|Volume 7, Number 13||24 June 2005|
Welcome to the 152nd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We start with some tips on shooting fireworks with your own flare to make the Fourth a little more fun. Then Dave finds a fast focusing point-and-shoot with remarkably noise-free images at ISO 400. And we catalog our top inkjet printing tips before covering an unusually broad range of subjects in the Letters column. But don't miss our new Deal with Thomas Distributing!
Photo Talk Radio (http://www.worldtalkradio.com/archive.asp?aid=4339) has invited Dave to discuss the relative merits of all-in-one digicams and dSLRs. The show will be broadcast Saturday (that's tomorrow) at 11 a.m. Eastern.
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It's that time of year again. The Fourth of July. John Philip Sousa (http://www.dws.org/sousa). Picnics. Ball games. The pool. And as night falls, fireworks!
There isn't a trickier shot for your digicam. Streaks of fleeting phosphorescent color against the black background of the night sky.
How can you capture that?
A VARIETY OF APPROACHES
Well, what you can do depends on your gear. But a little imagination never hurt anybody celebrating independence.
If your digicam has a Manual mode, you've probably been scouring the Web for tips on shooting fireworks. There's a lot of information, of course, but we'd be remiss if we didn't recommend News Editor Michael Tomkins' oft-cited checklist (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/994267307.html). It's become a classic.
For digicams with Scene modes, this is one of the rare occasions on which you can dial in Fireworks. That should set your focus to infinity, slow down your shutter and turn off your flash. A good start.
You might get the latter two of those with Night scene mode if you don't have a Fireworks setting. You can set focus to infinity yourself.
Even digicams without Scene modes or a Manual mode can get good fireworks shots. The trick is to adjust your exposure using your camera's EV settings depending on just how much of the image is fireworks. The more black sky, the lower the EV setting (to underexpose). If you manage to fill the frame with bombs bursting in air, you'll want to raise the EV setting (overexposing to keep them bright).
But, having majored in Creative Geography, we feel somewhat emboldened to spice this discussion up with a creative approach. It's a great day to break some photographic rules and get some incredible shots.
TIPS FOR EVERYONE
Focus. If you're close enough to need autofocus, you're in danger. And by the time a contrast-detection autofocus system figures out where to set focus, the flares are fading away. This really isn't a job for autofocus. Just set your focus on infinity and forget it.
But, complains the creative side of us, you might want to focus a little closer if you're framing the fireworks with silhouettes of the crowd in front of you. If it's a wide-angle shot, you may still be able to focus at infinity. But this is where a little perspiration goes a long way. Do some test shots on arrival to see what your gear can do.
Shutter Lag. With focus set at infinity, you'll shorten the shutter lag but don't forget to half-press the shutter button, too.
The creative approach is to be lazy about this and use Continuous mode to capture a burst of shots. You can even assemble them later into an animated GIF to recreate the explosion and cascade of light. Or just layer them with varying degrees of opacity in your photo editor to show the progression.
Shake. This is what optical image stabilization and long zooms were made for. Without either, we have handheld a 3x zoom and gotten the shots (with the lens wide open, of course), but we weren't real happy with the results. The smart thing to do is use a tripod. With a subject this far away, you aren't going to be moving around much (unless you're stuck in a crowd).
But beware the camera shake that comes with pressing the shutter button. You can't really use the self-timer to defeat it in this case (unless you have an uncanny sense of timing). If you have a remote cable release, use it. Otherwise keep the shutter button half-way down and just squeeze when you want the shot. Even on a tripod.
Creatively speaking, though, a little camera movement can make your fireworks spin. Give your camera a twist for fun.
White Balance. Shifting off Auto can be either more accurate or more fun. Daylight is the preferred choice for accuracy but Tungsten can be good, too. Both were traditional in the days of film, where daylight balanced film captured good color during short exposures and tungsten did well on longer ones.
But you have a few other choices on a digicam (including Custom) and you don't have to swap rolls of film to switch. This can make a show that's heavy on white flares a lot more colorful.
ISO. Even though it's a very dark scene, you don't want to increase your ISO above 200 for these shots. When you bump sensitivity up to 400 and beyond, you introduce noise that ruins the black areas of the image. There's nothing worse than an amber sky as a background for fireworks. For the same reason, don't do any in-camera sharpening.
