures. Maximum aperture ranges from f2.8 to f4.2, depending on the zoom setting and is adjustable in one-third EV steps. Four metering options include 256-Segment Matrix, Center-Weighted, Spot and AF Spot (which ties the metering spot to the selected AF area). ISO adjustments include Auto, 100, 200, 400 and 800. The camera's adjustable White Balance setting offers Auto, Fine (daylight), Incandescent, Fluorescent, Cloudy, Speedlight or Preset (which allows you to manually set the white value using a white object as a reference). Additionally, all white balance settings other than Preset can be fine-tuned from -3 to +3 units on an arbitrary scale. A White Balance Bracketing mode captures three images with slightly different white balance adjustments.
Exposure compensation is adjustable from -2 to +2 exposure values in one-third step increments and is controllable in all exposure modes. Auto Bracketing takes three or five shots of the same subject with varying exposure values determined either by the photographer in Manual mode or by the camera in all other modes, with variable exposure steps between shots. Best Shot Select snaps multiple images and then automatically picks the sharpest, making it feasible to handhold the camera for surprisingly long exposures. The Quick Review button displays the last shot without leaving Record mode, making most Playback options available. Through the settings menu, you can also adjust the image sharpness and color saturation. An Image Adjustment menu offers Contrast, Lightness and Monochrome adjustments as well. Additionally, the 5700 allows you to save up to three sets of user settings for focus, exposure and other camera options. A Self-Timer mode offers a 3- or 10-second countdown before firing the shutter. The camera's built-in flash operates in Auto, Flash Cancel, Anytime Flash, Red-Eye Reduction and Slow-Sync modes. An external flash hot shoe is also included in the camera's design and accommodates a more powerful external flash unit.
Like the 5000 before it, the 5700 offers a wide range of "motor drive" rapid-exposure modes for capturing sequences of images. Continuous L, Continuous H, Ultra High Speed Continuous and Multi-Shot 16 modes offer a range of sequence shooting speeds. Multi-Shot 16 mode subdivides the image area into 16 sections and captures a "mini-movie" of small images at 400x300-pixel resolution. Finally, Movie mode records moving images (with sound) for as long as the memory card has available space, at approximately 15 frames per second. Movies are recorded in QVGA size (320x240 pixels).
The 5700 stores images on CompactFlash cards (Type I or II) and a 16-MB card is included. File formats include several levels of compressed JPEG files as well as an uncompressed TIFF mode (Hi quality setting) and an NEF (RAW data) format. Available image sizes are 2560x1920, 3:2 Ratio (2560x1700), 1600x1200, 1280x960, 1024x768 and 640x480 pixels. A Video Out jack connects the camera to a television set or video monitor, for larger screen image review.
A rechargeable EN-EL1 lithium-ion battery pack powers the camera and an AC adapter is available as a separate accessory. The battery and charger are included with the 5700. The camera connects to a computer via a USB cable (included) and the accompanying software provides image downloading and organizing capabilities. The 5700 downloads its images fairly quickly at a transfer rate of 577K/second, definitely in the upper range of digicams I've tested.
Newly designed with an 8x optical zoom, an electronic optical viewfinder and pop-up flash unit, the 5700 is a dramatic update to the earlier 5000 model. The rotating LCD monitor makes shooting at odd angles a lot more comfortable and the new control layout is slightly more intuitive than the previous design. The new 8x lens is a significant enhancement to the earlier model, but the requisite EVF accompanying the longer lens is less welcome in my opinion. If image quality matches the quality of the 5000, I'm sure the 5700 will find many happy owners.
EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW: 4500
With a slightly revamped style and sleeker look, the new Coolpix 4500 combines the advanced features from the previous 995 model with a few updated ones making the new model even more appealing.
Most important is the larger, 4.0-megapixel CCD, but a number of other tweaks and enhancements make this a significant upgrade. Also important to many potential buyers (but frankly not that significant in terms of actual durability), the 4500 returns to the all-metal-alloy case design of earlier models. The 4500 continues the swivel-lens design that's been a hallmark of the Coolpix line from its inception. The swivel design enhances the camera's optical flexibility, greatly easing tricky low- or high-angle shots. Control layout is essentially the same, though some buttons have swapped places and there's one less button overall, as well as no separate mode dial. The camera provides both an optical viewfinder and an LCD monitor, which now reports a variety of exposure information.
The 4500's user interface retains much of the speed and flexibility of the earlier design, permitting adjustments to the most frequently used controls without having to resort to the LCD menu system. I regret the loss of the small status display panel that graced the top of the 995, but as it turns out, the main LCD screen now stands in for most of those functions. I don't think the new control arrangement is quite as effective as that on the 995, but it's still a very well thought out interface. In Playback mode, the LCD gives an informative readout on captured images and also offers both an index display of thumbnails and a playback zoom option.
The 4500 has a 7.85-32mm, 4x zoom lens (equivalent to a 38-152mm lens on a 35mm camera), with 10 elements in eight groups. The seven blade iris diaphragm provides excellent aperture control, offering an essentially continuous range of adjustment, a nice carryover from the 995 and 990 models. Zoom is easily controlled via the zoom rocker button on the back panel and the settings menu offers a Fixed Aperture feature, which keeps the aperture constant while the lens zooms, a handy feature for studio flash photography. An additional 4x digital zoom offers a stepless incremental zoom range from 1.1x to 4.0x. The 4500's focusing options include Continuous and Single autofocus modes as well as a manual control. Under the autofocus setting, you can choose the desired focus area from a set of five available or let the camera decide on its own (based on what's closest to the lens).
I really like the flexible options found in the 4500's range of manual and semi-manual exposure modes. In addition to its manual controls, an Automatic capture mode handles everything from the shutter speed to the white balance, making the camera as usable for novices as it is powerful for advanced users. New on the 4500 is Nikon's extensive Scene mode, offering 16 preset "scenes" for special shooting conditions, including two scene modes (multi exposure and panorama-assist) that are completely new. Remaining exposure modes include Program AE (with Flexible Program), Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual exposure modes. Program selects the aperture and shutter speed automatically, but gives the user complete control over white balance, exposure compensation, etc. Flexible Program does the same but instead lets the user choose from a range of valid aperture and shutter speed combinations. Aperture Priority and Shutter Speed Priority let the user select one value while the camera selects the other. Finally, Manual gives you total control over everything. Shutter speeds are adjustable from 1/2300 to 8 seconds (with a Bulb setting for exposures as long as five minutes) and the maximum aperture ranges from f2.6 to f5.1, depending on the zoom setting.
Nikon has been an innovator in developing special shooting modes for its high-end consumer cameras and the 4500 continues in this vein. The still-unique Best Shot Select function is a great aid for getting sharp photos when you have no choice but to handhold the camera in dim light. The Auto Bracketing feature also includes a White Balance Bracketing function, while Noise Reduction mode reduces the noise associated with higher ISO settings in low-light/long exposure shooting situations. I was also pleased to see the extensive white balance menu from the 995 (Auto, Preset, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent and Speedlight) and the variety of metering options (the famous 256-element Matrix mode, Center-Weighted, Spot and Spot AF). Also, under the settings menu, I enjoyed the ability to alter the in-camera sharpening as well as increase or decrease the contrast or turn the image into monochrome black and white. And of course, you have the ability to connect an external flash for use with or without the built-in flash.
Speaking of the internal flash, the 4500's pop-up flash extends about 1.5 inches or so above the lens axis. This should dramatically reduce the problems with redeye that have dogged the Coolpix cameras since the original model 900 swivel design. When working without a flash, the 4500's low-light capability is very impressive. Automatically timed exposures can range as long as eight seconds, but Bulb exposure mode will keep the shutter open while you hold down the Shutter button for up to five minutes.
Like the 995, the 4500 has a Type II CompactFlash slot and the latest word from Nikon is that they now officially support IBM Microdrives for use with the camera.
Power is provided by either a 2CR5 lithium battery or a single rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack. I'm very happy to say Nikon listened to the concerns of 995 purchasers and now includes a rechargeable EN-EL1 Li-Ion battery and MH-53 charger with the 4500. The camera supports a USB connection and includes a software CD with Nikon View Version 5 and ArcSoft's software suite (PhotoImpression, VideoImpression, Panorama Maker and PhotoBase for PDAs). There's also an NTSC video cable (European models ship with a PAL cable) for connecting to a television set.
I've been impressed with the Coolpix line from the start. The previous Coolpix 995 was an excellent camera and from the looks of things, the Coolpix 4500 will do just as well. The larger 4.0-megapixel CCD increases the camera's resolution and the addition of a 16-mode Scene exposure mode increases its automatic flexibility. No doubt many users who held off from upgrading to the 995 out of disdain for plastic camera bodies will be newly tempted by the 4500's return to an all-metal chassis. Just like the 995, the 4500 offers a completely automatic mode for novices, but all the controls advanced users could ask for.
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:
- First Look: Nikon Coolpix 5700 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C5700/C57A.HTM).
- First Look: Nikon Coolpix 4500 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C4500/C45A.HTM).
- Reviewed: Kodak EasyShare DX3215 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DX3215/DX32A.HTM).
- Reviewed: Kodak EasyShare LS420 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/LS420/LS42A.HTM).
The idea that your digicam can't produce images of stunning dynamic range would make the pioneers of photographic art turn over in their graves. Laughing.
Neither could their cameras.
So they manipulated the tonality of their prints in the darkroom. Extensively. One of their tricks was the contrast mask.
A contrast mask simply alters the original luminance of an image unevenly, boosting detail in the shadows while holding back the highlights. In short, extending the dynamic range of the original image.
You can perform this miracle with one hand tied behind your back in your image editing software.
We're indebted to subscriber Frank Tagliaferro for pointing us to Michael H. Reichmann's article (http://www.luminous-landscape.com/contrast_masking.htm) for the basic technique, which he modified from "Digital Contrast Masking" by Richard Pahl in the December 2000 issue of PCPhoto. For more examples of contrast masking in action, visit Ake Vinbergh's page (http://www.vinberg.nu/photography/articles/contrast_masking.htm).
Our own contribution to this subject updates the procedure, reordering the steps to make it a bit easier to preview the results. And we expand a bit on the tricks you can use to modify the basic mask. Finally, you might find it interesting to compare this technique to the one we wrote about in Fixing Flash Fall-Off (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS).
Here's the step-by-step procedure:
We improved a particularly difficult high-contrast image recently with just this technique. The picture was a flash shot at night of a couple in front of the Trevi Fountain in Rome. The flash burned out the couple and fell well short of the fountain. When we dropped a contrast mask on it, the fountain suddenly emerged from the dark night with a mythic orange glow. And the ghostly couple in the foreground came vibrantly back to life, too.
- After opening your image, Duplicate it on a New Layer. The new layer will become the contrast mask.
- To make the duplicate image into a mask, Desaturate it so it's a black and white image. Then Invert it, so it's a negative image. These commands are tucked into Photoshop's Image Adjustment menu.
- Next, change the mode of the mask layer to Overlay.
- You should see pretty flat highlights and opened up shadows but they won't be pretty. We've got too much detail in the mask. To restrict the detail to the original, apply a Guassian Blur to the mask. Reichmann recommends a value between 10 and 30. With Preview enabled, play around to see how the setting affects both the detail and tonality of your image. Just get close, we aren't done yet.
- Modify the mask's Curve to enhance the highlights and/or shadows. Start by anchoring the three quarter-tones. Then move the highlight and shadow quarter-tones to improve the image.
- To mollify the effect, which may still be too strong, use the Opacity setting for the mask layer. Knock it down to 90 percent for starters.
- It's just a mask, you know, so you can Paint it a little darker or a little lighter in one area or another to help it out. Try painting black with an opacity of about 20 percent to burn in shadows that appear too detailed. And paint white any highlights that look too dark. Beats dodging and burning any day.
Now if we could only get them to toss their coins in this direction!
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 Sony MVC-CD400 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8a8a4
Compare Epson camera prices at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee860f8
Visit the Professional Digital Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b4
Phil asks about viewing images on a Pocket PC at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8a4c4
Visit the Fuji Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee6f779
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RE: Battery Indicator Ideas
Dave Waugh's two-color paper tape solution is an elegant one which will certainly work. An easier solution makes use of the Thomas Distributing two-battery holder (http://www.thomas-distributing.com). I simply insert the charged batteries with each positive terminal at the same end of the holder (translucent, so you can see the batteries when closed) -- and the discharged batteries reversed. Works for me.
-- Syd Bowling(And less work, too. Thanks for the suggestion, Syd! -- Editor)
I use those great two-battery plastic boxes too. Thomas sells them for a few cents each. I put the batteries in the plastic boxes with the terminals aligned (pluses at the same end) after charging. When they're used up, I put them back in the plastic boxes with the pluses at opposite ends -- immediately clear which ones are charged and which are burned out. Also I use a rubber band to tie together two boxes so a set of four batteries stays together -- that way they stay synced and last longer.
-- Don Porter(Great minds think alike, Don! Thanks for pointing out the importance of using the batteries in sets, too. -- Editor)
RE: Simple <g> Question
I have a (relatively) simple question but can not find the reply. I have two images (photographs) which are almost identical. I want to find out what is the difference between them (in terms of visual details). What tools should I use?
-- Yigal(You should use your eyes -- but you should give them a big boost by pasting one of the images over the other on a separate layer and reducing the opacity of that layer until you can detect a difference. It'll pop right out at you. -- Editor)
I read in your newsletter enthusiastic reactions about the photo editing software CompuPic by Photodex. I too was enthusiastic; it has many possibilities. However, if I use the program for a quarter of an hour, my computer becomes very slow and practically unmanageable, so I have to restart it. I put the question to Photodex, but they don't know the answer.
-- Anton Haakman(Their (ancient) Mac version gave me problems like that, but I've never had a problem with the PC versions of the product, across a couple of different machines. I wonder if there's something else on your machine that's conflicting with it? -- Dave)
I closed all running programs with EndItAll, except Explorer and Systray, but that did not help at all.
With the oldest versions of CompuPic I had no problems, but at that time I worked with lower resolutions. Perhaps CompuPic has a problem with images of 3.2 or 4 megapixels?
-- Anton(I'm happily using an earlier version with images from 4-6 megapixel cameras. Unfortunately, just closing Windows applications isn't enough. During installation, programs usually copy multiple Dynamic Link Libraries into the Windows folder. These chunks of code are to blame for most Windows conflicts. Even uninstalling the original program doesn't remove its DLLs, though, so sooner or later you end up reinstalling Windows from scratch. I suspect your Windows system has accumulated enough "creeping crud" that it'll affect any version of CompuPic. -- Dave)
RE: Toshiba Firmware Updated
Toshiba finally came up with a European firmware update for the PDR-M4, though it was a bit of a struggle. They advised me not to use the U.S. upgrade as it would "make the camera inoperable," and gave me a URL with the European version (http://tesc.toshiba.co.uk).
The extra freedom I have now has made a big difference in using the camera, jumping from about 16 full res pics to something like 130. Low resolution gives me about 2500 pics, not that I'm likely to use it. So armed with the 128-MB card and two batteries I'm pretty well set up for a day's photography.
-- Alan(Love these happy endings! -- Editor)
RE: Black & White
I have an Olympus C 2100 Ultra Zoom. Since I use the camera mostly for photos for black and white brochure pages and I like to print only in 8x10-inch format, (and because I'm cheap), I just use my 1200-dpi black and white laser printer to print the shots on litho grade medium glossy paper or even photocopy paper.
I have always shot in color. I use PhotoDeluxe to convert to grayscale, then generally have to increase the brightness 10-20 percent and increase the contrast 5-10 percent to get good tone for printing. The original color pictures don't generally print well without some adjustment. The final results are decent, especially on close-up portraits, birds, etc. and anything worth showing I simply laminate. Even under ideal circumstances, my 2.1 megapixels are definitely not enough to compete with Ansel Adams' photos, for clarity and tone.
-- Bill Robins(Thanks for the feedback, Bill. And just a reminder we invite others working in black and white to tell us what works for them.... What determines the number of colors (or levels of gray) is not the number of pixels, but the number of bits in a pixel. And with 24-bit color (eight each for red, green and blue), you've got plenty to work with. A 5-megapixel camera that delivers 24-bit images won't give you any more, in fact. So don't give up on your 2.1-megapixels just yet! -- Editor)
InfoTrends (http://www.infotrends-rgi.com) reports low-end digicam unit sales are expected to reach 9.5 million units in North America this year. The five-year forecast shows sales are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 15 percent to 18.7 million units in 2007. In 2002, the average digicam price is expected to decrease 11 percent from $378 in 2001 to $336. Key factors include mass market adoption, reduced manufacturing costs and lower cost components like CMOS sensors and LCDs. Based on total unit sales in 2001, Sony remained the market leader, with Olympus in second place and HP tied with Kodak for third.
InfoTrends also reported that nearly half of all photo kiosks to be shipped in 2002 will be designed exclusively for digicam users, up from 16 percent last year. The installed base of photo kiosks is expected to reach 33,000 in 2006. Also according to the report, unit shipments of digital minilabs are expected to double this year as more photofinishing retailers make the transition to digital technology.
O'Reilly (http://www.oreilly.com) has published Windows XP in a Nutshell by David Karp, Tim O'Reilly and Troy Mott for $29.95. The tome systematically documents both Windows XP Home Edition and Windows XP Professional.
The Plugin Site (http://thepluginsite.com) has released the $29.95 Photo Textures 2 CD-ROM, the fourth volume in the Photo Galaxy product line. Photo Textures 2 is a collection of over 1,000 royalty-free, 1600x1200-pixel photographic textures organized in 100 topics.
All San Francisco cabs will have digicams mounted on their rear-view mirrors by 2003. The digicams will be able to upload images to police who can also download images of suspects to the cabs.
Lynda.com (http://www.lynda.com) has released "Learning Photoshop Elements" as both an online and CD-ROM based training course with over two hours of movie tutorials.
Umax (http://www.umax.com) has removed drivers from their Web site (typically 20-MB downloads), offering them only on CD.
Two Peregrine falcons are nesting at Kodak in Rochester (http://birdcam.kodak.com). Not to be outdone, another pair of falcons are hard at work at Oracle (http://www2.ucsc.edu/scpbrg/nest_feed.htm).
Kodak (http://www.kodak.com) has revamped their EasyShare system with enhanced software, digicams and a new camera dock. The new system helps consumers print at home with One Touch to Better Pictures software, upload to either the EasyShare print service or another online photofinisher or order prints at retail Kodak digitally-enabled kiosks.
Mike Chaney (http://www.ddisoftware.com/qimage) has released Qimage Pro 2002 v2.0.
Colorvision (http://www.colorcal.com) has added Windows XP support and new Spyder USB drivers to PhotoCAL 2.6 and OptiCAL 3.6. Adobe Photoshop 7 is now supported in ProfilerPLUS 2.3, ProfilerPro 2.3 and DoctorPro 2.3. Mac OS X Preview versions of OptiCAL and PhotoCAL have also been posted. The company also noted they will stop bundling Adobe Photoshop Elements on July 1.
Canon will start making digicams in China late this year or early next year. The company expects to boost overseas digicam output from 30 to 40 percent of the global total in unit terms, a spokesman said.
Nikon also announced Chinese manufacturing plans. It will establish a new facility in Wuxi, Jiangsu for production of digicams and imaging products.
Fuji (http://www.fujifilm.com) has introduced the new $499.99 FinePix F401 digicam with an ultra-slim metallic body, a third-generation 2.1-megapixel Super CCD and an optional PC-sync cradle.
Nikon (http://www.nikonusa.com) introduced three new Coolpix cameras. The $1,999 Coolpix 5700 features a 5.0-megapixel CCD and 8x zoom in an updated version of the Coolpix 5000. The $1,199 Coolpix 4500 updates the Coolpix 995 with a 4.0-megapixel CCD, 4x zoom and sleeker swivel-design body. And the $449 Coolpix 2000 features a 2.0-megapixel CCD with 3x zoom.
Vuescan [MW] (http://www.hamrick.com) has hit version 7.5.30.
Canon's Digital Creators Contest (http://www.canon.com/cdcc) runs through Sept. 3 with a gold award for $20,000.
Asiva Photo 1.1 (http://www.asiva.com) has just been released with JPEG and file conversion support as well as improved color correction algorithms.
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