The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 5, Number 10 16 May 2003

Copyright 2003, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 97th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Don't like the color? We've got just the tool. Then Dave puts the miniscule Optio S under his microscope. Finally, we try to put the click back in digital photography. But first, a special note from Dave:

"Want a chance to win $100 for five minutes of your time? We're evaluating our shopping/price comparison service, and want your opinion. Visit (http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=87170212491) to take our very short Shop by Price Survey and you'll be entered in a drawing to win $100, $50 or $20. Your feedback is what makes Imaging Resource special, so we're looking forward to your participation. Thanks!" -- Dave Etchells


TOPICS

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Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by approximately 55,000 combined direct and pass-along subscribers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

Feature: iCorrect 4.0 -- The Leatherman of Color Correction

In 1968, Tim Leatherman persuaded his wife they could drive through Europe in a $300 Fiat. Sparks flew. From the Fiat. Tim, being something of an engineer, wondered why he couldn't have a pocketknife that included an engine hoist or at least a pair of pliers.

A few years later, he had invented the Leatherman (http://www.leatherman.com), nicknamed the Personal Survival Tool, which has evolved into a dozen variations to handle life-threatening situations other than driving a Fiat through Europe with your spouse.

Unfortunately, no Leatherman handles color correction. And it is one of life's little Unassailable Facts that while it's darned hard to fix color, even a child can tell when it's off. Color is the Fiat of digital photography.

In our May 18, 2001 issue -- gee, two years ago -- we reviewed iCorrect (http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/ICOR/ICOR.HTM), a little $139 Photoshop plug-in that simplified the life-threatening task of color correction. Two years is an epoch in software time. And iCorrect has evolved as dramatically as Leatherman since then.

But what excited us two years ago is still very much the pocketknife/pliers of the product. Like a pocket knife, it does the automatic stuff (brightness/contrast/saturation) well. But like a pair of pliers, it actually asks you to tell it what in the image is skin, sky, foliage. Once you tell it what the color is supposed to be, it knows how to fix it.

Today iCorrect (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?ico) is a family of products that includes two standalone Windows applications and two cross-platform Photoshop plug-ins. We routinely recommend it to readers who ask for a replacement for PhotoGenetics or who need a tool to fix all their images. It's a product we've come to rely on over the years (to correct the white balance in our trade show images, for example), produced by a company that knows what it's doing so you don't have to.

(Visit http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/ICO/ICO.HTM for the illustrated version of this article.)

MEET THE COMPANY

Promising to "make the color right," Pictographics (http://www.picto.com) has focused on refining CandelaColor, its color technology software for digital imaging. CandelaColor is a set of code libraries -- "sophisticated and highly complex mathematical color science algorithms," according to the company -- to correct color throughout the digital imaging process.

iCorrect is "a simple and easy to use form" of those algorithms. Just open an image in iCorrect and it's color corrected.

If that automatic correction needs a tweak -- say, to correct off-the-chart skin tones -- iCorrect makes it as simple as a click to refine the correction.

THE SKIN TONE TEST

In fact, one of the toughest color correction jobs is correcting skin color. iCorrect has always handled this with remarkable grace, unfazed by race if sometimes momentarily stunned by cosmetics (but aren't we all).

It's able to correct the skin tone of several models of various races in the same image because it has defined the color parameters of skin itself. This "memory color" as Pictographics calls it, describes the range of hues and saturation in realistic skin color.

And it's as simple as clicking on an arm or a forehead to apply. Click on any skin, tell iCorrect it's skin (not foliage or sky) and you've made one of the most difficult color corrections there is.

FOUR ICORRECTS

There are four iCorrect incarnations: iCorrect Entree, iCorrect, iCorrect Professional and iCorrect EditLab. Each adds something to the mix.

All four offer the following basic features:

The two iCorrect applications -- the $19.95 Entree and the $39.95 iCorrect -- require Windows 98/ME/2000/XP and a Pentium-class processor with 64-MB RAM.

