|Volume 7, Number 15||22 July 2005|
Welcome to the 154th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. After months of using Adobe's Creative Suite 2, we start our report with its newest application, a workflow enhancement worthy of the upgrade. Shawn evaluates the strengths of digicams and dSLRs for those caught on the fence. Then we discuss the virtues of a vertical grip and find a little Web site that does just one thing right, an ambition we have not still quite realized. Have fun!
This issue of The Imaging Resource News is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ads here. And now a word from our sponsors:
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 email@example.com.
Adobe Bridge is a new application in the Creative Suite that borrows features from your operating system, Web browser organizer and image editor to make your workflow more efficient. This first incarnation, included with the CS2 versions of Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator or GoLive, proves its mettle and promises even more. But it's a tough bird to get a handle on.
Our review of Creative Suite 2 starts with this focus on Bridge, but includes a few notes about the Suite in general. The Suite itself is available in two configurations: CS2 Premium and CS2 Standard (which does not include GoLive or Acrobat). You need only one Adobe application to qualify for upgrade pricing on the entire suite. For example, you can upgrade to CS2 Premium from Photoshop for $739 or from CS1 for $439. The full version runs $1,119. You can upgrade to CS2 Standard from Photoshop for $489, from CS1 for 350 or get the full version for $839.
Some Bridge features require the Premium edition. They include 1) Bridge Center to view and access recent files and folders, plus RSS feeds and software tips and 2) centralized color settings to set color preferences throughout the suite from a central control panel for more consistent color.
The feature list is impressive but confusing. We'll follow our tour of Bridge's main features with a discussion of imaging workflow. Much of what you have done in Photoshop, you can now do in Bridge. And that leaves Photoshop free to do what it does best while Bridge sets the table in the background.
To run the Premium edition on either platform requires 384-MB RAM to run a creative application with Bridge and Version Cue (512-MB to 1-GB recommended to run more than one), 4-GB hard-disk space to install all applications, 1024x768 monitor resolution with 16-bit video card (24-bit recommended), a CD-ROM drive, Internet connection required for product activation (broadband for Adobe Stock Photos) and QuickTime 6.5 for multimedia features.
Windows users need a Pentium III or 4 processor running 2000 with Service Pack 4 or Windows XP with Service Pack 1 or 2.
Macintosh users need a G4 or G5 processor running Mac OS X vs.10.2.8 through vs.10.4 with Java Runtime Environment 1.4.1
The Standard edition requires less hard disk space, of course, but otherwise the requirements are the same.
You only have to launch Bridge to see that its main task is to preview your assets, whether they are images or documents. The default workspace includes a navigation pane at the top left, a preview pane below it and below that a metadata pane. To the right of these is a large pane of nicely-rendered, resizable thumbnails.
The default view is only one of four Adobe supplies and you can save any number of your own custom workspaces, even assigning them to a key chord. And there's quite a bit you can customize from the layout to the background color of the preview pane, as well as the size of the panes. Moreover, you can open any number of Bridge windows featuring any view or location you like.
The thumbnail display (which extends beyond images to pages for PDFs and InDesign documents, for example) can be sorted by name, kind, creation date, size, dimensions, resolution, rating and more.
When you select a thumbnail, the metadata pane displays information about the file stored in the file itself. Metadata is a big thing with this release of the Creative Suite, which takes it far beyond the information collected in a JPEG header. Everything from the text associated with Bridge's color labels to edits made to DNG files in Camera Raw are stored as XMP metadata. Adobe has looked deep into the file structures of its various document types in this release, coming up with some impressive advancements like Smart Objects.
Being able to see this much information about your images in one window is certainly helpful. But Bridge lets you act on it, too.
File copying and moving is as simple as dragging images from the thumbnail pane to the location pane or from one Bridge window to another. Batch renaming can also copy or move files while renaming them and even preserving the original name in the metadata. And, of course, you can delete files.
You can work on individual files or selections of files, which makes rotating multiple images efficient.
Double clicking a file will open it in its respective application, even if it's not an Adobe application. But even better, you can open Raw images in Adobe's Camera Raw plug-in.
Searching for files is greatly enhanced by Bridge's ability to see the metadata. You can set multiple criteria that includes label, rating, keyword, descriptions, comment or even all metadata. And the results can be displayed in a new Bridge window.
