|Volume 4, Number 21||18 October 2002|
Welcome to the 82nd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We burn a DVD slide show and live to tell about it. Dave discovers a Kodak digicam in the Brownie tradition. And we report on three ways to travel with a digicam this holiday season. Buckle up!
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It took us a month, but we finally burned our first DVD on Windows XP.
The contents include four movies and a slide show of stills, all set to music. Each item was linked to a button on the title screen, displayed automatically when the disc is inserted into the player.
The DVD, burned on general-use DVD-R media, plays in both our two-year old DVD player (and newer models) and computer DVD drives.
Not a single step in this project went smoothly. But we're pleased with the final product and even a bit astounded by the slide show. And we aren't the only ones. This is really a nice presentation. If only the production process were not a thicket of problems.
FORMAT & MEDIA
First we needed some blank discs.
But before you hop in your car to zip down to the local Discs-R-Us store, you have to know a few things.
Like what kind of discs your DVD writer can burn. And which media your standalone player can read.
We chose DVD-R discs because they were the only writable media our Toshiba player could read. And our Pioneer DVD writer could write the general-use discs (which, unlike authoring discs, prevent duping of encrypted commercial DVDs). So we bought a 5-pack of SmartDisk 4.7-GB DVD-R discs in slim cases that worked perfectly for about $16.
Well, one warning about "working perfectly." A fingerprint or two can make the disc unreadable. If playback freezes, take a look at the disc. You may need to polish away a print.
For help on this topic, start at VCD Help (http://www.vcdhelp.com) and pursue DVD-R/RW topics at DVD Forum (http://www.dvdforum.com) and DVD+R/RW topics at DVD+RW Alliance (http://www.dvdplusrw.org).
We already had years of practice copying our JPEG stills to our hard disk. We just had to make sure the hard disk was on the computer with the Pioneer DVD writer.
But then what?
If we had just wanted to play the JPEGs using slide show software on our computer, we could have simply burned a data DVD (as we do for CDs).
But we wanted to play this DVD in standalone players. So we had to convert our stills in video and put the player software on the DVD.
Some new DVD players have slide show software built into them and can, like your computer, play a disc full of JPEGs without any help. But most don't.
To put player software on the disc, you use authoring software to build the title screen and populate it with links to your movies and slide shows. Our Pioneer DVD writer came with DVDit! LE (Limited Edition). It's worth confirming that some authoring software comes with your DVD burner, by the way.
But authoring software -- especially in an LE version -- doesn't turn your slide show into video. To put the images in order, set their duration, pick a transition from one to the other and set them all to music, we had to resort to another application.
We choose to install a 30-day trial version of Adobe Premiere to edit our images, video and music. One reason is that Premiere can handle all of that, so we only had to learn one tool. Another reason was that we'd sat through a Premiere presentation and liked what we saw. We felt that intro, plus the CD tutorial presented by Total Training that came with the trial version, would be enough to get us through a simple project like this.
No way this was going to take 30 days.
STORYBOARDING THE PICTURES
Way. We made it with two days to spare, actually. But it was close.
It was easy enough to import our folders of JPEGs into our Premiere project, which we set up as standard, 4:3 aspect ratio, NTSC video. The important thing here is to match the quality of your original source, keeping in mind your output options. This setup would work fine on all the televisions in the family.
Next, we created a storyboard to organize the images, dragging them into the storyboard window and arranging them in the order we wanted to see them.
It was even easier to get them all on the timeline, which graphs your images and sound to, well, a long line representing elapsed time. By default, each image displays for five seconds (set in Preferences) and uses the default cross-dissolve transition. A cross dissolve fades the displayed picture as it brings up the next image. Pretty standard fare and a nice, smooth transition from one image to another.
We did all that with one click of the mouse on the Automate-to-Timeline button.
This is bigger news than it may seem at first. It's a big leap from a simple slide show program that renders your image and waits until it renders the next one (perhaps while playing music) to a sound and light video show. You become responsible for every 1/29th of a second of the presentation.
Being able to organize your images on a storyboard using thumbnails is a big production benefit. But being able to lay them out automatically on the timeline with all the transitions is a real blessing.
