The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 5, Number 26 26 December 2003

Copyright 2003, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 113th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We introduce ourselves to our new readers with a little review of what we've been up to that puts the year in perspective for everyone. Then Dave illuminates the innovative Nikon D2H with his trademarked thoroughness. And, against our better judgement, we publish our intern's report on the Pocket Guide give-away. See you next year!


TOPICS

SPONSORS
This issue of The Imaging Resource News is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ads here. And now a word from our sponsors:
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Nikonusa.com
http://www.nikonusa.com
The Nikon D100 -- the Best of Both Worlds.

Designed to meet the needs of the experienced SLR user, this lightweight, full-featured digital SLR offers a 6.1 Effective Megapixel CCD to capture high-resolution images up to 3008x2000 pixels for brilliant, large prints.

Precise image control technologies like 3D Matrix Metering, Five-Area Dynamic AutoFocus with Focus Tracking and Lock-on(tm) and a new built-in Speedlight with D-TTL flash control capability put you in complete control.

Add a full-color LCD monitor, simple USB connections, full compatibility with dozens of AF Nikkor lenses and accessories, plus Nikon Capture 3 software for remote operation and superior image management, and you've bridged the gap between your 35mm and digital worlds.

To learn more about the D100 visit: http://www.nikonslr.com


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: The Year in Reviews

When we invested our youth at a weekly newsmagazine, we would spend the last week of the year preparing a double issue whose cover was a montage of the major headlines of the year. That cover was one picture that wasn't just worth a thousand words -- it was a thousand words.

This December, we were reminded of that cover as we compiled a list of the expanded and illustrated reviews we've done over the past year (or so). We thought it would make a nice welcome to new subscribers who received a gift subscription, as well as a handy list for subscribers trying to find them on the site.

While this isn't anything like an overview of the industry, a few trends are hard to miss:

Publishing every two weeks for over four years, we've covered a lot of developments and written many tutorials. But as our index and archive grow, they become harder and harder to find. We'll highlight some of our expanded reviews here, but not the most recent, like the RoadStor (one of the bigger products of the year).

To catch up on past newsletters, the best place to start is our archive (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html).

UNERASE YOUR FLASH MEMORY MEDIA

Yes, there are freeware unerase utilities for flash media. You can read one success story after another in the letters column of our newsletter (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS). And if they work for you, bravo.

But how do you know you're retrieving every salvageable image?

The only way to make sure is to use the best unerase utility you can find. We found PhotoRescue (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM), an inexpensive one from DataRescue that consistently beats the competition. Nothing less will really do.

PhotoRescue runs on Windows 98 through XP and Mac OS X. It uses a proprietary data-recovery engine optimized for image files that dynamically switches between up to 12 data-recovery algorithms to apply a recovery strategy optimized for each image.

Our original review of version 1.0 found no fault with the product. But DataRescue has continued to improve it. Version 2.0 (see below) does more (FAT 32, Raw, movies, voice) faster (up to 10 times in some cases). And the evaluation version even retrieves non-image files from your hard disk at no charge.

We'd rather rub two old batteries together for power than do without our copy of PhotoRescue.

HOW TO KEEP IN TOUCH WHEN IT HURTS

Do digicams have a socially redeeming value? We think so. But if we were ever forced to testify, we'd simply point to CarePage (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/CPG/CPG.HTM). The free service lets you (or your care provider) publish information -- both text and photos -- about your (or a loved one's) hospital stay so everyone can stay in touch.

Whether it's a pregnancy or a heart bypass, a hospital stay is stressful. Keeping friends and family up to date on the situation only adds to the burden. But if you set up a free CarePage, everyone can be informed whenever you update the patient's progress or post new images. Automatically.

It's simply the most socially redeeming use of a digicam we've seen.

And since we wrote the original story, we've been very happy to learn that a number of people have joined us as grateful beneficiaries of this wonderful resource. We know it isn't for everyone -- right now -- but when the day comes, remember these guys. They really help at a time you really need help.