SOME MANUAL TIPS
Aperture & Shutter. Varying the shutter speed from 2 to 10 seconds is the trick. You want to keep the f-stop small. On a manual digicam, start at f11 for six seconds at no more than ISO 200.
Longer exposures capture longer trails from the bursting fireworks. A short exposure prevents the flares from drawing a long line of light. An extremely long shutter time (say, 30 seconds) can capture multiple bursts.
With a remote trigger, you might want to experiment with Bulb mode, so you can open and shut the shutter at whim, depending on the action.
Long exposures will pick up more ambient light (say from a cityscape). But watch out for highlight color on long exposures. If red flares are going white, stop the lens down.
Focal Length. Varying your image composition during a long fireworks show will prevent yawns during the slide show. You may not be able to move but your lens can.
Take some wide angle shots as well as all those full telephoto images. If you've got a dSLR, swap lenses. Normal focal lengths (mid-range on your zoom) are the least dramatic.
For a creative twist, try zooming during the first part of the exposure.
Flashlight. If your camera relies on buttons rather than a menu system displayed on the LCD, you'd better bring a little flashlight so you can find the buttons in the dark.
FOR AUTO-ONLY DIGICAMS
No Fireworks or Night scene mode? Don't despair. Here are few things try.
First, turn off your flash. It will only annoy the people around you.
Second, fiddle with your EV setting. If you can see colors, you're fine. If all you see are white streaks, underexpose by setting EV lower (start at -1.0). If you aren't seeing much, overexpose by setting EV higher than zero (start at +1.0). Some of the more elaborate multiple-flare moments might turn out very nicely even if some of the darker, single flare ones don't.
If you have a Shutter Priority mode, set the shutter speed to its slowest setting and let the light paint the show. If you prefer to use Aperture Priority, pick a small f-stop to encourage a longer shutter speed.
While the flares are the big act, take a look around you at the audience, too. You might catch a little wonder in the eyes of a mesmerized child or a little romance glowing on the face of, well, the person right next to you!
Finally, save a few bytes on your memory card for the Grand Finale. The best blast is always last!
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/F10/F10A.HTM on the Web site.)
The $499.95 FinePix F10 is for consumers who want quick and easy photos, shielding them from the complexities of shutter speeds and aperture settings (although the camera does let you know what it has selected). Automatic and Scene modes simplify operation for point-and-shoot users, while Manual mode provides slightly more control for creative types, including control of metering and AF modes, white balance and exposure compensation -- but not direct control over the shutter speed or aperture. Small, compact and light weight, the F10 offers Fujifilm's fifth generation 6.3-megapixel Super CCD HR, which produces file sizes as large as 2848x2136 pixels. The camera is fairly compact at 3.6x2.3x1.1 inches. The mostly metal body (only the battery door is plastic) is quite light at 7.1 ounces with the batteries and memory card. The 3x telescoping lens and built-in lens cover keep the F10's front panel fairly smooth when not in use, allowing the camera to slip into a pocket or purse.
The 3x Fujinon lens (a 36-108mm 35mm equivalent) ranges from a reasonable wide-angle to a useful telephoto. Aperture can be automatically adjusted from f2.8 to f8, with the maximum aperture gradually reduced to f5.0 as it zooms to full telephoto. Focus is automatically adjusted, ranging from 2.0 feet to infinity in Normal mode or from 3.1 inches to 2.8 feet in Macro. A Through The Lens contrast-detection autofocus mechanism offers a choice of Center or Area AF modes, as well as a Continuous mode. The Autofocus system is faster than most cameras on the market, with shutter delays in full Autofocus mode of only 0.55 second or so. And the optional High Speed Shooting mode reduces shutter lag to only 0.29 second at wide-angle. The camera can also focus in fairly dim lighting, down to about one-quarter the brightness of typical city night scenes without its AF-assist light and in complete darkness (on nearby objects) with the AF light enabled.
