|Volume 7, Number 5||4 March 2005|
Welcome to the 144th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We recap our ground-breaking PMA coverage before reviewing an intriguing new online service. Learn all about Photoshop actions with Al Ward, then dress in something festive to make your Oscar nomination.
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Calling it a show of incremental rather than breakthrough announcements, Dave nevertheless found "a lot of interesting non-camera stuff" worth his top pick rating.
If the show was incremental for cameras, it was not for Imaging Resource's coverage. For the first time, coverage branched into Internet radio with Dave's pre- and post-show appearances on Howard Lipin and Mike Garcia's Photo Talk Radio (http://www.worldtalkradio.com/show.asp?sid=122).
But the big breakthrough was Imaging Resource's video coverage of the show (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS05/PMAS05VIDEO.HTML) with a 12-MB Sneak Peek before the doors opened, a 13M Opening Day Reel, an 8-MB Rebel XT Review and a 13M look at Kodak's Wi-Fi EasyShare-One. And more are coming in the next few days.
CANON REBEL XT
While Kodak showed its EasyShare-One at CES in January, Canon announced its $899 Digital Rebel XT (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS05/1108638359.html) at PMA with shipments expected next month. Although rumored to replace the existing Digital Rebel, the original is not going away but getting a price reduction ($799 with a zoom lens).
While Dave noted the bump in sensor resolution from the original Rebel's 6-MB to the XT's 8-MB, the video shows that's not much real estate. It represents just a 12.5 percent increase in linear resolution over the Rebel.
Instead, other features make the XT a top pick. Some of them were stripped from the higher end Canon dSLRs for the Rebel but others are new:
It looks like the XT is a much more well-rounded camera than the Rebel and at the price will even offer the 20D a run for its money.
- Size: The XT has a 23 percent lower volume and 13 percent lighter weight than its predecessor, making it the smallest and lightest EOS Digital camera ever. Dave found that cramped his fingers on the hand grip, but Shawn found a way to get a secure grip by using just the top pads of his fingers.
- Focusing/Metering: Focus mode and metering mode choices are no longer tied to AI Focus AF mode. Center-weighted metering is now available in Program, Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority modes, while Manual mode offers Evaluative metering.
- Burst Speed/Depth: Despite the higher resolution/file size, burst speed and depth improves on the Rebel's 2.5 frames per second to 4.0 JPEG/Raw frames with 3.0 fps for 14 JPEG frames or five Raw frames. Even in the JPEG + Raw mode, the XT still manages four consecutive frames at this speed.
- Startup Time: Where the Rebel took two seconds to power on, the XT requires just 0.2 seconds.
- Custom Settings: The XT now has nine custom settings menus with a total of 24 settings (including Mirror Lockup), conspicuously absent from the Rebel.
- Raw format: The XT's Raw files are now saved in Canon's new CR2 Raw format and can save either a Raw file or a Raw and Large JPEG simultaneously. The Rebel offered only a medium JPEG embedded in the Raw file. The choice of CR2 Raw also means you can convert the images in Canon's Digital Photo Professional software (bundled with the camera).
- DCF 2.0/JPEG format: The XT complies with the Design Rule for Camera File System 2.0 specification.
- Power Source: Where the Rebel used BP-512 batteries, the XT uses the lower watt-hour capacity NB-2LH batteries, reducing the size of the camera.
- Image Processor/Battery Life: The new battery might seem like a disadvantage but the XT uses Canon's DIGIC II image processor with power consumption savings of 35 percent. We're told battery life will be around 600 shots per charge without flash and around 400 shots with 50 percent flash use -- the same as the Rebel. DIGIC II also accounts for the XT's higher speed and should offer better color reproduction, as well as faster direct printing speeds.
- White Balance: The XT has the same two-dimensional white balance compensation and bracketing adjustment feature we praised in the EOS 20D.
- Flash: Flash exposure is now calculated using Canon's E-TTL II, rather than the Rebel's E-TTL system. E-TTL works on the assumption that the autofocus point covers the subject -- a logical assumption that is usually the case -- but was thrown off when you pre-focused and reframed. E-TTL II corrects this problem with a combination of ambient light and pre-flash metering, plus distance information from the lens (if available).
