The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 6, Number 2 23 January 2004

Copyright 2004, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 115th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We splurged on iLife '04 and lived to tell (not rave) about it. Dave is a bit disappointed with the Fuji S7000, too. But does that keep us down? No way. We're stand-up guys, as we explain. Enjoy!


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
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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.

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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: iLife '04 -- Harder Than It Looks

(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/IL4/IL4.HTM on the Web site.)

We found it more convenient to chisel open our wallet and carve out $49 for iLife '04 (http://www.apple.com/ilife) the day it came out than to go through our usual channels (including the cardboard sign promising, "Will Review For Food"). But the experience was emblematic of the package.

Dashing into the Mac section of the BigStore, we immediately latched onto the top box of a pile of iLife boxes. Only to discover as we skipped toward the cash register that it was version 1.1, last year's model.

We dragged ourselves back to the display area and found iLife '04 in its nearly identical box, grabbed one and raced back to the checkout stand.

But the scanner priced it at $79, not $49. Nope, we stood firm, $49. "Rebate maybe?" the clerk suggested. No. "Bring me the tag on the shelf," the clerk compromised. So back we went again to the display area and found no tag. Nor clerk.

Suddenly a harried fellow in just the right polo shirt dashed by promising to be back in a minute with the Single User version. We'd inadvertently picked up the Family Pack, according to a green sticker we'd failed to notice. Well, $79 is not our idea of Family Values.

Back in the checkout line, four other guys (that's everybody) were getting the Single User version delivered to them by the polo shirt angel. The guy in front of us noted that delivering the product a week after the show was certainly one way to keep things secret. He, too, was put out.

We'd spent half an hour buying iLife. Already a net loss.

INSTALLATION

Oddly, we found the packaging fairly beat up. And we were surprised to see the interior box torn. Especially since the outer box still had the factory seal intact. Apparently, the initial run had been restocked after it was first packaged.

A few sheets of paper are included pretending to be installation instructions, tips, support options and a flyer. We did learn that the included DVD had everything on it that the CD includes. The CD lacks both GarageBand and iDVD.

One bright thing about the installation is that it will register your products as they install. Ah, multitasking OS X!

Of course, the registration server has to be up for that. And it wasn't. You'd think Apple would schedule routine maintenance around iLife releases, not during them.

The routine installation went just fine and didn't really take very long. We were able to flip through a trade publication (without actually reading anything) in the time it took.

Unfortunately, it skipped the iDVD install because our machine doesn't have a SuperDrive. One of the advantages of iLife '04 is that you can run iDVD without a SuperDrive. You can't burn a DVD, of course, but you already knew that. We were hoping we might be able to burn a DVD slide show onto a CD, actually. That doesn't seem like too much to ask.

So we had to install iDVD separately.

To do this, you control-click on the Install alias, select Show Original and wait for the Packages folder to appear. Inside you'll find iDVD.mpkg. Run that. Or be smarter than us and do a Custom Install and click on iDVD.

We weren't, however able to launch iDVD after that install successfully completed. It unexpectedly quit.

Back to the shelf, so to speak.

iPHOTO

The phrase "incremental upgrade" kept resounding in our head like a GarageBand loop as we played with iPhoto 4.0. We used to get features like this with free Software Updates.

It didn't seem noticeably faster than 2.0 on our system, although it scaled images a bit more smoothly. That may be because we keep separate Libraries, none too large to begin with -- and, frankly, mainly for testing. Others with large libraries have raved about the speed.

We don't use iPhoto to manage our images, we confess. We find it (still) missing key features like adding copyright information to the Exif header or being able to keyword on path names. But we still find it one of the easiest ways to manage collections of digital images, which we all have to do.

But it gets a round of raspberries for library management. Just look in the Help topic that discusses how to use multiple libraries. The old renaming shell game, played at the Finder level, is still required. iPhoto only recognizes one library -- worse, only one library filename.

It gets even badder, though, folks. There's no way of consolidating your 2.0 multiple libraries in 4.0 without losing roll ID, comments, and keywords. Library management is just not part of this incremental update.

And not a few pioneers have reported library corruption as 4.0 converts their 2.0 libraries to 4.0. Be smart, backup your 2.0 libraries first. And make sure your file system is healthy by repairing permissions with Disk Utility.

Improperly rotated images can be rerotated to regain their composure. Incorrect large file sizes (like 17,592,186,044,416-MB for a 52K JPEG) can be corrected by cropping the image and then undoing the crop. Fixes seem to involve forcing iPhoto to refer back to the Exif data in the image.

And images that appear blurry when edited will look sharper if opened in a new window. Incremental downgrade, that.

But 4.0 does sport a few new features.

We found, for example, the menu command to rate a picture using from one to five stars. But we stumbled around a while looking for the quick preview with rating options we saw at Macworld. We couldn't even find it in the Help topics. It's a slide show option (to display controls, something we tend not to do). The transparent controls overlay is truly elegant (one of those OS X things) and functional (Previous, Pause, Next, Rotate either way, Rate, Trash).

We did immediately notice the date-based schema in an album of our pictures over the last year titled "Last 12 Months." The Library itself can be viewed in annual breakouts by simply clicking on the gray triangle next to it. "Early Photos" is followed by albums for the years 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004. Not nearly as exciting as Photoshop Album's timeline view, but useful.

Time-based albums seem to be an example of the new Smart Album feature. You're able to specify criteria for an album now. And iPhoto updates the album automatically with images from the library that meet that criteria.

We're a little hazy on the criteria, frankly. We thought we could specify Thanksgiving pictures, but that movable feast seems a bit complex for the criteria options. Still, it's a genuinely useful feature.

Rendezvous sharing may not seem like a big deal (you might ask Hewlett-Packard about that), but it's an illustration of what the future should look like. You simply Share one or another album and anyone running Rendezvous can open their copy of iPhoto and see your images, even run a slide show on their machine. If they're clients (recent bride and groom, say), you can be busy writing the order while they enthuse over the images.

And we could see some new slide show options, too. More than one repeating tune for audio accompaniment was a welcome addition. And the new transitions are cute. They include the OS X Cube (first seen in Keynote and used by Image Capture in Panther during import), Dissolve, Mosaic Flip (which wistfully made us think of Vanna White) and Wipe. Where movement is involved, you can set a Direction. And Speed can be set by a slider. But it's one transition for the whole show. If you want more, you want iMovie.

Just for fun, we clicked on the iDVD button and told iPhoto to launch iDVD. And, mysteriously, iDVD ran as promised. But, no, we still couldn't run it from the Applications folder.

iDVD

iDVD gives you a Droplet and a Page Flip transition in addition to the iPhoto transitions. You can see all your iPhoto Albums in the Media tab of the Customize drawer. Just double-click a theme button to get to the image import page to build your slide show.

It's actually easier than it sounds. Customize. Media. Drag pictures. Set transition. Add sound. Fool around with the sequence if you like (by dragging). That's more like it. Then Preview.

And, boy, is it easy to make a very slick presentation in just a few seconds. iDVD has been light years ahead of any other DVD authoring tool. And productions made with it have always looked significantly more sophisticated. That's even more true now.

But sadly, we couldnąt figure out how to burn the show to a CD for playback in a DVD player. What law of nature does that violate?

GARAGEBAND

Just briefly. It borrows from Canto Cumulus that annoying open-last-opened-file behavior that drives us nuts.

But after we launched it and started a new tune, we were able to browse the numerous loops, put a couple of tracks together and get an actual tune going. Very easily, we might add -- although we appreciate some documentation (http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=93615) for something so new.

Trouble was, we didn't like our tune.

Maybe if we knew what we were doing or recognized the verbal descriptions of the loops, we'd know what to do. But our tune came out dressed in Argyle socks with plaid pants and a striped shirt.

Maybe we should stick to voice-overs. GarageBand might make narrating a slide show easier than ever. Run the show and record your comments in real time. Add a little sound track, save the thing and associate it with the Album.

iMOVIE

While waiting for our polo shirt angel to deliver the goods, we were engaged in conversation with a guy who was desperately trying to learn video editing. He had a couple of books in his hands and was about to buy the Family Pack of iLife '04 until we stopped him.

The trouble with books is that they aren't updated as fast as software. He had some iMovie 2 titles. Not relevant to iMovie 4. Yeah, he said, he couldn't find the Transitions in the version of iMovie 4 running on the demo machine. Did we know where they were?

