The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 7, Number 1 7 January 2005

Copyright 2005, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 140th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Welcome to all our new readers (but no refunds). In this issue, we take a look at what Kodak's EasyShare-One is all about before admiring one of Nikon's finest Coolpix digicams. Then we explain PictBridge and recount an offline shopping adventure. But don't miss the letters -- it's our favorite feature.


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:
DxO
http://www.dxo.com

One-click better images for your DSLR or Bridge Camera with DxO Optics Pro 2.0 (JPEG/RAW)!

Award-winning software automatically removes distortion, vignetting, lens softness and chromatic aberrations in just seconds.

Now supports the Raw file format thanks to unique DxO Raw Engine, free until Dec. 31.

Download a free demo of DxO Optics Pro and also save $20 with our Imaging Resource special -- enter promotional code 92RES when checking out from the store, valid until Dec. 31 for purchases over $60.

E-Book Systems
http://www.flipalbum.com

Looking for a better way to organize and share your digital photos?

FlipAlbum Suite from E-Book Systems may just be what you need.

FlipAlbum lets you create realistic 3-D photo albums with pages you can flip, like a real photo album -- complete with thumbnails, a table of contents and an index page. It's easy to use, with a natural and intuitive user interface.

Download your free trial copy today from http://www.flipalbum.com/dl/ir_01/.

Maha
http://www.mahaenergy.com/

The MH-C204W takes the top spot as Imaging-Resource's favorite charger.

  • Integrated, 100-240V worldwide power supply
  • Charges two AA or four AAA NiMH batteries in one hour
  • Three-stage charging process "tops off" batteries
  • Conditions and rejuvenates batteries
  • Very portable at only 4 oz.!

For a full review, visit: http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/C204W/C204WA.HTM

For more information, visit: http://www.mahaenergy.com

To purchase online, visit Thomas Distributing, an authorized premier distributor, and look for their Limited-Time, Special Introductory Promotion!


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: Behind the Kodak Wi-Fi Digicam

Kodak's introduction at the Consumer Electronics Show of its $699 EasyShare-One Wi-Fi digicam comes 30 years after it concocted "the world's first known operational electronic CCD still image camera" (http://www.digicamhistory.com/1970s.html). With a 100x100-pixel sensor that required 23 seconds to record an image to cassette tape, that pioneering effort may seem forgettable. But that anniversary was one of the first things Kodak's Michael McDougall mentioned in our December phone interview to discuss the company's latest digicam. McDougall is the director of products and services for Kodak's worldwide public relations in digital and film imaging systems.

From McDougall's point of view, the new EasyShare-One is another pioneering effort. Just how that's so isn't immediately obvious. It's easy to dismiss the EasyShare-One as a 4-Mp, 3x zoom digicam with Wi-Fi. To do so, though, is to miss the point.

SHARING

The concept, McDougall said, "is to turn the digicam into a sharing device."

You take a picture and wait for it to display on the LCD monitor. Delighted? What's the next thing you do? Share it. You pass the camera to your subject, who laughs and shows it to the person next to them. And so on.

That primitive rite won't disappear with this model, but it got Kodak thinking. And, as the New York Times reported this week, Kodak's strategy for competing with Sony and Canon, among others, has been to study ordinary mortals "to learn how taking and printing pictures fit into their daily lives." The company went so far as to send otherwise unemployed social scientists into the field to observe camera buyers in stores.

What they discovered was that ease of use was a neglected but much desired feature. So, with anthropologists and cognitive psychologists studying ease of use, they developed the EasyShare line, resolving any technical compromises in favor of simplicity. Today the EasyShare brand accounts for nearly 19 percent of U.S. digicam sales, second only to Sony.

Kodak's research convinced the company that the cord to the computer had to be cut. George Eastman's promise "you press the button, we'll do the rest" had become strangled in USB cables. So Kodak developed the EasyShare dock, selling a million the first year.

And then, of course, Kodak gave away the software. The EasyShare image organizer (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/ESY/ESY.HTM) "lives up to its name," we wrote in our review.

With the EasyShare-One Kodak has cut another cable. But that isn't half of the story.

THAT LCD

McDougall highlighted the large, 3-inch LCD first. It's big enough that users will not have to decipher icons. The famous simplicity of EasyShare buttons now becomes a touch-screen with soft buttons that have text to explain what everything does.

And the LCD can, as the product shots show, be swiveled around to 1) get a shot at any angle and 2) lock into the camera like a camcorder screen to make in-camera slide shows more presentable.