For example, one day you may get tired of timed cross-dissolves. Premiere lets you time transitions to the beat of your music by just playing the music and hitting the asterisk key to mark the transition points on the timeline. Then hit the Automate-to-Timeline button and you've got a pretty sophisticated production using just one finger.
You can't really expect people to watch a silent slide show on television. Television viewing isn't as intimate an experience as sitting at a personal computer. No hushed silence. No awe. Most likely it's a bunch of relatives sitting around complaining about the weather and throwing peanuts at each other. You have to get their attention. You have to add a sound track.
You can find (a great volume of) royalty-free audio without working too hard. It's tempting to behave otherwise, but be a good citizen and respect the copyrights of others. Which means first to know what they are and then not to violate them.
Premiere imports audio (and video) using plug-ins. If a format isn't supported, there are legions of conversion programs to get from the unsupported format to the supported one -- and some are free. Visit http://www.google.com and enter the two formats and the word "convert" to get a list.
We added a sound clip to our project file and dropped it on the timeline's first audio track. Now when we played our slide show, it had sound.
Well the first seven minutes of the slide show had sound, anyway. Our music wasn't long enough. And at seven minutes, it wasn't short.
We might have done some math to adjust the interval between images, but this was supposed to be a fun project, not an SAT question. So we learned how to edit sound. After all, if you've got Premiere (and a few weeks left in the trial), you might as well party.
Editing the music was actually fun.
If our music had been too long, we could have faded it out at the end. But we couldn't stretch it to fill. We had to duplicate it and splice the two pieces together. To do that, we added another audio track using the same tune, aligned it to the end of the video track (so it ended when the pictures ended). Then we hunted for a spot in the overlap where we could cross-dissolve the music.
We had fun looking. And Premier made it easy to try several. A sort of Bezier curve represents the volume in the track. You just drop or raise a point on the curve to quiet one track or the other.
When we settled on one spot, we cut the extraneous material and deleted it from the sound track. With a manual audio cross-dissolve of sorts, no one can really tell where we made the splice. Especially if they are still throwing peanuts.
So it didn't take long to get what we wanted in the slide show. Then the fun really started.
We exported the project as an AVI to maintain the highest quality we could, which was the only option in the trial version of Premiere. But AVI (not to mention QuickTime) wasn't supported in DVDit. So we had to convert the AVI slide show to MPEG.
Our first mistake was to convert it to MPEG1, which reduced the images to mere vestiges of themselves at 352x240 pixels for NTSC. We didn't really mind (we were going to a television screen, after all and didn't expect computer monitor quality) but DVDit warned us if we wrote an MPEG1 DVD-R, we could only play it on computers, not standalone players.
What we wanted was an MPEG2 video with 720x480-pixel resolution. But the problem with MPEG2 conversion is licensing. MPEG2 is not usually free (although we found a free OS X converter). Fortunately, we were able to find a freeware AVI to MPEG2 converter called TMPGEnc (http://www.tmpgenc.net) that let us use its MPEG2 codec for 30 days.
Finally we had the export we needed at the best resolution our television offered.
All that stood in our way now was building the interface to the show in Sonic's DVDit (http://www.dvdit.com). But that, it turned out, was quite a lot.
Which is a shame.
Sonic (http://www.sonic.com) provides some excellent technical information and software documentation in PDF format while addressing common problems in its user forums. And DVDit seems to ship with every known DVD writer.
But nobody we've seen use it (including ourselves) finds it at all intuitive. It doesn't work quite the way similar tools work in other applications. We highly recommend reading through the DVDit PDF manual before launching the software.
While we weren't happy with how it resampled portrait images (see below), our main criticisms were of the menu and button construction tools.
We were particularly annoyed, for example, by its failure to provide any command to align objects. You can drag a button onto your Main Menu, but you also have to drag text onto the button and make it say something meaningful. So, naturally, you'd expect to be able to center the text on the button, group the two objects and align the grouped button to others. Especially since that alignment determines what happens when someone presses the down arrow on their remote control.
But forget it. DVDit won't align or group objects. You have to do it manually.
