|Volume 7, Number 3||4 February 2005|
Welcome to the 142nd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We're not sure if it's a retrospective or a review, but we finally got our hands on the venerable 2200 and can't keep our mouth shut. Striking another blow for the patient, Shawn and Dave put Konica Minolta's first dSLR through its paces. And just for old times sake, we revive an ancient light meter to do some incident readings.
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(Excerpted from the full review previously posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/E2200/E2200.HTM on the Web site.)
Rewrite those lyrics. The old gray mare is still what she used to be. Which may explain her longevity. Introduced in 2002 as the successor to the 2000, the 2200 still makes an impressive print. There are faster printers and newer ink sets, but the old gray mare can still pull a plow.
Our review may be the last to be written on this classic, but we'd be remiss not to look at it. Over the past two years, it has been put in harness by numerous commercial and fine arts photographers attracted by its ability to produce pigment-based prints with 100-year longevity.
The $699 Epson Stylus Photo 2200 made its mark on the printing landscape with a set of unusual features:
Although subsequently surpassed by the R800 and Canon i9900 for print speed, the 2200 is significantly faster than its own predecessor. Using 1440-dpi bidirectionally (which Epson calls High Speed), it still prints at a respectable speed. But it hasn't nearly the number of nozzles the Canon has and it's obvious.
- Seven-color archival UltraChrome pigment inks in individual $15 ink cartridges
- 2880x14400-dpi resolution with 4-picoliter ink droplets
- Roll paper holder and automatic cutter
- Paper sizes to 13x19 inches
- Interchangeable Photo and Matte Black inks
- PRINT Image Matching technology
- USB, FireWire/IEEE-1394 and parallel connectivity
Its 4.0-picoliter droplet may seem large compared to the R800's industry-leading 1.5 and the Canon's impressive 2.0, but at normal handheld viewing distances, we could not detect the difference in the highlights of the same image printed on all three. It took a 10x loupe to appreciate the smaller droplets.
So while those two specs may not be state of the art any more, they were no handicap.
BUTTONS & LIGHTS & LEVER
The box itself is pretty straightforward. It has just a few buttons, a series of lights for feedback and one paper thickness level.
The printer's four buttons are all on the front left.
There are several LED lights.
- The Power button turns the printer on and off. When on, a small green LED in the center of the button is illuminated.
- The Paper button loads or ejects paper and resumes printing after a misfeed or paper out condition.
- The Ink button moves the print head into the cartridge replacement position and returns it to the service bay. If you hold it down for three seconds, it also cleans the print head.
- The Roll Paper button cuts, feeds and returns paper to the printing position when the automatic cutter is used. When held down for three seconds, it reverses the roll paper out of the printer.
A large lever on the back right side has three positions.
- The Power light on the Power button is green when the printer is on and flashes when the printer is busy.
- The Paper Out button on the Paper button lights when the printer is out of paper or multiple sheets have been fed and flashes on a paper jam.
- The seven Ink lights flash when a cartridge is low and stay on when it's empty. They also flash when the printer is performing an ink-related operation.
- The top Paper position is used for standard thickness sheets and roll paper.
- The middle Envelop position is for printing up to 10 envelopes at a time.
- The lower Manual Feed position is for thick paper up to 0.05-inch thick. Single sheets can be fed in the manual feed slot under the sheet feeder.
Epson uses piezo print heads rather than thermal printheads (as in the HP 7960 and Canon i9900). Piezo heads fire ink by using an electrical charge to distort the print head elements. Thermal heads fire ink by heating it until it bursts.
The debate over the relative merits of each technology is intriguing (see our coverage in http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1063266040.html), but we've found only one important caveat to pass along. Epson's piezo print heads are built into the printer, not the cartridge (as in HP's printers).
Inkjets that do not get regular use will clog as pigment dries in the head. Epson provides nozzle check and cleaning functions in its drivers to maintain the print heads and there are more drastic measures available to clean them, too. But failure of a piezo print head usually means replacing the printer. Repairs are possible but expensive. So if you print photos once a month, piezo heads might disappoint you.
This particular 2200, however, sat idle for quite a while before getting shipped across country. The first prints we made from it were terrible. We wondered if we could actually revive the printer.
Over the course of two days we escalated our efforts only mildly before achieving success. We first used the Cleaning function in the Utilities software. Several times. There is, it turns out, a right way and a wrong way to do this. If, after the first attempt, you aren't getting a good ink pattern, you don't repeat the process but continue it. By continuing, you ramp up how aggressive the cleaning process is in three different stages.
Finally, several ink cartridges simply ran out of ink from the cleaning process. When we replaced them, we had good ink flow and our prints looked like prints again.
We're happy to report we didn't have to ask Epson to replace the print head. Our caveat about infrequent use might be amended to say it's expensive to use infrequently. So fire it up every week and prosper.
Most inkjets use dye-based inks that are encapsulated in the surface of the media. Dyes provide a brighter and wider range of color but tend to be less permanent than pigments, particularly in media not designed for them. So the HP 7960 requires HP papers to deliver extended lightfastness whereas the 2200 can print on nearly anything. Pigments are fade resistant. As the outer layer deteriorates, it is replaced by a fresher layer, much like an onion.
But dyes and pigments are only colorants. To get them from the cartridge to the paper, an ink vehicle is deployed. A dye is dissolved in this vehicle, which evaporates when it gets to the paper. But pigment has to be wrapped in the vehicle, which is a trickier business. Pigments tend to have a hard time on glossy surfaces, where uniformity is difficult to achieve, working best on satin paper finishes. Unlike the R800, the 2200 does not have a special Gloss Optimizer cartridge to address this weakness.
Viewed obliquely, it's easy to see a flat gloss on the shadow areas of prints on both glossy and lustre finishes. The shadow areas, of course, are where all the ink is. On matte papers, the ink is absorbed into the paper, so there is no shine.
The Red and Blue cartridges of the R800 complement the usual Cyan, Magenta and Yellow cartridges to provide a one percent larger color gamut than the 2200, which uses Light Cyan and Light Magenta rather than Red and Blue. We found ourselves going through the Light Magenta most with Light Cyan right behind.
The 2200 uses two black ink cartridges, letting you swap one of them to match either glossy or matte paper. But on the Macintosh when you change blacks, you have to delete the printer and add it again. And there's no cartridge cap to preserve the black cartridge you aren't using.
Pigmented inks aren't fussy about what paper they move into. And Epson sells a number of different papers to accommodate them:
Whichever sheet you load, be sure to tell the driver about it. Optimum ink coverage is quite different for a glossy sheet that can hold out the ink than it is for a matte sheet that absorbs it.
- Premium Glossy is a photo-weight resin coated paper with a glossy finish that provides the widest density range.
- Premium Luster is a photo-weight resin coated 'E' type paper with a light sheen and the same textured surface found in photo lab prints. The surface scatters light to avoid glare, so it's ideal for harshly lit rooms.
- Premium Semigloss is a photo-weight resin coated paper with a semigloss finish.
- Enhanced Matte is a thick, bright white, flat matte paper.
- Matte Heavyweight is a bright white, ultra-smooth coated sheet with a matte finish.
The 2200 can also handle roll paper in three sizes (4, 8.3 and 13 inch widths) using the included roll paper holders. It also includes an automatic paper cutter with a fabric basket for images shorter than 11.7 inches. About 40 seven-inch long photos fit in the basket at a time, so you can do a roll of 4x6s easily.
The cutter can make either one cut precisely between images, two cuts with a margin between images or no cuts. The driver lets you select which method you prefer. The Utility program has an alignment option for the cutter that you should use whenever you reinstall the cutter.
It is possible to decurl roll paper. For long panoramas, roll the paper in the opposite direction and slip a rubber band over the roll to hold it in that position a few hours. For cut sheets as small as 4x6, lay them face up, pick up each corner and roll them toward the center of the sheet with the flat of your hand, back and forth until they relax. They won't spring back.
The 2200 ships with Epson's Web-To-Page Utility [W] and a PIM II plug-in [W]. It also includes Epson's EasyPrint software [MW], which lets savvy applications like Elements 3.0 configure the printer driver for you automatically.
But to wring everything out of this device, you'll want to tap into a set of profiles available on the Epson site and print using the Epson-supplied driver from your image editing application.
Mac users should not be fooled by the CUPS driver for the 2200. Download and install Epson's more elaborate driver. It alone provides access to the Epson Utilities to maintain the printer.
One of the advantages of the 2200's longevity is the number of profiles available for it. Both printer and ink manufacturers commonly offer profiles for the 2200. As well as Epson itself.
Hidden on the Epson site is a set of ICC profiles [MW] for the 2200. "In most cases, these custom ICC profiles will provide more accurate color and black and white reproduction than with the standard profiles already shipping with every printer," Epson notes.
We found the ICC profiles indispensable. They provided not only the color print we expected but a neutral gray for quadtones that can be very hard to achieve.
Unfortunately, you don't just install the profiles. You have to know how to actually use them. It isn't hard, but it isn't straightforward either.
First, there are a couple of general settings to confirm. As always, make sure you've calibrated your monitor. If your monitor lies to you, your printer can't tell the truth. Second, in Photoshop's Color Settings, choose a working color space (Adobe RGB works well with the 2200 but we used Matchprint successfully, too).
We'll detail the Photoshop OS X settings here, but the principle applies to Windows as well. To print, use Print with Preview and Show More Options to see the Color Management popup. Confirm your Source Space is your working color space. Then set the Profile in the Print Space to the appropriate ICC profile, depending on both the paper you're using and the ink set. The MK suffix indicates you're using the matte black cartridge, while the PK suffix stands for photo black. These settings define what Photoshop does to control printing.
In Page Setup, make sure you've set the printer to the 2200 with the right page size. When you Print, Epson's driver is in control. Confirm the 2200 is selected as the printer. In Print Settings select the paper you've loaded and in Advanced settings set your dpi (1440 is recommended). The High Speed option prints in both directions rather than in just one, which the printer can do on most surfaces with no problem. Now move to Color Management and turn it off by selecting No Color Adjustment. This prevents the Epson driver from handling color management, leaving it all up to your Color Management settings in Photoshop. You're ready to print.
We used the 2200 over several weeks to print on all sorts of paper from four-inch rolls to matte scrapbook paper. That included Epson's best photo glossy and semi-glossy sheets. We printed color and black and white, primarily with the Photo Black cartridge.
With so many variables, it would have been impossible to print every image perfectly. In fact, making mistakes (using a mismatched profile or ink set, say) can be quite an adventure. Some prints really surprised us. But a little investigation always yielded a plausible explanation. And from that, we learned a little bit more about what would and would not fly.
When we had our ink percolating and our paper primed and our image optimized, we got stunning prints. Our best prints were done on Premium Luster and Premium Semigloss although we like our black and whites on matte sheets. The problem with Premium Glossy was the flat gloss of the shadow areas. Seen straight on it wasn't an issue, but if you only print glossy prints, we wouldn't recommend the 2200.
We had only one real problem with the printer once we had revived it from its long hibernation. On very cold mornings and evenings, the ink would bleed in non-printing areas and we'd see horizontal white lines in printing areas. As soon as the studio warmed up, the problems disappeared. We didn't see any official caveat about operating temperature, but clearly the 2200 prefers a warm room. As do we.
Reviewing the 2200 so far from its introduction date gives us a different perspective from our other printer reviews. It isn't the innovations that excite us but its lasting capabilities. Those include print quality on various oversized media with long-lasting pigments which is still among the best you can get on any inkjet, a roll feed option with an automatic cutter, high-speed interfaces and a well-developed set of ICC profiles.
The 2200 has set the standard for archival inkjet prints. The R800 surpasses it in droplet size and speed (and perhaps with its gloss-optimizer) but not print size or roll production convenience. Canon's i9900 also beats it in droplet size and speed, offering the same size prints but not on as many different papers or in rolls and without the benefits of pigmented inks.
In short, the old gray mare is just as good as she ever was. And while its newer competition may have an edge over her here or there, she's still very much in the race. Even pulling a plow.
