The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 7, Number 4 18 February 2005

Copyright 2005, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 143rd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. And we're just warming up. Shoot through our 36x scope or listen to Canon's Mark II flip through 8.5 fps before we offer you $100 to drop our name. Get a quick course on product photography and skip two digicam features you don't need. Then get ready for our PMA coverage!


TOPICS

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Feature: Malibu Scope -- Beyond the Long Zoom

Any minute now the doorbell is going to ring. And standing there with a fresh coat of jet lag will be the Rapp family. Mom and Dad and the three miniature Rapps: Sam (7), Oliver (5) and Vivian (3).

We will greet them with open arms, of course, hiding the handcuffs in our back pocket and confident that the smoke alarm batteries have all been recently renewed. But in a more avuncular moment, we thought of a way to show them what fun it is to see beyond the normal range of human vision.

A telescope came to mind, naturally. The rings of Saturn. The craters of the moon. But we wanted to exhaust them before the sun set, so that was out. Telescopes, anyway, are more trouble than children. Alignment, tracking, all that nonsense. And even then, the image is upside down and reversed. What kid has patience for that?

THE SCOPE MAN

We deferred to an expert. "Expert," we explained, "we have this picture window with a view of the ocean several miles away. What do you recommend for spying?" He knew immediately what to recommend. A spotting scope.

Somewhere between the 10x magnification of a long zoom and a 60x entry-level telescope is the spotting scope. Designed for terrestrial viewing, it behaves more like a long zoom than a telescope, displaying the image in the right orientation. And because you can mount a camera (film or digital) to it, it makes a tempting accessory.

Or would if it didn't cost more than your camera (which, according to our formula, makes the camera the accessory of the scope). But recently, we came across an affordable model from Parks Optical (http://www.parksoptical.com) in Simi Valley, Calif. Parks makes telescopes and camera adapters, too.

The $250 Malibu scope includes a carrying case (because it's small enough to go with you, like a large zucchini), tabletop tripod and a camera adapter. The weatherized scope with multi-coated elements to reduce glare has two controls: a zoom ring that travels from 12-36x 50mm magnification and a focus ring. (See http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/MLB/MLB.HTM for pictures.)

MOUNTING A CAMERA

You don't need a digicam to appreciate the Malibu. Mount it on a tripod and scan the horizon and you'll see things that would otherwise cost bus fare. But you won't do that longer than it takes four NiMH AAs to recharge before you wonder just how much trouble it would be to affix your digicam instead of your eyeball to the Malibu.

Fortunately, Parks is a step ahead of you.

The Lumicon Universal Digi-Cam Adapater made by Parks is a tortured piece of engineering that makes it possible to mount and align many digicams to some foreign optical assembly like a telescope. Parks claims the aluminum alloy adapter fits eyepieces 28-45mm in diameter. It mounts (and can be mounted) via a standard 1/4x20 tripod mount thread.

The scope (telescope or spotting) has to have a cylindrical eyepiece on which to clamp the adapter. The adapter itself provides two threaded slots on its camera platform, one aligned with the lens and the other offset. It takes just a slight turn of one or another worm-drive screw to align the mounted camera to the foreign optics.

If you want to mount a dSLR, though, you can dispense with the Lumicon. The Malibu scope includes a camera adapter ingeniously designed with cutouts to allow zooming and focusing the scope with the adapter attached. An inexpensive mounting ring for your camera is all that's needed to attach your dSLR to the Malibu.

In short, you have no excuse not to mount your digicam to the Malibu. And it's half the fun, anyway.

FRAMING THE SHOT

While it may seem daunting, it's remarkably simple to frame a digicam shot with the spotting scope.

First you mount the scope to a sturdy tripod (no hand-holding these babies) and scan your scene. The scope has a cradle to lock the angle of the scope's eyepiece, so it can be rotated while mounted on the tripod. But mostly, you'll zoom to wide-angle (if you can call 12x zoom wide-angle) and focus to scan your scene for a shot. You can then zoom in tighter and refocus -- before or after you mount the camera in the adapter.

Assuming the scope is in focus, you merely have to let the digicam focus through the scope (at infinity). You also have to zoom in close enough to avoid any vignetting. But then, you've got your shot.