- Monochrome Mode: The XT offers a monochrome mode, similar to the EOS 20D.
HP PHOTOSMART 8570 INKJET
HP's new $499 Photosmart 8750 printer (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS05/1109372922.html) offers archival color and black and white prints in a 13x19-inch format. A three-tone black system yields beautiful gradations and neutral grayscale across the tonal range.
The color complement isn't much different from those of other inkjets (although blue is a bit unusual as a gamut-expansion color), but the three shades of black/gray set it apart. There are third-party quadtone inksets for fine art black-and-white printing and at least Epson has produced a printer with a light black, but no major manufacturer focuses on black-and-white printing quite like HP.
The problem with printing black and white photos on conventional inkjets is that their use of colors to build up the shades of gray generally results in grays that aren't neutral and, even worse, change in hue as you move across the tonal range or as the prints age.
The new HP 8750, like its ancestor the HP 7960, solves this problem by using three shades of gray (black, medium gray and light gray) to get very smooth gradations in black and white prints, while maintaining color neutrality across its full tonal range.
The new printer not only produces great-looking prints, but boasts an exceptional print life of 100 years in a frame, under normal residential lighting or 200 years in archival storage conditions, as projected by Wilhelm Research. HP booth personnel said print life is slightly longer for black-and-white prints but "it's only a matter of a few years," so they're just using the 100/200 year figures for both.
With so many dSLRs availabe, third-party lenses are starting to appear in the market. Among Dave's favorites at the show were lenses from Sigma and Tamron.
Sigma (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS05/1108339201.html) announced a whopping 13 new lenses before the show, three designed with a reduced APS-C image circle and solely for use on dSLRs, while the remaining 10 are 35mm lenses that can be used on either film or dSLRs. Eight of the new lenses are zooms, while the remainder are primes (fixed focal length lenses) varying from 30mm to 800mm focal lengths.
The star of the lineup is the 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM super wide-angle zoom lens designed exclusively for dSLRs:
Tamron (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS05/1109367350.html) announced two interesting lenses for APS C-sized dSLRs. Dubbed "Di" for Digitally Integrated design, the lenses are meant for 24x16mm sensors and are not intended for 35mm SLRs.
- It covers a superwide-angle of view 102.4 degrees at 10mm to 63.8 degrees at 20mm.
- Three pieces of Special Low Dispersion elements and three aspherical lens elements produce top quality optical performance.
- Inner focusing system ensures the length of the lens remains unchanged while controlling aberrations.
- Equipped with HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) system.
- Minimum focusing distance of 9.4 inches at all focal lengths.
- Relatively compact, lightweight for an ultra wide-angle zoom lens.
- The SP AF11-18mm f4.5-5.6 Di-II LD Aspherical lens has a 35mm focal length equivalent of 17-28mm, offering true wide-angle zooming. It uses one high dispersion glass element with a low dispersion one to "minimize on-axis and lateral chromatic aberrations" according to the company.
- The AF18-200mm f3.5-6.3 XR Di-II LD Aspherical Macro picks up where the former leaves off, with the 35mm equivalent of a 28-300mm lens. It uses what Tamron calls XR elements (for Extra Refractive Index) to overcome some of the limitations of wide-ranging zooms.
WORLD'S TALLEST MONOPOD
Before Elevated Photos, you'd need a helicopter to get photographs this high. Essentially a large, pneumatically-operated telescopic pole or mast, the Aerial Photography System (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS05/1109311210.html), raises a camera 53 feet in the air. It has a three-footed base and is secured with three or six guy ropes for stability in 60 to 80 mph winds (which a helicopter can't handle), according to company founder Simon Bourne.
The system is designed to work primarily with Canon digicams, because Canon's Remote Capture software can control most of a digicam's functions via a USB cable connected to a Mac or PC, returning a live view to the computer. An included tilt/pan head is controlled via a simple remote control unit at the top of the camera mount which can swivel 360 degrees.
The aerial system is also easily transported via a small car with a roof rack. It's no impulse buy at $15,000, but as the literature suggests, it could be a good business opportunity.
Every PMA has a what-the-heck moment and this year's for Dave was a photo woven into a blanket (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS05/1109371529.html). Wholesaler Portrait Weavers supplies the product to retailers.
Full-color blanket wholesale prices start at $100 for a 54x70-inch Tapestry Throw, discounted to $70 for quantities from two to 10. At $125, a 26x36-inch wall hanging includes a pole and tassels. Both are made from 100 percent cotton.
STUDIO IN A BOX
Lighting is one of the toughest things for amateur photographers to get right and the difference between good and bad lighting is blatantly obvious. People selling products on eBay know the value of good-looking product photography, but how do you get really great shots without a roomful of lighting equipment and a degree in commercial photography?
With the growth of digital photography, a number of companies are beginning to offer lighting systems that help amateur shooters get great-looking results. The lighting setups made by Tokina Lighting Co. (known as Universal Electronics here in the U.S.) are some of the best available and their pricing was quite reasonable as well (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS05/1109377128.html).
Tokina's setups use high frequency fluorescent lights with special phosphors to produce a 5200-degree Kelvin daylight white balance. There's no need to imagine the results because unlike strobes the lighting is always on. High frequency fluorescent lighting throws off very little heat and doesn't have the flicker of conventional fluorescent tubes. The tubes used in the light heads for these mini-studios use a special blend of phosphors to get much closer to daylight than ordinary fluorescents. They're rated at 5200K color temperature and a color rendering index of 90.
The rods and support arms are all fairly heavy-gauge anodized aluminum and the light heads are solidly made. While the heads bobble around on the ends of the support arms when moved, they nonetheless feel solid enough to stand up to heavy use.
Tokina displayed three models at the show, suitable for objects roughly 6, 12 or 24 inches across and priced at $330, $910 and $2500 respectively. Distribution is currently rather limited in the U.S., but there is at least one place you can buy them on the Web: Web Photo Supply (http://www.webphotosupply.com) in San Marcos, Texas.
There was much more, of course, including Sony's DSC-H1, the first long zoom still camera from Sony with image stabilization (somewhat surprising, since Sony was a pioneer of IS in the camcorder market). Speaking of which, Panasonic introduced two new Lumix long-zooms and Konica Minolta announced its new 12x zoom DiMAGE Z5.
For booth and product shots, press releases, video coverage and more, visit our PMA show page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS05/PMAS05.HTML).
We were early adopters of Ofoto (http://www.ofoto.com), delighted to be able to upload a few images to their server and email everyone the link to them so they could see our latest without drumming their fingers. But then the uploads got onerous (we were drumming our fingers) and our enthusiasm for online photo sharing was buoyed up only by our dislike of emailing images.
In our recent Macworld report, we spoke highly of Printroom (http://www.printroom.com) for professionals who want to sell prints without the bother of handling customer service. Last year, at the other end of the spectrum, we reviewed Qurio (http://www.qurio.com), which lets you serve images from your Windows machine for free. And we've occasionally mentioned Funtigo (http://www.funtigo.com) for its flexible Web designs.
But recently we've been using Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com), yet another innovation to online sharing. Like Printroom, it isn't a free service, but its amenities are not without value. A recent incident illustrated them to full effect.
You can read the illustrated version of this review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHF/PHF.HTM) on the Web site.
When it comes to sharing images, we're impatient. We want the event's story told online as quickly and as easily as possible. We've used a variety of online photofinishers and even uploaded application-built (MediaPro, Photoshop) Web pages to our own server space. Nothing quite won us over.
When the Rapp family visited us recently, we knew dialing 911 wouldn't be sufficient. Burning H-E-L-P in the backyard weeds was rather iffy, too. We actually needed to communicate in photos our subjection to the delightful tyranny of three children under the age of 7 to the carefree family members they left behind across the country. Phanfare promised to rescue us with "security and password systems that understand the subtle dynamics of the family album."
Perhaps we misunderstood, but our enthusiasm took over. After establishing an account, we downloaded the Windows-only application. A Mac version is on the drawing board, but don't hold your breath. The technology is fairly sophisticated (well, it was developed by a couple of Stanford grads) and translating it to OS X is going to take a while.
The good news, however, is that no matter what browser your friends and family use, they can see your work (unlike, say, Qurio). We needed to reach the widest possible audience, so that was a big plus.
And we weren't disappointed. We never had to upload an image, but the Phanfare server had our full-resolution originals organized into albums, each with their own Web page and automatic slide show. And, of course, prints were easy to order (through Shutterfly) by anyone in our address book we had invited to see the album.
All we really did was import our images, organize them into albums, retouch a few (red-eye, underexposure, rotation mainly), write a few witty captions spiced with the charm of an unexpected typo and fire off an email pleading for aid. Which, we think, is about as streamlined as it gets. Particularly since we did all that without leaving Phanfare Photo, the application program.
How do they do it?
HOW THEY DO IT
Well, it's simple really. The Phanfare folks realize it takes longer to write a caption than to upload a photo. So while we were scratching our head over just what to say about an image, it was being sent to the server. Everything you import into a Phanfare album gets uploaded while you are busy scratching your head.
You don't have to select a bunch of filenames and push them up to the server by pressing some Upload button. There isn't one. Phanfare is smart enough to know it has a delivery to make and it makes it in the background. A small status message at the bottom of the window is your only clue that something is going on.
We liked that very much. You'd think everybody would do it that way.
Your full-resolution images are resized on your computer to 700 pixels in the longest dimension (and moved to the server before the full-sized images so your Web page is updated first). That's a good bit larger than most services scale images viewed on the Web. Phanfare doesn't mind the extra bandwidth or even providing printable quality because you're paying for it, not them. If you turn on album printing, the full-resolution image, not just the 700-pixel Web image can be downloaded. That's one of the benefits of paying for a service.
Another is that neither you nor your audience sees a Phanfare logo. Your subsite is username.phanfare.com (or your own domain). But there's no branding and no advertising either. Nor any marketing email to your address book. You paid for the service.
And since you're paying that $29.95 on an annual basis, your albums stay up, too. With the full-resolution images. Think of it as an off-site backup. If your hard disk dies, you don't lose all your images. You just launch Phanfare Photo on another computer and your Web-sized photos will re-sync with the application, downloading the images again to your computer. You can manually download the full-res images, too. And if you ever leave Phanfare, they promise to send you a DVD of your images. Or three.
WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
When someone makes a promise like that, we like to look into their background.
Co-founder and CEO Andrew Erlichson received his AB from Dartmouth and his MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford. Prior to Phanfare, he was CEO and Founder of Flashbase, which was acquired by DoubleClick in 2000. At DoubleClick, he was vice president of technology for the research and development group. He has worked at Mips Computer Systems, Silicon Graphics and BlackRock Financial Management.
Fellow Co-founder and CTO Mark Heinrich received his BSE from Duke and his MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford. Prior to Phanfare he was Founder and CTO of Flashbase. He was formerly a professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell and is currently a professor in the School of Computer Science at the University of Central Florida, where the winters are warmer. His research focuses on flexible architectures for multi-threaded high-throughput computing.
They created Phanfare because they wanted "private, permanent, polished, unbranded online photo albums. Simultaneously, we wanted to drastically simplify the time and effort required to create and maintain our albums and consolidate our entire workflow in the process." Phanfare is "simply the end result of what we wanted to make the process of creating our own online albums fun again!" The service, which offers a free 30-day trial, welcomed its first paying customers in Nov. 2004.
Any Web browser can display your online albums. Big plus.
But Phanfare Photo, the application you run on your computer, requires Windows 98/ME/NT/2000/XP, all of which support the Microsoft .NET framework used to upload images and sync albums. Phanfare recommends a 300-MHz Pentium II class processor or faster, at least 128-MB RAM and 512-MB of free disk space. Phanfare Photo will work over a dial-up connection, but a broadband connection is much more feasible.
Oh, about that Mac version. Erlichson told us, "We have now carefully analyzed the development time for the Mac version, and moved it up our priority list. I can say with confidence that we will have a Macintosh version of Phanfare Photo within six months."
According to the member agreement, "total network traffic is limited to 10-GB per user per month." A lot. But there is "no limit on the amount of storage you can use for personal use."
By default, albums are not password protected. But it's simple to add password protection. Choose Share then Web site Options in Phanfare Photo, click the Web site tab and at the bottom check the box that says Password Required for Web Access. Enter the password and click OK. Phanfare Photo adds the protection to your online album immediately.
If you do set a password, it is automatically included in any email invitations to view the album that Phanfare Photo sends. And you can set how long a visitor can view your album before they have to reenter the password.
Phanfare Photo also includes basic image editing tools to enhance images and handle the most common digital photography faults. These include cropping and rotating. But they extend to auto levels, red-eye correction and brightness/contrast control.
Changes are only made to copies of your originals, which Phanfare Photo creates. A copy of the original is also kept by the application in case you want to revert to your original. In our case, we actually imported images from a CD and edited them. Naturally, the CD could not be overwritten, but Phanfare Photo had no problem with that since it merely copies the source files.
While you can't create your own Web page style, Phanfare does offer a variety of album styles. The active one is displayed in the main window. They're simple and uncluttered designs that work well, all of which include a nice slide show option.
You select a color scheme, decide on a layout, select among a range of options for displaying key images, add your captions and that's about it.
We really don't have an issue with this approach. The pictures are the thing. And the slide show works very well, with a simple fade transition that displays your caption on top of the image.
When we really wanted to change something in Phanfare, we always seemed to find an option somewhere in the program to let us do it.
Phanfare also has the good karma thing going. It provides its service free to schools and non-profits "as a way to say thank you to the community."
Phanfare school accounts are "meant for teachers to post pictures to communicate with parents. Over time, the Phanfare albums become a living history of the school in pictures," the company points out. The system supports academic years, too, so albums from the same academic year appear on the same page of your table of contents.
So if you recently cut someone off in traffic, this might be a good way to restore the balance of the universe.
For $29.95 a year, you get your own photo domain, no ads or foreign logos, offsite backup with automatic restore, large Web images with downloadable originals, unlimited storage, Web slide shows, email notification, integration with Shutterfly and, most importantly of all, the smoothest sharing workflow we've experienced.
It may not have saved us from the kids, but it certainly let us enjoy their visit more. And share our enjoyment effortlessly.
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:
- First Look: Olympus C-7070 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/C7070/C70A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot SD20 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SD20/SD20A.HTM)
- PMA Coverage (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS05/PMAS05.HTML) includes four videos (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS05/PMAS05VIDEO.HTML).
With "over 600 time-saving actions" included, you can bet Al Ward's treatise on automating Photoshop with actions includes a CD. The collection includes not only Al's favorites, but contributions from Robert Anselmi, Danny Raphael, Kent Christiansen and Mike Finn.
It sounds simple and it can be. But it can get complex, too. You may want the same settings applied every time you run one Action but prefer to adjust them for another. Unfortunately, most Photoshop tomes don't discuss how to craft a really slick Action. It's too much like programming.
Enter Al Ward, who built a Web site (http://www.actionfx.com) dedicated to actions, met Scott Kelby and wrote a column for Photoshop User magazine as he warped into a "certified Photoshop addict." In short, the perfect guy for the job.
The book is nicely organized into a few chapters:
Chapter 1 covers "What Actions Are Made Of," discussing why you should automate, describing the actions palette and delving into the role of batch processing and droplets.
Chapter 2 covers "Actions in Action" -- loading, saving, playing and editing actions.
Chapter 3 covers "Creating and Using Actions," the meat of the book. You learn how to record an action in four stages, how to handle breaks in the action and how to have an action call another action. Then you get the start-to-finish treatment on batch processing (in just five pages) and droplets (in two). Testing and troubleshooting your work is also covered.
Chapter 4 covers "Other Action Tidbits" with compatibility notes, more tips, advice on using actions as learning tools or with raw files and, finally, some online resources.
The Appendix illustrates many of the actions on the CD. They're organized into five Photo action categories (Aging, Artistic, Color Correction, Enhancement and Layout), Production, Typography, miscellaneous (brushes, patterns, shapes, layer styles) and third-party stuff (contributors' actions and more, including stock images).
While the heavily illustrated book is printed mostly in black and white, there is a 16-page color gallery.
If you've been disappointed with the discussion of actions, batch processing and droplets in other Photoshop books, grab this toolkit. Even if you don't read it, we'll bet you find a few things on the CD worth the price of admission.
Al Ward's Photoshop Productivity Toolkit by Al Ward, published by Sybex, 144 pages, $34.99.
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 Nikon Coolpix 8800 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee9b16a
Visit the Minolta Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f77f
Michelle asks for advice about action shots with a 20D at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9cffd/0
Carlos asks about depth of field at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9d80d/0
Visit the Software Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b0
A subscription to this animated publication has always included free membership in the Ersatz Academy of Sliding Picture Arts and Sciences. Members of the Academy (you) are requested each year to submit nominations for the Academy's legendary Missing Oscar.
You may recall the Missing Oscar as the one stolen Oscar of several years ago that was never retrieved. Every year we try to give it away on the theory that you can't lose what you don't have.
Past awards honored Best Slide Show Software, Best Photo Web Site, Best Shareware, Best Input Device and Best Digital Photography Book. With only one missing Oscar, we're obliged to change the category each time we present the award.
This year the award will honor the Best Photo Gadget. A gadget is defined as "a usually small and often novel mechanical or electronic device or contrivance" or "something trivial which is hard to classify or whose name is unknown." Flaunt your creativity. What is it you never leave the house with when you grab your digicam?
The winner will enjoy the Public Notoriety of the Ersatz Academy's Missing Oscar. You need not dress expensively (or at all). And, in further defiance of the regular Oscars, your acceptance speech will not be interrupted by pirated mp3s at our virtual awards ceremony. You may talk to yourself as long as you want.
To submit your nomination, email your testimonial with the subject "Oscar Nomination" to firstname.lastname@example.org before our next issue. And don't delay. We're already late as it is.
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After I read your article about this great little scope, I went out and bought it. With the deal was the camera adaptor and I bought a T-ring to allow my nifty Canon Digital Rebel to attach to the scope. Only trouble is, there seems to be no way to bring the camera into focus through the scope. Either the tube is the wrong length for that camera or something. The scope people didn't seem to have any other ideas and a camera shop didn't either. Any suggestions?
-- Chris Nichols(Indeed, you just need the T-ring and the adapter that ships with the Malibu. Remove the lens from the camera body, attach the T-ring and mount that to the adapter after you've screwed the adapter all the way onto the Malibu (and gently removed the rubber eyepiece from the Malibu). Once you've got the hardware set up, you dial in your magnification on the scope to get rid of vignetting and focus that as if it were (because it is) your primary lens. You have to find both focal length and focus. -- Editor)
I still for the life of me can't grasp what opening the camera attaches to and whether, once attached, you have to view a scene through the scope's eyepiece or can look through the camera's viewfinder. What's the approx. f-value of the scope at wide-angle and telephoto and how do you set to infinity the focus of a camera that has its lens removed? Before committing to one, I would really like to have a lot more practical information about spotting scopes on dSLRs. And where does one find an EOS T-ring?
-- Ron Lightbourn(The camera looks into the scope just as you would, through the scope's eyepiece (bird's eye view shot in the illustrated review). You can't look through the scope's eyepiece with a camera mounted because there's no clearance. The lens of the digicam (or the mounted SLR body) is within a few hairs of the eyepiece. You frame and focus through your camera viewfinder once the scope is mounted.... We don't see much dropoff in the scene brightness (as with most teleconverters). The two shots illustrated in the review were taken at 1/190 sec. and f8.9 (normal) and 1/274 sec. at f7, within a few minutes of each other. You set infinity on a digicam that can't remove its lens (or just let it autofocus). You just focus the scope on an SLR after setting the magnification to avoid vignetting. It's the difference between using the scope as a converter or a primary lens.... You can find an Canon EOS T-ring at a camera store, B&H photo online, even Parks. Very common piece of equipment. The real caveat is to make sure you have a sturdy tripod. -- Editor)
RE: Resize Me
You said in your last newsletter that there's a way to automatically resize images in your computer, but you didn't say how (unless I missed that issue). Other than opening them one at a time in Photoshop, what are some other options? Often I am asked to send many pictures via email all at once and it is a pain to resize them individually. I love your newsletter and I appreciate all of the work that goes into publishing it. Thanks.