The type handling was also disappointing. Changing color and shadow effects (which are required at television resolution and with busy backgrounds) was aggravating.
And finally, you shouldn't have to abandon your entire project just because you find out, after laboriously drawing all the screens, that you chose the wrong media. Even in a lite edition.
Backward as this was, you can build your own buttons in an image editor (just as you might for a Web page) and import them into your project. But you still can't align them.
In the end these guys convinced us not to upgrade the product (for $299). Visit http://www.dvdcreation.com for alternatives.
If you're used to burning CDs, your first DVD burn may surprise you. Forget about making coffee to pass the time. Consider roasting a turkey and baking a few pumpkin pies.
The burn itself isn't as big a deal as the resampling and conversions that precede it. You can also burn in test mode prior to the real burn, which isn't a bad idea considering a cheap DVD disc costs $3. Test mode confirms the source can actually be written to the disc.
You can also specify how many discs to burn so the whole project is built only once for multiple burns.
And to its credit, DVDit successfully burned our project three different times to four discs. No coasters.
Yes, we were greatly annoyed as we hit brick wall after brick wall. But in the end, there were tears in our eyes as we saw our pictures set to music.
And that obscured the seven percent all-around cropping of our images thanks to television set "overscanning" (represented as a 30-pixel border on DVDit's screen), not to mention the lower resolution.
Keep in mind, though, that viewing distance for television watching is much greater than viewing distance for a computer monitor. Some loss of resolution is perfectly acceptable. And since the image doesn't move (it's a still) you get the full resolution of your television, not half-resolution, interlaced stills you may know from video captures.
The only problem we had was displaying portrait images. Your television is a landscape display. Portrait orientation doesn't fly. Unfortunately, when DVDit resamples your original images, it doesn't maintain the aspect ratio. It just distorts the image. You actually have to recast your portrait images as landscape images, adding a black border, to survive the resampling.
We were particularly delighted to be able to give the DVD away without worrying about, uh, support. Anyone with a DVD player knows how to put a disc in and press Play. They don't need instructions. When you break free of the computer, you break free of an awful lot of problems.
On the other hand, this is no substitute for archiving your full resolution camera images. It's just a show.
But on with the show!
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DX4330/DX43A.HTM on the Web site.)
Kodak has a long history of bringing professional imaging processes to the everyday consumer. Kodak's EasyShare System is the company's digital equivalent to its turn-of-the-century Brownie box camera. The first two Kodak EasyShare digicams, the DX3500 and DX3600, were fully automatic with an optional docking station to take the guesswork out of digital image manipulation, management and sharing. As Kodak has evolved the line, they've introduced more advanced cameras that do offer a few user options, but which still retain excellent ease-of-use. The EasyShare DX4330, a compact 3-megapixel design provides good midrange functionality, combined with a very clear menu system and the latest version of Kodak's Picture Software.
Kodak's Picture Software is a big part of the Easy Share story. It walks you through every step of uploading, enhancing and emailing your photos -- and has about the most graphically intuitive interface of any consumer imaging software I've seen. It automatically sizes the images for printing or emailing, stores copies, applies simple effects and allows you to correct color, brightness and contrast. EasyShare cameras are among the easiest and most goof-proof digicams out there and the DX4330 with Kodak's latest Picture Software carry on that tradition admirably.
The all-plastic body of the DX4330 camera's light weight, compact design includes a retractable lens, protected by a removable plastic lens cap (a tiny strap tethers it to the camera body). It squeezes into larger pockets and comes with a wrist strap for carrying.
The 3.1-megapixel DX4330 features a 3x zoom lens (a 38-114mm 35mm equivalent). The camera's autofocus mechanism uses a multi-zone system to "find" the primary subject closest to the lens. The AF area is highlighted in the LCD display by a set of brackets. The DX4330 has a maximum aperture ranging from f2.8 to f5.1, depending on the zoom position. Focus ranges from two feet to infinity. In Macro mode, focus ranges from 2.8 to 28 inches. A Landscape shooting mode fixes focus at infinity, for distant subjects and scenery. In addition to the 3x optical zoom, the DX4330 also offers 3.3x Advanced digital zoom, which effectively increases the camera's zoom range to a total of 10x. Keep in mind though, that digital zoom decreases the overall image quality, since it just "stretches" the center pixels of the CCD image. For composing images, the DX4330 offers both a real-image optical viewfinder as well as a 1.8-inch color LCD monitor. As is usually the case, I found the LCD monitor much more accurate for framing. Both viewfinders resulted in a smaller image area when framing at full telephoto.