Entree (http://www.picto.com/iCorrectEntree), like iCorrect, displays the original image and the corrected image side by side. Underneath are checkboxes to disable auto black/white point and controls to adjust brightness and contrast.

iCorrect (http://www.picto.com/icorrect) trumps Entree with added features (also included in Pro and EditLab):

Of course, none of this "works" if you don't calibrate your monitor. Pictographics doesn't leave you high and dry on that count. In the Setup menu, you'll find a Monitor Adjust option that tells you exactly what to do in two easy steps to calibrate your monitor.

In addition to a handy Help pane below the main window, iCorrect also offers a Guide that you can view on-screen or print out for reference. You really won't need it, though.

These two applications are designed to help anyone correct unpleasant color even if they're confused by technical terms like brightness, contrast, saturation and hue. Both do it for you very well, although iCorrect is more useful than Entree with difficult images.

If your digicam shoots everything a little too red or a little too blue, Entree is all you need to fix it. Of course, you don't get the benefits of applying your own intelligence to color correction (where you tell the program what it's looking at) unless you start with the $39.95 iCorrect.

Either is a tremendous bargain when you consider they both provide the same smart correction engine in CandelaColor. But Dave's made them even a bit more compelling with a special Deal for subscribers.

Pictographics has written a tutorial (http://www.picto.com/PhotoKiosk) on using iCorrect in Windows XP as an in-home photo kiosk "to view organize, color correct, print and send digital photos." While it's a novel approach, it doesn't offer essentials like local color correction for red-eye removal or retouching and cropping tools.

ICORRECT PLUG-IN

If you're using an image editor that taps into the power of Photoshop-compatible plug-ins, however, you'll want one of the two cross-platform versions of iCorrect.

The $79.95 iCorrect Pro (http://www.picto.com/iCorrectProfessional/default.htm) is the latest incarnation of the original plug-in we reviewed two years ago. It displays the image in one panel with checkboxes for:

A ColorCircuit is a general-purpose color transform that describes the correction you build with iCorrect. You can apply that correction to any number of images by loading the ColorCircuit in Pictographic's free ColorCircuitQ 2.0 [MW] and dropping the images onto its icon.

While it corrects color, ColorCircuitQ can do a lot more, applying unsharp masking, removing noise, resampling and renaming files. Unfortunately, there isn't an OS X version (although it does run reliably in Classic mode). A PDF User Guide documents the application.

EDITLAB PLUG-IN

What more could you possibly need?

Well, how about that engine hoist? That's pretty much what EditLab delivers with its ability to write and edit ICC profiles. You can save any correction as a ColorCircuit to massage the data in unprofiled image files -- or you can save it as an ICC profile to attach to any image.

You can use EditLab (http://www.picto.com/editlab) in four ways:

EditLab introduces a SmartColor mode that "intelligently sets the editing controls based on the color content of the image." SmartColor, which can be disabled with a checkbox, can actually make custom corrections for batches of images using Photoshop Actions. Rather than apply the same transform to each image, it will analyze the color in each image before devising a unique correction for each image. Additionally, it will adjust its automatic correction based on how you override it. Very clever stuff.

iCorrect EditLab runs on Mac OS 8.6/9.2/10.1/10.2 with a Power PC processor and 128-MB RAM. On Windows 98/ME/2000/XP it requires a Pentium-class processor with 128-MB RAM.

It has been tested with Adobe's Photoshop 5.0/6.0/7.0, Photoshop LE, PhotoDeluxe and Photoshop Elements 1.0/2.0 on both platforms.

The installation includes an HTML guide. You do have to drag the plug-in to the Plug-Ins directory of your image editor, however.

At $99.95, EditLab adds the following features to iCorrect:

EditLab's capabilities are neatly organized in four tabbed panels: Color Balance, Black/White Point, Brightness/Contrast/Saturation and Hue Selective Edit. They are stacked, in fact, in the order they should be applied to the image to minimize the time it takes to correct an image.

If you've checked SmartColor in the Preferences dialog window, iCorrect will already have made the correction for each tab. You can click the SmartColor button in any tab to repeat the analysis and correction (helpful when you use the Reset button to undo your changes).

In the Color Balance window, a step wedge indicates the color cast iCorrect corrected. You can manually indicate a neutral by clicking at a neutral shadow, midtone and highlight, too. Alternately, you can work with sliders (Cyan to Red, Magenta to Green, Yellow to Blue) to set the color balance.

Black/White Point displays a histogram with a black and a white point you can slide. You can also click on a dark pixel to set the black point and a light pixel to set the white point.

Brightness/Contrast/Saturation uses sliders to make adjustments. A Brightness and Contrast curve can also be displayed. Saturation can be tailored to your taste in the Preferences.

Finally, Hue Selective Edit displays a hue ring with Before handles on the inside and After handles on the outside. SmartColor sets the handles at the image's major hues. You activate any one pair at a time by clicking on it, then slide the After handle along the ring to change the hue. This is also where you can identify skin, foliage and sky hues by clicking them in the image and then clicking on the corresponding memory color button. The same trick is used to make a custom memory color, except you control click one of the three blank memory color buttons to define it.

In practice, we rarely have to tour the tabs to correct color. The first, automatic correction, is usually dead on. When it's not, we usually get there by using a memory color.

The adjustment we play with most is saturation. Which is an easy correction to make.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Here's where we're supposed to delineate the trade off between simplicity and power. You know, if you need pocketknife simple, you get a toothpick. And if you want the power of pliers, you need a tool belt. Nothing in between.

Pictographics doesn't do that to you. Every one of these products is easy to use and built on the same digital color correction technology. You just buy the one with the set of tools you'll actually use.

Our biggest complaint two years ago was price. Not that Pictographics listened to us, but even the high-end EditLab is less than the original iCorrect. And you can sample this power for no more than $20 -- even less with our Deal below.

There is one image you won't want to color correct, though. Shoot a color target with your digicam and hang onto it for a few weeks. We're about to wrap up our review of Pictographics' inCamera. inCamera takes that shot, analyzes it and creates a digital camera color profile. It can also build and edit display profiles for your monitor. Combined with iCorrect (and with the bundle discounted for subscribers), it can probably even fix Fiats.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Pentax Optio S -- Tiny Digicam, Big Kudos

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

INTRODUCTION

Despite a long tradition in the film-based world, Pentax is a relative newcomer to the digital arena. After initially co-developing several cameras with Hewlett Packard, it stepped out on its own, introducing digicams entirely of their own design. Pentax's Optio line of compact digicams was launched with 2-, 3- and 4-megapixel models (labeled the 230, 330 and 430 respectively) with sleek bodies and ample features. With the Optio S, which literally fits inside of an Altoids tin, Pentax has gained a competitive edge in the portable digicam market. The Optio S's super-thin proportions don't skimp on features, which include a 3.2-megapixel CCD, 3x optical zoom and a multitude of manual controls for white balance, focus, color filters, preset scene modes and more. This is one cool little camera!

OVERVIEW

With its Lilliputian size, the $399 Optio S is an exciting new entry into the digicam marketplace. Measuring only 3.27x2.04x0.78 inches and weighing just 3.9 ounces with the battery and SD memory card, the Optio S will fit into even the smallest shirt pocket. There's no question that this camera is meant to go places and the retractable lens keeps the camera front flat, making it quick on the draw. A built-in lens cover conveniently slides out of the way whenever the camera is powered on, allowing the lens to telescope outward in a matter of seconds. The 3.2-megapixel CCD produces high-resolution, print-quality images, as well as lower resolution images better suited for email. The camera offers a host of creative features and functions, as well as manual control over focus and white balance (if desired), evidence that small size needn't limit one's options.

The Optio S has a 3x zoom, 5.8-17.4mm lens, the equivalent of a 35-105mm lens on a 35mm camera. The lens is where Pentax made their real innovation with this camera, in that its internal elements actually "unstack" as the lens retracts, arranging them side by side within the camera body. When the lens telescopes back out again, the optical elements shuffle back into normal alignment. I have to admit that I expected to see some pretty horrific optical tradeoffs resulting from such a shoehorned lens design, but the lens is of surprisingly high quality. It loses some sharpness at closer shooting distances and the corners of its images are a little soft, but overall there seem to have been fewer tradeoffs than Išve seen in many subcompact models.

The lens' aperture ranges from f2.6 to f4.8, depending on the zoom position and focus ranges from 1.31 feet to infinity in normal shooting mode. Macro range extends from 7.08 inches to 1.64 feet, but a Super Macro mode gets even closer, focusing from 2.36 to 7.87 inches at the middle-zoom position. In addition to manual and automatic focus control, the Optio S also offers Spot and Multiple AF area modes. Plus, an Adjustable AF mode lets you select the AF area manually using the Multi-Controller. The camera's autofocus system uses a TTL contrast-detection method to determine focus, based on a seven-point area in the center of the frame. A maximum of 4x digital zoom is available in addition to the optical zoom, but keep in mind that digital zoom generally decreases the overall image quality because it simply enlarges the center pixels of the CCD image.

The Optio S features a very tiny, real-image optical viewfinder and a 1.6-inch, color TFT LCD monitor. The optical viewfinder is unfortunately very "tight," showing only about 70 percent of the final image area, forcing you to use the LCD for even mildly accurate framing. Fortunately, the LCD viewfinder is spot-on 100 percent accurate. An expanded histogram display not only puts a small histogram on-screen for checking exposure, but also reports more exposure details, such as white balance, quality and resolution, ISO and metering mode.

Exposure remains under automatic control, although the Optio S does provide a lot of options. Shutter speeds theoretically range from 1/2000 to four seconds, but I could never coax the camera into an exposure longer than a second, at least as reported on the LCD display. An On/Off button on top of the camera powers the camera on and the down arrow of the Multi-Controller accesses the camera's Mode menu. The Mode menu appears like a virtual dial, as the left and right arrow keys "turn" the dial to the desired position. Available modes are Program AE, Picture, Night Scene, Movie, Panorama Assist, 3D Image, Digital Filter and User.

Program mode is the default operating mode, providing access to all of the camera's exposure options, such as Exposure Compensation, White Balance, metering, etc. By default, the Optio S uses a Multi-Segmented metering mode, which reads the entire image area to determine exposure. Through the Record menu, Center-Weighted and Spot options are also available. Exposure Compensation is adjustable from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents in one-third-step increments. An ISO adjustment offers an Auto setting, as well as 50, 100 and 200 equivalent settings. White Balance options include Auto, Daylight, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent and Manual settings. The Optio S also features Sharpness, Saturation and Contrast adjustments.

The remaining modes on the virtual dial are intended for special shooting situations.

When the Picture mode is highlighted on the virtual dial, pressing the down arrow key accesses seven presets, which include Landscape, Flower, Portrait, Self-Portrait (for holding the camera in front of you), Surf and Snow, Autumn Colors and Sunset. The camera's Night Scene mode allows you to capture bright images in relatively dark settings.

Movie mode captures a maximum of 30 seconds of moving images and sound per clip, at 320x240 pixels. Through the Record menu, a Fast Forward Movie option slows down the frame rate, so that when movies are played back, the action appears sped up (like time-lapse photography). Speed-up ratios of anywhere from 2x to 100x are available in Fast Forward Movie mode.

In Panorama Assist mode, the Optio S captures a series of images to be joined together as a single panoramic image on a computer. When this mode is highlighted on the virtual dial, pressing the down arrow lets you select which direction the panoramic series will go in (up, down, left or right). A semi-transparent display of the previous image in the panoramic series helps you align each subsequent one.

3D Image mode produces three-dimensional images similar to old-fashioned stereographs. The camera captures two images of the same subject (one just slightly off-center from the other) and combines them to achieve a 3D effect. A transparent display of the first image captured remains on the LCD monitor, so that you can align the second image to it. A 3D viewer comes with the Optio S and works when viewing 3D images in either Parallel or Cross formats.

In Digital Filter mode, the camera offers Color and Slim filter settings. Pressing the down arrow when the Digital Filter icon is highlighted on the virtual dial accesses the available filters. Color filters include black and white, sepia, red, pink, violet, blue, green and yellow filter effects. The Slim filter lets you "squeeze" your subject in eight steps vertically or horizontally.

Finally, the User setting lets you customize a set of camera functions, such as flash mode, white balance, etc., which can be instantly recalled.

The Optio S also features a Self-Timer mode that provides a 10-second delay between the time the Shutter button is pressed and when the camera actually takes the picture, allowing you to get into your own shots. A remote control is available as an accessory. For shooting fast action subjects, the camera's Continuous Shooting mode captures a rapid series of images for as long as you hold down the Shutter button, much like a motor drive on a traditional 35mm camera. The amount of available memory space determines the maximum number of images the camera will capture in the series. Image size and shutter speed determine the shooting interval.

The camera's flash operates in either Auto, Off, On, Auto with Red-Eye Reduction or On with Red-Eye Reduction modes and is effective from 7.87 inches to 11.48 feet (0.2 to 3.5 meters) at wide-angle with a sensitivity of ISO 200.

If you press the Power switch more than two seconds, the Optio S turns into a voice recorder. The lens retracts and the LCD shows remaining recordable time and elapsed recording time. Press the Shutter button to toggle recording through the built-in microphone on the front of the camera. Alternately you can hold the Shutter button down for the duration of the recording. Pressing the Menu button while recording adds an index to the sound file. Sounds are saved as WAV files.

The Optio S stores images on SD/MMC memory cards from its 11-MB of internal memory. My evaluation unit came with a 16-MB SD card, but the box contents don't list a memory card as part of the standard offering. Plan on purchasing a large-capacity card along with the camera. The camera uses a D-LI8 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for power, which is included along with the necessary battery charger. Since the Optio S does not accommodate AA batteries, I highly recommend picking up an additional battery pack and keeping it freshly charged. A USB cable accompanies the camera for quick connection to a computer, as well as a software CD containing ACDSee software for both Mac and PC platforms.

TEST RESULTS

For a full commentary on the test images, visit the pictures page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/OPTS/OSPICS.HTM). There you can let your own eyes judge how well the camera performed.

Color: Overall, the Optio S delivered very good color. It tended toward a slightly warm color balance in many cases, from harsh outdoor lighting to the controlled lighting of the studio. Depending on the light source, it was a toss-up between the Auto and Manual white balances. In some cases, Auto appeared more natural, but in others, Manual was better. Apart from the tendency toward slightly warm casts, its color was generally hue-accurate and reasonably well saturated. Bright reds and blues tend to be slightly oversaturated, while other strong hues are a little undersaturated. Caucasian skin tones came out very well though and the always-difficult blue flowers in my Outdoor Portrait test were nearly spot-on. The manual white balance setting handled the very difficult household incandescent lighting of the Indoor Portrait very well, but boosting the exposure compensation to produce an acceptably bright image resulted in odd "electric" greenish tinges in highlight areas. On balance though, color rendition was very good.

Exposure: The Optio S did a good job overall with exposure, even in the high-key Outdoor Portrait. Shadow detail was limited in the darkest areas, but midtone details were fairly strong. On my Davebox test, it distinguished the subtle pastel tones on the Q60 target well, though shadow detail in this shot was limited. Indoor portraits required about average positive exposure compensation (+1.0 EV), although this resulted in slightly odd-looking highlights on Marti's blouse.

Resolution/Sharpness: It performed fairly well on the laboratory resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 600 lines per picture height in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found "strong detail" out to about 900 lines per picture height vertically and 1,000 lines horizontally. "Extinction" of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,150 lines.

Close-Ups: In macro, it performed surprisingly well, capturing a minimum area of only 2.76x2.07 inches in the normal macro mode. In Super Macro mode, the minimum area was only 1.66x1.24 inches. At the normal macro setting, details were soft throughout the frame, with a lot of softness in the corners. However, in Super Macro mode, details were sharper, although corner softness was again visible. The camera's flash throttled down for the macro area pretty well, although the brooch reflected light right back into the lens (not really the camera's fault). Overall, a surprisingly strong macro performance for a subcompact digicam. A good choice for photographing very small objects.

Viewfinder Accuracy: The optical viewfinder is very tight, showing about 70 percent frame accuracy at wide-angle and 73 percent at telephoto. The LCD monitor is much more accurate and actually a hair loose, showing just a little over 100 percent of the frame. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the LCD monitor is pretty near perfect, but the optical viewfinder definitely needs some work.

Optical Distortion: Optical distortion is higher than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured an approximate 1.0 percent barrel distortion. (Average is about 0.8 percent, still much too high, IMHO.) The telephoto end fared much better, as I couldn't find even a single pixel of pincushion or barrel distortion. Chromatic aberration is surprisingly low, as there's relatively little color around the target elements. The lens tended toward the soft side for relatively close shooting, also showing a fair bit of softness in the corners at distances of 10 feet or less. Shooting more distant subjects outdoors, the images seemed a good bit sharper.

Battery Life: Battery life is surprisingly good for such a tiny camera. Worst-case life (capture mode with the LCD turned on continuously) is about 93 minutes. With the LCD off, continuous run time stretches to over two hours. Best of all, when the camera is in sleep mode, its power drain drops dramatically, to the point that it will run for well over 6 hours. Still, my standard recommendation of purchasing a second battery at the same time as the camera stands.

CONCLUSION

As you may have gathered, I'm very impressed with the Optio S. This might be due to some rather negative expectations. I've become accustomed to seeing significant compromises in image quality and feature sets, in order to cram cameras into ever-smaller packages. To my great surprise though, the Optio S seems to have avoided almost all such compromise, delivering very good color and image quality, along with a really surprising level of features and special functions.

Some compromise is evident in the lens design, which isn't as sharp when shooting at close distances (say, up to 10 feet or so) as it is when shooting at a distance. But the amount of softening at close range isn't too severe and overall optical performance is quite good when compared to other ultra-compact digicams.

The one really significant tradeoff in performance is in cycle time. There's no buffer memory and the shot-to-shot cycle time averages fully 8.3 seconds at maximum resolution and image quality. If you are looking for a camera to handle fast-paced action, this wouldn't be your first (or probably even second) choice.

If you aren't worried about snapping multiple shots in rapid succession though, the Optio S's shutter response is much faster than average, another surprise for a subcompact digicam.

Apart from the sluggish cycle time, the Optio S is an amazingly full-featured camera, delivering very good image quality, in an incredibly tiny package. If you're looking for the ultimate in a "take anywhere" camera, the Optio S could be just what you've been waiting for. While I generally avoid rating cameras, this one's definitely deserving of a "highly recommended" accolade. Big kudos to the engineers at Pentax!

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New on the Site

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

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Beginners Flash: Shutter Sound Effects

Count us among the aficionados of mechanical sounds. The clack of an IBM Selectric, the click of a titanium shutter. Where's the composer who can choral that chorus?

With a digicam, the shutter button can be as silent as a light switch. That makes for efficient spy operations but it sometimes can be a bit inconvenient.

Like when you wonder if you've actually snapped the shutter.

An audible shutter provides just the feedback you need to know you've taken the picture. And using it regularly will train you to sense how far it is from a half-pressed shutter (which freezes focus and exposure) to a fully-pressed shutter.

But the other night, we found another helpful use for an audible shutter. We were having dinner at a new restaurant, so we got up and composed a picture of everyone at the table. The waitress, seeing we were missing from the composition, offered to take the shot. Since we were using a simple point-and-shoot, we just pointed out the big shutter button and thanked her.

But she was a little nervous and wasn't sure if she had actually pressed the shutter. Since we didn't hear anything, we knew she hadn't. So we just encouraged her to press harder. Without the audible feedback, we wouldn't have known either.

Some digicams simply offer a beep, others emulate specific camera sounds and still others provide all sorts of chirps and buzzes. Whatever your digicam provides, try enabling it. You too may find it puts food on the table faster.

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In the Forums

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

Read about the Canon PowerShot A70 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee91e2f

Visit the Digital Cameras Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2a8

Glen asks about camera brightness at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee925d2/0

Bruce asks about shutter speed and ISO at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee92668/0

Visit the Techniques Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b325

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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: Reviews Reviewed

I often jump to the conclusion section of a review due to lack of time on my part. It seems that every camera is excellent, perfect, great, wonderful, etc. I would enjoy more realistic reviews that would include a few "fairs," "Averages," "Poors."

-- Jim White

(There's a range of variation among the cameras I do review, but if I know a camera is pretty bad before starting in on it, I just don't start. I think I've also become a bit leery of using overly-strong wording in my reviews because of the reactions such verbiage draws from readers. I thus tend to keep my comments on a neutral to slightly upbeat level, damn with faint praise, and let the objective test results and standardized test photos speak good or ill of the product. And as noted, I tend to not bother reviewing the truly worthless cameras out there. -- Dave)

RE: Recharging Lithiums Again

Some lithium ion batteries are rechargeable, such as the Nikon EN-EL3 for the D100 camera. In fact, the battery is so good and the camera so efficient that I sometimes wonder why I have a spare!

-- Al Clemens

(A few years ago using the AA form factor rather than a proprietary rechargeable lithium was an advantage, but we have to agree with you now. The lithiums just last. Which is how it's supposed to be, right? -- Editor)
(One trend I don't like, though, is ever-smaller battery packs, with miserable battery life, even if it is a Li-Ion. -- Dave)

RE: Bifocals

Your newsletter and Web site have been invaluable to me as I try to decide on a new prosumer class camera. One aspect that is hard to quantify, however, is their ease of use by someone who wears bifocals. Which features should I look for and which should I avoid? Which cameras in this class do you think are the most eyeglass friendly?

-- Al Kaplan

(In his full camera reviews on the site, Dave often mentions the eye-point of the optical viewfinder, how difficult it is to use with glasses and whether the digicam has a diopter adjustment. Using the LCD helps avoid that problem, though. -- Editor)

RE: Up Our Alley

I don't know if this is the sort of query that you respond to, if you don't I'd much appreciate your directing me to a source that can.

I bought a Fuji 3800 in the States last Autumn (Fall). In my subsequent travels it stopped working. I sent it to a Fuji franchise in the UK, who said it was unrepairable and sent me an exchange S34.

Do you know of a helpline or an online manual for this? For instance, the date is constantly wrong and I'm unable to get it right by fiddling around. Any help would be much appreciated.

-- John Whitley

(Try this http://www.fujifilm.com/JSP/fuji/epartners/SearchResults.jsp for Fuji's online manuals. Now about that date. Every camera's firmware has a base date it reverts to when the clock can't get power. On older cameras that happened whenever you swapped batteries (so it was advisable to plug in an adapter when swapping batteries). On newer cameras a small coin-sized battery maintains settings between battery changes. -- Editor)

RE: The First

Can you tell me when the very first "consumer" digital camera was put on the market. By what manufacturer and at what price?

-- Bruce Wheeler

(Here you go: http://www.digicamhistory.com -- they have quite a timeline. -- Editor)

RE: A Million?

Some time ago I emailed to ask for a steer toward a digital camera with a really tight macro range for my sister's antique business and you emailed me right back with a recommendation, the Nikon 990, I think, which I bought her, AND WHICH SHE HAS BEEN OVERJOYED WITH!

Thanks a million.

-- Jeff Scott Olson

(Sometimes it's OK to shout. <g> -- Editor)

RE: HTML Version

I just want to change to the HTML format. Do I have to unsuscribe and then subscribe?

-- Ramon

(We are antiquated, Ramon. We don't email HTML (it would be a huge file). Instead, the first link in every newsletter takes you to the HTML version. -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

Kodak (http://www.kodak.com) has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Applied Science Fiction's proprietary rapid film processing technology, Digital PIC and other key assets. Applied Science Fiction is the creator of Digital ICE and ICE3 for scanners, with expertise in automatic photo restoration and enhancement plug-ins. "With Applied Science Fiction's underlying technologies coupled with Kodak's strength in photo kiosks and output products and systems, a new generation of innovative products will develop," Kodak said. "Essentially every Kodak kiosk will become a picture touch point, an automatic photo machine, making photography more accessible and easier to use than ever."


InfoTrends (http://www.infotrends-rgi.com) reports that 19 percent of U.S. Internet households have used an online photo service and many non-users are interested in trying one. The average number of photos posted per month has nearly doubled to 24 photos and the average number of prints ordered online per month has increased by more than 30 percent over last year.


Reindeer Graphics (http://www.reindeergraphics.com) has released Fovea Pro 3, its flagship image processing, analysis and measurement package. The new release provides Mac OS X native functionality under Photoshop 7.x and new features including Interactive Deconvolution, a plug-in that provides a user-adjustable point spread function generator for deconvolving both defocus and motion blurs. It also features condensed and reorganized menus, providing more intuitive access to its 170+ functions.


Adobe online (http://adobe.mx0.net/r?ccPTHWEvWHnEvqvPq) is offering Photoshop Album bundled with Photoshop Elements for $118.99 (a $30 savings) through May 31.


Auto FX (http://www.autofx.com) has released DreamSuite Pro, adding effect layers, masking layers, photo placement layers, color correction layers and unlimited undo and redo functionality to any DreamSuite product. The Pro version also includes hundreds of new presets for instant visual effects. Use the promo code 24020 on the product purchase page to get $25 off any purchase.


Canon (http://www.canon.com) has announced the PowerShot SD100, the smallest and lightest digital ELPH camera, with the same features as the S230. A new underwater housing, tested to 130 feet, is available for the SD100.

Canon also announced the Canon Card Photo Printer CP-200 and CP-300 dye-sub printers, which are approximately 40 percent smaller and 13 percent lighter than current models. The printers can print 4x6 prints directly from USB-connected Canon digicams.


I/OMagic (http://www.iomagic.com) has introduced the $229.99 Digital Photo Library, a portable, standalone device with a 6-in-1 memory card reader (CF/SM/MS/SD/MMC/IBM) to copy up to 15,000 images from a digicam memory card into its 20-GB storage space.


Hi-Touch (http://www.hitouchimaging.com) has introduced the 640PS Photo Printer, with 403-dpi dye sub printing of 4x6 prints from six memory card formats (CF/SM/MS/SD/MMC/IBM) via the built-in reader.

Hi-Touch also introduced the Transphotable Photo Printer, a mobile dye-sub with a built-in CF/SM card reader that can be run from a car cigarette lighter. It features crush protection and filters for dust and dirt.


David Ahmed (http://homepage.mac.com/davidahmed/exhibitionx.html) has released ExhibitionX 1.4 [M], a photo viewer that displays images in any of six virtual 3D environments (gallery, carousel, book, cube, flat and disc views).


Hoeslyvista (http://www.hoeslyvista.com) provides free, digital-photo generated desktop pictures to the Mac, Windows and Linux communities.


GraphicConverter [M] (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has been updated to version 4.6.1, adding an option to download selected images from a digicam, a mail-to browser option, browsing file renaming, multi-page image scanning and an invert function for color negatives.


Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 7.6.36 to fix a problem with 16-bit RAW images and another with the HP ScanJet IIcx.


North Hollywood's Lankershim Art Gallery & Doversart Studio (http://www.doversart.com) will present Unblinking Eye Photography Group Show June 3-28.


Visit http://www.lebanon.web.com for Suheil Barjawe's images of the Middle East.


To learn the latest about Nikons Coolpix 2100 firmware update, Minolta's DiMAGE Xt and new scanners, plus Lexmark's six new printers, visit Mike Tomkin's news page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM).

Return to Topics.

One Liners

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PhotoRescue: http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM

Curtin Short Courses: http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc

Fast Ritz CF cards: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?ritzmem

Lockergnome's Free Digital Media Newsletter: http://www.lockergnome.com

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Signoff

That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM
New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM
Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM
Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM
Newsletter Forum: http://www.greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a.tcl?topic=irnews
Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM

Happy snapping!

Mike Pasini, Editor
editor@imaging-resource.com
Dave Etchells, Publisher
web@imaging-resource.com

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