|Volume 5, Number 8||18 April 2003|
Welcome to the 95th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We have a little graphic fun with our photos while Dave puts Sony's new V1 and external flash together. And we find a terrific book about digital color that just happens to explain color management, too.
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With ice storms in the east and an arctic air mass bombarding the west, it must be spring. And with spring, taxes. And with taxes, refunds (for some). And with refunds, discretionary cash. Consuming spending. Or what, in more innocent times, we used to call fun.
No refund here but we share the seasonal urge toward fun. So we "accidentally" knocked over our pile of review software to see what the god Random might suggest.
Alien Skin Software's (http://www.alienskin.com) recently released Xenofex 2, that's what.
A BRIEF DESCRIPTION
Good choice, O Holy Random. Founder Jeff Butterworth was here just a few days ago showing the new version off.
He was on vacation. But we didn't feel sorry for him. He founded the company so he could have fun when he was working. And that seems to be working for him. We didn't envy him either, though. We were having too much fun watching him perform magic tricks with Xenofex.
Xenofex is a set of 14 Photoshop-compatible special effects plug-ins [MW]. Jeff refused to divulge the origin of the name. It wasn't fun deciding, he confessed. "But you should have heard the others." We declined. "Xeno" comes from the Greek "xenos" for stranger. A xenophobe, for example, is someone ridiculously afraid of anything foreign, particularly people. Xenofex, we suspect, appealed for conveying the sense of special effects.
Special, not strange.
That's what immediately appealed to us. They ranged from adding fake but realistic clouds to converting your family portrait into a puzzle. They were, in short, realistic effects. Some for photographers, some for graphic designers -- but, hey, that just takes a hat change.
And it's a hat we change often. Editing images is one thing (and there are Xenofex applicable to images) but you've probably indulged in the custom greeting card or two with your marvelously versatile inkjet printer. Being able to apply one of these effects would be very welcomed. But being able to apply it in a variety of ways makes these filters particularly valuable. Neither you nor your audience will get tired of them.
We'll detail each plug-in below, but Jeff wanted us to appreciate the complete rewrite he did (he really had fun) for each of these. That included a new interface, borrowed from Eye Candy 4000, which looks more like the native operating system than something from Kai Krause.
Keystrokes mimic the application's shortcuts, too. So if you know how to zoom in or out in the application, you know how to zoom in or out of the plug-in.
Special effects plug-ins are like vehicles. You don't just get one and sit in it. You go somewhere. Getting somewhere means driving. So you have to have controls. Xenofex puts the most frequently used controls right there on the left of the preview. But the more advanced, difficult and truly fun stuff is just a tab away. So beginner sorcerers can feel comfortable getting a realistic result right away while true wizards are only a click away from secret potions.
Sound like fun? Let's install it.
Alien Skin tested Xenofex with Photoshop 6 and 7, Elements 2.0 and Macromedia Fireworks MX (and later) on both the Mac (9 and X) and Windows (98/2000/Me/XP). It also works with Paint Shop Pro 7.0 or later on Windows.
On either platform, you need 64-MB or more of physical (not virtual) RAM.
Jeff, being on vacation, didn't bring a computer. Fortunately we were able to conjure one up (mainly using digicam parts).
He slipped his CD into the drive, clicked on the installer, it found Photoshop (after displaying the Read Me file and the License Agreement and getting our vital statistics) and installed the plug-ins while we discussed conjuring up more RAM and a faster CPU.
The manual gives excellent instructions for the increasingly more arcane environments (multi-user operating systems for single user computers). So don't worry. If you want to install for OS 9 instead of X, it tells you how. And it explains what administrator privileges are, too, for either OS X or Windows 2000/XP.
The installer took us to the Alien Skin Web site to register our product. Even though Jeff was in a rush to continue his vacation, we did that and we recommend you do, too. Don't be xenophobic about it.
THE USER INTERFACE
With an image open, select Filter, Alien Skin Xenofex 2 and any effect displayed on the fly-out menu.
The first thing that happens is your menu bar changes to Xenofex's menu bar. That includes Edit, Filter, View, Settings and Help commands.
Edit is (unlimited) Undo, Redo and Cut, Copy, Paste (handy for data fields).
But Filter gives you a very quick way to apply one of the other Xenofex effects without Canceling the current one and going back into the application.
View gives you menu commands to zoom in and out, show the actual pixels (100 percent) and show all layers (if applicable).
Settings lets you save, manage (delete, rename) or reset (to the factory default) the plug-in's settings. But you can also load one from a list of presets or prebuilt settings (which include any custom settings you save).
Help can explain the filter, take you to the help contents or send you to the Alien Skin Web site, either the home page or the Xenofex page.
The Filter Window is where you do all your work (have all the fun, that is). It's divided into four main areas.
The preview window is the largest area, displaying your image with the effect. Just to the left of it is the command pane with whatever sliders, data fields (which always accompany sliders), buttons and tabs each effect requires. Above the preview is a navigator window (for large images) with controls adjacent to it including a toggle button to the unmodified image, a grabber and a zoom tool. In the top right corner are the OK and Cancel buttons. Below the preview is a status line with help messages on the left and on the right a progress bar and magnification indicator.
Quite a dashboard.
Before we look at each filter, it's worth enthusing over the control Alien Skin gives you.
Photoshop, for example, gives you a Mosaic filter and a Stained Glass filter but there are only three sliders to play with. Tile size, Grout Width and Lighten Grout for Mosaic. Cell Size, Border Thickness and Light Intensity for Stained Glass (which we're throwing in because it more resembles Xenofex's Classic Mosaic filter).
Now look at Classic Mosaic: Tile Size, Grout Width, Edge Sensitivity sliders are matched with a Grout Color picker and a Random Seed value.
First, what are all these extra things?
Hit the Help button for the filter and you get a terrific explanation of every control that also includes usage tips. Special effects are not intuitive at all. You need to be told how to use them. You need Help. Very good Help. And Xenofex has just that. Well illustrated with every option clearly explained.
Random Seed, it turns out, can dramatically change how the tiles are laid out.
What about Edge Sensitivity? Increase its value to force the plug-in to more closely follow the edges in your image for a more detailed effect.
Find something that works and you can save the settings to apply on other images like those staff photos you have to do for Modern Mosaic Magazine's Web site.
OK, that's Classic Mosaic. For those of us not working for Modern Mosaic Magazine, what else is there? Let's look at the whole suite.
There are five new filters: Burnt Edges, Classic Mosaic, Cracks, Rip Open and Shatter.
Burnt Edges does the Bonanza thing without having the fire department drop by. If you make a selection, the edges of the selection are burned. Otherwise it's the image border. The controls are numerous: contract/expand selection, burn width, roughness (how jaggy the edge is), hollow edges, burn inside, burn color, fill inside burn (fill with solid color, keep original image or make selection transparent), overall opacity and random seed.
We covered Classic Mosaic above in detail.
Cracks will fracture your text or other solids isolated in their own layer (rather than applied globally to an image). Settings manipulate crack length, crack spacing, crack width, crack depth, edge roughness, light direction and random seed.
Rip Open was inspired by the famous Page Curl filter. Controls include curl size, curl amount, curl variation, edge roughness, shadow width, inside fill (fill with solid color, make selection transparent), same color on underside, underside color and random seed.
Shatter lets you explode your image right off the canvas. Perfect for birthday cards that mark the decades, you can easily simulate a shattered mirror. On the Basic tab you can control piece size, thickness (yes, they're three dimensional shards), tumble (well, rotation), time (as in elapsed), shadow opacity, shadow blur width, inside fill (fill with solid color, make selection transparent) and random seed. On the Lighting tab you can increase contrast and control the light direction, highlight brightness and highlight size.
The other nine filters enjoyed some tweaks:
Constellation (which makes star constellation patterns) now highlights edges for more realism and adds a Twinkle feature. This is surprisingly more fun than it sounds (right up there with Woody Allen's mother in the sky over Manhattan). And with a selection, you can isolate the effect to some jewelry, say. You can control the star size, size variation, edge star density (how busy it is around detected edges), overall star density, overdrive (how bright and white the stars are as they pick up a little color from the image), twinkle amount, twinkle rotation, background fill (fill with solid color, keep original image, make selection transparent) and random seed.
Crumple (which makes your image look as if it were printed on a piece of paper retrieved from the waste bin) has a seamless tile option, more distortion features and more realism. You can control crumple size, crumple force, distort image (so it follows the crumples), seamless tile, background color, direction (lighting), inclination, highlight (brightness, size and color), light boost and random seed.
Electrify uses a tabbed interface. Use it with a selection because something has to throw sparks. On the Basic tab you can control arc spacing, arc length, arc thickness, jaggedness, branching, branch spread, radiate from center and random seed. On the Glow tab you can control glow width, glow opacity and inner and outer color.
Flag enjoys more realism with better attachment points and wind direction. Not just for rectangular flags, either (you can do pennants). Put your object on a transparent layer of its own first. Then use the simplified mode to make a flag blown right to left. Other controls include shrink (zoom out), wind strength, wind direction, realistic distortion (rippling), attachments (where the thing is held by the flagpole), background color, increase contrast, light direction and random seed.
Lightning (make your own this spring) now lets you aim your bolts with beginning and end points. Amazingly realistic (considering no one's ever seen the stuff). You have controls in the preview window to set the start and end points of each bolt by clicking to start a bolt and dragging to set its direction. On the Basic tab, controls include taper main arc, arc thickness, jaggedness, branching, branch spread and random seed. On the Glow tab, controls are flash size, glow width, glow opacity and inner and outer color.
Little Fluffy Clouds can create clouds with perspective to match your camera angle, uses seamless tiling and improved sky color controls. Work on a selection of your sky. The Basic tab controls puff size, coverage (how many clouds), edge sharpness, base and edge color (cloud density), cloud mode (fluffy, wispy, puffy) and random seed. The Camera and Sky tab sets the seamless tile and perspective options, with controls for view elevation (camera tilt), field of view (wide-angle to telephoto) and cloud height. A checkbox for draw sky background controls zenith color and horizon color application. There are also sliders for haze and sky gradient.
Puzzle now lets you knock out pieces. Preview controls let you knockout a piece, restore it and invert any connector. The Basic tab sets the number of columns, knocks out and restores pieces in 10 percent clumps, inverts them, randomizes connectors, changes connector length and groove width, sets knockout fill (solid color or transparent) and controls connector shape with a random seed. The Lighting tab sets groove darkness, light direction, highlight brightness and size.
Stain now includes a ring stain option. There are also controls for edge width, roughness, internal opacity, overall opacity, stain color and random seed. With a selection, you get a stain; without one, you get a frame. Go figure.
Television has added vertical shift simulation. Controls include scanline strength, scanline thickness, vertical shift, curvature (before the days of flat screen TVs), static (before cable), ghost strength, ghost offset, breakup, monochrome screen, monochrome screen color, background color and random seed.
The full version is available online for $129, upgrades for $79 and sidegrades (if you own Eye Candy, Image Doctor, Splat! or Eye Candy for After Effects) for $99.
Special effects can be as affecting as a false foreign accent. But Xenofex gives you so much control over each one that two people using the same effect would get different results.
The presets are a great idea for getting a grasp of what each effect can do. The help system is just what the doctor ordered to cure the arcane terminology inherent in special effects and also to suggest how to optimize images to take advantage of each effect.
The collection itself is a bit uneven. Rip Open could stand to be ripped open. And shatter could use a little tweaking. They were both cartoonish. A little texture and lighting control on Mosaic (like Puzzle's) would make it a prize. But Burnt Edges, Constellation, Crumple, Electrify, Lightning, Little Fluffy Clouds, Puzzle and Stain are winners.
Little Fluffy Clouds should almost be sold by itself to digital photographers grappling with burned out sky. But the other effects will come in handy if you do your own greeting cards or graphic design. Designers will appreciate these effects as tools they can manipulate for fresh effects rather than cookie cutter manipulations that produce the same effect every time you use them.
And yes, Jeff, they are fun.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/V1/V1A.HTM on the Web site.)
Sony's Cyber-shot line includes a wide range of sizes and body styles, from the "lens-centric" DSC-F717 to the slim, trim "Compact P" series. The newest Cyber-shot, the DSC-V1, presents yet another design option, this time based on the traditional 35mm rangefinder aesthetic. While a little chubby for a shirt pocket, the V1 fits coat pockets and purses well and the built-in protective lens shutter makes it easy and safe to simply slip it into a pocket as you're heading out the door. Best of all, the V1 offers a truly exceptional array of features, from full manual exposure control to a selection of preset Scene modes to Sony's unique NightShot technology.
The DSC-V1 is the first camera to combine a 5-megapixel CCD with a 4x optical zoom lens. There are 5-megapixel cameras with 3x zooms and 4-megapixel models with 4x zooms, but the V1 is the first 5MP/4x design to hit the shelves. As in other high-end Sony digicams, the V1 features a high-quality, Carl Zeiss lens for capturing sharp details. The 4x, 7-28mm lens offers a maximum aperture of f2.8 to f4.0, depending on the zoom position.
In addition to optical zoom, the V1 offers Sony's new "Smart Zoom" digital zooming technology, designed to preserve image quality when digitally enlarging images. Smart Zoom avoids loss of image quality by limiting the digital zoom range to only what can be achieved without interpolation, based on the currently selected resolution setting. While Sony has coined the term "Smart Zoom" for this feature, the V1 is hardly the first camera to employ this approach. This is how digital zoom works on many of Fuji's consumer digicams. Still, I heartily support this approach to digital zoom, as it seems a little less deceptive and in any event will avoid interpolation artifacts. With Smart Zoom enabled, the V1 can digitally enlarge images up to 4x, depending on the resolution. The highest digital magnification is only available at the camera's lowest resolution setting (VGA). Larger image sizes result in proportionately lower digital zoom ratios.
The V1 focuses manually at 14 distance presets. Its autofocus target can be widened or narrowed and moved around to five different positions within the frame. Focus mode options include Single, Continuous (continuously adjusts focus) and Monitor (something between normal on-demand autofocus and fully continuous AF). There's also a Macro mode for shooting close-up subjects. A Sony exclusive shared with the F717 is Hologram AF, which uses a laser diode and a holographic diffraction grating to produce a crosshatched autofocus-assist pattern of bright red lines on the subject. This projected pattern stays more or less "in focus" almost irrespective of subject distance, so there's always a sharp pattern for the camera to focus on. Hologram AF isn't just for low light. You'll see the pattern projected in fairly normal lighting when there's not enough contrast in the subject for the contrast-detection AF system to focus effectively.
Sony included their trademark NightShot and NightFraming modes, which are infinitely useful in composing photos under low- (or no-) lighting situations. NightShot mode physically removes the infrared filter from the front of the CCD and projects IR beams from two small LEDs on the front of the camera. The resulting image is monochromatic, similar to the view through night vision goggles, but the camera can literally "see in the dark." NightFraming mode uses the same technique, allowing you to frame dark subjects using the IR beams, but once focus is determined, the camera replaces the IR filter and makes the exposure with normal flash.
The V1 has both a real-image optical viewfinder and a 1.5-inch color LCD monitor on the back panel. A detailed information display on the LCD monitor reports battery power, Memory Stick capacity, flash status, focus mode and the number of images taken, plus various exposure settings, such as aperture, shutter speed, exposure compensation, image size and quality. The LCD display also features an optional histogram, viewable in all record modes as well as in Playback mode.
The V1 offers a full range of exposure modes and a nice complement of creative options besides. Aperture is adjustable from f2.8 to f8 and shutter speeds range from 1/1000 to 30 seconds. The Mode dial on top of the camera offers Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Program AE, Full Auto and Scene exposure modes. Aperture Priority lets you select the lens aperture, while the camera chooses the best shutter speed. Alternatively, Shutter Priority lets you select the shutter speed, while the camera determines the appropriate aperture. Program AE places the camera in control of both aperture and shutter speed, while you control the remaining exposure parameters and Full Auto mode places the camera in charge of everything (except for resolution, flash, zoom and Record mode).
The Scene exposure mode provides six preset shooting modes (Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Landscape, Portrait, Beach and Snow) designed to obtain the best exposure for specific shooting situations. New to the V1 is a variable-program capability, which means the camera will determine the exposure, but you can choose from among different, equivalent combinations of aperture and shutter speed. This is much the same as Aperture or Shutter Priority modes, but gives the camera more say in determining exposure. Very handy.
Multi-Pattern, Center-Weighted and Spot Metering options are available in all shooting modes except Full Auto, selectable via the Record menu. White Balance options include: One Push, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent, Flash and Auto. Exposure Compensation is adjustable from -2 to +2 exposure values in one-third-step increments and the camera's ISO value can be set to Auto or to 100, 200, 400 or 800 equivalents, increasing performance in low-light shooting situations. The V1's built-in flash features Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced and Suppressed operating modes, with a variable flash intensity adjustment and true TTL metering. As an added bonus, the V1 offers an external flash connection and hot shoe mount, which let you connect more powerful flash units to the camera.
The V1 also provides an MPEG Movie VX mode with sound recording and VGA resolution. A Clip Motion option captures a series of up to 10 stills, which the camera records as one animated GIF file. Multi-Burst mode captures 16 images in rapid sequence and saves them as a single image, which plays back as a slow-motion sequence. A Picture Effects menu captures images in Solarized, Sepia and Negative Art tones with Sharpness, Contrast and Saturation adjustments also available.
The Record menu options include a TIFF mode for saving uncompressed images; a Voice mode for adding sound clips up to 40 seconds long to accompany captured images; and an E-Mail mode that saves a 320x240-pixel image small enough to transmit by email in addition to your normal-sized image. An Exposure Bracketing mode captures three images at three different exposures, so you can choose the best overall exposure after the fact, while the Burst 3 mode captures three images in rapid succession with one press of the Shutter button. Finally, there is a Normal setting for standard JPEG compressed images.
Images are stored as uncompressed TIFFs, JPEGs, MPEGs or GIFs on Sony Memory Sticks, supporting the new Memory Stick Pro format. The V1's expanded Memory Stick capabilities also let you create and manage individual image folders on one card. A video cable is also provided with the camera for connecting to a television set. For downloading images, a USB cable provides high-speed connection to PC or Macintosh computers. Software supplied with the V1 includes Pixela ImageMixer for Windows (98/98SE/Me/2000/XP) and Macintosh (OS 8.5-9.2) systems, as well as any necessary USB drivers.
The V1 uses an NP-FC11 InfoLITHIUM battery pack and comes with an AC adapter that doubles as a battery charger. I like the InfoLITHIUM batteries but I'm less enthusiastic about the tiny InfoLITHIUM pack that the V1 uses. I'd have greatly preferred a larger pack on a slightly larger camera, in exchange for longer run times.
NEW EXTERNAL FLASH
Astute readers will have noted the hot shoe atop the DSC-V1. It works with the HVL-F32x, a brand-new external flash that features:
The new HVL-F32x flash supports true TTL (through the lens) flash metering when used with the DSC-V1. This is a huge benefit with telephoto shots of subjects that are significantly brighter or darker than the background. With true TTL metering, only the part of the scene visible to the camera's CCD affects exposure. And the F32x does an excellent job throttling down for macro shots.
- Guide number of 32 meters
- Autofocus Assist Illuminator
- AF Illuminator with two-brightness settings
- Modeling light
- Manual flash strength setting
- Backlit control readout LCD
SHUTTER LAG/CYCLE TIMES
The DSC-V1 is a surprisingly speedy camera. Its autofocus speed/shutter lag is much better than average, especially at wide-angle. Cycle times are very good, particularly given the very large buffer memory. Continuous-mode speed is good, at 2 frames/second, but the 3-frame buffer in Burst 3 mode is rather limiting. MultiBurst mode offers incredibly fast frame rates for motion capture and analysis, albeit at greatly reduced resolution and a fixed run length of 16 frames.
As one of the first Sony digicams to support the new Memory Stick Pro format, I was interested to see what difference it might make. I expected the Pro to be a good bit faster, but there's little practical difference. The V1 took 49 seconds to write a full-resolution TIFF file to a standard Memory Stick and about 43 seconds to write the same image to a Memory Stick Pro.
Based on this prototype, I think Sony has a real winner on their hands with the V1. It has all the essential "enthusiast" features, plus a range of unique Sony-only capabilities like NightShot, NightFraming and Hologram AF. Not to mention TTL flash metering -- not Sony-specific, but surprisingly rare in prosumer digicams. Even at the prototype stage, image quality looked very good, promising good things when the production models finally make it to market. Stay tuned, I think this could finally be the digicam that gets Sony a little respect with the "enthusiast" crowd.
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: HiTi 630PS printer (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/HT630PS/HT6.HTM).
- Short Review: Canon PowerShot S400 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S400/S40A.HTM).
- Short Review: Canon PowerShot A70 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A70/A70A.HTM).
- Short Review: Nikon Coolpix SQ (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SQ/SQA.HTM).
- Updated Review: Nikon Coolpix 3100 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CP3100/CP31A.HTM).
- Updated Review: Nikon Coolpix 2100 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CP2100/CP21A.HTM).
The real world is not what it's cracked up to be. But (despite our better judgement) we are constrained to its confines. Much the same may be said of color management. Congratulations for dipping your toe into this review. Like it or not, it's a subject no digital imagist can avoid.
Fortunately for all of us, Bruce Fraser, Chris Murphy and Fred Bunting -- otherwise known as the Red, Green and Blue of color management -- have collaborated on a book (http://www.colorremedies.com/realworldcolor) that is as clear about the theory as it is practical about the practice. They've put their pioneering and hard-earned experience in black and white (with color plates). And it's a refreshing read.
Take, for example, their definition of color. Chapter One.
Most definitions are happy to confuse us, failing to satisfy our curiosity about the fundamental yet magical ability to see color. Not these guys. "Color is an event that occurs among three participants: a light source, an object and an observer," they write, breaking it down.
In discussing Light and the Color Event, they mention photons and waves, the spectrum, spectral curves, light sources and illuminants. The Object gets the same thorough delineation of factors and so does the Observer. By the time you get through this surprisingly easy-to-read first chapter, you've met metamerism (a GATF RHEM light indicator that looks like two colors under non-D50 lighting is included), logarithms, color temperature, fluorescence and a number of arcane principles of color science.
And you know exactly what they are talking about.
While the authors find the concepts compelling, they are continually sitting them down in the kitchen chairs of their daily experience where they make colors look real. They tell you, before the end of the chapter, just where theory falls short and reality rears its smiling but chocolate smeared face.
Chapter Two explains what color looks like to a computer. You can learn about pixels, 256 levels, white or black points, color models, gamuts and dynamic range from many sources. But here in 20 pages, the whole Rubic's cube is put together with a few simple turns of phrase.
By then you're ready to grasp the two jobs color management does (Chapter Three): attach meaning to our color numbers and convert them for use on different devices. The concepts of source and destination profiles, rendering intents, conversions and data loss, and 16-bit data are painted in broad strokes so you get the big picture. Chapter Four describes the role of device profiles, their limitations, how to use them and how to tell a good one when you see it.
The next part of the book covers building and tuning profiles, discussing measurement, calibration, process control and the tendency of device performance to drift over time. In fact, the authors tell us, measurement's role is threefold. Not just to evaluate and calibrate devices but to monitor them, too.
Detailed chapters follow on building display profiles (your monitor), input profiles (scanners, digicams) and output profiles (printers of all stripes). Can you calibrate your monitor by eye? What about calibrating an LCD monitor? What gamma and white point should you use (all three of them agree)? Why should you turn the brightness all the way up first? And what's the real problem with building camera profiles? Or the simple solution to calibrating under any light source?
This section ends with a description of editing color profiles that encourages you to repeatedly do so until you get the results you want. Nobody gets it right the first time.
The next part of the book is a discussion of color management workflow followed by a description of how color management works in the operating system. Individual chapters are devoted to Adobe's common color architecture, Macromedia FreeHand 10, CorelDRAW 10 and QuarkXPress. Those are followed by a chapter on PDF and another on scripting. And finally everything is tied together in a chapter that discusses building color-managed workflows.
The appendix includes an anatomy of a profile, workflow templates, a glossary and an index.
As we read through the book, we found it remarkable how smoothly (and amusingly) the voices of the three authors had been integrated. We were conscious of having the benefit of three clever minds at work on each issue.
And while the bulk of the book tells you how to be the boss of your own color management system, we found the early sections on the nature of color and its representation in your computer so lucid we almost wish it were a pamphlet of its own.
There is, after all, no escaping the problems this book addresses. Trying to reproduce in a print the color we see in the world and capture with our digicams is not a trivial task. This book sheds a bright light on the subject without shackling our creativity. It tells us what to worry about and what to skip. What can and can't be achieved and exactly how to achieve it.
The real world may not be what it's cracked up to be but we found this book worth more than its weight in RGB.
Real World Color Management by Bruce Fraser, Chris Murphy and Fred Bunting, published by Peachpit Press, 534 pages with a GATF RHEM light indicator, $49.99.
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:
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RE: Camera Raw & JPEG 2000
You mention in your review that this plug-in is usable with Photoshop Elements. Adobe's Web site does not mention that and my enquiries with Adobe technical support indicate that Adobe is not promoting the use of the plug-in with Elements.
I use Photoshop Elements and would like that functionality, but am uncertain if the plug-in will work with Elements.
-- Haider(Well, you aren't alone, Haider. We had a lot of inquiries about that. While we tested in Photoshop, we also tried both plug-ins in Elements. And they work, with some limitations. Elements and Photoshop share the same plug-in architecture but Elements only works with RGB images and 8-bit channels. So while Camera Raw can open the images in Elements, options like 16-bit channel import are not available.... When we asked Adobe about this, they said future versions of Photoshop will include this capability as a standard feature, not a plug-in. "However, our long term plans for RAW support in Photoshop Elements are not defined. And because Raw will become a standard feature in PS we will probably not continue to market a plug-in." -- Editor)
Thanks for the tip on Zero Assumption Digital Image Recovery software. Upon returning home from vacation, I had one SmartMedia card that worked in Florida but not Alaska. It had quite a few shots including a sunset that I wanted to use. After reading your last newsletter, I downloaded the software and managed to recover most of the missing images.
I did not recover every one of them but this is much better than a total loss. Now if my camera (Olympus D-400z) would just reformat that card again. It is a 128-MB card I would like to continue to use it.
-- Tom(Did you try PhotoRescue? Just wonder if it might do better. -- Editor)
I tried the demo from PhotoRescue as you suggested and the answer is no.
It found the same number of files (17) and with the same success ratio as the Zero Assumption Digital Image Recovery software. There were several files found that were not editable. ACDSee would create partial thumbnails but could not display the whole image (nor could Photoshop Elements or Paint Shop Pro). PhotoRescue showed these non-editable files as thumbnails in a solid pastel color.
In any case, thanks for your help. You have a great newsletter and I especially appreciate the reviews.
-- Tom(Thanks very much for the feedback on PhotoRescue (not to mention the kinds words about the newsletter), Tom. I'm guessing the pastel display was just the thumbnail from the JPEG header of files whose end data couldn't be found. -- Editor)
I bought a Sony Mavica MVC-CD400. I have updated to Windows XP Pro. Now my driver for the camera doesn't work. I need the driver for this. Please help.
-- Tracy(Our Drivers Project Page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/DRV/DRV.HTM) lists the locations of every company's driver download page that we know about and instructions about how to hunt for others. If you find something not listed, let us know so we can add it to the list. Thanks! -- Editor)
For printing panoramas, Epson makes a panorama paper. Sold over the counter. My HP printer doesn't like to print anything that long, so I just use "the Print Shop 15" and call it a poster after getting rid of the offered text and setting the proper paper type and print quality. I have razor sharp panoramas with up to 8 frames from my Nikon D100 and Photoshop Elements 2. The amazing thing is that the merges don't lose any detail in the overlapping areas. The files run about 50-MB as a rule.
-- Al Clemens(Thanks for the tips, Al! Especially like your workaround for the page size on your HP. -- Editor)
I have found an excellent stitch program called Panorama Factory by Smoke City. It does an excellent job, especially with the sky color tones. Thanks for all the great reviews and advice!
-- Ed P.(Thanks, Ed! That's http://www.panoramafactory.com for the curious. -- Editor)
RE: Tripod Heaven
I just wanted to thank you for your "Velbon MAXi Tripods -- Ideal Travelers" (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/VEL/VEL.HTM) article by Mike Pasini. It has finally helped me choose a lightweight tripod that was strong enough to be of use, but light enough not to leave at home collecting dust in a cupboard. My only problem has been getting my hands on one, but following a trip to Japan this weekend I managed to find one at a great price.
Furthermore it sounds like Velbon also has listened to your gripe about its color -- because mine is black.
Anyway thanks again for a great Web site!
-- Andy Mallard(Thanks, Andy. We've always suspected ourselves of international influence but now we have proof. -- Editor)
I find when I read the newsletter and launch the links, many of them don't work properly because some trailing punctuation gets included in the URL.
I'm reading the newsletter in OS X's Mail.app (i.e. the mail client from Apple). I'm not sure if it's a quirk of this mail reader, but I haven't found the same problem in other correspondence that includes hyperlinks.
-- John(Thanks for the report, John. Mail will correctly parse a URL delimited with parentheses but gets confused if the closing parenthesis is followed by a period. A bug by any other name, not fixed in 10.5.2. Save yourself some trouble and click on the first link in each issue for the HTML version. -- Editor)
WiebeTech (http://www.wiebetech.com) has published a White Paper on the causes and prevention of FireWire port failures, especially in host computers.
nik Multimedia (http://www.nikmultimedia.com) has released Dfine 1.0, a plug-in [MW] that performs noise reduction, JPG artifact reduction and enhances color and light.
eWeek (http://www.eweek.com) reports Photoshop 8 (code named Dark Matter) will feature non-destructive filtering like After Effects' adjustment layers, Layer Palette presets to maintain multiple palette sets and application of a single command to multiple layers. Also rumored are enhancements to the File Browser, improved keyboard customization, support for non-square pixels, enhancements to the user interface, support for JPEG 2000 (don't forget RAW) and a GUI-based Picture Package layout manager.
Meanwhile, Monkeybread Software (http://www.monkeybreadsoftware.de) has released a free JPEG 2000 file converter (using QuickTime) written in Real Basic. JPEG2000Dropper [MW] includes source code to inspire enhancements.
River of Shadows is a 305-page philosophical appreciation of Eadweard Muybridge and the "technological Wild West" by Rebecca Solnit from Viking at $25.95.
Rune Lindman (http://www.qpict.net) has released QPict 5.2.5 [M]. New features in the $35 media organizer include a magic thumbnail slider, extensive customisation, reduced launch time, sort on any field, printing improvements, usability improvements and long filename support.
In her 131-page Regarding the Pain of Others, Susan Sontag considers the role of photojournalism in making us think. From Farrar, Straus & Giroux for $20.
Conceiva (http://www.conceiva.com) has released Lightbox 3.0 [W]. New features include Exif display, RAW file display for over 50 digital camera models are supported from vendors such as Kodak, Canon, Olympus, Nikon, integration with Photoshop, PaintShop Pro, Photoshop Album, IMatch and PaintShop Album, Nero and Roxio CD Creator, among others.
Legion Paper (http://www.legionpaper.com) has introduced Arches Infinity, a 100 percent cotton mould-made paper featuring a proprietary coating designed for fine art photography and printmaking with pigment or dye-based inks on inkjet printers. Beneath the coating is the celebrated Arches Watercolor cold press (textured) or hot press (smooth) paper.
Canto (http://www.canto.com) has announced a free update to Web Publisher Pro for Cumulus Workgroup and Enterprise Editions. The update includes more sophisticated user rights and improved log functionality.
Granted Software (http://www.grantedsw.com) has released the $24.95 Still Life 2.0.5 [M] to pan and zoom over digital images. You can take multiple shots of an image, pan along a curve and rotate the camera.
Crescendo Software (http://www.crescendosw.com) has released the $14.95 Picture Play [M].
Brian Webster has released the free iPhoto Library Manager to manage multiple iPhoto libraries (http://homepage.mac.com/bwebster/iphotolibrarymanager.html).
Melonsoft (http://www.melonsoft.com) has released the $15 Exhibit 2 [M], to simplify building image galleries with titles and captions in HTML.
HumanSoftware (http://www.humansoftware.com) has introduced the $29.95 Booster Elements [MW], three Elements plug-ins including Masking, Curves and ColorChanges effects (sepia, duotones).
Epson (http://www.epson.com) is introducing its Stylus Photo 900 as the first photo printer under $200 that can print directly onto CDs and DVDs.
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