|Volume 4, Number 19||20 September 2002|
Welcome to the 80th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We report on some intriguing products from Seybold, Dave takes the G3 for a spin and we explain the power of 16-bit channels. Enjoy!
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:
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(Excerpted from the illustrated story posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/SEYF02/0912sey.htm on the Web site.)
SAN FRANCISCO -- While conference registration bounced back 10 percent over last year's drop, the Expo floor here shrank significantly. Major vendors like Quark, Nikon, Olympus and Canto were missing but there was still plenty on exhibit from Apple, Adobe, Canon, Epson, Microtek and Minolta, as well as a few new entrants.
The Web has gone a long way in providing product information formerly only available at events like the Expo, but Seybold's great strength has always been the opportunity to learn more about the complex technologies behind printing, publishing and imaging.
Sony, for example, brought along its traveling tractor trailer Procreate exhibit, which they parked outside South Hall. Inside were several small labs in which you could pick up a Wacom pen and follow the instructor as they used Corel Photo-Paint and other imaging tools to solve common problems.
In addition to the chance to get your hands on products you've only read about, show presentations don't shy away from meticulously discussing complex subjects like PDF workflows or color calibration strategies.
So once again, we found the show had much to offer.
With Apple's premier presenter Steve Jobs stuck in Paris, the Seybold special keynote was delivered by Philip Schiller, senior vice-president of worldwide product marketing. Schiller took the opportunity to go through the imaging advances packed into Apple's latest version of OS X, a.k.a. Jaguar.
Schiller confirmed that new Mac Systems will boot into OS X only but didn't say anything about the death of OS 9. Jaguar, he claimed, enhances Classic mode with increased compatibility for existing applications if not the numerous extensions and control panels most users find indispensable.
But his real subject was what Jaguar can do for imaging. Among the highlights:
There's been some talk of Jaguar having been rushed to market, some say six months prematurely. And later, at the large Apple exhibit on the show floor, we found most of half dozen demonstrators surprisingly unfamiliar with the products they were showing. Often they'd have to resort to a product manager or technical guru for answers to our questions.
- The Quartz Exteme imaging engine offloads the intense graphics processing of the "compositing operating system" to graphics hardware in newer Macintoshes. This gives your CPU a GPU partner to handle scrolling and window moves, redrawing the screen 110 times a second while only taxing the CPU at 35 percent of its capacity. A similar load without the GPU would tax the CPU at 90 percent while redrawing only 10 times a second. In effect, Jaguar makes real-time compositing feasible on the desktop.
- Quartz natively supports PDF (and Print dialogs include a new PDF button). PDF provides cross-platform compatibility for documents in much the same way JPEGs provide it for images. With Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 providing PDF slide shows, the format holds interesting possibilities for photographers.
- QuickTime 6, built on open standards like MPEG4, employs the latest audio codecs (AAC from Dolby, which Schiller claimed is a significant improvement over MP3), instant streaming and support for JPEG 2000.
- Inkwell adds Newton's handwriting recognition to any tablet-equipped Mac. The control panel offers a lot of flexibility in how you employ handwriting, no special characters have to be learned (although gestures are supported and defined in the control panel) and even graphics can be scribbled for insertion into documents. While the Expo demos were disappointing, we found simply changing our Wacom to Pen mode from Mouse mode made even our Palmer-killing penmanship intelligible.
- Image Capture is now scanner aware (with a number of Epson drivers preinstalled in OS X) and includes a 'Take Picture' button to remotely run your tethered digicam. You do need a driver for your scanner, but a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes to ship Jaguar with drivers for current hardware.
- Color Sync, built into the OS, features a 3D graphing profiler in the new Color Sync Utility. ICC profiles are easily embedded and recognized system-wide in Jaguar.
- AppleScript no longer needs the finder to handle files and can be debugged in AppleScript Studio, a professional authoring environment. In fact, 250-MB of developer tools are included in the box with Jaguar.
- The release ships with $10,000 worth of fonts, which can now be organized in subfolders. Many of those dollars, however, are rung up for non-Roman languages. There's wide support for glyphs, though, and the ligature support is impressive, too. During the demo, whole words in the cursive font Zaphino were converted into a ligature when the word was completed. There are also four smoothing technologies available. And a character palette to access characters not marked on the keyboard.
