The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 5, Number 20 3 October 2003

Copyright 2003, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 107th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. It will be Photoshop CS (not 8.0) when it hits the shelves later this year. Meanwhile Dave gets his hands on a digicam born to capture the action. Then we review a helpful Photoshop addition and a book on eBay that dabbles in product photography. And we even stop to smell the flowers.


TOPICS

SPONSORS
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The Nikon D100 -- the Best of Both Worlds.

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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: Adobe Launches 'Creative Suite'

Like that old Beatles tune "You Know My Name, Look Up the Number" (http://wsp3.wspice.com/~dpannell/beatles/you_know.htm), Adobe has flipped its professional software over, foregoing version numbers in favor of, well, a name. Creative Suite.

But there's more to Creative Suite than the name. It smells a lot like Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, InDesign and GoLive sweating profusely in one tiny phone booth (your hard disk).

It's a new strategy, by any other name, according to Adobe.

Things have changed in 20 years, the company said in introducing the new suite to a select group of interested press moguls at Seybold San Francisco. Customers have problems.

Well, that hasn't changed, but the problems have evolved into serious organisms. Now you have to wear a lot of hats (what photographer hasn't dabbled in typography, what art director hasn't wrestled with a Web site, what...). And the way things are going with the local economy, the green is a little greener on the other side of the ocean. We're international. Add the breakneck pace of technological innovation to the mix and, well, who's counting anymore?

Not Adobe. No numbers, this is the Creative Suite, featuring:

And just what's this going to cost you? Not too much, actually. The full suite of eight applications runs $1,229 new or $749 for the upgrade. That includes Photoshop CS (with ImageReady CS), Illustrator CS, InDesign CS, GoLive CS and Acrobat 6.0 Professional with the Version Cue file version manager, expanded support options as well as a workflow guide, a video training CD and other educational resources to show you how to use the tools together effectively.

But wait, there's less (as Russell Brown, Photoshop evangelist, never said). You can get the "standard" edition (configured primarily for print production) for $749 ($549 upgrade). Upgrade pricing requires ownership of Photoshop 7.0 or the Adobe Web, Design, Publishing, Digital Video, or Video Professional Collection.

But wait. There's even a bit less. Say, you want to upgrade to just the $649 Photoshop CS from 7.0. They'll do it for $169.

But now you really have to wait -- until the fourth quarter. It isn't shipping yet.

In fact, we're still waiting for the beta to preview. But we did wipe the mustard off our mustache long enough to see some of these new tools in action.

THE SUITE

Lot of talking points here, bear with us. It's our underwhelmed way of admiring the emperor's new clothes.

Take, for example, the top five features of the Creative Suite, according to Adobe:

Some creative intern at Adobe measured just how much time creative professionals spend looking for files. While the average home user can never find where their images were stored on their hard disk, the pro spends 10 to 20 percent of their time juggling files. But then, that's billable time.

While you might think that the solution to this is called an operating system, Adobe has taken a cue from software development (which resembles print and Web production rather closely) to come up with Version Cue. The new application is actually a database that keeps track of everything, letting you access files by browsing workspaces and saving various versions without cluttering up the file system.

We were all confused by this, but the coffee wasn't warm anymore. Besides, we were really there to find out about Photoshop 8, er, CS.

PHOTOSHOP CS

John Mach, product manager for Photoshop CS, began his presentation by acknowledging that the big problem for Photoshop users is the number of files they have to deal with. Thousands of images, not dozens.

Photoshop, he said, is the first application that touches these files on their way to the Web or print. If you don't count Image Capture, iView Multimedia Pro, iPhoto, Photoshop Album, Kodak EasyShare, or anything else that transfers images to your hard disk.

But when it's time to get to work, it's Photoshop that usually gets the call, like the fire truck that always beats the ambulance.

So, CS features an enhanced browser. It apparently is even a bit more in synch with changes to files and directories made in the operating system. No refresh needed, we were told.

As "your digital imaging hub," the new browser features flags, keywording and editable metadata with the most common commands grouped on a new toolbar.

But can it rotate images, not just thumbnails? Adobe's PR firm answered us, "You can rotate an image, then choose Edit (from the File Browser's menu bar) -> Apply Rotation." We're crossing our fingers (after all, iView Multimedia, to name one program, can do it -- even if it skips the thumbnails in the JPEG header).

CS adds a Match Color feature that "reads the color statistics of one image or layer and applies them to another." The idea is to give a family resemblance to a series of shots, regardless of lighting conditions, say.

And CS includes the Camera Raw plug-in (which we reviewed earlier), previously available for $99. The nice thing about that is that CS itself is now a bit more 16-bit savvy. Adobe claims the "core features" of Photoshop now function on 16-bit images, meaning layers, channels, painting, text and shapes. A number of filters are active, if not all of them, and we believe selections can be made on 16-bit images, too.

Adobe has tried to extend the language used in the Camera Raw plug-in (color temperature, for example) to the rest of the product, so pros can talk shop with the software. The new Shadow/Highlight command is just one example.

CS can display a live histogram for your image so you can monitor the effect of any operation. This is probably a more precise view than merely looking at the image. And it's extended with before/after and individual channel views.

If you do much scanning, you may appreciate the new Auto Crop and Straighten command. It even works on multiple images, copying each crop into a separate document.

There's a new Lens Blur Effect filter that gives highlights the shape of the camera lens aperture. You can use an alpha channel to modify just how much various parts of the image should be affected. There is also a set of Photo Filter Effects that mimic standard photo filters. You can apply them as adjustment layers and modify them with the color picker.

Photomerge makes it into CS from Elements. We really like Photomerge. It's simple and effective with seamless blends. We just wish we had a 4x26-inch printer.

A new Color Replacement tool maintains the texture and shading of an area while changing its color. This has always been harder than it should be, so we look forward to revising our sister-in-law's alma mater dress code on a very large number of images. Those Stanford people.

Picture Packages are a little more flexible, allowing you to interactively edit existing layouts, gang images or duplicate a single one.

Layer sets can now be nested, making them a bit more readable (a feature that extends through the lineup). And if you're ambitious, you'll appreciate CS's image size limit of 300,000x300,000 pixels with up to 56 channels per file.

THE WHOLE ENCHILADA

We were most interested in Photoshop, of course, but this is a suite, not a piddling application. So here's a very brief look at just a few highlights of the other applications:

Illustrator now ships with 100 open type fonts, some of which are even Pro fonts (featuring ligatures, alternate ligatures, extra characters and glyphs you can toggle on and off). Printing has been improved, too.

InDesign features a cute right-hand well (Photoshop has a well, but it's in the tool bar -- so much for an integrated user interface) that resembles Explorer's tabs. You can stash your palettes there, pulling them out when you need them. Otherwise it more closely emulates Photoshop's tool workspace. But the big advance is the introduction of the story editor (think of it as a typewriter built into the page layout program) that dispenses with formatting other than bold and italic but gives an overset count to the author trying to copy fit. Drop caps are improved, as well as decorative items. Formatting is applied by something called "natural structure" and styles can be nested. You can view separations and move elements from one plate to another. The InDesign team has come up with a new approach for getting from print to the Web, eschewing HTML export in favor of "repurposing assets," which means extracting text with styles and images.

So GoLive can read those nested styles now and apply cascading style sheet enhancements of its own (which it can preview). It can also resample images on the fly (saving a trip to Photoshop) and render HTML changes live using the Opera HTML rendering engine. PDF rendering is also improved.

Acrobat 6 Pro includes layers support and preflight tools. It's ISO approved as a standard ad delivery format, as well.

NAPKIN, PLEASE

We'll have more to say about the entire suite when we see it, but our first impression is deja vu. CS mixes some features from Camera Raw, some from Elements and others carried through the line. It all seems like spring cleaning, not new ideas.

