The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 5, Number 9 2 May 2003

Copyright 2003, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 96th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We take a look at a new way to email images while Dave enthuses over Canon's A70. Then we report on our latest shopping expedition for a storage card. Hang onto your checkbook!


TOPICS

SPONSORS
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Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by over 55,300 readers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

Feature: Novatix SendPhotos -- Points for Appearance

When we found out (years ago) you could make your own startup screen, we got pretty excited. Then paralysis set in. Which image would we be able to look at day in and day out? What might inspire us as we waited for our computer to start up?

We chose a Saul Steinberg (http://www.saulsteinbergfoundation.org) pen and ink drawing that we were very fond of. As an ink drawing, it was just the ticket for our black and white screen, but more importantly, it really deserved to be liberated from the book in which is was buried.

It was the word DON'T in block letter caps, filling the screen. But there -- onto the apostrophe -- a little man had leaped.

Even describing it now, it makes us chuckle. He had gotten to the apostrophe, hurray, but there was no guarantee he'd get to the T. And that spoke eloquently not only of his audacity but of ours in booting up. Especially after a crash.

Since then we've used the word DON'T as little as possible. But whenever someone brings up the subject of emailing images, it's the first thing that pops into our heads. Don't!

For those keeping inventory, we've discussed this twice before (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS).

But the other day, the clever folks at Novatix sent us SendPhotos, the "easiest and fastest way to email pictures." Windows only, but Mac users just might want to follow along for a pen and ink discussion of the issue. Even if iPhoto will resize any image and put it in a Mail message.

WHO ARE THESE GUYS?

Novatix (http://www.novatix.com) was established in 2001 by the people who started Mijenix Corp., creators of Windows utilities SystemSuite, Fix-It Utilities, ZipMagic and PowerDesk.

A privately held company, with headquarters in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Boulder, Colorado, Novatix's mission is "to provide users with the best and easiest solutions for managing and sharing their digital images." SendPhotos is their first product, released in December at an introductory price of $29.95 (but see Dave's Deals below for a special offer).

The company is also working on SendPhotos Gold, OrganizePhotos and SharePhotos. Novatix President Mike Kronenberg told us, "SendPhotos Gold, which we'll release in a few weeks, introduces additional functionality such as the capability of creating your own stationery, spell check your emails, correct red eye, crop pictures, adjust brightness and contrast, etc. In addition to JPEG, the Gold version also supports several additional picture formats such as TIFF, GIF, BMP, PNG, Kodak, and Photoshop."

SENDPHOTOS

SendPhotos is an email helper application. It doesn't itself email anything. It formats images into emails you then send with your regular email application. It integrates nicely with Outlook 2000/XP and Outlook Express but also works with most other applications and even Web-based services like Hotmail and Yahoo.

WHY WHY WHY

Why would you use something like this?

Because, well, emailing images is irresistible. It's what the cell phone companies, with their tiny conduit and slow lines, are banking on with those silly picture phones.

In fact, as much as we've screamed DON'T, we do. But we (almost) always follow the correct etiquette: resize to 640x480, sharpen a touch, email as an attachment and only one or two at a time. And never ever compress them. JPEGs are already compressed and they can be read on any platform.

If you send a 5-megapixel image to anyone on a dial-up account, don't be surprised if you never hear from them again. They may still love you, but their phone will be tied up downloading that much data.

Some service providers won't even deliver large emails.

To share a set of photos with distant friends and family, you can't beat simply emailing them a link to your slide show at an online photofinisher like Ofoto (http://www.ofoto.com).

But when you only have one or two images to share, it's quicker to email them. And SendPhotos can do it in style.

YEAH BUT

There are more ways of emailing a picture than we care to catalog. But there are really only two.

You can send your image as an attachment. Or you can send it inline.

Attachments are universally handled with great grace. Every email program knows what to do with an attachment. Download it from the server and put it on your hard disk where you've told it to put attachments (or, lacking that, the default location).

Inline is problematic. It relies on HTML. HTML code makes the Web go round (even if each browser seems to have its own idea of how to render it). But email has traditionally been plain ASCII text, and culturally HTML resistant.

Depending on your recipient's email program and how they've set its preferences or properties, the images you send inline may remain on the server (downloaded only for display, somewhat the way a Web browser handles things) or may be saved on their disk for display. As the sender, you never know.

SendPhotos envelopes your images in an HTML email of some sophistication that is, nevertheless painless (well, fun even) to complete. End of blurb.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

SendPhotos runs on Windows 98/Me/2000/XP and requires Internet Explorer 5.0 or above. It requires 15-MB free hard disk space and 32-MB RAM (but more is recommended).

Novatix also offers an unconditional 30-day money back guarantee.

BUILDING YOUR EMAIL

Installation on XP was painless and on first launch, SendPhotos even updated itself to a new version. We hardly knew what hit us.

When you launch the program and continue past the sign-on screen, you see a window with two main panes. The upper pane navigates the program with very large Back and Next buttons under an explanatory title ("Select pictures" was followed by "Select email layout"). A paragraph of helpful text was displayed next to the buttons and more options (like Help) are available to the right of that.

But the real action takes place in the pane below the navigation pane.

A small menu bar sits on top of a directory tree pane and a larger display pane. With the "Select pictures" window active, select a folder in the directory tree to see the images it contains in the larger pane.

Among the items in the directory tree is Recent, which will scan your hard disk for the latest folders of images you've added. Very convenient, it saved us a lot of clicking to find the fresh stuff we wanted to email.

"Select pictures" lets you tell SendPhotos which pictures to email. You can click on an image to select it or use the menu bar to select or deselect all of them. But you can also rotate them -- a smart addition, since many cameras don't rotate images. If a red-eye reduction tool was included, you might never need your image editor.

Once you've rotated and selected the full-size images you want to send, click the big Next button to move to the "Select email layout" window. The Help button is joined by a "Get more stationery" button that takes you to a Novatix Web page where you can view, preview and download user-contributed stationery. When you download the free stationery, it's automatically installed and immediately available. Very nice.

The menu bar has three items: Stationery, Arrange and Pictures. The directory tree is replaced by your installed stationery and the larger pane now shows what your email will look like.

Select any of the over 50 included stationery options and watch the large pane reflect the change. Stationery is composed of a background with clip-art style graphics, text for a headline and captions and the images themselves. No options are provided for changing text size or color.

You can use the Arrange command to stagger the images or align them differently from the default one on top of the other. The options are indicated in the small pane with a simple but clear schematic. All it takes is a click to try them out.

When you have what you want, click Next to Finish. You'll see your formatted HTML email with resized images in the emailer of your choice, ready for you to select recipients and hit the Send button.

One typical test email we built with custom stationery and five images with a title, background and (verbose) captions was under 200K. Bravo!

You don't save anything in SendPhotos, but your email program has what you sent in its Out box. That won't let you easily edit it (to change captions or the background) but it's quick and easy enough to do another one in SendPhotos.

In fact, Mike told us that SendPhotos only stores temporary copies of your resized images, which are deleted when the email is sent. You can find them in your Windows temp folder (c:\Windows\Temp by default).

THAT APOSTROPHE

Unfortunately, as well-implemented as SendPhotos is, it can't do anything about the other end of your communication. It gets you nicely to the apostrophe, but there's still that T ahead.

We sent our SendPhotos-generated email to a number of accounts and read them via several methods. We are unable to draw any general conclusions about what's likely to work and what isn't. But often, what we sent wasn't received.

Some older Web-based email systems (like Compuserve's Webmail) just won't display inline images, period. If your recipient has something like that (a bit dated, but nevertheless vital to many using older hardware), this won't help. You'll have to send attachments (and are hereby ordered to read our previous treatises on the subject).

Most email applications certainly can pass along what was received, but that's no guarantee either. Your recipient (us, for example) may simply refuse to let their email application render images or, worse, trash as spam any HTML email.

So, while you can send a JPEG attachment successfully to recipients in any of the above situations, SendPhotos won't work for them.