Exposure control is fully automatic on the DX4330, though the camera does offer a Long Shutter mode that allows longer exposures up to four seconds. A Mode dial on top of the camera offers options of Auto, Sports, Night, Landscape, Macro and Movie modes. While Auto mode is best for general photography, the remaining preset modes help with special shooting situations such as night shots in the city or the winning goal of a soccer game.
The DX4330 uses a matrix metering system, which bases exposure on several light readings taken throughout the frame. You can increase or decrease overall exposure through the Exposure Compensation, which ranges from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents in half-step increments.
White balance is automatic and the DX4330 does a really excellent job under most light sources. Using Kodak's proprietary Color Science technology, the DX4330 manages to achieve an accurate color balance under an amazingly wide range of lighting conditions. ISO remains under automatic control as well, varying from 120 to 200 equivalent settings.
The built-in flash is effective from 2.0 to 11.2 feet (depending on the setting of the zoom lens) and features Auto, Fill, Red-Eye Reduction and Off operating modes. For shooting in low light conditions without the flash, a special Long Shutter mode lets you manually select exposure times from 0.7 to 4.0 seconds. Using Long Shutter mode, you can capture bright, usable images at light levels only half as bright as typical city street lighting.
A 10-second Self-Timer mode provides a delay between the time the Shutter button is pressed and when the shutter actually opens.
In movie recording mode recording stops and starts with a brief, full press of the Shutter button, but if you hold the button down for more than a second or two, recording will stop when you release the button. As you record, the duration of the movie appears in a running counter on the LCD monitor. Maximum movie lengths depend on the amount of memory space available. The 16-MB internal memory will let you record 64-second movies.
The DX4330 uses Kodak's EasyShare camera dock for hassle-free image downloading. You simply put the camera into the dock (a plastic dock insert fits the DX4330 bottom to the dock and comes with the camera) and press the Connect button on the dock. The dock station also serves as an AC adapter and in-camera battery charger (with Kodak NiMH battery packs). Built into the DX4330 is 16-MB of internal memory, but the camera also features an SD memory card slot so you can expand the camera's memory capacity. I highly recommend picking up at least a 32 or 64 megabyte card right away, given the camera's 2160x1440-pixel maximum resolution size.
The DX4330 uses either two AA-type lithium or NiMH batteries or a single CRV3 lithium battery pack. The Kodak EasyShare dock is itself a battery charger and comes with a single NiMH battery pack, but I highly recommend purchasing another set of high-capacity NiMH AA cells.
Color: Although the DX4330 offers only automatically-controlled white balance, it does a superb job of interpreting most light sources. In my testing, the DX4330 handled most lighting well, even the very difficult incandescent lighting of my Indoor Portrait (without flash) test. Squinting a little, I could say that I noticed slightly warm tints on the Outdoor Portrait, Davebox and Musicians target, but the color was still excellent all around. Saturation was good throughout, as well, with colors appearing bright and vibrant. The DX4330 handled the often-difficult blue flowers in the Outdoor Portrait very well, with only the faintest purple tints. Additionally, the camera captured the tough tonal variations on the Davebox target and reproduced the large color blocks well. Overall, the DX4330 produced excellent color in all my tests.
Exposure: While exposure was generally accurate, contrast was a little off in some cases, notably in the outdoor house, Macro and Outdoor Portrait shots. The 4330's images were bright and snappy, but that came at the cost of highlight detail when the lighting was harsh. Although the DX4330 tended to lose highlight detail, it kept midtones where they should be and did a good job of preserving shadow detail.
Resolution/Sharpness: On the whole, the DX4330's in-camera sharpening did a good job and defined details well. The lens produced some softness in the corners of the images, most noticeable in close-ups. Overall sharpness and detail were quite good though, a solid 3-megapixel performance.