- Rendezvous provides (http://www.zeroconf.org) automatic device configuration that can find your printer for you and tell you all about it. The technology is also used in the new iChat application, but should really be handy in home networks that can actually assemble themselves.
- Printing has been radically improved with CUPS 1.1, the Common UNIX Printing System, including browser-based administration (via port 631) and custom page sizes that can apparently enable borderless photo printing.
And sometimes those answers weren't pretty. We caught a demo of the new Image Capture running an Epson scanner. But when we asked to have the image saved in the newly supported JPEG 2000 format, we found that although J2K is built into the OS, the applications shipping with it don't yet support it. In fact, the scan could only be saved as a TIFF. And neither QuickTime, iPhoto nor Image Capture could be persuaded to save it as a JP2K.
Sacre bleu! we thought.
But being intrepid fools, we picked up a copy of Jaguar and installed it (following the Oct. Macworld's excellent advice to do a Clean Install with the Archive and Install option). While we don't rely on OS X for production work, we do use it to test imaging software. So we'll have more to say about its maturity shortly.
Of some concern to laggers, however justified, is support for security patches and bug fixes. Apple hasn't made clear whether it will continue to support 10.1.5 now that 10.2 is out. Traditionally, UNIX vendors have issued patches for older versions of their operating systems. But there's nothing traditional about Apple.
The most impressive hardware at the show was a new display.
Torque Systems (http://www.torque.com) introduced a 22-inch, 9-megapixel LCD made by Totoku with four times the resolution of Apple's Cinema display. The $8,995 unit sports a resolution of 200-dpi, a native 1.8 gamma and 5000 Kelvin backlighting.
Seeing is believing. When we saw this display running off a 64-MB video card on the show floor, we had to be pulled away. And we stumbled around like a blind man for a while after. You can't see the pixels (or the text) without a loupe. And thanks to a laser-based manufacturing system (apparently not the IBM innovation we recently discussed in this newsletter), dead pixels are significantly reduced. But they are also impossible to find at this resolution.
And Sony (http://www.sony.com) showed its Artisan Color Reference System, a combination of its most popular 21-inch, flat-screen Trinitron CRT with a hardware calibrator and software [MW] for $1,800. Calibration is a one-touch operation that takes 12 minutes. The calibration software will expire the monitor profile after a user-determined number of days.
Formac (http://www.formac.com) introduced the Formac gallery 2010, a Fujitsu 20.1-inch flat panel display using multi-domain vertical alignment, which uses a different method of aligning LCD molecules, separating the liquid crystal cells into different domains. Fujitsu claims this technology allows the LCD to be calibrated accurately for professional color matching with a viewing angle of 170 degrees, without gray scale inversion or color distortion.
Microtek (http://www.microtek.com) introduced the 1800f, an intriguing flatbed scanner with a density range of 4.8 (but reaching 5.0 in their internal tests). The intriguing feature is a drawer much like that on the Agfa DuoScan (whose technology was licensed from Microtek) for loading large-format film. The drawer accepts film holders for 4x5, individual 35mm slides and 35mm filmstrips. The FireWire/USB 2.0 48-bit scanner features user-selectable multi-sampling to reduce noise and 1800x2600-dpi resolution for $1,499.
They also showed their ArtixScan 4000tf 35mm film scanner featuring 4000-dpi resolution, a 5300 element Sony trilinear CCD and 4.3 density range for $1,199.
Meanwhile Applied Science Fiction (http://www.asf.com) showed the Microtek ScanMaker 6800, which includes ASF's Digital ICE to remove dust and correct scratches in damaged prints during scanning. That makes the 6800 "the world's first one-step print restoration scanner," according to ASF.
And indeed, by using a second light source to strafe the surface of a damaged print, the 6800 was able to repair tears, scratches and creases even when there were big holes in the image.
The hit of the show for the home office, Hewlett-Packard's (http://www.hp.com) all-in-one devices feature combined printer, scanner and fax services in one table-top unit. Priced as low as $299, they generated a lot of interest.
While the 33.6-kbps fax modem on the 2210 functions from the built-in keyboard like any stand-alone fax machine, it doesn't support print faxing from the computer like a fax/modem. The unit can scan up to 1200x2400 dpi and the printer outputs borderless 4x6 prints at 4800 dpi.
