The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 4, Number 26 27 December 2002

Copyright 2002, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 87th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. "Easy" is our theme as we wind down the year with a review of easy (and free) software and an easy high-end digicam.


TOPICS

SPONSORS
This issue of The Imaging Resource News is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ads here. And now a word from our sponsors:
Kodak.com
http://www.kodak.com
Kodak EasyShare software helps make the most of your pictures. EasyShare makes it easy to find, view and organize your pictures allowing you to edit and enhance your photos and provides easy access to online printing.

And to make it even easier to share EasyShare, it's now available as a FREE download. See Mike's review for more information.

Maha
http://www.mahaenergy.com/

PowerEx is proud to introduce the new MH-C401FS 100 Minute Cool Charger. Some of the ground-breaking features include:

  • Cool and accurate charging of up to four AA/AAA NiMH/NiCD batteries in just 100 minutes
  • Unique FLEX Negative Pulse delivers a more complete charge
  • Switch manually between 100-minute rapid or 5-hour gentle charge
  • Four independent charging circuits
  • Limited lifetime warranty

To learn more visit: http://www.mahaenergy.com/products/PowerEx/Digicams/mhc401fs.htm

To purchase online: http://www.thomas-distributing.com/mhc401fs.htm

Olympus
http://www.olympusamerica.com/
Get a free 64-MB SmartMedia card by mail when you buy an Olympus C-4000 Zoom or D-550 Zoom digital camera.

The C-4000 Zoom has a 4-megapixel CCD and advanced features for extensive creative control. The D-550 Zoom features a 3-megapixel CCD and easy point-and-shoot operation. And the free 64-MB SmartMedia card ($50 value) holds up to 600 of the most realistic digital images yet.

Visit http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?soy for details and visit http://www.olympusamerica.com/promotions for rules and regulations.

Nothing's impossible.

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 48,800 readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

Feature: Kodak Liberates EasyShare Software

It's free at last. Kodak's EasyShare software for organizing, editing and sharing your images can now be downloaded free of charge (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?esy).

The dial-up download takes about an hour but the cable/DSL download is just minutes. Go figure. Versions of the software are available for Windows 98/2000/XP and Mac OS 8.x-9.x and OS X. The earlier Mac version is actually a suite of three applications. But you get the picture.

Details vary slightly from one version to the other. We'll discuss the XP experience here since it's the full Monty, but we have screen shots of the OS X version in the illustrated review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/ESY/ESY.HTM).

INSTALLATION

The download performs an automatic installation. So be sure to disable Norton or any anti-virus utilities before downloading and installing the package. We know of one case where havoc was wreacked by Norton during an EasyShare install, so this is not your usual disclaimer.

Apparently, you can't download the EasyShare XP automatic installer, burn it to a CD and share it. If you want EasyShare on CD, just order the CD version (http://www.kodak.com/go/shop).

After installation, a restart is required.

But even after the restart (for Windows), EasyShare still has a little work to do.

First EasyShare asks if you want to download the One-Touch print package to optimize your prints on Kodak paper automatically. This consists of a software application and driver for your inkjet. A great many inkjets are supported, but they aren't all supported under each OS. The Web site will so inform you.

EasyShare surprised us with support for so many non-Kodak products. Printers was just one example. Cameras (as USB storage devices) and online photofinishers are two others. If you think this give-away is just for Kodak products, think again.

The next step is building an index of your images. EasyShare will automatically look in My Documents and My Pictures for images files.

INTERFACE

On XP, the interface is simple -- and that's saying something. Instead of unreadable icons cluttering a window, there are four screens easily navigated with tabs on their left side that access EasyShare's four activities:

Within each tab, there are a series of buttons along the top to access special functions for each activity. So there's only two places to look: the tab (where you do most of your work) or the line of buttons at the top of the tab that solves most of your problems.

Just below the buttons, reading left to right, are:

  1. A checklist of steps to perform for the selected task.

  2. The work or display area and

  3. Thumbnails of any selected (active) images.

At the very bottom of the EasyShare screen is a status line giving feedback on the current status of any operation.

That's the "easy" part of EasyShare.