Closeups: The DX4330 captured an average to slightly better-than-average sized macro area, at 3.07x2.05 inches. The camera's built-in flash is positioned too high and to the right on the camera body to illuminate the macro area well and thus resulted in strong shadow in the bottom left corner of the frame.
Night Shots: The DX4330's "Long Time Exposure" mode offers a maximum shutter time of four seconds, long enough to capture bright images at the 1/2 foot-candle light level. The target was reasonably bright at the 1/4 foot-candle setting, as well. Noise was moderately low and color was about right, though warm. The biggest problem here was the camera's autofocus system, which had trouble even at the one foot-candle light level. Use the infinity-focused Landscape mode in dim light.
Viewfinder Accuracy: The DX4330's optical viewfinder ranges from a little tight at wide-angle zoom settings (85.6 percent of the final frame) to almost exact at telephoto settings (99 percent). With the 4330, you'll need to learn to frame a bit tighter for wide-angle shots than you will for telephoto. Also, the view varies from being shifted down a little at wide-angle, to being shifted up slightly at telephoto. The LCD monitor fared much better, at wide-angle anyway, where I measured approximately 99 percent accuracy, almost perfect.
Optical Distortion: Optical distortion on the DX4330 is better than average at the wide-angle end, measuring a 0.47 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end is better still, measuring an almost-imperceptible two pixels of barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is moderate, showing about four or five pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. The DX4330 also showed some corner softness, most evident in Macro. While I'd like to see less chromatic aberration and sharper corners in macro mode, I really liked the low barrel distortion.
Battery Life: Battery life is surprisingly good for a camera running on only a pair of AAs. Based on my power drain measurements, worst-case battery life (capture mode with the LCD turned on) should be about an hour and a half with good-quality NiMH cells. With the LCD off, capture-mode run time increases to an astonishing 11 hours and run time in playback mode is more than 2.5 hours.
The DX4330 is an ideal choice for anyone looking for a no-fuss digicam with great image quality. Just about everything is automatically controlled, with great results. That said, the DX4330 does offer a few options for extending its performance. The camera continues with Kodak's very user-friendly interface, making it a good option for kids or novice users. Like Kodak's other EasyShare cameras, when combined with the accessory camera dock, the DX4330 is one of the easiest to use cameras I've seen.
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: Minolta Dimage 7Hi (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D7HI/D7HIA.HTM).
- Illustrated Review: Optipix (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/OPT/OPT.HTM).
- Quick Review: Kodak DX4330 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DX4330/DX43A.HTM).
Have we learned anything this summer in time for the holidays about traveling with a digicam? You bet. But not just from our own mistakes.
On the road, a typical 35mm Point N Shooter outraces any digicam. If you run out of film, you can buy more anywhere. If your battery dies, you can pick up another at the local convenience store. Can't really beat that.
In fact, if you forgot to pack the Point N, you can pick up a cardboard one-timer that does admirable work at that 24-hour convenience store. Some of them even work under water.
At the other end of the spectrum perch birds like us. We've packed up the laptop, spare CDs, phone cables to connect to the Internet, extra batteries, the charger, spare storage cards, a power strip and, oh yeah, the digicam. We might have room for the tripod, lens converters, flash and our tickets, too.
But in a desperate attempt to avoid hauling our extensive electrical wardrobe into the mountains this summer, we latched onto a Mavica CD and some spare 165-MB discs (not to mention its charger). Without the rest of our gear, we felt a little under dressed. But if you can't be casual on vacation, when exactly can you?
The only real drawback to this arrangement was that we couldn't give any copies of the pictures away. We tried to share them on the old NEC color television at the vacation rental -- but that was a gift of extraterrestials overly fond of green. So it was more fun to just run the slide show on the camera's LCD.
When we got home, it took a good while longer to copy the images off the CD than we're used to, particularly since the Mavica didn't mount on our desktop as a storage device.
So next time out, we took our laptop.
We find it hard to go more than a few days without it anyway. And while we're aware of handheld devices that store images, they can't copy them elsewhere for safe backup and they cost nearly as much as a laptop anyway.
Well, not our laptop. We have a CD burner in ours, so all we needed was a PCMCIA adapter or a USB cable to move images from our digicam to the computer, plus a few blank CDs, the laptop and the laptop's AC power adapter. And, uh, the battery charger for our digicam.
That gave us the ability to transfer images off the card so we could reuse it and to make backups from the laptop's hard disk to CDs. And if we had been guests, we could even have left our hosts a little CD souvenir of our visit.
The only hitch is that moving images around and burning CDs takes some time. Alone. Which isn't always polite when you're vacationing with family and friends.
Then there's the almost mythical experience of our better half.
Joyce took a three-week trip home to visit the Entrencht family. Wielding her authority as our better half, she took our best digicam, the 3.3-megapixel Average with a 64-MB and 16-MB card. We charged up the NiMHs for her and charged another set but kept the charger, knowing other Entrencht family members had chargers.
We also outfitted her with the latest Macintosh and Windows drivers for the Average on a CD-RW, so she could install them and then reuse the disc to back up her images. And we even remembered to give her the USB cable so she could get her pictures out of the camera and onto someone's computer.
She didn't need half of that.
It turns out, all she actually needed was the digicam, the two cards and -- believe it or not -- one set of batteries. They lasted not just the whole trip without a recharge but they even managed to power the download of her 120 images (compressed 1/8 rather than our typical 1/4) when she got home.
For a three-week trip, 120 images would be five rolls of drugstore film or five of those one-time cameras. That's more than most people take on most vacations, according to our latest Wildguess Poll.
As we sat through her slide show, we really didn't miss a moment of her trip. There were pictures of the extended Entrencht family (each of whom we hope will visit one day very soon, hint, hint), even friends of the family, even flash pictures.
Like any lab, when we get results that defy prediction, we like to retest. So we sent her off again on a week-long road trip -- but set the JPEG compression back up to 1/4.
On this trip she visited the bleeding edge studio of my brother the graphic artist, so she could have come back with CD presentations shot with borrowed gear. But she didn't have to bother. She managed just fine, filling the card with her 62nd shot on the last day.
We confess, in our ambition to always be able to take another picture, we hadn't appreciated how much we could do with just what fits in a fanny pack. As Joyce demonstrated, you can do very well -- without breaking your back or making a technical nuisance of yourself.
You just need an adventurous attitude.
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 DiMAGE F100 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8bb52
Visit the Kodak Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee6f77d
Mark asks about movie capture mode at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8eb92
Stephen asks about AE lock at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8ec69
Visit the General Q&A Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee718ec
It's time once again, colleagues, for your nominations for the Ersatz Nobel Prize for Extraordinary Customer Service in Digital Imaging.
With nearly 50,000 members, we far exceed the 18 lifetime members of that 216-year-old Swedish Academy. We wish our award far exceeded their $1 million prize, too, but good PR is priceless. And there have been plenty of $1 million advertising buys that weren't worth as much as one of your nominations alone.
So tell us about your happy experience resolving a product problem. You may have been surprised that the company went to the expense it did just for you or that the person you dealt with treated your problem like it was their own.
Whatever it was, this is the time to tell us about it.
Sow a little goodwill now and, who knows, you may reap it when you really need it. We have to reward good behavior if we expect it to sweep over the world.
To submit your entry, simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the Subject line "Ersatz Nobel Prize" and we'll announce the winner in the next issue.
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RE: Paint That Room
Your story on the schematic reminded me of something I used my digital camera for the other day. I was looking at a large area rug and wasn't certain if the color and pattern would go with other things in the room. Anyway, after asking permission I took a few pictures of it and then cloned it into a picture of the room. I also find my digital camera and Photoshop a great way to try out a new paint color for a room.
-- Paulette Conlan(Great ideas, Paulette! Assuming, of course, the color is all wrong and the rug doesn't fit. Otherwise, this could get perilously close to work. -- Editor)
RE: Problem of the Week
First, let me say how very much I value your newsletters. Almost every edition brings me some new information to factor into my picture-taking.
Here's my problem. I use a Nikon 950 in my work, documenting serial photos of hair reduction after laser treatments. Originally, I had always used my HP Photosmart printer's card reader to move pix into my desktop PC. All was well. But, when I began using a free-standing card reader to read the 16-MB Lexar CompactFlash card followed by in-camera formatting (as you folks have always admonished), within a half dozen transfers the Nikon went dead!!
I tried various tricks. Turn it on then insert the card. Take the card out while connected to electricity. Plug in other electric devices to be sure the outlet was hot. Use a different outlet. No response as long as the card was in the camera! Curiously, when the card was out of the camera, it powered up just fine and gave me an error message that there was no card in the camera. Duh.
I bought a new SanDisk card and the same thing happened. Lexar happily replaced their card but the same thing happened with the new card. After hours on the phone with Nikon, they determined it was the fault of the card or the card reader. After hours on the phone with the card company, they felt it was the fault of the camera. Likewise, the card reader manufacturer came to the same conclusion.
In desperation, I gave my daughter the 950 and bought a brand new 950. Within six transfers, the new one was doing exactly the same thing as the old one. I had purchased a Nikon 5000 for personal use (I really love it, BTW) and on a lark, I formatted the defective card in the 5000, put it in the 950 and it worked like a champ!
So my dilemma is this. Should I be afraid that one of these days my 5000 will flat-line when I put a card from work into it? What do you suggest I do to fix the problem or alternatively do you think that a direct transfer from my camera to the computer will avoid the issue all together? I'm hesitant to try anything.
-- Deb Reed(There was probably nothing wrong with your original Nikon 950, Deb. During power-up it simply couldn't make sense of the card. The 950 looked dead, but it was just patient.... With so many suspects, the culprit isn't obvious. You've eliminated the camera and the card so far. To test the reader, try using it at home over the weekend. If that works, you still have to eliminate the computer at work, so try the reader on another machine there.... But there are still other suspects. Avoid using a USB hub with the reader. Make sure you have current drivers for the reader. Handling the card is an issue, too (especially if you are wearing rubber gloves). And, finally, make sure the electrical power at work is clean. You may have some power-hungry equipment that sends a nice spike through the system whenever it cycles power. That could zap the card format. -- Editor)
I was thrilled with the organization of this magnificent newsletter. Normally if something doesn't attract my interest in 15 seconds 'click,' 'poof' or next.
I was mesmerized from the beginning and intelligently led through marvelous discoveries. Just like a good book, I couldn't put it down.
-- Don Blum(Thanks, Don! For a bleary-eyed second there, we thought you were 'metamerized' by it. We can't promise such startling developments every two weeks, but when they happen, we promise to explain what they are and what they mean. -- Editor)
Over three-quarters (78 percent) of all U.S. households are likely to purchase at least one consumer electronics product as a gift during the upcoming holidays, according to the Consumer Electronics Association's Ninth Annual Holiday Purchase Patterns survey (http://www.CE.org). DVD players topped the list for the second consecutive year, but the survey also found that nearly one quarter of all U.S. households are at least contemplating a digicam purchase, up 14 percent from last year.
Digicam vendors shipped over 3.5 million units to U.S. consumers in the first half of 2002, up 50 percent from the same period last year, according to a report from IDC (http://www.idc.com). IDC expects the strong growth to continue through the end of the year, especially around the holidays. Prices will further decrease during that time, IDC said, with 40 percent of all digicams shipping in the fourth quarter.
According to Kodak, over 30 billion digital photos are now being taken each year. The company expects one of every five photos taken to be digital by next year.
Pioneer has released a free firmware update to avoid potential damage to their DVD writers when using the new high-speed discs (http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/hs/pioneer.html). "The update process is free and relatively simple and it is extremely important for owners of these products to make sure it is completed prior to using any new high-speed discs for recording," the company said.
News editor Michael R. Tomkins corrects a misconception about Olympus' four-thirds system (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1033665660.html). "In an interview with Olympus executives yesterday afternoon, we learned that the 'Four Thirds System' does not refer to a 4/3-inch image sensor that has been presumed to be the base of the design," he begins.