We're generally in favor of spring cleaning and mistrust new ideas.

The best ideas are old ones like affordable upgrade pricing. Adobe's upgrade pricing brings this suite of competent applications home for the price of a couple of parking tickets. This suite promises to make you a bit more capable a bit faster. Whatever other qualms we may have, let it be, that's exciting.

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Feature: Fuji FinePix S5000 -- The Action Machine

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S5000/S50A.HTM on the Web site.)

EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW

Falling somewhere between the popular Fuji FinePix 3800 Zoom (replaced by the FinePix S3000) and FinePix S602 Zoom (to be replaced by the S7000), Fuji's FinePix S5000 offers the simplicity of point-and-shoot photography with the advantages of optional manual control and a generous 10x optical zoom lens. The S5000 retains the styling of the earlier S602, with a large grip helpful for hand-holding the long telephoto shots its 10x zoom makes possible. Though quite compact (even with the 10x zoom lens), it definitely won't fit into a shirt pocket, but it ought to do just fine in a large coat pocket, purse or backpack. The body appears to be almost entirely composed of structural plastic, but it nevertheless has a very solid feel to it.

The S5000 features a 3.1-megapixel Super CCD HR, which uses an interwoven honeycomb pixel pattern to produce high-quality, interpolated images as large as 2816x2120 pixels.

The 10x Fujinon 5.7-57mm (37-370mm 35mm equivalent) retractable lens has a removable, plastic lens cap that attaches to the camera body and protects the lens surface. The same threads that hold the lens cap in place also accept an accessory lens adapter (included with the camera, a very nice touch), allowing a variety of front-element add-on lenses and filters to be used with the camera. Maximum aperture ranges from f2.8 to f3.1 (faster than most), depending on the zoom setting. A Macro focusing mode gets as close as 3.9 inches.

Auto and manual focus options are available, as well as a Continuous AF mode suitable for more active subjects. You can set the AF area to Center or Multi positions or manually select the AF point using the multicontroller. An AF-assist lamp helps the camera focus in dark shooting conditions. The S5000 also features 2.2x digital zoom. Fuji's approach to digital zoom is more intelligent than most, since they limit digital zoom based on the selected image size, so the camera never interpolates the resulting images, preserving image quality.

For framing images, the S5000 features both an electronic optical viewfinder and a larger rear-panel LCD monitor. The electronic optical viewfinder is actually a miniaturized (0.33 inches) version of the larger, 1.5-inch LCD. An EVF/LCD button switches the viewfinder display between the two monitors, so only one is active at a time. A dioptric adjustment on the EVF and its very high eyepoint make it convenient for eyeglass wearers.

Accommodating a wide range of users, the S5000 offers full Auto and full Manual exposure modes and modes in between, including several Scene modes. A Power/Mode dial activates either Record or Playback mode, while the Exposure Mode dial features Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Program AE, Auto, Movie and Scene Program exposure modes. Scene Program offers Portrait, Landscape, Sports and Night Scene. Shutter speeds range from 1/2000 to two seconds, so low-light shooting is a little limited.

In all exposure modes except Auto, Scene Program and Manual, Exposure Compensation is adjustable from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents in one-third-step increments. By default, it uses a 64-zone, multi-segment metering system, but Average and Spot metering modes are available through the settings menu. Through the Drive menu, an Auto Exposure Bracketing function snaps a series of three images at different exposure settings, which can vary by 1/3, 1/2 or one full EV step. In the manual exposure modes, the camera's ISO sensitivity can be set to 200, 400 or 800 equivalents. The Auto setting adjusts from 160 to 400 equivalents, depending on the flash setting.

White Balance choices include Auto, Daylight, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent and Incandescent. You can also adjust image sharpness and a Self-Timer mode offers a 10-second countdown. The camera's pop-up flash operates in Auto, Forced On, Forced Off, Red-Eye Reduction, Slow-Synchro and Red-Eye Reduction Slow-Synchro modes, with an intensity adjustment in the settings menu.

Three Continuous Shooting modes are available through the Drive menu: Top-5 Frame, Final-5 Frame and Long-Period Continuous Shooting. The Long-Period Continuous Shooting mode is only available in Auto exposure mode and fixes the image size at 1.0-megapixel setting, but can capture up to 40 images, at 0.6-second intervals. The Final-5 frame continuous mode begins acquiring images continuously when you press the Shutter button and then saves the last five it shot just before you released the shutter. This is great for sports and other fast-moving situations. Just hold down the Shutter button, then release it as soon as the event occurs.

In Playback mode, a Voice Memo option records as much as 30 seconds of sound to accompany still images. Movie mode records movies with sound at the 320x240-pixel resolution, for as long as the memory card has available space, at a full 30 frames/second.

Images are stored on xD-Picture Cards (a 16-MB card comes with the camera). Image quality choices include three JPEG compression levels and an uncompressed RAW option. An included A/V cable lets you connect to a television set and a USB cable provides high-speed connection to a computer. The included PictureHello software [W] also turns the S5000 into a webcam. A software CD comes with the camera, loaded with Fuji's FinePix Viewer software for image downloading and viewing. Also on the CD is a RAW converter, for processing RAW data image files. Power is provided by four AA-type alkaline or NiMH batteries and a set of alkaline batteries comes with the camera.

TEST RESULTS

For a full commentary on each of the test images, see the S5000's pictures page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S5000/S50PICS.HTM).

Color: The S5000 generally delivered very pleasing color, with good hue accuracy and appropriate saturation (although it tended to produce slightly over-saturated bright reds). It rendered Caucasian skin tones very attractively, slightly more pink than in real life, but the effect was quite pleasing. Indoors, it handled the very difficult household incandescent lighting of my Indoor Portrait test fairly well, although it left a bit more color cast in the final images than I would personally prefer. (Overall, it tended to leave slight color casts in most shots, but they were small enough that most users probably wouldn't notice them.) All in all, very pleasing color.

Exposure: The exposure system handled a variety of lighting situations well and stood up to the high-key Outdoor Portrait quite well. In general, it seemed to need less positive exposure compensation with high-key subjects than most cameras I test, although it did call for a lot of adjustment on the Indoor Portrait image. Its tone curve is a little contrasty, which produces bright, punchy images with lots of color, but which also leads to blown highlights and plugged shadows when shooting under harsh lighting.

Resolution/Sharpness: The S5000 performed well for its 3.1-megapixel class on the laboratory resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800-850 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. Artifacts were more pronounced at spatial frequencies close to the camera's limit than typically found with conventional CCDs. Interestingly though, there's very clearly more detail to be found in the 6-megapixel interpolated images than in the 3.1-megapixel ones. I found strong detail out to at least 1,100 lines. Extinction of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,400 lines.

Image Noise: Due at least in part to its minimum ISO rating of 200, I observed higher than average image noise throughout my testing. Viewed 1:1 on a computer screen or printed 11x14 or larger, the noise is quite visible. Printed smaller than 8x10 though, it's relatively innocuous.

Close-Ups: The S5000 performed pretty well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of 2.88x2.17 inches. Resolution was high, with strong detail in the dollar bill and coins. The brooch also had good detail, but showed some corner softness, visible in all four corners of the frame. Color balance was a bit warm, but still pretty good overall. The flash throttled down for the macro area almost too much, underexposing the lower portion of the frame. Plan on using external lighting for the closest macro shots, but the flash is much more usable than average for macro shooting.

Night Shots: The S5000 did fairly well under low-light conditions, thanks to its default ISO setting of 200 and a bright AF-assist light that really helped it focus under dim lighting. It was able to capture usable images down to 1/2 foot-candle (5.5 lux) at ISO 200, 1/4 foot-candle (2.7 lux) at ISO 400 and 1/8 foot-candle (1.3 lux) at ISO 800. Image noise was higher than average across the board, even at the ISO 200 setting. If you don't mind trading off image resolution for higher ISO, the 1.3-megapixel shots at ISO 800 are surprisingly usable, given the noise levels at ISO 400 in the full-sized images. Overall, I liked the bright AF-assist light and the camera could work quite effectively at light levels a good bit darker than city street lighting at night (1 foot-candle), but the noise is higher than I'd like to see. I was surprised to find that the AF assist light didn't operate at very low light levels. Other reviewers apparently haven't seen this, but my unit consistently exhibited the behavior.

Viewfinder Accuracy: The electronic optical viewfinder was surprisingly a little tight, showing 89 percent frame accuracy at both wide-angle and telephoto zoom settings. The LCD monitor resulted in the same measurements, since it shows the same view. Given that I like LCD monitors to be as close to 100 percent accuracy as possible, the S5000's LCD monitor has some room for improvement here.

Optical Distortion: Optical distortion was about average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.7 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared much better, as I found only a half-pixel of pincushion distortion there. Chromatic aberration is higher than average, showing fairly strong color around the edges of the target lines in the corners of the frame.

Shutter Lag and Cycle Time: The S5000 is a bit of a mixed bag in the speed department. It starts up and shuts down a little slowly and its shutter lag performance is solidly average. On the other hand, its shot-to-shot cycle times are very good and it's very fast indeed in its high-speed continuous modes. Its Last 5 continuous mode in particular would be very useful for sports and other fast action, with its ability to capture images before you tell it to.

Battery Life: It's really a stellar performer when it comes to battery life. While you don't have the advantage of a purely optical viewfinder (no need to power an LCD when using an optical VF), the S5000's power consumption is quite low, even when the full LCD is being used. Sleep mode stretches battery life dramatically, yet leaves the camera ready to go on a few seconds' notice. Worst case run time (capture mode with the rear-panel LCD enabled) is an amazing 4.4 hours with a set of 1600 mAh NiMH batteries (true, not advertised capacity). Given that current high-power batteries achieve true capacities of 2100 mAh, you can expect very long run times from the S5000. Overall, a great performance, but my advice still stands: Purchase a couple sets of high-power NiMH rechargeable batteries and a good charger for backup.

CONCLUSION

The S5000 offers some impressive capabilities, with a 10x zoom lens, good color, really excellent battery life and its unique Final 5 capture mode, which lets you snap photos of what took place just before you let up on the shutter button. Its feature set is that of an advanced point-and-shoot camera, rather than a true enthusiast model. In this respect at least, the S5000 isn't truly a replacement for the earlier and hugely popular S602, that role being reserved for the forthcoming S7000 model.

The S5000 enters a relatively crowded field though, with multiple cameras offering the same combination of 10x zoom and nominally 3.1-megapixel resolution at the same or lower price points. The S5000 also showed somewhat higher image noise in my tests than some competing models, which will be an issue for some users, but matter not at all to others.

Bottom line, if you're looking for a long-zoom digicam with good color, great battery life and great continuous-mode capture capability, the S5000 deserves a serious look.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Kelby's Notes

Help systems drive us nuts. The ones that insist on searching for a network connection bring us to the edge. And the ones with animated cartoon figures push us over.

We rarely use them, preferring a well-indexed printed manual or a quick Google search.

But the other day, we saw an interesting release called Kelby's Notes for Photoshop (http://www.kelbysnotes.com). It's just Notes, not a comprehensive Help system, so we didn't rule it out right away. "The answers are just one click away," it promised.

Scott Kelby (http://www.scottkelby.com) is the editor of Photoshop User, Mac Design and Nikon Capture User. He came up with the concept and content, Dave Moser handled development, and Proteron designed the software. Version 1.0 is a neat little package that functions just the way it should. It's $24.95 (19.95 for NAPP members).

Kelby's Notes installs a "How Do I?" menu in Photoshop's menu bar with 16 options:

When you pick an item, a dialog box pops up with a paragraph explaining what to do and, generally, showing a helpful illustration.

For example, when you select "Rotate, Resize or Crop" and choose "Rotate my whole image," Kelby's Notes tells you to "Go under the Image menu, under Rotate Canvas and either choose one of the preset rotations (such as 180, 90 CW, 90 CCW, etc.) or choose Arbitrary and type in the exact amount of rotation (in degrees) that you'd like." And the illustration is a screen shot of the Rotate Canvas fly out menu.

We picked a basic example to avoid giving away the store but not everything is that obvious. Kelby's Notes tackles recording Actions, for example and explains simply how to use all the options in the Unsharp Masking filter (while revealing Scott's favorite settings).

The quality of the information is very good. We think we know a better way of handling red-eye (and you can find it in our Archive at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html), but that's just quibbling.

Using Kelby's Notes is a bit like sitting next to a Photoshop expert. Every now and then you look over and ask, "How do I?" Instead of annoying a real live expert busy bashing the next Photoshop beta, Kelby's Notes answers dozens of useful queries politely and promptly. You may not need it after six months, but if you're new to Photoshop -- or there are newbies seated near you -- it's a well-spent $25.

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:

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Book Bag: eBay Hacks

At first glance, we thought a review of David A. Karp's "eBay Hacks, 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools" would be a stretch. What's eBay got to do with digital imaging?

You may know eBay as the online garage sale. Maybe you use it to shop for used photo equipment, including digicams and storage cards. You may even have bought a computer through eBay.

It's such a dominating force, we know of no online photo publisher that dares to publish a classified advertising section.

One reason for that, we think, is that eBay listings (unlike traditional classified advertising) can be illustrated with product photos. And that's where our review comes in. Chapter Five is devoted to "Working with Photos."

After all, as Karp says, "There are no two ways about it: a photo can make or break an auction."

O'Reilly's Hack series is devoted to describing tips and tools for various endeavors. So this title inevitably discusses how to take pictures of the stuff you want to sell. There's a great deal more to the book than this chapter (only one of 8, after all), including how to behave in public, but we'll narrow our gaze to its 10 topics:

Karp explains what kind of camera to use, the role of image editors (nicely covering the range of options) and image formats (JPEG is your destination but you may have to convert any of a handful of other formats).

His "simple approach to taking great photos of your items" starts by suggesting a simple, uncluttered background and warns against using on-camera flash alone, suggesting even a desk lamp can be a handy second light source. He's not a lot of help with lighting.

The section on close-up photography, on the other hand, covers the topic with a thorough discussion of the factors affecting depth of field.

While warning against misrepresenting the item, his advice on doctoring the image covers cloning (to get rid of a table edge, for example), perspective tools (including skew and distort), drop shadows (well, he really didn't say much about lighting) and using Auto Levels ("most of the time it does a pretty good job").

According to Karp, "many sellers resort to high-jacking other sellers' photos." So protecting your work is a worthwhile investment of your time. He shows how he tags an image with "large, translucent text over the center of the image," but don't kid yourself. That's a deterrent to using the image but it isn't even the correct form of the copyright notice (as we discussed in last week's issue). Worse, he doesn't mention the Exif header field for just this purpose (although he does mention "invisible watermarking" in Photoshop). His method is effective for discouraging theft, but it isn't a copyright notice.

He does provide JavaScript code to disable right-clicking to save an image. But he concludes with four ways the code can easily be defeated, making the discussion clever but silly. More useful is his citation of CopySafe Pro (http://www.artistcope.com) and eBay's own policing mechanism.

Karp then discusses hosting your own photos rather than using eBay's Picture Services (currently migrating to new software, which has a few Mac users upset in beta). He describes the advantages and how to use FTP software to actually do it. Although he neglects to mention OS X's built-in FTP services, he does cover accessing FTP servers from Explorer.

Karp describes a manual workflow to create thumbnails that doesn't sharpen the downsized images. Any number of catalog programs can create sharpened thumbnails automatically.

There's more HTML and JavaScript to make your photos perform tricks, like using tables to align your thumbnails and displaying larger images with the thumbnails in a single table.

With so many proprietary 360-degree image formats, we were glad to see a simple technique using JavaScript (and preloaded images) to rotate an object through any number of views (four or eight, say, depending on how many shots you take).

A photo collage is the low-tech answer to multiple views of an object and Karp covers it well, noting ways around eBay's 400x300-pixel image size limit.

Gallery photos (96 pixels square) are also covered, with a nice tip about cropping to avoid blank space.

In short, Karp does an admirable job showing a photographer how to get around eBay. It's a less admirable job showing an auctioneer how to do product photography, unfortunately. A few simple tips on that would have really made it "industrial strength."

eBay Hacks: 100 Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools by David A. Karp, published by O'Reilly & Associates, 333 pages, $24.95.
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In the Forums

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

Read about the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F828 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee94123

Visit the Canon EOS 300D Digital Rebel Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee946e1

Daniel asks about choosing a camera at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee94b54/0

Rod asks about left-handed cameras at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee94c1c/0

Visit the Printers Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b8

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Just for Fun: Shooting in the Conservatory

The Victorians had all the fun. They just didn't publish newsletters. So who knew?

We got a glimpse of Victorian fun the other day when the Conservatory of Flowers (http://www.conservatoryofflowers.org) reopened after extensive restoration. "After a 1995 storm," the Conservatory site explains, "forty percent of the glass tiles that once sheathed the Victorian-era Conservatory of Flowers lay smashed on the ground and several wood arches were damaged."

The Conservatory is a hothouse, so losing glass panes was painful. Inside the hothouse, climates as diverse as lowland and highland tropics are recreated so exotic plants can feel right at home. Like any Victorian.

Which works for people, too. If you visit San Francisco and get homesick for your humidity, take the tour. It's the most humid spot in the Bay area.

But be sure to bring your camera. Not only are the plants exotic, but they're unusually photogenic. We took advantage of the Grand Re-Opening to take our first digital photos of the interior (1995 predates our first digicam). And we were surprised how easy it was.

We usually recommend adjusting your EV setting to -1 or so to capture bright flowers. They tend to be overexposed in the garden if you just shoot on automatic.

But in the Conservatory, those glass panes are whitewashed and a lovely diffused light brings even the brightest flowers into range. You do have to watch out for including too much of the white panes in the picture, but if you fill the frame with the flower, you can leave your camera on Auto without changing the EV setting. The diffused ceiling light makes a perfect photo studio, it just so happens.

You will, however, want to fool around with the macro setting on your lens. You can get quite close to these flowers. But even more thrilling, you can get rather intimate with the free-flying butterflies in the west wing. Unlike their non-Victorian counterparts, these butterflies seemed quite tame, even napping within inches of our lens. Not to be missed!

There are some caveats to this wonderful shooting opportunity.

First, you won't need to worry about your batteries. It can be a taxing physical environment for people, so your visit likely won't last more than 20 minutes. Unless you skipped your daily sauna.

Second, that humidity is artificial. It comes from sprayers that shoot fine mists of water into the air above your head. Sort of like fire sprinklers. The droplets disappeared from the body of our camera but you should take care to keep the lens pointed down when the sprinklers go off.

Third, grand re-openings can be crowded. And the Victorian walkways are narrow. No real chance to set up a tripod and frame your composition in Victorian time.

Otherwise we found the Conservatory a remarkably hospitable place to photograph exotic plants, flowers and butterflies. Between the Tarzan vines and the lily pond, you'll find plenty of perfectly illuminated subjects posing for your lens.

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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: Losing Photos

Here is another way to lose photos -- I never dreamed this could happen.

I put the Memory Stick in the USB card transfer unit. Brought them up in my image viewing program (ACDSee). Selected all the pictures on the Memory Stick and dragged them onto my hard drive. Then, since I remembered your saying always erase only in the camera, I put the Memory Stick back in the camera and formatted it. Later, while reviewing my "pictures" I realized only a thumbnail shortcut had "transferred" and it pointed to the memory stick (which, to my horror, I had erased). How did this happen?

I thought, "At least I have the thumbnails," but then I couldn't find where the program had stored them. In the process of looking, they too disappeared forever.

-- Judith King

(It's a lot easier to do than you'd think, isn't it? We blame the operating system for confusing source and destination as well as thumbnail and file. -- Editor)

RE: Equivalents Again

The phrase, "Is this, perhaps, a difference not seen in film and, therefore, not discussed?" in the first "We Have Mail" letter last issue reminded me of a characteristic of film I'd almost forgotten, reciprocity failure. But wasn't that only with really long exposures?

Do we really know whether the physics of our digital sensors might affect exposures with longer times?

As the holder of a BS in Physics, I probably should answer that myself, but things were very different back in 1957!

-- Bob

(There may be no reciprocity failure in a CCD, but dark current can be an issue for any particular sensor element. Non-image data introduced in processing -- for individual sensors -- is something handled pretty well by nik multimedia's Dfine plug-in (recently reviewed). But what concerned Barbara was overall saturation. And Dave's idea that the exposures were not exactly equivalent is probably what's behind that. -- Editor)

RE: Adaptive Technology

Do you think this adapter (http://www.cameraquest.com/adapreos.htm) would work with a Canon Digital Rebel to let someone use their Nikon lenses? If so, this throws down the gauntlet to Nikon.

-- Chris

(Very interesting. Not too thrilled about attaching an adapter to each lens, though -- especially at $175 each. Wonder how they affect focus, too. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

The PBS show Nova ran an interesting program "Imaging the Archimedes Palimpsest" (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/archimedes/palimpsest.html) in which photographing an old parchment text under various light sources and merging the digital images revealed a hidden text. A team of restorers and scholars are cleaning, imaging and translating the document now.


Funtigo's photo sharing Web site (http://www.funtigo.com) now lets users upload photos from camphones. Funtigo has also introduced high-resolution slide shows, new backgrounds and clipart and new interface.


Pierre Vandevenne (http://www.datarescue.com/photorescue) expects to release PhotoRescue 2 shortly, with support for 30-GB drives and improved speed. The evaluation version now recovers non-image files for free.


Jan Esmann has redesigned his Web site (http://www.powerretouche.com) and expanded his Powerretouche suite of plug-ins. The B&W conversion plug-in features spectral sensitivity curves, presets to emulate professional films, colored lens filters and multigrade emulation. The Sharpener does not create edge lines. The lens corrector handles Panorama lenses, minimizing distortion on the border.


Change My Image (http://en.infinisys.co.jp/product/cmimage) is hair style and color simulation software [MW] with over 100 hair styles, short, long and medium, for both men and women. Just $10.


ACD Systems (http://www.acdsystems.com) has released ACDSee 6.0 with selective browsing and image rating technologies that streamline workflow.


Shapiro Consulting Group (http://www.asiva.com) has released its $69 Asiva Shift+Gain Component. Its third Photoshop plug-in is based on their patented image enhancement technology that uses curves to allow operators to make selections based on the Hue, Saturation and Luminance components of a pixel.


Canto (http://www.canto.com) has released its $19.95 myCumulus, a limited version of Cumulus Single User Edition (whose price has been reduced to $69.95). myCumulus is restricted to managing two catalogs simultaneously, each of which can contain 2,000 assets.

Canto also announced Embedded Java PlugIn (EJaP), a new approach to digital asset management customization to help system integrators cut development and maintenance costs "by at least 50 percent." Based on Java, Canto has modified its native applications and designed jsp-based Internet solutions so system integrators can write their applications once, then run them on the Internet or in native Cumulus applications under Solaris, Linux, Mac OS X or Windows. EJaP will become available in the fourth quarter.


Minolta (htpp://www.minoltausa.com) has released DiMAGE Messenger 2.0 as a free upgrade.

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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
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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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