|Volume 4, Number 15||26 July 2002|
Welcome to the 76th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. News editor Mike Tomkins recounts the Forgent JPEG patent case while Dave surprises himself with Fuji's S2. And we tell a tall tale to avoid certain bankruptcy.
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By MICHAEL R. TOMKINS, News Editor(This article has been compiled from Mike's daily news reports on the Imaging Resource site at http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM. -- Editor)
Forgent Networks Inc., which acquired San Jose-based Compression Labs Inc. in 1997, seems intent on turning the purchase into a money earner. But the company's approach has digital imaging enthusiasts in an uproar, seeing it as an attempt to turn a fast buck on the JPEG standard which the company had little part in creating or establishing. And the JPEG standards organization agrees, going so far as to threaten to withdraw JPEG as an ISO standard.
Compression Labs was issued U.S. Patent 4,698,672 (called 672, for short) entitled "Coding system for reducing redundancy" on Oct. 6, 1986 (http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?d=PALL&p=1&u=/netahtml/srchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1='4,698,672'). That patent, Forgent claims, applies to the run-length encoding used in JPEG compression.
That technology is used to read and write images by almost all digicams. It's also widely used elsewhere, from software used to display and edit digital images from companies like Adobe, Jasc and Ulead, to hardware like set-top boxes used to display images on a television -- and literally thousands of other hardware and software products, including Web browsers.
After the purchase of Compression Labs, Forgent -- then known as VTel Corp. -- allowed unhindered use of JPEG compression. But in 2001, VTEL's Products Strategic Business Unit (formed the previous year) was spun off from the company, as management and employees purchased the division. That deal was finalized in late January this year and a quick change of company name left the new Forgent as a software and services company with no remaining hardware products in its portfolio.
On July 11, Forgent issued a press release claiming "Forgent has the sole and exclusive right to use and license all the claims under the 672 patent that implement JPEG in all 'fields of use' except in the satellite broadcast business."
Forgent's claim brings back memories of a similar case a few years back, which generated much ill sentiment toward a company with a somewhat better-known name, Unisys.
UNISYS & GIF
At the very end of the 1980s and through the '90s, Unisys began enforcing its patent on a compression technique called LZW or Lempel-Ziv-Welch. Commonly used in GIF and TIFF files, Unisys began to require companies using the LZW algorithm in their commercial software to pay for that usage -- including the then-dominant online service Compuserve. That was when the story first appeared on most people's radars and it continued to unfold as even freeware programmers were required to license LZW technology.
Then Unisys warned that Web sites using GIF images might be considered guilty of "contributory infringement" if the program used to create their image wasn't licensed -- even if their sites were non-commercial and they weren't aware of the non-compliance. Suggestions were made that Web sites could be liable for $5,000 -- or more. The threat brought on another wave of unhappy sentiments, with Web sites such as BurnAllGifs.org (http://burnallgifs.org) being an enduring testament to what has become a decade-long public relations nightmare for Unisys.
But back to the present! Forgent has already taken the first steps toward enforcement itself, not only with the press release, but also by securing its first two major licensees. The company's 10-Q form filed June 17 states:
"In May 2002, Forgent signed a multi-million dollar patent license agreement with Sony Corporation, a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. The patent agreement relates to the Company's data compression technology and marks the second such agreement that Forgent has obtained. The first agreement, with another prestigious international company, was signed in April 2002 and generated $15.0 million in revenue during the three months ended April 30, 2002 for the Company. The Company is pursuing additional license agreements with other companies from multiple industries; however, there can be no assurance that additional licenses can be obtained or, if obtained will be on similar favorable terms."
That's the first few million. Now will the rest of the industry meekly hand over the money or find a way around the patent? Unisys found that money can be a strong motivator with its LZW patent -- companies quickly realized they could use the permission for freeware use to avoid paying fees by simply providing the GIF code as a "free plug-in" for their software. This, of course, is what lead to the crackdown on freeware use.
If Forgent requires everyone to be licensed, they might make a lot of money, but it would come from consumers forced to pay higher product prices to cover those licensing fees. And the abundance of shareware and freeware programs offering JPEG compatibility would likely be greatly reduced. There's also the question of related standards -- for example the MotionJPEG codec used for the video files generated by many digital cameras, which bears strong similarities to the JPEG format.
JPEG COMMITTEE RESPONDS
A week after Forgent's release, the Joint Photographic Experts Group committee posted their own news release (http://www.jpeg.org/newsrel1.htm) stating their belief that the portions of Forgent's patent affecting JPEG may well be invalid. The release noted, "The committee has examined these claims briefly and at present believes that prior art exists in areas in which the patent might claim application to ISO/IEC 10918-1 in its baseline form."
The idea behind a patent is that an inventor should be entitled to control their creation, deciding who can use it and earning profits from it for a period of time -- normally 20 years from when the patent application was first filed. A patent cannot be granted (or if mistakenly granted, can be overturned) if certain definitions regarding previous description or use of the invention are met -- what's known as "prior art."
Prior art is defined in U.S. patent law as follows:
- If the invention was "known or used by others in this country or was patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country" before the date of invention by the patent holder or applicant, prior art exists.
- If the invention was "patented or described in a printed publication in this or a foreign country or in public use or on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States," then again prior art exists.
In making the prior art argument, the JPEG committee noted that at least two other companies (Philips and Lucent) are similarly claiming to have patents that relate to portions of the original JPEG standard and expresses disappointment that some organizations are trying to cash in on what was developed to be a license and royalty-free standard.
Not content to roll over and play dead, the JPEG committee apparently decided at a meeting in Boston recently to formulate a response to these intellectual property claims. Provisionally by October, the committee will launch a new Web site to solicit submissions of prior art, "particularly where the content may be applied to claims of intellectual property."
The JPEG committee's release also noted that "agreement [has been] reached with over 20 large organisations holding many patents [related to its] up and coming JPEG 2000 standard," which it feels will allow it to proliferate "without payment of license fees or royalties."
"It has always been a strong goal of the JPEG committee," the release continues, "that its standards should be implementable in their baseline form without payment of royalty and license fees and the committee would like to record their disappointment that some organisations appear to be working in conflict with this goal. Considerable time has been spent in committee in attempting to either arrange licensing on these terms or in avoiding existing intellectual property and many hundreds of organisations and academic communities have supported us in our work."
And in fact by midweek the JPEG committee had threatened to formally withdraw the JPEG standard altogether if Forgent continues to demand royalties. According to a report in the British online information technology newspaper The Register (http://theregister.co.uk/content/4/26339.html), JPEG committee member Richard Clark declared, "ISO will withdraw the standard: JPEG will be no more."
The unprecedented move is being considered because ISO rules require that its standards be implementable free or under "reasonable and non-discriminatory" terms.
Forgent is requiring payment from manufacturers using JPEG compression in their products -- and is not charging a uniform usage fee. Instead companies are required to negotiate directly with Forgent, without knowing what their competitors have negotiated. This is certainly not "reasonable and non-discriminatory" licensing, which is what has prompted ISO to consider withdrawal of the JPEG standard.
What effect would ISO's withdrawal of the JPEG standard have?
At this stage, JPEG is so commonly used that even if withdrawn, it would still be a "de facto" standard. Manufacturers aren't going to drop JPEG support overnight and hence they must either pay Forgent or take a stand and air the issue in court.
But Clark also observed that Patent 672 expires in 2004, 17 years after the filing (under the old rules) and suggested manufacturers had therefore little incentive to yield to Forgent.
Perhaps this is good timing for JPEG 2000 (http://www.jpeg.org/JPEG2000.htm), the new standard that the Joint Photographic Experts Group wants users to adopt. Uncertainties over the future of the old JPEG format could spur faster adoption of JPEG 2000 -- which isn't hindered by licensing and royalty fees, at least for basic functionality.
It may also spur digital camera manufacturers to put their heads together and come up with a better answer to the "digital negative" than is currently available.
One way or another, this looks like it is going to be a story to watch.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S2/S2A.HTM on the Web site.)
Based on the Nikon N80 film camera body, Fujifilm's new FinePix S2 Pro digital SLR camera is a welcome addition to the prosumer digicam marketplace, joining Canon's D60 and Nikon's own D100 in the sub-$3,000 D-SLR class. Its familiar 35mm styling includes the ability to accept Nikon's F series lenses, happy news for any Nikon photographer with an extensive lens collection. Measuring 5.6x5.2x3.1 inches, the S2 is just slightly larger than competing models from Nikon and Canon. Weighing in at 26.8 ounces without the lens, you'll definitely want to take advantage of the accompanying neck strap, but the heft is not at all excessive for an SLR.
As with the S1 Pro before it, the biggest buzz about the S2 is its CCD. Using the Fuji-developed Super CCD honeycomb sensor pattern, it actually carries 6.17 million active sensor elements, which are used to produce either 6.1 or 12.1 (!) megapixel final file sizes. Fuji has happily moved away from their earlier practice of reporting their Super CCD cameras' resolutions based on the higher, interpolated figure, but it's important to note the interpolated file size does indeed capture (slight) additional image information relative to the smaller "native" image size. That's because the diagonal arrangement of the honeycomb-shaped Super CCD pixels requires a roughly 1.4x interpolation to extract the maximum image information when converting to the rectilinear pixel array of a standard image file. (Just for the record, all single-sensor digicams interpolate, it's just a matter of how and to what degree.) It's clearly not a 12-megapixel camera, but just as clearly delivers slightly more detail than competing 6-megapixel designs.
One benefit of SLR digicams like the S2 Pro is the through-the-lens optical viewfinder, which more accurately represents what the camera sees than ordinary viewfinders. The S2's viewfinder includes a small readout at the bottom of the screen reporting aperture, shutter speed, focus, etc. I found the optical viewfinder to be pretty accurate, showing roughly 96 percent of the final field of view, slightly better than average among SLRs I've tested. A 1.8-inch color LCD monitor on the back panel displays an image preview, complete with histogram functions, and also reviews captured images when in Playback mode. The downside of the SLR design though, is that the LCD monitor can't provide a live viewfinder display. Optically, the S2 features a lens mount that accommodates most Nikon F series lenses, although advanced metering modes only work with more recent lenses equipped with internal CPUs. A focus switch on the front of the camera allows you to change between continuous autofocus, single-shot autofocus or manual focusing modes.
The S2 provides a great deal of exposure control, with a wide variety of exposure modes and adjustments available. The main exposure modes include Programmed, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual. In Programmed mode, the camera controls the shutter and aperture settings, but the user can select from a range of equivalent exposure settings and also adjust the exposure compensation from -3 to +3 EV in 1/2 EV increments. (One of my few substantive quibbles with the S2's capabilities: I'd really like to see 1/3 EV steps on the exposure compensation adjustment.) Aperture and Shutter Priority modes allow the user to select the named exposure variable (aperture or shutter) while the camera selects the other one. Aperture settings will vary with each lens used, but shutter speeds range from 1/4000 to 30 seconds, plus a bulb mode. Of course, Manual mode gives the user control over both exposure variables simultaneously. A continuous shooting mode lets you capture up to seven shots in rapid sequence, at a rate of roughly two frames/second.
The S2 provides a wide array of other exposure controls through the function buttons and the small monochrome LCD data readout on its rear panel. White balance can be set to Auto, Sunny, Shade, Fluorescent 1, Fluorescent 2, Fluorescent 3, Incandescent, Custom1 or Custom 2 values. (Custom is a manual preset option in which you use a white reference card to set the white balance for the current lighting conditions.) The camera's light sensitivity can also be adjusted, with available settings of ISO 100, 160, 200, 400, 800 and 1600 ISO equivalents. Color, tone and sharpness settings can also be adjusted through the Function menus and exposure metering options include 10-zone matrix, center-weighted and spot metering. The inclusion of the smaller LCD data readout for the Function menus on the rear panel and the top LCD panel for exposure settings is very helpful for saving battery power, as you can change nearly all of the exposure settings without resorting to the larger LCD monitor.
The S2 features a pop-up flash as well as a hot shoe for connecting a more powerful external flash unit. The built-in flash works in several modes, including Auto, On, Off, Anti Redeye, Anti Redeye with Slow Sync, normal Slow Sync and Rear-Curtain Sync. In Self-Timer mode, a self-timer counts down from two to twenty seconds before firing the shutter, flashing the AF assist light on the front of the camera during the countdown.
Another great design element on the S2 is the memory card slot, which accommodates both CompactFlash Type I and II as well as SmartMedia memory cards. This definitely increases your memory card options and enables you to use the IBM MicroDrive CompactFlash cards, now available in sizes as large as one gigabyte. The S2 has two interface ports for connecting to a host computer, USB or FireWire/IEEE-1394. Appropriate cables accompany the camera, as well as a software CD loaded with Adobe Photoshop Elements, USB drivers for Windows 98/2000/XP and Macintosh, Fujifilm FinePix Viewer, a Raw file converter package and Apple QuickTime 5.0. The Fujifilm software lets you connect the camera to the computer and download or browse images, while Photoshop Elements provides basic image editing and correction tools.
U.S. models come with an NTSC video output cable for connecting to a television set and I assume European models will be equipped for PAL timing. For power, the S2 utilizes four AA batteries (NiMH rechargeable highly recommended) as well as two CR123A lithium batteries, with an AC adapter and battery charger available as accessories. In my tests, battery life was really excellent, although the CR123A lithium cells can be rather quickly depleted if you use the flash a lot. The AA cells run the bulk of camera functions, while the lithium cells run the flash.
Overall, the S2 provides all the manual exposure control you need, with the flexibility of both automatic and programmed modes. The incredible range of available lenses, useful color and tone adjustments, histogram functions and all-around excellent color make it suitable for both advanced amateurs and professional photographers. Professional action shooters will bemoan the relatively slow two-fps continuous-shooting speed, but the camera is dramatically faster than any consumer-level digicam I've tested and is roughly competitive in this respect with similarly-priced digital SLRs from other manufacturers. In addition to the excellent color, the high resolution and delicate rendering of fine detail delivered by the S2's Super CCD sensor are particularly impressive. Overall, a very strong contender in the 6-megapixel digital SLR derby.
SHUTTER LAG & CYCLE TIMES
The S2 isn't as fast as the Nikon D100, particularly when it comes to shutter lag. While still drastically faster than any consumer-level digicam, the manual focus and prefocus shutter lag of the S2 Pro is fully 60 percent longer than that of the D100. Cycle times were somewhat longer as well.
Memory cards can make a huge difference in the buffer-clearing speed of the S2. (Although if you stay within the limits of the seven-shot buffer, you won't see any performance difference with a faster card.) Interestingly, SmartMedia cards are by far the fastest, but their limited capacity could be an issue on a camera with the S2's file sizes. A fast Lexar card emptied the buffer fully 3x faster than a slow Flash card. The S2 also seems to be finicky about which cards it will accept. A 512-MB SimpleTech card that I've used as a standard "fast card" in many of my previous digicam tests wouldn't work at all in the S2.
Fuji's original S1 Pro did well partly due to its beautiful color rendering and partly due to a price thousands of dollars less than other D-SLRs. A lot of people (myself included) wondered whether Fuji could stay in the game with Canon and Nikon models actually selling for a bit less than the S2. I confess that I approached the camera with more than a little skepticism, expecting it to come up short after the wonderful experience I'd had with the Nikon D100 just before it.
I was thus somewhat surprised by how much I ended up liking the S2. Its color is indeed every bit as accurate and (more to the point) as pleasing as the S1 before it and I was genuinely amazed by its resolution and how delicately it rendered fine detail. I didn't like its body style quite as much as the D100's, but the differences are relatively slight. I really liked its user interface design, with the small rear-panel data readout and soft buttons below it.
What's clear though, is that Fuji has crafted a very strong entry in the 6-megapixel D-SLR category and are very much still in the game. Fuji had a strong market for the S1 among commercial portrait and wedding shooters, thanks to the excellent handling of skin tones. The S2 will likely continue to lead that market, but will find many other happy homes as well. Kudos to Fuji for another well-executed entry in the D-SLR race!
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:
- Reviewed: Fuji S2 Pro Digital SLR (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S2/S2A.HTM).
- Sample Pictures/Analysis: Nikon Coolpix 4500 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C4500/C45PICS.HTM) and 5700 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C5700/C57PICS.HTM).
- Short Review: Canon PowerShot A100 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A100/A10A.HTM).
- Short Review: Canon PowerShot A200 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A200/A20A.HTM).
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 comments about the Nikon Coolpix 2000 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8d02b
Compare Olympus camera prices at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee860fe
Visit the Scanners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee6b2ae
Christina asks about digicam prints at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8d79a
Visit the Digital Cameras Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2a8
We were sitting around the developing sink the other day doing shots of Glacial when we got around to bragging about our toughest shots.
There was the guy who had hung off the Golden Gate Bridge to get a bird's eye view of the traffic -- with nothing but his leather-soled boot on the wet iron and his estranged wife gripping his wrist. But she was only estranged later, so that didn't impress anyone.
Then there was the dizzy kid who had planned to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel using continuous mode to extend his good luck. Luckily, the barrel staved off catastrophe. Somebody had marked it "radioactive material," so he never even got his feet wet.
In the shadows of the bar a luminescent figure said he'd caught something he called "Earthrise Over New Hernandez." And he would have had the print to prove it but couldn't find a one-hour lab anywhere near the Sea of Tranquility.
When it was our turn to buy a round, we had little alternative but to stall with the longest (if not the most persuasive) story.
"You never did anything hard in your life," the Bridge guy challenged us amidst general laughter.
But we did. Once.
It wasn't just one shot. It was a sequence. And (we paused for emphasis) it all happened before we were born.
Eyebrows arched in disbelief. "He's not going to tell us that extraterrestrial story again, is he? Buy the round first, will ya?"
No, no, no. You've never heard this one before, we swore.
Grandfather was a pharmacist in the old days when drugstores were full of new gadgets. Like ball point pens. And cameras.
Being the first guy to have everything, he managed to get his hands on a movie camera before the other guys in his foursome even knew what they were. To perfect his swing, see? Cary Middlecoff (http://olemisssports.ocsn.com/sports/m-golf/spec-rel/090298aaa.html) stole the idea from him.
He was already a consummate master (well, dedicated amateur) of exposure and focus with that old Bell and Howell 16mm movie camera when his daughter married the guy who subsequently became our father. Naturally, he set it up for his pal to film the festivities.
It's a short movie, in color, all outdoors in daylight. But everyone is in it. And that's the interesting part. It contains the only known color image of Dad's father. He's smiling, walking down the street and waving. A happy man.
So we had a 16mm color film positive of the image we wanted to print. Except we didn't have a projector or any reliable way to capture the image without risking the film.
Fortunately a few years ago Dad converted the old movies to videotape as a present to each of his four sons. This was long after the thrill of showing their bare bottoms to each new girlfriend had been overshadowed by the nuisance of setting up the screen and rewinding the reels.
But getting from the analog videotape to a print was still a problem.
The solution was a borrowed Sony camcorder. With the tape ready to play in our VCR and the camcorder cabled to its output and set in VCR mode, we captured the sequence to miniDV tape over an S-VHS cable.
Then we cabled the camcorder's 4-wire iLink (FireWire/IEEE-1394) port to a PowerBook G4's 6-wire FireWire port and launched iMovie. After importing the clip, we stepped through it frame by frame, saving the frames we wanted as JPEGs. For extra credit we did the same thing in Windows XP with Sony's DVgate.
Did we say JPEGs? No, we meant, FRGTs. Nice 640x480 run-length encoded Forgents. Patented Forgents.
With the Sony camcorder, we could also have stepped through the tape, recording a still JPEG image on its Memory Stick, foregoing iMovie and DVgate, but the software made it easier to see what we were getting.
From there it was just a few clicks in Photoshop before we had a sequence of prints fit for framing and never before seen on any wall anywhere. Plus we endeared ourselves temporarily to our cousin (who had mysteriously endured salt sprinkled in his bedsheets whenever we both vacationed at our Grandparents) by emailing a copy.
"Now about that round," one of the unimpressed piped up, hoarsely.
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RE: Colorizing Photos
Having recently converted from film to digital in many applications, I need a lot of guidance with the "Colorizing" article.
- Am I correct to assume that a black and white subject print must be scanned into an operative program work area?
- Can the operative program be Adobe Photoshop? And, if so, does the Educational Version of Adobe Photoshop 5.0 contain all of the necessary commands?
-- A.M. Santare(Well, you can scan an image into your image editing software, but all you have to do is open an image file (say, a JPEG). It can be from a digicam, a PhotoCD, anything.... We haven't seen Photoshop EV, but we're sure it's amenable to one or the other technique described in the article -- which work back to version 3.0 (no layers). -- Editor)
Hi. Attached is a photo of my wife from the '60s in which I colorized her only. Do you have any other suggestions I can use? Many thanks.
-- Frank Damon(Readers, Frank took us up on our offer to help colorize (see the original article for details). We liked what he'd done -- which resembled the effect of using Marshall's colors on a black and white print. But we thought it would be fun to provide an alternative.... The first thing we did, was convert his image to Grayscale to lose the color information. Then we converted it back into RGB to colorize it. But before touching a color, we took a look at the image's histogram in Levels and brightened the image a bit. Then we colorized the image using a new Color layer.... We sent Frank the color layer, so he could see what we'd actually painted. He could open that in his image editor, sample the color and repaint his original with those colors. We also sent a finished version to show the full effect. The real trick was our adjustment of the black and white luminance values, though. -- Editor)
Hello, I've been coloring old photos on the PC for sometime now. I thought I would mention that I always do the work on a copy/duplicate so the original one I scanned stays as a reference backup and I needn't worry about mistakes I might make along the way. I use Corel Draw 10/Photopaint 10. I've used various versions of this Corel suite for years and love it. And I love your newsletter.
-- Sally Bennett(Thanks for making that very important point: always work on a copy. Always. No matter what the original looks like (red-eye, upside down, you name it), there's only one original. Think of it as a negative. We like to save the copy in the same folder as the original, appending an "r" (for "retouched") to the filename. When we show the images in a slide show, we just snap our fingers and the improved version appears on cue. People are astonished at our magical powers and they sometimes feed us. -- Editor)
I just want to say, THANK YOU. You guys are terrific. Such good quality writing without the stodginess so "prevalent in the myriad copiously constructed reviews found on the Web."
And your newsletter ... it's also terrific. Really. The info about colorizing is a keeper, for sure.
-- Marshall in Miami(Thanks, Marshall! Without the benefit of illustrations, we had to, uh, write that one in color. Glad to hear it made sense. -- Editor)
RE: Converting Negatives
I have a two-year old Nikon 990, the adapter to hold film strips Nikon offers for it and a one-year old copy of Photoshop 5.0.
Starting with the Invert command I can stumble through the color adjustments to get not very good positive images.
Is there an easy way?
-- Don Sayles(Oh boy, Don -- this is a favorite topic. In fact, we wrote a two-parter on it (search for "Negative" in the Archive or Index at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS). The gist of it is that you should construct a custom Curve to convert your negs to positives. Instructions provided.... LaserSoft Imaging (http://www.silverfast.com) sells NegaFix as part of its scanner software (pricey but very competent) that is probably the simplest way to get good results. But the Curve is the trick (and it's free). -- Editor)
RE: Missing Thread?
First, let me say that I enjoy your newsletter and read every issue carefully.
Recently I purchased a Nikon 5700 as it had all the features I had been waiting for. No one seems to know if a UV filter is available for this camera. I cannot find the size listed anywhere in the manual or on the Nikon Web site. I have tried to measure it and tried filters from other cameras, but I am not sure what the size is exactly. Appears to be less than 43mm and more than 37mm.
-- Tim Olson(They know, they just aren't telling. So even a careful reading won't reveal the magic number. We asked Nikon and they said, "We do not support filters at this time. The UR-E8 [step-down adapter for Coolpix lens converters] is not designed for filters however we will investigate the thread size and possible filters." Our hunch is that because the lens retracts, a filter might (and a step-up ring definitely would) cause problems. Swivel-design Coolpixes have a protective glass shield over the lens, but that lens doesn't protrude. -- Editor)
We sadly note the passing of Yousef Karsh in Boston on July 13 at the age of 93 (http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/karsh_yousuf.html). "You can even make a roaring lion stand still to be photographed," Winston Churchill said to him after Karsh took his portrait in 1941. With two minutes to get the shot, Karsh took Churchill's cigar away from him, winning a glare from the prime minister that came to epitomize the determination of the British to defeat Hitler. Karsh's signature chiaroscuro lighting and 350 lbs. of gear, including an 8x10 view camera, were the tools he used "to stir the emotions of the viewer" and "lay bare the soul" of his sitter, as he put it.