There are some compromises to be paid here. Depending on your camera, you may have some vignetting if you zoom the Malibu to 36x magnification. But by adjusting the position of the digicam relative to the Malibu and zooming both a bit, you'll get full screen magnification superior to any long zoom.

SUITABLE SCENES

With a terrestrial spotting scope, atmospheric conditions play a critical role in the quality of the image. A nicely illuminated early morning view can become hazy by noon when heat radiation makes it a moving image.

But we were able to get clear terrestrial images at a distance of three miles before the earth started radiating heat. And seascapes held up even longer since the ocean indulges in waves of a different sort.

Filtering to cut down the haze would seem like an excellent idea, but scene brightness will suffer. The Malibu doesn't provide filter threads but our 67mm filters manually held up in front of the scope did just what we expected them to do.

SHARING THE IMAGE

We would have to have been already mummified in a wax museum to expect Sam, Oliver and Vivian to buy tickets and line up behind the Malibu for a look at a dog run three miles away. Immediacy is the trick. Instantly shared by a wildly enthusiastic audience -- even if they are handcuffed.

Fortunately, you don't have to upload a bunch of images to Ofoto to share them immediately with the impatient. All you have to do -- assuming you've mounted your garden variety digicam to the Malibu -- is connect a video out cable from the camera to your television. If you've got one of those 42-inch plasma deals, you will actually bring the dog into your living room at full size. If all you have is a 13-inch black and white security CRT (like we do), you may have to bark ventroliquistically to carry it off. But your audience will see what the Malibu sees in real time.

And, with that VCR humming, you can tape the whole thing. Should you have the foresight to have loaded a blank tape.

CONCLUSION

Long zooms are miraculous but fussy. Without some sort of image stabilization, they might even be called cantankerous. But no one calls a telescope cantankerous because we all know them to be unwieldy (and backwards and reversed). The spotting scope demands nothing more elaborate than a tripod. And happily accommodates your digicam. And the Malibu is an affordable scope that has the miraculous advantage of managing to do what handcuffs only promise.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Canon EOS-1D Mark II -- The Singing Shutter

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E1D2/E1D2A.HTM on the Web site.)

MANUFACTURER OVERVIEW

The Canon EOS-1D was a ground-breaking digicam when announced in late 2001 and held its ground amazingly well against the competition in the time since then. In early 2004, Canon announced the EOS-1D Mark II, a radical update to the 1D, doubling its resolution while increasing continuous shooting speed to a blazing 8.5 fps and cutting image noise in the process. Other specs between the cameras are fairly close, but Canon has decisively staked out a big piece of the high-end dSLR turf. No other camera comes close to matching the Mark II's combination of resolution and shooting speed.

EXECUTIVE OVERVIEW

For professionals accustomed to Canon's top-of-the-line EOS-1v film SLR or even the EOS-1D or 1Ds dSLRs, the $4,499 Mark II will be immediately familiar, with a body design and control layout virtually identical to both predecessors. Obviously, Canon's goal was to produce a camera that looks, feels and operates as much like previous EOS-1 cameras as possible. And they've succeeded. EOS-1v, 1D and 1Ds shooters should have little difficulty switching among the cameras and Mark II users will enjoy its larger CMOS sensor and enhanced image playback functions. The Mark II does not have the Depth of Field AE shooting mode I found so useful on the 1D. But it sports both a Video Out and a USB port, the latter supporting direct printing to a range of Canon printers. And it accepts both SD/MMC and CompactFlash (Type I and II) memory cards.

The Mark II's lens mount accommodates the full line of Canon EF lenses (but not the new EF-S lenses, with their shorter lens/focal plane distance and smaller image circles). It uses the same highly-praised 45-point Area Ellipse autofocus system used by the 35mm EOS-1v and which also appeared on the EOS-1D. This sophisticated system allows you to manually select a specific autofocus area from within a 45-point elliptical area or let the camera determine focus area based on the subject. You can also opt for One-Shot focusing or select the AI Servo AF, which tracks rapidly moving subjects. The TTL optical viewfinder uses a pentaprism design to display the full view of the lens, along with an information readout that reports all the most important exposure information, including aperture, shutter speed, resolution and exposure compensation.

The 2.0-inch, TFT color LCD monitor, with a brightness adjustment, provides both image playback and on-screen menu viewing. An image information display reports in-depth exposure information, including a histogram. Additionally, a highlight feature blinks any blown-out highlights in the captured image. I've found this exceptionally useful on past Canon digicams. A new RGB Histogram mode also shows individual histograms for the Red, Green and Blue channels.

The Mark II offers total exposure control, with Program AE, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual and Bulb exposure modes available. In Program AE, you can select from a range of equivalent exposure settings simply by turning the Main dial on top of the camera. Aperture and Shutter Priority modes offer limited manual control, while Manual mode gives total control of aperture and shutter time to the photographer. Bulb mode simply extends the Manual mode to include unlimited shutter times. You can keep the shutter open as long as the camera has power -- quite unusual, as most digicams limit maximum bulb exposure time. A Noise Reduction option engages Canon's very effective Noise Reduction technology for exposures longer than 1/15 second.

The Mark II employs a 21-Zone Evaluative Metering system, which divides the image area into 21 zones of different sizes, with a honeycomb pattern in the center of the frame. Each of the 21 zones is assessed to determine exposure, using an algorithm that takes contrast and tonal distribution into account, going much further than simple averaged metering. Other metering options include Center-Weighted, Partial, Spot, Multi-Spot, Spot AF and Flash Exposure Lock. Exposure compensation is adjustable from -3 to +3 exposure values in one-third-step increments. Auto Exposure Bracketing captures three shots at different exposures. The Mark II also offers White Balance and ISO Auto Exposure Bracketing options. This last option should be particularly interesting for pros, who may want to bracket without disturbing the aperture or shutter speed settings.

Ten white balance modes are provided, including Auto, Daylight, Shade, Overcast, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash, Custom (manual setting), Color Temperature and Personal White Balance. Color Temperature covers a range of color temperatures from 2,800-10,000 degrees Kelvin, in 100-degree increments and Personal White Balance allows you to download as many as three white balance settings from a host computer. The Mark II's extensive menu system offers a variety of Color Matrix options, for both sRGB and Adobe RGB color spaces and a Custom Functions menu lets you extensively customize the user interface. A Personal Functions menu option also allows you to download image attribute settings (including a custom tone curve) from a computer.

An external flash hot-shoe and PC sync socket offer two external flash connection options, but the camera has no built-in strobe. Canon recommends using its EX series of flash units, though some third-party units are compatible as well. The Flash Exposure Lock button locks the exposure for the flash and a Flash Exposure Compensation button alters the flash exposure from -3 to +3 EV in one-third-step increments. You can also alter the ambient exposure compensation without altering the flash intensity.

The Mark II offers Low-Speed Continuous and High-Speed Continuous shooting modes through the Drive setting. Low-Speed Continuous captures as many as 40 consecutive frames at approximately three frames per second, while High-Speed Continuous captures the same number of frames at approximately 8.5 fps. The Drive options also include two different Self-Timer options, with delay times adjustable via the LCD menu system.

The Mark II captures images at either 3504x2336; 3104x2072; 2544x1696; or 1728x1152 pixels, with JPEG compression levels from one to 10 available. A RAW image option is also available, recording the full pixel information from the CCD without any processing. The Mark II is accompanied by an IEEE-1394/FireWire interface cable for a super-speedy connection to a computer, as well as a USB cable for connecting to a range of Canon printers. Canon's Solution Disk software and a copy of Canon's new Digital Photo Professional program are included with the camera, for both PCs and Macs. A Video Out jack and cable connect the camera to a television set for reviewing images. The Mark II uses an NP-E3 rechargeable NiMH battery pack or an AC adapter (both included). A CR2025 lithium coin cell backs up calendar and clock settings.

I was initially impressed with the EOS-1D due to its similarities to the 35mm 1v and the exceptional amount of photographic control it offered. The Mark II maintains that tradition with improved resolution via the 8.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, improved noise characteristics, increased speed and smart design, plus other niceties such as expanded playback options and video out capability. The sturdy Mark II body can handle extensive shooting, with a beefed-up shutter rated at an expected 200,000 cycles. The body is also sealed at all openings to protect against dust and water. Its user interface is customizable and straightforward (once you get the hang of it) and its extensive controls are enough to make any pro happy. Designed for pros who want the convenience of digital imaging and uncompromising image quality, combined with the look, feel and interface of Canon's already successful pro 35mm line, the Mark II appears ideally suited for pro sports photographers and other photojournalists.

TEST RESULTS

Color: The Mark II produced very accurate color overall, though it tended to undersaturate greens and yellows and had difficulty with out-of-gamut colors, particularly reds. For the most color critical work, particularly if your subjects involve very bright reds or blues, I strongly recommend shooting in RAW mode and converting the images to JPEG using Canon's Digital Photo Professional software (as opposed to using JPEGs from the camera or converting the RAW images using EOS Viewer Utility). Apart from its handling of extreme red/orange hues though, I found the 1D Mark II's color to be quite acceptable and natural-looking. The camera's range of white balance settings was flexible enough to handle most of my test lighting, so that I got nearly accurate results outdoors and in the studio. Skin tones were slightly pink and reddish in places and the blue flowers of the bouquet in the Outdoor Portrait were dark and purplish. On the Indoor Portrait (without the flash), the camera's Manual white balance setting did a great job, though I often chose the Auto setting in the studio. A good performance overall and color saturation held up well at very high ISO settings, something not all dSLRs manage.

Exposure: The Mark II's exposure system performed well most of the time, with good results even under the high-key lighting of the Sunlit Portrait. Contrast was just slightly high outdoors, but was easily adjusted and the midtones still had good detail. Both indoors and out, the camera required less than average exposure compensation. Dynamic range was very good, particularly with the camera's internal contrast setting adjusted to its lowest level.

Resolution/Sharpness: The Mark II performed very well on the laboratory resolution test chart. Test patterns looked clean even at resolutions as high as 1,200 lines per picture height, in both horizontal and vertical directions. I found strong detail out to at least 1,800 lines along the horizontal axis, 1,600 lines vertically. Extinction of the target patterns didn't occur until somewhere past 2,000 lines. Using its MTF 50 numbers, which correlate best with visual sharpness, Imatest showed an average uncorrected resolution of 1203 LW/PH and a resolution of 2032 LW/PH when normalized to a standard 1-pixel sharpening. The rather low uncorrected number reflects Canon's extremely conservative approach to in-camera sharpening. On the other hand, the very high normalized figure shows some of the value of this conservative approach, as there's exceptional detail to be found via post-capture sharpening.

Image Noise: Numerically, the Mark II's noise levels are right in line with other high-end dSLRs, but the numbers tell only part of the story. Particularly at very high ISOs, the very fine "grain pattern" of the 1D Mark II's noise makes it much less objectionable than that of competing cameras, even some with lower absolute noise magnitudes.

Night Shots: The Mark II did an excellent job in the low-light category and produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test, with good color at all of the ISO settings tested. The Mark II has a Noise Reduction option to help control image noise, but I didn't see too much different with and without Noise Reduction enabled. Even at ISO 3,200, noise was quite low, but the Noise Reduction option didn't seem to affect the amount of image noise much one way or another. I suspect it might have more effect on exposures longer than mine. The Mark II's autofocus system is also quite sensitive, able to focus at light levels as low as 1/10 foot-candle, with an f2.8 lens.

Viewfinder Accuracy: Unlike many lesser SLRs, the Mark II's through-the-lens viewfinder offers very accurate framing, measuring approximately 99 percent accuracy in my testing. An excellent job! I can't understand why manufacturers don't make all SLRs with 100 percent viewfinders.

Shutter Lag and Cycle Time: No question about it, the Mark II is the fastest pro SLR we've tested. Every parameter is fast, from shutter lag and AF performance to shot-to-shot cycle times. It does take advantage of fast memory cards to clear its buffer memory more quickly, but the difference between 4x and 80x cards is only about 20 percent. More interestingly, its SD card interface seems to be consistently slightly faster than the CF slot. Bottom line though, the Mark II has such a large buffer and clears it so quickly with almost any modern memory card, card speed and buffer clearing aren't an issue.

Battery Life: Canon made great strides in power consumption with the 1D Mark II over the previous 1D model. When the camera is on but the shutter button isn't being pressed, it goes into a semi-sleep mode and power drain drops to only 50 mA, which is nearly 31 hours of run time with a fully-charged battery. Even in its full-on active state, battery life is over 10 hours. Pros shooting in continuous mode with a power-hungry IS lens could need a spare battery, but otherwise the standard NP-E3 pack that comes with the camera should be more than sufficient.

CONCLUSION

The EOS-1D was an impressive dSLR at its debut, arguably the most rugged, configurable and fastest then available on the market. The Mark II raises the bar while maintaining all that made the 1D such a successful and formidable SLR, offering the same great exposure control, but with a much higher resolution, 8.2-megapixel CMOS sensor. Its amazingly rapid shutter sound will make you enjoy each click that much more, to the point that you'll be tempted to put it in high continuous mode and squeeze a few off every once in awhile just to hear the music of the Mark II's shutter. Its heft and excellent control layout make it clear that the Mark II means business and its image quality is second to none. Although I do caution readers to shoot in RAW mode and use Canon's Digital Photo Professional software to convert images to JPEG whenever dealing with out-of-gamut colors, particularly reds. The expanded image review options and inclusion of Video Out and USB jacks are added pluses. Continuing with the same excellent user interface that mimics the 35mm EOS-1v and an amazing range of custom menu options, the Mark II really stands alone with its combination of high resolution, excellent image quality and astonishing speed. Highly Recommended.

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One entry per site per month, please (and no links from unsavory sites).

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Book Bag: eBay Photos That Sell

The subtitle is probably the real selling point: Taking Great Product Shots for eBay and Beyond. A photo may flatter but it can't be said to sell. If you want to take flattering photos of your merchandise, you'll have to learn a bit about taking product shots. And this nicely illustrated 172-page tome will tell what you have to know at an entertaining clip.

Dan Gookin (of PCs for Dummies fame) provides the entertainment while pro photographer Robert Birnbach (Pottery Barn, Target, Kinko's) dishes up the content. And no, you won't have to spend (much) more than the $29.99 cover price to follow their advice. Unless you don't already own a shower curtain.

In seven chapters with two appendices, the two manage to improve your ability to photograph ordinary objects like a pro without breaking your bank account. You may get in trouble for cutting up that shower curtain, stealing a few old clothespins (in pairs) and not putting the ladder back where it belongs, but you'll get much better pictures of your valuables.

Even in 172 pages there is a good deal of fluff (philosophy of sales, basic photo editing, storing images). But the good stuff is hard to find elsewhere. That includes how to stage your product (using either the infinite horizon of a sheet of drawing paper or the objective approach of setting the image in a scene) and how to light it (including that shower curtain). eBay specifics (image size, format and uploading) are also covered, of course, as metafluff.

Forays into philosophy aside, the practical advice is so detailed you'll jump up from the book to try it out. Not only are the techniques clearly explained, but they're easy to do. And the results are so rewarding you may start buying stuff on eBay just to photograph it!

But you don't have to have any interest in eBay to appreciate Gookin and Birnbach's book. If you've ever wanted to take a great shot of some precious item, this book will show you just how to do it. We're sold on it.

eBay Photos That Sell by Dan Gookin and Robert Birnbach, published by Sybex, 172 pages, $29.99.
Return to Topics.

Beginners Flash: Two Useless Features

Every digicam comes with two features you can set once and forget. That makes them useless, according to certain international standards. You may not even have to set them once. Which makes them ridiculous in certain circles.

The Daryl and Daryl of your digicam, they're brothers whose names may as well be the same because you can barely tell them apart. They are Resolution and Compression.

Actually, they are quite different, probably not even the same sex but dressed in the same erudite Latinism that goes for fashion in photo terminology. So let's give them a couple of more appropriate names to distinguish them properly.

Resolution is Detail. The more pixels you capture, the more detail. Nothing more, nothing less. So if your digicam offers a choice of image size between 2048x1536, 1024x768 and 640x480 pixels, you should select 2048x1536. And forget it.

Sure, we know people who think it's wonderful they can store over 300 images on their 16-MB memory card if they set the resolution to 640x480. And, they tell us, the pictures look great on their computer or when they upload them to a Web album or email them.

We say, Blooey.

Buy a card worthy of your camera (they're affordable these days), shoot at the highest resolution and capture the detail the camera was designed to come home with. If you really want 640x480 images, resize them (automatically even) on your computer. You'll eliminate noise in the underexposed images and be able to make larger prints from the originals as side benefits.

Compression affects file size, so it's easily confused with resolution (which is concerned only with image size, not file size). Call it Crunch.

Compression simply crunches the detail you've captured into a fraction of its full size so it uses less storage space on your card than the uncrunched file you see on your monitor. Our world famous Average digicam can crunch that data into a quarter, an eighth or a sixteenth of its original size. Pretty dramatic, eh?

Fortunately, it does that using JPEG compression. You can read our treatise on JPEG compression if you like (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html) but the short version is that while it does lose some data, you can't tell by looking at the picture.

This isn't entirely useless. When we're at a party and running out of room on our last memory card, we have no qualms at all about shifting into a higher compression mode to squeeze a few more shots on the card. If we don't look at the file sizes, we can't tell when our full resolution images started being crunched twice as much.

But today's spacious memory cards make that trick unnecessary. There's no reason to crunch your detail if you have a large card.

So set your digicam to full resolution for detail and the least compression available so you don't crunch it to death. Then forget all about them until you buy your next digicam.

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In the Forums

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

Read about the Olympus C-8080 Zoom at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee97eae

Visit the Canon Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f773

Joseph asks for advice on choosing a camera at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9d579/0

Jake asks about image management overseas at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9d5a9/0

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

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Just for Fun: A Valentine

We were driving the old gray battleship down the faded gray highway under a darkening gray sky when our thoughts turned to Valentine's Day. No images of bright red symmetrical hearts and harmless well-intentioned arrows, though. No, our thoughts turned back to years ago when the old gray battleship would be on course to the Smiths' Valentine's Party.

It was Smith, a likely name for it, who got us into programming. Not himself, of course. As a big shot at Fireman's Fund, famous for his advocacy of standardized forms in a proprietary world, he had the smarts to introduce us to his own programmer. Named Smith, of course.

Corporate schenanigans being what they have always been, both Smiths were also named Bill. Neither was ever laid off, no doubt because the bean counters weren't sure, even though they suspected a surplus of Bill Smiths, which Bill Smith to pink slip. Get the wrong one and your zeal could backfire.

Among the first observations we made under their tutelage was that this computer thing was never going to work out. It's a marriage of promises with the possible, always shooting for the moon with toy rockets. Promise the moon, sure. Get there? Managing disappointment is the game. Achieving a few small wonders is the goal.

The Valentine's Party was the one moment of reprieve. The senior Bill Smith, analytical, charming, even debonair if cool as a Scotsman in his kilt, had married this vivacious dazzler who, probably because she navigated NASA during the moon shot years, found no obstacle daunting. You just had to do the math. Bill would dress in his red bow tie and red alpaca sweater and Marcie would fan out romantic ballads across the baby grand. Neighborhood kids dressed for graduation would park your battleship and professionals would cater the event so the host and hostess could enjoy their own party.

It is no doubt the most distinguished crowd in which we have ever been found. And we remember many lessons from it. Including the one taught to us by a real rocket scientist who decided to get into the computer consultation business, a sector whose growth was unchecked by actual measurement. We'd asked him if it wasn't a bit dicey getting paid and he replied it had never been a problem. We coughed and he explained he always asked a new client if he could have their solemn vow that they would pay promptly. Not their ordinary vow, but their solemn vow.

It came as a shock to some people that they were in possession of a solemn vow, but once they were made aware of it, they actually enjoyed exercising it. Which, we suspect, is how many valentines manage to sprinkle small wonders through their improbable promises.

Until this year, it had been a few years since the Smiths had hosted a Valentine's Party. Marcie had nearly left us with a pernicious cancer just after Bill had recovered from a mysterious illness. And various of the luminaries had been called to more pressing gatherings in other worlds.