No, man, we're into stills, sorry, we explained. We just use iMovie for slide shows.

So we couldn't resist launching iMovie, one of the more polished apps in the suite, to see if we could find the transitions. Sure, right there on the little toolbar. You just drag them to the Timeline.

So we had to try them out. We clicked the Photos button, got a peek at our iPhoto albums, opened one and started dragging Ken Burns effect zoom-ins onto the Timeline.

Then we hit the Transitions button and put a different transition between each five-second image.

It took a while to render the Ken Burns effect and a little while for each transition. But when the clip had been rendered, it played very nicely. Very, very nicely.

But just for fun again, we clicked on the iDVD button and told iMovie to make an iDVD project out of our clip. And iDVD launched again. Mysterious little bugger.

iDVD AGAIN

It loaded our iDVD project, for which we could pick various themes (all the 3.0 themes and the new 4.0 themes) and preview the production.

Weird. This time we took ourselves back to the shelf and tried that Custom install, making sure iDVD was checked.

Did it work? Nope. Back to the shelf with it!

iTUNES

Somewhere in the middle of our review of the Macworld keynote address, we realized we were confused. Was iTunes an application or a music store?

We like iTunes even though we don't have any playlists. Down in the bunker where we do all our keyboarding, we like to listen to Internet radio, which never gets our PowerBook so hot the fan turns on.

That's the one part of iLife '04 we already had installed, of course. And the one we ran without disappointment.

OF UPGRADES & SHELVES

Well, an upgrade is an upgrade. Our little trials and tribulations express our disappointment in how this one flies, certainly, but we'd rather be using the new versions than the old versions, just as a matter of policy (since it lets us install the inevitable updates).

We'd just rather be using them for free in the case of iPhoto, iMovie, iDVD and iTunes. We can live without GarageBand, which is certainly worth $49. But it's a different kind of iLife (or it would have been called iCaramba).

Still, we've touted iLife's ease of use repeatedly, so we were dumbfounded to find this package so obtuse. But we weren't alone it turned out.

The recent wedding of Larry Ellison of Oracle (and once an Apple board member) was photographed by Ellison's son David and Larry's friend Steve Jobs (still an Apple board member). But the local paper had no images of the private event at Ellison's estate because, well, David and Steve were still working on the albums.

Somehow it's always tougher in real life than it looks on the Macworld stage.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Fuji FinePix S7000 -- 12.3-Mp Images

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S7000/S70A.HTM on the Web site.)

MANUFACTURER OVERVIEW

Fujifilm has become one of the major players in the digicam field, making major strides in the marketplace. Their strengths have been in stylish sub-compact and entry-level zoom cameras with their very popular FinePix 6800 and FinePix 2600 models. Fuji started gaining ground in the enthusiast category as well though with their highly popular FinePix 6900.

Fuji followed the 6900 with the FinePix S602 Zoom. The S602 Zoom was built on the popular features of the 6900 (like the 6x optical zoom lens), but offered improved color fidelity and reduced image noise as well as enhanced shooting speed. The camera added support for both SmartMedia and CompactFlash memory cards (including IBM Microdrives) and offered significantly improved white balance for the incandescent lighting common in the U.S. The S602 also sported some genuinely unusual features, including an amazing 640x480, 30 frames/second motion capture mode, special high-ISO modes (to ISO 1600) that cleverly traded resolution for lower image noise and a couple of exceptionally handy motor-drive modes.

Because of the S602 Zoom's popularity among enthusiasts, Fuji upped the ante with the FinePix S7000. Offering many of the same capabilities of the S602 model, the S7000 now boasts the highest resolution of a consumer level digicam that we've seen with its 6.3-megapixel Super CCD HR that interpolates to 12.3 megapixels. The camera also features an extensive flash range and a higher resolution electronic optical viewfinder.

EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW

The $799 Fuji FinePix S7000 digicam features a traditional 35mm shape, giving it a serious appearance. Though it's larger than other FinePix models, it's still fairly compact, considering its large 6x zoom lens and exceptional range of features. The body appears to be almost entirely composed of structural plastic, but it nevertheless has a very solid feel.

The big news is the S7000's Super CCD HR, which produces high-quality, interpolated images as large as 4048x3040 pixels (12.3 megapixels). That's higher than any consumer-level camera currently on the market. Other improvements on the S602 Zoom include an extremely long flash range, extending to an amazing 27.9 feet at the full wide-angle setting. Additionally, the camera's electronic optical viewfinder has a much higher-resolution display with 235,000 pixels. The S602 Zoom's display offered 180,000 pixels (800x225), which isn't too shabby either.

Mimicking higher-end 35mm cameras, the S7000 also features a socket on the Shutter button for attaching a cable release. This is a useful tool when taking long exposures, as you can remotely release the shutter without risking any vibration. Like the S602 Zoom, the S7000 offers Pixel-Mixing Technology for high-quality VGA-resolution movies at an astonishing 30 frame/second frame rate, a High-Definition Color Processor for more accurate color and an excellent range of exposure features.

The S7000 features a well-designed, retractable lens with 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, allowing a variety of front-element add-on lenses to be used with the camera.

Most camera control is accomplished via external controls, so there's less reliance on the LCD menu system. Because the S7000 uses an electronic viewfinder system though, you can't conserve battery power by turning off the LCD screen. The control layout may seem daunting to the uninitiated, but I found it quite intuitive after shooting with the camera for a while. I found I could access commonly used shooting controls very quickly, thanks to an interface design that let me avoid the LCD menu system most of the time.

The electronic optical viewfinder is actually a miniaturized (0.44 inches) version of the larger LCD, showing the same information displays. An EVF/LCD button switches the viewfinder display between the two monitors, so only one is active at a time. As an eyeglass wearer, I appreciated both the inclusion of a dioptric adjustment on the EVF and its relatively high eyepoint. With 235,000 pixels, the EVF is also much easier on the eyes for viewing finer details and menu screens. The 1.8-inch color LCD monitor also has a very sharp display, with some useful focus enlargement options in record mode and a histogram display.

The Super EBC Fujinon 6x zoom lens (35-210mm equivalent) has an aperture range from f2.8-f8, manually and automatically adjustable. Focus ranges from 1.6 feet to infinity in normal AF mode and from 3.9 inches to 2.6 feet in Macro mode. A Super Macro mode focuses from 0.4 to 7.9 inches, about the closest macro range I've seen on a digicam, matched by only a small handful of models. The camera's autofocus system operates in either Single or Continuous AF modes, with an adjustable AF area. A focus switch on the left side of the camera goes between Single AF, Continuous AF and Manual focus modes and the focus ring around the end of the lens barrel adjusts the manual focus. The One-Touch AF button quickly snaps the image into focus in manual mode, letting you tweak the focus from there, while a Focus Check button enlarges the center of the frame 2x to help with manual focusing. Overall, the S7000 has some of the best focusing options I've seen in a prosumer-level digicam, although I do wish it had a numerical distance readout. In addition to the impressive 6x optical zoom, the S7000 also offers as much as 3.2x digital zoom, though image quality decreases with digital enlargement.

The S7000's exposure control ranges from full Auto to full Manual modes. A Power/Mode dial sets the camera to either Record or Playback modes, while the Exposure Mode dial on top of the camera features Manual, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Program AE, Auto, Scene Program and Movie exposure modes. Scene Program offers Portrait, Landscape, Sports and Night Scene. Shutter speeds range from 1/10,000 to 15 seconds in full Manual mode, with a Bulb setting for arbitrary exposures up to 15 seconds. The range decreases to 1/2000 to 1/4 second in Auto and Scene Program modes (three seconds in Night Scene mode) and 1/1000 to three seconds in Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Program modes.

In all exposure modes except Auto, Scene Program and Manual, Exposure Compensation is adjustable from -2 to +2 exposure values in one-third-step increments. By default, the S7000 uses a 64-zone, multi-segment metering system, but Average and Spot metering modes are also available. An AE Lock button locks the exposure reading independently of focus. Auto Exposure Bracketing 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, ISO sensitivity can be set to Auto, 200, 400 and 800 ISO equivalents (though the 800 setting automatically limits the resolution to three megapixels or less). White Balance choices include Auto, Daylight, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, Incandescent and two Custom (manual) settings. You can also adjust image sharpness. Self-Timer mode offers two- and 10-second countdowns. The camera's built-in, pop-up flash operates in Auto, Forced On, Forced Off, Red-Eye Reduction, Slow-Synchro and Red-Eye Reduction Slow-Synchro modes. An external flash hot shoe with a single contact accommodates a more powerful flash unit.

Three Continuous Shooting modes are available through the Drive menu: Top-5 Frame, Final-5 Frame and Long-Period Continuous Shooting. Long-Period mode is only available in Auto and forces the resolution to 3.0 megapixels or less, but allows very long sequences of images to be captured. Final-5 is unusual, in that the camera begins acquiring images continuously when you press the Shutter button and then saves the last five it shot before you released the shutter. This is great for capturing fleeting moments in sports and other fast-moving situations. Just hold down the Shutter button, then release it as soon as the event has occurred.

In Playback mode, a Voice Memo option records as much as 30 seconds of sound to accompany still images. Movie mode offers 640x480- and 320x240-pixel resolutions and records for as long as the memory card has available space, at a full 30 frames/second. For more creative shooting, the S7000's Multiple Exposure mode overlaps as many exposures as you like, producing a double-exposure effect.

Images are stored on either xD-Picture Cards or CompactFlash type II memory cards (a 16-MB xD-Picture Card comes with the camera). The camera also accommodates the IBM Microdrive, but since it uses the FAT16 file system, it can't access more than 2-GB on the latest solid-state and Microdrive cards, which are reaching capacities as high as 4-GB (6-GB and higher cards are well on their way). Quality choices include two 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 software CD includes Fuji's FinePix Viewer for image downloading and ImageMixer for creating CD albums, as well as a RAW converter for processing RAW format files. Power for the S7000 is provided by four AA-type alkaline or NiMH batteries and a set of alkaline batteries comes with the camera. An AC adapter is available as a separate accessory.

TEST RESULTS

Color: The S7000 produced generally pleasing color with good hue and saturation. The White Balance system handled most of the test lighting well. I typically chose the Manual and Auto settings as the most accurate (though Auto and Daylight produced nearly identical images in most instances). In the tough Indoor Portrait (without flash), Manual white balance produced a slight greenish cast, while Auto was just slightly warm, but the overall color with Auto was very good. On the Davebox target, it accurately distinguished the subtle tonal variations of the Q60 target and reproduced the large color blocks just slightly dark. Skin tones were generally good, but I wasn't crazy about how them in the harsh lighting of the Outdoor Portrait, where they looked splotchy. The difficult blue flowers were dark, though without any purple tint.

Exposure: The exposure system did a pretty good job, handling most of my test lighting fairly well. It slightly underexposed the Davebox target, but not badly. The camera's default tone curve is rather contrasty, which caused it to lose detail under harsh lighting and to show a limited dynamic range on my Far-Field test. The camera required slightly more positive exposure compensation than normal on the indoor portrait (without flash), but its performance was equivalent to others in most other settings.

Resolution/Sharpness: The S7000 performed exceptionally well on the laboratory resolution test chart. It started showing artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 1,000 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found strong detail out to at least 1,600 lines, although one could perhaps make an argument for 1650. Extinction of the target patterns didn't occur until about 2,000 lines and even there, the lines were still partially visible.

Image Noise: For all its other excellent attributes, image noise is the Achilles' heel of the S7000. Image noise may not be all that much higher than other cameras at ISO 200, but that's the lowest ISO the S7000 offers. When held up against results from competing cameras shot at their lowest ISO settings (typically ISO 100 or even 50), the S7000's images compare poorly.

Close-Ups: It performed very well in the macro category, capturing a minimum area of only 2.30x1.73 inches at the normal macro setting. Super Macro mode did even better, capturing a very tiny minimum area of 1.30x0.97 inches. Resolution was very high, showing a lot of fine detail in the dollar bill. However, the coins and brooch were soft due to the limited depth of field that comes with such a short shooting distance. There was a lot of softness in the left corners of the frame in both shots (fairly common in digicam ultra-close-ups, due to curvature of field in the macro optics) and color balance was slightly warm. The S7000's flash throttled down well for the normal macro area, though the exposure was slightly dim. The flash was ineffective with the SuperMacro setting, due to the extremely short shooting range.

Night Shots: The camera performed very well when shooting in dimly-lit conditions, producing clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, with good color at each ISO setting. Color balance at the lowest light level was slightly warm at the ISO 400 and 800 settings, but pretty accurate at ISO 200. The S7000's noise reduction system automatically kicks in at longer exposures and did a pretty good job. Surprisingly, there was less noise visible in the flat tints of the MacBeth chart in my low-light tests than in shorter exposures at higher light levels. But the more noise suppression that's applied, the more fine image detail suffers. Even at ISO 800, noise was surprisingly low, particularly given the S7000's poor noise figures at higher light levels.

The S7000's biggest limitation for low-light shooting was its autofocus system, which only functioned down to a bit less than 1 foot-candle of illumination. The EVF is also somewhat limited, producing a usable display down to only about 1/8 foot-candle. And it only brightens enough to be usable at that light level when the shutter button is half-pressed.

Optical Distortion: A good bit less than average at the wide-angle end, where I measured approximately 0.4 percent barrel distortion. The telephoto end fared a fair bit worse, measuring 0.7 percent pincushion distortion. A typical 3x zoom digicam lens has barrel distortion between 0.7-0.8 percent at wide-angle and zero to 0.3 percent pincushion at telephoto. Most long-zoom lenses fare worse though, so the S7000's lens plays well against its direct competitors. Chromatic aberration was a bit of a mixed bag. While the coloration from the chromatic aberration was fairly faint, the color extended eight or more pixels on either side of the target lines.

Viewfinder Accuracy: The electronic optical viewfinder proved to be very accurate, showing 99+ percent of the final frame area at both wide-angle and telephoto zoom settings. The lower measurement line was just barely cut off at the telephoto setting, but accuracy was still very good. The LCD monitor was also very accurate, since it shows the same view, just on a larger screen.

Shutter Lag and Cycle Time. Faster cycle times/buffer clearing with xD cards than even fast CF ones. A fairly fast camera overall, it fell a little short of the S602's shutter lag. While the S7000's shutter lag is about average, it does still show very good cycle time performance and its high-speed continuous modes are quite fast indeed. I was surprised to find a significant difference in performance between xD and CF cards. The S7000 cycled much faster for raw-format files with xD cards and showed both greater buffer depth and greatly reduced buffer clearing times with an xD memory card.

Battery Life: Excellent battery life. With a worst-case run time of just over three hours with 1600 mAh NiMH batteries, the S7000 offers very good run time, particularly if you use the latest high-capacity NiMH cells to power it. Worst-case run time with true 2000 mAh cells would be a bit over 3.3 hours, very good indeed.

CONCLUSION

After Fuji hit a home run with the S602 Zoom, I was eagerly awaiting the S7000. While the S7000 does indeed offer exceptional resolution and detail and some very nice continuous modes, its shutter lag is a bit longer than the S602 and its photos are plagued by higher than average levels of image noise.

In many cases, the image noise is severe enough that subtle subject detail is lost, eliminating much of the advantage of the higher-resolution sensor. This is likely due to the S7000's minimum ISO of 200. Most competing models offer minimum ISOs of 100 or even 50, with much lower noise levels. The S7000's color wasn't quite up to the level of the earlier S602 either, though it was pleasing enough.

Overall, I think Fuji just missed a home run with this camera. There's a lot to like, including a high-resolution and very accurate EVF, a very powerful flash unit, a good lens and some nice shooting options for action photographers. If Fuji could have kept the color and shutter response of the S602 and just boosted the resolution, the S7000 would have been a standout success. As it is, I suspect many potential users will be put off by its image noise levels.

Return to Topics.

Advanced Mode: A Stand-Up Editor

Just a few days ago, we were casually flipping through an interview with Walter Murch, the film editor most recently of Cold Mountain and an Oscar winner in both editing and sound for The English Patient. We were, that is, until one particular quote caught our eye.

"I think it's better to be standing when I edit," he said, "certainly for the way my mind works, because you're really dancing with the image."

In fact, when Murch edits, he stands at a drafting table, which holds his notes and keyboard as he watches monitors mounted at eye-level. "I would urge everybody to do it," he said. "The health benefits are great."

Before computers, we used to assemble magazine pages standing at a waist-high light table. We didn't think the health benefits were so great. Our knees were constantly bending the wrong way so we could peer over our work.

But we liked being upright as we cut galleys and laid out pages. Kind of felt like being a chef.

Keyboards, with their secretarial heritage, tend to encourage one to sit. And sitting is why we call our portables laptops. But they work just fine without a lap.

In fact a laptop, a graphic tablet and a drafting table are not at all a bad setup for editing images standing up. We tried it.

We cranked up the old drawing table we like for its accommodating incline, moved our wireless laptop over there with the graphics tablet attached and started dancing with our images. A little music helps, by the way.

It wasn't at all uncomfortable. We don't dally over our image editing operations (like we do our writing assignments), so we didn't pine for a stool.

Give it a try. This is one tip we can "highly" recommended.

Return to Topics.

In the Forums

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

Read about the Olympus C-5060 Zoom at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee96034

Visit the Nikon Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f781

Martyn asks about ASA comparisons at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9777e/0

Peter asks about choosing a camera at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee975c2/0

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

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Just for Fun: Complications

We stumbled into our bunker the other morning, raring to go, only to discover the local electrical utility didn't share our enthusiasm. A power failure of an hour and half kept us off line.

When the lights came back on, we rubbed our hands together and pitched right in, only to discover our Internet service provider was clapping with one hand. We found out about their outage by dialing the voice support number after we failed to log on using our broadband, our dial-up and our smoke signal connections.

So we reluctantly climbed out of the bunker wondering how we were going to kill the morning and who we could bill for it. A free morning.

We made another cup of coffee and sat down in our Scandinavian Stressless Chair and turned to the latest Alan Ayckbourn trilogy, "Damsels in Distress." Ayckbourn is the 64-year-old English dramatist famous for such pick-up lines as, "You've got a real knack for salad." We don't usually recommend reading drama (it goes much quicker if you watch it), but Ayckbourn is fun either way. And I don't have to explain why there's nothing like a trilogy to get you through an ISP outage.

As we settled in, we perused the cover, turning it over as if there might be special markings on the bottom indicating the value of the piece. The cover itself was an unremarkable composite of an office building before a darkened sky with cast members in the foreground.

But the markings on the back told a different story. A complicated story. "Foreground photography by Tony Bartholomew. Background photography (c) Corbis."

We found that appropriate for an Ayckbourn, actually. A subtle yet hilarious composite of modern characters. The subtlety is that poor Tony doesn't get a copyright, despite having taken the trouble of shooting the cast during rehearsal. But Corbis, the Bill Gates-owned image library, gets a copyright notice of sorts -- for the unremarkable background.

Tony's stuff is a lot more interesting to look at than the Corbis office building and sky shot. In fact, if they had given Tony a coffee break, he might have managed a better shot of the sky with a building in it.

But, geez, the "image" is a composite.

Have we reached the stage where we have to roll the credits for every contributor to a composite? Costumes by Buster Seam, Set Design by E. Rector Sett, Composition courtesy of Adobe Photoshop, Cloud Formation by Sue Preambean, etc. And how about a nice hand for the audience, too? You guys are great!

The design firm that did the cover got top billing, we might note. And while we don't mind their mention of either Tony or Corbis, we are a little bothered by the academic division between foreground and background photography.

As we drummed our fingers on our inert keyboard, we were reminded of that famous observation about power by Lord Acton (or was it Ayckbourne?). Power corrupts (excuse our paraphrase) and unreliable power tends to complicate things.

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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: Cable Release

Thanks for the tip about the two-second self-timer usage.

But this brings up a point. Why is it that no digicams have a Cable Release feature? The two-second self-timer just does not fill that need. The industry seems to abhor that very useful feature, providing neither a mechanical cable release, nor a remote control electronic cable release.

The technology cannot possibly be expensive. Many cars have keyless entry (remote key) and thus the cost must be quite low by now.

-- Steve

(That bugs us, too, Steve. We think the explanation is that the shutter is often (the Fuji S7000 above a rare exception) simply not mechanical, like a cable release, but electronic. The solution, then, is a remote. A number of digicams actually ship with a small battery-operated remote. While that's often an expensive accessory, sometimes the included software also lets you trigger the shutter remotely via the USB cable. -- Editor)

RE: Remodeling

I enjoyed your article titled "Just for Fun: Remodeling With a Digicam." I also have been using my camera during our current home addition project. The early pictures at each stage of construction can be very helpful when trying to locate wiring, plumbing and structure members after the drywall has gone up. You could call it digital X-ray vision! Looking forward to another year of great newsletters. Keep 'em comin'...

-- Jim Walker

(Great idea! Things are not always where they were put in the drawings <g>. We did document the plumbing when we had it repaired (helpful for finding the wall studs, too). Often these are tough shots (poor lighting, tight quarters) so the immediate feedback beats the overalls off waiting for prints, too. -- Editor)

RE: Movies

I'm a new subscriber to your newsletter and just received my first copy. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I would like to find a good camera that makes good 640x480 movies at 30 fps.

-- Lenita Smith

(Welcome aboard, Lenita! Fortunately, we always do spec the Movie mode sizes and frame rates in our reviews. Watch also for any artificial limit to length (some digicams will cut a movie off after a number of seconds, usually because it fills the buffer). And if sound is important to you, make sure you're able to record with sound. Sound is often disabled on cameras with zoom lenses to avoid picking up camera noise. -- Editor)

RE: Post-Its for Filters

Regarding your review of the Zenon MagneFlash, you say, "Too bad there isn't a 3M Post-It adhesive for filters." Perhaps there is. At the local discount "Super Office Stuff," wipe-on sticks of 3M Post-It Restickable Adhesive Glue Stick have been available for at least two years. You might try applying a thin coating around the perimeter of the IR filter or the flash using a Q-Tip and contact the two together. Since you are not involving image transmission, just light, I don't think it would affect the operation of either the camera or flashes. Why not experiment?

-- Jim Skladany

(Because we'd have to spend actual money, Jim! Are you crazy?! Actually, that's a good idea. 3M is famous for residue-less adhesives, which is what this calls for. Thanks for the tip! -- Editor)

Editor's Notes

The Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group is distributing code written by Digimarc to prevent applications from opening and printers from printing several nation's currencies.

According to Adobe director of product management Kevin Connor the anti-counterfeiting code is built into Photoshop CS as well as most color printers. Jasc's Paint Shop Pro also is reputed to contain the code that makes it impossible to open images of the new $20 bill and most European currencies. The code apparently looks for a constellation of small circles (seen as yellow "20" marks on the back of the U.S. $20 bill).

For information about the new currency and legal restrictions on reproduction, visit the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (http://www.moneyfactory.com/document.cfm/18/117).


On Jan. 28, Olympus (http://www.olympusamerica.com) will introduce a free online firmware update service for the Olympus E-System's camera bodies, lenses and flash units. E-System users can update their camera bodies, lenses and flash units through the Olympus Viewer software included with the E-1 cameras or the Olympus Studio software. The whole process takes less than five minutes.


iView (http://www.iview-multimedia.com) has released MediaPro 2.0.2 [M] and is working on a Windows version for release shortly.


Reindeer Graphics (http://www.reindeergraphics.com) has released its $499.95 Focus Extender 1.0 [MW], a Photoshop plug-in that retains the most in-focus region of several images in blending them into one image.


Ulead (http://www.ulead.com) has launched DVD MovieFactory 3 [W], all-in-one CD and DVD burning software, in two new versions. The $69.95 Advanced Version adds advanced burning and encoding features to the $39.95 Standard Version.


Jetsoft (http://www.ScanHelp.com) has released its $27.95 Jetsoft Viewing Booth Pro 1.0 [W], a quick loading, fast to learn, full featured, multiple page image editor.


Photo2DVD Software (http://www.photo-to-dvd.com) has released Photo2DVD Studio 3 [W] to easily create DVD slide shows (with music, text and video clips) for display on TV. It includes nearly 150 transitions and can burn in VCD, SVCD or DVD format.


Kanguru Solutions (http://www.kanguru.com) has unveiled its $199.95 KanguruFC-RW, a portable flash card burner that allows digital camera users to copy flash card data onto a CD without a computer.


Powered by the USB port, the $9.99 USB Beverage Warmer (http://www.compucable.com/usb) jackets your mug to keep it warm 30 minutes longer. Good for baby bottles, too, according to an informed source.

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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:

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Happy snapping!

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

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