LaserSoft Imaging (http://www.silverfast.com) has released SilverFast Ai Version 6 professional scanning software. Enhancements include: smart dust and scratch removal; selective color with multi-layers and multi-masking; adaptive color restoration; selective color to gray; grain and noise elimination; advanced color cast removal; run as a stand alone application in addition to the existing Photoshop and TWAIN plug-in; save SilverFast options settings; and QuickTime online training.
One hundred photojournalists covered 53 African nations in a Day in the Life of Africa, the first "Day in the Life" book photographed entirely in digital. Olympus equipped each photographer with an E-20 SLR digital camera, a lithium polymer battery set, a 28mm equivalent wide-angle converter lens and a 200mm equivalent telephoto extension lens and the Camedia P-200 portable dye-sublimation printer. Olympus also provided its 4-megapixel compact digital camera, the C-4040 Zoom. To print larger images for the editors and pros, Olympus set up its P-400 dye-sublimation printers at project headquarters in Paris.
The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports Kodak has unveiled a Kodak-Sanyo prototype 15-inch flat-panel screen that illuminates itself with organic light-emitting diode technology (http://www.democratandchronicle.com/biznews/1015story105824_business.shtml). Kodak, which pioneered OLED "as a replacement for bulky desktop computer and laptop liquid-crystal display screens," expects the technology to reach the store shelves in two or three more years.
Gateway (http://www.gateway.com) stores are stocking 150 digital electronics products including Fuji, Canon and Minolta digicams; MP3 players; digital video gear; software; Epson and HP printers; and accessories like memory cards, batteries, tripods, headphones, cases, printer cartridges and paper. Gateway hopes to provide two advantages over other retailers: highly trained sales people and the ability to try out digital products in a truly digital setting -- connected to a PC.
Argus (http://www.arguscamera.com) has introduced the $59.99 Digital Camera Studio for 7-to-12-year-olds. The Studio includes an Argus DC1500 digicam, a Digital Photo Activity Kit (http://www.Internetcoach.com) from APTE, Inc. and a comprehensive software package from ArcSoft. The package combines reading, writing and vocabulary skills with photography as a learning tool for classroom and home.
In addition to over 100 seminars, PhotoPlus Expo (http://www.photoplusexpo.com) features a series of special events at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York City from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2. Keynote speakers include Adobe's Greg Gorman and New York Times Technical Editor David Pogue addressing the way photography and new technologies will affect the future of the industry. In addition, the World Press Photo 2002 exhibition (http://www.worldpressphoto.nl/index.jsp) will make its only U.S. showing. There will also be panel presentations on digital printing, color management, new technologies, photographers' rights, business strategies and visual presentations by photographers Walter Iooss, Douglas Kirkland, Ron Haviv, Jay Maisel, Pete Turner, Ed Kashi and more.
Asiva Photo (http://www.asiva.com) is now shipping for Windows 2000 and XP. See our special Deal above.
The PCS Phone by Sanyo 5300 puts a digicam in a PCS phone. The 5300 supports PCS Vision applications and services, including downloadable Java-based games, animated ringers and screen savers. Sprint and Sanyo will offer the 5300 starting mid-November for $399.99.
Shutterfly (http://www.shutterfly.com) has announced a joint program with Best Buy (http://www.bestbuy.com) to sell its first retail product in Best Buy stores. Customers who spend more than $49 in a Best Buy store can purchase a $25-value Prepaid Print Card for $9.99, which credits them with high-quality 4x6 prints redeemable at the BestBuy.com Photo Center. Additionally, customers who make a purchase on BestBuy.com (excluding music and movie sales) during the holiday season will receive a coupon for 15 percent off any order of prints or photo products from the BestBuy.com Photo Center.
Olympus America (http://www.olympusamerica.com) has introduced the $119.99 W-10, a digital voice recorder with an 0.3-megapixel CMOS sensor that captures VGA quality images to reference and organize digital voice recordings using pictures.
For just $150 an insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).
Curtin Short Courses: http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc
Fast Ritz CF cards: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?ritzmem
Lockergnome's Free Digital Media Newsletter: http://www.lockergnome.com
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:
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher