|Volume 5, Number 5||7 March 2003|
Welcome to the 92nd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We return to the Slide Show Project with our Macintosh experience. Then we wrap up our PMA 2003 coverage before taking a look at what luminosity masking can do for you.
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Recently, we took a leisurely month to burn a DVD slide show using DVDit! on Windows XP. We chronicled our adventure in the Oct. 18 issue last year as part of our ongoing Slide Show Project.
Some helpful souls suggested we'd enjoy life more if we used iDVD on the Mac. So we did.
Apple sent a G4 with a SuperDrive and iDVD 3. We got out our calendar to time it, but then thought we should note the time too, in case those helpful souls were right.
It was 4:50 p.m. when we launched the Tutorial.
OUR FIRST PROBLEM
The Tutorial explained how to choose a Theme, which is nothing more than a design motif for the main menu and its buttons. You do that by clicking on the Customize button. A drawer slides out the left side of the iDVD window with scrolling sets of themes to pick from. Lots of them (and you can add your own, too).
That was pretty much all we needed to be told to use iDVD.
Good thing, because it had suddenly become 4:55. We had to get down to business if we were going to make it home for dinner.
We selected a nice theme called Picture in Picture and forgot all about the Tutorial. The theme had a place for us to drag one picture, which it also blurred and enlarged as a background image. Hence the name Picture in Picture. All we had to do was drag a picture into the drop zone. Slick.
The tool button strip at the top of the Customize drawer has six options: Theme, Settings, Audio, Photos, Movies and Status.
We picked Photos to look through our iPhoto collection. You would, no doubt, have done the same thing.
Instantly, our iPhoto albums appeared in the Customize drawer with the whole Library selected and thumbnails visible in the pane below the album list. Click on an album in the list pane and its thumbnails are displayed below it. So you can select an album or an image or a set of images, whatever you happen to want.
We dragged an image we liked into the drop zone. Instantly the theme became our own, with our image in the drop zone and the background, too. You can even reposition the image in the drop zone.
Then it occurred to us, we really should use our own words in the title. So we did what came naturally. Just clicked on the title and typed. You know, like you'd do in any text editor. And it worked.
Hmmm, pretty easy so far. We had our own title with a picture-in-picture display for the main menu. But, oops, big problem. We had no content!
Then it hit us. The first real problem we had with iDVD wasn't how to do anything. It was what to do. Such a luxury, we can't tell you.
With a thousand images or so lying in wait, it wasn't a trivial problem. But since they were in iPhoto, they were already organized into albums.
Could we really just drag an album onto our title screen and be done with it?
We tried it and ... it worked. The button text is picked up from the album name and the album contents all appear in the play list when you double click the button. You can rearrange the order and cut any images you don't want in the list view. You can enlarge the thumbnails a bit, too.
Notice we didn't say anything about importing, resizing, overscan, orientation, traversing directory trees or calling 911.
As the images are copied from your album to iDVD, they are resized -- and, miracle of miracles, even the orientation is maintained, with black borders added to the sides to fit the television format. That might sound trivial, but our one portrait image was stretched into fun-house mirror dimensions by DVDit!, ruining the show we built in Windows.
We could also have clicked on the Slide Show button at the bottom of iDVD's main window. There are buttons for Custom, Folder (which spawns a submenu) and Slide Show on the left and Motion (which plays animated themes), Preview and Burn on the right.
When you click on Slide Show, your main menu spawns a button with some text. Click the text and type to enter your own. Double click to get the list of images.
At the list screen, you can:
What you can't do is add transition effects like cross dissolves. You can certainly have them but you have to build a very custom slide show in iMovie (complete with the new Ken Burns effect, if you like) to get them.
- Tell iDVD to add non-clickable back and forward arrows to the slide show (reminders to press the Next button on the remote),
- Set the interval either in seconds or to fit the length of the music if you've dragged a tune from your iTunes library to the Audio well,
- Have iDVD copy your original images to the DVD so viewers can copy them to their own hard disks, and
- Change the size of the thumbnails in the list view.
We made several simple slide shows in iDVD for our first DVD, using button for each album.
iDVD's new themes are unusually attractive themes, professionally designed, with interesting (not gimmicky) special effects. There's something for every taste but it's refreshing to see so many that don't look lifted from Saturday morning cartoons. There are actually a few subtle, elegant themes.
Our theme defaulted to the Optima font in black. We wanted to use the ultracool Zaphino (even though it's hardly flattered by TV-screen resolution) and a different color. Not a problem. The Settings button in the Customize drawer's tool button strip lets you do just that.
Settings never refers to styles, but that's how it works. Change the button treatment and they all change. No selecting, no problem aligning (that's part of the design), no issue with button states. All this is done for you -- you just make the major tweaks and leave the details to iDVD.
You can change the title's position, font, color and size. Same with the button style, although you can also snap it to a grid for easy alignment or leave it where you put it. There are also a number of button masks to choose from. And you can change the background image and audio, too. All of which you can save as a custom theme.
The Picture in Picture theme is pretty much a black and white motif. All the text is black. We changed it to red, dark gray and a few other things before we decided black really did work best for the buttons but dark gray spiced up the title a bit. The buttons printed over the ghosted, blurred background image but the title printed over white. So a little modification and it looked different without being ruined.
We spent about an hour assembling the content of our disc. After we dragged an album to the image list, we'd return to the title menu, press Preview and use the on-screen remote to play the show. If we didn't like an image, we cut it. If they were out of order, we dragged them into the right order. And Previewed again.
We made four shows during the hour, adding a button and then the images and then previewing the show. The more we did it, the more we liked it. We started to wonder what else we could put on the disc.
Even when we agreed to add the original photos to the DVD-ROM, we had a lot of room left on the disc. The 4.7-GB capacity is really about 4.4-GB worth of data. The Status button on the Customize drawer tool button strip showed us at any time how little of that space we'd used. No surprises like burning and burning until the last minute when the disc ejects in an unreadable state because, well, you had too much data.
All the space was really why we added music to each show. And enough images that, when image display was tailored to the length of the music, nothing was on screen for more than five seconds.
Music was as easy to add as images. The Audio button in the Customize drawer's tool button strip shows you your iTunes libraries. Just pick a song, drag it to the Audio well in the slide show list screen and that's it.
You can also add music to the title menu, but only a 30 second cut that loops. Click the Motion button on the main window to hear the effect, moving the time slider to get a cut that repeats gracefully.
At 6:10 we were ready to burn. We had previewed all four slide shows with a Picture in Picture main menu using an attractive type style we'd customized a tiny bit. We had sound on the main title and a different tune to accompany each slide show. We set the duration of each show to match the length of the music.
And we'd spent the whole time -- not just a large part of it -- arranging the show contents rather than fighting the program interface.
To burn, you just click the Burn button. You're prompted for a blank DVD.
And that was really the only aggravating part of the whole process. Getting the blessed cellophane wrapping off the blank DVD. We can't wait to get these in spindles.
We popped in our blank, the drawer shut itself and "Stage 1, Preparing" appeared on the screen. Briefly. A few nanoseconds later, "Stage 2, Menu Rendering & Encoding" appeared with a note that it would take about 13 minutes. The title window went blank and was gradually redrawn as everything was rendered. Suddenly our disc was ready.
Want another or are you done? We were done, but we appreciated the question. What good is it to ask you at the start of the process how many copies you want? You still have to be there to swap in new blanks. So why not ask you at the end? Want another? Another? iDVD is smart enough to hang on to the disc image until you say you're done.
We were done at 6:26.
DVD slide shows do not contain archival images. The images they use are greatly downsized for lower resolution output. So don't for a minute think your iDVD presentations are all you have to save.
If you enable the copy originals option, the disk will contain your original images. Archival indeed.
But you'll probably prefer to archive your original images from iPhoto itself. Just click the Burn button after selecting some albums. Your originals, in all their glory, will be written to CD or DVD.
MORE THAN ONE WAY
We started with iDVD because that's how we'd done the project in Windows XP.
But we could just as easily have burned a DVD presentation from iPhoto or iMovie. iPhoto has an iDVD button. Select an album, click on iDVD and you have a DVD presentation with a button for your album.
Same with iMovie. Except when you click the iDVD button there, you get a pane to mark chapters. Select any frame in your movie, click on Add Chapter and you have a chapter. You can remove them, too. When you have what you want, click on Create iDVD Project and you've got a main menu with chapter menus.
iMovie provides the most flexibility for creating a slide show. You can vary the time any image is displayed, cut music to fit, add transitions and subject your stills to the Ken Burns effect, too. Export to the proper format is invisible, too, so you can't make a mistake picking MPEG-1 over MPEG-2, say.
In our XP story, we detailed (a bit) the issues surrounding Plus and Dash media (DVD+R/+RW and DVD-R/-RW). To sum up, it's a confused issue between competing standards.
Apple, though, has been helpful in unraveling what's at stake. Recently they've been shipping Sony DVD players that handle both Plus and Dash media. But their software (iDVD) writes only to DVD-R discs.
Apple's explanation is that DVD-R discs are more likely to play on older standalone DVD players than Plus discs. And in our case, that's certainly true. Our two-year-old Antique DVD player handled our iDVD disc with aplomb. No complaints.
HEARD THIS BEFORE?
When we dreamed up the Slide Show Project, we knew it was more than we could chew, so we solicited your advice right from the start. And you wrote in with recommendation after recommendation (indeed, we have another in this issue).
But to read through them you'd think everyone ran Windows. We heard from only a handful of Macintosh users -- and they all said exactly the same thing. No problem, use iDVD.
In January, Apple upped the ante by providing a level of integration between iTunes, iPhoto, iMovie and iDVD worthy of a new name -- iLife. The imaging suite is included on all new Macintoshes, can be purchased for $50 at retail outlets or the Apple store and can, with the exception of iDVD, be downloaded from the Apple Web site (http://www.apple.com/ilife). It does require OS X, however.
While no charge is associated with iLife, we wouldn't quite call it free. You have to buy a Macintosh. But that's why you buy a Macintosh, really. We prefer to think of the Mac hardware as free and the software, from OS X to iLife (plus that wonderful Safari browser) as the stuff that's really worth the bucks.
With Mac OS X and iLife, the chaos of file glut is somehow databased. Your images get albumized, the albums are visible to iMovie and iDVD, disc burning is a button (you actually hardly ever use the menu bar for anything) in any applicable application. The links are there, you just have to follow them.
And when you do follow them, you can get to places you never imagined existed. It isn't just easy, it's natural. It isn't just fun, it's what happens after fun.
Of course, Apple's approach makes it very difficult for third parties to play. Adobe didn't bother to arm Album to compete with iPhoto and iMovie preempts many vendor-specific editing solutions. Fortunately, relying on iLife leaves you with very few regrets. And a few bucks to spend on nice enhancements like Adobe Photoshop or Elements.
Hardware is easy to talk about, test, evaluate, review and sell. Software takes a little more study. Which is why we remain one of the very few imaging publications to review software in any depth.
Most people find software is a solid that must be chewed to derive any nutritional benefits. And so they chew and chew and chew. But, no matter how much they chew, the stuff is still pretty hard to swallow.
But, as the helpful souls pointed out, Apple's software is a liquid. You can drink it. No chewing necessary.
When you get tired of chewing, have a glass of iLife. Some things do just go down easier.
LAS VEGAS -- Publisher Dave Etchells and News Editor Michael Tomkins slipped into town to cover this year's Photo Marketing Association convention here. Among the highlights were the usual new digicam introductions (especially Olympus' 4/3 E system but also some big bargains), brighter LEDs from Kyocera and Kodak (with an organic one), Minolta's Messenger software to annotated images, new photo papers from Epson, new scanners from Canon and even new battery technology.
Excerpts from their hands-on reports follow:
DAVE: HANDS-ON KODAK'S PRO 14N
Literally as I was hustling to get out the door to the PMA show last Friday, a sample unit of Kodak's much-anticipated Pro 14n digital SLR appeared on my doorstep. I decided to bring it with me, despite the typically absurd schedule of meetings, show coverage and press events that loomed ahead. I'd hoped be able to shoot a few sample photos and post them for eager readers to examine.
And I did in fact manage to do just that, with two sets of images (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/14N/14NPICSA.HTM). The first is of the Las Vegas "Strip," on our first (bloody cold) night here, the second from the following morning at an aborted Sony hot-air ballooning press event. (Many thanks to Sony staff for graciously allowing me to shoot their colorful event with a non-Sony camera.)
It's very important to note that the camera was most decidedly not a final production model. Its firmware was "not ready for prime-time," as it froze up on me several times (requiring removal and reinsertion of the battery to restore functionality).
The happy news is that the image-noise problems we saw in early samples from Kodak themselves appear to be greatly improved. The level of detail here is much better than previous samples, with little or none of their odd "detail modulation," although noise levels in the images are still higher than I'd expected.
One quandary in evaluating the 14n's image quality is that it can be so heavily influenced by the post-exposure processing applied in Kodak's Photo Desk software. I shot these images using the 14n's combined RAW + JPEG mode, but chose to show only the results from the RAW format files. Much to its credit, but much to the consternation of a reviewer attempting to establish a valid baseline for comparison, Photo Desk offers myriad options for post-processing the 14n's images, including elements normally locked within the "black box" of a camera's internal image processing algorithms. Noise reduction processing and image sharpening are two such parameters that can drastically influence the quality of the final images and that therefore need careful attention.
I deliberately took a very minimalist approach to the processing, so the results would tend to reflect the camera's basic capabilities rather than any post-processing manipulations. Two versions are available for each image, one processed with no image sharpening applied and with the noise-reduction control set to Low and the other with the same noise-reduction setting, but the sharpening control set to Medium. These controls have multiple sliders to set sub-parameters like the size of the processing kernel, the extent of the correction, threshold for its application, etc. The Low/Medium/High buttons select sets of sub-parameters as chosen by Kodak to produce optimum results with varying degrees of the effect for the control involved.
The sharpening setting was of particular interest to me, as it would have a dramatic impact on perceived detail in the images and much of the "story" about the 14n is about its resolution. I've generally found that careful tweaking of unsharp masking in Photoshop yields better results than those obtained either in-camera or through the manufacturer's provided software. Surprisingly, I felt that the "Medium" sharpening setting in Kodak's software did about as good a job as I could manage with Photoshop's unsharp masking. Photo Desk sharpening left a bit of a "halo" around fine detail, but not that much.
Shooting with the camera for even the short time I used it left me with a few conclusions:
- Supporting my initial impression of the camera when I first saw it back at Photokina last fall, while it's still a handful, it's by no means as bulky as it appears in photos. It is a little heavy on the left though. I'd be happier if more of its mass was on the handgrip side of the camera.
- I'm not wildly enthusiastic about its user interface, particularly the menu structure. Navigation seems awkward and a little counter intuitive.
- Plan on buying at least one and preferably several spare batteries. This thing really sucks power. I found it quite easy to run through a freshly-charged battery in just a couple of hours of moderate use.
- RAW + JPEG mode really burns up memory card space. It took little effort to fill up a 1-GB memory card. You'll want several really large cards if you intend to shoot any volume of images using the RAW file format.
- Buffer capacity is pretty limited in RAW+JPEG mode.
- Kodak's RAW mode is worth the limitations. (I guess their ERI JPEG format really conveys all the same advantages without the space limitations, although I haven't had time to experiment with this yet.) One of the great promises of RAW-mode workflow is the ability to "re-expose" the images, boosting or cutting the effective exposure to correct for exposure errors. Most manufacturers' RAW formats in fact permit only very minimal post-capture exposure adjustment. (I have a test in progress that will demonstrate this and quantify the extent to which various cameras' RAW formats permit exposure correction, but don't have those results available yet.) Kodak's RAW file formats are a real standout in this respect. You really can make significant exposure adjustments and still preserve highlight detail.
- The 28mm f2.8 lens that Kodak shipped with the unit has horrendous flare and internal reflections when shot wide open. This is very evident in the night shots, with broad, diffuse "glows" surrounding some of the lights and doubled images of lights near the edges of the frame.
MICHAEL: HANDS-ON OLYMPUS' E SYSTEM & PENTAX *IST D
Olympus. Monday afternoon, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to see Olympus' recently-announced E System products up close and personal (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS03/1046734727.html).
Arranged on extremely short notice, we came straight back to the hotel to upload 22 images of the digital SLR body, two of the lenses, two flash units and the portrait grip. No new information has been provided as to specifications. If you're a fan of Olympus and/or the "Four Thirds" system, though, this is eye-candy of the highest order (despite the less than ideal shooting conditions).
To recap (very, very briefly): the E System uses a 4/3-type image sensor (either CMOS or CCD -- it hasn't been stated which Olympus is planning to use for their first E System digicam); the camera will offer interchangeable lenses, a magnesium body, focal-plane shutter, flash hot shoe and both aperture and shutter priority modes as well as full manual and both auto and manual focusing. Since the camera we were photographing had to be treated carefully, we were not allowed to open any of the various covers or remove the lens.
Pentax. Sunday morning, we were fortunate to have the opportunity to view Pentax's new '*ist D' digital single-lens reflex camera in the company's booth at PMA (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS03/1046647288.html).
The camera we saw was an early working prototype, not far enough into development for samples or to show the user interface, but capable of capturing and displaying photos. Our initial reaction on handling the camera was that it is quite remarkably light and noticeably smaller than other current digital SLRs.
We had to be extremely careful while handling the camera, not because the body itself might be delicate, but because many of the icons and captions all over the body were fragile decals designed to give an impression of what the camera would look like and not to stand up to being handled. Because of that, we can't really comment on what the *ist D feels like in-hand, but its sculpted shape certainly seems like it would prove comfortable to hold.
The *ist D will feature a 6.1-megapixel, 23.5x15.7mm CCD image sensor, an 11-point autofocus sensor, shutter speeds to 1/4000 second, flash-sync at 1/150 second, a 2.7 frames per second burst capability, CompactFlash Type-I / II storage compatible with Microdrives, a 1.8" LCD display, power from 4 AA batteries or 2 CR-V3 Lithium Ion batteries, a choice of RAW, JPEG and TIFF file formats and USB 1.1 connectivity.
In discussion with booth staff, we confirmed something we'd already suspected. We were told that the suggestion that the ist D shares the same base as the ist film camera is apparently incorrect. We were told that whilst the cameras are related in name, their bodies are not so closely related by design. This is corroborated by the fact that the cameras have different dimensions, along with the numerous differences in both styling and control placement.
Highlights from our show coverage follow (arranged by company) but for the full story, plus late additions, visit our PMA news page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS03/PMAS03.HTML).
- Argus: 5-Mp DC-3810 Under $500, Four Pocket Digicams
- Canon: All-New Entry-Level and Professional Flatbed Scanners; EOS-10D digital SLR ; five new PowerShot digital cameras
- DigitalCustom: High Res Custom Editing Service
- Duracell: First-Ever High-Power Lithium Primary Prismatic Battery
- Epson: Three Double-Sided Papers; Papers Optimized for Epson Stylus Pro
- Fuji: 20.8 megapixel SuperCCD camera back
- Kodak: First Digicam with Organic LED Display; Digital 35 mm One-Time-Use Camera System; thermal photo printer/camera dock
- Kyocera: Two Digicams With 2.5" LCDs
- Lexar Media: USB 2.0 Multi-Card Reader; Largest CompactFlash; Write Acceleration; 40X CF, speeds up 1GB cards
- Minolta: Messenger Software; DiMAGE X-series update
- Nixvue: New Vizor CD-ROM Based Storage Device
- Olympus: C-750 Ultra Zoom; DSLR 'E System'; two new D-series digicams; underwater housings
- Preclick: Lifetime Photo Organizer
- Roxio: Easy CD & DVD Creator 6 Platinum
- SanDisk: Digital Film Cards; 256MB Memory Stick; 1-GB CompactFlash Card
- SiPix: 'Picture ALIVE' Technology
- SmartDisk: 30-GB FlashTrax USB Drive
- Sony: External Flash Unit; DSC-V1 digital camera; P-series Cyber-shots; DSC-P12; updates Mavica lineup
- Toshiba: PDR-4300 4-Mp Digicam With Canon Optics
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:
- First Look: Olympus 740 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C740/C74A.HTM) and Olympus 750 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C750/C75A.HTM).
- Reviewed: EOS-10D (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E10D/E10DA.HTM).
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot S50 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CS50/CS50A.HTM).
Capturing a 24-bit image doesn't leave much room for error. Higher-end cameras bump the typical eight bits per channel up to 12, employing proprietary RAW formats to capture a wider density range. That extra information comes in handy when making color and tonal corrections.
But even an ordinary 24-bit capture can hide (rather than lose) detail in the highlights or the shadows of an image. Fortunately that detail can be revealed quickly with a simple image-editing trick.
Previously we've published masking tricks for evening out flash exposure (where the color adjustment is a gradient) and building a contrast mask (where you want to work on both ends of the curve at the same time). This time we're modifying just the highlight or shadows of your image.
If your image editor lets you create a selection based on the brightness or luminosity of the image and offers layers with blending modes, follow along in the software of your choice. And all the better if your software lets you automate the process. We'll describe the process in Photoshop but we'll use plain English so you can adapt the concepts to your own image editor.
When you make a luminosity mask in Photoshop, pixels that are pure white are selected while pure black ones are masked out. But the mask doesn't stop there. Instead it masks pixels in between white and black according to how white or black they are. The lighter the pixel, the less is it masked.
With that in mind, the first step is to bias the selection to the part of the image containing the tones you want to modify -- either the highlights or shadows.
With your image open, select the highlights of your image with the keyboard command Command-Option-~ [M] or Control-Option-~ [W]. Whites and lighter tones are selected, while darker tones are masked.
If the problem is muddy shadows, invert the selection with Shift-Command-I [M] or Shift-Control-I [W]. That selects the shadows of the image. Blacks and darker grays are selected, while lighter tones are masked.
The next step is to move that selection to a layer of its own where you can use it like a mask to alter just the selected tonal values of the original image.
So create a new layer consisting solely of the selection by pressing Command-J [M] or Control-J [W].
Now we want to blend the mask with the original image. The blending mode we need depends on whether we want to burn in the highlights or dodge the shadows.
If you're working on the shadows, change the selection layer's blending mode to Screen to lighten the darkest parts of your image. If you are working on the highlights, change it Multiply to burn in the lightest parts of your image.
Finally, the mask itself can be modified to accommodate more difficult subjects, either by changing its opacity, drawing directly on it or using Levels or Curves to modify the tones it affects. Keep both layers visible as you modify the selection layer to see the effect of your changes in real time.
With just a few keystrokes you can instantly bring out the blue in your sky or the green in your grass, extending the range of your 24-bit image.
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 Nikon Coolpix 2100 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee91074/0
Visit the Professional Digital Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b4
A reader asks for guidance in choosing a camera at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee915a6/0
Gil asks about refurbished cameras at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee913b5/0
Visit the Olympus Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee6f783
It's a common misconception that this publication is free. Actually, as our longer-suffering subscribers well know, we extract a price from our readers this time each year. We ask you, as members of the Ersatz Academy of Sliding Picture Arts and Sciences, to submit your nomination for the Missing Oscar.
You may recall the Missing Oscar as the one stolen Oscar of several years back that was never retrieved. We have it. And every year we try to give it away.
Of course, the cost of shipping and insurance is prohibitive, so we actually just award the thing, rather than present it. The winner nevertheless enjoys the Public Notoriety of the Ersatz Academy's Missing Oscar. And, unlike the regular Oscars, may dress any way they like (or not) before, during or after our virtual awards ceremony.
Past winners were honored for Best Slide Show Software, Best Photo Web Site and Best Shareware. Since we have only one Oscar, we like to change the category each time we present the award. This year, we're doing it again.
Clearly, we've been overdoing the software angle. So this time, we're asking for your nominations for Best Input Device. By which we mean, the mouse or pen or scrubber you prefer for navigating your desktop of digital images. Extra credit if the thing actually helps you in your image editor.
To submit your nomination, email your testimonial (be as ridiculous as you like) with the subject "Oscar Nomination" to email@example.com before our next issue.
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You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.
RE: An Ugly Rating
I am on my sixth digital camera and Imaging Resource has been with me through all of them. I have gotten plenty of great info on the cameras. Friends look to me for advice on digicams and I confidently refer them all to Imaging Resource.
There is a yawning lack of info on photo-quality printers. There are lots of them, good and bad and I have bought three, of different brands, in the past two weeks, returning two of them so far for shortcomings in photo printing performance. I need better help with this!! It would be great if Imaging Resource could fill the bill with reviews that compare with your digicam reviews in terms of depth and real performance commentary.
When you pick up this challenge, please be sure to include an Ugly Rating. I thought my pewter-and-black Epson Stylus Photo 2000P was ugly, but it has been far surpassed by my new badly misshapen dismal-gray and black 925. Until I bought it, I had never been subject to digital nausea! Must we put up with Ugly to get quality?
Thanks for all the help!
-- Gene Widenhofer(Hmmm, maybe we should give an Oscar for the Best Looking Printer next year. Someone would probably nominate Ben Franklin, though. -- Editor)
RE: Slide Show Recommendation
Finding a good slide show program has cost me a bundle, but the possibility of making a quality show for viewing on a TV is one of the best solutions to the problem of "OK, what do I do with all these files?"
I have tried OnDVD (virtually non-functional until the latest update and, virtually no support, but, a way to still get Photogenetics, since Dazzle uses that as its included editor), tvCD (creators of the same engine that OnDVD uses; works, but is very unsophisticated with only one audio track allowed, no transitions, etc.), Photoshop Album (great for some things, but lousy for VCD slide shows, with unacceptable image quality on the TV set) and finally Photodex's ProShow Gold.
I am finally very pleased with the later (http://www.photodex.com/products/proshow).
-- John Rose(Thanks, John! Note that a VCD slide show is restricted to the 352x240 pixel resolution of MPEG-1 whereas a DVD slide show enjoys the 720x480-pixel resolution of MPEG-2. -- Editor)
RE: The Long Lens
I am a novice with my Digital Camera (Canon S30) and am curious why it appears the Zoom capability is so limited on most models. I take nature shoots and the end results are too obscure due to distance and nature's camouflage.
Do you have any recommendations for digicams with greater zoom capability? Are there digital models that have say a 10x zoom or greater?
-- John DeMeriit(Yes, indeed. Take a look at Dave's Picks for Long Shots (http://www.imaging-resource.com/WB/WB.HTM?view=dp_long). Olympus makes some notable entries in this category, BTW. The reason you don't commonly see them is that they're much more expensive. And bulky, so only people who really appreciate what they can do actually buy them. A pity. -- Editor)
Your newsletters have been very informative ... many thanks.
I get the impression -- however wrong -- that there are distortion problems at both ends of the scale with long range optical zooms like the Olympus 10x zoom. I like to take both extreme close-ups (flowers and bugs, for example) and long range shots (birds and bears, for example). Is the distortion in such lenses an inherent characteristic or is progress being made?
-- Chap Cronquist(It is indeed difficult to make a lens with a long zoom ratio that also has excellent optical characteristics across its zoom range. The most obvious problem is probably geometric distortion, so-called "barrel" and "pincushion" distortion. If you shoot architectural photos with lots of straight lines, this will drive you crazy. OTOH, if you're mainly shooting scenic material, you might never notice it. Two other common problems are corner softness and "coma." Coma is a bit more insidious, smearing light out toward the edges of the image. You notice this most in images of foliage against the sky. Light spaces between leaves appear smeared into the dark regions surrounding them. Coupled with coma, you'll also often see chromatic aberration as colored outlines around contrasting objects in the edges of the frame. I'd have to take a careful look at images from the Olympus 10x zoom cameras to quantify the level of these problems they exhibit, but do recall they were noticeably more pronounced than in shorter-zoom cameras. In the long-zoom category, Minolta has done about as good a job as I've seen anyone manage, with their Dimage 7i and 7Hi cameras. The 7x zoom lenses on those models are almost devoid of the problems I described above. -- Dave)
ovedddd ur nl as always. nasa link wassss wayy too coool also see http://www.spaceimaging.com awesome images spl venice, bora bora and dubai
keep up the gud work cya
-- Amit Kulkarni(thx, Amit! -- Editor)
RE: A Mac Imagematics
If you remember my grousing about the fact that Imagematics was only for Windows -- I see today that LQ Graphics (http://lqgraphics.com/software) has announced Photo to Movie 1.1.3 for OS X.
It looks as if the "Ken Burns" effect, dunno what it's really called, is getting less expensive and more available.
Thanks for the continued support for all of us.
-- Harry(Thanks, Harry! Photo to Movie does sometimes show up in the Editor's Notes. Of course, iMovie does Ken Burns for free but for $20 Photo to Movie gives you a bit more control and sub-pixel rendering. -- Editor)
RE: Sharp Idea
Thanks for alerting me to the nik Sharpener software! I had not seen anything about that software before. I bought a copy, and it is the greatest thing!
-- Gudmund Iversen(You're welcome, Gudmund. We'd be lost without it ourselves. -- Editor)
RE: Mastering Digital Printing
Well, I gotta admit ... this is probably the most unique review of my book yet! I appreciate your in-depth take on it.
- May I quote your book review on my Web site? ( http://www.dpandi.com/resources/bookstore/mdp/reviews.html )
- Can I buy you a drink ;-)
-- Harald Johnson(LOL! Yes to both, Harald. -- Editor)
Caffeine Software (http://www.caffeinesoft.com) has announced on the home page of the company's Web site that it has suspended operations. Caffeine published a suite of inexpensive and free Mac OS X imaging software including PixelNhance, Curator and TIFFany.
Larry Berman's interview with Asya Schween (http://bermangraphics.com/press/asya.htm), an exchange student from Russia doing postgraduate work in Applied Mathematics at the University of Southern California, spotlights her startling images.
Eric Hyman has released 3.1 version of MacBibble (http://www.bibblelabs.com), a free update for 3.0 users that fixes some problems and provides a number of enhancements.
LaserSoft Imaging (http://www.SilverFast.com) has released SilverFast Digital Camera 6 with Virtual Light Table [MW]. The Virtual Light Table features Viewing, Organizing, Editing/Processing and Printing. SilverFast DC also includes Color Temperature, Exposure Control and Red-Eye tools.
Pixim's on-the-fly resampling Digital Pixel System (http://www.pixim.com/technology/technology.phtml) is an image capture and processing system that captures high-quality pictures with enhanced dynamic range.
Interactive Solutions (http://www.movieworks.com) has released MovieWorks Deluxe 6.0 [MW] featuring reliability improvements, support for importing MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 and exporting MPEG-4. Media sequencing, previewing, playback navigation and text editing have also been improved.
Digital Custom (http://www.digitalcustom.com) has issued Version 2 of their journalism ethics guidelines for photo editing. The document discusses acceptable retouching practices for news photos and the promotional use of the images.
Canto (http://www.canto.com) has released a free 5.5.2 update to Cumulus 5.5 which includes ease-of-use enhancements as well as additional file conversion features.
Harald Heim's article The Devil's Advocate on Color Correction discusses the products he tested before writing Color Washer, his color correction plug-in at Chris Dickman's Graphics.com (http://www.graphics.com).
E-Book Systems (http://www.flipalbum.com) has launched a new CD Shopping Cart option for FlipAlbum 5 Professional, which lets customers shop from a CD-based catalog.
Photos to Send, Dierdre Lynch's documentary revisiting the faces of County Clare that had captivated Dorothea Lange in 1954, will be screened March 8 at the Seattle Art Museum, March 11 at the Dublin International Film Festival, March 23 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and March 29 at the Chicago International Documentary Film Festival.
Photo2VCD Software (http://www.photo2vcd.com) has released Photo2VCD Professional v2.01 with improved output quality, more CD burner drivers and auto synching of audio and video.
ExhibitionX (http://homepage.mac.com/davidahmed/exhibitionx.html) displays iPhoto 2 albums in four 3D settings.
Phase One (http://www.phaseone.com) has announced a pre-release Mac OS X version of Capture One for Canon EOS 1D and EOS 1Ds digicams.
Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released version 7.6.22 of VueScan.
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