But this year, in defiance of all that says 1) it can't be done, 2) you'll never make it and 3) the stars are crossed, the little lady from NASA spread the sheet music out once again and the corporate systems expert straightened his unfaded red bow tie. And what luminaries had survived returned and the once bright flashes in the pan showed up, too (if a bit the worse for wear) and the room glowed, everyone with a drink in one hand and an unrecognizable hors d'oeuvre in the other.

Of course, with both hands full, not a single picture was taken. Too bad, too, because the air was full of arrows.

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We Have Mail

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RE: The Old Gray Mare

As an owner of an Epson 2200 printer, I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated your current newsletter with the positive comments on the 2200.

I purchased the 2200 as soon as it was available and have been very happy with the print quality. Your current newsletter was a vindication of this purchase and my feeling that my printer still meets the standards for quality.

Additionally, I want to advise that I find Imaging Resource releases to be the most readable and useful regarding produce reviews and advice.

Thank you for maintaining your high standards.

-- Charley Grimes

(Thanks for the kind words, Charley! With the amazingly short life cycles of most electronics products these days, the 2200 is a wonder. It certainly proves there are advantages to a longer life cycle -- and we can't think of another printer that does! -- Editor)

Some additions to your review of the Epson 2200:

Paper: It's fussy about gloss and semi-gloss finishes. Use a paper with the wrong coating and you're likely to end up with "pizza wheels" or ink puddles. I found out, through experience, that Kodak Ultima gloss, Hammermill Ultra Premium gloss and Ilford Classic papers don't work with the 2200. Ilford Smooth papers, all finishes, work just fine however. If you're going to use a gloss finish, it's best to look for a paper that specifically mentions compatibility with the 2200.

Storing partially used cartridges: Just tuck them in a Ziplock bag. I've gone as long as three weeks before using them again without any problem.

Neutral grays: No matter what, I still find a slight magenta cast in monochrome prints. It's less pronounced on matte papers but it's there. Epson markets a gray balance software package in Europe. I've tracked it down and tried it, but frankly didn't get the hang of it. I'm about to try the MIS Ultratone inkset (http://www.inksupply.com), which is the only one I've found that comes packaged in Epson cartridges and can be swapped with the colored inkset, so you don't have to dedicate the printer to B&W. MIS also sells a set of plastic clips that hold the top rollers out of the way, which should help with the "pizza wheel" problem.

I purchased my 2200 a few months after its release and haven't regretted it. It's an excellent machine and I only hope that Epson will continue to support it.

-- Bernie Kubiak

(Thanks, Bernie! We've never seen a neutral gray <g>, but we helped one reader rid themselves of a pink cast merely by calibrating their monitor using the free Monitor Calibration Wizard [W] (http://www.majorgeeks.com/download3912.html). -- Editor)

Print longevity is recorded for the manufacturer's inks and papers. I note a lot of options for "replacement" inks or paper. How well do these replacements perform?

-- Peter Wepplo

(Less well and often significantly less well, but not always <g>. At Whilhem Imaging (http://www.wilhelm-research.com), which tests for longevity, you can download PCWorld's articles "Cheap Ink Probed" and "The Fade Factor," which covers paper. -- Editor)

RE: Incident Light

Enjoyed all the reviews: the 2200, which I have, the 7D, which I want and the Gossen Luna Pro, which I used to have.

Just to let you know, there is now a silver-oxide 625 battery out -- the S625PX. I use them in my old SRTs with just a calibration.

-- Ed

(Thanks, Ed! If the silver oxide 625 had 1.35 volts, it would be perfect for the Luna Pro. But it has 1.5 volts, which is why you had to recalibrate. Unfortunately, the only calibration on the Luna Pro is for zero with no battery power. We're saving up for the adapter as we speak! -- Editor)

Just read your article on incident light reading.

I'm still using a Gossen Sixtar that I bought in the '60s. I used it for still photography, for 16mm as a TV cine camera-man and again recently when I returned to photography using digital.

I pulled it out of storage, wiped the battery (its second since I bought it) that I'd taped to the outside of the case 24 years ago!!! It's working fine.

Call me over-cautious, but I regret to admit that last week I popped in a new battery, just-in-case. :-[

-- Ian Carter

I enjoyed your article on incident light metering. I started taking photos in 1950 and soon after I bought my Argus C-3, I bought a Norwood Incident light meter. When I lost it by accident I bought the same thing only it was called a Sekonic.

One thing you could have told the readers that a reflected light sensor in the camera can give incident light readings by using a gray card. As you surely know, the reflected light from the gray card is equal to the light falling on an incident meter's sensing surface.

-- Ken

(By definition, metering a gray card is a reflected light reading. You're right that it's very similar, since it avoids being fooled by the tones in the subject. But it doesn't gather light from the sides or account for reflections (which we probably should have said). It's concerned with exposing middle gray correctly, not metering the light falling on the scene. So while the camera's meter reading a gray card can give an exposure reading identical to an incident light meter, they really are looking at different things. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Hear Dave (http://www.worldtalkradio.com/archive.asp?aid=3297) on last week's Photo Talk Radio, hosted by Howard Lipin and Michael A. Garcia. Kinda reminds you of Bing Crosby, no?


Pixel Ribs (http://www.pixelribs.com) has released McFilters [MW], a set of nine Photoshop-compatible plug-in filters that "intensively use information from the selection mask in a cool and unique ways to modulate filter parameters." Effects include backlight glow, blur, gel, lens distortion, motion blu and more.


Wacom (http://www.wacom.com) has introduced its $2,499 Cintiq 21UX, a 1600x1200, 21.3-inch LCD that responds to a pen like a pressure-sensitive tablet.


Epson (http://www.epson.com) has announced its $549 Stylus Photo R1800, a 13-inch version of R800 using eight UltraChrome inks in 1.5 picoliter droplets to print directly on a wide variety of papers, roll media and CD/DVDs.


Apple has unveiled its Pro Color Web site (http://www.apple.com/pro/color) to help design and print professionals keep pace with color management trends including virtual color proofing.


Lemke Software (http://www.lemkesoft.de) has released its $35 GraphicConverter 5.5 [M] with new import formats (WinFax fxm, DCS, AMC, MHT archive, MBM 12-bit image, SVG and more), a keyword window, 40 levels of undo, batch filename editing, batch copy of IPTC metadata and more.


Digital Railroad (http://www.digitalrailroad.net) has announced its rights-managed Photo Feeds, which provides the services of a major photo wire service to anyone. Photo Feeds delivers personalized feeds to photo buyers via RSS, Atom or Javascript, personalized by subject, keyword and member archive.


The $39.95 Web Photos Pro 1.0.0 [WM] (http://www.webphotospro.com) helps photo bloggers organize, manage, customize, upload and search photos on the Web while creating RSS feeds so readers can subscribe to your latest posts.


Canto (http://www.canto.com) has released Canto Cumulus 6.5 with enhanced authentication methods including LDAP support and new administration tools for increased system control. Cumulus 6.5 now supports Image Color Management, offers enhanced CMYK support in the Pixel Image Converter and allows lossless rotation of JPEG originals.


Bil Bolaget (http://www.bildbolaget.nu/software) has released its $29.95 Batch [M], a batch photo processor with image browsing that can create Web galleries and slide shows.


TiVo Desktop (http://www.tivo.com) can publish and share digital music, photos and TiVo recordings between a networked TiVo Series2 DVR and a computer. Version 2.0 is available for Windows XP/2000, version 1.9 for Mac OS X 10.2+ with iPhoto 2 or later.


ExpressDigital (http://www.expressdigital.com) has released Retail Labtricity. Designed for labs in the retail environment serving the general consumer, it offers lab workflow software, in-store kiosk software and home software to help consumers manage and print their digital photographs.


FastMac (http://www.fastmac.com) has announced its Take-Your-Mini-to-the-Max upgrade program for the Apple Mac mini. Packages start at $199.95 for an 8x Dual-Layer SuperDrive. Add 1-GB RAM and a 100-GB hard drive for $199.95 each. Price includes prepaid 3-way shipping, professional installation, free data transfer and a 1-2 business day turnaround.


MultimediaPhoto (http://www.hdrsoft.com) has released its $99 Photomatix Pro 2.0.4 [MW] to extends the dynamic range of digital images by combining images taken with different exposures into a single new image. The new version adds read-only support for Photoshop PSD files, HDRI viewing at different exposures and some bug fixes.

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Signoff

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Happy snapping!

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

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