By SHAWN BARNETT AND DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/MAX7/D7A.HTM on the Web site.)
The arrival of the $1,660 Konica Minolta Dynax Maxxum 7D is something of a milestone for the entire industry. Konica Minolta is the last of the top five camera companies to enter the dSLR market. Hundreds of thousands of proud and happy Minolta owners have been waiting impatiently for this camera. Following in the footsteps of the 35mm Minolta Maxxum 7, the Maxxum 7D accepts an impressive line of lenses and flashes and borrows quite a bit from its film brother in terms of controls and design.
In other ways, however, the 7D stands on its own. Its controls will be familiar to existing Minolta 35mm camera owners, but what goes on inside is quite a bit different, with in-camera image stabilization that is backward compatible to all the existing Minolta lenses and a sophisticated set of professional options.
Nearly every major control has an external control at the ready for your immediate adjustment. Where most camera manufacturers have buttons that rely on the LCD to show you the selected setting as you cycle through the cryptic icons and words, on the Maxxum 7D the same icons and words appear on the many dials, switches and buttons. The separate Status LCD has been removed to make room for more controls, but the main LCD serves as a reasonable replacement.
The 7D is ideal for:
Thankfully, the manual is fairly well-written, though we recommend reading all you can, even a book by a Minolta SLR expert to really understand this powerful tool. Though it has easy-to-use full-auto modes for the novice, the 7D is for the dedicated, sophisticated photographer. In particular, it has several features invaluable to event photographers. Wedding photographers immediately come to mind.
- Those who want digital, but still like the feel and ready access to analog controls,
- The photographer who likes to be intimately familiar with every aspect of his camera and intends to keep it for many years, and
- The photographer who actually likes to read manuals to get the most from his photographic tool.
Feeling about as heavy as it looks, the 7D is a handful. The grip is nicely shaped with a rubbery finish, but it doesn't quite go deep enough. You have to press your fingertips into the body. The problem isn't really the grip, though. The length from front to back is just about right for most palms. The body is just very thick and takes up much of the finger space. Otherwise, Konica Minolta has made a nice looking, quality digital camera with a magnesium underbody. All body panels fit tightly and the feel is extremely solid.
The lens likewise has a tight fit. There seems to be little slop when finding the mount openings. You have to be spot on to get the lens mount through the opening in the body. It could be that the mechanically-driven focus motor coupling requires more precision (Minolta lenses are driven through a mechanical linkage between the lens and body, with the actual focus motor residing in the camera body). Once the lens is properly mounted, the AF motor gives it a little test, moving a little left and a little right. If you're not careful where you put your fingers, some Minolta lenses will break your thumb or forefinger when they focus, because unlike other manufacturer's lenses, the motor turns the external focus ring very firmly.
The shutter button seems oddly placed, set back from the leading edge of the grip and recessed in a groove, though once you're used to it, you find it's less likely to be activated by accident as you hold the camera waiting for the next shot because your finger actually wants to rest on that leading edge.
Controls are man-sized. Buttons are big enough to quickly get a feel for. The two largest dials are more like control towers, with a dial accessed and read from the top and another switched from underneath. My favorite is the Exposure compensation control. You can adjust exposure compensation by 1/2 increments or 1/3 increments. Beneath this is the Flash Exposure Compensation dial, whose scale is viewed from the back, while the lever that turns it juts out from the front of the dial. A similar arrangement drives the Mode dial.
We particularly liked the AF/MF button on the back of the camera, which allows you to either momentarily trigger the AF system or to toggle between Manual and Auto Focus modes. Excellent. Easy. No attention required for the LCD, so your brain can begin to assign one set of controls visually to that part of the camera. Your mental map doesn't need to include a slew of menus and button combinations just to change a basic setting. It becomes second nature, the kind of thing your finger muscles can learn to do without conscious thought.
Of course, that doesn't mean this is an all manually-controlled camera. There's a massive menu system and all the customary dials and buttons. The saving grace is 7D's 2.5-inch display, which makes the menu text big and clear. The big screen also doubles as the camera's status display. When used as a status display, it even rotates as you rotate the camera, either left or right. Most users will want to -- indeed need to -- leave the status display on all the time to see the vital metering and setting information, even with the preponderance of dials and switches. There are even two IR sensors under the optical viewfinder that turn off the screen when you put the camera to your eye to keep glare from affecting your view. Of course, once you've captured a picture, it displays there in beautiful color and you can zoom in or out.
The big technology advance in the 7D is the Anti-Shake system. All other companies with such technology do their shake compensation in the lens, necessitating purchase of special lenses that cost more money. Konica Minolta has moved their mechanism into the camera body. A computer detects the motion -- from a heartbeat, nervous hands or breathing, for example and moves the imaging sensor to counter it.
A major difference between the two methods became noticeable when we first looked through the viewfinder. It didn't seem to be working. But the dampening is occurring inside the camera and has no effect on the image coming off the mirror, so we never actually see the Anti-Shake mechanism at work. Instead, a five-step LED bar graph inside the viewfinder tells us by degree how much the Anti-Shake mechanism is being forced to work. So long as only three bars are lit, the AS will likely be able to dampen the vibration. Shake more and the bars will go up to four or five, which we presume means that the ability of the AS to compensate is approaching or exceeding its limit.
The bar graph anti-shake indicator is more than just a compromise, though. It's a valuable tool in its own right. With a conventional lens-based AS system, you can tell when it's working by the viewfinder image, but you don't have any idea of how hard it's working. That is, there's no warning as to whether or not you're about to push it beyond its limits. With the Maxxum 7D, you have a very good sense of whether you're well within the system's limits.
The big question is how well the 7D's anti-shake works. The short answer seems to be "pretty well." We conducted some tests against a Canon IS lens (a 28-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS model) on a Digital Rebel against the 7D's in-body anti-shake and found the 7D edged the Canon lens slightly at 50mm and the two solutions were in more or less a dead heat at 135mm. Minolta's in-body anti-shake approach does seem to be more effective at shorter focal lengths than longer ones, which is what we'd expected to see. At long focal lengths, small amounts of body movement will result in relatively large amounts of image blurring. Any body-based anti-shake system would have to be exceptionally sensitive to correct for image blurring with long telephoto lenses.
Color: Overall color was very good, though the difficult blues in the flower bouquet from the Sunlit Portrait were slightly darker and more purplish than in real life. Skin tones were nice and natural and the camera's white balance system handled a range of lighting very well. The Kelvin white balance settings extend as low as 2,500K, handling even very warm-hued incandescent lighting with aplomb. Color accuracy and saturation on the MacBeth chart was quite good. The bright red swatch was oversaturated, but other colors were much closer to correct than is generally the case. If the accurate color saturation levels seem a little understated, the in-camera saturation adjustment has fine enough steps that you can easily boost it a little.
Exposure: The 7D handled our test lighting fairly well, though high contrast shots like the Sunlit Portrait and outdoor house tended to underexpose a fair bit. That said, an average amount of positive exposure compensation did the trick on the Sunlit Portrait, capturing bright midtones with strong detail. Despite a generally effective contrast adjustment control though, it lost significant detail in the deliberately harsh highlights of the Sunlit Portrait shot. Indoors, the camera required an average amount of positive exposure compensation as well and the flash exposed subjects well, even at the default exposure setting. It had no trouble distinguishing the subtle pastel tones on the Q60 target of the Davebox and shadow detail was typically good to very good.
Resolution/Sharpness: It performed very well on the laboratory resolution test chart for its 6.1-megapixel class. Artifacts didn't appear in the test patterns until resolutions as high as 1,200 lines per picture height in both directions. I found strong detail out to at least 1,400 lines. Extinction of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,650 lines. Using its MTF 50 numbers, which correlate best with visual sharpness, Imatest showed an average uncorrected resolution of 1293 LW/PH and a resolution of 1327 LW/PH when normalized to a standard 1-pixel sharpening, both good numbers for a 6-megapixel camera. The default in-camera sharpening does a good job of crisping-up the images, without introducing objectionable artifacts of its own.
Image Noise: The 7D's images showed unusually low levels of image noise, particularly at high ISO settings. But the camera is using very aggressive noise-suppression algorithms at high ISOs to achieve the low numbers. I'd prefer to see a bit less heavy-handed noise suppression, to reduce the amount of lost detail at high ISOs. To its credit though, the 7D's noise pattern is also very tight, making what noise does appear less objectionable than it would be otherwise.
Night Shots: The 7D produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of our test, with good color at the 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1,600 ISO settings. Color was generally quite good, though the lower light levels often resulted in a light pink cast. Noise was quite low at all ISO levels, although it did increase to a noticeable extent at ISO 800 and 1600. As was the case at higher light levels though, the 7D trades away subject detail to achieve its low noise levels at high ISO. There was relatively little difference between the shots taken with and without Noise Reduction enabled, although the noise reduction did remove a few hot pixels that crept into the images at the longest exposure times. Autofocus worked well at low light levels, focusing to a bit below 1/8 foot-candle with the AF-assist light disabled and on nearby objects in complete darkness with the AF illuminator turned on.
Viewfinder Accuracy: The viewfinder is very accurate, showing about 98 percent of the final image area at wide-angle and about 99+ percent at telephoto.
Shutter Lag and Cycle Times: The word that comes to mind here is "average." But that's not a bad thing, given the competition. Full-autofocus shutter lag is actually faster than most dSLRs, at about 0.27 second, although manual focus lag is only slightly better than the full-autofocus times. At 0.61 second, shot-to-shot cycle times are decent and its 14-shot JPEG buffer capacity should be enough for most users. At 2.75 fps, continuous-mode shooting speed is also on par with its primary competitors.
Battery Life: Like most dSLRs, the 7D's battery life is excellent, largely because it doesn't have to keep the CCD and LCD clocking away to frame its shots. With run times of over six hours in Record mode and better than 2.5 hours in Playback, a fully charged NP-400 battery will last most shooters all day. If you plan lots of shooting in continuous mode though, I'd suggest picking up an extra battery pack.
Many Minolta film SLR owners have been waiting and hoping for a dSLR to use with their extensive collections of (typically excellent) Minolta optics. Now that the 7D has arrived, their wait is over -- and the obvious quality and features of the new model appear to justify the long wait.
While it has a full Auto mode for point-and-shoot photography, the 7D has an absolute wealth of controls and modes, that make for a long learning curve before you become familiar with all its capabilities. Once you do learn its ins and outs, the user interface is one of the most powerful and fluid we've seen.
The 7D's body-based anti-shake system worked very well, delivering a good two f-stops improvement in maximum usable exposure times, at least to the 135mm limit of our test. This system effectively turns all your lenses into anti-shake models, so the higher cost of the 7D's body relative to competing models seems very well justified.
Negative points were relatively minor. A slight tendency to underexpose, particularly when confronted with scenes having strong highlights, an occasionally hesitant AF system and overly aggressive noise suppression at high ISOs. Overall, a camera that we have no qualms about recommending to loyal Minolta shooters and one that we're confident will prove to have been well worth the wait.
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/MAX7/D7A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon EOS-1D Mark II (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E1D2/E1D2A.HTM)
No matter how highfalutin your digital camera is, there's one thing it can't do. It can't measure incident light.
Yes, it has a built-in light meter with multiple personalities (multispot averaging, centerweighted and spot, no doubt). But no camera can be in two places at once. Which is precisely what incident light metering demands.
To perform that trick, you need a light meter.
We just happened to have one, an antique Gossen Luna-Pro. Just for this article, we thought we'd freshen the old batteries, a pair of Mallory PX 625s (and some people don't think this job is fun).
The 625s were mercury 1.35 volt batteries. Radio Shack sold us a 1.5 volt alkaline equivalent 625a -- but it ain't the same. Alkalines don't deliver a constant voltage through their lifespan, running heavy at first and petering out rather dramatically (like most of us, really). The old mercury batteries delivered a constant 1.35 volts but disposing of them poisons the planet, apparently. They've been shunned as environmental hazards (same goes for those old mercury thermometers, too).
Lucky for us, our last set of mercuries (with a 10-year shelf life) were fit as a fiddle, but down the road we're looking at zinc-air (short-lived hearing aid batteries) or 1.6-volt silver-oxide cells, both of which need some sort of housing. Gossen actually makes a $27.50 adapter kit available from B&H Photo (http://www.bhphotovideo.com) to use silver-oxide cells. The adapter kit knocks the 1.6 volts down to 1.35, taking advantage of their constant output voltage.
This problem is shared by a number of antique cameras with built-in meters, BTW. The constant voltage of the mercury cell was an engineering advantage. Fortunately those cells were large enough to permit smaller modern replacements in housings that can adjust the voltage.
All right, so we put the old batteries in the Luna-Pro, named for its legendary ability to meter moonlight, and did some incident readings.
We liked what we saw. Images were a tad less exposed (saving highlight detail) than using Auto mode and came up beautifully in an image editor using the Levels control.
Of course, for this to work at all, you need a camera that has full Manual mode, which means user control of both the aperture and shutter (for those camera manufacturers who seem to have misplaced their notes). And a light meter like the Luna-Pro, which has a small diffuser you can slide over the meter sensor. Gossen, of course, makes modern (digital) versions, as does Sekonic.
But one of the charming things about the Gossen (or any old meter) is its dial. At a glance, you can see the range of possible aperture/shutter settings that will expose for the metered conditions. This is a little different from getting the shutter speed for your preferred aperture or the aperture for your preferred shutter speed.
Taking an incident light reading is simple. Set the meter for the ISO your camera is using, walk over to the subject and look back at the camera. With the meter set for incident reading (using that diffuser), point it at the camera and take a reading. You now know the range of exposures for the amount of light falling on your subject.
Talk about nipping the problem in the bud. You don't have to worry about your camera's meter being fooled by a black dog or white cat. The light reflected by the subject and averaged by your camera's meter is ignored. You're only measuring the light falling on the subject.
If you can't stand next to your subject (because, say, they're in a cage with a couple of other hungry tigers), just stand to the side and point the meter not at the camera, but parallel to the line between the subject and the camera. Sometimes, you can just turn around to perform this trick.
And if you want to cheat toward the highlights, aim the meter at the light source rather than the camera.
With older dial-based meters, you dial in the meter reading to see just what range of apertures and shutter speeds will make a usable exposure. With newer digital meters, you can tell the meter which f-stop or shutter speed you prefer and get the recommended shutter speed or aperture.
Either way incident light metering avoids all the foibles of metering reflected light.
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RE: We Have a Winner
My image was selected for third prize in December and I received Flip Album Suite. Even though I had to pay some $25 for custom duties, I have to say it's a very good gift and want to thank you. I will try to do better the next time I submit a photo and win first prize, but the competition is very tough.
-- Yves Matteau(Congratulations, Yves. We loved your shot (but we don't get to judge). As you say, the competition is very tough. Which means, there are a great many excellent images, even among those that are not chosen as daily winners. We often just peek at the current crop of candidates just to brighten our day! -- Editor)
I most enjoyed your discussion on the Macworld San Francisco gathering. I started with VisiCalc ages ago. I also started with Sinclair computer ($100-new) with a three-color printer. I recently sold my new high-powered PC and moved up to a big screen lap top. Loved everything I had over the years. As I'm 76 years old, I stopped buying new toys so my latest digicam is an Olympus 3020Z. Love it. Thanks again for the great info in your newsletter.
-- Harold Ehrenbeck(Ah, the Sinclair and its built-in BASIC! Don't get us started or we'll forget Palm wants to put Linux on a PDA. -- Editor)
RE: Epson 2200
Thanks so very much for the fantastic review of the Epson 2200. I was just setting mine up and having a number of difficulties with the color calibration and I suspect that this article if I were to follow it exactly will solve my problems. For one thing, I had photo black in the unit (came with it) and I could not access the watercolor and matte paper choices and did not know that one had to delete and then re-choose the printer in OS X to activate again. A silly arrangement I must say, but without your article I would still be wondering why I cannot get any change in the menu.
I wonder if anyone over there ever tried to use a bulk ink distributor with an Epson 2200 such as the Niagara system from Mediastreet which runs 4 or 8 oz. ink storage units to the head. It sounds great and a lot cheaper to operate compared to Epson's tiny ink cartridges. If you have any info on this, I would very much appreciate a link or comment.
-- Professor Neil Fiertel(Thanks for the kind words, Neil! No specific info (we haven't tested bulk inking systems, just lusted after them <g>). The general caveat is beware of longevity, but Mediastreet seems to have addressed that issue: http://www.mediastreet.com/cgi-bin/tame/mediastreet/g5generations_ink.tam -- Editor)
RE: How Many?
Maybe you can tell me how many 4x6 prints I can get out of my cartridges. I have a HP7760 printer which takes a 57 tri-color cartridge and a 58 photo color cartridge. I know when one is finished there is some left in the other one. I just want to know how many 4x6 photos I can get out of a complete set of cartridges? I just want a ball park figure.
-- Frank Grimaldi(Quite a few, Frank. HP says 125 (http://h10025.www1.hp.com/ewfrf/wc/document?lc=en&lang=en&cc=us&product=81866&dlc=en&docname=bpa02092) in the product specifications for the 58 photo cartridge. But it really depends on your usage (paper, ink coverage, color distribution, etc.). You can get a rough idea by checking the Ink Levels (in Maintenance or the Utility program) after printing for a while. -- Editor)
Just wanted to thank you for wonderful newsletter (and the whole IR site). In today's jungle on the Web, it is rare to see a clean, precise and informative site like IR. One of the few sites where I can read reviews with full confidence, not to mention up-to-date and informative Editor's Notes.
-- Dalibor Marinkovic(Thanks, Dalibor! -- Editor)
Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has released its free Camera RAW 2.4 plug-in with support for Canon's EOS 20D, PowerShot S70, PowerShot G6 and EOS-1Ds Mark II; and Konica Minolta's 7D and DiMage A200.
Adobe has also updated its free DNG Converter to support the six new cameras added to Adobe Camera Raw, store larger previews and provide the option to store the original, proprietary files within the translated DNG, so all versions of image data are preserved.
Sybex (http://www.sybex.com) has released its $19.99 software download of the more than 60 tools in Richard Lynch's Hidden Power Tools For Photoshop Elements 3.
Sybex has also just published its $29.99 eBay Photos that Sell by Dan Gookin and Robert Birnbach, covering product shots with a digicam using inexpensive (even fun) techniques.
Yarra Valley Software (http://www.yvs.eu.com) has released iMagine Photo, which uses AppleScript to process digital images, as freeware, promising to update the utility to work with the next version of OS X.
ePorter (http://www.eporterinc.com) has announced its $7.95 flash memory card case, which holds three SmartMedia, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Duo, Secure Digital, xD-Picture Card or MultiMediaCard flash cards in clips that attach to your key chain.
Google (http://www.picasa.com) has released its free Picasa 2 with improved editing, better organization, captions, more sharing options and some new "toys under the 'Collage' button in the Create menu."
ColorVision's (http://www.colorvision.com) $150 Spyder2 monitor calibration tool can not, unlike its predecessor, calibrate two monitors on the same computer. But the $300 SpyderPro package will do that.
Apple's (http://www.apple.com) iLife '05 hasn't arrived here yet, but it isn't too early for updates to iMovie (5.0.1) and iPhoto (5.0.1). The suite requires a 1024x768 screen resolution, eliminating original iBooks.
Boinx (http://www.fotomagico.com) has released a 1.2b4 beta version of FotoMagico to add text to slide shows and improvements to default values, exports, blank slides, guidelines and more.
Smile on My Mac (http://www.smileonmymac.com) has released its $29.95 Photoprinto 1.0.1 to create and print albums and pages using customizable templates.
Alera (http://www.aleratec.com) has introduced its $399 Aleratec DVD/CD Copy Cruiser Pro 16 with support for 8.5-GB Double Layer recording to copy DVDs at up to 16x with no computer required.
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