In addition to the 3x optical zoom, the F10 offers as much as 6.2x digital zoom, depending on the image quality setting. For framing shots, the F10 offers no true optical viewfinder, only a color LCD monitor -- although at 2.5-inches it's fairly generous in size. The LCD is not only larger than average, but quite accurate, showing almost exactly 100 percent of the final image area. An information overlay reports camera settings (including aperture and shutter speed) on the LCD monitor. There are also two less common Record mode displays. In the first, a framing guideline option displays an alignment grid which divides the image area into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. Even more unusual, the post-shot assist display mode shows the last three images captured since switching the camera to Record mode alongside a live view, to assist in framing shots with similar composition.
The F10 offers Auto, Manual, Movie and Scene Program modes, although only limited control over exposure variables is available in Manual mode -- and aperture or shutter speed are not among them. In Auto mode, the camera controls everything except options like zoom, macro and some flash settings. Manual mode leaves the camera in charge of aperture and shutter speed, while the user controls exposure compensation, metering mode, white balance and AF mode, as well as all flash modes. Scene Program options include Night, Sports, Landscape, Portrait and Natural Light. Automatically selected shutter speeds range from 1/2000 to three seconds, depending on exposure mode. In Night scene mode you can manually select a shutter speed from three to 15 seconds if the long exposure mode option is enabled. Metering options include the default 64-zone Multi mode, which bases exposure on contrast and brightness values read from the entire scene, as well as Spot and Average options. The Exposure Compensation setting lets you increase or decrease exposure from -2 to +2 EV in one-third-step increments. White balance options include Auto, Fine, Shade, Fluorescent Light-1, Fluorescent Light-2, Fluorescent Light-3, Incandescent and Custom settings. The F10 also features unusually wide-ranging adjustable light sensitivity of Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600 ISO. The Auto option actually ranges from 80 to 800 equivalents. Top-3 and Final-3 Continuous shooting modes include Top 3 (shoots and saves three frames), Final 3 (shoot up to 40 frames, camera saves last three) or Long-period continuous (the camera shoots and saves up to 40 frames).
The built-in flash operates in Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced, Suppressed, Slow-Synchro and Slow-Synchro with Red-Eye Reduction modes. The Red-Eye Reduction mode fires a pre-flash a fraction of a second before the exposure itself. Slow-Synchro combines the flash with slower shutter speeds to capture more of the ambient lighting. Flash range is rated from one foot) to 21.3 feet at wide-angle or to 13.1 feet at telephoto. In our own tests though, the flash underexposed slightly even at eight feet with the lens in its telephoto position, ISO set to 80 and brightness decreased with each foot of increasing subject distance. A Self-Timer provides either a two- or 10-second delay between a full press of the Shutter button and the time that the shutter actually opens. The F10 also features a Movie mode, which captures movies with sound at either 640x480- or 320x240-pixel resolutions, both at 30 frames per second. Maximum recording times vary, depending on the resolution and amount of available memory space. A Voice option in Playback mode lets you record short audio clips to accompany captured images.
Image files are stored on xD-Picture Cards and a 16-MB card is included. But I would much prefer for Fujifilm to reduce the cost of the camera by $10 and include no card at all rather than cripple the user with such a tiny card. At the full 6-Mp file size, you can get a grand total of two images on this card. So before you leave the camera store or click on the checkout button, get at least a 256-MB xD card. For power, the F10 uses a proprietary NP-120 Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, one of which is included with the camera, along with a terminal adapter that allows the battery to be charged in the camera. Battery life was a very pleasant surprise, with a worst-case run time (capture mode with the LCD turned on) of 4.5 hours. Very impressive, so much so that it's safe to say that most users won't find any need for the second battery that I usually recommend. Also included with the camera is a USB cable for direct connection to a computer and an A/V cable to connect the camera to a television set for reviewing images in Playback mode. A software CD with Fujifilm's FinePix software is also included. Installation of software is not required on most Macs or PCs, however, because the camera supports PTP mode, which allows the camera to appear on the computer as a hard drive.
Color: The F10 generally produced good-looking color throughout my testing, with only faint color casts from its white balance system. Its color rendering was generally more hue-accurate than average. Strong reds were rather over-saturated (not uncommon), magentas were shifted toward red a bit, cyan was shifted slightly toward blue (a common trick to improve sky color), yellow is a bit undersaturated. Taken as a whole though, the F10's color was better than average. My one complaint is that Caucasian skin tones are rendered rather pink. Indoors, it does better than some recent Fujifilm cameras with incandescent light sources, although there's still a bit more color left in images shot in Auto mode than I'd like to see. Manual white balance delivered excellent color balance under this difficult light source though. All in all, a very good performance.
Exposure: The F10 handled my test lighting well, though the camera's higher than average contrast led to some loss of highlight detail under the deliberately harsh lighting of the Sunlit Portrait and in the outdoor house shot. Despite the loss of highlight detail, dynamic range was pretty good, thanks to better than average detail in the shadows. Indoors, the camera required slightly more positive exposure compensation boost than average and my flash test shots were rather underexposed. (My biggest complaint about the F10's exposure system is that the exposure compensation adjustment has no effect on flash exposures.)
Resolution/Sharpness: The F10 performed well on the laboratory resolution test chart. It didn't start showing artifacts in the test patterns until resolutions as low as 1,000, maybe 800, lines per picture height vertically and horizontally. I found strong detail out to at least 1,400 lines vertically, 1,450 lines horizontally. Extinction of the target patterns didn't occur until beyond 2,000 lines.
Image Noise: Images were just remarkably clean, with image noise levels far below what I'm accustomed to seeing from consumer-level digicams. Noise was pretty much non-existent at low ISO settings and with very little loss of subject to the anti-noise processing. At ISO 400, the anti-noise processing just began to blur the finer details, but the results were far better than any other consumer-grade camera I've tested in recent memory. At ISOs 800 and 1600, the images blurred quite a bit more, but the noise levels remained surprisingly low. ISO 800 shots were a little marginal for 8x10 inch prints, but looked great at 5x7 and even ISO 1600 ones looked OK at that size. Shots at ISO 400 looked just great when printed as large as 8x10 inches. All in all, a very impressive performance!
Close-Ups: The F10 captured a tiny macro area, measuring 1.43x1.08 inches. Resolution is high, with a lot of fine detail in the dollar bill. The F10's flash had just a little trouble throttling down for the macro area and overexposed the top left of the frame, while the camera's lens created a shadow in the lower right corner. This was at the minimum shooting distance, much closer than most users will need to go, so the flash should work fairly well for average close-up shots. Plan on using external lighting for your very closest photos though.
Night Shots: Thanks to its remarkable high-ISO performance, the F10 does a superb job at low-light shooting. Its autofocus works down to a bit less than 1/4 the brightness of typical city street lighting even when its autofocus-assist light is turned off and in total darkness (on nearby objects) with the AF-assist enabled. In terms of image quality, its images are exceptionally clean and crisp-looking: Its ISO 800 shot at the darkest level I test at looked better than the vast majority of cameras' ISO 400 shots in broad daylight. An excellent job overall.
Viewfinder Accuracy: The LCD monitor viewfinder was just about 100 percent accurate at both wide-angle and telephoto lens settings, though it was actually very slightly loose, showing just a bit less than the final image area. Still, very good results.
Optical Distortion: I measured 0.4 percent barrel distortion at wide-angle and less than one pixel at telephoto, a good bit lower than average. Chromatic aberration was quite low at both wide-angle and telephoto. There was a little softening in the corners at wide-angle, but good results at telephoto. The biggest optical defect didn't appear in my laboratory test shots, but only outdoors, where I saw some purple fringing in shots where bright sky showed through tree leaves. Overall though, better than average optical performance.
Shutter Lag and Cycle Times: With full-autofocus shutter lag of 0.54-0.55 second, the F10 is more responsive than most cameras on the market and its 0.011 second shutter delay when pre-focused (by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button prior to the shot itself) is absolutely blazing. A special High Speed Shooting mode further increases focusing speed at the cost of shorter battery life, producing full-autofocus delays of only 0.29 second at wide-angle, making the F10 easily one of the fastest focusing consumer cameras on the market. Shot-to-shot cycle times are good but not spectacular, at 1.68 second/frame for large/fine images. Continuous shooting speed ranges from a leisurely 1.65 second/frame in the 40-shot mode, to a very respectable 2.3 fps in the 3-shot mode. All in all, a solid performer with better than average shutter response.
Battery Life: The F10 is powered by a proprietary Li-Ion battery pack and showed really excellent battery life in my tests. Its worst-case run time in capture mode (without the shutter half-pressed though) was an impressive 276 minutes and run time in playback mode was a full 400 minutes. Very few cameras on the market can equal it in this respect. I usually recommend buying a second battery right along with the camera, but the F10's battery life is good enough that most average users would probably never need it.