But the real power of these devices is how they combine features to make difficult things easier.
For example, the $399 version of the smaller six-ink 2210 includes a memory card reader. Pop your card in the device, press the Photo Index button and an 8.5x11 proof sheet is printed. Mark the proof sheet to indicate the images you want to print, scan it and -- presto -- you'll get ganged 4x6-inch prints.
Roland Lee was busy in the Asiva (http://www.asiva.com) exhibit showing how to convert rubies into emeralds and 14K gold into 18K gold. He used Asiva Photo (recently reviewed (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/ASP/ASP.HTM) here) to work that magic without using either alchemy or masks, just curves.
We were glad to see Total Training (http://www.totaltraining.com) at the show, after enjoying their tutorial included with Photoshop 7. They demoed their 26-hour Photoshop 7 product, a $249 three-series set that can also be purchased one series at a time for $99 each. They promised us a peek at their Premiere product covering DVD slide shows when it's released shortly.
And Wiley Publishing (http://www.wiley.com) announced a partnership with Seybold to offer a new book series called Seybold Seminars' Complete Course. The first title in the series is a book on Photoshop 7 with 14 projects to complete using materials supplied on CD. Afterwards, readers can take a Web-based test on the material, receiving a certificate of successful completion. Initial topics in the series also include Dreamweaver and Flash.
Last year Seybold followed very soon after Sept. 11. This year it encompassed the first anniversary of the tragic events of that day.
Canon displayed an easel in front of their booth that spoke for the Expo. "The unity and strength of America takes center stage on Sept. 11, as the nation reflects on the tragedy that changed our world one year ago. On this anniversary, Canon remembers how this most horrific event brought out the very best in human nature -- and the American spirit. We remember Sept. 11 not only for the lives lost, but also for the resolve of humankind that was found."
As this year's Seybold San Francisco Conference and Expo proved again, things may not be perfect but they're improving.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G3/G3A.HTM on the Web site.)
Canon's PowerShot G3 is a solid update to their wildly popular G2, introduced in the late summer of 2001. The G3 retains the same 4-megapixel CCD (3.87 megapixels effective) used in the G2, but sports a 4x optical zoom range, vs. the 3x zoom of last year's model. There are myriad other upgrades and improvements though, all detailed below.
Fortunately, the G3 also carries over all of the design elements I applauded in the G1 and G2, including the rotating LCD monitor that's one of my personal favorites. The monitor swings out to face the photographer, reverses and locks into the camera's back panel (screen side up) or extends and rotates up to 270 degrees. This flexible LCD design lets you compose images while standing in front of the camera (with the remote controller or self-timer) or hold the camera at various angles, such as overhead or at waist-level. Most important is the ability to store the LCD face down in its recessed compartment, protecting the delicate screen from fingerprints, scratches and nose grease!
The G3 is very close to the size of the G2, at 4.7x2.7x3.0 inches and just slightly lighter, at 17.3 ounces with the battery pack and CompactFlash card installed. While this may seem a little hefty when compared to other compact digicams, the G3 is quite manageable. It should fit easily into a large coat pocket or purse and comes with a half-inch neck strap for added convenience. The more angular protruding grip on the right side of the G3's body also provides a more secure grip.
The G3's eye-level optical viewfinder zooms along with its 4x lens and features a central autofocus/exposure target in the center. The diopter adjustment dial on the left side of the eyepiece controls the viewfinder focus for eyeglass wearers and two LED lights on the same side report the camera's ready status. Canon positioned the optical viewfinder very close to the lens, apparently to minimize parallax between lens and viewfinder, but consequently the lens protrudes into the lower left-hand corner of the viewfinder frame at wide-angle focal lengths. The LCD monitor is activated by the Display button, which also controls the monitor's information readout. When in Shooting (or Record) mode, the LCD reports the exposure mode, flash setting, single or continuous capture, metering and quality settings. The G3 retains the playback-mode histogram readout we first saw on the G2, flashing any overexposed highlights in black and white. A small status display panel on top of the camera reports settings such as file size, battery power, the number of frames remaining and various other functions as they are enabled.