MY COLLECTION

To share something, you have to acquire it. EasyShare starts building your collection of images as soon as you launch it. And you can automatically add images directly from your camera, if you like, or manually from any other source.

Your collection is actually an index of your images, but the image itself does have to reside on your hard drive to take advantage of EasyShare's other options.

You can choose among three different views of your collection. A thumbnail view, a list view and a thumbnail with enlargement view.

The buttons available when My Collection is selected include Add Pictures, Edit Picture, Properties, Rotate, Zoom, Slide Show, Organize, Select All, Deselect All and Help.

Add Pictures lets you manually add images anywhere on your hard drive to the index, but after cataloging your existing images, you'll do this automatically when transferring images from your digicam. As long as your camera functions as a USB storage device, EasyShare is able to recognize it when you plug it into the USB port. After EasyShare sees your digicam, it copies its pictures to your hard drive and synchronizes your digicam's clock to your computer.

Edit Picture provides another set of buttons to improve any particular image. Those include Crop, Red Eye, Enhance, Brightness/Contrast, Exposure, Fun Effects, Rotate, Zoom and Help. Exposure darkens or lightens the image and Fun Effects provides some quick special effects like Fish-eye. The other commands do just what you expect.

Properties displays some basic information about any image including Name, Caption, Date taken, Date acquired, Date modified, Format, File size, Picture size, File location and Keywords. No exposure information is provided.

You can create keywords but even if you don't, EasyShare picks up the folder name as one. You can organize your keywords into Subject, Event, Location and Other categories, too. To apply a keyword, select the images that should be tagged and click on the keyword's checkbox.

PRINT AT HOME

The Print at Home tab offers Setup, Options, Align Paper, Create To Do, Get Pictures, Edit Picture, Select All, Deselect All and Help buttons.

The first three access your print driver options to configure the driver for photo printing. You can also set some of these options from the main screen itself: paper size, paper type and print layout on the right. On the left, you can set the number of copies to print of each image.

If you install Kodak's One-Touch print package, you can enable or disable it from the Options menu.

Create To Do introduces an interesting wrinkle. When you don't have time to print or email your images, you can "queue" the activity, setting a reminder to do it later.

We printed images from EasyShare to a small dye-sub printer. It was remarkably simple. Just select the image in My Collection, click Print at Home and then click on the large Print button at the end of the checklist.

ORDER PRINTS ONLINE

EasyShare excels at making the hard things easy. Navigating the Internet to print photos online isn't as easy as printing a picture on your own printer. But EasyShare makes printing online as easy as printing at home.

Buttons include Setup, Create To Do, Get Pictures, Edit Picture, Select All, Deselect All and Help.

Setup runs Kodak's Service Locator with a long list of online photofinishers to pick from. Pick any one to use the Order Prints Online tab. The default Kodak EasyShare print service hooks you up with Ofoto, now owned by Kodak.

After setting the quantity for each of your selected images, you proceed to the order screen, which displays a thumbnail of your image, several print-size options with their cost and a field where you can adjust the quantity. An icon to the right of each print-size option indicates (green) if the image has sufficient resolution to make that large a print. The order total is displayed at the bottom, too.

EMAIL

One of the more baffling tasks for many new digital photographers is how to send their pictures by email. EasyShare handles this with uncommon grace. It requires only that you are already logged onto the Internet using your usual method.

Options on the Email tab are New Message, Create To Do, Get Pictures, Edit Picture, Select All, Deselect All and Help.

Messages are very easy to create. EasyShare provides four fields to fill out: From (for your email address), To (for the recipient) with a button to access EasyShare's address book, Subject (to tell them what you are sending) and Message to write a short note to accompany your images.

Thumbnails of the images that will be sent with the message are displayed along the right-hand side of those four fields and can be deselected or added to.

Radio buttons on the left-hand side of the fields determine whether you send the large original file or EasyShare automatically resizes your images for email. We were easily able to resize and send a test image. And it even looked good as a snappy 384x288-pixel image that was sharp, too.

EasyShare's address book lets you add entries containing fields for Email address, Camera nickname (required if you store the email address in your Kodak camera), First name, Last name, Address 1, Address 2, City, State, ZIP code, Country and Phone number.