EXTENSIS PORTFOLIO

Just when we'd fallen head over heels in love with it for its sleek interface and undemanding requirements, we can't get Portfolio (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/POR/POR.HTM) to run in Panther. Extensis has released a Panther update (Portfolio 6.1.3) and it still works fine in OS 9, so it must be us.

We've found no Macintosh product that lets us build a keyworded catalog as effortlessly. We even suspect Extensis taught Adobe a thing or two about that, since Photoshop Album mimics its ability to parse path names into keywords.

So if you follow our advice about storing your originals in folders that reflect both the date and the event, you can automatically keyword your archived collection by date and event using Portfolio.

That kind of smarts is reflected throughout the product.

STEROIDS FOR DIGICAMS

When it's time for us to have a little tantrum, we stomp off into a corner and bleat, "It's about the software!"

There's no doubt that hardware specs get people excited -- but relax, folks. People have been making great photos with nothing more complicated than pinholes. It isn't just about the hardware.

It's about the software, too. The mind. Creativity. And their embodiment in tools like Reindeer Graphics' Optipix plug-ins (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/OP2/OP2.HTM). These guys codified a 16-bit workflow while Adobe was healing its brush.

But what we really love about this suite is that it turns any normal digicam into a camera so powerful it could run for governor. Stuck with 8-bit channels? Not with Optipix. With Optipix you can blend multiple exposures into a 16-bit image, retaining the detail captured in the shadows of an overexposed image with that captured in the highlights of an underexposed image.

If you're using your digicam to copy slides, you need this suite just for that. But it does the job with any still life. And it does a lot more -- including sharpening and removing scratches -- for just $99.

PROFILING YOUR CAMERA

Ask the experts and they'll all tell you it's as fruitless to profile a digicam as to fall in love with the proverbial chorus girl. Well, even more so.

The light changes from shot to shot. There are no constants. Forget it. You'll just suffer a broken heart. And nobody will want to hear about it.

But if the profiling software comes from a good home, you can expect a bit more from it. And inCamera (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/INC/INC.HTM) comes from Pictographics, the people who know color like kids know crayons.

We were surprised to find out how useful inCamera is. Sure, you can use it to profile your scanner (where every variable is a constant). But it was also helpful in the field with our notoriously unfaithful digicam.

COMPETING WITH PHOTOSHOP

It was a dark and stormy night. The Adobe mafia were sitting together over a red checkerboard tablecloth waiting for their pizzas. Then it hit them.

The only way to protect Photoshop was to compete with it.

Sure enough, a few twirls of the pepper shaker later, they came up with Elements 2.0 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/EL2/EL2.HTM). They cheated, of course, using code from Photoshop itself and pricing it within reach of ordinary mortals. But it worked.

It worked even better than they imagined. Because they left a little loophole in it that clever guys like Richard Lynch exploited to restore much of what was missing from Photoshop itself.

If you have a reputation as a bargain hunter to protect, you owe it to yourself to hustle a copy of Elements 2.0.

GETTING ORGANIZED IN WINDOWS

True story. The Adobe trio calls us (after squabbling over whose cell phone to use) to ask where we are. They'd gone to the deserted cardboard box we used to call our office. The mistake of their PR firm, actually.

We gave them directions. But they didn't need them. They know where you live. Every one of us. Sometimes they just like to get their PR firms in trouble.

That's how we felt about Album 2.0 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PSA/PSA.HTM). They take this stuff seriously. They know just what they have to do. They do it. We sit around trying to find something to complain about to look objective.

Fortunately, we just don't share their idea of a user interface. We like the minimalism of iPhoto rather than the if-it-boils-put-it-in-the-pot approach of so many Windows programs. Adobe has toned down the Album interface, but not quite enough for us.

Still, we liked much about it -- particularly its improvements in keywording your collection.

A LIGHTING KIT

No kidding, coming home on the bus the other day some helpful soul was explaining that in 50 billion years the sun would look as big as the moon and the world would melt. He was more helpful than that may make it appear. He also told us all about some physicist who thinks we should start working on a propellant to take the earth to a more stable solar system. "Guy wants to move the whole world!" he laughed. Clearly the guy doesn't work for the bus system.