A number of imaging products were introduced at Macworld Expo in New York, recently. Among the (mostly cross-platform) highlights:
Apple (http://www.apple.com/idvd) touted iDVD 2.1 as "the first scriptable layout application for video content." The link has scripts plus an iDVD Companion application written in AppleScript Studio.
Canon (http://consumer.usa.canon.com) introduced two new USB flatbed scanners and three new Bubble Jet printers scheduled to ship with OS X drivers by mid-August. The 600x1200-dpi LiDE 20 ($79) and the 1200x2400-dpi LiDE 30 ($99) scanners both offer a one-pass multi-scan mode and multiple-page scanning to PDF. The four-color S530D and six-color S830D printers sport 2400x1200-dpi borderless photo prints from either a storage card, computer or Bubble Jet Direct-enabled Canon digicam. The 2400x1200-dpi S330 printer ($99) has borderless printing without the bells and whistles of the other two printers.
Canto and YaWah.com announced YaWah ImageExpress for Cumulus (http://www.yawah.com/demo/imageexpress.html) to zoom into and download images in multiple file formats and resolutions directly from a Web browser without installing any additional plug-ins. ImageExpress is used with Cumulus Web Publisher or Cumulus Internet Client to publish catalogs of digital assets on the Web. Once an asset has been located using Cumulus, ImageExpress lets the user change the size of the thumbnail being viewed, adjust image quality, zoom in (or out) to examine image details or download the image in a wide variety of resolutions and file formats, including JPEG, PDF and EPS.
Epson (http://www.epson.com) unveiled the 2880x1440-dpi Epson Stylus Photo 960 inkjet printer with border-free roll printing, a two-picoliter ink droplet and a six-color photo ink system (with seven cartridges, including twin black cartridges to speed text printing). It's scheduled to ship in September for $349.
eZedia (http://www.ezedia.com) previewed eZediaQTI, a QuickTime authoring and animation environment for Web content. The $129 program, expected by fall, runs on Mac OS X and Windows 2000/XP.
FireWire problems (we've learned recently after shorting out an Oxford 911 bridge) can be far more opaque than SCSI ever was. Granite Digital (http://www.granitedigital.com) comes to the rescue with its Smart Drive Series of compact FireWire enclosures with a built-in diagnostic LCD and two-button keypad to get data on the FireWire-IDE bridge, hard disk, FireWire connection and host computer.
SmartDisk (http://www.smartdisk.com) showed new film scanners, the 2700-dpi, USB SmartScan 2700 ($249.95) and the 3600-dpi FireWire SmartScan 3600 ($499.95) with batch scanning, auto film loading and auto-focus.
Adobe has announced Photoshop Elements 2.0 with support for Mac OS X and Windows XP. Common lighting and color corrections can be applied in a single dialog window while viewing the original side-by-side with the modified version. Help is available by typing key words into a new field on the toolbar. Emailing photos is easier because resizing and attaching images can be done in one step. And a new file browser helps preview, sort and organize images without opening them. Color Variations now includes tips and a real-time preview. The new Selection Brush helps mask images. New paintbrush options simulate oils, watercolors, charcoal, pastels and different canvas textures. Frames from video clips can be saved as still images and slideshows can be exported as PDF files.
David Pogue, Joseph Schorr and Derrick Story have coauthored iPhoto: The Missing Manual (Pogue Press/O'Reilly, U.S. $24.95). Pogue promises iPhoto users will quickly learn how to take their digital photo to the screen, Web, printout, hardbound photo book, even DVD. The 400-page book also covers choosing and mastering a digital camera, the basics of good photo composition and tips for shooting special subjects like sports, night shots and portraits.
An 8-day Digital Photography & Imaging Cruise featuring workshops for beginning and intermediate photographers (http://www.dpcorner.com/cruise) will embark from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Dec. 4 aboard Carnival's newest superliner, Legend, visiting Belize, Costa Rica and Panama. Each workshop attendee can choose a camera, accessory or software gift package worth over $1,000 provided by participating sponsors including Epson, Olympus, Adobe and two dozen others. The $1,940 cruise is the second in a series offering instruction lead by Arthur H. Bleich, feature editor of Digital Camera Magazine.
To enter Johnsonville Sausage's Return of the Ugly Grill, submit a shot of your ugly grill at http://www.johnsonville.com (or mail it to the Johnsonville Ugly Grill Contest, Box 786, Sheboygan, WI 53082). The winner, selected by site visitors, gets a new kettle grill with a year's supply of Johnsonville brats. Other prizes include a grilling apron with mitt, coolers and tee shirts featuring the company's Big Taste slogan.
Right after Dell decided to get into the printer business (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1027465416.html) Hewlett-Packard decided to stop supplying Dell with printers. Coincidence?
Nikon has recalled the D100 to fix a white balance bracketing problem (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1027703635.html). The company also announced firmware upgrades for the Coolpix 885, 995 and 2000 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1027702804.html).
Kenny Mann, formerly of Digital Camera Magazine and PhotoPoint.com, edits This Week in Digital Photography (http://www.dpcorner.com/thisweek).
Spectra Merchandising of Chicago will market a newly-developed line of digicams under the Polaroid brand name in the U.S. and Canada. The initial line will include eight models, ranging from advanced Webcams to 2-, 3- and 4-megapixel digicams.
Sapphire Innovations (http://www.sapphire-innovations.com) has just released Innovations Vol 7: Gradients/Patterns [W] plug-ins for Photoshop 6 and 7 and other applications.
Roxio is partnering with Snapfish to provide a Roxio-Snapfish co-branded online photofinishing service (http://www.roxio.snapfish.com) for uploading and storing digital photos, creating online photo albums and ordering prints and special products like greeting cards. Roxio and Snapfish are offering a number of promotions to customers when they sign up for the free service, including 10 free 4x6 digital prints and free developing for one roll of film.
The $179 Argus DC3510 (http://www.arguscamera.com) is a menu-driven, 2.1-megapixel digicam with a 2x digital zoom, burst capability of 2-5 pictures per shot, 8-MB internal memory, an SD Card memory expansion slot, macro setting for one-to-one close-ups, a built-in 1.5-inch LCD monitor and built-in flash.
Master Printer Jonathan Penney (http://www.jonathanpenney.com) has announced a new Platinum Giclee process for black and white prints. The process uses wide-format, photo-resolution digital printers to apply monochrome inks onto specially coated heavyweight art papers. The 100-year-archival prints exhibit deep, velvet blacks and crisp whites, while maintaining exquisite detail and tonality, even when enlarged to 40x60, he said.
Shutterfly (htp://www.shutterfly.com) announced revenues for the first six months of 2002 nearly doubled over the same period last year (87 percent growth) with customer uploads increasing 74 percent and print volume increasing 63 percent. The number of prints per order continued to grow, averaging 27 prints over the past 12 months. Early second quarter results topped those numbers, reaching an average of 29 prints per order. And the conversion rate of those who uploaded images and then ordered products rose 12 points to 76 percent.
Olympus (http://www.olympusamerica.com) has introduced the Camedia C-4000 Zoom, a full-featured 4-megapixel digicam with a world-class Olympus zoom lens, total photographic control and advanced features such as Multi-Point Spot Average Metering, Super Macro focusing and Histogram in Shooting and Review modes -- for under $500.
Asiva (http://www.asiva.com) released version 1.2.0 of Asiva Photo free to registered users. The new release features faster on-screen rendering, an improved color correction algorithm, editable regions and enhancements to the Eyedropper tool. The company also announced a Windows version due shortly. A digital video version and QuickTime tutorials are also in the works.
Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released version 7.5.39 of Vuescan. The update features increased default scan speed on flatbed scanners, a Color|Image curve option and support for the SprintScan 4000+ USB interface. VueScan is no longer supported on Mac OS 8.x (wxWindows no longer supports it).
Hewlett-Packard has dedicated a page to Mac OS support of Scanjet scanners (http://www.hp.com/cposupport/printers/support_doc/bpm35006.html). We've added the link on our Drive Project page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/DRV/DRV.HTM).
Reindeer Graphics (http://www.reindeer.com) has released Optipix, a suite of Photoshop plug-ins "for enhancing the contrast and content of digital images." The suite works in Photoshop 5.x, 6 and 7 on the Macintosh (OS 9 and X) and Windows 98 or better.
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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