And that covers the "share" part of EasyShare.

HELP

We were delighted to see the depth and detail of the EasyShare Help text. With a simple, straightforward interface, you might expect minimal explanation of what's going on behind the scenes. But Kodak spells everything out in the Help system.

We don't think you'll need it but when you do, you really do. Outright, prolonged applause to Kodak for doing it right.

PREFERENCES

You can set a few preferences to customize the way EasyShare behaves.

CONCLUSION

EasyShare lives up to its name.

Installation was trouble-free, the main screen was uncluttered and comprehensible (which means you don't have to remember much), options were clearly laid out and convenient, performance was brisk and reliable -- and even the tough jobs of sharing your prints were easy.

Not only does EasyShare make it easy for you to do things, but it makes it easy for your printer, too, setting it for optimum photo output using Kodak's One-Touch print package.

The To Do list and Address Book are nice touches. And the image editing handles common editing tasks (like red-eye removal) with ease and even has a few fun things to try.

And you can't beat the price.

If you'd like an easier way to manage your photos after the fun of taking them, take a look at EasyShare.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Nikon Coolpix 4300 -- A High-End Easy Coolpix

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CP4300/C43A.HTM on the Web site.)

Nikon is prized for its combination of excellent picture quality and an amazing range of features, all calculated to give the photographer maximum control over the picture-taking process.

Lately Nikon has started addressing the digital picture-taking needs of "ordinary people," rather than just focusing on the "enthusiast" crowd. Cameras like the Coolpix 885 and 775 incorporated Scene modes to set the camera for specific picture-taking situations (such as "party," "beach," "fireworks," etc.). Earlier this year, they extended that line with the introduction of the Coolpix 2500, with its unusual swiveling lens. Most recently, they've announced the Coolpix 2000 as an affordable entry-level model.

The $499 Coolpix 4300, positioned as a higher-end "easy" Coolpix, moves its "consumer-friendly" line upscale to 4-megapixel resolution. But this Coolpix also adds a manual exposure mode and manual focus to a camera otherwise positioned more as a point and shoot.

CAMERA OVERVIEW

Featuring a smoothly-sculpted all-plastic body with a modern, matte-silver finish, the Coolpix 4300 is fairly compact, appealing to the tastes of consumers looking for a portable digicam with plenty of features. The Coolpix 4300 is small enough for travel anywhere, although its thickness will keep it out of shirt pockets. Instead, the Coolpix 4300 should be quite at home in larger coat pockets or purses and comes with a small wrist strap for easy transportation. The Coolpix 4300 offers a 3x, Nikkor optical zoom lens and a high-resolution 4.0-megapixel CCD for capturing quality images, suitable for printing at 8x10 inches or larger, even with some cropping. Since the camera operates primarily under automatic control (though there is an almost hidden Manual control mode), its control layout and menu display are user friendly and straightforward, with a wide range of features controlled by the top-mounted mode dial and the rear-panel buttons and rocker control.

The Coolpix 4300 features both an optical viewfinder and 1.5-inch color LCD monitor for composing images. Although the LCD provides more accurate framing than the optical viewfinder, it noticeably decreases battery life. In Record mode, the LCD offers a detailed information display, complete with shutter speed and aperture, even in full Automatic mode. In Playback mode, the Coolpix 4300 features a five-page display, including a histogram to graph tonal distribution of the displayed image. There's even an option under the Setup menu to save this extensive exposure information as a text file.

The camera's 3x, 8-24mm zoom lens (28-114mm equivalent) offers maximum apertures from f2.8 to f4.9, depending on the zoom setting. The camera uses contrast-detection autofocus or manual focus control and focuses in normal mode from 1.0 foot to infinity. In Macro mode, the camera focuses as close as 1.6 inches. An Infinity focus mode is also available for quick shots of distant subjects. Focusing options include Continuous and Single autofocus modes and an AF Area selection mode, which lets you choose the desired focus area from a set of five available. Alternatively you can let the camera choose which focus point to use. It will pick the focus area that has subject detail closest to the lens. In addition to 3x optical zoom, the Coolpix 4300 offers a maximum 4x digital zoom, to zoom in even closer. The 4.0-megapixel CCD produces high-resolution images, good enough for printing to 8x10 inches or larger with good detail (even with some cropping), as well as multiple options for lower-resolution images to be used for email or for printing as 4x6-inch snapshots.

Keeping with the Coolpix tradition, the Coolpix 4300's exposure control is fairly straightforward (though it took me a few minutes to discover the full Manual exposure mode, buried in the shooting menu). Learning to operate under either automatic or manual control is quick. Most of the exposure options are controlled through the multi-page LCD menu system, though a handful of external controls access basic features such as Exposure Compensation, flash mode, focus mode and zoom. A Mode dial on top of the camera selects the primary operating mode, with options of full Auto, Manual, Scene, Movie, Setup and Playback modes. Full Auto mode keeps the camera in charge of everything except flash, focus and exposure compensation, while the Manual Mode dial setting lets you choose between Program AE and Manual exposure modes, with a range of exposure options available. In Scene mode, the Coolpix 4300 offers no less than 12 preset shooting modes, with options ranging from night scenes to indoor settings to a variety of outdoor options.

The camera's Exposure Compensation adjustment brightens or darkens the image from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents in one-third step increments. A White Balance adjustment offers five preset modes, an Auto setting and a Custom setting for determining the color balance based on a white reference card or piece of paper. You can also capture a three-shot White Balance Bracketing series, through the Auto Exposure Bracketing menu option. The Coolpix 4300 has four metering modes, which include 256-Segment Matrix, Center-Weighted, Spot and Spot AF Area (which links the AE spot to the AF Area selected). The camera's Auto Exposure Bracketing mode captures a series of either three or five images at different exposure settings for when you're not exactly sure of the best exposure. ISO offers an Auto setting or you can specify sensitivity settings equivalent to 100, 200 or 400 ISO. You can also adjust the overall sharpness of an image and access Nikon's Best Shot Selector mode, which automatically chooses the least blurry image in a series. An Image Adjustment menu lets you capture black-and-white images, adjust overall brightness or alter the image contrast. The Coolpix 4300's built-in flash is effective to approximately 12.1 feet and operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Anytime Flash, Flash Cancel and Slow Sync modes.

Exposure times on the Coolpix 4300 range from 1/1000 to eight seconds in normal shooting mode, with a Bulb setting available in Manual mode that extends the range to 60 seconds. An optional Noise Reduction feature reduces image noise from longer exposures and can be enabled through the shooting menu. Other camera features include a Self-Timer mode, which provides a 3- or 10-second delay between the time the Shutter button is pressed and the time the image is actually captured. A Continuous Shooting mode captures a series of images in rapid sequence while the Shutter button is held down, with the maximum number of shots in each burst dependent on the image size and quality settings, as well as the amount of memory card space available. There's also a Multi-Shot 16 mode, which captures 16 thumbnail images in sequence, arranged in rows of four in the final image, as well as VGA Sequence and Ultra High Speed modes. Movie mode captures moving images, without sound, at approximately 15 frames per second for a maximum of 40 seconds. The actual recording time may be limited by the amount of available CompactFlash card space and the maximum available time appears in the LCD monitor display when in Movie mode.

The Coolpix 4300 stores images on CompactFlash (type I) memory cards and comes with a 16-MB Lexar starter card. Given the Coolpix 4300's 2272x1704-pixel resolution size, I strongly recommend picking up a larger memory card so you don't miss any important shots. Memory cards are cheap enough these days that I really suggest you purchase at least a 64-MB card along with your camera. Images are saved in either JPEG format, with three compression levels available or uncompressed TIFF. Nikon View 5 [MW] on a CD-ROM accompanies the camera to provide minor image editing and organization tools for downloading, cataloging and enhancing images. The camera comes with a single lithium-ion rechargeable battery and charger, but can also use an optional AC adapter. As always, I strongly recommend picking up an extra battery and keeping it freshly charged. Also included with the Coolpix 4300 is an NTSC video cable (U.S. and Japanese models) for connecting to a television set and a USB cable for downloading images to a computer. The Coolpix 4300 features instant image downloading (once connected to a computer) via the Transfer button on the back panel. Download speed is a good bit faster than average, at 564-KB/second.