While we're waiting for the fireworks, though, we did find the one lighting upgrade that won't fail you. Photoflex (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/PHF/PHF.HTM) has put together a lightweight stand and softbox that is all you need to get professional results.

The beauty of this system -- which we use for our product shots -- is that you can see what you're doing. You can see the shadows the light casts, how a reflector helps, what changing the angle of the softbox does. And it uses nothing more than a 500 watt bulb (which won't trip residential circuit breakers).

Plus, the whole thing is portable enough to take on the bus.

INEXPENSIVE DYE SUB PRINTS

Not only did we rave about Hi-Ti 630 printer (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/HT630PS/HT6.HTM), but the readers who bought it wrote to us to confirm our enthusiasm. Dye sub prints are fabulous -- and at 40 cents a piece, you can listen to radio ads for digital photofinishing all day and gloat.

But if Da Vinci were working today, even he would have to release a Mona Lisa 2.0. And Hi-Ti has updated the 630 with the 640 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/HT640PS/HT6.HTM), which handles more storage media, prints faster and at higher resolution.

One of the biggest benefits to the introduction of the 640, though, is the reduced price of the 630. One of these two wonders is worth considering for automated 4x6 photo (not inkjet) prints without fussing with a computer.

HP GETS SERIOUS

We're on a crusade to increase our coverage of printers. We love the little things. They make us look so good, how can we not love them?

HP has rededicated itself to the thermal inkjet it invented. But it hasn't indulged in that typical big-company under-achieving engineering so common. It's approaching the task as if it were the new kid on the block. As if it had to compete, that is, on merit, not reputation.

The Photosmart 7960 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/HP7960/HP7960.HTM) is a wonderful printer. And it doesn't need a computer to perform its magic. Coupled with HP paper, it can produce inkjet prints that are lightfast for over 70 years. Which is perfect for anyone over 30, by our actuarial estimates.

CONCLUSION

While we're not in the business of predicting the future, we've always found tomorrow to be exciting. Stay tuned with us as we share that excitement with you during the next year. Meanwhile, whether you're a long-time subscriber or this is your first issue, the entire staff at Imaging Resource wishes you a Happy New Year!

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Feature: Nikon D2H -- Pushing the Envelope

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D2H/D2HA.HTM on the Web site.)

The new $3,500 Nikon D2H is the latest addition to one of the world's most famous series of camera equipment but it breaks new ground on several fronts.

First, it introduces Nikon's internally-developed LBCAST sensor technology, enabling a dramatic increase in shooting speed, while dramatically lowering image noise under low-light conditions.

Second, and one of its most interesting features, is its wireless capability. With the optional wireless transmitter accessory attached, you can send images directly from the camera to a computer without messing around with cabling or card readers.

Not least, Nikon also announced an all-new Speedlight, the SB-800. By far the most advanced integrated flash system from Nikon (or anyone else), the SB-800 features i-TTL wireless through-the-lens flash exposure control with the D2H.

THE SB-800 SPEEDLIGHT

The new $380 SB-800 offers a range of new features, including a new and highly advanced wireless control system by which multiple SB-800 speedlights can be controlled from a single master unit, with full wireless control over relative exposure levels between units and full i-TTL through-the-lens metering. Other new features include an Auto FP high-speed sync, flash color information communication for improved color accuracy, a flash value exposure lock and a wide-area AF-assist illuminator tailor-made for the D2H's new 11-area Multi-Cam 2000 AF sensor unit.

One of the most technologically impressive aspects of the SB-800 is Nikon's new Advanced Data Communication system, which uses rapid pulses of the flash units during the pre-flash metering period to pass setup and exposure information between multiple units. You can control four independent sets of SB-800 speedlights wirelessly from the camera itself. The four groups consist of the speedlight attached to the camera (the master) and three separate sets of remote units, each of which can consist of any number of SB-800 units. Settings for each group are made via the control panel and large LCD panel on the Master unit attached to the camera.

It deserves repeating that all speedlights in all groups can operate in i-TTL mode for completely automatic flash exposures, including relative exposure differences dialed-in for each group from the Master controller. You can also run different groups in different flash modes if you'd like, setting two groups to i-TTL and another to Manual mode, for instance.

When you press the shutter button, the Master fires each group of speedlights in turn, collecting exposure information via the camera's TTL metering system. The information is then integrated, power levels are set for all groups and the shutter and speedlights are fired for the exposure itself. If it sounds like there's a lot going on, it's because there is, but the whole process takes only as much time as does the normal pre-exposure metering flash from a conventional smart strobe unit.

It's hard to overstate how effortless the SB-800 makes multi-flash lashups. If you've ever had to climb up and down a ladder or crawl behind a set a few dozen times to get flash levels set properly, you'll immediately understand the benefit of being able to set the exposure levels for up to three groups of remote strobes -- without leaving the camera.

Wireless TTL multi-flash functionality is only part of the story though, as the SB-800 offers a range of other new features as well.

It's no stretch to say the SB-800 is by far the most impressive flash system I've seen. It makes wireless, TTL-metered, multi-flash photography not only possible but easy. I expect Nikon will sell SB-800DXs by the thousands and quite likely more than a few D2H bodies as well, simply because the D2H is currently the only Nikon camera that takes full advantage of the SB-800DX's incredible capabilities.

Truth be told, the SB-800DX is more revolutionary than the D2H itself. The D2H does much the same things that previous digital SLRs did, just faster. The SB-800 offers entirely new creative capabilities that are more than just refinements on those of previous systems.

SHUTTER LAG & CYCLE TIMES

Any way you slice it, the D2H is a blazingly fast camera. Shutter lag is the fastest I've measured on any camera, at an astonishing ~45 milliseconds (0.045 seconds). Cycle times are equally amazing, at roughly 0.25 seconds in single-shot mode and 0.124 seconds in high-speed continuous mode. The camera also has an unusually deep buffer, with a capacity that ranges from 24 to 40 frames, depending on the file format selected.

NOISE

A number of journalists had an opportunity to shoot with what were supposed to be late-model preproduction samples of the D2H. I unfortunately was the first to post sample photos. I say "unfortunately," because Nikon subsequently determined those cameras had image-quality problems (particularly with image noise) and asked me to take down the images I'd posted.

Rob Galbraith later discovered at least part of the problem appeared to be that the prototype cameras were shooting at higher ISO levels than indicated. ISO 800 on the preproduction cameras apparently corresponded to an actual ISO level closer to 1250. Rob and others attributed the noise levels seen in the preproduction samples of the D2H to be largely the result of the errant ISO settings.

Upon further examination though, it's now clear that false ISO readings accounted for only part of the elevated image noise. In fact, the photos Nikon had me pull down may actually have been more fairly representative of production-model noise levels than was supposed. Rob has also come to the conclusion that the D2H has a noise problem, calling noise levels in the midrange of ISOs from 400-640 "unacceptable" in a recent update to his original review.

Given the level of interest and dismay over the high noise levels of the early units, I took particular pains (as the full review details) to examine the noise performance of the D2H relative to it's only real competitor in the marketplace, the Canon EOS-1D.

Noise performance in digital cameras is a complex phenomena and therefore not subject to easy characterization with one or two numbers. I do think that we can draw some general conclusions about the D2H vs. the EOS-1D though:

  1. Under laboratory conditions and with bright lighting, the D2H generally equals or slightly outperforms the EOS-1D in terms of luminance noise levels in flat tints. The D2H pulls ahead somewhat at higher ISOs in midtone values, but both cameras are fairly closely matched in performance at the ends of the tone curve across the ISO range of 200-3200.

  2. The numbers miss most of the story. Even though the numeric scores show the D2H handily beating the EOS-1D at very high ISO levels, the eye tells a much different story. The EOS-1D shots at high ISO look much cleaner visually.

  3. Based on comparisons of multiple real-world image examples from both cameras, the EOS-1D carries a visible edge in its images, producing image noise that is less visually objectionable (regardless of how it might measure quantitatively), particularly in the middle-to-upper ISO range. Again, this holds true for shooting conditions involving moderate to bright lighting.

  4. At very low light levels, the D2H figuratively beats the pants off the EOS-1D across the board, producing much lower noise levels both numerically and visually, regardless of ISO or subject tonality.

  5. Image noise is in the eye of the beholder. Rob labeled the D2H's image noise at middle ISO values "unacceptable." I don't know that I'd go that far, but Rob speaks from his extensive experience as a working sports photographer and adds the observation that "this image quality characteristic seems to be the one giving working news and sports photographers the most difficulty." So he apparently isn't alone in his evaluation. For my part, I feel the D2H's images at middle ISO levels are a bit noisy, but quite usable. (In contrast though, Rob says that "higher ISO files continue to look noisy but acceptable," while I feel that it's at high ISOs the D2H has the most difficulty.) Given this range of opinion between reviewers, I suggest shooters considering the D2H look at sample images shot with it to form their own conclusions.

Overall, it appears the D2H's image noise is objectionable not so much because of its absolute magnitude, but more because it has a large, loose pattern to it. Whether this is a consequence of the LBCAST sensor technology itself, the particular data-clocking scheme that Nikon is using in the D2H or simply Nikon's noise-suppression processing isn't clear. I'm hoping for the latter, as it would permit a fix via a firmware upgrade. If the noise pattern is a characteristic of the LBCAST technology, there wouldn't be a fix for the D2H, but we could at least hold out hope for improvements in future cameras, as the technology matures. Only time will tell on these fronts. As for the D2H itself, we'll just have to see if Nikon can make any improvements with firmware tweaks.

COLOR

The D2H has pretty decent color, particularly at lower ISO settings. Viewed on their own, its images look bright, clean and appropriately saturated, although even standalone shots show some weakness in blues and greens. It's only when they're viewed in direct comparison with images captured by the earlier D1H or the competing Canon EOS-1D that the D2H's colors appear a little muted.

As you increase the ISO though, the D2H progressively loses color saturation. The effect is noticeable at ISO 1600, particularly in red and orange hues and is quite pronounced at ISO 3200 and above. In fairness to Nikon though, while the company provides the capability for users who must have it, Nikon makes it clear you shouldn't expect "Nikon quality" from the camera at ISO ratings of 3200 and 6400. Still, the loss in color saturation at very high ISO levels is significant and greater than that suffered by its competition.

At the end of the day, the D2H's color quality is quite good at low ISO settings and many may actually prefer its slightly less saturated look to that of the earlier D1H or EOS-1D. Color remains pretty good at ISOs as high as 800, but diminishes markedly beyond that. Images shot at ISO 1600 and higher are still very usable, but their quality is lower than that of images shot at ISO 800 and below.

CONCLUSION

The D2H has taken some heat for its color, particularly at high ISO and there's been some confusion in the market over its image noise characteristics. My overall impression of the camera is still very positive though. I've said before and will say again that the D2H is easily the most enjoyable camera to shoot with that I've yet handled, with a fluid, fast and easy-to-use user interface that intrudes minimally on the shooting experience. Overall, a powerful photographic tool, not to mention a thoroughly enjoyable one.

Some might question my "very positive" reaction though, given what I and others have discovered about the D2H's image noise performance, particularly in real world environments. I personally tend to place less weight on image noise than other image-quality parameters. In light of that, the differential in image noise between the D2H and the EOS-1D that I found with real-world subjects isn't enough to put me entirely off the D2H. This is very much a personal reaction though and I understand that many other photographers feel differently. Each prospective user will have to decide for themselves how they feel about the D2H's image noise and spend their camera dollars accordingly.

To my mind, a bigger issue is the D2H's color, specifically the extent to which it loses saturation at very high ISOs. Given that this camera's primary market is sports shooters and photojournalists, both of whom will often need to push the camera's ISO to the limits, the color falloff at high ISO may be a concern.

But I still like the D2H.

A lot of my feeling has to do with the remarkable fluidity of its user interface, as I mentioned above. It also has a lot to do with the system as a whole, though. In the face of its all-around capabilities, at least some of the foregoing focus on image noise and color saturation at high ISOs feels a little overwrought.

Looking at the total system, there's nothing else on the market that can touch it in a few key areas. For instance, there's nothing out there that offers such effortless integration of wireless networking, surely a critical competitive advantage for many sports and news photographers. Then there's the amazing SB-800 flash system. I don't use the term "amazing" here lightly. It literally is exactly that once you've played with it. I can see a lot of photographers buying D2Hs just to have access to the multi-unit remote TTL flash capabilities of the SB-800. And what about its low-light capability? There again, the D2H is at the top the market.

So at the end of the day, we're left with a camera with a number extraordinary capabilities as well as a few evident weaknesses, a not uncommon state of affairs when manufacturers push the envelope, as Nikon has with the D2H.

The bottom line is that Nikon shooters finally have a highly-capable 8-fps speed demon, that includes some pretty dramatic new capabilities. If you're a sports shooter with Nikon glass and can afford the freight, you'll want to add a D2H to your kit sooner rather than later.

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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 EOS 10D at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee92fbe

Visit the Canon Digital Rebel Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee946e1

Taxus asks about choosing a camera at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee962a7/0

Robin asks about legal permissions for photos at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee96748/0

Visit the Scanners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2ae

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Just for Fun: Holiday Give-Away Report

(Among our imaginary interns is an elf named Lucky. He says his name comes from his having been an accident -- but then, who wasn't? We figured he was the perfect guy to handle the O'Reilly Digital Photography Pocket Guide give-away (made possible by the generosity of author Derrick Story). Shortly before he flew off to Rio for vacation, he left this report. -- Editor)

Thanks for the wonderful opportunity to intern at Imaging Resource. You guys are really nuts. You really made me feel right at home.

Until you gave me that Pocket Guide give-away job, anyway. Maybe you didn't appreciate how closely it resembled actual work. I think there's a law about giving real work to interns. I don't think you can do that.

But I figure you guys are such goofs you probably didn't realize what you were doing. So, here's my report. But next time be more careful, huh?

First, we got a lot of entries. You'd think the Pocket Guide was an Oprah's Book Club selection. I actually read every entry, just to make sure it had a mailing address.

Almost all of them did, but there were a few guys who didn't send their mailing address. So I explained the deal to them again, but in my own words. That seemed to help because they all replied with their address. And I added them to the pile.

Man, you guys sure get a lot of compliments. People were really nice. If you had done this job yourself, you could have thanked them. Too bad you had a lowly intern handle it.

Anyway, since it was raining, I checked to be sure there was only one entry per subscriber. You guys should have thought of that! It wouldn't have been fair if one guy entered 15 times and everybody else just once. Pretty much everyone just entered once, though. Still, you have to check stuff like that. I think there's a law somewhere.

But there's no law about where you live, so people in other hemispheres and continents were all welcome. Which you neglected to mention.

Since the storm was getting worse, I used some of that Lens Calculator code to make a little JavaScript to prompt for how many entries there were and how many prizes we had. It uses that info to come up with a random list of winners by number.

Which meant I had to number all the entries. But that was pretty easy on the Commodore 64 you assigned me. Yeah, no dead pixels, ha ha. Anyway, I numbered the entries in the order they came in, automagically, and we were all set.

So on Dec. 19, like you told me, I ran my JavaScript and got the winning numbers, even though the rain was still coming down in buckets.

Then I looked up the winning addresses, which I confirmed in my ZIP+4 database just to prove how competent interns can be. Barcoded, too. Applause!

But then came the hard stuff. And there was like no time to deal with any of it. I had to get the prizes in the mail before the whole Post Office went postal with Christmas. Real, actual work.

And it was raining, did I mention that? And you guys don't have any real office supplies like staples or return labels or mailing envelopes. You really should review staplers and other office stuff so you have some around.

And "thanks" for not upgrading the HP driver when you installed Panther. I couldn't get anything to print at all, so I booted from Jaguar. There is an update, you know. Don't bother, I already installed it for you. Merry Christmas.