Print Quality: Prints looked very good at 13x19 inches and were tack-sharp at 11x14. The real challenge for digicams is always high-ISO performance though and it's here that the F10 really shines. Its images are just a lot cleaner and less noisy than I'm used to seeing in consumer-grade digicams. The F10's photos shot at ISO 400 looked just great when printed as large as 8x10 inches. While soft, even its ISO 800 shots were acceptable-looking when printed at that size. At ISO 1600 (amazing to even be talking about that ISO level for a consumer point-and-shoot camera), its images were quite soft, but nonetheless looked quite nice printed as large as 5x7 inches. Bottom line, big, sharp photos at low ISOs and truly amazing high-ISO performance.
When I reviewed the Fujifilm FinePix E550 in September 2004, I called it one of Fuji's best digicams to date. With the release of the F10 though, Fujifilm has clearly outdone all their earlier efforts, the E550 included. Much of the improvement has to do with how the F10 handles light. It's much more sensitive and has much lower image noise than previous FinePix models, has good color and white balance performance and focuses amazingly quickly, particularly in High Speed Shooting mode. The F10's autofocus system also works well under dim lighting, something earlier Fujifilm cameras tended to struggle with.
The combination of incredibly good high-ISO capability and very fast autofocus performance is the big news with this new model. Fast autofocus is key to capturing fast-moving subjects like sports action or active children. Fast action also implies a need for fast shutter speeds and here the F10's excellent high-ISO capability really comes into play. High ISO is useful not only for after-dark shooting, but for capturing fast action in anything less than bright daylight. Being able to shoot very clean images at ISO 400 rather than ISO 100 means being able to use shutter speeds four times faster. That could be the difference between a blurred mess and a crisp image.
Bottom line, the F10 is not only a fine all-around digicam, it's a great choice for sports shooters and anyone trying to keep up with the kids. Definitely a Dave's Pick and clearly one of Fujifilm's best efforts to date.
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot SD400 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SD400/SD4A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Sony DSC-H1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/H1/H1A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Fujifilm FinePix F10 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/F10/F10A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Nikon Coolpix S1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CPS1/CPS1A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Kodak Z700 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/Z700/Z700A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Sony DSC-W5 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/W5/W5A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Sony DSC-S90 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S90/S90A.HTM)
As we sit down to write this little piece, we have to confess our dye sub printer is churning out 4x6 prints from Father's Day. We just popped the memory card in it, selected the images we wanted to print and hit the Print button.
Convenient as they are, 4x6 dye sub printers are not as widespread as letter-sized inkjets. Inkjets can do a lot more than print photos. They can print Web pages, letters to the IRS, homework assignments, business cards, CD labels, lovely 8x10 photo enlargements and more. What they lack in convenience they make up for in versatility.
But that versatility means you have to do a little work to get good results. And any time you have to do a little work, it helps to have a few tips. Here are ours.
When you unpack your inkjet and install its software, there's a little Quick Start guide to speed you along. We have a few items to add:
- If you plug your printer into a power strip, do not turn the strip's power off before powering down the printer with its own power button. Inkjets run a power-down routine to park the print head in a service bay so it won't dry out. Cutting the power off at the strip (and thereby preventing the print head from parking) will dry out your print head.
- Set the printer on a stable and separate surface from your computer. The print head assembly really flies over the paper, back and forth. Bang, bang, bang. Put it on a solid table whose vibration won't be felt by your computer's hard drive.
- Don't automatically install the supplied software. It's probably out of date. Visit the manufacturer's Web site (where you're registering your printer anyway, right?) to see if a newer version has been released for your operating system. If you don't see a driver for your operating system, think twice about proceeding. Both Apple and Microsoft (even for Win64) have started developing their own drivers for popular printers. You may have built-in support. But confirm that before proceeding.
Inkjets can be a lot of trouble, particularly when the print heads clog with dried ink. Just two tips here can greatly minimize that:
- Use a dust cover when you aren't using the printer. As you walk around the room, you stir up dust and dust swirls into the printer. Your computer fan blows dust around, too. Because the tolerances between the print head and the paper surface are remarkably small, you want to keep dust (and pet hair) out of there as much as possible. A simple dust cover does it.
- Run your printer every week. Inkjet cartridges and paper are not cheap, so the tendency is to use the printer as little as possible. But that's a mistake. You have to keep its juices flowing. If you aren't running it every week, you are clogging its arteries. Running it every day is optimal, but we've found a good healthy session every week works, too.
Every printer manual has a specifications section that lists what paper sizes the printer supports. And by size, we mean thickness, too. But there's more to paper than its size:
- Print photos on inkjet photo paper. It may seem expensive, but printing on porous paper will, like a sponge, suck up a lot more expensive ink. The surface of inkjet photo paper is specially designed to use less ink, holding it out of the paper base while encapsulating it in the top layer. Your prints look better and last longer, too.
- Make some reference prints using the manufacturer's most highly recommended paper and ink set. You can buy cheaper paper and cheaper ink but you get shorter print life. Printer companies like Canon, Epson and Hewlett-Packard spend a great deal to optimize the ink/paper combination. Don't ignore that work, appreciate it. When you do deviate (with a new paper surface, say), you'll have something to compare.
DRIVERS & PROFILES
Oddly enough, you can ruin any print just by using the wrong driver settings. That's the price of versatility. Even more odd, printer profiles are not called ink/paper profiles. Because inkjet characteristics don't vary significantly from batch to batch, you don't really need to create custom profiles, but you do need to use profiles.
- What really matters isn't what brand of printer you are sending your image to but what ink and paper combination you are printing with. You set this by choosing a profile in the printer driver dialog before printing but the details vary from one driver to another. Profiles are installed with the driver. But they are also available from paper manufacturer Web sites. Paper manufacturers know the printers and the ink sets, so they're able to profile their papers for the best possible performance.
- Your monitor can show many more colors than your printer can print. Some drivers let you decide how to handle this. For photo prints, select Perceptual rendering. That shifts the colors into the printer's range without noticeably distorting them.
The inkjet printing process is fascinating. Colorant, suspended in a vehicle that will evaporate, explodes onto a dry surface that swells on contact with the vehicle, encapsulating the colorant. That has some handling consequences:
- Right, don't touch the print as it comes out of the printer. But also note the paper drying time (usually in its specifications sheet). A 13x19 print may require 24 hours to properly dry before it can be safely handled and framed. And you'll want to do that in a low-traffic area to avoid coating it with dust.
- Frame your print behind glass but not in contact with the glass. For casual prints this isn't a big deal but for prints you treasure, let them expand and contract without rubbing against the glass by using a mat.
- Display your prints where direct sunlight will not reach them. Expect some fading even behind glass over a few years. You probably won't notice unless you take them out of the frame and compare the covered image to the exposed image. Pigment inks are famous for lasting longer (if losing a little of their initial brightness as their wrapper dyes disappear) but recent developments in dye inks have greatly improved their color fastness. Still, nothing lasts forever. It just has to last longer than you.
Our dye sub finished the job back in the Setup section and we didn't have to worry about ink (it uses a ribbon heated over 300 degrees to migrate the dyes from a solid to a gaseous state) or paper (there's only one brand and it comes with the printer). Nice, but we can't print anything but 4x6 prints on it.
The versatility of an inkjet requires a little attention on your part, but it can be easily managed with a few tips. And in return you get some glorious enlargements you'll enjoy for years. And make nice printouts of this newsletter, too!
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:
Visit the Fuji FinePix F10 Discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee9f1a1/0
Visit the General Q&A Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee718ec
Karen asks about the best zoom camera for low light soccer photos at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9f094/0
Brian asks about cameras with low shutter lag at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9f2e6/0
Visit the Professional Digital Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b4
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I've received your newsletter for some time now and read it with great pleasure and interest. What I would like to see in one of your future newsletters are some articles about Linux (photo)graphics software, the use of Linux for connecting to cameras, scanner, etc.
I'm going to switch my last two Windows systems to Linux, mainly for its stability and reliability. I will have to find out if I can connect my Canon G2, a Nikon LSIII and a HP 2200C scanner to the various Linux systems. For your information, I'm going to use Novell Suse Linux Professional 9.3 for my desktop/laptop Linux systems.
-- Henri Witteveen(Ah, Linux drivers! Here are a few general How-To articles on USB-cabled digicams: http://howtos.linux.com/howtos/USB-Digital-Camera-HOWTO/index.shtml and scanners: http://www.linux.com/howtos/Hardware-HOWTO/scanners.shtml. In addition, there are some great (even free) Unix image processing tools. The Gimp and ImageMagick are two. We use ImageMagick on the site (and locally) to resize and sharpen images for our camera test shots and Picture of the Day contests, in fact. -- Editor)
Regarding your "Surviving a Serial Number," I always type a new serial number into a text file where I keep all my serial numbers. Then I can copy and paste from there into the installation and online registration as needed. Keeping a history is good for backup purposes and you never have to type it again.
-- Howell Lee(An excellent idea, Howell! -- Editor)
Mike, where can I read up on professional portrait taking basics?
-- Jorge Albertal, MD(We like the approach these guys take: http://www.webphotoschool.com/Lesson_Library/Free_Lessons/Shooting_Great_Portraits_with_Portable_Strobes/index.html -- Editor)
I'm looking for a 3-Mp (or so) digicam without Movie mode. They won't allow me to take my camera (Fuji S5000) into some places (Graceland) with a movie mode on the display. Are there any inexpensive brands/models that have such a thing?
-- Ed(That is indeed their policy (although we know a fellow who took some digicam shots in there recently anyway, so we're not sure how it's enforced). In effect, it's a ban on all digital cameras short of dSLRS. We've written to Graceland asking about the policy but Graceland hasn't commented yet. -- Editor)
RE: Alarm Bell
As usual, I read every item in the latest issue as soon as it hits the in-box and one item set off an alarm in my usually tranquil brain (I hate it when that happens).
In answer to a question about using a digicam to archive tabloids, you said: "A DVD would sample down that resolution, however, making it unreadable (whoever makes it)."
I thought I'd read (more than once) that DVDs were recommended for archiving photos (or backing up hard drives) because of their higher capacity. Does this really result in loss of detail? If so it ain't a very good backup!
I used to write and shoot for a local tabloid-format rag and have been considering digicam archiving myself. Please elucidate!
-- Bob Mathews(Two different ways to burn a DVD here, Bob. If you author a DVD for playback on your TV, everything gets downsampled to 720 horizontal lines (which is high quality for a TV, where you usually see half that with interlaced video display). 720x480 actually. So using something like iDVD or DVDit won't deliver readable text. But simply burning your full-res images to a DVD disc works just as well as burning them to a CD. In fact, iDVD includes an option to include the full-res images on the DVD along with (but separate from) the DVD presentation. -- Editor)
RE: Is It Really Necessary?
I haven't written to you for a while. Lots of things have happened, including a new computer and a Nikon D70 to boot!
I've calibrated the LCD using Pantone Colorvision Spyder2 Plus. Prints are just great! Thanks for the workflow for profiling in the May 13 newsletter.
Is it really necessary to profile the printer? My prints look just as good as what i see on the LCD. Colorvision's instructions for printer profiling are very vague. How about a workflow for printer profiling in a future newsletter? I'm sure there are others out there just as confused as me.
-- Charlie Young(Good idea, Charlie. Our brains are masters of adaptation, so profiling is a tough sell. What looks good on your monitor will look different displayed on a monitor right next to it. Printers are a different story. Which is coming soon. -- Editor)
RE: Decision Tree
A few months back I had asked about how to wade through all of the camera models to find a few important features that my wife would want for keeping up with four grandkids (we married young). Your site that guides you through this difficult decision process was very helpful in narrowing the field, albeit, with still more models than you could shake an e-stick at. After more reading, visiting Web sites, etc., I decided on the Canon SD-500 even though none of my previous five digitals have been Canon. We are very happy with the speed (number one priority in keeping up with the toddlers) and the image quality. Your decision tree process helped a great deal in making this tough decision a bit easier. Thanks a bunch.
-- Kevin(Thanks for the feedback, Kevin! -- Editor)
RE: Friends & Family
The last newsletter contained a letter from someone that lost her camera because she didn't have her name embossed on it. She also had a friend who forgot one in a NYC taxi.
I found one in a NYC taxi around Thanksgiving and called the camera maker, hoping it was registered and the maker have the registered owner contact me. Wasn't registered.
If you still have Hillary's email address have her contact me if her friend lost her camera around Thanksgiving.
There was absolutely no ID and I didn't trust the driver. The TLC said three precincts covered that area and I was leaving in 12 hours. I just hoped it would be registered (I used to own a camera store).
-- Joe Sesto(Thanks, Joe! We've forwarded your email to her for response. Let us know what happens! We push the registration concept for software, but you just gave a great reason for registering your hardware, too. -- Editor)
Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com) has updated Phanfare Photo, increasing the file size limit from six to 10-MB and adding a Phriends and Family feature to facilitate album sharing, a straighten image tool, site traffic reports and better support for QuickTime movies.
Wacom (http://www.wacom.com) has posted a new driver for its pen tablets running on Mac OS X vs.10.2.6 & later.
DxO Labs (http://store.dxo.com) has released DxO Optics Pro v3.0 automatic image quality enhancement software. The new version features a redesigned DxO Raw Engine, a new DxO Noise Engine based unique algorithms developed by DxO Labs and on precise camera sensor modelization which achieves a reduction of up to two f-stops in image noise, plus a new DxO Lighting Engine to bring out the shadow detail.
PictoColor (http://www.picto.com) has released its $99.95 iCorrect Portrait, a new Photoshop color correction plug-in intended for Portrait, wedding, school, sport and event photographers.
Certified Photographic Counselor and Fargo Enterprises CEO Curt Fargo maintains a comprehensive site (http://www.cleaningdigitalcameras.com) on dSLR sensor cleaning, featuring techniques used in-house by Canon, Fuji, Kodak, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Sigma. Not to be missed.
NTI (http://www.ntius.com) has updated its $49.95 Dragon Burn CD/DVD burning utility to support DVD-R DL media and expand the database of supported writers.
Rhapsoft (http://www.rhapsoft.com) has released a free beta version of its LiveQuartz image editor based on layers and Mac OS X 10.4's CoreImage filters. The software, which expires Aug. 26, requires Mac OS X, but as a Universal Binary will run on an Intel-based Mac, too.
Richard Lynch (http://www.hiddenelements.com) has released a set of free tools for Elements, including Bud's Frames. The frames are actions developed by Bud Guinn for adding picture frames around images. These actions have been updated and enhanced to function in Photoshop Elements 3.
Fantasea (http://www.fantasea.com) is shipping two new underwater camera housings, the Fantasea CP-6 for the Nikon Coolpix 4600 and 5600 and the CP-7 for the Nikon Coolpix 5900 and 7900. The $160 housings include pre-paid flood insurance for one year.
Epson (http://www.epson.com) has settled two patent infringement lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court in Portland, Ore., against Hong Kong-based Multi-Union Trading Co. Ltd., one of the world's largest manufacturers of after-market cartridges. The consent judgment and permanent injunction ordered by the court pursuant to the settlement provides that 75 Multi-Union cartridge models infringe a combination of 30 Epson patents, including 17 utility patents and 13 design patents and further provides that all of the patents are valid and enforceable. Multi-Union cartridges are sold in the U.S. under the PrintRite brand, in generic packaging and under other brand names.
Extensis (http://www.extensis.com) has released updates to four of its five Creative Tools, providing compatibility with OS X 10.4 Tiger and Adobe Creative Suite 2. The updated software includes Mask Pro, PhotoFrame, Intellihance Pro and pxl SmartScale.
DataRescue has updated PhotoRescue (http://www.photorescue.com), its image recovery software, to version 2.1 (build 676). Co. President Pierre Vandevenne said, "We've added support for the Nikon 2DX and the Canon 350D as well as for a bunch of other cameras. It should be noted that previous versions of PhotoRescue did recover those files but did not preview them."
Michael Johnston (http://www.lulu.com/bearpaw) has published his $12.99 Lenses and the Light-Tight Box: Cameras and Camera Lenses, a collection of 21 articles, essays and reviews of cameras, camera optics, marques, formats and photographic craft was originally published in a variety of photography magazines in the United States and England.
For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).
Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com
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
Now that the new server is swinging and the new software is humming, we're actually planning that switch to our new mailing service for the next issue. Expect a short email from us in the next week to mark the occasion.
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