The telescoping, 4x optical 7.2-28.8mm zoom lens (35-140mm 35mm equivalent) offers both manual and automatic focus. The through-the-lens autofocus system operates in either Continuous or Single Autofocus mode, controlling how often the autofocus mechanism adjusts the focus. Where the G2 allowed you to assign the focus area to one of three points in the frame, the G3's powerful FlexiZone autofocus option lets you freely move the focus area around the central 60 percent or so of the frame. As with the G2, the autoexposure system can be configured to spot-meter from the area being used to set the focus. In Manual focus mode a distance scale on the LCD monitor indicates approximately how far you are from maximum and minimum focus, reporting in either English or Metric units. The Manual Focus display also enlarges the center portion of the frame, so focus is easier to determine visually. Canon hasn't yet stated the minimum focusing distance, but on the prototype it appears closer than the G2's 2.4 inch minimum. I'd peg it at around 1.5 inches. Digital zoom is controlled through the Record menu, with enlargements to 3.5x.
The G3 provides as much or as little exposure control as you want. The main exposure modes, which Canon calls Creative Zone functions include: Auto, Program AE, Aperture-Priority (Av), Shutter Speed-Priority (Tv) and Manual. The lens aperture can be set from f2-f8 and the shutter speed ranges from 1/2000 to 15 seconds. Depending on the lens aperture, maximum shutter speed may be limited to 1/1250. This is a significant upgrade from the G2 though, which had a maximum shutter speed of 1/1000 and was limited to 1/640 at large apertures. In another advance over the G2, the G3 has an internal neutral density filter, that cuts the incoming light by a factor of 8. This three f-stop attenuation will permit the use of slower shutter speeds or larger apertures with brightly-lit subjects, providing for special effects like motion blur or shallow depth of field. It also makes it practical to use the flash for much closer macro shooting than would otherwise be the case.
Other exposure controls include a White Balance setting with nine options: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H, Flash and two separate Custom settings; adjustable ISO settings from Auto to 50, 100, 200 and 400; Exposure Compensation from -2 to +2 exposure values, in one-third-step increments; Auto Exposure Bracketing from +1/3, 0 and -1/3 EV to +2, 0 and -2 EV (a total of three exposures, with adjustable step sizes ranging from 1/3 to 2 EV); a choice of Evaluative (new to the G3), Center-Weighted Averaging and Spot Metering modes; and Automatic Exposure Lock. Although Canon's draft manual described it as a 5-mode flash, the G3's built-in flash actually offers nine operating modes (Flash off, on (forced) and auto, with options for red-eye reduction and slow sync independently selectable for each of the two active modes). New to the G3 is full support for the wireless capabilities of Canon's high-end EOS external speedlights and Canon's very flexible Macro Twinlight.
The G3 also offers Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Stitch Assist and Movie modes. Several Image Zone modes from the G2 have apparently been dropped, including Pan Focus, Color and Macro modes. The options formerly associated with Color mode (vivid color, neutral color, black/white and sepia) are now accessed via an LCD menu option, while Macro mode is entered solely via a rear-panel pushbutton.
Other special shooting modes include: Macro, to photograph subjects from 1.5 inches to 2.3 feet at the maximum wide-angle setting; Continuous Shooting to capture still images, at about 2.5 frames per second; High Speed Continuous Shooting mode for faster captures; and Self-Timer/Wireless Remote Control mode for a 12-second delayed shutter-release or to trigger the shutter remotely with the accompanying wireless infrared controller.
Images are saved onto CompactFlash Type I or II memory cards, in either 2272x1704, 1600x1200, 1024x768 or 640x480 pixels. Three JPEG compression levels are available, as well as a RAW data file format. A USB cable is provided with the camera for speedy connection to PC or Macintosh computers and a software CD offers an impressive selection of utilities. Canon's own Digital Camera software package includes tools for downloading and organizing images, processing RAW files, stitching images captured in Stitch-Assist mode and a unique application that allows you to operate the camera remotely through your computer (RemoteCapture 1.1). RemoteCapture not only controls the shutter, but provides a histogram of the subject so that you can check the exposure.
U.S. and Japanese models come with an NTSC cable for connecting to a television set. European models are equipped for the PAL standard.
Power is supplied by a rechargeable, high-capacity BP-511 lithium-ion battery pack and AC adapter. The AC adapter serves as an in-camera battery charger, but a separate battery charger is available as an accessory, as well as an AC adapter kit, which plugs into an automobile cigarette lighter. Battery life is exceptional.
SHUTTER LAG/CYCLE TIMES
Startup and shutdown times have been markedly improved, as have shot-to-shot cycle times. Shutter lag is also a good bit better, improving the G3 to average or a bit faster than average. As was the case with the G2, pre-focus shutter lag is very short.
Last year's G2 was one of my favorite digicams, a feeling apparently shared by many others judging from its strong sales. The G3's most noticeable enhancement over the G2 is the 4x zoom lens, but myriad other minor tweaks and enhancements make for a significantly upgraded shooting experience.
Many may question Canon's decision to stay with the 4-megapixel sensor, but every indication is that the combination of sensor and lens in the G3 very much hold their own with its 5-megapixel competitors. I'll reserve judgement until I can test a production model, but it looks like Canon has another winner on their hands.
Thanks to those of you who emailed us recommendations for slide show software. It's clear there's a burning desire to do more than quietly press the right arrow key to see the next image.
And we can see why after burning our first DVD slide show presentation with musical accompaniment. We'll report in detail in an upcoming article (after we regain our "composure," as we like to say at the outpatient clinic), but here are our reader recommendations (so far):
Mac OS X users are not quite as destitute as this list may make it appear. iPhoto on OS X can export a QuickTime presentation with sound (but not annotations) which can be burned on CD. And iDVD (included on Macs that ship with DVD burners) can be cajoled into a slide show presentation, too. Although you'll have more fun building it in iMovie first.
- Douglas Mitchell recommended the new PDF slide show command in Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0 [MW] (http://www.adobe.com). No sound, but quick, easy and cross-platform.
- Derek wrote, "Pictures-to-Exe [W] (http://www.wnsoft.com) is the program at the moment. It's cheap to register and the dissolves are superb, even the nine second ones. Of course there is the full gamut of transitions and adding music -- preferably in MP3 format to keep file sizes down -- is a breeze."
- Andrew Stephens named a few candidates. GlobFX's Composer, Player, Swiff Player and Swiff Point Player [W] (http://www.globfx.com/products), the latter two for Flash movies; and Arles Image Web Page Creator [W] (http://www.digitaldutch.com/arles) for browser-based slide shows.
- bbgram reminded us about Dazzle OnDVD (http://www.dazzle.com) but had a hardware recommendation, too. "I purchased an Apex DVD player (model AD-1200) from Circuit City for $60 that supports Kodak Picture CD's as well as JPEG images." You just burn your JPEGs to a CD and drop it into the Apex for an automatic slide show without additional software.
- Steve pointed out a Russell Coover recommendation from Lockergnome of the enigmatically named Slide Show [W] (http://tinnes.org.uk).
- Rick Foster recommended Easy CD Creator Platinum [W] (http://www.roxio.com/en/products/ecdc), which can reorder your images without requiring you to rename them and lets you add voice narration (never saw the slide show we didn't want to narrate).
- Les Logan confessed to having happily used Firehand Lightning [W] (http://www.firehand.com) "for several years now." You can add captions, synchronized audio annotation (including .mp3 music clips) and video clips. Plus, "they were extremely professional and prompt when I had a question once," Les wrote.
- John Heck found "a little freeware app from Scandinavia," LPJ-Slideshow [W] (http://download.com.com/3000-2193-10102177.html?tag=lst-4-25). For Mac users, he fondly recalled KPT Quickshow from Kai's Power Tools "but it no longer works on OS 8.5 and up."
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:
- Short Review: Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-P2 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/P2/P2A.HTM).
- First Look: Canon PowerShot G3 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G3/G3A.HTM).
- Test Photos: Sony DSC-F717 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/F717/F71PICS.HTM).
Each RGB image you record -- with your digicam or your scanner -- has three channels. A channel is simply the brightness data for each color, recorded by the filtered elements of your CCD sensor. There's one channel for the red data, one for green and one for blue in an RGB image.
But an image isn't limited to three channels. A CMYK image, for example, has four (one each for cyan, magenta, yellow and black). And alpha channels can be added to store selections as masks.
Each channel holds information about the brightness of each pixel in the image. In the red channel, for example, that information is about the brightness of the red component. The pixel 45 down and 127 across might have a red value of 87 (in addition to a green and blue value).
But a value of 87 on what scale? Ah, here things get interesting.
The scale or range of values is determined by the bit depth of the channel. Which simply means how many bits are reserved to record the brightness of each pixel.
The typical digicam records eight bits per channel. Your desktop scanner may sample 11 or 12 bits per channel, but it typically records only eight bits per channel, too. Eight bits provides a range of 0-255 or 256 possible values. So our 87 would be about a third of the way up, a dark gray.
Eight bits per channel yields a 24-bit RGB image, plenty for rendering true color on screen and in print. And, in fact, neither your monitor nor your printer can render more than 24-bit color. But it isn't entirely representative of the brightness human beings observe in the real world with their own eyes.
Sunlight can illuminate the world with a brightness range of 1:10,000 -- the brightest object reflecting 10,000 times the light of the darkest. But a black and white print on glossy paper, for example, can only portray a range of 1:100. The art of photography is in part choosing which tones or values get from the observed world to the reproduced image.
There's no escaping that reduction. But when you make the decision can be shifted from the field to the digital darkroom by using more bits per channel.
Using 16 bits per channel, the brightness range for each pixel jumps to 65,536 values. That affords the chance to do color and tone shifts simply not possible with 8-bit channels. Which means you can salvage shots whose exposure was less than perfect and increase the density range of your final 24-bit image.
With 8-bit channels, color and tone shifts eventually lead to either banding or a loss of detail. Banding can be seen as gaps in the histogram after contrast is increased, appearing as posterization at its worst. Loss of detail occurs when you decrease contrast and similar tonal values merge into each other.
Doubling the number of bits isn't without costs, however. It doubles your image size, for one. A 3-megapixel digicam may record JPEG images that uncompress to nine megabytes and require three times that to edit, about 27-MB of free memory. Those same images double in 16-bit mode to 18-MB images requiring up to 54-MB free RAM to edit each one.
And it hasn't been easy manipulating 16-bit channels, either. Until recently there were few editing tools available. Photoshop aside, most image editors restrict their operations to 8-bit channels -- and even Photoshop does not extend all operations and filters to 16-bit images.
But recently we've seen a number of plug-ins and programs designed to work with 16-bit channels. We reviewed Asiva Photo recently and there are more to come.
First, though, you have to acquire a 16-bit image. While you can change the mode of any 8-bit image into a 16-bit image, that merely makes room on your plate for more food without actually serving any more.
Some cameras (like the Kodak DCS models) provide a RAW or uncompressed recording option that actually captures more than eight bits per channel. But if your digicam only captures eight, all is not lost. Plug-ins like Optipix (http://www.reindeergraphics.com/optipix) can combine several shots with different exposures to build a 16-bit image.
Sixteen-bit image editing holds a great deal of promise for digital photographers. Watch this space for ways to tap into its exciting potential.
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 CD Mavica line at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8e385/0
Compare camera prices for any digital camera at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee86028
Dave asks about the A40 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8dbb5
Steve asks about flashes at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8e2c3
Visit the Scanners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2ae
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RE: Elements & Exif Color Space
I just purchased Photoshop Elements 2 to learn about its default color management behavior. It was a pleasant surprise to see that its default setting is No Color Management and that JPEG files from my Nikon camera are opened as Untagged RGB.
My concern is that the "Color:ICC_Profile:sRGB_IEC61966-2.1" option in the Save As dialog appears to be enabled by default when Elements 2 opens a JPEG file with the Exif Color Space variable set to sRGB. This isn't as aggressive as the original Photoshop 7 behavior, but the end result is similar. Most users will end up with an ICC profile attached to their digital photos.
This concern aside, I think Elements 2 is a wonderful product for amateur photographers. The absence of CMYK support and curves is reasonable for most amateurs and the price of $27 at Amazon (after rebates) is attractive. The Quick Fix and Auto Color Correction features were a little scary, but may satisfy some customers. I plan to install it at home to use the convenient Red Eye Brush, Panorama Photomerge, Batch Processing and PDF slide show features. I thought the Web Gallery and Print Layout features were unique to Elements 2, but they are simply easier to find.
-- David Lane(Thanks for your comments, Dan. We promise to review Elements 2.0 shortly. Meanwhile, the Exif color space tag is tricky. According to the Exif spec (http://www.pima.net/standards/it10/PIMA15740/exif.htm) it's either sRGB or Uncalibrated (page 43). Elements read the sRGB tag but many digicams set sRGB on (without meaning to). Adobe told us they've addressed this issue with a free plug-in (http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=1882) "that will cause Photoshop Elements to ignore the sRGB tag in Exif. The Windows solution requires a script that will properly point to the Photoshop Elements application directory, which is taking a bit longer for us to complete. We are working on posting that ASAP." BTW, using Full Color Management, puts you in Adobe RGB, not sRGB. -- Editor)
RE: XP Batch Renaming
There's a free add-in for pre-XP Windows versions called multiren (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,,162421,00.asp?kc=ETAV10209KTX1K0100361).
BTW, in general, in Windows, when you pass a number of selected files to some app they get passed in this order:
Why_ do they do it this way? Beats me! Seems to be this way all the way back to Win 3.1, though, so it may just be a historical thing now.
- Item under your cursor first, then
- All other selected items, top-to-bottom, in your current Windows Explorer sort order.
There's another way to rename photos (this one is multi-platform) called jhead (http://www.sentex.net/~mwandel/jhead). It's a command line utility that can report or modify Exif data. It can also rename files based on the date field in the Exif. Very useful if you've already renamed the files "CentralSt01.*". Also useful if you're using a camera that names all its output PictNNNN and you're running out of number space (you're up to Pict9999 and want to avoid any problems that might come from files with identical names, even though they're in different folders/directories).
-- Bob Koure(Thanks, Bob! Can't help wondering what good an operating system is if you need a third-party utility to rename files, though. -- Editor)
RE: Noise Reduction
Some time ago I think I saw a reference to a Photoshop plug-in or application to reduce noise in a digital image. Now I cannot find it on your Web site. Can you help me access this information? And in general, I'm interested in any way to improve images with too much noise due to high ISO settings.
-- Jeff Levy(That would be Fred Miranda's Photoshop actions designed for specific digicams (http://www.fredmiranda.com/Action_profilesPage/index.html). The general strategy is to average any unusual pixel value based on its neighbors -- while avoiding the edge pixels. A smart blur. -- Editor)
RE: Time-Lapse Memorial Sept. 11
Thank you! Overwhelming, profound, words fail me. I will keep this 79th edition issue Vol. 4 No. 18 as long as possible.
-- Ann Murphy(Thanks, Ann! -- Editor)
The new blank high-speed DVDs can damage Pioneer recorders. The laser normally tests the blank to calibrate burn power. But the Pioneer laser doesn't recognize the high-speed blanks, so it continues to test, overheating and burning out in five minutes. The company said it will issue free firmware updates for both Mac and PC products (http://www.pioneerelectronics.com) in three weeks.
EZQuest (http://www.ezq.com) has issued a similar warning for their DVD recorders, promising "appropriate firmware update."
ColorVision (http://www.colorvision.com) is offering a 10 percent discount on their Spyder products and suites for Web orders through Oct. 15. Mac OS X, Windows XP, Photoshop 7 plus German and French software and manual translations have also just been released. Registered users can download the upgrades for free (http://www.colorvision.com/software_upgrades.html).
Reindeer Graphics has released Optipix 1.0.2 [MW] (http://www.reindeergraphics.com/optipix), a free update to the $99.95 suite of Photoshop plug-ins. The Blend Exposure plug-in now gives better results for bracketed exposures taken more than four shutter stops apart. And the Edge Enhancer plug-in has been rewritten to give better preview results, optional contrast autoscaling and the option to selectively enhance light or dark edges. The online documentation for Optipix has also been updated.
Dreaming in Pictures: The Photography of Lewis Carroll of Alice in Wonderland fame is on display through Nov. 10 at the San Francisco Museum of Art (http://www.sfmoma.org/exhibitions/exhib_detail.asp?id=74). Actually, the 76 images were taken by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, his real name, over 25 years. His subjects, primarily children, dressed in theatrical garb to portray mythic and literary characters. Perfect thing for Halloween.
VTC has released Adobe Photoshop 7, an 11-hour CD of 151 training movies featuring Andrew J. Hathaway for $99.95. You can view the first three chapters free (http://www.vtc.com/productdetail.lasso?sku=33329).
We note the passing last month of sports photographer John G. Zimmerman, who was among the first to use remote-controlled cameras to get shots from unusual locations. The Aug. 12 Sports Illustrated published a six-page tribute.
FlipAlbum 5 (http://www.flipalbum.com) features rapid flipping technology; playback on DVD players supporting the Video CD and CD-R/RW formats; quick text search in annotations on album pages; 3D or shadow effects; embedded watermarks or copyright. FlipAlbum 5 Standard is $29.95 and Professional is $149.95.
SmartDisk (http://www.smartdisk.com) announced PC Photo Show [W] to create slides shows with music on CD for $19.99.
Matsushita's chief Don Iwatani, strictly a digital photographer these days, recalled the advice his father gave him along with a camera before he was 10 years old. "Taking pictures is related to how much you walk around. Take 100 steps and find one good picture. Good walking and patience are important."
Sybex has published Mikkel Aakland's $40 Photoshop Elements 2 Solutions (ISBN 0-07821-4140-4), which discusses both versions of Adobe's image editor. We reviewed the first edition in our Nov. 30, 2001 issue.
Minolta (http://www.minoltausa.com) has introduced the $1,299 Minolta DiMAGE 7Hi with a built-in flash synchronization terminal, 5-megapixel resolution, 7x optical with 2x digital zoom lens and GT Lens technology.
Mark Romanek, author and director of One Hour Photo, coached Robin Williams in the main role with a Philip Lorca DiCoria photo of a mother and child. "I got it immediately," Williams said. "A picture like that said so much more than if he had simply said, 'O.K., do it again, but this time with more feeling.'"
Photoflex (http://www.photoflex.com) will introduced several new lighting products at Photokina next week: the OctoDome3 softboxes for a large, soft, wraparound light; the HalfDome2 softbox for fill, hair or main light; the ActionDome ENG mini-softbox; the MovieDome softbox for large, open-faced lights, Fresnels and Pars of up to 20,000 watts; and Transpac Multi-Kit and Single-Kit Cases to transport lighting kits.
Olympus (http://www.olympusamerica.com) has introduced the $699 Camedia C-730 Ultra Zoom featuring a 10x zoom (38-380mm 35mm equivalent), 1/1000 shutter speed, electronic viewfinder, 3.2-megapixel CCD and a 5-pin dedicated flash terminal.
LeadingSpect (http://www.leadingspect.com) has introduced Super DigiBin, a portable USB drive with memory card reader and Li-ion rechargeable battery and Power-Bin, a portable Li-ion rechargeable battery compatible with most digital cameras, DV camcorders, cellular phones, CD players and cassette players.
Pacific Digital (http://www.PacificDigital.com) plans to introduce the $299 MemoryFrame, a USB digital photo frame, next month. The standalone, electronic picture-frame requires no camera memory card, computer, printer, paper, ink or monthly subscription fee and can be mounted in a standard 5x7 frame.
Nikon has recalled its Coolpix 2000 (serial numbers 3010001 to 3060980 and 3510001 to 3561916). A short circuit in the battery compartment can burn users who touch the battery compartment lid. Contact Nikon online (http://www.nikonusa.com) or call (800) 645-6687 for a free replacement.
Kodak has recalled its DC5000 Zoom digicams (serial numbers 01800001 through 11700825) due to a manufacturing defect that can cause an electrical shock. Kodak will cover the cost of inspection, any necessary repair and shipping to and from Kodak repair centers. To receive a postage-paid mailer contact Kodak online (http://www.kodak.com) or (888) 793-2977.
Spectra (http://www.spectraintl.com) has introduced the $299 Polaroid PDC 2150 with 1600x1200 pixel resolution, 2x digital zoom, built-in flash, 8-MB memory and TV out.
Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com) has introduced the Canon PowerShot S230 and G3 digital cameras, the i320 and i550 Bubble Jet printers, the i850 photo printer and the CanonScan LiDE 50, 5000F and 8000F flatbed scanners.
ACD (http://www.acdsystems.com) said it will release ACDSee 5.0 [W] on Oct. 1 with faster start-up, viewing and browsing.
Sapphire Innovations (http://www.sapphire-innovations.com) has updated Innovations Vol 1.5.2, a set of 36 Photoshop filters (emboss, frame, color, edge, blur, smearing, posterization, warping, wavy, grid, etc.) with new options, cleaner dialogs, improved slider controls and more for $21.
For just $150 an insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).
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Fast Ritz CF cards: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?ritzmem
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher