The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 5, Number 4 21 February 2003

Copyright 2003, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 91st edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Know somebody who'd love digital photography but can't stand computers? We've got an answer for them. Then Dave finds a G3 in Canon's sleek new S45. And we flip through a down-to-earth encyclopedia on turning digital images into prints.


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:
Maha
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Nikonusa.com
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The Nikon D100 -- the Best of Both Worlds.

Designed to meet the needs of the experienced SLR user, this lightweight, full-featured digital SLR 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 53,900 readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

Feature: HiTi 630PS -- Drugstore Prints at Home

The trouble with getting into digital photography has always been getting prints. No more dropping the old roll of film off at the drugstore and picking up your prints later. Instead, you're stuck with all these files.

Even worse, if you (or a loved one) is allergic to computers, you can't play digital. No sense buying one of those adorable digicams, you'll never see a single picture.

Well, not quite. Hold the phone. Hang on a minute. These fellows at Hi-Touch Technology (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?hti) have invented a home drugstore printer that does not need a computer. With the HiTi 630PS and a digicam, you can take digital pictures and get 4x6 digital prints without using a computer. And those prints are real, continuous tone prints, just like you get at the drugstore. No charge for development and free film, too.

Even more impressive, this $250 printer does it for just 40 cents a print, too. Which can excite even people with computers. Because that, folks, is a price breakthrough. The next closest competitor is $100 more.

WHO ARE THESE GUYS?

Hi-Touch Imaging Technologies (http://www.hitouchimaging.com) was established in Feb. 2001 in Taiwan. With 350 employees, their focus is in hardware ASIC design, moving mechanisms, firmware/driver/application development and color science. Every one of those talents is evident in the 630PS.

THE 630 LINE

Hi-Touch actually makes two 630 printers, the PL and PS models (as well as heavy-duty printers for professional photo labs). The PL lacks the PS's cabled controller and media slots, requiring a computer.

But the PS model's independence from a computer intrigued us, so we asked to review it. See the illustrated version of this review online (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/HT630PS/HT6.HTM).

FEATURES

Available from camera dealers, the 630PS consists of a small footprint, upright printer with two media slots and a detachable but cabled controller with a color LCD. Cut sheet paper, perforated to 4x6 size, is fed into the straight-through paper path from a small cassette. A power cable and USB cable round out the package.

The controller's job is to tell the processor built into the printer what you want to do. It lets you print an index print of everything on your card (in several formats), ID photos, stickers and every image on the card unattended. And it even provides access to some minor image editing capabilities.

The two media slots accommodate CompactFlash and SmartMedia cards. Adapters for Memory Stick and SD cards are available (http://www.hitouchimaging.com/accesories.asp?lkid=330) for $34.99 each. Hi-Touch told us that future models will support five formats (MS/SD/MMC/CF/SM).

The printer is Digital Print Order Format compatible, so if you tag images for printing in your DPOF-capable camera, the 630PS will know what to do with them.

Printed documentation is a little sparse but we found the PDF included on the CD to be everything we needed and the Web site (http://www.hi-ti.com/english) very helpful as well.

The sample print kit that ships with the printer includes eight sheets of photo paper, one sheet of 4x4 sticker paper, one sheet of 4/2/4 sticker paper and one ribbon cartridge good for 10 prints.

THE DYE SUB DIFFERENCE

Prints from the 630PS are continuous tone, not screened, using dye diffusion thermal transfer (photo dye sub) at 300x300 dpi. These aren't your inkjet's dpi, though, because the density of each dot is variable (somewhat like your monitor's pixels). These are dot-free prints (http://www.hitouchimaging.com/tech.asp). Hi-Touch said the prints compare to inkjets at 4800 dpi.

Dye sub printing uses a heating element to heat dye impregnated in a ribbon to over 350 degrees, at which point it turns into a gas and migrates into the surface of the specially coated photo paper. Temperature controls how much dye transfers at any point on the paper.

In addition to yellow, cyan and magenta dyes, the ribbon contains a clear coating. Hi-Touch's Magic Coating Technology protects the dyes from UV light and waterproofs them, sealing the dyes into the paper.

Our 3.32-megapixel images took about two and half minutes to turn into 4x6 prints, ready to be handled. Bend and tear the print along the two perforated short edges and you have borderless prints. You can trim about four at a time.

The paper is sold in kits that include 50 sheets of 4x6 paper and a new ribbon for $19.95. There are a number of kits available either directly from the company or through your camera dealer. Kits include dye-cut sticker paper for all the various sizes supported by the print driver as well as combinations of them (http://www.hitouchimaging.com/consumable.asp?lid=350).

With no messy inks, dye sub printing is very clean. Once in a while, you'll want to clean paper dust off the feed transport rollers inside the printer, but that's it. A $9.99 cleaning kit is available to do that (http://www.hitishop.com/accessory1.html). Otherwise, this is as clean and simple -- and beautiful -- as photo printing gets.

HARDWARE DESIGN

We found the "space age" design of the 630PS to be attractive as well as functional. Its air-conditioner grill may even be a calming influence.

The power cord is simply that. No power brick is required. And the USB port is nearby, so all cables are hidden in the back. A power switch is also located at the rear of the base.

The controller slips into a small holder on the side, which is also nicely designed. We found the buttons a little stiff, but at this price, we aren't complaining. A coiled cord lets you handle the controller conveniently.

We really liked the cassette. Our old workhorse dye sub requires us to handle each sheet of paper. Unless you're in a dust-free environment, that can be a problem. Not to mention the difficulty of aligning the paper to the feed slot without touching the sensitive surface. Not a problem with the 630PS. In fact, the 25-sheet cassette meant we could let it run unattended. Finished prints stacked up neatly on top of the cassette.

Because the cassette is curved, we had a little trouble seating it in the printer. But we managed to figure it out.

A small LED on the front indicates the power status. It also serves to monitor the progress of any firmware updates. In the course of our two-month testing, we downloaded one firmware update (a beta, at that), updating the printer without incident.

One of the more aggravating aspects of our old dye sub is how hard it is to insert a ribbon. We were delighted with the 630PS's cartridge system, which simply slips into the generous bay that's exposed when you press a button on the top of the printer. It was, in a word, a snap. Very nice.

TWO MODES

The printer not only operates in two modes, but it's smart enough to figure out which one is appropriate.

If you don't attach a USB cable to the USB port, it knows it's in standalone mode. The LCD on the controller displays a color menu of icons.

Even with a USB cable attached, if your computer is off, the printer realizes you want to run it from the controller in standalone mode.

But if the printer senses a computer at the other end of the USB cable, it will display "PC Mode" on its LCD and behave like any other USB printer.

CALIBRATION

The Setup menu on the controller does provide a limited calibration routine, mainly to align the paper to the print head. There is a set of images to pick the optimal skin tone, but we really couldn't tell one from the other. They all looked good.

Some images tended to print with contrast and a little dark, but that merely reflects the reduced density range of going to print on any medium. The color itself was accurate. In general we were delighted with unedited images printed straight from the card. We hadn't expected that.

And for the odd print that could use some help, the simple built-in image editing (see the Enhance command below) is often enough to save the day.

The Setup option also lets you switch between CompactFlash and SmartMedia readers if you load both bays with cards. It also has a Firmware Update option, LCD Adjustment (for brightness, contrast and hue), Language and an About screen that reports the controller version and firmware version.

WHAT THE CONTROLLER DOES

The six-button controller with a 1.6-inch color LCD provides a computer-free interface to the printer's functions.

The Main Page displays a set of eight icons. On the top row are Photo, ID Photo, Index and Sticker. Along the bottom are Quick Photo, DPOF, Print All and Setup.

You navigate to your choice with the four-arrowed toggle button and press the OK button to select it.

Select Photo to scroll through the thumbnails of the JPEG images on your storage card one at a time. When you see one you want to print, press OK. Use the Up or Down arrow key to set the number of copies to print and press OK again. Continue through the card. When you've finished, press Print to batch print the set.

While previewing your images, you can press the Edit button. Functions available include Move, Rotate (not really necessary), Resize and Copies.

You can also Enhance the image, changing its Brightness, Contrast, Color R/G (hue shift from red to green) and Color B/Y (blue/yellow hue shift).

ID Photo is a pair of special ID photo formats that use matching die-cut photo paper. You can print 12 one-inch ID photos or 9 two-inch ID photos on a 4x6 sheet.

An Index print can be formatted into 6x5, 8x7 or 5x4 columns/rows, providing a handy contact sheet of your card contents.

There are also two Sticker formats, 4x4 and 4/2/4.

Quick Photo simplifies printing a single image. Just select the photo and press OK to send it to the printer.

Press Print after selecting DPOF to confirm and print the DPOF order.

Similarly, press Print after selecting Print All to confirm and start printing.

PUTTING IT TO WORK

So just how would you use the 630PS without a computer?

Start by turning on the printer, inserting your storage card (with an adapter if necessary) and printing an index of the card contents. If you like what you see, Print All. Otherwise use the Photo command to select what you want.

With a DPOF-capable digicam, you can select which images to print in the camera and just use the printer's DPOF option after you've inserted your storage card.

The only catch to this convenience is that there's no equivalent of those drugstore negatives for reprints. Once you erase your images from the card, you've only got the prints.

Keeping with the no-computer theme, one solution might be one of those digital photo wallets that can copy your card contents. With gigabytes of storage, they're something of an iPod for your photo collection.

Low-cost storage cards are in the works, too. The idea is to mimic film by providing an inexpensive but write-once medium.

And if you really miss the drugstore, you can still pop in to use their photo kiosk to copy your card contents to CD.

OK, HOW ABOUT THE COMPUTER?

Yes, you can plug this pup into your USB port and print directly from your image editing software. As long as it's running under Windows. A Mac driver is not yet available.

We printed from Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Album, Picasa, EasyShare and directly from Windows XP. From the driver, you can set portrait/landscape orientation and crop/expand the image to fit the printer's 4x6 format.

Included with the driver is Mirabella for making last minute tonal shifts directly from the print dialog box and Desiree, an image editor. There's also a separate program available on the Web site called Adjustor to adjust printing parameters and save the modifications as a driver default. You can modify color, brightness, contrast and sharpness either by moving a control bar or inputting a number.

SOME SURPRISES

We had some old images from the days when a 640x480 image was high resolution. So we copied a few to a card and let the printer do what it would with them.

Surprisingly, they were enlarged without artifacts. The final prints were indistinguishable from higher resolution images.

That bodes very well indeed for lower-resolution cameras.

As we write this, a Macintosh driver for the printer is still a dream. The company plans to outsource the project, we were told, but hadn't yet found a Mac programmer.

For standalone operation, the size of your image matters, too. JPEG file size must be smaller than 3M, expanding to no more than 6,229,312 pixels and can not exceed 2,950 pixels on either side. The beta firmware we tested, however, supported JPEGs up to 8-MB, expanding to 7.5-megapixels with a maximum long dimension of 3,574 pixels.

CONCLUSION

Personally, we could sit in front of our monitor for days playing around with a single image, printing it several hundred times to capture just the right effect, like a sort of Giacometti of photo imaging, constantly revising the image as the subject itself varies.

But with the 630PS around, we found ourselves coming home with some pictures in our camera, copying them to a laptop (just to be safe) and dropping the card into the 630PS for instant prints. We passed the 4x6 prints around to anyone who would take them and got them shuffled into random order just like real drugstore prints. It was just too easy not to bang out a batch of 4x6 prints.

This is, simply, the best solution we've found for computerless digital photography that gives you everything you could get from your drugstore.

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Feature: Canon PowerShot S45 -- Beauty With Brains

By DAVE ETCHELLS

Canon U.S.A. has long been a strong contender in both film and digicam markets, well known for its high-quality optics, technical innovations and aggressive product development. The 4.0-megapixel PowerShot S45 updates the excellent PowerShot S40, incorporating many features from the high-end PowerShot G3 in a more compact, portable format. Introduced at $499, the PowerShot S45 is an excellent bargain, sure to be a popular choice among business users, prosumer photographers, advanced amateurs and even beginning photographers who want a high-quality digicam that delivers large, sharp, colorful picture files.

EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW

Just like the Canon PowerShot S40 before it, the S45 feels like you're handling a well-built, high-quality digicam. The size and style are reminiscent of a point-and-shoot model, though it offers four megapixels of resolution and a wide range of shooting options -- from fully manual operation to programmed, automatic and several preset exposures. The telescoping 3x zoom lens is made of Canon's high-quality optical glass, protected by a clamshell sliding lens cover that blends well into the camera's front panel.

New features on the S45 include a slightly more streamlined user interface, including an expanded Function menu with direct access to all base-level camera settings (such as resolution, exposure compensation, white balance, etc.). Other improvements include new exposure algorithms for more accurate exposures, more custom options (including a Custom exposure mode), better focus control, an Interval shooting mode, longer movie recording times and expanded print capabilities. The S45 has the same 4.0-megapixel CCD, delivering high resolution images for sharp prints, and lower resolution images more suited for email.

The S45's sleek, steel-gray body is made of high-impact polycarbonate, entirely surrounded with brushed and anodized aluminum body panels. Measuring only 4.4x2.3x1.7 inches with the lens retracted and weighing just 11.5 ounces with the battery and storage card installed, the S45 actually isn't all that much longer and heavier than the ultra-compact S330 Digital Elph. Sliding open the protective lens cover powers on the camera, automatically extending the lens and placing the camera in Shooting mode. When slid closed, the cover stops just short of the lens barrel, giving it time to retract and shut down before you can close the cover completely (preventing the much-to-be-avoided "bumped lens" syndrome). Rather than incorporating Playback on the Mode dial, the S45 has a Replay switch that doubles as a Quick-Review button. You can switch to Playback mode, scroll through captured images, and return to Shooting mode without touching the Mode dial. The S45 is small enough to fit into a coat pocket or purse and comes with a 0.25-inch braided nylon wrist strap for added convenience.

The camera features an eye-level "real image" optical viewfinder that zooms along with the 3x lens and features a central autofocus / exposure target for composing images. Two LEDs on the left side of the viewfinder report the camera's status. When the camera is powered on in most Shooting modes, the 1.8-inch LCD monitor automatically illuminates. Pressing the Display button cycles through three display modes: screen on with image only, screen on with image and settings readout and screen off. Depending on the Shooting mode, the LCD settings readout reports the flash setting, drive mode, metering mode, image size and quality and the number of frames remaining. Additional functions are shown as they are enabled and battery status is only displayed when the remaining power is low.

The 7.1-21.3mm zoom lens (equivalent to 35-105mm on a 35mm camera) offers both manual and automatic focus control. Manual focus mode is accessed by holding down the MF button on the left side of the monitor and toggling the up and down arrows on the Multicontroller pad in the upper right corner of the camera's back panel. A vertical scale on the LCD monitor shows the focus distance when manual focus is active. In normal AF mode, the S45 will select from among 9 different AF frames automatically, depending on the location of the subject closest to the camera. Alternatively, you can use the Multicontroller to manually position the AF frame wherever you like, within an area covering approximately the central 60 percent of the image area. Focus ranges from 2.7 feet to infinity in normal mode and from 3.9 inches to 2.7 feet in Macro mode. The 3.6x Digital Zoom can be turned on in the Record menu, then activated by zooming past the maximum optical telephoto range with the camera's Zoom lever.

Exposure modes are accessed via the Mode dial on top of the camera. Canon divided the dial into three exposure types: Auto, Creative Zone and Image Zone. Auto mode puts the camera in charge of everything except the Flash and Macro modes. Creative Zone modes include: Program AE, Shutter Speed-Priority AE (Tv), Aperture-Priority AE (Av), Manual Exposure and Custom. Program AE lets the camera choose the aperture and shutter speed settings, but gives you control over all other exposure options. Aperture and Shutter Speed Priority modes let you set one exposure variable (aperture or shutter speed) while the camera chooses the best value of the other variable (shutter speed or aperture). Manual mode gives you full control over all exposure parameters (aperture can be set from f2.8 to f8.0 and shutter speed ranges from 1/1500 to 15 seconds). Finally, Custom mode lets you save a variety of specific exposure and function settings in one of the other modes, which can then be recalled instantly, simply by rotating the mode dial to the "C" position.

Exposure modes in the Image Zone include: Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Fast Shutter Speed, Slow Shutter Speed, Stitch Assist and Movie. Portrait, Night Scene and Landscape all make automatic camera adjustments to optimize settings for specific shooting conditions. The Portrait mode uses a large aperture setting to produce shallow "depth of field," focusing on the subject while maintaining an out-of-focus background. Conversely, Landscape mode slows the shutter speed and maximizes depth of field with a small aperture setting. Night Scene mode illuminates your subject with flash, while using a slow shutter speed to increase exposure on background objects. The Stitch-Assist mode is Canon's panorama shooting solution, in which multiple, overlapping images can be captured horizontally, vertically or in four quadrants, in clockwise sequence. Images can then be "stitched" together on a computer, using Canon's bundled PhotoStitch software. Movie mode lets you capture up to three minutes (320x240 or 160x120 pixels) of moving images with sound at approximately 15 frames per second.

The S45's very extensive exposure controls are mostly accessed through the camera's external control buttons using sub-menus and indicators displayed on the LCD screen. They include a White Balance setting with nine options: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Fluorescent H (daylight), Flash and two Custom options; adjustable ISO sensitivities including Auto and 50, 100, 200 and 400; Exposure Compensation from -2 to +2 EV, in one-third-step increments; Auto Exposure Bracketing, with a series of three exposures; Auto Focus Bracketing; a choice of Evaluative Light Metering, Center-Weighted Averaging and Spot (AE Point) metering modes; and a handful of color and tone options, including adjustments for sharpening, color saturation and contrast. The S45's built-in flash offers five operating modes (Auto; Red-Eye Reduction, Auto; Red-Eye Reduction, Normal; Flash On; or Flash Off) and Flash Exposure Compensation from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments.

Other special shooting modes include Macro, which allows you to photograph subjects within a range of 3.9 inches to 2.7 feet at the maximum wide-angle setting and from one to 2.7 feet at maximum telephoto. There are also two Continuous Shooting modes. Standard Continuous Shooting captures multiple, successive still images, at about 2.5 frames per second, providing enough time to display each image briefly after it is captured. High Speed Continuous Shooting captures images at 1.5 frames per second, as long as you hold down the shutter release. An Interval shooting mode mimics time-lapse photography, capturing as many as 100 images at intervals from 1 to 60 minutes.

Images are stored on CompactFlash Type I or II memory cards, with possible image resolutions of 2272x1704; 1600x1200; 1024x768; and 640x480 pixels. Three JPEG compression levels are available, as well as a RAW data file format, which uses lossless image compression to preserve all the original data from the CCD in a relatively compact format. A USB cable is provided and two software CDs offer an impressive selection of utilities. Canon's own Digital Camera software package includes ZoomBrowser EX [W] and ImageBrowser [M] for downloading and organizing images and processing RAW files; PhotoRecord [W] and ImageBrowser for printing images; PhotoStitch for merging panoramic images captured in Stitch-Assist mode and the unique RemoteCapture 1.1 application to operate the camera through your computer. ArcSoft PhotoStudio and VideoImpression are provided for editing images and movies.

An A/V cable connects the camera to a television, with NTSC and PAL timing options available. Power is supplied by a rechargeable NB-2L lithium battery and a charger ships with the camera. An optional AC power adapter is also available.

SHUTTER LAG/CYCLE TIMES

Overall, the S45 is a surprisingly fast camera, particularly so considering its 4-megapixel resolution. Shutter lag is about as good as it gets for consumer-level digicams and shot-to-shot times are excellent. What's more, the camera seems to have an unusually large buffer memory, capturing as many as 10 large/fine files at maximum speed without having to wait for the buffer to empty. Very impressive, this would be a great camera for people interested in capturing fast-paced action.

CONCLUSION

I was already quite impressed with the PowerShot S40, so when the S45 arrived, I expected no less than stellar performance. My expectations were met and even exceeded, considering the many updated features and improved user interface on the newer model. The PowerShot S45 has a first-rate feature set, stopping just short of some of the high-end "enthusiast" capabilities of the PowerShot G3, but leaving very little lacking.

I'd like to see a more accurate optical viewfinder and better macro capabilities, but the picture quality the S45 delivers is really exceptional. Color is accurate and well saturated and the camera's white balance system does an excellent job under a wide variety of lighting conditions. Plus, the addition of custom controls, better exposure metering, more flexible focus control and the wide variety of other interface and operational updates make the S45 even more capable of handling most any shooting situation.

Overall, an excellent camera for high-end consumers looking for a full-featured digicam with great image quality. It's easy enough to operate in auto mode that most anyone would be comfortable with it, yet it sports enough advanced features (save only an external flash connection) to satisfy most enthusiasts. Highly recommended.

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New on the Site

At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:

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Book Bag: Mastering Digital Printing

Two guys walk into a bar. One guy's named Harald and we're the other guy. "Harald," we say, "let us buy you a beer." We have no idea what Harald drinks (if he does), but that's the budget. "Sure," he says graciously (he can always donate it to his favorite charity). "Bartender!" we smile, "a beer for my buddy Harald -- and a double vodka martini up with extra olives on the side for us." Budget be darned (like socks).

Harald, we figure, is going to do most of the talking. At nearly 400 pages, his encyclopedia on digital printing covers the topic like a wide format inkjet. And, printed on heavy stock, it nearly weighs as much as one, too.

The Table of Contents is neatly divided into chapters, but they're really books unto themselves.

Chapter One, Navigating the Digital Landscape, takes you from Crosby, Stills and Nash (Nash played a significant role in the development of the technology) to the current landscape. It's a nice bit of background that can give anyone the aura of having been around at the big bang.

Chapter Two, Understanding Digital Printing, includes a primer on pixels, resolution, type, halftones and more before describing a couple of basic system setups for photographers and for digital artists.

Chapter Three, Comparing Digital Printing Technologies, explains the different ways of getting pixels on paper, including inkjets, dye sub and electrophotography.

Chapter Four, Creating and Processing the Image, goes through the many ways of generating a digital image to the many ways of editing one. Harald names names, too, with brief appraisals of the major image editing programs and a sidebar on graphic tablets. But he goes beyond the school assignment, describing a typical digital workflow, the various file formats and what to do with the stuff when you're done with it (archiving, that is).

Chapter Five, Understanding and Managing Color, is a simple three-step covering basic color theory, describing color management (without avoiding its pitfalls) and finally describing a number of ways to get what you want.

Chapter Six, Not Fade Away: Print Permanence, ranges from a philosophical consideration of permanence to a discussion of standards testing and measuring. Along the way, he explains the mysterious orange shift issue that plagued Epson and others in late 2000. Then, rolling up his sleeves, Harald proposes a workable standard for permanence himself, which he christens the Granny Standard.

Chapter Seven, Picking an Inkjet Printer, applies everything discussed in the first 187 pages of the book to the current technology sitting on the shelf. Again, Harald goes a bit beyond the standard magazine fare, breaking out the costs and discussing things like how noisy and big some printers are.

Chapter Eight, Choosing Your Consumables, talks about your options for buying ink and matching that ink to the paper you use. Not just theory, here, but brand names and where to get them. Both inks and paper.

Chapter Nine, Putting It All Together, Making a Great Inkjet Print, proposes a 10-step workflow for making a print on an inkjet printer. The steps range from planning your print (with a low-res proof) to editing it to setting print options to making test prints to the final. A comprehensive approach, again. But even more so, actually. Harald drops a few variables into his approach to show you how to accommodate third-party materials or skew output to the Web rather than a print.

Chapter Ten, Print for Pay: Using a Professional Print Service, describes what a pro can do for your print. This chapter also covers giclee print, drugstore kiosk printing and online photofinishing.

Chapter Eleven, Special Printing Techniques, delves into resizing your data, monochrome printing, specialized print drivers and CMYK proofing.

A Gallery Showcase follows the text, highlighting the work of 18 diverse artists and photographers with a representative image and a brief description of their work.

A thorough appendix (which has the grace to mention Imaging Resource among the resources one might find helpful) is followed by a helpful (one might say essential) index.

Our quibbles with Harald are minor but strike us as amusing (halfway through our martini, anyway).

We can see why, being focused on output, he isn't terribly concerned about bit depths greater than eight per channel. Printers don't use more than eight bits per channel, true. But if you have to edit color and tone and want to avoid banding, you need 16-bit channels. When you've got what you want, you reduce it to eight bits per channel. And then watch everyone wonder how you got that kind of detail in your highlights and shadows.

The Granny test got our goose, too. Harald's standard for just how long a print should last runs about 60 years or the time it takes a young woman to turn into a grandmother and pass on her prints twice. Three generations. That seems unwise to us, frankly. The only guarantee you will not be pestered by complaints about print permanence is to make prints that survive you. Let's call it Survivor Photo Image. Unlike Harald's standard, our proposal indemnifies you personally from any legal action. They can exhume you, but you needn't appear in court.

But there's really nothing like this book, er, encyclopedia. It's comprehensive but it's readable without getting clammy. The sidebars are interesting parenthetical remarks (that addressed every yeah-but-what-about that occurred to us as we read the main text) and the illustrations really do show you what he's talking about. It isn't evangelical but a balanced, sober discussion of the ins and outs of printing digital images by someone who's been doing it a while. Harald knows what to sweat and what to forget.

Great stuff, Harald. Thanks! And, by the way, it's your round. Let's make it champagne!

Mastering Digital Printing by Harald Johnson, published by Muska & Lipman Publishing, 384 pages, $39.95.
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In the Forums

Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:

Read about the Fuji FinePix 3800 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee90ce0/0

Visit the Infrared With Digital Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee8e6b4

Tom asks about wide angle images at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee90fe9/0

Tony asks about FireWire connections at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9112e/0

Visit the Scanners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee6b2ae

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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: Exif Asset Management

One feature I have been looking for in asset management software is being able to easily write to the Exif comment field and use that comment when displaying the photos in a slide show or online photo site.

What a hassle it is having to type comments for a bunch of photos every time I display or save them in a different place. This would also eliminate the requirement of having to sync a database just to maintain the comments.

-- Don Sears

(You can tell Portfolio to read a custom field with the tag 270 (it's among the TIF fields) for ImageDescription. But there won't be anything in it. And while Portfolio will prompt you for a default entry when you import images into its database, each entry should be different. But if you edit that custom field for each image, the information will be stored in the catalog. Using Portfolio's Browser or any of its output options, the ImageDescription can travel with your image even though it isn't part of it. -- Editor)

RE: Sun Pole

Bravo on the sun pole. I am a professional landscape photographer and have been using friendly trees as lens shades for years.

-- Thomas Kachadurian

(Thanks, Thomas. I'm just glad the "obvious" solution didn't hit us on the head <g>. -- Editor)

RE: Digital Contact Sheet

I have enjoyed your publication and see that you have a lot of smart, experienced people involved. Maybe someone can help me with this problem.

I have a drawer full of negatives collected over the past 30 years or so. I am in the process of transferring them to plastic sleeves so I can see what's what. But that's not the problem. In fact, it's kind of fun to look through those old pictures.

The problem is I'd like to be able to create a digital version of a contact sheet.

After trying out and rejecting a few scanners (none of them had a large enough backlit area), it finally occurred to me that my light board and digital camera would do the trick. And, for black and white film, this works well enough.

However, for color negatives, the process does not work so well. I think the sprocket holes and spaces between the images is misleading enough to Photoshop that automated processes don't turn out well. When I select just the strip of images, the results are better, but that is going to take too much time for hundreds of rolls of film.

Do any of your smart, experienced people know the trick to this one?

-- schristie

(In researching our slide copying article (see the Archive at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/), we tried using a portable lightbox as a light source. Our box used ordinary fluorescents (not 5000-degree Kelvins) and we had a greenish tint to the slides. Setting the white balance to fluorescent helped. If that doesn't work for you, try a custom setting, reading a neutral area in a typical slide for the source. Of course, converting the negatives to positives is a whole different issue. It took us two issues to explain a while ago (when we were smarter). Look in the Index of Articles (same site) for "Correcting Color Negatives." -- Editor)

RE: Kodak

Hello! Just began receiving your emails. Thanks, very informative. I'm new in the digicam world. Just bought a Kodak DX4900. Are there any reviews available for the 4900? Also, do you have an opinion on Kodak digicams?

-- Bill

(Hi, Bill, welcome aboard! Dave liked the DX4900 when he reviewed it last year. "With its 4.0-megapixel CCD and advanced feature set, the DX4900 currently (April, 2002) crowns Kodak's EasyShare camera lineup. Although it sports advanced options like variable ISO, spot metering and long manual shutter times, the 4900 remains true to its EasyShare roots, remaining simple enough for even relative novices to operate confidently." You can read our reviews of all Kodak products at http://www.imaging-resource.com/MFR1.HTM?view=Kodak -- enjoy! -- Editor)

RE: DVD Picture Show

I note that ULead has a new version of their DVD Picture Show (ver 2) and I downloaded a trial version to see what it offered. It seems to have most of the features that have been missing in many of the other programs ie: great transitions, ability to use many templates, conversion factors and easy burning the VCD format for DVD viewing. The instructions are not easy to follow, however with some studying and practicing, they do have most of the information in one form or another. The programs that I have used have many but not all (in one package) of the features: tvCD has no transitions, Powerpoint does not burn to VCD's etc. Thought this might be of interest in reference to your recent slide show articles.

-- Paul Castenholz

(Thanks, Paul. And for the Macsters out there, we're about to continue our Slide Show Project with a story on using iLife to burn a DVD slide show. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Sometimes just looking at the problem from a different perspective helps. Visit NASA's http://visibleearth.nasa.gov for over 40-GB of science-related images of planet Earth.


You may have to wait five years to enjoy this unique perspective but, according to a story published in the Ottawa Citizen (http://www.ottawacitizen.com), British-based space researchers promise "a portable, cheap camera that can see through objects and clothing." The terahertz camera captures electromagnetic waves somewhere on the spectrum between infrared and microwaves.


Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has released their $49.99 Photoshop Album [W], an all-in-one consumer digital imaging application reviewed in our Jan. 10 issue. The product is available at major retail outlets, including Amazon.com, Best Buy, Buy.com, Circuit City, CompUSA, Datavision, Fry's Electronics, J&R Music and Computer World, Micro Center, Office Depot, Sam's Club and Staples.

Adobe also released their $99 Photoshop Camera Raw and JPEG 2000 plug-ins. The Camera Raw plug-in provides access within Photoshop to the "raw" image formats used in professional and mid-range digital cameras from Canon, Fujifilm, Minolta, Nikon and Olympus.


Microvision (http://www.microvision.com) has announced an agreement with Canon that builds on work conducted during the last year to develop miniature electronic displays that can be used in digicams and camcorders. Prototypes of the technology produce high-resolution 800x600-pixel images with "extraordinary dynamic range and unmatched color reproduction," the company said.


Sapphire Innovations (http://www.sapphire-innovations.com) has released Frames vol 1-12/CE/SE Super deal [MW], over 2,000 JPEG frame/border effects for $31.


Apple's (http://www.apple.com) recent release of iMovie 3.0.1 stops the disc-based iLife installer cold when it sees the newer version of iMovie. Which makes it impossible to install iDVD 3. The workaround is to use the Unix cp command in Terminal to copy the iDVD package to the Desktop: "cp -R -p //Volumes/"Install DVD"/Installer/Packages/iDVD.pkg ~/Desktop"


Auto FX Software (http://www.autofx.com) has released Mystical Lighting, 16 tools providing photo-realistic lighting and shading effects. The $179 application for Mac 8.5 to OS X and Windows 98/2000/ME/XP is on sale for $149 until March 31.


Extensis (http://www.extensis.com) announced Mask Pro 3 [M], its Photoshop masking and selection plug-in, will be released this month at $199.95. The new version features color decontamination for better edge transparency, improved color matching technology and real-time previews.


Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com) acquired Connectix's virtual machine solutions on Feb. 8. Connectix had been seeking venture capital to reinvent itself as a "server virtualization software shop" when Microsoft approached them, according to Connectix CEO Roy MacDonald. Microsoft said it will continue development of virtual machine solutions from Connectix, integrating them into their Windows and Mac product portfolios. Virtual PC for Mac, for example, will join Microsoft's Macintosh Business Unit.


The $25 Lightbox [M] (http://www.lightboxsoftware.com) provides image management for photographers, including previews of some raw file formats, raw file conversions, multiple libraries and albums, searching by Exif or custom metadata and archiving to a CD/DVD.


To keep up with recent digicam introductions from Fuji, Minolta, Pentax and Ricoh, among others, as well as firmware upgrades from Minolta, visit Mike Tomkins news page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM).

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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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