The touch screen even comes with a stylus so you can interact with the camera much as you might with a PDA. We imagine there will be some use for an on-screen keyboard, to log into hot spots, say.

All that suggests there's a little more under the screen than you might find in your typical digicam.

DIGITAL WALLET

In fact, the camera's 256-MB internal storage is dedicated to holding 1,500 images that are large enough to make 4x6 prints. If you've ever saved your favorite family photos on your camphone, you get the idea. But on the Kodak, they're not only large enough to make real prints, they can also be easily navigated. You can organize them into unlimited albums and search images by date.

The software behind all this uses Flash to provide what McDougall called a "richer interface," more interactive but requiring very little storage space compared to the bitmapped interfaces in common use today.

THE WI-FI GAME

The camera has two SD slots. One is for storing images, of course, but the other is for the optional Wi-Fi card.

Wi-Fi is simply wireless communication between compatible devices over larger distances and greater speeds than Bluetooth. A Wi-Fi connection is as fast as an Ethernet connection and accessible all over the house, to simplify a bit.

On the EasyShare-One, Wi-Fi enables immediate sharing. Connected to a router at Starbucks or one in your home or another at a public Wi-Fi connection (say at a graduation), you can even email an image through your Ofoto connection (just renamed Kodak EasyShare Gallery). And you can see your Ofoto/Gallery albums on the camera, too.

Of course, you can sync to your wireless EasyShare printer dock for printing 4x6 images (take it with you to the party) and to your PC with a wireless card to transfer images without ever having to unravel a USB cable. And if your computer is running OS X, the EasyShare One will announce itself on the network using Rendezvous.

We asked McDougall why Kodak had chosen Wireless B over the slightly faster Wireless G. Among the factors he cited were manufacturing issues, a shorter development cycle, lower price and compatibility with more hot spots and home routers. But in testing, he said, they found B was adequate for moving 4-Mp images.

We also wondered why the Wi-Fi card was external and not built-in. Again lower price with a choice of venders was a factor. But it also makes Wi-Fi an add-on option for $100 more.

MORE GOODIES

We were surprised to learn that Movie mode is broadcast quality with 30 frames per second at 640x480-pixel resolution. We aren't sure how that flies over Wireless B but having video capability in your digicam is a welcome feature.

A faster processor supports the new Flash interface but handles only the JPEG file format (nothing fancy like Adobe DNG).

SERVICE

McDougall also confirmed Kodak's commitment to create a Lexus-like level of service for the EasyShare-One. "We want people to use this camera," he said. Owners will have priority help and call status to resolve problems promptly.

PROVISIONAL CONCLUSION

The EasyShare-One isn't simply a 4-Mp digicam with Wi-Fi. It's a new game, poised somewhere between what you can do with a camphone and how you handle a PDA mixed with the maturity of digital imaging technology.

As we thought about it, we couldn't think of many companies that could make this happen. Wi-Fi licensing itself isn't cheap. Writing a camera operating system with a Flash interface is no small task. Having some site to link to is not just a question of partnerships. Understanding digital imaging from capture to print is not something you outsource.

With Kodak's acquisition of Ofoto in 2001, the EasyShare-One already had a place to send pictures and retrieve albums. With the wireless EasyShare dock, it could already print anywhere without a computer. With the spacious LCD monitor, you can share the moment the minute it happens and enjoy a PDA-sized desktop.

The EasyShare-One is still a work in progress. But outright prolonged applause to Kodak for making something this sophisticated this simple. It's what George Eastman was talking about, isn't it?

Return to Topics.

Feature: Nikon Coolpix 8800 -- 8-Mp Long Zoom With VRooom!

By SHAWN BARNETT and DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CP8800/CP88A.HTM on the Web site. See also the similar Coolpix 8400 at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CP8400/CP84A.HTM with a 24-85mm 35mm equivalent wide angle zoom if interiors are your haunt.)

Nikon cameras are a little like BMWs. Prestigious refinement available at many price levels. While some who kick the tires of a Nikon Coolpix 8800 do so because they can't afford (or justify) the full Nikon SLR experience, quite a few more prefer the compact performance package the smaller EVF-based camera offers, as well as the myriad abilities this more traditional digicam has that a D100 or D70 dSLR doesn't. Just as a BMW M3 owner would never trade the rush of their 3-series speed demon for the comfort of a BMW 7-series, Coolpix 8800 owners might pity the pro with his bulky $10,000 rig, bag of fine lenses and woefully uncool safari vest.

Having now spent time with a production model, I can say that it is more like a BMW M3 (tuned, that is, for speed and peak excellence) than the 7-series. Building on the heritage of the Coolpix 8700, the 8800 has been souped up enough that it's both a good first choice for a serious intermediate photographer as well as a good upgrade for the happy 5700 or 8700 owner.

LONG ZOOM

Let's start with the lens. From the front it looks like it wants to swallow something. Some of that is illusion from the large bezel surrounding the lens, but there is a little more glass there than we've seen on past models. It is a nice Nikkor 8.9-89m 10x zoom lens (35-350 35mm equivalent), a pretty significant increase from the 8700's 280mm maximum 8x zoom.

What makes all that zoom more exciting can be described in two letters: VR. Nikon has built their sophisticated Vibration Reduction technology into the 8800 to make handheld shots with such a long zoom enter the realm of the possible. You can actually see your heartbeat affect a shot when you're zoomed in to maximum, but just turn on VR and press the shutter halfway. You'll see the image on the LCD begin to float and stabilize as the camera's Vibration Reduction removes the shakiness inherent in most pulse-driven mammals. You can also expect to see much sharper low light images, as when shooting indoors.

And here's where we see what the 8800 can do that a camera like the D70 simply cannot. Features like Movie mode, Continuous modes and voice recording. But what comes most to mind after vibration reduction is Best Shot Selector mode, one of Nikon's most innovative tools to get a usable shot in a bad situation. BSS mode uses digital to its greatest advantage. The truth is that even with VR, you can still get motion blur if the light is too low, but BSS can help you pull it off without filling up your card. Just select BSS mode via the Record menu, brace yourself as well as you can, hold down the shutter and fire off up to 10 shots. The camera will look at each, decide which of the shots has the most detail and save just that one good shot to the card, discarding the others.

EVF

Although not crazy about the necessary evil of electronic viewfinders in long-zoom cameras, I was particularly impressed by the EVF on the 8800. I found an unusually high eyepoint that made use by eyeglass wearers downright easy and the diopter correction had enough range to adjust for the uncorrected vision of all here at the office. Nobody's glasses even came in contact with the rubber guard surrounding the viewfinder. The higher res screen inside the 8800's EVF makes manual focusing and focus confirmation easier, especially in bright outdoor light.

In fact, this is the first digicam where I found myself preferring the EVF over the larger LCD about half the time. This may have as much to do with the EVF's relative excellence as the camera's overall big-camera feel that tricks me into thinking I'm using an SLR. Of course, one of the benefits of traditional digicam design is that a live, tilt/swivel LCD gives you yet another leg up on that pro photographer.

CONTROLS

The 8800 does seem to be all about having more than one way to do certain critical things. You can set Resolution, ISO and White balance in at least three different places. I use all but one when shooting, mostly because the other two are more obvious. The first location is the Mode dial. Though I'm glad these functions were moved from their location on the left side of the lens on the 8700, I'm actually not crazy about their being relocated to the Mode dial. I love that they've included a Mode dial on the 8800, but a Mode dial is for modes. Settings belong on a button that can be overridden by the system with a half-press on the shutter button when a shot arises. If I'm fiddling with the White Balance setting, ISO or Resolution to get an upcoming shot, I'm three to five clicks of the Mode dial back to a suitable capture mode: not exactly speedy, nor conducive to emergency setting changes.

As a result, I more often adjust these settings in the more tedious but less dangerous LCD menu. But there are two other ways. One is My Menu on the LCD, where you can pick five sub-menu items important to your shooting style for quick access. The other is the Function button, which can be assigned one of these functions for instant access. I would most likely select ISO for this button, since this is what I adjust most often. My Menu is actually useful if you take the time to analyze your own usage of the camera, but I wish there were a way to turn it off and just allow me full access to the menu immediately.

Hold the 8800 in two hands or one hand and you feel like a pro, holding a camera just the way it's supposed to be held for the most stable shot. Though the lens is bigger and adds a little more heft, the hand grip is close enough to the lens that there's little perceptible twist-away toward the lens. With a two-handed grip, your left hand sits comfortably around and under the lens housing. Every time I hold the camera this way I want to pull the camera to my eye like an SLR! Since I shoot vertical so often and because this camera feels and fits like a pro SLR, I'd really like a vertical grip.

For the rest of the controls, I wouldn't change a thing. I really didn't like the buttons on the lens barrel on past models, but though a button and switch remain on the left, at least they're the right buttons. The AF mode button should be on the lens barrel, as should the Vibration Reduction switch. They're lens functions you'd expect to find on the lens. I would have liked to see a three-stage VR switch, allowing the user to select between Active and Normal mode as conditions change. But all the other buttons on the back -- the Five-way rocker, the zoom control and Command dial -- all work very well. I even like the CF door, which, though it doesn't latch, does stay out of the way without opening until you want it to. Perfect. This is a well-constructed and well-thought-out design, small in all the right ways and big where necessary.

FLASH

I also like the flash system. You don't have to depend on a button-activated servo to pull up the pop up flash, you can just grab and pull it up with your fingers.

The other huge improvement is you can use an important SB-600/800DX flash feature previously unsupported: zoom of the external flash head. Attach the SB-600/800DX, fire it up, zoom the lens, half-press the shutter release and the flash head zooms to roughly match the field of view of the lens.

Finally, a major feature of the SB-600/800/Coolpix 8800 combo is that both offer true Through The Lens flash metering on the camera. This is a significant benefit, particularly with the long-ratio zoom lens, making it possible to get accurate flash exposures, even when zoomed way in on a subject that's a significantly different color/reflectance than the background. Few prosumer-level digicams offer true TTL flash metering and even fewer do so when used with external flash units.

SHOOTING EXPERIENCE

Shooting with the 8800 has been a great experience. It handles well, feels great in the hand, has a ton of features, a great lens, oodles of resolution and an effective anti-shake system. We've had a string of dull, cloudy days here in Atlanta, so we haven't had a chance to shoot many Gallery shots with it yet. My experience with using the prototype 8800 for family photos was very positive though and Luke and Dave's work with the production model to collect the test images was good as well. Though I've had some trouble with focusing speed in very low light situations, I found shooting in good light to be no problem at all. (I also learned that the camera was much more responsive to the shutter if I selected a single AF point, rather than letting it choose the closest part of the subject to focus on.) The camera focused quickly enough and obeyed my commands to shoot quickly after I pressed the shutter. There is a minor post-focus LCD freeze that seldom lasts long enough to be noticed when holding the shutter down. I really don't like this normally, but in this case I don't think it's a problem. I only noticed it after someone pointed it out.

I've also had fun with the extensive Continuous capture modes. I'm not a big motor-drive guy anymore. The ability to fire off three or more shots per second is seldom useful in the real-world shooting I do. It's fun, no question, but not usually necessary. In people shots, particularly, it's more distracting to the subject than helpful to the artist. But I found the Ultra High Speed mode to be excellent for some types of people shots. Though they're only 640x480 in size, you get to capture up to 100 images at 30 frames per second. If you're looking for a sure way to catch a fleeting expression or solve the problem of a chronic blinker and don't mind the reduced resolution, this is great fun.

A recent trip to a baseball game showed a more obvious reason to use the Ultra HS mode: catching the moves of a pitcher at 30 fps. It's amazing to see how unnaturally the pitcher's arm seems to twist back, then slingshot the ball forward when he's throwing a 95 mph fast ball. Remember, these were only 640x480 images, so I'm not able to count the hairs on the pitcher's arm, but I was shooting from up in the cheap seats and my frame was covering the circumference of the mound; imagine what I'd have gotten from a box seat!

The one drawback to Ultra High Speed mode is that no matter how many pictures you capture in other modes after doing an Ultra HS shot, the UHS images will always appear first in Playback mode. And with the ability to capture 100 images in just over three seconds, you're going to be wasting a lot of time looking at nearly identical 640x480 images just trying to get back to the 8-megapixel image you just shot.

This is actually a folder naming problem. Each sequence captured in UHS mode is saved in its own folder. But the camera names each UHS folder so it precedes the default active image folder named NIKON. This means that in Playback mode any (and all) UHS images always display before even more recently shot normal images stored in the NIKON folder.

There's unfortunately no complete solution to this problem. The simple workaround is to go into the Folder sub-menu in Playback mode and select only the NIKON folder (or other folder you may have created yourself) for Playback. This will effectively hide any UHS files from view during normal browsing. The downside is you'll have to go back to the Folder sub-menu to re-enable viewing of the other folders when you want to look at your UHS shots. What would really help would be a feature in the Playback mode to navigate beyond Index view into a Folder view to switch folders.

Other Continuous modes are plentiful enough that the curious user will spend a lot of time with this digicam and get interesting results. Most popular will be Continuous High, which captures up to five full-res images at 2.3 fps. The 5-shot buffer mode is a good concept, but Nikon's implementation isn't terribly useful. The idea is to have the camera continuously capture images at a high rate, then save only the last five when you release the shutter button. The problem with the 8800's 5-shot buffer mode is that it's slow, at about 1.4 seconds/shot (0.7 fps). I may be getting old, but my own reaction time is certainly quicker than 1.4 seconds, so the 5-shot buffer really doesn't do much for me.

The one performance-related aspect I didn't like though, was how slowly it wrote to the memory card. There's been some speculation that the camera actually performs faster with slower memory cards, the theory being these cards better matched the camera's internal operating speed. That clearly wasn't the case with our production sample. We tested it with a wide range of memory cards and found that, while cards faster than 4x produced only very slight improvements in buffer-clearing times, the faster cards were never slower than slow cards.

Nikon's best prosumer camera, the 8800 goes up against a handful of other long-zoom EVF prosumer designs from other manufacturers. I don't think any particular model has become the clear leader in this category, despite some remarkable efforts and features. Judging by design, feel and overall usability though, I think the 880 is the embodiment of what Nikon does well. It has all the best features they've included in other digicams over the years, with the key components -- most notably the lens -- pushed a little further.

The result is a camera with an impressive zoom made much more usable by a very effective vibration reduction system, but that's still small enough to stuff in a light jacket pocket. It is certainly more compact than many of its competitors. With all these features packed into one small package, the 8800 user gets a camera that -- for most prosumer purposes at least -- easily rivals that pro photographer's heavy camera bag bulging with lenses. It's a lot like a complete Nikon photo system in one camera, with a camcorder stuffed in one pocket. (Safari vest optional.)

CONCLUSION

Based on our initial review of a prototype, we concluded the 8800 was one of Nikon's best prosumer cameras ever. Having now tested a production-level 8800, that conclusion still holds, despite the usual minor limitations of any camera. Its controls and ergonomics were really just right, its long-ratio zoom lens was impressive and its VR technology unusually effective. Image quality was excellent, with loads of resolution, in-camera sharpening that struck a good balance between perceived sharpness and minimal artifacts, good (if somewhat bright) color and a lens that kept chromatic aberration largely in check yet maintained good sharpness in the corners of the frame.

Our complaints were mainly about speed. Shutter response is very good to excellent, with full-autofocus shutter lag of just over a half a second, regardless of the lens focal length setting. But, the shutter response was only that good if the camera was waiting for you to take the next shot. If it was still writing to the memory card, shutter lag stretched to a ponderous 1.55 seconds, too long for a camera of this caliber. Single-shot cycle time was a merely-average 2.7 seconds. Continuous-mode speed was pretty good at 2.3 fps, but it took the camera a long time to clear its buffer and it didn't take much advantage of memory cards with speed ratings faster than 4x or so. Another minor niggle was the camera's somewhat contrasty tone curve (although its image adjustment menu option was some help) and its tendency to underexpose subjects with strong highlights.

The bottom line is that the Coolpix 8800 is a truly fine camera and a powerful photographic tool, with excellent optics and image quality. Clearly a Dave's Pick.

Return to Topics.

Beginners Flash: The PictBridge Shortcut

If you've shopped for a printer recently, you may have noticed a new breed. Along with the familiar USB printer and fancier printers sporting card readers, some manufacturers are offering a third alternative called the PictBridge printer (http://www.cipa.jp/english/pictbridge).

These models are a bit more expensive than USB-only versions and a bit less expensive than the reader-equipped models. They offer a USB connection in the front of the printer designed not for a computer but a camera. A PictBridge-compatible camera that has built-in printing firmware.

There's a growing number of cameras that can send images directly to a printer using PictBridge technology. With a PictBridge camera, you just connect the camera to your PictBridge printer with the camera's USB cable and you can print directly from your camera to the printer. No need to fire up a computer, transfer photos, launch an image editor, resize and crop your shots just to get a print.

Unlike proprietary direct printing strategies, PictBridge is an industry standard supported by Canon (including the i9900), Epson, Hewlett-Packard (even their all-in-one printers), Sony (with a dye sub model), Olympus and Fuji.

All PictBridge devices offer three basic features:

  1. A direct camera to printer connection

  2. The ability to print a single image

  3. Uniform error messages like "Out of Paper" to report problems

More advanced PictBridge devices go even further by supporting these PictBridge features:

  1. The ability to print multiple images

  2. The ability to print more than one copy of an image

  3. The ability to specify the print size

Even more advanced features include printing an index print of all the images on your flash memory, printing all the images, printing part of an image specified by a clipping area, printing with a date stamp and aborting a print job. Both your PictBridge camera and printer have to support an advanced feature to actually use it.

When you're ready to print, you connect your camera to a PictBridge printer using the camera's USB cable. The software built into your camera automatically recognizes your printer just as your printer recognizes your camera.

After they recognize each other, your camera compares its PictBridge functions to your printer's functions. If your printer supports your camera's advanced features, they're enabled.

Your digicam displays these functions using its LCD menu system in Playback mode. A message will suggest you press the Menu button to proceed, where a Print icon will be selected. Press OK and you can select from a set of options that may include printing all the images in the current folder or the current image or selected images or a number of other options.

Once you've made your selection, another Print menu lets you set the Size and Quantity of prints. Press OK again and the message "Printing" appears superimposed on the current image until the print job completes.

In short, you simply 1) select the images you'd like to print, 2) set the number of copies and print size and 3) send them to the printer using the LCD menu commands. The printer relays the status of the print job to the camera and it reports back to you using the LCD monitor, showing a progress bar during printing.

Most importantly, however, at the other end of your USB cable, a beautiful print is coming out of your printer! It could be a 4x6 from a Sony dye sub or a 13x19-inch poster from the Canon i9900.

You don't need to be anywhere near a computer to get a print. Or worry about any kind of color calibration. You don't have to transfer all your images from your flash memory card to your hard drive. You don't have to launch your image editing software. You don't have to color balance your images or crop them to the correct aspect ratio for your print.

If your digicam doesn't have PictBridge, see if there's a firmware upgrade from the manufacturer that provides it.

Then all you have to do is plug your USB cable into your printer and scroll to the Print command. It's the shortest way from your image to a print.

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 Canon EOS 20D at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee9ad5d

Visit the Accessories Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2e5

Phang asks about the difference between SLR and 'normal' cameras at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9ca22/0

Keith asks about the best macro setup at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9cb4f/0

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

Return to Topics.

Just for Fun: Offline Shopping Sitcom

Funny story, possible pilot. Wise guy wants to buy all-in-one printer for girlfriend's holiday gift. Checks specs and prices on the Web. Even downloads manual and actually reads it. Sold. But decides to buy offline. Walks into deserted office supply store, picks up a box at the right price and walks to the register. Signs up for some privacy-battering deal (he's not shy) and gets a big cash discount plus quarterly rebate and balloon drop. Who knew?

Makes gift presentation including installation and spends an hour trying to get the box to admit it has ink cartridges, gives up and takes it back the next day. Still deserted (nobody buys office supplies during the holidays). Clerks swaps out the box, no problem, apologizes for the manufacturer's ISO 9000 quality management program. Offers free coffee, night on the town. Possible sequel.

Wise guys returns to crime scene and installs new box. It scans like a thief, copies in color, prints 4x6 photos like Shutterfly and reads CompactFlash cards like a college graduate. Wise guy looks like a genius. Cut to commercial.

Convinced of genius, wise guy says, "I don't know why everybody raves about online shopping. It would have taken me weeks to straighten this mess out online."

Girlfriend deadpans, "Yeah, hon, you know the best places to get stuff that doesn't work." Roll credits, amazon.com spot.

Return to Topics.

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!

Return to Topics.

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: VueScan

Thanks for a well-written and fair article of VueScan. Although I've been using it for some time, I still learned from your review. Perhaps Ed should include some of it in his documentation.

You mention that after you profile your scanner, you can select the emulsion in the Color tab and be delighted. But then you say that you use an IT8 target. These IT8 targets are for slide film (or for flatbed paper scans). There are no IT8 targets for color negative film (or are there?). So do you profile with the IT8 slide film or the paper target? Thanks in advance!

-- Wei Chong

(The IT8 targets are either reflective for flatbeds or film for transparency adapters on flatbeds and film scanners. The targets don't profile media, however. They profile the scanner itself. Each color spot on an IT8 profile has been measured and the measurement recorded in an accompanying data file. When your scanner scans that target, its output is compared to the info in the data file. The resulting profile compensates for any difference. So profiling doesn't worry about what you scan (color slides, negatives, etc.), it worries about your scanner's biases and corrects for them against known values.... By selecting a particular film type in the Color tab, you tell your scanner (profiled or not) what it's looking at. It behaves a bit differently for different color negative emulsions, delivering a better conversion, although you can do quite well with a generic setting, too. -- Editor)

RE: View & Sort

Jasc's Paint Shop Photo Album 5 seems to meet his criteria. I am able to increase the size of the thumbnails so that 4 barely fit on the screen, either by using the View menu or the slider at the bottom right of the screen. The Print feature offers a wide variety of choices, including four or six per page. It's not shareware, but there is a free trial version and the list price is $45 for the download version, less if you qualify for an upgrade.

Always find something interesting in every issue -- happy holidays!

-- Marty Kraus

I use Irfanview (http://www.irfanview.com) and its plug-ins a lot. It contains a Thumbnail option to view all the images and movie files as well. The next positive thing: it is absolutely free! Cheers and a happy new year!

-- Marcel

iView Media is excellent.

-- Linda Morland

BreezeBrowser Pro can do this.

-- Dierk Haasis

ACDSee. It's always ACDSee.

-- Ron Lynch

Unless I misunderstand the question, I don't think what Bruce wants is at all uncommon. I have ACDSee 7.0. It sorts by any number of criteria, it adjusts thumbnail size on the screen by use of a slider that varies the thumbnail size continuously. It prints a contact sheet and you can choose how many columns, thus the size of the images on the contact sheet and you can print a caption under each image with any of the file or exif data you want.

-- Tom Rathburn

(Thanks to all. As you point out, Tom, many higher end apps can do this. But we think Bruce is looking for a little utility to quickly sort through and grade images. Cameraid (http://www.cameraid.com) and PhotoReviewer (http://www.sticksoftware.com) on the Mac do this very nicely. -- Editor)

RE: Unlocking a Keychain Cam

I received a keychain camera and there is no software on the CD software so I can't get my pictures off the camera. Please help.

-- Steve

(Connect the keychain camera to your computer with a USB cable. The camera should mount as a removable storage device in a second or two. Then you can copy images from the camera to your hard drive. -- Editor)

RE: Hist! Ograms

Can you provide or refer me to some very basic instruction on understanding the histograms in my Olympus C-740UZ and using them to improve exposures? Have not found anything on this subject in your "Taking Better Pictures," but maybe I just didn't know where to look.

-- Roger Patterson

(Sure, Roger. Visit our Index of Articles (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-indx.html) and search for "Histograms and the Flu" and "Adjusting Exposure in the Field." They should get you going. -- Editor)

Thanks much, Mike. I did find "Histograms and the Flue" right after making my inquiry. Great help and I am reading and re-reading 'til I understand it. Fine intro to a feature the Olympus tech claims my C-740UZ doesn't have. I referred him to your article as well as page 19 of the digicam manual.

-- Roger

(It's really a pretty cool feature. Watch the hump. It's a dark picture (low key) if the hump slips left, a light one (high key) if it slips right, about normal in the middle. If the hump bumps against the left wall, you're underexposing. If it bumps against the right wall, overexposing. In a nutshell. -- Editor)

RE: Lighting It Up

I used to take long-range flash pictures of the interior of cathedrals. One camera and up to a dozen or more flashes. Here's what I would do.

The camera is at the front of the cathedral, tripod mounted. A sensor is mounted on the shoe of each slave flash, each on a tripod. The camera is in the center aisle close to the front door. A slave is near the right wall and another at the left wall. About 20 ft. from the main flash on the camera, two more are placed along the same wall 20 ft. closer to the pulpit and on down the line close to the pulpit.

The flash on the camera is activated and triggers all of the others. A wide range of normal shutter speed and a wide range of normal aperture can be used here. But a bit slower was better, say 1/25 sec.

I have not been able to do the same thing with any of my four digicams!!! They flash but something is keeping them from synchronizing! Tech support doesn't even know what I am talking about! One techie asked me what kind of powder was used in those remote flashes!!!

-- Luke Sockwell

(Some digicams suffer a near-fatal problem for flash syncing: a red-eye reduction preflash that can't be turned off. Olympus comes to mind (but they've seen the light and have started offering an option to disable preflash). The solution for cameras like that is to buy new gear: Visit Digi-Slave (http://www.srelectronics.com) for strobes that know to avoid the preflash. Otherwise, just set your camera to always fire the flash (disabling any preflash or red-eye reduction). Now, get yourself to church <g>. -- Editor)

RE: Would We Kid You?

I know you guys have long praised Maha chargers and batteries. I followed your advice with one of their chargers from Thomas Distributing. I am really glad I did. After some time, my Maha 401 charger failed. I knew the power supply was defective because my charger worked in my car. Then, I noticed Thomas Distributing had a "limited lifetime warranty." I called them on the phone and in a few days, I received a replacement power supply. It's worth buying from Thomas Distributing!

-- Peter W

(Thanks for the Unsolicited Testimonial, Peter! -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

LaserSoft President and CEO Karl-Heinz Zahorsky writes, "This year we have decided not to send out greeting cards and instead donate funds directly to disaster relief for Sri Lanka. In addition we have designated one of our employees, Boris Bischof, who is familiar with the location and the native Sri Lankan aid organization Sarvodaya, to help with organizing the direct relief and reconstruction of the country." The company has dedicated a page on its site (http://www.silverfast.com/show/srilanka-aid/en.html) to highlight its efforts.

ITEM: Photoflex (http://www.photoflex.com) has filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. against Amvona.com charging infringement of Photoflex¹s U.S. copyrights and patent, unfair competition and false designation of origin for products Amvona.com sells on the Web. The lawsuit charges that Amvona.com acquired Photoflex products, copied their designs and then had unauthorized copies manufactured overseas and imported for sale in the U.S. In addition to infringing Photoflex¹s copyrights and patent, the lawsuit claims that these imported goods fail to indicate the country of origin, in violation of U.S. import laws.


Sony (http://www.sony.com) introduced two Cyber-shots, its $450 DSC-T33 (a T-3 update) and the $400 DSC-P200 (a P-150 update) at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.


Canon (http://consumer.usa.canon.com) has introduced its $129 LiDE 500F scanner, a USB 2.0, 2400x4800 dpi, 48-bit device that can stand on its side for drop-in scanning. I also scans 35mm film with built-in Film Automatic Retouching and Enhancement Level 3 to remove dust and scratches.


The Plugin Site (http://www.thepluginsite.com) has released LightMachine to adjust lighting in photos. It combines shadow/highlight, virtual lighting and color-based correction tools to make corrections without the need for selections and layers. Special effects include glows, sunsets, high key and selective B&W effects, color replacement and simulated polarizing filters.


MultimediaPhoto (http://www.hdrsoft.com) has released its free Photomatix Basic [MW], a light version of its dynamic range increase software Photomatix Pro to combine two differently exposed images of a high contrast scene.


O'Reilly (http://www.oreilly.com) has launched its Designer's Notebook Series with Photo Retouching with Photoshop: A Designer's Notebook and Illustrations with Photoshop: A Designer's Notebook, both $24.95 first-time English translations of the French editions.


Open Door Networks (http://www.opendoor.com), developers of Envision, has announced its sponsorship of the Macworld Conference and Expo Digital Art Contest and Gallery in San Francisco Jan. 11-14.


Binuscan (http://www.binuscan.com) has released its PhotoPerfect DigiCam 1.1 [MW] to optimize digicam images for the Web, email, home printing or online photofinishing with batch conversions and over 50 special effects. The software automatically performs image analysis, ReCo technology correction, histogram optimization and reconstruction, crop and adjustment to the final size, sharpness and adaptive JPEG compression.


Holocore (http://holocore.com) has released its $8 PictureSync 1.1 [M] to upload photos to the Web. Flickr, Buzznet and Fotolog.net are supported with direct uploads from iPhoto or iView Media Pro.


Fraser Speirs (http://www.speirs.org) has released his free FlickrExport 1.1 [M] plug-in for iPhoto 4 to provide a direct export interface to Flickr.


American Dream Partnership (http://www.adpartnership.net) has released its $30 ScopeDriver 2.3 [MW], a planning, logging and control interface for astronomical telescopes.


Samsung (http://www.samsung.com) has announced it will guarantee any LCD purchased since Jan. 1 against any defective pixels. The guarantee is currently effective only for displays sold in South Korea while the company considers whether to extend it worldwide.


Hamrick (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 8.1.20 [LMW] with improved infrared cleaning, support for more Epson scanners and some fixes.

Return to Topics.

One Liners

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

YaWah Professional Image Server software: http://www.yawah.com/ir

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

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

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

Return to Topics.

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
Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM

Happy snapping!

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

Go to Imaging Resource Home | News | Tips | Digital Camera Index | Scanner Index