The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 4, Number 17 23 August 2002

Copyright 2002, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 78th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Sure, digicams are easy to use -- until you have to connect them to your computer. We survey the options while Dave sneaks away with a Sony and we discover yet another use for the indispensable digicam.

But first, Dave needs some help. We can't revamp our price comparison service, (http://imaging-resource.pricegrabber.com/) without your input. If you've used a price comparison site within 6 months for a digicam-related product, please take our 60-second survey (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=27999125282). PriceGrabber and BizRate are two services we're comparing, but if you have any recent experience with a major pricing engine, your input would be most helpful!


TOPICS

SPONSORS
This issue of The Imaging Resource News is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ad here. And now a word from our sponsors:
Maha
http://www.mahaenergy.com/

PowerEx introduces new lithium ion and lithium polymer battery packs for digicams. These batteries feature a low internal impedance and high capacity, giving longer battery life and more efficient usage.

Battery runtime is up to 20 percent higher than original models. And our battery packs are 100 percent compatible with your equipment.

Packs are available in Lithium Ion for MH-ENEL1 (Nikon), MH-BP511 (Canon), MH-NP80 (Fuji, Toshiba, Kodak), and Lithium Polymer for MH-NB1L (Canon).

To learn more visit: http://www.mahaenergy.com/products/PowerEx/Digicams/bat4digicam.htm

To purchase online: http://www.thomas-distributing.com

Olympus
http://www.olympusamerica.com/
The Camedia D-40 Zoom -- small, stylish and serious.

Optics -- a world-renowned Olympus lens designed for digital and a 2.8x optical/7x total seamless digital zoom

Four Megapixels -- never before has such incredible resolution been available in a camera so incredibly small.

10-Mode Program Scene Dial Exposure, white balance and color saturation adjust automatically for the perfect shot. Portraits have beautiful skin tones. Landscapes have rich blues and greens.

Auto-Connect USB -- nearly any USB computer will recognize the D-40 Zoom to connect automatically. No software. No hassle. <

Point, shoot. Choose automatic mode or make dozens of creative adjustments. A new menu makes it simple. Noise Reduction System compensates for inherent CCD noise with cleaner colors and sharper pictures when shooting long exposures in low light. QuickTime movies with sound playback. Shoot a movie, then play it back with audio right on the camera.

Catch our latest promotions.

Nikonusa.com
http://www.nikonusa.com
The Nikon D100 -- the Best of Both Worlds.

Designed to meet the needs of the experienced SLR user, this lightweight, full-featured digital SRL offers a 6.1 Effective Megapixel CCD to capture high-resolution images up to 3008x2000 pixels for brilliant, large prints.

Precise image control technologies like 3D Matrix Metering, Five-Area Dynamic AutoFocus with Focus Tracking and Lock-on(tm) and a new built-in Speedlight with D-TTL flash control capability put you in complete control.

Add a full-color LCD monitor, simple USB connections, full compatibility with dozens of AF Nikkor lenses and accessories, plus Nikon Capture 3 software for remote operation and superior image management, and you've bridged the gap between your 35mm and digital worlds.

To learn more about the D100 visit: http://www.nikonslr.com


Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by over 46,500 readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

Feature: Dave Sells!

Extra! Extra! It's true. Publisher Dave Etchells has sold ... his old digicam. But the real news is how he did it. eBay? Nope. Classified ad? Nope.

Instead Dave used a new, faster and (likely) cheaper way to sell used camera gear. Oh, there's one more benefit. Imaging Resource gets a small commission when you use the service.

It really is new, launching sometime next Monday, so Dave's put up a page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/PGSF/PGSF.HTM) with all the details. As Dave enthused, "I tried it, it worked great for me and I'm eager to hear your feedback." Hmmm, maybe we'll put our Average digicam and Nameless printer up.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Getting Connected

To play the digital imaging game, you need connections. Connections to your computer and from your camera, your scanner and your media.

And making connections is never quite as easy as it should be. But then, neither is making dinner, making friends or making money. Let's confine ourselves to computer connections in this issue.

Fortunately, there are lots of ways to connect.

START AT THE END

Start with your computer, the destination (if not the final resting place) for your images. It may seem backwards to start at the end, but we like to fight fire with fire.

What kind of connections does your computer have?

Take a look at the back of your computer, its owners manual or any online documentation (if all else fails) to see just what hardware is available.

OLD COMPUTERS

Things have gotten a lot simpler in the last couple of years, but all is not lost if you have an older system.

If your desktop computer was built before 1997 (more or less), it probably has serial and parallel ports to connect with peripherals -- like the digicams of that era.

If your pre-1997 desktop accepts PCI cards, you can add more modern Universal Serial Bus and even FireWire/IEEE-1394 ports with a PCI card. But you'll also need an operating system that understands them. Not all do (Windows NT or Mac OS 8.1 don't, for example). Anything after those old birds should fly, though. You may need to download a driver or two, but they were designed with USB in mind.

Otherwise, if you have a floppy drive, you can likely use a floppy adapter ($70-$100), which envelopes your digicam's storage card (SmartMedia, Memory Stick or SD/MMC) in a disk-sized case that slips into your floppy drive. It does require driver software, however.

Older systems have one other option: SCSI card readers. They're more expensive than their USB cousins and harder to find, but they are an option.

If you have a laptop of any vintage, look for a Personal Computer Memory Card International Association port (a slot in the side for one of those little metal cards or modems). Adapters for any kind of media card are available for your PCMCIA port (http://www.accurite.com/PCMCIAprimer.html). They're faster than USB and don't require special drivers.

USB -- THE UMBILICAL CORD

After 1997, the Universal Serial Bus (http://www.usb.org) took over the world. USB uses a flat, rectangular connection whose icon looks like a budding plant with three branches. Most digicams have a USB port and even come with a USB cable to connect the camera to the computer.

To make a USB connection, it's perfectly all right if your computer is turned on. Computers expect USB devices to come and go like birds on a clothesline. Hot-swappable, it's called. But it's wise to leave your camera off. Plug the USB cable into your computer, then into your camera -- and then turn on your camera.

For extra credit, power your camera with its AC adapter. No sense draining its batteries for what is often a long download session.

Most digicams indicate a successful USB connection in their black and white LCD screen (look for marching ants of some sort there). You may also see a status message in your color LCD.

Your computer may or may not respond immediately.

If, for example, you have installed the software that came with your camera, it will (usually) notice its camera has been linked and launch itself so you can copy your images from the camera to your computer's hard drive.

If you didn't install that software, your computer may just sit there. So install the software.

Operating systems prior to OS X and XP that can handle USB can see cameras that provide "storage class" connections, which allows them to appear on the desktop as disk drives without any additional software. Pioneered by Olympus, storage class USB is becoming much more common on digicams from a variety of manufacturers.

If you have iPhoto on your PowerBook G4, just plug your camera in. iPhoto will recognize any camera sold since its release (and quite a few before then), tell you how many images are on the card and wait for you to Import them.

Windows XP tries to be as smart but isn't quite. It will detect some devices and bring up its Camera and Scanner Wizard to step you through the process of copying your images from the camera to the My Pictures folder on your system. But it may not recognize your device without an XP driver.

READERS

Much as we like a camera USB connection, a reader is more convenient. Unlike your digicam, it's always connected and doesn't drain digicam batteries or even require a power adapter. Prices range from about $20 to $100, depending on how many media formats the reader can handle. But great deals are common.

A reader, powered by the USB connection, looks like a little toaster. Instead of bread, you slip your storage card into it (after taking the card out of your camera). That saves batteries and makes it easy to access the card (which, minimally, appears on your Desktop like any other removable disk).

But it also makes recovery of deleted images possible with PhotoRescue (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM). You can't generally do that from the camera.

Because cards come in all different shapes, you need a reader designed to connect to your kind of card. CompactFlash, SmartMedia, Memory Stick, etc. each require either their own model or a combo reader. At the moment, you can buy readers that accept up to six different kinds of storage card.

Lexar, famous for its storage cards, sold the Jumpshot CompactFlash USB reader that was smart enough to use the built-in controller on Lexar's CompactFlash cards to move data more quickly over USB. But they haven't updated the drivers in a while and the reader only works with their cards.

USB isn't the only game in town. There are FireWire readers that are quicker than USB 1.0 devices (although USB 2.0 devices should give them a run for the money). But they aren't as cheap (even if they cost less than those mercurial SCSI readers). Lexar sells one for about $31, for example.

Much as we love readers, we have three complaints about them. As USB 1.0 devices, they're not the fastest way to move images onto your hard disk (you begin to feel it when you have to transfer 60 3-megapixel images). And as devices, they are usually lousy road companions. Finally, they have their own drivers -- which may or may not be compatible with your next operating system upgrade.

THE PCMCIA SOLUTION

So we indulge in a compact, inexpensive (if overpriced) and universal solution that depends only on having a computer with a PCMCIA port (a laptop, that is).

We have one CompactFlash Adapter (under $20) and one 4-in-1 Adapter (about $50) that handles SmartMedia, Memory Stick, MultiMedia Card and Secure Digital. The benefits are impressive:

CABLED BUT NOT CONNECTED

But enough about hardware. It's the software the makes things happen.

And that software is evolving from stand-alone applications provided by your digicam manufacturer (like Nikon's View) to digicams that emulate storage devices to built-in services in operating systems like OS X and Windows XP.

If you've fallen a step behind in that evolution, visit our Driver Project (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/DRV/DRV.HTM) for links to the latest drivers for all sorts of devices.

This software evolution should make it easier for you to get your images from your camera to your computer. But there are still a few precautions to take.

We strongly recommend you never use your computer to delete images from your storage card. Computers are vastly more intelligent than cameras about formatting and reading cards. So let your camera set the card up the way it wants to set it up, instead of how your smart-aleck computer would like to set it up (which your camera may not understand). This is particularly important for SmartMedia cards.

Your camera software may offer to do all sorts of things to your images for you during the copy. But make sure it does one thing: copy the originals without altering them. It may offer to resize them for email, rotate them and turn them into masterpieces, but you'll always want a copy of the unaltered original, too. There's nothing like it.

Where your images go when they're copied is another problem no one should have. But we all do, particularly when using a multi-user operating system. You'll usually find your pictures buried in a folder inside a folder (Pictures or My Pictures) with your user name. If you really get lost, use your operating system's Search/Find command to look for ".JP" in the filename.

CONCLUSION

There are lots of ways to get your images from your camera to your computer. USB connections are the most popular, but PCMCIA provides a compelling portable solution, too. And there are even more exotic options if neither of those work for you.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P7 -- Take It Anywhere

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/P7/P7A.HTM on the Web site.)

INTRODUCTION

The DSC-P7's 3.2-megapixel CCD and 3x optical zoom deliver high image quality for users wanting top-notch prints. The P7 offers a limited number of exposure adjustments, but more than enough to adapt it to most common shooting situations and the 3x zoom lens (with Macro mode) is great for recording a wide range of subjects, from close-up portraits to scenic vistas. It even has an optional underwater casing for the diving/snorkeling enthusiast. Like the top-of-the-line DSC-P9 reviewed earlier, the P7 looks like a real winner in the subcompact arena.

CAMERA OVERVIEW

The P7 is small enough for a shirt pocket or small evening bag and fits into Sony's Marine Pack accessory underwater housing (you really can take this camera just about anywhere). Because the camera's small size doesn't allow for much of a handgrip, a thin wrist strap accompanies the camera and provides a little extra security. Despite the ruggedness of the all-metal body, I recommend picking up the accessory soft case to protect the camera when traveling.

The shutter-like, built-in lens cover conveniently slides open whenever the camera is powered on and closes again when the camera shuts down and the telescoping lens retracts. I really like built-in lens covers like this, they entirely avoid the problem of lost lens caps.

The P7's 3x, 8-24mm zoom lens (39-117mm 35mm equivalent) features automatic focus control, with several fixed focus settings available and an option for either center- or multi-area autofocus operation. The 3.2-megapixel Super HAD CCD produces high resolution images suitable for printing as large as 8x10 inches, with great color and detail. Point-and-shoot operation keeps things simple, while a handful of exposure options provide enough flexibility to handle a surprising range of shooting conditions.

With a minimum focus distance of 3.9 inches in Macro mode, it has a roughly average macro shooting area of 3.81x2.86 inches. Maximum aperture ranges from f2.8 to f5.6, depending on the lens zoom position. In addition to auto focus, it has a range of fixed focus settings, as well as Center AF and Multi AF options.

The P7 controls exposure automatically, but a few manual controls are available. Camera operation is straightforward and quick to learn. A Mode dial on the back panel lets you select between Scene, Automatic and Movie exposure modes. Within Scene mode, Twilight, Twilight Portrait and Landscape scenes set up the camera for specific shooting situations. Both Twilight modes optimize the camera for low-light shooting (with an automatic noise reduction feature for slower shutter speeds) and Landscape mode sets focus to capture broad vistas of scenery.

Though the camera controls aperture and shutter speed, the Record menu offers White Balance, Metering, Exposure Compensation, ISO, Record Mode (Normal or Email), Sharpness, Flash Level, Picture Effects, Focus and image quality and size settings. Under the Picture Effects setting, you can record images in black and white or sepia monotones or select the Solarize or Negative Art options.

The P7 uses a Multi-Pattern metering mode by default but a Spot option is available. The White Balance option offers five settings and light sensitivity options include 100, 200 and 400 ISO equivalents. You can also adjust the overall exposure from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents in one-third-step increments. The P7's flash operates in Forced, Suppressed, Auto, Red-Eye Reduction and Slow-Sync modes and you can adjust the overall flash intensity.

In Movie exposure mode, the camera captures either 320x240- or 160x112-pixel resolution moving images (with sound) until the memory card is full, with an available HQX quality setting for higher-quality movies of shorter duration. The ability to record to the limits of available memory card space is fairly unusual. Most digicams are limited to maximum clip lengths of 30 seconds or less.

The P7 also offers Clip Motion and Multi Burst modes. Clip Motion records a series of 10 160x112-pixel or two 120x108-pixel images that the camera combines into a single animated sequence, saved as a GIF file. This is a fun feature I've enjoyed a lot on previous Cyber-shot models. Multi Burst mode captures an extremely rapid burst of 16 small images that are stored in a single still-image fame, but played back as a movie (giving a slow-motion effect upon playback) and offers three frame interval rates.

A Self-Timer mode provides a 10-second delay. There's also a Voice recording mode, which records sound clips as long as 40 seconds to accompany captured images.

The P7 stores images on Sony Memory Sticks, available in capacities as large as 128-MB (a 16-MB card is included). The camera uses an NP-FC10 InfoLITHIUM battery with a worst-case run time of about 60 minutes in capture mode with the LCD turned on. Sony's InfoLITHIUM batteries are unique in that they tell the camera how much charge they have remaining. The camera in turn displays the remaining minutes of operation on the LCD screen. A battery and in-camera battery charger come with the camera and the charger also serves as the AC adapter.

The P7 features a Video Out jack, for connecting to a television set (great for slide shows) and a USB jack and cable for downloading images to a computer. A software CD is loaded with Pixela Image Mixer software and USB drivers.

TEST RESULTS

I found the extent to which the P7 mirrored the performance of its big brother the P9 interesting. At least within their compact line, Sony seems to have developed a very consistent color and tonal response -- quite good overall.

Color: The P7 produced excellent color in most cases, although it had a tendency to produce slightly warm color casts both indoors and out. The Auto white balance setting typically produced the best results, despite a slightly reddish bias. That said, the Daylight option did better than the Auto setting with the often-difficult Musicians shot, producing the most natural skin tones and the most neutral color. Like many digicams, it had a little difficulty under household incandescent lighting, producing rather warm color casts. The Auto white balance setting produced better results there than the majority of cameras I've tested. Color saturation and accuracy were very good overall, but it had a little trouble on the difficult blues in my "standard" bouquet of artificial flowers, rendering them with a bit more of a purple hue than I'd prefer. Many digicams have trouble with these blues, tending to push them toward purple.

Exposure: The P7's fully automatic exposure system did a pretty good job with most of my standard test shots. It slightly underexposed the high-key Outdoor Portrait test (a very typical response to that harshly-lit subject), but normal exposure was quite good otherwise. Indoors or in any moderate-to-low light setting, you'll need to use the Twilight exposure mode to access shutter speeds longer than its normal 1/30 second limit. Twilight mode seems to introduce a strong negative exposure bias (probably to prevent washing out bright lights in night scenes), so you'll need to dial in quite a bit of positive exposure compensation when working in that mode. Like other recent Sony digicams I've tested, the P7 has excellent tonality, holding both highlight and shadow detail easily in difficult lighting conditions.

Resolution/Sharpness: Details were reasonably sharp throughout the testing and there was very little softness in the corners of the P7's images. Resolution tested out at about 1,100 lines per picture height on the laboratory resolution test target, a good level for a 3-megapixel camera.

Closeups: The P7 turned in about an average performance in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 3.81x2.86 inches. Resolution was high, with good detail in the dollar bill, coins and brooch, although the corners of the image were a little soft (a common digicam macro failing) and there was a fair bit of barrel distortion present. The flash had trouble at such close range, badly overexposing the shot. Plan on using external light sources for macro shots with the P7.

Night Shots: The P7's automatic exposure control and lack of ISO adjustment in Twilight mode limited its low-light shooting performance. The camera captured bright, clear images at light levels only as low as one foot-candle (11 lux), about as bright as standard city street lighting at night. Noise was moderate and color was good though.

Viewfinder Accuracy: The P7's optical viewfinder was rather tight, showing about 79 percent of the final frame at both wide angle and telephoto lens settings. The LCD monitor was much more accurate, showing approximately 98.5 percent of the frame at wide angle. At telephoto, frame accuracy was nearly 100 percent, though the measurement lines were just outside the frame (but probably within the margin of error of the test).

Optical Distortion: The P7's optical distortion was higher than average at the lens' wide angle setting, showing 1.1 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto setting proved a little better, with only 0.34 percent barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration was low, showing only two pixels of faint coloration on either side of the target lines.

Battery Life: The P7 uses a custom Li-Ion battery, using Sony's excellent InfoLITHIUM technology to keep you constantly apprised of how much charge is remaining. Worst case battery life is a fairly short 62 minutes in record mode with the LCD turned on (typical for subcompact digicams), but a generous hour and 45 minutes with the LCD off.

CONCLUSION

Sony's camera designers have done a great job with their subcompact digicam line, combining excellent features and good image quality in very small, stylish and easy-to-hold packages. Despite its small, pocket-fitting size, the elongated body shape makes it a better fit for American-sized hands than many subcompact models.

The P7's 3.2-megapixel CCD and sharp lens snap great-looking images with enough resolution to make crisp prints as large as 8x10 inches. Resolution isn't too far off from the best full-sized 3-megapixel models and its color and tonal rendition are excellent. It's an easy to use point & shoot camera, but offers enough exposure control to help you bring home good photos from what would otherwise be difficult shooting conditions.

If you don't need the 4-megapixels of its big brother the P9, the Sony DSC-P7 could be the camera for you. It's a nearly ideal "take anywhere" camera, its small size achieved without sacrificing image quality.

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New on the Site

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:

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Advanced Mode: The Primal Image

We were watching an Ofoto slide show of great niece Vivian's first birthday 2,368 miles away when we suddenly wondered which generation of the images we were viewing.

There was the camera image (1) copied to Godfather Mike's Dell (2) which he uploaded to Ofoto at full resolution (3) in the naive hope we'd buy a poster-sized print of the little darling with her watermelon. But then there was the regeneration of the image in the slideshow that Ofoto's service sent to us (4) when we hit Play in the slideshow window.

By the time we saw the image, it had been resized for our screen (and no doubt automatically sharpened). Despite that, we couldn't complain of any degradation in the image. It certainly didn't look like a fourth-generation copy.

Ah, but that's the problem.

It's very easy to discount the importance of the camera image, the exposure, in digital photography. Some experts even get giddy talking about being able to delete bad shots in the camera. Others get goose bumps thinking about the edits they can make to save a marginal shot. It's as if the camera image were merely clay to be molded.

Actually, the camera image is unique. It is the only image in the generations of edits and copies that was created in real time. It is the only image that was exposed. The only image in which f-stop and shutter speed have any meaning.

And that information -- the Exif data -- is usually stored in the header of the image file itself.

In subsequent edits, the Exif data usually disappears (although image editors are getting a little more conservative about dropping the data). But it usually should disappear. Once you've saved the camera image from an image editor, much of the Exif data is no longer valid.

Change the Levels and you've falsified the exposure information. Crop the image and you've made nonsense of the lens data. Fix the red-eye and you've corrupted the flash setting.

In short, any edits invalidate the Exif -- or photographic -- data.

That's not to say you shouldn't edit your images, of course. That would deprive you of half the fun of digital imaging.

But it is to insist on the uniqueness and importance of the primal image: the camera image. It's the one image you can not recreate.

Consequently, it's important to preserve it. And, paradoxically, to copy it. But to make a perfect, unmodified copy.

We do this by copying the images from the storage card to our hard drive and burning the new images to three CDs at two different times. Two CDs are burned at the same time as on-site archival copies. A third is burned on another day and removed from the premises as an off-site archival copy.

Those three copies have been sufficient to recover from one or another hardware blip over several years and operating systems. Two wouldn't have been enough.

Edited images get the same treatment, of course, but we can always recreate an edited image from the camera image. And as editing software evolves, we're able to do a better job the next time.

As any great uncle can tell you, there's nothing wrong with a new generation. Just don't get rid of the originals.

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In the Forums

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 Canon PowerShot A40 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8b660

Compare Sony camera prices at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee86100

Virgil asks about the latest HP printers at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8da6b

A reader asks about the best digicam for lightning at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8dc11

Visit the Professional Digital Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b4

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Just for Fun: Versatile Vacation Tool

Frayed nerves are a sort of carpal tunnel syndrome of the neck. Not uncommon among city dwellers who are rattled by the sound of sirens, dog wailings and the odd creaks and bumps in the night that might presage intrusion or an earthquake.

The cure is to get away. A little trip. Which means motel or vacation rental if not some obliging family member. This summer we've gotten away enough to compile a list of travel tips only a digital photographer could love.

But it's more than a list. It's a world view, a philosophy of life, an informed prejudice that appear on a bumper sticker as "With a Digicam, Anything's Possible." You don't have to rub it and you aren't limited to three wishes, either.

An example.

Our circadian clock has recently gone haywire (an electrical term for misfiring urban synapses adjusting to country peace and quiet). At 3 a.m. we're wide awake.

First thoughts of roaming the area for a hearty breakfast or a quick jog around the neighborhood are quickly dispelled by the chorus of snores echoing down the hall. So we usually settle for an inspection of the facilities, terminating in the kitchen.

The problem, though, is light. At 3 a.m. there isn't any -- unless you have your digicam handy.

We've been traveling with a Sony Mavica CD400 because it stores images on tiny CDs so we don't have to bag the laptop for short getaways. Very handy.

But it also has a nice, large LCD, backlit with a fluorescent tube to make it brighter in direct sunlight (since there's no optical viewfinder).

At 3 a.m. we simply turn on the Mavica (recharging near our pillow) and point it backwards down the hall (in play mode) to navigate without disturbing any hibernating humans.

In fact, we are using it right now to scrawl this article on location 6,000 feet above sea level in the middle of a siren-less night. There's nothing these little marvels can't do.

Our 3 a.m. burst of energy is always quickly exhausted, a false morning. It's only a sort of inverted nap, after all, allowing us to return to our dreams refreshed with drowsiness, sleeping until the cartoons start blasting from the TV.

But we can't help observing as we start nodding off to dreamland this morning that maybe world peace itself is only a digicam away. Maybe if the various antagonists would agree to stop talking to each other (well, we're halfway there) and start shooting each other (another step) -- but with a digicam (the missing piece) -- we'd all get some rest.

A picture being worth a thousand words, the peace process would be greatly accelerated. And the guffaws from seeing themselves in the light of each other's LCDs would bring not only good-feeling to the table but a little humility as well. Something all great peacemakers have found indispensable.

Ah well, it's nearly 4 a.m. now -- and we can dream, can't we?

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Dave's Deals

Looking for special prices on featured products? Because of their time-limited nature, we only publish them in the email version of this newsletter. The good news is that you can subscribe for free on our Subscriber Services page:

Subscribe for Great Deals!

We deliver -- just Subscribe!

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We Have Mail

You can email us at editor@imaging-resource.com. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.

RE: To DVD or Not to DVD

I appreciate your newsletter and the good information it has.

Have you seen/have comments on DVD/CD players that will show JPEG files recorded on CD on a standard TV? The best would be a combination DVD/CD/VHS unit.

-- Ken Collinge

(This is a two-part trick. Part one is to burn your JPEGs on a CD using DVD authoring software. Part two of the trick is to buy a recent vintage DVD player (dual lasers) that can read CD-R and CD-RW media. Toshiba makes one, I happen to know. You use the authoring software to burn player software, your presentation and your images on the CD (you don't need DVD media) and off you go. -- Editor)

Having tried to make my slide shows viewable on TV, I spent a lot of hours learning many programs, none of them doing exactly what I wanted. Then I found tvCD (http://www.tvcd.biz) and have been extremely pleased with the results. I recently put together a show of 126 photos (images from all sorts of sources) on the Colorado Hayman fire, used tvCD to assemble and then burn CDs which played superbly on both my PC and new DVD player attached to the TV. Download price is $25 with a separate CD program disk for an additional $8. For anybody (like me) who wants to do this rapidly without hours of cut and try, this program is tops.

-- Paul Castenholz

(Thanks, Paul! This is a surprisingly aggravating process. We'll take a close look at anything that makes it easy. -- Editor)

RE: Camera Shake & Circles of Confusion

Your note here about the zoom/shake issue prompts me to ask you a question that has been bugging me:

I'm familiar with the rule-of-thumb "maximum exposure time = 1/[focal length]" so for a 300mm lens use a shutter speed of 1/300th second or faster. This is of course from 35mm SLR film photography lore. My understanding is that the geometry says a given sharpness (technically: Circle of Confusion -- http://www.faqs.org/faqs/rec-photo/lenses/tutorial/ where David Jacobson gives formulas) is produced by limiting the camera motion during the exposure. That limit of course is proportional to the exposure time. But it is also proportional to the magnification, which is proportional to the focal length of the lens.

Now my question is: how does the "multiplier effect" (the ratio of CCD sensor size to 35mm film image size, which is used to convert physical lens focal lengths to 35mm equivalents) affect this geometry? My theoretical understanding tells me that the same rule of thumb should apply -- shutter speed at least as fast as 1/(35mm-equiv focal length). BUT my hands-on experience suggests that it is worse than that. That is, it seems to me with digital cameras, for a zoom setting of 100mm (35mm equiv), I need a shutter speed of 1/200th or faster to avoid shake, instead of 1/100th or faster. I know there are lots of other variables -- how hard the camera is to hold steady, etc. But is there some geometry/design effect that I'm failing to understand?

-- Don Porter

(Good question, Don! We've always been sufficiently annoyed with the unstated assumptions of photographic formulas to religiously avoid them. We do, however, study our results. The Exif data recorded by most digicams with each image can reveal the slowest shutter speed you can handhold your camera at any particular zoom setting. And, in the field, you can get some idea of how well you're doing by reviewing the image at the highest magnification your playback mode provides. All this involves camera shake. Which is essentially a discussion of image distortion (capturing movement on the film plane where there is none in the subject <g>). And the only known tricks are to stabilize the camera (tripod, tabletop, cable release, self-timer, etc.) or reduce the exposure time (strobe, fast shutter).... Sharpness is an entirely different topic. What falls in focus on the film plane is determined by three factors: aperture, focal length and subject distance: (1) Aperture: Depth of field doubles when the f stop doubled (stopped down). (2) Focal Length: Depth of field is inversely proportional to the square of the focal length, increasing four times when you reduce focal length by half. (3) Distance: Depth of field is proportional to the square of the distance, increasing four times when you double the distance to the subject; nine times when you triple it.... The smaller size of the CCD is, itself, no additional factor. It is identical to the central, smaller crop of the film plane. The multiplier merely helps predict the crop you can expect, not a change of magnification. -- Editor)

RE: Scanner Capacity

Do you know of any scanner that can handle the 2-1/4 by 2-1/4 negatives. I would like to work with some old negatives we have and my scanner (HP Photosmart) does not handle this large negative.

Also, we are really enjoying our Nikon 885 digital camera -- it is so nice to deal with them on the computer and to not feel bad when you "toss" one of them out! We have also taken MANY more pics since we got it in May, such fun.

-- Marzlie Freeman

(Nikon's CoolScan 8000 handles large-format negatives and Minolta's Dimage Scan Multi does as well. See our reviews (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN1.HTM) for more info. More reasonably-priced flatbed-scanners are neither very sharp (huge dpi ratings to the contrary) nor very good at getting at detail in dark areas of the film. I played with a Canon 2400U a while back, and it did a pretty decent job, provided you applied massive amounts of unsharp masking after the scan in Photoshop. -- Dave)
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Editor's Notes

Photographer Robert Frank became the 43rd recipient of the Edward MacDowell Medal for "outstanding contribution to the arts in America" at the MacDowell Colony recently.


Adobe (http://www.adobe.com/photoshop/update.html) has released Photoshop 7.0.1. Changes in the free update include: type layers are no longer rasterized unnecessarily, alpha transparency data in Targa files is saved in the same way as previous versions; metadata is better preserved in certain JPEG files; Picture Package no longer locks up with custom page layouts; and File Browser performance has been enhanced.


A beta version of YarcPlus Version 2.1 (http://www.pictureflow.com/Pages/YP-Download.html) is now available featuring: post processing options for auto levels, sharpening and resizing; faster thumbnail display; and enhanced Exif handling.


Digital ImageMakers International (http://www.dimagemaker.com) is an amateur and professional organization for digital image makers working in any media. DIMI publishes a monthly magazine as a PDF and holds an annual competition/exhibition for members.


Nikon (http://www.nikonusa.com) has donated 34 Coolpix 2500 digicams as prizes for the ImageMakers contest sponsored by Circuit City and Boys & Girls Club of America. Through a $3 Million, 3-year sponsorship, the Circuit City Foundation has funded Boys & Girls Club of America's development of a state-of-the-art photography curriculum and numerous enhancements to the 41-year old contest. More than 700 Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation held local contests in 2002, nearly tripling participation from previous years.


Dierdre Lynch's Photos to Send, a documentary retracing Dorothea Lange's trip to Ireland 50 years ago (and reviewed here recently), will be screened at nine film festivals this fall, including the HBO Frame by Frame Film Series in New York City Sept. 13-26, which will qualify the film for Academy Award consideration. The film is also being shown at the current Montreal World Film Festival (through Sept. 1), Minnesota's Rolling River Film Festival (Sept. 21, 22), Washington's Port Townsend Film Festival (Sept. 27, 29), Arkansas' Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (Oct. 12, 16), Spain's Valladolid International Film Festival (Oct.25 to Nov. 2), Rochester, N.Y.'s High Falls Film Festival (Oct. 30 to Nov. 3), Colorado Spring's Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival (Nov. 1-3) and the St. Louis International Film Festival (Nov. 14-24).


As spam continues its illiterate intrusion into intelligent intercourse, attorney Anne Mitchell, former legal affairs director for Mail Abuse Prevention System, has come up with a clever counter punch. By hiding a short but copyrighted poem in email, Habeas (http://www.habeas.com) will guarantee the email is not spam. Spammers who embed the copyrighted text in their emails will be aggressively sued for copyright infringement, according to Mitchell. Habeas will seek penalties of $1 million plus for copyright and trademark violation and help shut down offenders' businesses through legal injunctions. Dunn & Bradstreet have been retained as Habeas' collection agency.


Marc Doigny pointed us to his Web site on digital photography (http://www.verfaillie.com/dc.htm). Each image includes a caption "indicating what to look for, the size of the full size picture and some extra information." General topics like batteries, memory cards, flashguns and so on are also discussed in the accompanying commentary.


A rash of new digicams have been announced, including Kyocera with three new digicams (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1029916135.html), Sanyo's DSC-MZ3 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1029914455.html), Ricoh's new compact digicam (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1029903894.html) and Olympus Europe's C-5050ZOOM (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1029768536.html). Kodak (http://www.kodak.com) introduced two new EasyShare digicams, the 3x zoom, 3.1-mapixel DX4330 ($349.95) with Kodak's new Indoor/Outdoor LCD and the 2-megapixel CX4200 ($179.95).


SCM (http://www.scmmicro.com) has announced the $229.99 Dazzle DVD Creation Station 200, a multi-input, all-in-one hardware and software solution for creating videos and photo slide shows to play back on a home DVD player. The DCS 200 captures DVD-quality video from any camcorder, VCR or TV and reads photo and other files from flash card media. The complete suite of Dazzle software to capture and edit video, as well as design and burn DVDs and photo slideshows is included.


Microsoft Picture It! Digital Image Pro 7.0 [W] has been released. New features add flash to a photo; reduce backlighting; adjust levels to control shadows, midtones and highlights; and open, save and automatically adjust multiple pictures in the improved Mini Lab. The $109 product also includes Adobe Photoshop plug-in filter support, a new file browser, enhanced startup window, product tour and improved user interface.


Lexar (http://www.lexarmedia.com) has started shipments of 256-MB and 512-MB capacity SD memory cards. The new cards add to the existing capacities 32-MB, 64-MB and 128-MB. The 256-MB and 512-MB SD memory cards will be available at a suggested retail price of $199 and $399 respectively.


Five of Hemera Technologies' (http://www.hemera.com) consumer graphics applications, Greeting Card Creator, T- Shirt Creator, Business Card Creator, CD Designs Creator and Jigsaw Puzzler, will be bundled with select HP digital cameras and scanners.


Epson (http://www.epson.com) has introduced two new photo printers: the $299 Stylus Photo 925 and $199 Stylus Photo 825. The 925 offers an automated roll paper cutter, one-touch printing buttons, the ability to crop images without a computer and digital image archiving to a Zip disk. The 825 replaces the 785EPX as a simple and easy-to-use photo printing solution.


ACD Systems (http://www.acdsystems.com) has released ACD Photostitcher, a plug-in to automatically take a series of digital images and stitch them into a single panoramic image.


GraphicConverter X [M] (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has been updated to version 4.4.4.


Sapphire Innovations (http://www.sapphire-innovations.com) has released Sapphire Framed vol 11, a set of Photoshop plug-ins with 100 scratchy-edged frames for $10.

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One Liners

For just $150 an insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).

PhotoRescue: http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM

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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Signoff

That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM
New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM
Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM
Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM
Newsletter Forum: http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a.tcl?topic=irnews
Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM

Happy snapping!

Mike Pasini, Editor
editor@imaging-resource.com
Dave Etchells, Publisher
web@imaging-resource.com

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