So I got the labels done in InDesign CS and I even did some bookmarks to thank the winners. You really should thank your readers, you know. Do you guys know what an effort it takes to read that newsletter every other week? It's so long! And there's no pictures. Did it ever occur to you guys to redesign the thing? Make it more like a Christmas card with a big picture and just a few words? So people could, uh, enjoy it?

But don't listen to me, what's a lowly intern know about design?

I got all the entries to the Post Office the next day when the rain let up. Who wants to get wet? Not me. I looked and that wasn't in the job description.

Gotta go now. If you have any questions, try aroma therapy. Have a Happy New Year. And next year think of something less taxing for me to do.

Your Stressed-Out Intern,

-- Lucky

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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: Photoshop Album

Read with interest your review of that Adobe Photoshop Album software; agree with most of your findings; further points in my opinion:

First, having bought version 1.0 when it became available, I find it very frustrating that no "upgrade price" -- I mean one that is worth the "upgrade" tag -- was offered.

Inevitably, a version 1.0 is far from perfect; the relatively short life span of the first version is telling.

The upgrade price is a disgrace for a house like Adobe, who apparently follows in Microsoft's steps and habit of abusing its strong market position.

Second, I feel cheated by the "find by color similarity" function, which was my main reason (as well as the Timeline) for choosing the Adobe software instead of competing products. Its results have an erratic degree of success, returning about 30-60 percent of your whole collection of photos and I am using a "catalogue" of some 6,000 very varied photos taken over two years.

Sure, you would expect a program teaming up with Photoshop to allow some degree of setting as to "how similar" the colors should be? If there is I could not find it, which would be telling of the user interface.

-- Marc Debacker

(As a 1.0 customer, you do get a rebate. There's a coupon in the box. 2.0 is too different from 1.0 to be easily upgraded by download. It's really a new application that just resembles the old one. So we can appreciate Adobe's requirement that everyone get the box. But we really don't like rebates (as we said in the review).... We appreciate your frustration with that feature of Find. It's a little like jumping naked into your closet to get dressed. We don't know exactly how it works, but if it just measures the number of discreet colors in each image (on import) and records how many of each are in the image (storing this data with the image record), it would only be able to select other images with a similar number of colors in similar quantities. That's probably most useful where there are few colors that take up a lot of space, rather than a photo (which may have a lot of colors, few of which dominate the image). So the more detailed your images, the less likely it's going to be helpful. -- Editor)

RE: That Megapixel Image

I was just looking at this item (http://www.tawbaware.com/maxlyons/gigapixel.htm) my other half (a librarian) found while on the Web. She knew I had visited this place when I was a kid and that I have often told her about how wide the view is out in the Southwest. This is a big digital photo!

I was reading the latest newsletter in my inbox when she mentioned it to me.

Ironically, the last item I sent you was about the tiny SiPix Blik camera. I bet you'll agree this is just as extreme ... so happy holidays.

-- Joel Wheeler

(That's funny, Joel. We wrote a little piece on that for our daily news page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1070414103.html) but neglected to mention it in the newsletter. Thanks for the note! -- Editor)

RE: Canon Quality

I have a question about the Canon Powershot S50. I recently purchased one and I am very happy with it.

I came across an Epinions article that claimed that "the S50 actually has a 4-megapixel CCD, but uses interpolation and an unsharp mask filter to fake 5-megapixel resolution (emphasis his)." Initially, I was shocked; but as I looked around the 'net, I couldn't find any other article or specification that backed up what he was saying. He writes about the S400 having "1200 dpi" compared to the S50's "sorrowful 1050 dpi." Aren't resolutions expressed as a two dimensional value?

Is it just me or does this guy not know what he's talking about? Is there any basis in what he's saying in fact? Thanks.

-- Chris D. Coccio

(Hey, there's a guy who needs a gift subscription <g>. The specs state it is a 5-Mp 1-1/8-inch sensor (5.3 million pixels) delivering an image as large as 2592x1944. DPI is short for dots per inch, referring primarily to output resolution (printers). It is regularly misused to refer to spots/samples per inch. But it isn't even misused in reference to a CCD -- it's just inappropriate. Your CCD has no inherent resolution. It captures a number of pixels across and a number down, without specifying display or output resolution. So your image editor assumes there are 72 or 96 pixels per inch and opens your image so large you can't see it on the screen. You map it to inches to display it on the screen or print it when you set the number of pixels to display per inch (without resampling). -- Editor)

RE: Sharp Question

I am pretty adept at sharpening single images in Photoshop, but what I find to be possible falls miles short of what I see on "CSI Miami," where the operator takes footage from a security camera, zooms in on a suspect's wrist watch, then sharpens it to see the time of day! Is there, in fact, specialized software that can do this or is it just make believe?

-- Ron Lightbourn

(Don't tell the bad guys, but it's make believe. Security cameras are pretty low res video boxes showing only every other scan line in each frame. They don't have enough resolution to tell time. But we vaguely recall reading about specialized tools for forensic analysis and the military has always done impressive enhancements on satellite images. You could do as well in Photoshop these days, I expect. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Forget gigapixel images. How about a book the size of a ping pong table? Bhutan: A Visual Odyssey Across the Last Himalayan Kingdom by Michael Hawley (http://web.media.mit.edu/~mike) measures 5x7 feet and weighs 130 lbs. Printed on an HP DesignJet printer, each copy takes 24 hours to print, consuming a complete roll of fine-art paper and over a gallon of UV-cured ink. So it's only available in a limited edition of 500 copies. At $10,000 (well, a donation to the non-profit Friendly Planet, really), it may be worth waiting for the paperback.


Michael Tapes (http://www.pictureflow.com/CaptureOne) has released Capture One Special Edition. "After listening to the marketplace, we heard the cries that many 1D, D1x and even 1Ds shooters, wanted C1 quality and workflow but did not want to spend $500 to get it" Michael wrote. "Now they can have the C1 'magic' for $249 (and because of our promotion, $199 during December)." A free camera profile from etcetera.cc (Magne Nilsen) is included (a Rebel profile is $5).


DataRescue has announced the release of PhotoRescue 2.0 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM). The new version recovers more images, from bigger storage devices, up to 10 times faster than its predecessor whose recovery engine already outperformed the competition in every data-recovery test run by Personal Computer Magazine (Issue 5, May 2003). PhotoRescue 2.0 is available in a simplified Wizard version and a more advanced Expert version for the Windows and Mac OS X operating systems, including the latest Panther release.


Rune Lindman (http://www.qpict.net) has released version 6.0.1 of QPict. This version improves support for Raw files, fixes QPict Help and improves support for unicode named files.


Software Cinema (http://adobe.mx0.net/r?cJHlnvEccWlJEJWHvJl) will hold an all-day Photoshop Training Camp in January at three locations in California and Las Vegas. The Camp features digital imaging experts Jane Conner-ziser, Jack Davis, Jim DiVitale, Julieanne Kost, Dave Montizambert, Todd Morrison and Eddie Tapp demonstrating their Photoshop and imaging techniques. Pre-registration is $25; $40 at the door.


Reindeer Graphics (http://www.reindeergraphics.com) has released Wide Histogram, a free plug-in for Photoshop 5.x, 6, 7 and CS on Mac OS 9.2.x, X 10.2, 10.3 and Windows 98 or better. The plug-in can display the histogram in three widths, giving between 2x and 4x the resolution of the histogram palette in Photoshop. It provides eight different modes for histogram display, including RGB, red channel, green channel, blue channel, colors, hue, saturation and luminance. The plug-in is a free component of Optipix, a suite of plug-ins that includes tools for correcting common problems in digital images. See the Deals section for a special offer expiring at year end.


FlashFixers (http://www.flashfixers.com/software) has released its first Mac version of ImageRecall to retrieve lost files from flash memory cards. ImageRecall is $39.95 ($129.95 for commercial use) for Mac OS X, Mac OS 9.1 and up and Windows.

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One Liners

For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).

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

Curtin Short Courses: http://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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