TEST RESULTS

Color: The Coolpix 4300 showed excellent color. Colors were hue-accurate and saturation was excellent across the board. Neither too much nor too little. I was very impressed with the 4300's white balance system -- it seems manufacturers are getting a better handle on white balance. Outdoor shots looked great and indoors even the Auto setting produced decent results under incandescent lighting, with the Manual option doing very well indeed. Better yet, there's a range of adjustments on the various white balance presets that let you push the color toward reds or blues as needed. Applying a blue boost to the Incandescent setting let the 4300 handle household incandescent lighting pretty well. Household incandescent lighting, so common here in the U.S., has been a real bugaboo for digicam white balance systems. I'd like to see the 4300's incandescent setting handle it better without adjustment, but it does OK with a full blue tweak applied.

Exposure: The 4300 generally did pretty well in the exposure department. It tended to be a little contrasty, losing highlight and shadow detail under harsh, full-sun lighting, but under most other light sources, produced very nice, full-toned images. It required quite a bit of exposure compensation on the indoor portrait tests, both with and without flash, something that many cameras fall prey to, but a trait I'd still prefer not to see. In typical daylight shooting conditions though, its metering was very accurate.

Resolution/Sharpness: The Coolpix 4300's 4.0-megapixel CCD and Nikkor lens produced very sharp images and good results with the resolution test chart. I noticed artifacts in the target at around 800 lines per picture height both vertically and horizontally, though detail remained strong out to 1,100 lines. Extinction occurred around 1,300 lines.

Close-ups: The Coolpix 4300 does very well in the macro category, capturing a really tiny minimum area of 0.85x0.64 inches. I have always been impressed with Nikon's macro shooting and the Coolpix 4300 is no exception. Color and exposure were both good and detail was very nice on the dollar bill. Details were blurred on the brooch and coins, due to a limited depth of field and the very close shooting range. The flash can't throttle down enough for shooting at the minimum focusing distance though, so you'll need to plan on external lighting for super-macro shots.

Viewfinder Accuracy: The Coolpix 4300's optical viewfinder is very tight, showing only about 81 percent of the frame at wide-angle and about 79 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor is much more accurate, showing approximately 98 percent accuracy at wide-angle and telephoto. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the Coolpix 4300's LCD monitor performs well here, but the optical viewfinder leaves a good bit to be desired. This is particularly unfortunate, given the exceptional battery life of the 4300 in capture mode with the LCD turned off. The poor accuracy of the optical viewfinder will prompt users to rely on the LCD more than they would otherwise, shortening battery life.

Optical Distortion: Optical distortion on the Coolpix 4300 was average (which means higher than I'd like to see) at the wide-angle lens setting, where I measured an approximate 0.8 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto setting fared better, where I measured a 0.2 percent barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration was very good, showing only about three pixels of color around the edges of the resolution target lines and the common purple fringing around bright objects in the corners of the image appears to be very well controlled.

Battery Life: With the LCD on in capture mode (the worst-case power drain mode), the 4300 will run a bit over 90 minutes on a freshly-charged battery. With the LCD off though, power consumption drops to a trickle and the camera will remain powered up for over 60 hours. If the optical viewfinder were just a bit more accurate, you could literally shoot all day on a single battery charge. Although as always, I strongly recommend purchasing a second battery along with the camera, so you'll always have a spare.

CONCLUSION

The Coolpix 4300 looks like a very nicely designed camera for the high end point-and-shoot market. Its extensive set of scene modes will let even novices snap good photos in what would otherwise be challenging situations. At the same time, the partially hidden full-manual exposure mode and manual focus option provide added flexibility for more advanced users, without overly cluttering the user interface.

Now that I've had a chance to test a full production model, I can confidently recommend the 4300 to anyone looking for a compact, full-featured 4-megapixel camera. Its resolution and color rendering are both excellent. Highly recommended, I think this is going to prove to be a very popular model for Nikon!

Return to Topics.

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:

Return to Topics.

Beginners Flash: Four Tips for Portraits

Your digicam can take great portraits of the important people in your life. And a few tips from professional portrait photographers will make your head shots even more impressive.

Fortunately, they're easy to remember and just as easy to use.

ZOOM IN

Unlike a lot of film point-and-shoot cameras, your digicam probably has a zoom lens. A zoom lens set somewhere around three-quarters of its full range is the equivalent of a pro's moderate zoom for portraits.

A moderate zoom can slightly blur the background -- focusing attention on your subject -- and keeping their features in proportion.

And that blur can be even more important if you have to minimize wrinkles by applying a Blur filter to the portrait in your image editor. Your focused foreground subject will still look sharp compared to the blurred background after you apply a slight blur.

ANGLE YOUR SHOT

Flattering shots require slightly different approaches for men, women and children. Flattering, we said, mind you.

Shoot male faces from below, looking up a bit, to emphasize the jaw bone and minimize the nose.

Women benefit from just the opposite. Shoot from around the forehead down rather than the jaw up for a more tapered jaw line and elegant nose.

Children are in a world of their own. Dive in! Get down on your hands and knees, bringing your lens to their eye level and shoot like mad. If your camera is hovering over their heads, it's too high.

MINIMIZE DISTRACTIONS

Pros use seamless backdrops for formal portraits but sometimes also shoot in more candid settings reflecting the interests of their subject. Watch out for the odd prop (street lights, floor lamps) behind your subject that may appear to be sprouting from their head in your composition. But surround your subject with the things they love.

If your subject wears glasses, leave the glasses sitting on their nose in their normal perch, but lift them up slightly behind the ear, so reflections bounce down at the floor not back at your camera. You don't have a portrait if you can't see their eyes.

AVOID FLASH

The source of all red-eye is your on-camera flash. Think of it as a convenience for getting shots you otherwise just wouldn't capture. But when it comes to portraits, avoid it. Rely instead on available light -- even if your camera warns you there isn't enough. There often is plenty for a portrait.

If your camera has a Shutter Priority mode, set if for 1/60 of a second to avoid camera shake (1/30 may work for you, too). Brace yourself, too.

Keep those tips in mind and your subjects will beg you to take their picture. "You always take such nice pictures of me," they'll beam at you, pleading. You won't even have to prompt them to smile!

Return to Topics.

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:

Can the Fuji FinePix 3800 take a night shot? http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee8e69f/17

Canon fans talk about the PowerShot S110 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee7b839/136 and the PowerShot A40 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee8b660/392

Explore the features of the Olympus D-550 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee8cdff/34

Join the Nikon D100 discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee8c7ea/288

Return to Topics.

Just for Fun: Suddenly We're Fashionable

Don't look now but the common ordinary digicam has become a fashion accessory.

We were sitting in a waiting room recently, minding our own business (by wondering who buys the art that hangs on the wall), when we noticed the damsel across from us. It wasn't the cell phone she was wearing like an ear ring. It was the digicam whose wrist strap she was twirling as if it were a small purse.

Alert to the phenomenon, we noticed the usual earphones and CD players on the daily commute (which we sometimes take to stay in shape) had been discreetly complemented by subtle digicam accents. A flash of brushed aluminum, a glint of stainless steel.

What's going on, we wondered, letting our Average digicam dangle prominently from our neck.

Our ignorance was nurtured by an extended absence from the front of the TV and an unaccountable failure to flip through any glossy fashion magazines lately. We've been busy.

If we hadn't been, we would have noticed the trend.

"Stainless steel goes with everything," Canon's ads wink, picturing a PowerShot strapped to a hanger. "No visible camera lines," Casio's ads promise as they slip an Exilim into a pair of hip huggers. And Sony won't send its advertising out into the cold without a little black dress and a CyberShot U hung from its model's neck.

What's wrong with this picture?

Nothing, as far as we can see. We've been getting a little weary of looking at unadorned hardware anyway.

But we are a little surprised at the ad guys. They talk about this strategy as if it were nothing more than a marketing ploy. To get young women to buy digicams -- even if they don't know how to use them. (Guys, apparently, have always been a soft sell for gear and gizmos. Even if they don't know how to use them.)

Nope, ad dudes, we think what's going on here is that young women like to take pictures. And even more, they like to share them. It doesn't cut down on their chat time, it just makes it more productive. Seeing, after all, is believing. And some of those shots have to be worth a thousand words.

They're just ready to take it to the next level. Which has always been fashionable here.

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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: See the Stars

I have been trying to mate (pardon the expression) my Kodak digicam with a telescope. People who should know said to simply hold the camera up to the eyepiece, but all I got was a sort of vignetted image or just a picture of the telescope. Help!

-- D. Parson

("People who should know" were talking about "afocal projection" (see reader Brett McKee's article at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/ASTRO/ASTRO.HTM). You just point the camera lens into the eyepiece, focusing on the virtual image inside the telescope. Your zoom setting will make a difference. So will the eyepiece and reflector.... You can't use the telescope lens as a camera lens because you can't remove the lens from your digicam (just as you can't attach a 35mm lens to the front of your digicam). So you focus on what the eyepiece sees, rather than the actual object. Some companies (http://www.ckcpower.com) make this a little easier by selling camera mounts to hold the camera in position. -- Editor)

RE: LaserSoft Clarifies OS X Support

SilverFast is supported on most all scanners in OS X now. There are some that we are still working on, like the Nikon LS-2000 which we've just added support for.

Because we support 150-160 scanners the customer will need to call us or visit our site to find if their scanner is working on OS X. For 99 percent of the scanners, there are demos available to prove it works on the customer's particular system.

In addition to the Nikon scanner, we also added support for all Linotype/Heidleberg flatbed scanners. We will also be adding support for Umax scanners that Umax is not supporting for Mac OS X and the same can be said for Agfa scanners.

-- Paul P. Buckner VII, LaserSoft Imaging marketing manager

(Thanks for the update, Paul. -- Editor)

RE: Copying Our Code

I don't know if this is available, but you mentioned:

"If you'd like to see at a glance the exact number of pixels your image requires to match the aspect ratio of the four most popular sizes of prints, just visit http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS for the online version of this issue. We've plugged in a Javascript Aspect Ratio Calculator right about here..."

Is there a way to get the Javascript code so I can have it easily available on my PC?

By the way, I'm fairly new to digital photography and being legally blind I have a hard time operating my camera and learning how to do things. I have learned so much from you newsletter and it is helpful to me in more ways than I can write about. Keep up the good work!

-- Frank Planes

(Thanks very much for the kind words, Frank! It means a lot. Now to copy the free Javascript code, first display the page in your browser. Then just View Page Source in Navigator or View Source in Explorer. You'll see the HTML (including the Javascript code) for the whole page. Save that to your disk and whenever you want to run the code, just drag it to your browser window. -- Editor)

RE: Flash Trigger Voltage Risk

I'm writing to wish you and Dave a joyful Christmas. You give me a lot of satisfaction all year long!

Can't pass up this opportunity, though, to ask: Would I risk damaging the circuits in my Olympus E-10 if I were to use an old Vivitar 285HV Zoom Thyristor flash with it?

-- Ron Lightbourn

(Probably. Our Vivitar 283s shoot 300 volts through the circuits -- way over the typical 6 volt digicam limit, which you can assume is the E-10's limit. It can be hard to actually get anyone to tell you the limit for a particular camera (and you do have to be told). But 6 volts is safe. To tell what your 285 does. You can put a voltmeter's two leads on the two contacts of the 285's hot shoe. But even if it exceeds 6 volts, all isn't lost. You can pick up a Wein Safe Sync for about $40 and use the 285 on the E-10 without fear. -- Editor)

RE: Dialup Suggestion

On my 56k (if I am lucky, it will download at 36k) dialup line, it takes several seconds to retrieve your newsletter. I think that a second option, that you send notification that the newsletter has been published (with a link to it on the Web, of course) instead of the full newsletter, would be a nice feature.

-- Richard Schuh

(Thanks for your thoughts, Richard. We certainly appreciate the problem, being long-time dial-up users ourselves. We rely on an option in our email programs (Eudora and Outlook) to limit retrieval of emails based on their size. Generally you can set that to any number of bytes. The newsletter is always about 48K, so to avoid the automatic download, set it at anything under that. Instead of the long download, you get the first few lines of the email so you know what it is and a button to click to authorize download of the full email. The very first lines of this newsletter include a link to the HTML version, BTW. Take a look at your email program's preferences/properties to see if you can find the setting. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Digicam users planned to take 36 holiday pictures compared to 30 for their film-based relatives, according to a Kodak survey. Two-thirds of the digicammers also plan to share their holiday images by email.

And there are a lot more digicammers this month, according to a Consumer Reports study that shows more people across the nation buy digital cameras in December than any other month. A few of whom may be joining us for the first time (perhaps as a recipient of our Gift Certification at http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?gsb). Welcome!


Reindeer Graphics has released version 1.1 of Optipix (http://www.reindeergraphics.com/updates.shtml). The free update introduces the corner-preserving Safe Median and scratch-removing Power Median plug-ins while updating the Edge Enhancer so the dialog window can be moved. The online documentation (http://www.reindeergraphics.com/updates.shtml) has also been updated with examples for the new plug-ins. In a brief test of Power Median's ability to remove noise that has an orientation, we were able to rid the Golden Gate Bridge of its suspension cables.


Yamaha has introduced the $130 CRW-F1ZEM Tattoo CD-RW drive (http://www.yamahamultimedia.com/yec/products/cdrw/crwf1.asp), an internal version of its CRW-F1, the first CD recorder to offer the DiscT@2TM (Tattoo) Laser Labeling System, which allows graphics and text to be burnt onto CD-R discs, eliminating the need for labels.


Photo2VCD Software has released version 1.50 of Photo2VCD Professional (http://www.photo2vcd.com), which features support for 95 percent of the burners on the market (up from 65 percent).


Microsoft has released Microsoft Plus Digital Media Edition for Windows XP featuring tools for handling music, movies and photos -- including special photo-editing tools. The $19.95 software can be downloaded only starting Jan. 7 from a number of Web retail outlets.


Canon has released ImageBrowser 2.7 (http://www.powershot.com/powershot2/customer/ibmacupdate.html) with Exif Print support for Mac OS X and Classic. Canon also released File Viewer Utility 1.1.1 (http://www.powershot.com/powershot2/customer/fvu-e.html) for Mac OS X to convert RAW images into JPEGS or 8-bit or 16-bit TIFF files.


Archos (http://www.archos.com) has introduced the $350 DExDVD-RW portable drive. The USB 2.0 device comes with Roxio's Easy CD Creator and VideoWave Movie Creator to create, edit and burn CDs and DVDs.


LaserSoft Imaging has released SilverFast Ai 6 on Mac OS X for the Nikon LS2000 film scanner. The upgrade is free for users of version 6 and $65 for users of version 5. LaserSoft Imaging now supports all Heidelberg/Linotype scanners on OS X 10.2, OS 9 and Windows with the latest release of SilverFast Ai 6. Demo versions and upgrades can be downloaded from http://www.SilverFast.com.


SMaL Camera Technologies (http://www.SMaLcamera.com) announced Radio Shack and Oregon Scientific have each released a digital still camera based on SMaL's Ultra-Pocket digicam. SMaL's CMOS solution features credit card-sized design, 1/4-inch thickness, the industry's lowest power consumption and its Autobrite technology to automatically adjust exposure. Radio Shack is distributing the SMaL-enabled FlatFoto at over 5,100 retail stores. Oregon Scientific is distributing the SMaL-enabled DS6610 in North America and Europe.


Pixami (http://www.pixami.com) will provide its technology to anyTime Photo (http://www.anytimephoto.com), a new online photo community. In addition, anyTime Photo will incorporate Pixami's Photo Products service, which includes online design and print fulfillment of custom greeting cards, calendars, hardcover and softcover books.


Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released version 7.5.69 of VueScan [MW] featuring a Color/Pixel colors option and support for gaps in sequence of raw scan files.

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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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