On the other hand, what we sent to AOL accounts worked fine. And most recent applications had no trouble rendering the HTML that SendPhotos generated. So, it may be an age thing.

CONCLUSION

If you know your recipients accept HTML email, SendPhotos is a fun way to build them stylishly. It also saves you the trouble of resizing images in your image editor (and doing the housekeeping of storing and finding them).

We've hedged on our DON'T email images position to send one or two shots as an attachment. That's still the most effective approach -- if you do it right by resizing to 640x480 first. But SendPhotos is a nicer looking envelope, a lot more fun and the wave of the future.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Canon PowerShot A70 -- Almost Perfect

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A70/A70A.HTM on the Web site.)

Last year, Canon's PowerShot A40 topped the charts on our Web site for popularity, outstripping all other camera models. This year, the A70 updates it with a larger CCD, more manual controls and a slightly different control layout. Will the A70 enjoy the same exceptional popularity as the A40? Only time will tell, but it does seem as though Canon has once again brought together all the right elements.

CAMERA OVERVIEW

With the compact design of the PowerShot "A" models, the $349 PowerShot A70 updates the A-series with a wide range of shooting options -- from fully manual operation to programmed, automatic and several preset exposure modes. A 3.3-megapixel CCD delivers high-resolution images suitable for printing as large as 8x10 inches with good detail. Lower resolutions are also available, including an email-friendly size. The A70's all-plastic, two-toned silver body is lightweight and compact, although just a little too large for the average shirt pocket. Still, the A70 should easily fit into larger coat pockets and purses and comes with a wrist strap for more security. Like many Canon digicams, the A70 features a shutter-like lens cover and a retracting lens that keeps the camera front fairly smooth when the camera is powered off. Without a lens cap to fumble, the A70 is quick on the draw (you just have to wait a couple of seconds for the lens to extend).

Equipped with a 5.4-16.2mm lens, the A70 offers a 3x optical zoom range equivalent to a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm camera. Aperture ranges from f2.8 to f8.0 depending on the zoom setting and can be manually or automatically adjusted. The A70 uses Canon's AiAF (Artificial Intelligence Auto Focus) system, which sets focus based on a five-point area in the center of the frame. Whatever portion of the subject is closest to one of the AF points determines the overall focus. You can alternately choose to base focus on the center of the frame only. The A70 also offers a manual focus mode, displaying a numeric distance scale on the LCD display. An AF Assist light on the front panel helps the camera focus in dark shooting conditions and can be deactivated if necessary. In addition to the optical zoom, the A70 also offers as much as 3.2x digital zoom. However, I always remind readers that digital zoom often decreases the overall image quality because it simply enlarges the center pixels of the CCD image. The A70 has both a real-image optical viewfinder and 1.5-inch LCD monitor for composing images. The LCD monitor's information display includes detailed exposure information, including shutter speed and aperture settings in the manual shooting modes.

The A70 provides a full range of exposure control, from Manual to Auto exposure modes and a handful of preset scene modes as well. All exposure modes are accessed by turning the Mode dial on top of the camera. Canon divides 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. Exposure modes in the Creative Zone include Program AE, Shutter Speed-Priority AE (Tv), Aperture-Priority AE (Av) and Manual Exposure. In Program AE, the camera chooses the aperture and shutter speed settings, but gives you control over all other exposure options. Aperture and Shutter Speed Priority modes allow you to set one exposure variable (aperture or shutter speed) while the camera chooses the best corresponding variable. Manual mode gives you full control over all exposure options.

Exposure modes in the Image Zone include Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Fast Shutter, Slow Shutter, 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 focus on the subject, while maintaining an out-of-focus background. Landscape mode slows the shutter speed and maximizes depth of field with a small aperture setting. Night Scene mode illuminates your subject with flash and uses a slow shutter speed to evenly expose the background. Fast Shutter mode uses a fast shutter speed to freeze action, while Slow Shutter mode uses a slower shutter speed to blur moving objects (such as waterfalls or fountains). The Stitch-Assist mode is Canon's answer to panorama shooting, in which multiple, overlapping images can be captured horizontally, vertically or in a clockwise grouping. Images are then "stitched" together on a computer using Canon's bundled PhotoStitch software or other image editing software. Movie mode allows you to capture up to three minutes of moving images and sound at approximately 15 frames per second, with available resolutions of 640x480, 320x240 or 160x120 pixels.

The White Balance setting adjusts color balance with settings for Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent and Fluorescent H (for daylight fluorescents). A Custom setting manually sets color balance based on a white or gray card. Exposure Compensation increases or decreases the overall exposure, from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents in one-third-step increments. An ISO adjustment offers 50, 100, 200 and 400 ISO equivalents, as well as an Auto setting. By default, the A70 uses an Evaluative metering mode, which links the metering area to the focus area (when AiAF is activated). Also available is a Spot Metering option, which bases the exposure on the center of the subject and Center-Weighted, for a larger area in the center of the frame. The A70's flash operates in either Auto, Forced, Suppressed or Slow Synchro (in Night Portrait mode only) modes, with an available Red-Eye Reduction setting through the Record menu.

A creative and fun Effects menu lets you play around with image color, offering Vivid and Neutral color settings, as well as Sepia and Black and White options. A Low Sharpening option softens the image. Continuous Shooting mode works like a motor drive on a 35mm camera, capturing a rapid burst of images for as long as the Shutter button is held down (or until the memory card runs out of space). Actual frame rates vary depending on the image size and quality selected. The A70 also features a 10-second self-timer with an optional two-second delay. The A70 also features the My Camera menu, which lets you customize camera settings to your own preferences. For example, you can set the image that appears at startup or assign a fun sound to button functions.

The A70 stores images on CompactFlash memory cards and comes with a 16-MB starter card. I highly recommend purchasing a larger-capacity CompactFlash card right away, given the A70's maximum 2048x1536-pixel resolution. The camera uses four AA-sized batteries for power, either alkaline or NiMH. Four alkaline batteries come with the camera and battery life is generally excellent, but I still strongly advise picking up a couple of sets of rechargeable batteries and a charger and keeping a spare set freshly charged at all times. The optional AC adapter is useful for reviewing and downloading images, but good-quality rechargeable batteries really eliminate the need for it. The A70 features a USB jack for quickly (570 KB/second) downloading images to a computer and comes with two software CDs, one loaded with Canon Digital Camera Solution Disk version 12.0 and the other loaded with ArcSoft Camera Suite version 1.2 [MW]. Additionally, an AV Out jack and the included video cable lets you connect the camera to a television set. The A70 is DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compatible, with a range of print settings available through the Playback menu.

TEST RESULTS

Color: Throughout my testing, the A70 produced very good color, with accurate, believable results in virtually all cases. Saturation was appropriate and hue accuracy was very good. I noticed slight oversaturation in the additive primaries (strong reds, greens and blues), but it was slight indeed and skin tones were generally natural and accurate. White balance was very good under virtually all light sources, even the very difficult household incandescent lighting of my indoor portrait test, although that light source required either the Incandescent or Manual white balance options, as the Auto setting had quite a bit of trouble. Overall, an excellent job in the color department.

Exposure: The A70's metering system did a good job throughout my testing. Surprisingly, it even managed a good exposure on the high-key outdoor portrait shot, which almost always requires at least some positive exposure compensation. It did underexpose the indoor portrait shot somewhat, both with and without flash, requiring some positive exposure compensation to achieve a good exposure. On my Davebox test, the A70 had no trouble distinguishing the subtle pastel tones on the Q60 target and maintained great detail in the deep shadows. Overall, better than average exposure accuracy.

Resolution/Sharpness: The A70 performed well on the laboratory resolution test chart, with good results from its 3.2-megapixel CCD. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 700 lines per picture height vertically and around 600 lines horizontally. I found strong detail out to nearly 1,200 lines horizontally, although severe artifacts crept in as low as around 950 lines vertically. Picking a single number, I'd call it at around 1,100 lines, but feel compelled to note that it isn't actually that high for vertical detail. Extinction of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,300 lines.

Close-Ups: The A70 performed well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 2.98x2.23 inches. Resolution is high, with strong detail in the dollar bill, coins and brooch. There's more softness in the corners here though, visible in all four corners of the frame. This is a very typical failing in digicam macro modes, caused by "curvature of field" in the lens system, when operating at macro focusing distances. The camera's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area and overexposed the shot. Plan on using external illumination for your macro shots with the A70.

Night Shots: With a maximum shutter time of 15 seconds and fully adjustable ISO settings, the A70 has great low-light shooting capabilities. Its autofocus-assist illuminator is a great help for focusing in dim shooting conditions as well. The camera produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, with good color at all four ISO settings. The camera automatically employs a Noise Reduction system at longer exposure times, which did a great job of controlling image noise. Even at ISO 400, while noise was high, it had a tight, fine grain that made it less objectionable than it might otherwise have been. Actually, the image noise in the long exposures below is much better than in the indoor portrait shot, where the exposure time was too short for the special long-exposure noise reduction to kick in.

Viewfinder Accuracy: The A70's optical viewfinder is pretty tight, showing only 81 percent of the frame at wide-angle and 79 percent at telephoto. The CCD in the production model I tested also appeared to be rotated slightly, as images framed with the optical viewfinder were slanted. The LCD monitor actually proved to be just slightly loose, since my standard lines of measurement were just out of frame in the final images. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the A70's LCD monitor did quite well, but I really wish that its optical finder was more accurate.

Optical Distortion: Optical distortion on the A70 is slightly better than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured an approximate 0.7 percent barrel distortion. This is close to the 0.8 percent average I've found among cameras I've tested, but I'd really like to see much less geometric distortion in digicam images than that. The telephoto end fared better, as I measured only two pixels of barrel distortion, corresponding to about 0.1 percent distortion. Chromatic aberration is very low, showing only about two or three pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. The most evident shortcoming I noticed in the A70's lens design is higher-than-average flare, particularly in the corners of its images, but present to a lesser extent across the frame as well.

Battery Life: The PowerShot A70 showed really excellent power consumption and battery life, particularly with the LCD off. Alas, the rather tight optical viewfinder means you'll have to rely on the LCD for critical framing, which drops battery life from exceptional to merely excellent.

CONCLUSION

As I mentioned, Canon's PowerShot A40 topped the charts on the IR Web site for popularity last year, outstripping all other camera models. And for good reason. The A40 offered a rich set of features and excellent image quality at an attractive price.

This year, the PowerShot A70 appears poised to follow in the A40's footsteps. Relative to last year's model, the A70 offers a good bit more resolution (3.2 vs. 2.0 megapixels), a slightly expanded shutter-speed range, a slightly more accurate optical viewfinder and a significantly improved user interface.

I did see a good bit more lens flare on the A70 than on the A40, puzzling since the two lenses appear to be identical. (Perhaps a change in the optical coatings?) Also, while improved, the A70's optical viewfinder accuracy is still lower than I'd like to see.

These two complaints aside though, I have nothing but praise for the A70. To my eye, Canon has managed an almost perfect combination of features, image quality and price for the mid-level consumer market. If you're looking for a great "all around" digicam, the A70 certainly deserves your serious consideration. Highly recommended.

Return to Topics.

New on the Site

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

Return to Topics.

Advanced Mode: A Large Card

With every digicam box we open, we shake our head. There it is, the First Disappointment every new owner will experience. The Infinitely Inadequate Original Storage Card.

A 5-megapixel wonder with a 32-MB card? A 3-megapixel with a 16-MB? Are they kidding? You can only take 12 images. They might as well give you a couple of 8-MB cards so you can wear them as earrings. They clearly aren't meant for use in the camera.

When Dave reviews a camera, he always recommends buying a larger storage card. So the other day, frustrated with the card included in the delightful Pentax Optio S we were testing, we took his advice and shopped around for a larger card.

Well, how large?

For 3-megapixel digicams, we don't like anything smaller than 64-MB. That's just the way we shoot. That gives us enough room for any event we find ourselves shooting.

But for this 3-megapixel charmer, we thought we'd survey the Secure Digital card territory with a fresh eye. Things change, after all.

We dropped by the corner drugstore and saw 32-MB cards (which would give us roughly what a roll of film did) for $25. The local office superstore had the same size for $30. Camera stores are nearly extinct around here but we did find one that had a 128-MB card for $80.

Well, now you know why the reviews are always so late. We wandered from store to store trying to find a good buy. Finally, a computer superstore got us to part with our easily-acquired bullion. A 128-MB card for $39 after a $10 rebate (at some future time in a galaxy far far away).

You can save some time by visiting sites like http://dealram.com which list current memory card prices from a number of sources.

Compare that to the $30 32-MB deal at the office superstore. For just 33 percent more cash, you get four times the capacity. A no brainer in our neighborhood.

We were glad we had 128-MB, too. Not only did we have plenty of room for images (about 80 at a time, which would have not have fit on a 64-MB card), but we had room to make a few voice memos on the Optio S. Little reminders, let's say.

We like a card large enough to hold everything we might take in one shoot. With movies and voice recordings on some digicams, we're glad to see large capacity cards become this affordable.

Do a little homework and you can score a great deal on a card large enough to wear out your battery on a shoot. Then you can address the Second Disappointment almost every new owner experiences. The premature failure of their power source (we're thinking particularly of the alkaline AAs).

Which is no doubt why Dave always recommends a second battery as part of your first purchase.

Return to Topics.

In the Forums

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

Read about the Fuji FinePix S602 Zoom at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee8bb68

Visit the Beginners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b2

Luis asks about the difference between wide angle and telephoto at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee91ffd/0

Johnny asks about shutter speed at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee91edc/0

Visit the Buying and Selling Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee6b2ac

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Dave's Deals

Looking for special prices on featured products? Because of their time-limited nature, we only publish them in the email version of this newsletter. The good news is that you can subscribe for free on our Subscriber Services page:

Subscribe for Great Deals!

We deliver -- just Subscribe!

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We Have Mail

You can email us at editor@imaging-resource.com. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.

RE: Panoramas

I really enjoyed this weekend's newsletter (as always). I've recently been using ArcSoft's Panoramamaker 3.0 for making panoramas. It works quite well. I've also used Ulead's Cool 360 and Photoshop Elements.

The ArcSoft program came bundled with my Coolpix 5700. IMHO Panoramamaker 3.0 is the best. A comparison article of all the panorama programs would be just the ticket for those just getting started in panoramic prints.

-- Charlie Young

(Thanks for the recommendations, Charlie! I'll have a look at these and see if I can stitch something together. -- Editor)

RE: Color Management for Folks

Doubtless like everyone else, I've fought, screamed and watched dollars flutter out the window because of trying to get the print to match the monitor. The review of "Real World Color Management" brought me to attention, but the one thing not mentioned in it was whether or not anything in the book was actually used to improve color management. In other words, was the book's information put to the test?

-- Barbara Coultry

(In a word, yes. The authors are not hypothesizing but reporting their pioneering experience from the field. And we can personally confirm their advice as far as our experience overlaps working with digicams and desktop printers.... To get the best results from your inkjet, we've always recommended you calibrate your monitor (at least by eye) and appreciate that what your inkjet can reproduce is only a subset of what you can see on that monitor. Step two is to use the printer driver settings intelligently, matching paper grade (and using photo paper to begin with) and resolution. Observing those basic recommendations will get good results. Good enough that the manipulations you make in your photo editor will be reflected in the print. -- Editor)

RE: Elusive Reds

Could you start a discussion on this subject?

No digital camera will decently capture bright red flowers (and similar subjects). The attached photo was taken with a Canon PowerShot S230, set to underexpose by more than one f-stop. One has to do this to avoid serious burnout on sunlit flowers. I have tried all the enhancement tricks short of pixel-by-pixel painting. Nevertheless, there is little to no detail in the red areas. This isn't just a matter of amateurity. I see photos published in all the digital camera magazines with the same degree of the same problem, including those purported to be admirable efforts by professionals and results from fine high-end cameras.

Are we supposed to overlook such a glaring problem? Pretend there is no problem? Is there some pro out there who knows how to capture and process images to get around this serious gap in digicam technology?

By the way, the burnout problem is much more severe with my 3-megapixel S230 and 5-megapixel Nikon Coolpix 5700 than with my earlier 2-megapixel S100 and 3-megapixelCoolpix 990.

Thanks for the excellent work, guys.

-- Gene Widenhofer

(Underexposing flowers a stop is our approach, too (although today we shot -0.7 EV). That doesn't quite deal with the saturation problem, though. Without seeing your real azaleas, I just threw it to iCorrect EditLab which desaturated it by 18 percent and brightened it a bit. Not to trust a mindless manipulation, but it does suggest where the problem is. -- Editor)

RE: Sontag

Regarding your item on the new Susan Sontag book, Regarding the Pain of Others, her old tome, On Photography was a great help to me in studies. It was thought-provoking as well. I look forward to reading the new work. Thanks.

-- Harry

(You're welcome, Harry. Thanks for the feedback! -- Editor)

RE: Another Velbon Fan

Just another note on the Velbon-Maxi tripods. I purchased one and it is simply great. I bought the 347E which has the head that has the handle on it (not the ball) and found a really neat thing about it. I have the Nikon Coolpix 4500 with the twist body. When mounted on the tripod I can tilt the camera downward so that the LCD screen is looking directly up at me and then twist the lens up so that it is looking forward. This is much easier than bending down to look at it. Also I can use the tripod in the completely retracted mode without laying on the ground to see what I'm framing.

And I cannot believe how light the tripod and camera actually are together. Of course I got my start 30 some years ago in Japan carrying around a Nikon F with a tripod that weighed 4-5 pounds! This is much nicer!

Thanks for the great newsletters and site!

-- Cameron C. Cook

(Thanks for the great tip, Cameron! Another reason to love those swivel cameras. -- Editor)

RE: Skin Tones

I am an amateur who really enjoys photography as a hobby. As an African American with family members of varying hues and skin tones I have a difficult time, particularly with flash photography, making pictures which accurately reflect the wide variety of colors in my family.

I understand I could use software to obtain a more "natural" result but going through a roll of photos one by one becomes almost overwhelming.

Is there a good software package which would make the necessary enhancements for a number of different pictures at one time?

-- Ed

(Pictographics provides an entry-level product called iCorrect Entree (about $20) with technology to color correct skin of any race (http://www.picto.com/iCorrect40Tour/Skin.html) and a higher-end product called iCorrect EditLab. Even in the low-end product you can batch process images. See the tutorial (http://www.picto.com/PhotoKiosk/index.html) for details. -- Editor)

RE: Documentation Tip

When reading books while working at the computer, often the stiff binding makes the book close or at least shift pages. This is sometimes very frustrating. Solution: have a comb binding put on. Kinko's, Office Depot, etc. do a great job of this. They cut off a sliver of the original spine, punch a special set of holes in all the pages and covers and insert a plastic comb binding, allowing the book to be opened flat for use. The cost is reasonable $1 to $3+ depending on the thickness of the book. Life is now a bit easier.

-- Paul Castenholz

(Thanks, Paul! -- Editor)

RE: Credit

I was really pleased to see that your reader Tom was able to use Zero Assumption Digital Image Recovery, even if he couldn't recover more images than he did.

I pointed it out to you because it worked for me and I wanted others to know about it -- that's what the Internet supports better than any other medium I can think of. It's a great satisfaction to be part of the information sharing process that Imaging Resource provides.

-- Bob

(Apologies for not attributing you as the source, Bob. We generally don't cite previous letters (they aren't indexed, so it's hard to find them) but should have this time just to clarify we weren't the actual source. -- Editor)

RE: Recharging Lithiums

Is it possible to re-charge lithium batteries? I fed 75 milliamps to a Konica camera battery for five hours and it seemed to revive it. What do you recommend?

-- Antony Johnson

(Oh, don't do that, Anthony! We need every subscriber we've got and if one of those things explode, we may lose you <g>. Really, the only things you should put in a charger are rechargeables. The ones built for that charger. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

From May 12-18, thousands of digital photographers will fan out across the U.S. for America 24x7, the latest project in the Day in the Life series of photography books by Rick Smolan and David Elliot Cohen, sponsored by Olympus. Their mission is to create a digital time capsule of American life, which will be published in a series of 53 illustrated books (one featuring the best work from photojournalists across the nation and one for each state plus New York City and Washington D.C.). In addition, there will be a network TV special, a traveling exhibition of photographs and a compelling online gallery.

While the project will contract with 1,000 photographers, it will rely heavily on amateurs and non-contract pros for contributions. If you'd like to participate, visit http://www.america24-7.com for more information.


Kodak has launched its PLUSDigital 35mm one-time-use camera system for $9.99-$11.99, which includes prints and a Kodak Picture CD. You return the camera to retailers offering Kodak premium processing and check the box for "Prints Plus a CD." Film is processed using new Kodak Perfect Touch processing to scan and correct each picture before it's printed. When you pick up your pictures, you get a Kodak Picture CD with your prints at no additional charge.


Keith's Image Stacker (http://www.unm.edu/~keithw/keithsImageStacker.html) is an image processing program "oriented primarily toward astrophotography." It combines similar images into a single image that comprises either the sum, average or some value in between of the individual images to increase the signal-to-noise ratio.


Hewlett-Packard (http://www.hp.com) has announced the Signature Style Wedding Contest, "where one lucky couple will win a Signature Style kit to help them create their perfect wedding." The kit, valued at approximately $4,000, includes state-of-the-art digital photography and printing devices, the artistic guidance of a creative director and a digital photographer to capture magic moments.

The second place winner gets a Photosmart 812 digicam and dock, a PSC 2210 all-in-one printer and supplies. The third place winner gets a Photosmart 812 digicam and dock, a PSC 1210 all-in-one printer and supplies. Twenty-five winners, chosen from a random drawing, will each receive a "brag book," a mini photo album, which features a cover that can be customized with a personal photo, from Kate's Paperie. To enter, visit http://www.hp.com/go/wedding or call (800) HP WEDDINGS.


iView MediaPro (http://www.iview-multimedia.com) [M] has been updated to version1.5.7, adding support for the Canon CRW format, reduced movie size during export of QuickTime presentations and improved results in Find Duplicates.

iView Multimedia has also released the $29.95 iView Media [MW], a consumer version of iView MediaPro, to manage, share and protect photos, graphics, video and music clips.


The Plugin Site (http://www.thepluginsite.com) has released version 1.50 of their $49.95 Plugin Galaxy [M], a collection of 21 Photoshop-compatible plug-ins with over 150 different image effects. The update includes a new Page Curl plug-in, 18 new filter effects and improvements to the existing effects.


Simeon Leifer (http://www.droolingcat.com) has released BetterHTMLExport 2.0.4, a $20 plug-in for iPhoto that exports HTML pages.


Kepmad Systems (http://www.kepmad.com) has released ImageBuddy v2.8.0 for Mac OS X and Classic to rotate, size, crop, mask and layout your digital photos for printing. Version 2.8.0 (a free upgrade to the $17 program) adds free placement of text in Page Layouts, 4x print spooling, improvement in Contact Sheets and new high resolution display modes. The OS X version offers drag and drop support from iPhoto.


Epson (http://www.epson.com) has released a Mac OS X driver for the Stylus Photo 2200 printer, which adds borderless, roll paper and minimum margin paper handling.


Wacom (http://www.wacom.com) has updated their OS X USB tablet driver. Version 4.7.6-3 correctly sets Pop-up Menus in the control panel.


Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 7.6.32 featuring a "Device|Media size" option.

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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
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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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