-- Michelle Szatkowski(Thanks for the kind words, Michelle. Actually there are many, many ways to do that, so we didn't go into it. If you're using Photoshop, you can actually create a little application onto whose icon you can drag your folder of images and have Photoshop automatically resize them. You just create an Action that resizes an image and then turn it into a droplet. Get Al Ward's "Photoshop Productivity Toolkit," reviewed above, for the details. -- Editor)
Regarding resolution and image size. I regularly set one of the custom settings on my camera to 640x480 to use as a note taker. Normal shots are at maximum resolution, but photographs of, say, the street name, section of the map, auto number plate, etc., anything that identifies where a shot was taken, I use 640x480. I write up my notebook in the evening and delete the then redundant images. Works for me anyway!
-- Phil(Hey, that's a good idea, Phil. But we'd forget to switch back. We can just see coming home with gorgeous full-res images of statue plaques and VGA images of landscapes! -- Editor)
I like the feature on useless digital camera features, of which there are many. I don't fully agree with you about the JPEG compression settings. I have used the HQ rather than the SHQ setting on my 3-Mp camera for years and have found that it requires less time to write the image to the card. I'm assuming that's because it writes a smaller file. This may not be an issue with a lot of the newer cameras but it is with my Olympus 3000. This can make a difference in daylight candid shots.
I would also advise snapshooters like me to avoid the TIFF setting because it takes forever to write to the card, not the thing when shooting a family portrait with a couple of fidgety two year olds.
As always, thanks for the good information and enjoyable writing.
-- Michael Sandow(Agreed, Michael. In fact, that's what we do, too. We never use TIFF for snapshots and don't use the highest quality JPEG setting but a bump down -- because we can't see the dropoff. And, as you say, the benefits are tangible. We should have said set it once (but toward the high end) and forget it. We were once distraught to actually have changed it and forgotten our usual setting. We had to do some tests to match file sizes to revert. Silly. -- Editor)
In your Beginners' Flash last issue, you suggested setting a digicam to its maximum resolution as soon as you buy it and never changing it again. There's one situation in which I don't do that and that is shooting in low light.
I use an 8-Mp Canon Powershot Pro1, which at full resolution at ISO 400 produces results so noisy as to be unusable. We all know the noise is due to the tiny pixels in such a camera and that lower resolution cameras record less noise because their pixels are larger. So suppose I set my Pro1 to take 4-Mp pictures instead and use two pixels on the CCD on average for each pixel of my image? Will I get noise comparable to a 4-Mp camera then?
My own (unscientific) experiments suggest I get lower noise this way, than when shooting at ISO 400 with my 4MP Powershot G3. So for 4-Mp images, my new camera is actually better. So in low light, I shoot at ISO 400 at reduced resolution.
You might ask: why not just shoot at 8-Mp and reduce the image size in an image editor afterwards? My experience (again unscientific) is that this does not give as good a result. Perhaps because I am shooting JPEGs, the camera can do a better job of creating a lower resolution image than an image editor, which only sees the image data after it has been compressed and restored once.
-- John Hughes(Congratulations, John, on a nice solution to a nasty problem posed by those 8-Mp wonders. But we still prefer the detail over the noise. There are ways to minimize the noise (Dfine, which we reviewed a while ago, does an excellent job), but none to add detail. Even resizing later to eliminate noise still gives you the best of both worlds: detail and a smaller, less noisy image. -- Editor)
What was the very first image ever displayed on the World Wide Web? Seems like any subscriber of this publication should know. It's still around at http://musiclub.web.cern.ch/MusiClub/bands/cernettes/firstband.html -- the CERN girls. Silvano de Gennaro confesses, "I scanned some photos on my Mac and FTPed them to Tim [Berners-Lee]'s now famous 'info.cern.ch.' How was I to know that I was passing an historical milestone, as the one above was the first picture ever to be clicked on in a Web browser!" The year was 1992.
Sybex (http://www.sybex.com) is sponsoring a Digital Photography Contest to celebrate the launch of their Digital Photography and Video Center. Enter up to three images before April 1 for a chance to win up to $1,000 and publication in a Sybex book. Tim gray, author of Color Confidence and Photo Finish from Sybex, will judge the entries. First prize is $1,000 and publication in a Sybex book, second prize is $500 and publication in a Sybex book, third prize is a copy of The Digital Photographer's Library with books by Mikkel Aaland, Peter K. Burian and Tim Gray.
PictoColor (http://www.pictocolor.com) has updated PictoColor inCamera to version 4.0. The $149.95 download/$99.95 upgrade revision adds support for GretagMacbeth's new ColorChecker SG chart and the HutchColor HCT target from Hutcheson Consulting, provides additional reporting on quality of image of the chart; and adds custom light source selection for optimizing your profile for your light source.
Epson (http://www.epson.com) has announced its $299 Stylus Photo RX620 all-in-one device, providing PictBridge compatibility, USB, an 11-format card reader and a built-in scanner with Epson's Easy Photo Fix technology to restore colors from faded slides or negatives.
Charlie Morey writes from Yosemite, "Just got your newsletter and that reminded me I hadn't told you about my Yosemite Renaissance Artist-in-Residence Web-based daily journal (http://www.digitalphotography.tv/air_news) -- try saying that three times real fast. It began a week ago when I arrived in Yosemite National Park for the first two-week AiR session, includes images taken that day."
Subscriber Burt Hesselson just launched a new online gallery (http://www.evergladespsa.org/burthesselsongallery) of his work.
VicMan (http://www.vicman.net) has released its $29.95 Mobile Photo Enhancer to improve the quality of cell phone images, reducing artifacts and digital noise, correcting poor contrast and color reproduction and fixing the "dark corners" problem.
The DigitalCalamity team (http://www.digitalcalamity.org) has released its free PicMark [M] to thumbnail and watermark images six levels deep in the file system using user-set filters.
AKVIS (http://akvis.com/en/chameleon) has released its $69 Chameleon [MW] Photoshop plug-in to more quickly adjust automatically inserted objects to the target image color range with smoothing of the object's border so precise selections are not necessary.
Lexar (http://www.lexar.com/drr) has announced a collaboration with Digital Railroad to make photography images available more promptly to customers worldwide. Using Lexar's ActiveMemory, the new cooperative solution saves time usually spent on administrative functions like adding copyright and captioning information and simplifies the process of making content available to customers.
LQ Graphics (http://www.lqgraphics.com) has released its $49.95 Photo to Movie 3.2 [M] with an integrated media browser for iPhoto and iTunes and support for iMovie HD codecs for HD export.
Apple (http://www.apple.com) revamped its iPod line, adding a slim 30-GB iPod Photo for $349 and dropping the price of the 60-GB version to $449. The company also promised a software package this month to connect the device directly to a digicam to download images without resizing them in iTunes. Same 16-bit color and squarish aspect ratio, though.
KavaSoft (http://www.kavasoft.com) has released its $79.99 Shoebox Pro 1.0 [M], a photo organizer that "uses Knowledge Base technology to learn about your world." It knows "New Year's Eve is in December, London is in England and purple is a color. And you can teach it much more: for example, that mom is a member of your family, grandma's house is in Topeka and your car is red." The $39.95 Express version limits the number of catalogs and photos.
Popular Photography (http://www.popphoto.com) provides free downloads of their ICC profiles for a number of digital cameras.
RadicalBreeze (http://www.radicalbreeze.com) has released its $14.95 RadicalPhoto 2.0 [M], a digital photo editor with a re-designed interface, enhanced effects processing and export preview.
Boinx Software (http://www.fotomagico.com) has released its $79 FotoMagico 1.2 [M], adding slide titles, simplified QuickTime and DVD exports, support for iPhoto 5 albums, blank slides and more.
iView Multimedia (http://www.iview-multimedia.com) has released its $199 iView MediaPro 2.6.3 [MW] with support for Adobe DNG, Sigma Raw, improved Minolta and Fuji Raw support and more.
Hamrick (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 8.1.36 [LMW], adding single- and multi-page PDF output directly from the scanner.
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
Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc
Lockergnome's Free Digital Media Newsletter: http://www.lockergnome.com
Thanks to those of you who volunteered to test our new mailing system. Not a single problem! We're just waiting for the light to turn green now.
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
Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher