The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 7, Number 9 29 April 2005

Copyright 2005, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 148th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Dave discovers a camera that's ideal for Mother's Day and we reveal a little used setting that can extend your battery life. Have fun!


TOPICS

SPONSORS
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Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by approximately 55,000 combined direct and pass-along subscribers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

Feature: Kodak EasyShare Z740 -- Easy Is Fun

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/Z740/Z740A.HTM on the Web site.)

INTRODUCTION

EasyShare cameras generally live up to their name, themselves easy to use with software that facilitates sharing through a variety of media. The Kodak EasyShare Z740 is no exception, providing true point-and-shoot operation with accurate exposure, a very flexible automatic white balance system and the bright, highly-saturated color preferred by consumers. At the same time, the Z740 offers programmed, shutter- and aperture-priority and even full manual exposure control. Add its 10x zoom lens and 5.0-megapixel CCD and the Z740 is a very nice digital camera, particularly for one so easy to use. Available now bundled with the new Series 3 Kodak Printer dock, the company said the camera will be sold by itself later in the year.

OVERVIEW

With its 10x optical zoom lens, 5.0-Mp CCD and included EasyShare Printer Dock, the $499 Kodak EasyShare Z740 is a well-appointed addition to Kodak's popular EasyShare line of digicams. Compact and similar in style to a traditional point-and-shoot 35mm film camera, the Z740 measures only 3.9x3.1x2.9 inches without the lens extended. The all-plastic body makes it lightweight as well, at 12.2 ounces with the battery and memory card. Its compact design includes a retractable lens, protected by a removable lens cap tethered to the camera. The 5.0-Mp CCD captures high resolution, print quality images (up to 11x17 with good detail or 8x10 with heavy cropping), as well as smaller image sizes suitable for emailing.

Built into the Z740 is a whopping 10x zoom lens (a 38-380mm 35mm equivalent) with lens accessory threads for attaching accessory conversion lenses. The autofocus mechanism uses a multi-zone system to find the primary subject closest to the lens. The AF area is highlighted in the LCD display with a set of brackets. You can also change the AF area to read only the center of the frame through the Record menu. Also available through the Record menu are Single and Continuous AF modes, the Continuous option helping you maintain focus on a moving subject. The Z740 has a maximum aperture ranging from f2.8 to f3.7, depending on the zoom position. Focus ranges from 24 inches to infinity in normal mode, with a Macro mode ranging from 3.9 to 27.6 inches. Landscape focus mode fixes focus at infinity for distant subjects and scenery. In addition to the 10x optical zoom, the Z740 also offers as much as 5x digital zoom, which effectively increases the camera's zoom range to a total of 50x. For composing images, the Z740 offers an electronic optical viewfinder as well as a 1.8-inch color LCD monitor.

The Z740 offers full manual exposure control, as well as a range of partial manual and automatic modes. The Mode dial on the rear panel sets Movie, PASM, Scene, Auto, Sports, Portrait or Night Scene exposure modes. Auto mode leaves all of the exposure decisions up to the camera, while the PASM option provides access to Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual modes. Program mode lets you control options like white balance and exposure compensation while the camera handles the basic aperture and shutter speed settings. Aperture and Shutter Priority modes let you control either aperture or shutter speed, while the camera selects the appropriate corresponding variable. And Manual mode provides complete user control over the exposure with shutter speeds ranging from 1/1700 to eight seconds (1/2 to 8 seconds are user-selectable; auto mode delivers 1/8 to 1/1700). The Scene exposure mode offers no less than 14 preset shooting modes, including Children, Party, Beach, Flower, Fireworks, Snow, Backlight, Close-up, Night Portrait, Landscape, Night Landscape, Manner/Museum (for indoor settings without flash), Text and Self-Portrait (for pointing the camera back at yourself). The more frequently used scene modes (Sports, Portrait and Night) have their own places on the Mode dial.

The Z740 uses a Multi-Pattern metering system, which bases the exposure on several light readings taken throughout the frame. Also available are Center-Weighted and Center-Spot modes. You can increase or decrease the overall exposure from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents in one-half-step increments. White balance options include Auto, Daylight, Open Shade, Tungsten and Fluorescent settings, which take advantage of Kodak's proprietary Color Science technology to achieve an accurate color balance under most lighting. An ISO setting offers light-sensitivity setting equivalents of 80, 100, 200, 400 and 800 (with the 800 setting only available at the Good picture quality setting). An Auto setting is also available, limited to 80 to 160 ISO equivalents. The Z740 offers Black and White and Sepia color modes and High, Natural and Low color saturation settings and you can adjust sharpening. The built-in pop-up flash is effective from two to 16 feet at ISO 168, depending on the setting of the zoom lens. In testing, it worked great out to a distance of 14 feet at ISO 80. The flash operates in Auto, Fill, Red-Eye Reduction and Off modes.

Movie mode captures moving images with sound. As you record, the duration of the movie appears in a running counter on the LCD monitor. Maximum movie lengths depend on the amount of memory space available. The 32-MB internal memory records movies up to three minutes and 23 seconds in length. Movies can be recorded at 320x240 or 640x480 pixels, at 20 and 13 fps respectively. Zoom control is disabled during movie recording to avoid noise from the zoom motor.

Burst mode captures up to five frames in rapid succession (at about two frames a second) with First and Last settings. First saves the first five images, while Last saves only the last four. The five-frame maximum applies regardless of resolution, but may be hindered depending on how much available space is on the memory card or internal memory. A two- or 10-second Self-Timer mode provides a delay between the time the Shutter button is pressed and when the shutter actually opens.

The Z740 is compatible with Kodak's latest line of EasyShare camera and printer docks. A new bottom connector makes the Z740 incompatible with older EasyShare docks, but the EasyShare Printer Dock Series 3, which conforms to the new IMAGELINK standard, is included. You simply put the camera into the dock and then download and/or print. The dock station also serves as an AC adapter and in-camera battery charger. The built-in 32-MB internal memory can be expanded via an SD/MMC memory card slot. I highly recommend picking up at least a 128-MB card right away, given the camera's 2576x1932-pixel maximum image size (cards are currently available as large as 2-GB).

The Z740 uses either a Kodak NiMH battery pack, two AA-type batteries (NiMH, alkaline or lithium), a single CR-V3 battery or the optional AC adapter. The good news about the included Kodak NiMH battery pack is it recharges right in the camera when placed on the dock. Also packaged with the Z740 are USB and AV cables, as well as a software CD loaded with the EasyShare software for downloading and managing images.

TEST RESULTS

Color: Color is very bright when dealing with colors that are already strong, but it manages to avoid oversaturating skin tones and other more subtle colors. The result is a look that, while not strictly accurate, is bound to be pleasing to a majority of consumers. Like most Kodak digicams I've tested, the Z740 also does very well at handling a wide range of light sources, including difficult mixed lighting. Its white balance system consistently delivers images that look more or less they way you remember the original subject looking -- a worthy goal for any camera.

Exposure: As a point-and-shoot, the Z740 required very little intervention to produce nicely exposed shots, making it a good choice for a novice. My one complaint is that its high contrast loses detail in strong highlights. The Z740 also has a very powerful flash, good for group shots at night, but it can tend to overexpose close subjects.

Resolution/Sharpness: The Z740 performed about average on the laboratory resolution test chart for its 5.0-Mp class. It showed artifacts in the test patterns at resolutions as low as 800 lines per picture height vertically and horizontally. I found strong detail out to at least 1,250 lines. Extinction of the target patterns didn't occur until about 1,500 lines.

Image Noise: Some image noise was present even at lower ISO settings, although it isn't very visible in prints. Noise stayed fairly well under control up to ISO 200, but at ISO 400 it became quite prominent. ISO 400 shots looked a little rough when printed at 8x10 (although OK for viewing at a distance), but should be entirely acceptable to most users when printed 5x7 or smaller.

Close-Ups: The Z740 did well in the macro arena, capturing a minimum area of only 2.07x1.54 inches. Resolution was high, with strong detail, although the corners of the frame were somewhat soft. The flash, however, was blocked by the lens and created a strong shadow in the lower portion of the frame. Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots.

Night Shots: The Z740 produced clear, bright, usable images down to the 1/16 foot-candle (0.67 lux) limit of my test at the 400 ISO setting. At ISO 200, images were bright to 1/4 foot-candle and at ISOs 80 and 100, images were bright to about 1/2 foot-candle. Noise was a little high, particularly at the lowest light levels and highest sensitivity settings, but was still better than many competitors. A very bright autofocus-assist light let the camera focus in total darkness to a distance of 8 feet or so. Since city street-lighting at night generally corresponds to a light level of about one foot-candle, the Z740 should do quite well for after-dark photography in typical outdoor settings.

Viewfinder Accuracy: The Z740 electronic optical viewfinder and LCD monitor were both close to 100 percent frame accuracy.

Optical Distortion: Geometric distortion on the Z740 was moderate to low, with approximately 0.3 percent barrel distortion at wide-angle and only 0.08 percent pincushion at telephoto. Both figures are a good bit lower than average. Chromatic aberration was low at wide-angle, but increased at telephoto. While there was a little softness in the corners of the Z740's images, there was generally less than I'm accustomed to seeing.

Shutter Lag and Cycle Times: The Z740 starts up and shuts down with average speed and its shutter response ranges from excellent at wide-angle to merely average at telephoto. Its biggest limitation is its shot-to-shot cycle time in single-shot mode. Its roughly three seconds between shots falls in the slow range among current digicams. And it can only grab two shots even that quickly, before slowing to about 7.5 seconds/shot for any beyond that, at least until the memory card can catch up. Continuous-mode shooting speed is pretty good at two fps for up to four shots, but it takes the camera a long time (about 24 seconds) to get ready for the next burst of shots.

Battery Life: With a worst-case run time of about 108 minutes on a fully-charged battery pack, battery life is average to a bit below average relative to competing models. This is somewhat balanced by the convenience of the battery dock which makes it likely that the Z740's batteries will always be fully charged. The Kodak battery pack that comes with the dock/camera bundle has a rated capacity of 2100 mAh and measured capacity of about 2030 mAh. This compares to roughly 2300 mAh true capacity for the best cells currently on the market (which are rated at 2500 mAh), so buying a set of high-quality 2500 mAh cells could boost the Z740's run time to a bit over two hours.

Print Quality: I normally rate 5.0-Mp cameras as being capable of producing good-looking prints as large as 11x17 inches, but prints from the Z740 made on the i9900 studio printer looked quite presentable even at 13x19. Shots captured at ISO 400 were another matter though, as they looked fairly rough, even at 8x10 inches.

CONCLUSION

Kodak's EasyShare digicams have consistently proven to be among the easiest to use of any I've tested and the Z740 is no exception. The Z740 would be a great choice for novices who want to learn a little as they go, while more experienced users will appreciate the more advanced features it has to offer. Kodak's bundling of the EasyShare Printer Dock Series 3 (at least with the Z740's introduction) makes the Z740 bundle an excellent deal as a complete photography solution. The prints are what you'd expect from Kodak: excellent color, sharp detail and quality you're proud to share. It's a fine combination and an excellent choice as a versatile family camera. A Dave's Pick for its ease of use and beautiful color.

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Feature: Zuga Photo Contest -- Subscribers Should Be Shoo-ins!

By DAVE ETCHELLS

When we announced the lucrative Zuga.net photo contests in our April 1 issue, some of you signed up. But some of you probably couldn't help but think we were kidding. April Fools!

But we weren't kidding. Not at all. The guys at Zuga are selecting contestants for their monthly prizes even as we clatter over our keyboard. But we'll let you in on a little secret.

There's not a large pool of contestants currently vying for the prizes at the moment. In a lottery, that would good news for anybody who chooses to play because a smaller pool of contestants increases each one's odds of winning. But in this particular contest, it isn't just luck. There's also the issue of the quality of the work you're competing against. Looking at some of the work Zuga has selected, I'm convinced a lot of our subscribers would have won if they'd only entered. After all, I've seen your work in our own Photo of the Day contest.

If you've ever had the urge to enter a photo competition, this is your golden opportunity. Don't wait. Enter now before the rest of the world finds out about Zuga's great prizes -- and while you can get a full month's ride. Read how to enter (there's a nominal $5/month fee) and check out the competition here: http://www.dailydigitalphoto.com/zuga/main/zg_potd_rules.htm

Speaking of prizes, here Zuga is awarding this month (with approximate value in parentheses):

All first prize winners receive a 1GB Lexar memory card ($137) and an Omega-Satter pro flash bracket ($85).

In the Events category, first prize winners also get signed and numbered prints from the Tim Kelly and Monte Zucker collections ($175 each), a Tenba P839 Metro Pak II pro-quality camera bag ($180) and a Chimera 16x22 Mini/Maxi Light bank ($78).

Landscape/Travel first prize winners also get signed/numbered prints from Terry Livingstone and Bill Smith ($175 each), a Gitzo G1197 Basalt Tripod ($408) and Tenba Skooba Satchel ($100).

Finally, the Portrait/Commercial contest first place winners also get signed/numbered prints by Jerry Avenaim and Gary Bernsten ($175 each), Levin Autoframe software ($200), a Chimera 16x22 Maxi Lightbank ($78), and an Art Leather 8x10 frame ($33). Phew!

So check out the Zuga photo contests, and dig into your photo library. The prize collections are rich, the competition is modest, the cost of entry is minimal and the timing is perfect. Good luck!

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New on the Site

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:

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Beginners Flash: A Setting for Extended Battery Life

We were shocked and appalled. A nameless nephew had just praised the wonders of rechargable NiMH batteries, confiding he had been using alkalines in his digicam for two years.

Had he never heard us praise NiMH rechargables? Had he never seen us recharging a fresh set before a shoot? Did he think we walked around with a battery pack? And so much for being an "industry influencer," as the guys at Applied Science Fiction like to call us.

But it got us thinking.

Just because we've championed rechargables (whether AAs or proprietary designs) and explained how to get the most out of them, it doesn't mean we've exhausted the subject. In fact, we haven't ever disclosed -- until now -- the Battery Extender Setting built into just about every digicam.

If you've read Dave's camera reviews, you've seen him measure battery life in a worse case scenario. That's always with the LCD on. Sometimes he'll report how much longer battery life can be achieved with the LCD off, too.

But as an avid digicam shooter, you know that LCD is your eye on the scene, your composition tool, your spotting scope. You don't want to turn it off and rely on that dinky little optical viewfinder as if your digicam was some $20 disposable camera.

Yet, by simply enabling the Battery Extender Setting in your digicam, you can enjoy the full use of your LCD while conserving battery power. On our Average digicam, we find this in the Settings menu under an option called Auto Off. Your digicam should have something similar nearly in the same spot.

Auto Off offers a range of settings. Five seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, 5 minutes, Off. Or some such variation. Pick one and your camera will go to sleep after that interval of inactivity.

The difference between 5 minutes and 1 minute is, roughly, five times the battery life in normal usage. The trick to getting that kind of return is to leave your camera on for the entire shoot, letting it fall asleep between shots. Don't, that is, turn your camera on and off. Let it fall asleep.

Pick an interval that doesn't annoy you. Your camera should be available when you need it. So if things happen in 45 second intervals, don't use a 30 second interval. But don't indulge in 5 minutes, either, if you take one or two shots at a time. You should acquire a sense of whether your camera is ready or asleep very quickly. And it shouldn't annoy you when it's asleep.

You wake it by pressing the shutter button half way. And it comes to life a lot quicker than a cold startup.

We use a 30 second interval most of the time. But we do switch to one or two minutes when the action is slow (meaning, we have to wake the camera for every shot). That shortens our battery life. But we always bring a spare set.

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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-7070 Wide Zoom at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9da5d/0

Visit the Kodak Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f77d

Ashi asks about the Rebel XT at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9e5f5/0

Frank asks for advice about choosing a camera at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9e052/0

Visit the Printers Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b8

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Just for Fun: Three Pictures in Search of a Wall

Near the end of our review of the Hi-Ti 730PS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/HT730PS/HT7.HTM) we slipped in a shot of three images "Waiting for a Wall." We wanted to show just how nicely the 730PS's 6x8 prints looked in 8x10 frames.

We're pleased to report that our pictures finally found their wall. Not that we deserve any credit for that.

After a great deal of persuasion by forces more powerful than ourselves, we agreed to hang them in the upstairs bathroom. It seems to us that steamy showers are the last thing photographic prints need, so we resisted. But this isn't one of those votes where vetoes count. We were overwhelmed. So up they went.

The final arrangement resembles the image in our review, except the two landscape images are swapped, proving how arbitrary a triptych can be. By measuring carefully, we were actually able to maintain an even space between them.

To our surprise, they've survived the harsh environment of our master bath. And since they are displayed directly above the toilet tank, we've had time to consider them repeatedly at our leisure (not to put too fine a point on it).

They are, let's be frank, unremarkable images. Not a photo of the day among them. But as a triptych, they share a theme that continues to engage us.

There's the exotic hibiscus, the Japanese maple leaf and the barren public tree. At least at first glance. Due to their location, we're obliged to contemplate them longer than, say, any three fine arts prints at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. And, like a wooden puppet to a delusional carpenter, they began to speak to us (particularly if wine was served at dinner).

Our gaze tends to return to the barren public tree because it's at the bottom of the arrangement (we don't look up a lot). Not only are the branches bare, but that isn't a wood wall behind it. It's concrete that camouflaged itself with the grain of the wooden forms it set in.

It didn't take long to realize it wasn't barren. There is a new shoot of green foliage in the middle of the composition. Making it a hopeful image.

It's a particularly hopeful image to us, however, because the shot was taken outside a transit station while we waited for a hospital shuttle. The situation was grim, all dried out branches. That little sprig of life against the concrete was better than a second opinion then. And every time we look at the image now, we're cheered. New life, indeed.

The Japanese maple leaf is also special to us. Our grandmother grew that tree in her Santa Rosa garden. We were always charmed by the translucence of those scarlet leaves in full sun but our picture captures one covered in rain drops. It's a rich image which took a lot of work in Photoshop to develop. But we find it telling us not so much about technique as about poise. We are continually astonished that such a delicate membrane could take the beating of a storm and so elegantly nourish itself on the droplets it managed to host. Grace under pressure.

Tough lessons those. But one doesn't use the bathroom without closing the door, after all. And that brings us to our hibiscus. The red took even more work in Photoshop to preserve in the print, masking the petals and manipulating the curve to match our memory of the vibrant color. But this hibiscus is an exotic. You can see it at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park, a hot house that can replicate climates that otherwise just don't exist here. Some sentiments flourish only when they are protected.

Our triptych strikes us as a sort of haiku. New growth sprouting from dried branches / Rain drops suspended on a fragile maple leaf / A red hibiscus flowering in a hot house.

We revise the haiku now and then, trying to get in a few words what the three images together have come to mean to us. And the exercise inspires us to hitch up our belt and get back out there to see what else life holds in store.

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Dave's Deals

Looking for special prices on featured products? Because of their time-limited nature, we only publish them in the email version of this newsletter. The good news is that you can subscribe for free on our Subscriber Services page:

Subscribe for Great Deals!

We deliver -- just Subscribe!

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We Have Mail

You can email us at editor@imaging-resource.com. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.

RE: Scanner Qs

In the last newsletter you have a very interesting review of the Microtek i900 scanner with a maximum optical resolution of 6400x3200dpi using the Sigma Six image sensor. I recently did some research on the Sigma Six sensor and concluded it consists of two arrays of three colors, each array being 1600 dpi by three colors, one array (of 1600 dpi) half-a-pixel offset from the other, resulting in a horizontal resolution of 3200 dpi which is actually interpolated from two passes at 1600 dpi.

I'm trying to find a better scanner than my Epson 4870 scanner. At 4800 dpi or 9600 dpi, the scans are soft rather than having sharp detail. I have concluded its image sensor consists of two arrays of 2400 dpi, one array half-a-pixel offset from the other array and the resulting 4800 dpi scan is an interpolation from 2400 dpi, rather than a true optical 4800 dpi scan.

Would you be able to comment on this matter and more importantly, would you be able to recommend a good course of action for someone wanting high resolution scans (4000 dpi+) with good detail, including 35mm, medium format and old prints, on a budget?

-- Bill Bezzant

(Good question, Bill. Flatbeds achieve a resolution greater than 2400 dpi by stacking CCDs, since 2400 is the present limit for 8.5-inch wide scanbeds. Epson's Hyper CCD, used in the 4870 and 4990, is a stacked CCD. And Microtek's Sigma Six is also a stacked CCD, using two 1600-dpi CCDs that are both stacked and offset to reach 3200 dpi. But the Sigma Six has a dual tri-linear array (six rows of sensors). It does not require two passes and with a DMax of 4.2, it surpasses the 3.8 of the Epson 4870. Multi-format film scanning at 4000 dpi isn't cheap but Nikon makes a Coolscan that can do the job. -- Editor)

Interesting Article. I've gone through several slide scanners and am now happy with my Konica-Minolta DiMAGE Z3 with its 12x zoom and Ultra Macro setting. I had many old slides that were deteriorating, some half-frame 35mm. It took no time at all to photograph them and download them to my computer. Enhancing them with Photoshop Elements is time consuming but worthwhile. I bought the Z3 after reading your reviews.

-- Jane

(Thanks, Jane. Yes, it is fast and results from a camera with great macro capability are very pleasing. We should probably have pointed out, though, that with a scanner, there's no color interpolation. -- Editor)

I need information on how to clean the inside of scanner glass on the Visioneer 8920. I have had this scanner for two years and haven't used it because of the cloudy inside surface of the glass.

-- Joe

(Well, you don't clean inside a scanner, actually. Sounds like you've got condensation in there, Joe. Warm air hitting the cool glass. As the glass warms up, it should dissipate. You can also use a silica gel (from your hardware store) to coax the moisture out of the scanner. Maybe wrap the scanner in a garbage bag with the gel, as is often done in shipping a product. Air movement can be helpful, too. Open a window, put a fan on it. And frost-free refrigerators can suck the moisture out of it, too. Which may all sound desperate, but a cloudy scanner is no scanner at all. -- Editor)

RE: Travelers' Aid

Travelers have their download problems solved. We now have the gadget we were looking and longing for. A direct camera to hard drive download interface, without a computer. Have tried it and it works fine! Name: 2copy2 by Dynatron Electronics (Germany). There is another one by Macally (have not tried it).

-- Jorge Albertal

(Thanks, Jorge! Looks interesting. Still, to get us to erase a card, it would have to make two copies of our images. -- Editor)

RE: Image Stabilization

In the manual that came with my new Canon 75-300mm zoom, I read that the image stabilizer seems to be effective only at slow shutter speeds: "1/30 sec. is as good as 1/125 at 300mm and 1/8 as good as 1/30 at 75mm." I had expected that 1/200 would be as good as 1/500, but there is no suggestion that this is the case. What a disappointment.

-- Ron Lightbourn

(Stabilization plays its valuable role at lower shutter speeds. It actually lowers the shutter speed you can hand hold. So if you can hand-hold a 75mm shot at 1/30, you can hand-hold with image stabilization at 1/8. Very, very nice. Make sense? -- Editor)

No, Mike, you are ignoring the inherent shake of a hand-held 300mm telephoto (450mm equivalent), where only pure luck would give you a sharp image at 1/125. Anyway, what I was really looking to you to confirm is that IS indeed has no effect on exposure settings faster than 1/30. Canon doesn't spell this out. They let you draw the conclusion.

-- Ron

(Well, no, we can't confirm that. IS allows you to shoot slower. Two or three stops. At motion stopping shutter speeds, the technology is negligible, perhaps even less sharp (although helpful in composing the shot). But you can't pick a shutter speed threshold. A lot depends on the focal length and the subject, too. Take a look at: http://www.popphoto.com/article.asp?print_page=y&section_id=2&article_id=1039&page_number=1&preview= and: http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/tutorials/is2.html (with some tele shots in daylight at higher than 1/30s). -- Editor)
.

Many, many thanks, Mike. The two articles you referred me to are excellent! I was sure glad to know to turn IS off when using a tripod!

-- Ron

RE: Kodak PlusDigital

I'm trying to get my parents involved in digital photography.

They can't afford to buy a digicam but do have a 35mm Nikon 2020. When I visited our local camera shop they showed me a box of 35mmm Kodak PlusDigital film. When the film is developed and printed using their equipment, you get prints and a CD of the captured images.

I asked how may megabytes were recorded per image onto the Kodak CD they make from the images. They didn't know anything about the megabyte capacity per three color image file. Can you help me?

-- Dick

(Apparently, the film is scanned one roll to a CD as JPEGs at 1024x1536 pixels, which prints a 4x6 at 250 dpi. -- Editor)

RE: DxO Fan

Thanks for the info and discount regarding DxO Optics Pro software. I tried the free demo per your urging and found it to be very easy to use and the results were outstanding for my D70 and 24-120 Nikkor combo. I just went ahead and purchased the full version after my free trial was about to run out. Guess I couldn't live without it!

-- Kevin

(Thanks for the feedback, Kevin. And we didn't pay you to say that, did we? -- Editor)

RE: Give Ricoh Credit

The new lenscover/power switch on the Olympus D-590 reads very much like the one Ricoh incorporated over a year ago, last in its 28-117mm R1 and R1F. Ricoh should get credit for that; works very well there.

-- Tobias Kaiser

(Thanks, Tobias! -- Editor)

RE: Pano Tip

I have just started playing with a program called Autostitch (http://www.autostitch.net) from the University of British Columbia. It creates panoramic pictures from several pictures. I tried it with seven pictures I had previously taken which I could not stitch together with Photoshop. It did a great job and it does it without any input or intervention. Their Web site shows a panoramic picture put together from 57 separate photos, stitched together both horizontally and vertically. If you have not seen it, it is worth a look.

-- Gary

(Thanks for the tip, Gary! We'll pass it along. The latest versions of Photoshop and Elements do a very nice job of this task, as well. It can be impossible to do manually, however. You really need a tool. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Apple (http://www.apple.com) shipped Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger today but already some software venders are touting new releases that take advantage of its capabilities or promise Tiger compatibility.

Stone Design (http://www.stone.com) has announced its $49 iMaginator 1.0, providing over 100 effects, transitions and filters with layers, all tapping into Tiger's Core Image technology. It also incorporates Spotlight technology for searching and provides AppleScript support. iMaginator is for Mac OS X 10.4.

Iridient Digital (http://www.iridientdigital.com) has updated its $69.95 RAW Developer to 1.2.3 with Tiger compatibility, support for as-shot white balance for the Nikon D2x and D2Hs, plus all Fuji cameras. RAW Developer is for Mac OS X 10.2.8 and up.

Smile on my Mac (http://www.smileonmymac.com) has updated its $29.95 Photoprinto to 1.2 with Tiger compatibility, HTML export, additional Core Image filters (Tiger only), Spotlight search support (Tiger only) and more.

Stunt Software (http://www.stuntsoftware.com) has updated its $29.95 PhotoBooth to 1.5 with Tiger and iPhoto 5 compatibility, the ability to print multiple photos at once, interface improvements and metric support.


The OpenRAW Working Group has launched a Web site (http://www.OpenRAW.org) "to solve issues crucial to the future of photography." "Our primary strategy is to educate the public and the manufacturers," said Juergen Specht, the Japan-based German photographer who is spearheading the OpenRAW group.


Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) announced it will ship Photoshop CS2 in May to U.S. and Canadian customers and in late May/early June to international customers for an estimated street price of $599 and or as a $149 upgrade from any previous version.


nik multimedia (http://www.nikmultimedia.com) has announced nik Sharpener Pro 2.0, to ship in June, will include 16-bit sharpening, a larger preview, a new RAW Presharpening filter and new tools to control where sharpening is applied. The plug-in is offered in two editions: an Inkjet Edition for $169.95 and the Complete Edition for $329.95.


M-Rock (http://www.m-rock.com) has announced it is shipping its small $16 Biscayne Bay and larger $40 Denali camera bags.


Lemkesoft (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released its $30 GraphicConverter 5.6 [M], adding DNG import, quick image enhancement, redo, keyword search and a batch action for setting the file format.


Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com) has added video uploading to their Phanfare photo sharing site, supporting MPEG, AVI and QuickTime formats. Camphone support and auto-captioning from Exif data are also included in Phanfare Photo 1.4.0.0, an automatic update. At the same time, the company increased its annual rate to $54.95 with a monthly option of $6.95. Existing customers get an additional two years at the old price of $29.95 a year.


Open Door Networks (http://www.opendoor.com) has announced it is taking Envision [M] on a year-long, country-wide tour of museums across the U.S., accompanying the Macworld Digital Art Gallery, which the company sponsors.


Boinx (http://www.fotomagico.com) has updated FotoMagico to 1.2.3 to improve QuickTime exports and the titles engine.


Brainchild (http://www.picturepatrol.com) has released its $19 Picture Patrol 1.5 [MW] to automatically extract pictures from Usenet newsgroups.


Plasq.com (http://plasq.com) has released its $39.95 Comic Life 1.0 [M] to turn digital photos into digital comics with captions, page and panel layouts in a variety of styles, speech balloons, cropping and placement tools and more. It supports drag-and-drop from iPhoto or Finder, integration with .Mac including RSS feeds and output to QuickTime, JPEG, HTML, iPhoto and print.


Charlie Morey, a recipient of the non-profit organization Yosemite Renaissance's 2005 Artist-in-Residence award (http://www.yosemiterenaissance.org), will return to Yosemite May 1 for the final two weeks of his one-month AiR program. Morey completed his first two weeks in February, with a journal at his Web site (http://www.digitalphotography.tv) to "look over his shoulder" as he worked. He will continue to update the site with text and images throughout his May 1-15 visit.

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