|Volume 4, Number 14||12 July 2002|
Welcome to the 75th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We reveal our foolproof method of colorizing black and whites. Dave plays around with Olympus' latest UltraZoom. And we discuss layers like an archeologist on vacation.
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Put down your blue latte for a minute and imagine a world without color. What if no one had green hair? What if all computers were beige? Or you could only buy a Ford in black?
Well, it has happened. Fords have been just black, computers only beige, hair not green. You may even have a scrapbook full of images snapped before the worldwide adoption of color.
We're not talking about that demanding but rewarding genre of the photographic art known as black and white photography (which would be criminal to colorize). We're thinking of those old Brownie shots of someone much cherished and long gone.
In fact we had one in our hands just recently. A neighbor had returned from her sister's funeral a while ago with two long-cherished images: a hand-tinted picture of her brother and the only known image of her father. The photo of her father was a black and white.
Our first impulse was to scan them both in grayscale.
Then we wondered why we were reducing things to the lowest common denominator. We could, we remembered, colorize the black and white. And, when we showed some samples to our neighbor for approval, she greatly preferred the color pair. It brought her father back to life a bit, she smiled.
THE FOOLPROOF APPROACH
There's more than one way to colorize an image, but we like the foolproof approach. You don't have to be an artist, but you do have to color between the lines. And, in fact, it's pretty easy. The adjectives "fun" and "addictive" come to mind, too.
So let's get to it.
IS IT GRAY?
You'll want to start with a grayscale image. One, that is, with only eight bits per pixel, showing a range from white to black only. Luminance. Brightness. We want to add color to that.
Not all black and white images are grayscale. Some are full-color RGB images. Check the Image Mode to be sure your image is just one channel, not three. You can convert and RGB black and white to grayscale from that menu, too. You want to lose any color information.
This is also a good time to improve the image. Use the Levels command to put the highlight and shadow settings at the end of histogram and fiddle with that middle setting for the optimum midtone.
The next step is to convert the image to RGB color mode, which is what your digicam images are.
This gives us Red, Green and Blue channels of luminances that neutralize each other in the composite image to form a black and white picture. So it still looks black and white even though you made it RGB.
Colorizing requires a bit more work than simply changing modes. But not much.
Even less than what we're about to describe if your image editing software doesn't have layers.
In that case, you'll work directly on the image itself -- but be careful and keep your fingers poised on your undo key combination. Pay particular attention to our brush settings. You'll want to reduce opacity (try 30 percent) and set the brush mode to paint color only.
But don't let the lack of layers stop you. That's how it was done before layers. In fact, before digital retouching, the tool of choice was Marshall's Photo-Oil Colors which permanently penetrated the black and white print emulsion.
If you are blessed with layers, create a new one. The new layer will sit above the background layer of your image. Set the mode of this layer to Color. You don't want to affect anything, that is, except the color.
GETTING REAL COLOR
But which color?
The foolproof method of getting the right flesh tones and believable sky and foliage is to use a reference photo. Just open any old image you happen to have whose colors you'd like to borrow and sample the appropriate color with your Color Picker tool.
In fact, if you run into an object whose color eludes you (some furniture, for example), photograph a similar object with your digicam and borrow the color from that image. It'll be perfect.
To borrow the color, make sure the Color Picker isn't sampling a single pixel (a 3x3 sample of nine pixels should be fine). Then click in your reference image's sky, for example, to set the foreground color in your working image to a perfectly credible color for sky.
Well, nearly perfect. Don't feel obliged to use that color. Use your Color Picker to adjust it slightly. A small move can make a large difference. Try a few nearby neighbors just to see how they work with your image.
For skin tones without a reference image, pick a slightly desaturated color. A starting place for Caucasian skin might be a Red of 200, Green of 170 and Blue of 150, for example.
Skin tones can be tricky, so just use our numbers to get in the neighborhood. We like to use painterly CMYK tricks to specify colors in our color picker when we don't have a reference image. We start with magenta and yellow about the same (that old orange crayon for skin tones) and set the cyan about a quarter of that, give or take a little. More cyan for darker skin tones. Not all programs let you set RGB color in your Color Picker using CMYK values, unfortunately.
You may want some colors (clothing) more intense than others (skin). There's no sweet spot for saturation. So don't be afraid to wander.
We prefer a brush with soft edges. And the larger the better. You can cover more ground that way. Don't worry too much about spilling over the edges. Only the last edge stroked has to be precise.
That's because you are painting at full opacity, completely replacing the previous color with each stroke.
If you don't have layers, paint with different levels of opacity. Try a few broad settings like 75, 50 and 25 percent just to get a feel for the range.
And don't forget your Eraser. As a brush, it's an excellent way to restore the white to teeth or eyes that have been flooded with skin tone.
CHECK YOUR WORK
No matter how careful you are, you're bound to indulge in the odd "painter's holiday" -- a missed spot. Fortunately, it rarely matters but it's so easy to check, you might as well indulge.
Simply turn off the background layer for a moment to check your coverage.
When you do, you'll notice a remarkable thing. Some kindergarten kid has been fooling around on your color layer. It's all flat and clown-like. Not to worry. We derive much of the information from a photo from its luminances, not its color. And there's your proof.
It's also a fairly compelling demonstration of why color interpolation works in your digicam. Only at the edges is hue and saturation at issue. And you'll likely find your edges are masked by very dark luminances anyway.
TRICKS OF THE MASTERS
In painting skin, there are a few tricks of the old masters worth practicing.
Extremities like the ears, nose, fingers, knuckles and elbows should be a bit redder. And the inside corners of the eyeballs get a small dot of pink. You can even model the face a bit (the hollows of the eyes, the side of the nose in shadow, the cheek) with a slightly darker color. This painterly approach can greatly improve an overexposed face.
But keep in mind you are replacing color on the layer, not building it up, as a painter would. To build it up, you actually need to create another layer with Color mode selected. On that layer you can add bluish shadows, for example.
Sometimes nothing you do on the color layer works (like changing lipstick color). In that case, go to the black and white background image and make a selection of the problem area. Bring up the Levels command and shift the sliders. Leave the color layer on to see the effect of your change interactively.
How much you paint is up to you. Faces are key, clothing helps but backgrounds can sometimes be skipped. Just remember to renew your artistic license.
If you have a hard time finding a border (between a hat and some dark hair, for example), you may find it helpful to select the area you wish to paint (effectively drawing the edge), paint it and then invert your selection to paint adjacent areas. But you rarely have to be that precise.
However, using a fill layer with a selection can let you preview various colors without the trouble of repainting. You can even color the whole image this way if you don't like using a brush. Just make your selection, create a new layer, set it to Color mode, then immediately select Solid Color from the Adjustment Layer menu. That brings up the Color Picker. Click on any color (try to stay on the left side) to preview the effect in your image. Using adjustment fill layers, you can easily come back later to change the clothing color, too.
If you prefer just a hint of color (say, to emulate a hand-tinted print), drop the opacity of the color layer down to a level that pleases you. You might also just color the lighter areas of your image by loading the luminosity of the image as a selection and coloring just that. There's no end to it.
A LITTLE HELP FROM YOUR FRIENDS
The techniques aren't difficult but seeing the color can be. So we've arranged to shackle ourselves to our email program in case you need help.
If you hit the color wall, just email us at email@example.com and we'll tell you how to send us what you have so far. We'll set a few colors for you to restore your enthusiasm to finish the job. Or your money back, so to speak.
Colorizing an old black and white is a little like breathing life back into it.
By adjusting the Levels of the black and white image and judiciously selecting color for the color layer, you can achieve startling realism. And both of those tasks are easily achieved. You can optimize most black and white images with nothing more complicated than an Auto Levels command. And you can steal real color from any similar digicam image.
All you really need is a little time to sit down and doodle. An hour later you'll have brought someone back to life. Which is why we call it "living color."
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C720/C72A.HTM on the Web site.)
Olympus boasts one of the broadest camera lineups in the industry, with models ranging from point-and-shoot digicams to the incredible E-10 and E-20 SLRs. Currently some of the hottest action in their lineup is in the three megapixel category. They recently introduced the D-550 Zoom, an excellent point-and-shoot with advanced features and great picture quality. They also unveiled the C-720 UltraZoom, a 3-megapixel model, but this time with an incredible 8x optical zoom lens.
In most aspects, the C-720 UltraZoom is a direct follow-up to last year's 2-megapixel, 10x zoom C-700 camera. It's the same size and weight, the main differences being the increased pixel count and slightly reduced zoom ratio. Like the C-700, the C-720 is one of the smallest long-zoom cameras I've reviewed, no larger or heavier than its 3x zoom counterparts. It offers a broad range of exposure controls, with four fully automatic settings, four manual modes, QuickTime movie capabilities, panoramic stitching and a continuous shooting function. It also carries forward the My Camera menu, which lets the user custom-configure a broad range of settings.
With a street price of under $600, the C-720 UltraZoom definitely deserves strong consideration if you're looking for great versatility in a long-zoom digicam.
Following in the footsteps of the already well-established Olympus Camedia C-series of digicams, the C-720 Ultra Zoom combines all the best exposure features of the series with a true, 8x zoom lens. In addition to the long-ratio zoom lens, the C-720's advanced features include ISO settings ranging from 100 to 400, a fast 1/1000-second shutter speed and AutoConnect Storage Class USB -- providing plug-and-play transfer of images to Windows 2000/ME and Mac OS 8.6 and higher computers, without the need for additional driver software. The most notable aspect of this digicam, however, is its broad versatility. While it's targeted at experienced digital photographers -- those who want to step up to a camera with expanded capabilities -- it can also be set in a fully Programmed mode for point-and-shoot simplicity or in one of four preset shooting modes for achieving optimum results in Portrait, Sports and Landscape photography. There's also three Slow-Synchro flash modes for evenly exposed night scenes.
Size, design and portability are the other really hot features of the C-720. It sports the same compact SLR-style design as the C-3020 and C-4040 -- Olympus' recently updated 3x zoom Camedia models -- with nearly identical dimensions except for a slightly longer lens assembly. In fact, compared to other 8x zoom digicams currently on the market, the C-720 is remarkably compact, measuring only 4.2x3.0x3.1 inches with the lens retracted and only an inch added with the lens fully extended. And it weighs just 11 ounces without batteries.
The C-720 features an electronic optical viewfinder, essentially a miniaturized version of the larger, 1.5-inch, TFT color LCD monitor. The C-720's EVF is bright and clear, with a good, high eyepoint that eyeglass wearers will find comfortable to use. Both the LCD and EVF have detailed information displays and provide access to the LCD menu system. The EVF is active at all times, but with surprisingly little impact on battery life. The 6.4-51.2mm 8x zoom lens (40-320mm 35mm equivalent) has a maximum aperture of f2.8-f3.4. Images can be enlarged up to an additional 3x with the digital zoom, effectively increasing the camera's zoom capabilities to 24x. The C-720's default image resolution is 1984x1488 pixels with lower resolutions of 1600x1200, 1280x960, 1024x768 and 640x480 also available. Image quality options include two JPEG compression ratios, plus an uncompressed mode that produces full-resolution TIFF images.
The C-720 offers a great deal of exposure control, including Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Speed Priority and Manual exposure modes. Program mode controls both aperture and shutter speed, with exposure times as long as one second. Aperture and Shutter Priority modes give you control over aperture or shutter speed, while the camera chooses the best corresponding settings. When used in AP or SP modes, apertures range from f2.8 to f7.1 and shutter speeds from 1/1000 to 1/2 seconds. Manual exposure mode provides the same aperture range, but permits shutter speeds as long as eight seconds. You can also put the camera into full Auto mode or select between Portrait, Sports and Landscape/Portrait scene modes for easy capture of otherwise tricky subjects.
The C-720 provides four ISO options (Auto, 100, 200 and 400), automatic exposure bracketing, digital ESP multi-patterned and spot metering modes, plus exposure compensation from +2 to -2 exposure values in one-third steps. White balance options include Auto, Daylight, Overcast, Tungsten or Fluorescent. Image contrast and sharpness adjustments are available through the LCD menu and a Playback menu option lets you make copies of images in black and white or sepia tones. An adjustable Automatic Exposure Lock function locks an exposure reading, without having to hold down the Shutter button halfway while you reframe the image. There's also a 12-second self-timer option for self-portraits and a 2-in-1 capture mode that records two half-sized images and saves them side-by-side as one full resolution image.
The C-720's Movie mode records QuickTime movies without sound, in either SQ (160x120 pixels) or HQ (320x240 pixels) modes. Provided your memory card has sufficient space, SQ movies may be as long as 70 seconds apiece, while HQ mode movies can be up to 16 seconds long. Two Sequence modes capture multiple images as fast as 1.2 frames per second (depending on file size), with an AF Sequence mode that adjusts the focus between each shot. Finally, Panorama mode lets you take up to 10 specially tagged shots for merging with Camedia's Panorama Stitch software on your computer. The camera's internal, pop-up flash unit offers six operating modes (Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Fill-in Flash, Flash Off, Night Scene and Night Scene with Red-Eye Reduction modes), with adjustable flash intensity.
The Olympus C-720 Ultra Zoom ships with a 16-MB SmartMedia memory card for image storage. Larger capacity cards are available separately, up to the current limit of 128-MB. You can connect the camera directly to your computer via USB to download images and for a slightly larger viewfinder (or image playback) display, Olympus provides a video output cable for connection to a television set. Software shipped with the unit includes Olympus' Camedia Master 4.0 utility package, a capable all-in-one image management program with basic organization and editing tools, plus a panorama stitching application. Apple QuickTime and USB drivers for Mac and Windows are also supplied.
SHUTTER LAG/CYCLE TIMES
The C-720 is an average to somewhat slow camera overall. Startup and shutdown are a little leisurely, as the telescoping lens mechanism is rather deliberate in its motions. Shot-to-shot time is 3.3 seconds or so, despite a fairly good-sized buffer memory. This isn't a terrible time, but it isn't an industry-leading one either. Autofocus speed is also a little slow, even when compared to other long-zoom cameras. This results in a shutter lag that ranges from 1.29 to 1.45 seconds. Continuous shooting mode does pretty well, with a frame rate of 1.47 frames/second, up to the limit of the 4-frame buffer. All in all, not terribly slow, but a faster shutter response could have made this an excellent camera for sports shooting. As it is, unless you can prefocus the camera in advance of the action, you'd have a hard time capturing critical moments. On the other hand, if you're dealing with subjects where shutter lag isn't that important, the C-720 gives great long-zoom performance at a bargain price.
If you need to routinely deal with distant subjects, there's simply no substitute for a long-ratio zoom lens. With an 8x zoom and three megapixels of resolution, the aptly-named C-720 UltraZoom offers a very affordable and functional entry into the realm of long-telephoto digital photography. It snaps good pictures, with good color and tone. It has a few limitations too, including greater than average purple fringing of dark objects against bright backgrounds and in the corners of the frame (a common long-zoom problem). And it has a somewhat sluggish shutter response.
As my regular readers will know, I'm also no big fan of electronic viewfinders, because they're generally next to useless in dim lighting. Still, looking at the camera as a total package, it offers really excellent value in a long-zoom camera. There's plenty of resolution for sharp 8x10 prints, color and exposure are very good and there's plenty of manual control available. With the focusing set to landscape, it'll snap good pictures down to very low light levels, with very little image noise. All in all, a good buy in a long-zoom camera, particularly if you're on a limited budget. The predecessor C-700 UltraZoom was a very popular model and I expect the C-720 UltraZoom will be as well.
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:
- Update: Battery Shootout. Dave's run more test cycles on many of the previously-tested batteries and added test data for nine new cell types. The results (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/BATTS/BATTS.HTM)? The Maha Powerex 1800s still come out on top (out of 18 types tested), although the Sony 1750s gave them a real run for the money. Energizer and Kodak 1700s did very well too, but were a notch down from both the Powerex and Sony units. The biggest surprise was that the Nexcell 1800s did terribly, with several cells actually failing.
- Gallery Images: Canon PowerShot S200 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S200/S20GAL.HTM).
- Gallery Images: Sony MVC-CD250 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CD250/CD25GAL.HTM).
- Gallery Images: Sony MVC-CD400 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CD400/CD4GAL.HTM).
- Gallery Images: Minolta DiMAGE X (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DX/DXGAL.HTM).
- Gallery Images: Minolta DiMAGE F100 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/F100/F100GAL.HTM).
- Gallery Images: Sony Cyber-shot P71 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/P71/P71GAL.HTM).
- Illustrated Review: Adobe Photoshop 7.0 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PS7/PS7.HTM).
- Reviewed: Olympus C-720 UltraZoom (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C720/C72A.HTM).
- Short Review: Nikon Coolpix 2000 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CP2000/CP2A.HTM).
- Updated Review: Minolta Dimage F100 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/F100/F100A.HTM).
- Short Review: Pentax Optio 230 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/P230/P23A.HTM).
Every now and then we become a Beginner again. This time the inducement was a handful of new digicams. With new storage devices, new menus, new capabilities. We charged their (new) batteries and carried one or the other every place we went. Total immersion.
The side effect of this approach can be some pretty bad photos.
Shivering in the cold but clear July Fourth night, we had remembered to set our aperture and shutter speed to capture the bright color of the fireworks rather than average the blackness of the evening toward gray. And we even knew better than to hand hold any camera at the long exposure we were using. Especially since we were shivering.
But in all the excitement, we'd forgotten to shift the thing out of automatic focus (which is a problem in the dark) into manual. All we wanted to do was set it on infinity and watch the show from the electronic viewfinder (so as not to disturb the 150 people behind us). But where was the switch? We couldn't see in the dark even by the rocket's red glare. We finally managed to find it, spin the ring on the lens and set it to infinity in time for the finale. But if you were standing next to us, you did not for a minute suspect we do this for a living.
Our other car is public transportation. Which just happens to be designed by Pininfarina, the famed Italian design studio (http://www.pininfarina.it) responsible for a number of sports cars -- although not our Rumbolino, which is a Bertone (http://www.bertone.it). Since the Pininfarina is a streetcar, the little placard boasting the name of the design studio makes a funny shot next to the 'No Eating' sign. We zoomed in with yet another new digicam and fired away.
Blurry. It was streetcar dim, yes, but not that dim. Maybe the car had jolted. We took another shot because, after all, we have film to spare. Same thing. Maybe we were too far away for a sharp image of the small text. Well, yes, in a way. Too far away for macro mode. Which is how the camera had been set, apparently by us. But who can remember?
And don't even ask us about the digicam whose Exposure Lock seemed to go on or off all by itself.
So we managed to spend a good week or two being chagrined as we reviewed our test shots. Which we decided to delete all at once from the storage card. But finding that sequence of commands drove us back to the manual. Several times, in fact, because it was impossible to remember.
We kept waiting for Beginner's Luck to kick in -- but that's poor strategy. The longer you wait, by definition, the less of a beginner you are. Sometimes you just have to rely on experience.
Which, fortunately, rescues even the unlucky (eventually). So don't give up!
When you've grown up with an image editor like Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro, you tend to cling to techniques learned long ago, discounting new features. It isn't so much enduring the hard way as sticking to principles. Those capabilities were built in early because they were essential. The new stuff is new because it's cute.
Layers themselves are not universally available but they've been around long enough that we consider them an essential tool in our digital darkroom. Adjustment layers have been around a while, too. But we rarely mentioned them.
They're also useful, though. And if you keep a couple of caveats in mind, you may find yourself enjoying their utility more often.
In our image editor, the basic editing functions are listed under the Image menu. Those very same functions can also be found under the Layers menu, though. But with a profound difference.
Selecting Levels on the Image Menu directly manipulates the luminances of your image data. Selecting Levels on the Layers menu, on the other hand, creates an Adjustment Layer. Which (in the case of Levels) reads the luminance data of the image, applies a mathematical formula to them and displays the result without changing original data.
And that's the advantage of using an Adjustment Layer. It doesn't touch the original data. You can turn the layer off to see your original at any time. Even a week from now (which beats the History palette). And you can even edit the setting with a double click.
And because Adjustment Layers do not duplicate the pixels of your base image, you're saving disk space and RAM by using a more compact version of the file than you would by copying the image data to a new layer.
If you find yourself fiddling with Levels, Curves, Hue and Saturation, think about using Adjustment Layers to make your changes. Put each command on a new Adjustment Layer.
There is some fine print, of course. If you want to see these layers the next time you edit, you have to save the file in a format that supports layers. That isn't JPEG. It likely is Photoshop's native format, Adobe's Portable Document Format or TIFF. Unfortunately, few applications outside Adobe's suite recognize the layer data.
If you work in Layers instead, you can save a copy of your working image in Photoshop's native format, of course, or flatten the layers to save a more compact JPEG file.
Which is how we handle our routine work.
We know what we have to do to improve the image, so we just do it (say, with one of those Contrast Masks we discussed recently). Always working on a copy of the original, of course.
Any errors of judgement are quickly remedied with an Undo. Regrets are repaired with a trip to the History palette. If we're making a lot of changes, we'll repeatedly save the file as we work. You can write the image data as a JPEG as many times as you like as long as you're referencing the original data (don't repeatedly open a JPEG and resave it, that is). When we're satisfied, we just flatten the image, save it and close the file.
That's not a bad way to work. Especially if you're working with 48-bit images (which can't be managed with Adjustment Layers).
So how do you decide which approach to use?
If we just want a better JPEG, we use Layers to manipulate the image.
But if we're experimenting with various approaches to improving an image, we use Adjustment Layers. We can compare a color correction in Levels with another another using Curves just by activating and deactivating the Adjustment Layer for each in the very same image. And we can fine tune by editing the layers at any time. And even take a little nap between sessions without losing the ability to make changes.
It takes a little "adjustment," but what a small price to pay for such flexibility.
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 Olympus C-3020 Zoom at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8a67e
Compare Nikon camera prices at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee860fd
Visit the Printers Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee6b2b8
Bam asks about non-USB camera-computer connections at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8d175
Visit the Toshiba Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee6f78b
The other evening we found ourselves diving delicately into our plate of wild boar, oblivious to the risk of becoming what we were eating.
We were distracted by the charm of the little restaurant named after a Polish composer who made his mark in France. The charm consisted of avoiding dishes like Kielbasa Provencal in favor of bigos or pasta primavera. A place, in short, of integrity.
It's no accident this hideaway is in the middle of a so-called retirement community where no one under the age of 55 can buy a home and no one younger can stay in it more the 90 days a year. This arrangement strikes us as a sober middleground between homeland security and profiling. Were airlines to adopt it, grandparents would be flying this summer and the airports would not be clogged with strollers.
But we had other things on our mind that evening.
What, for example, is the point of persevering? Not simply to complain, we thought. What pleasure is there in that?
So, considering the abundant opportunity around us, we resolved to find out by asking the oldest resident of the housing development. He was easy to find, not having moved in 30 years. But he was a bit hard to believe.
Which is why I will use his real name here, Kenneth Melkmun. Neither Polish nor French, perhaps predating both, he claimed to have attended school but there was little evidence of it. That was easily explained, he explained, by his date of birth, which he could not remember. In those days, there had been very few presidents to memorize and little history. There was no such thing as baseball or basketball or football and consequently no athletic scholarships. And, it need hardly be pointed out, there were hardly any teachers. Everyone was clueless then.
"That's not a gulldern cell phone you've got there, is it?!" Melkmun waggled his boney finger at our Average digicam.
"Oh, no, not at all. Can't myself bear anything that plays preludes," we joked to deaf ears.
"Well, what the blazes is it then?!!" he escalated his concern.
"A camera," we smiled.
His mouth dropped open and if it didn't take 2.75 seconds for our Average to power up, we would have had the portrait of our life. As it was, we deferred.
"If that's a camera, where's the film?"
It's been a long time since we had to prove that digital photography has already been invented, but we were game. "No film, Melkmun, it's digital."
By then, of course, our Average had powered up and we snapped a picture of his eyes widened in disbelief. "Let me show you," we continued, plugging the Average into the Video In port of his VCR (since the television set itself didn't have one), switching the television to Channel 4 (which was what the VCR was set to broadcast on) and punching the source button on the VCR to Video In instead of the tape itself. All of which took longer than it sounds.
But "immediately" he saw himself on the set. An expression of surprise, let's say, on his face.
"Why, I'll be snookered," he looked at us. "How'd you take a picture of my older brother???"
"That's you, sir. Notice the shirt." We thought we had him.
"Oh, that doesn't prove anything. He's always stealing my clothes."
"Yes," we gambled, "but he doesn't look this good in them, does he?"
"No, you're right about that. He doesn't," Melkmun conceded. "Digital, you say? Digital photography?"
And that's how the oldest man in the complex became a convert to digital photography. Little did we know his real passion was NASCAR racing and the film processing costs were eating away at his Social Security check like termites at a toothpick outlet. Before we knew it, he'd gotten a used digicam on eBay and put up a Web site with all his favorite shots.
Just persevere? Just complain? Not Melkmun. When he crosses the finish line, the checkered flag will be waving. He may even get a shot of it.
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RE: That 'Flip-Through' Feeling
Although I completely enjoyed the "Just for Fun: The Class of 2002" column, I did feel a bit like the kid in the back of the classroom (who for once in his life actually knows the answer) with my hand raised and making "Ooo! Ooo! Ooo!" noises.
In my opinion, digital photography offers the very best "flip-through feeling" opportunity via the built-in LCD screen where I can view my newly-captured pictures immediately with no time lapse or extra expense involved. After a shooting session, where I'm focused on getting the images, I almost always don my $12 drugstore "readers" (those little half-frame glasses those of us in our '50s consider necessary equipment), settle down in a comfortable chair and review my work. I truly appreciate that "flip-through feeling" as I see my new images materialize on that tiny TV screen.
All that uploading/downloading technoid stuff comes later and that, in my opinion, replaces both the timeworn, snore-inducing slide show and the ever-dreaded "Here, have a look at our photo album!" options of yesteryear.
-- Charlie(Thanks for the feedback -- especially since I couldn't agree with you more, Charlie! If I can find a couple more of us, maybe we can corner that darn Ed and, uh, convince him <g>. I have a hunch Nicola will be on our side. -- Editor)
RE: SLR Lenses
A general question I have not found dealt with on your excellent site:
If one is moving from film to digital, are there any unique differences in the digital photographic process (other than the focal length multiplier issue) which would cause one to purchase a markedly different array of Nikon lenses for the Nikon D100 than for, say, the Nikon F80, given identical photographic aims?
(And any chance of a favorite lens recommendation for a first lens starter for the D100?)
-- Skip McLaughlin(Digital SLRs seem to demand more from lenses than film does, partly due to the smaller frame size of the CCD sensors, and partly because the CCD pixels are just so doggone tiny. When I put my 28-300mm "vacation zoom" on a state-of-the-art 6-megapixel digital SLR, all its faults figuratively leap out at me. So if you've got a bagful of quality Nikkor optics from your F80 days, you'll probably be pretty happy. If you have a lot of cheaper glass from third-party manufacturers though, you'll probably want to do some upgrading.... Helping slightly in the other direction though, I think that the tiny CCD pixels also "help" with depth of field issues, at least in terms of increasing the effect of wider apertures. The same f-stop on a digital SLR seems to result in a shallower apparent depth of field than that f-stop on a film camera. I could be all wet, but I don't think the need for super-fast glass is quite as great with a digital camera. Your depth of field will be pretty shallow even at f4 or so, and IMHO, the image noise level even at ISO 1600 isn't too bad on the D100. I'm about as happy with the digital noise levels at ISO 800 or 1000 as I was with film grain at ISO 400 or so. -- Dave)
RE: Digital Diana
I have something I would like to do with my Nikon 995. I see people taking pictures with old Diana and Holga plastic cameras. I have a lens from a Diana. I would like to put it in front of my Nikon lens and take the peculiarly distorted pictures that these cameras create.
What type of lens do I have to put between the Nikon and the Diana in order to get a "clear" picture?
-- Dave Faulkner(The insurmountable problem is that the Nikon uses a sealed, non-replaceable lens. It does take converters, but adding something in front that expects access to the focal plane just doesn't work. Despite the high standard set by the Diana (cough), you can emulate the effect of soft focus with image editor plug-ins like Andromeda's VariFocus (reviewed Feb. 9, 2001). Color aberrations we'll leave to your imagination. Pity though that Adobe has begun charging for their plug-in Software Developer's Kit. This is the perfect thing for it. -- Editor)
RE: Got a Good Car?
"To paraphrase an unforgettable line, anyone with a good car don't need healing."
Well, I musta forgot. What is the original line?
-- Luke Smith(It's from Flannery O'Connor's novel "Wise Blood" (which John Huston made into a film). It's about a guy who wants to establish a church -- with no diety. So he explains, at one point, "Nobody with a good car needs to be justified." Trouble was, he didn't have much of a car. And worse, no license. <g> -- Editor)
Adobe has eliminated the free Software Developer's Kit available for Photoshop 6 and earlier versions. So to develop plug-ins for Photoshop 7, you have to become a developer and apply for the kit. This (and a few design decisions) have engendered some controversy over the latest version. Our enthusiasm hasn't been dampened, but follow the debate at Macintouch at http://www.macintouch.com/photoshop7.html to decide for yourself.
Meanwhile, we've heard yet another explanation of what Photoshop 7's Healing Brush does. At a recent "Demystifying Photoshop" seminar, Adobe's Julieanne Kost said the brush makes two passes, the first to map the texture of the source or healthy area to the repair area and the second correcting the color. So it's important to pick a similarly textured source. To simulate an opacity setting (not available in the brush itself), you can Fade the effect.
Olympus (http://www.olympusamerica.com) has announced the $777 Camedia C-4000 Zoom, a 4-megapixel digicam with an f2.8 3x optical zoom lens, manual control and advanced features like multi-point spot average metering, super macro focusing and a histogram display in Shooting and Review modes.
The DC3510 from Argus Camera (http://www.arguscamera.com) has broken the $200 price barrier for a menu-driven, 2.1 megapixel digicam with a 2x digital zoom lens, burst capability of 2-5 pictures per shot, 8-MB internal memory, an SD Card memory expansion slot, macro capability, a 1.5-inch LCD monitor and a built-in flash.
Joe Buissink, NikonNet's July Legend Behind the Lens (http://www.nikonnet.com/legends), uses black and white images, a photojournalist's style and a 35mm approach.
NetGUI (http://www.netgui.com) has begun volume shipments of its $49.95 CaptiVision version 2.0, which provides a simple and quick method using Flash to create and distribute streaming media digital photo albums via the Internet and email.
No vacation? Visit the Southwest with Mary and Larry Berman (http://bermangraphics.com/press/digitalsouthwest.htm).
Summus (http://www.summus.com) and Snapfish (http://www.snapfish.com) have announced a multi-year revenue-sharing agreement in which the two companies will develop and co-market Snapfish Mobile, a wireless personal photo application powered by BlueFuel, Summus' multimedia architecture for wireless and mobile devices. The application will target Snapfish's customer base of over three million users, offering the ability to access images on the Snapfish network via a wireless phone and in the future via a PDA.
SCM has announced the release of its next generation Dazzle OnDVD (http://www.Dazzle.com) slideshow creation software. Dazzle OnDVD 2.0 allows users to create digital photo slideshows that can be recorded to CD.
Kingston (http://www.kingston.com) has announced the immediate availability of a 128-MBMultiMediaCard with a read/write speed of 1.7-MB/1.6-MB per second.
Lemke Software's (http://www.lemkesoft.com) GraphicConverter 4.4.2 [M] features improved HTML catalogs, an enlarged AppleScript dictionary and better importing of some formats.
Uwe Steinmueller cites the Epson 9600 Diary by Alain Briot at http://www.outbackphoto.com/printinginsights/pi013/Epson9600.html which "contains a lot of useful information about this exciting new printer."
On July 21, YarcPlus's third anniversary, the price of the Canon RAW image batch converter (http://www.pictureflow.com) will revert to its standard price of $49 from the introductory offer of $35. Michael Tapes also noted, "We are busy working on Version 2.1 and hope to release it within the next few weeks, but it will not be timed to the anniversary date [there will be no wine before its time]. It will be released as soon as it is ready and as with all releases in the near term, version 2.1 will be a free upgrade."
The Plugin Site (http://thepluginsite.com) has announced the Galaxy Contest 2002, highlighting "the amazing effects that can be achieved with edges, frames, photos, textures and plug-ins." Among the 70 prizes are plug-ins, applications, books and photo CDs. Submit your entry before Sept. 30. Visit http://thepluginsite.com/gallery/galaxy2002 for details.
Phil Askey spent the week in Japan visiting Fujifilm's headquarters and their manufacturing plants in Sendai where he saw how Fujifilm manufactures their digicams (http://www.dpreview.com/news/0207/02070504fujifilmfactory.asp).
Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com/vuescan) has released a new version of VueScan. But this goes without saying (and we ain't complaining).
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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