Search features even extend to Adobe's Stock Photos royalty-free image service.
And you can save that search as a Collection to repeat it later without having to reenter the criteria.
Bridge is a slick file browser but it's a metadata editor, too. And you don't have to open individual files to edit their metadata.
To add copyright information to your images, for example, you only have to select them, scroll the metadata pane to the editable Copyright field, enter your information and Apply it to your selection.
Labels (five colors with text) and ratings (zero to five stars) are stored as XMP metadata, too, unless the file type prohibits that, in which case it's stored in the cache. While you can select images and assign ratings from the Label menu, Bridge also offers a full screen slide show mode which can assign labels and ratings several ways. You can also rotate images during the slide show.
Bridge is a standalone application but it is also integrated into the other Creative Suite applications, providing an alternative to using the Finder/Desktop for file handling.
But it goes beyond that by synchronizing color management throughout the suite. You can select from among four standard schemes, including the default North American General Purpose 2 or from an expanded list of 25 options including Web Graphics Default, Emulate Photoshop 4, Colorsync Workflow and Off.
If you edit your Color Settings in a CS application, you'll be warned they've been synchronized by Bridge.
Thanks to the integration of Adobe's Camera Raw plug-in, it's also possible to edit Raw images in Bridge, freeing Photoshop for more complex image editing. All of the Camera Raw edits are saved as metadata and can thus be copied or cleared, including tonal adjustments, color correction, sharpening and even cropping, to name just a few. Moreover, you can work on a selection of Raw images, seeing the effects of your editing on a range of thumbnails.
Being able to work on a selection of images is a boon, but the concept extends beyond file handling tasks. Bridge can hand off your selection to any of the other applications for processing with one of their built-in or custom scripts.
For example, Photoshop scripts accessible from Bridge include Batch, Contact Sheet II, Image Processor, Merge to HDR (32-bit high dynamic range images), PDF Presentation, Photomerge, Picture Package, Web Photo Gallery. InDesign offers Create InDesign Contact Sheet and Illustrator adds Live Trace and Export to Flash.
For the photographer who shoots Raw images, Bridge is the centerpiece of a much improved workflow. Here's one scenario we've been experimenting with.
Returning to the bunker with a CompactFlash full of Raw images, we pop the card into a PCMCIA adapter and slip it into our laptop. That launches a program that copies the images from the card to a new folder on our hard disk which we name for today's date with a short text description.
This is a critical moment in the game because that copy is not verified. If there's a problem with the hard disk, it may appear the images have successfully been duplicated only to prove they haven't when you finally open them. The thumbnails may be intact, so you can't go by that.
That's one reason we process the Raw files through Adobe's free DNG Converter, which turns the proprietary 8.8-MB Raw files into 5.5-MB Adobe Digital Negative files, thanks to its lossless compression. The Converter does verify the conversion, so we know we've got all the image data we need. We also have the data in a more compact size and in a format that does not depend on the camera manufacturer's continuing support.
We then use Bridge to edit the files. We batch rename them, add our copyright (we feel a script coming on for that) and any keywords we want. Then we use the Slide Show to take a look at them, rotating them where necessary. If we've shot product shots, we'll rate them to mark the ones we want to use.
The Camera Raw plug-in works in both Bridge and Photoshop, but Bridge can use it on a selection of files, changing them all simultaneously. Working with greater than 8-bit channels lets us correct exposure, saving blown out highlights or brightening up underexposed shots. But it also lets us experiment with color and tonal shifts without risking banding (subtle posterization). This is particularly fun with nature shots.
For a group of shots taken under mixed lighting that need some color correction and perhaps tonal adjustments, we select the group and open them in Camera Raw. We pick a representative shot to work on, but we keep an eye on the group's thumbnails as we work to make sure we're not going too far with our edits.
Crops too can be saved as metadata. You can crop a selection or crop each image individually.
Since these edits are merely stored in metadata, they can be cleared if we decide we don't like them. They can also be copied if we find them appropriate for another image.
When we open the edited DNG image in Photoshop for further tweaking or printing, we save it as a JPEG for the Web or print or press. We can't overwrite the DNG image, of course.
This workflow answers a lot of needs but we're wary of a couple of things. Popping keywords into the metadata isn't really a substitute for using an organizer like iView MediaPro, which can let you see your whole collection at a glance. And while iView MediaPro can display DNG thumbnails, it doesn't render the metadata edits like Bridge does. Then there are those native Raw files to think about. Deleting them seems a bit cruel. And it sure would be nice to automate transferring images from the camera and through DNG Converter with Bridge.
Bridge provides a quick and efficient workspace to handle almost all the routine file management tasks photographers have had to grabble with using several different applications. It's especially helpful working with Raw images, taking much of the heat off Photoshop because it can run the Camera Raw plug-in. Already the cockpit for CS2, its scriptability promises even more efficiency to come.
By SHAWN BARNETT(Excerpted from the full feature posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/SLRvsDIGICAM/SLRA.HTM on the Web site.)
How things have changed in the last three years! Quality digicams that once cost $500 are now selling for between $200 and $300. And dSLRs that used to cost well over $2,000 without a lens are now available between $700 and $1,000 complete with lens. Interest in the high-end $600 to $1,200 prosumer digicam has been eclipsed by the rush for either a $400-500 long zoom digicam or a dSLR.
So the question is, with such quality and variety now within reach, which is for you? An SLR with interchangeable lenses and a big sensor or a highly-capable digicam that packs loads of functionality into a more compact package?
THE DSLR SOLUTION
The price of a dSLR changed dramatically when Canon introduced its Digital Rebel at $1,000. Since then other manufacturers have brought out competing cameras to revive interest in their own SLR lens and accessory catalogs. Now users can have access to better lenses and larger sensors, with all the improved speed and quality these bring.
Sensor size. A 35mm point-and-shoot camera has one advantage over today's digicam. It uses the same 35mm film as a film SLR. Modern digicam sensors, on the other hand, are very small, some only a few millimeters across. While they work remarkably well for their size, the larger pixels on dSLR sensors are physically able to gather more light per pixel with less noise from neighboring sensors crammed tightly into the same space.
When you set the camera to a higher ISO, you've asked it to base its decisions on less light than is optimal for the sensor. If the sensor is also small, as it is with most digicams, the camera will be basing its decisions on less light per pixel than the larger dSLR sensor and the noisy pixels will produce more incorrect interpretations of the light.
As a result, the dSLR sensor can reach higher ISO settings (ISO 1600 to 3200) before noise has a serious effect on the image. The smaller digicam sensors are generally limited to ISO 400.
Lenses. For most point-and-shooters, the 3-5x optical zoom built into the typical digicam is just fine for most situations. Those who want to get closer will enjoy the increasingly popular 10-12x long zoom digicams available today. While those are great, they generally have to compromise in one direction or the other. If it's a long telephoto zoom, it seldom offers a very wide perspective, typically maxing out around an equivalent 35mm focal length of 37mm, a fairly modest wide-angle. For good wide-angle photography, you really need the equivalent of a 28mm lens. But cameras that offer 24 and 28mm don't have very good magnification at the telephoto end, stopping at about 100 to 120mm.
dSLR lenses run the same range, with only a few exceptions. But you can change the lens from a wide-angle to a telephoto very quickly. You can also pick from a range of medium to very high quality lenses, depending on your needs and your budget.
Many SLR photographers prefer to do their most exacting work with prime lenses of a single focal length. 85mm is popular for 35mm portrait work, for example. These lenses offer excellent color and focus precision across the entire image, with far less of the optical distortion (like chromatic aberration) seen in most zoom lenses. They also have excellent "bokeh," a Japanese term that refers to the tendency to blur backgrounds and foregrounds in an artistically pleasing way, thus isolating the subject in the picture.
Alternately, many SLR photographers choose to attach what we like to call a "vacation" lens, that offers very wide to very high telephoto magnification in one lens. They are never as sharp as prime lenses or even as good as shorter range zooms, but when you're on vacation it's nice to carry just one camera with one lens you never have to change. The dSLR vacation lens has a wider range than is typically available on digicams, reaching from 18-200mm, the rough equivalent of a 28-320mm zoom on a 35mm camera.
Regardless of manufacturer, dSLRs also focus faster and more accurately and zoom more quickly than their motorized digicam counterparts. Many All-in-one cameras actually have only a few preset zones to which they focus, relying on their inherently greater depth of field to make up for the difference. At the higher end and certainly with the long zooms, there is finer control, but this nevertheless points up another advantage to dSLRs. The analog zoom control (most are operated by a quick mechanical twist) built into the SLR lens offers much greater speed and control than the button-activated motorized zoom on most digicams, which also operates in only a handful of predefined steps.
A key advantage dSLRs have is access to a company's wide range of existing SLR lenses -- which in the case of Canon and Nikon, numbers around 50 each -- as well as lenses from third party manufacturers, like Sigma, Tamron and Tokina. The variety is compelling and far exceeds the small line of lens converters designed for a digicam. If you buy into a lens line, you have much to choose from.
Other factors. Professionals generally choose SLRs for a few additional reasons. Seeing a live image through the lens, regardless of zoom, gives them finer control over focus and they can compare what they see through the lens with what the camera is capturing and displaying on the LCD. Former digicam owners have to get used to the lack of a live LCD preview, however and also have to accept that the dSLR viewfinder only displays 95 percent of what the camera will actually capture, while their digicam displays 100 percent.
dSLRs also typically can capture more frames per second in continuous mode and usually offer more sophisticated and rapid focus options, including focus tracking for subjects moving at high speed. Faster focus also means that dSLRs are the better choice for sports photography.
More dSLRs than digicams are capable of producing RAW files, which provide greater post-capture control of images. RAW is essentially a dump of the raw data that a camera collects from its sensor. Normally, the camera takes this data and quickly processes it for color, sharpness and contrast, saving it to the memory card in a computer-readable format like JPEG or TIFF. Consumer cameras are generally tuned to excessively sharpen images and tweak color and saturation to make a more pleasing photograph right out of the camera. But once these changes are made, they're impossible to reverse.
Finally, dSLRs offer a well-established set of accessories to enhance the photographer's ability to get good pictures. From more powerful external flashes and strobes, to vertical grips, filters and remote controls, the photographer can build a custom system to meet every need.
THE DIGICAM SOLUTION
Despite all that a dSLR avails, there are still many reasons to choose a digicam. The digicam and dSLR are evolving along very different paths, one catering to the consumer market and the other catering to pros. For the professional market, it's important to stick with the existing paradigm, using 35mm lenses and accessories in a body familiar to pros.
On the other hand, Digicam manufacturers have been free to experiment. They've gradually stepped away from the traditional point-and-shoot design of boxes that had to move film from one side of the camera to the other. They designed split bodies that could point the lens independently of the monitor, even swinging it back to face you. And that led to putting the LCD in a articulated frame to get even greater flexibility. In another innovation, some genius put the sensor at the bottom of the camera and aimed the lens up into a mirror, eliminating the protruding lens and resulting in some of the slimmest cameras ever.
Versatility. Digicams are versatile for a great many reasons, not the least of which is their size. No matter how small, almost all decent digicams have a reasonable zoom, an LCD for both framing and playback, a flash and can handle a wide array of photographic situations.
While I touted the virtues of the dSLR's larger sensors, it's the digicam's smaller sensor that makes all this possible. A 400mm dSLR lens is very long and bulky, but digicams can get the same magnification from a much shorter lens, thanks to the small, high resolution sensor inside. Yes, there's a light gathering limitation at high ISO in terms of noise, but it's a tradeoff most are happy to make to have a camera small enough to bring along.
LCD framing. In addition to being a fun and relaxing way to frame your photographs, using the LCD is often the only way to get the shot. You can get lower or shoot over crowds and around corners, even if the camera doesn't have a flip out or swivel monitor. When a camera does have a flip out LCD, your photography will take new turns as you start to look at the world from every conceivable angle. Not a single current dSLR has this capability.
Movies. Unlike the dSLR (which just can't), the digicam has gotten quite good at video capture, with many offering near-DV quality video systems that can record VGA (640x480 pixel) video at 30 fps to a fast media card until either the battery runs out or the card fills up.
Creative modes. The same innovative spirit that has morphed the digicam's physical design has created an array of unique new ways to capture photographs, as well as new uses for them.
One of the more interesting is Nikon's unique BSS mode, which stands for Best Shot Selector. In low light, it's tough to hand-hold a long exposure. With BSS though, the camera will fire off several shots, saving only the sharpest.
Another brilliant application of digital technology to a practical problem is Casio's White Board mode. Digicams make great note-takers, photographing speaker's slides and signage. The Casio EXILIM EX-Z50's White Board mode uses the frame around a display or white board to correct the aspect ratio of the shot, cropping out everything but the image within the frame. Called keystoning, the method is also applied in the camera's business card mode.
Canon's PowerShot S2 IS allows you to take a full resolution picture while you're shooting high resolution video. The resulting video includes a gap, a shutter sound and a brief freeze frame of the image captured. They've taken what could have been seen as a flaw and actually made it look pretty cool.
ONE OF EACH
Neither solution is the best choice for every situation. Decide what's most important to you and select the best camera type for that purpose, then gradually search for the second camera.
I carry a digicam with folded optics and no protruding lens so I have a camera with me everywhere. Then I bring out the dSLR when conditions warrant. It's really no different from when I shot film. I always had a camera with me, a photographer to the core.
You can do very well with a basic snapshooter with a 3x zoom, 4- to 5-megapixel sensor, for $200 to $300. Spend a little more for a nice slim model easy to take anywhere. Beyond that, see the full story (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/SLRvsDIGICAM/SLRA.HTM) on the site for some thoughts on the best solution for kids, sports, portraits, landscapes and digicams you can take everywhere.
THE BOTTOM LINE(S)
If you're struggling to get the photos you want with the camera you have because it's too slow, consider a dSLR. You may have to lug it (and its accessories) around in a camera bag, but the good news is that the latest offerings are surprisingly small and light to shoot with.
If you're looking for greater portability, a digicam is the best choice. Those looking for an all-purpose family camera that can take video and stills with ease really should spend that $400 to $500 for an image-stabilized long zoom digicam.
The best news is that digital cameras of every sort are getting better and better regardless of category and their prices continue to fall. It won't be long before you have a great digital camera for every conceivable photographic situation.
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:
One day the light bulb goes on. "This picture would look a lot better framed as a portrait than a landscape," you say. And so you turn your camera 90 degrees and prove it.
It would be just fine for many people if cameras were designed as tall as water glasses rather than as squat as butter dishes. They shoot vertical more than horizontal, portraits more than landscapes.
With the right camera and accessories, that's actually possible.
The two big problems are 1) whether your camera or you has to rotate every image from landscape to portrait and 2) if you can comfortably use your camera vertically.
It can be a great nuisance to have to rotate every image you shoot that isn't landscape. Some camera manufacturers (Kodak is pretty good about this) appreciate that and provide an auto rotation feature that senses when the camera is being used vertically and rotates the orientation of the image for you. Others believe this is too taxing, unprofessional or otherwise beneath them (hey, they never did it for film). And some are in the middle, letting you rotate in the camera but not automatically.
You may not get carpal tunnel syndrome from rotating your camera 90 degrees to shoot vertically, but a couple of design features really help. They can, in fact, make it feel as natural as it should feel.
Some cameras (like Konica Minolta's Maxxum D7) rotate the LCD display so you don't have to cock your head to read it. This is especially valuable on a dSLR where the display conveys important camera settings.
But even more helpful is a vertical grip. Some high-end dSLRs (like the Canon EOS 1D Mark II) actually have a vertical grip built in to the camera body. Others (like the Olympus E1) offer a vertical grip as an accessory. And in some cases, third parties (like Harbortronics at http://www.harbortronics.com) offer vertical grips for cameras (like the Nikon D70) whose manufacturers don't.
Vertical grips provide three advantages. Most importantly, the provide a comfortable way to hold the camera for portrait shots. That includes a convenient way to snap the shutter and, usually, control some camera functions. Finally, they use their inherent bulk to power the camera with often twice the capacity of the gripless arrangement.
Features vary, of course, but in addition to a shutter release button, some grips also provide control dials and commonly-used buttons. Optional models are secured to the body via the tripod mount.
They also have a disadvantage, but only one. They add weight to what's usually a pretty hefty package already. Particularly if you take advantage of the extra battery capacity.
Our eyes may be next to each other rather than on top of the other, but that isn't always how our brains see the world. A vertical grip makes shooting either way equally natural.
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 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H1 Discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee9f1c2
Visit the Casio Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f775
Read about the Canon i9900 printer at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9b9b1/0
A user asks about screen protectors at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9cb7e/0
Visit the Infrared With Digital Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee8e6b4
Every once in a while we try to do just one little thing right. Just to turn things around in this complex, confusing chaos. One little thing. Floss every day, say. Or pick up both of our socks. It doesn't much matter what, the sense of achievement is enough to inspire us with new found confidence in our backyard moon launch project in which we plan to redeploy our pre-2000 digicams.
Who better than us then to appreciate the simplicity of Imageshack (http://www.imageshack.us). This site does one thing right. It hosts your images (that's the thing). For free (we did say "right").
Maybe you want to sell a rocking chair on eBay (http://www.ebay.com) or post a picture of your water damaged ceiling in the Fixit forum on craigslist (http://forums.craigslist.org/?forumID=64). Maybe you want to show something to your AOL Instant Messenger buds.
To do it, you need 1) an image and 2) a place to host it. You may have some server space thanks to your Internet Service Provider that you can upload your image to. But even if you do, it may be hard to get to and certainly doesn't provide unlimited space.
Imageshack lets you upload your image to their server using your browser (or a Dashboard Widget if you're running OS X Tiger). You can upload as many as you like. And they will be there "forever." It costs you nothing. And automatically generates a set of HTML links to your image that you can paste in an eBay ad, a craigslist message, an email, a Web page, you name it.
Sure, there's a catch. They did this right, after all. Your image can't be larger than one measly megabyte. That's 1,024K bytes. But that's actually something like a barely-compressed 3-Mp image. You can upload JPEGs, TIFFs, BMPs, SWFs and PNGs.
When you upload, Imageshack will convert BMP and TIFF images to PNG and resize images greater than 1024K automatically.
It may also rename the image, eliminating non-standard characters, shortening names to 30 characters and adding three random characters to each image name. A 4-digit subdirectory, based on the image name, is also created. That ensures maximum security, prevents image leeching and protects your image locations.
It also automatically makes a 200x200 maximum thumbnail of your image. With a small black bar along the bottom to display the download size of the full image.
Once the upload is complete, Imageshack displays a page of links for you to copy and paste where you need one.
We put up a sample image when we were testing the site. It lowercased the name, added "2bz" to the root and resized our 1536x2048-pixel image (just under 1024K) to 720x960 (128K). When the upload was done, Imageshack provided a Thumbnail for Web sites, Thumbnail for forums, Hotlink for forums, Hotlink for Web sites, Show image to friends and Direct link to image.
ImageShack does monitor bandwidth, of course, restricting each image to 100-MB of transfer an hour. If an image exceeds that, it's rendered inaccessible (which is why we aren't posting the URL to our test image).
Before we uploaded an image, though, we registered with Imageshack. That's free, too, and it provides some useful (in fact, essential) benefits. Only after registering can Imageshack associate the upload with you (so you can later delete your images).
You can also select more than one image at a time for uploading. But that costs a small fee, paid in credits, which you can earn for free by clicking on special offers. Your account includes 20 free credits so you can try uploading multiple images using the Multiple Zip Upload Feature, the WinXP Publishing Wizard or FTP.
That also gives you access to your own Image Panel where your images are displayed with their HTML code and a link to Camera Data (file name, size, date, camera make, camera model, capture date/time, resolution, color type, flash, focal length, exposure time, aperture, ISO, EV, metering mode, exposure mode, JPEG quality and JPEG process).
The Image Panel also lets you create a free PhotoBlog, a visual diary of sorts, which you keep private or share. The PhotoBlog feature lets you add a comment to each image. You can also customize the color of the background, foreground, border, link and text. It makes an attractive blog with thumbnails running down the left side of the full screen image (resized to 500x667 in our case) that includes a 1-10 rating visitors can assign to your image and a guest log for their comments.
OK, we were just kidding when we said Imageshack does just one thing right. They do quite a few things right.
Ah, broadband! Can not live without ye.
Three years ago, when we wrote Broadband Wireless for Photographers in the April 5 issue (do the math), we had just jumped camp from the dial-up team. And since then, we've been broadbanding happily despite moving the whole bunker here to higher ground.
Until this week when we couldn't connect to the old Asante router's wireless port. Our service provider has been revamping their email servers (for months now), requiring us to restart the router almost daily to authenticate ourselves to the system again. And the wear and tear must have taken its toll.
A repair to our three-year old box would have cost around $100, not smart. Asante is out of the home router business these days, so we were obliged to look around for a new box. It didn't take long, but it was more trouble than it should have been.
We had a few must-haves on our feature list:
What we didn't care about were any features labeled "easy." These days it's better to know what you're doing than trust some box to do it.
- We wanted a wireless router that supported the old Wireless-B and the faster Wireless-G protocols. So we wanted a Wireless-G box.
- We also wanted a Web-based interface to configure the router so we could do it from any connected computer no matter what operating system it was running. Not as easy to divine, unfortunately, but it's either there in the fine print or not.
- A DHCP server so it could assign addresses to our computers. We also wanted to make sure we could set its MAC hardware address to the one our ISP expected to see. And protect the local IP addresses from being seen on the Web. But all this is pretty standard stuff these days.
- A built-in firewall to keep out all those "unrecognized access" attempts (we get about five a minute). It had to say that on the box.
- Wireless security protocols from WEP to WPA and beyond to prevent the neighbors from sharing our service. Also pretty standard.
- We kept one eye peeled for four 10/100 ports, too.
We also didn't care about extended range tricks with pre-N or Super-This protocols (all of which would have required buying a compatible wireless card for each computer). We didn't want to spend much.
Nor were we impressed by any printer ports, since they are typically one-way USB, which won't let you use any utilities that monitor ink usage, for example.
Several boxes fit our modest demands, but the best deal we could arrange was for a Linksys Wireless-G Broadband Router (WRT54G). The $70 shelf price came with a $20 and $10 rebate. And we had a $20 discount card, too, so the whole thing came down to $20. That was the fun part.
While the Linksys does come with a CD, it provides absolutely no Mac support. The CD runs on Windows and does step you through the process of putting your router into service safely. Great for Windows users, but not fatal for Mac uses, actually. Buried on the CD is the PDF manual so you can walk through the process using the browser-based interface.
Which is what we did anyway. We named our router, changed its IP address, changed its MAC address to what our ISP expected, set up the DHCP server, noted the firewall was enabled by default and set up our wireless security (we're not telling). Then we saved our configuration to a file on our hard disk so we could reload it in an instant if we ever have to reset the box.
We did all this with the broadband modem off. So once we had the router configured and secure, we went back on line. Piece of cake.
Turns out the new router provides a stronger wireless signal throughout the entire neighborhood and the faster wired connections are spiffy, too. And the price was definitely right.
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
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.
RE: Illuminating Article
Just wanted to say thanks for the article you had in your June 24th issue about capturing fireworks on a digital camera. Thanks to your article I got several good pictures this year with my Fuji S2. I always enjoy getting the newsletter.
-- G.F. Kruse(Thanks for the feedback, G.F.! It isn't bad reading after the fact, too,, for diagnosing problems. -- Editor)
RE: Canon A70 Follow-Up
I sent my camera back to Canon (Toronto) and was quoted $172.50 (including shipping, taxes) for repairs. It requires replacement of the Main board. Canon offered to "sell" me an obsolete new A75 (cost of repairs) in replacement of the Canon A70. I can't even find an A75 anywhere on the net for sale to find out how much they cost! I told them no, to send back my camera that I wasn't investing anymore money into a Canon product. I can buy a new up to date camera for around $350.
They still maintain that these problems are few and far between. I don't know where to go from here. It really annoys me that they are so arrogant -- take it or leave it. I guess I'm and all the others are SOL!
Thanks for your help.
-- Debbie(eBay has a few used A75s for around $100. But you're right, you can do better. It sounds like Canon has decided to address any of these cases that come up outside the warranty period with this repair/replace offer. The problem is unusual, certainly, but not the policy. You can protect yourself next time by using a credit card that extends the manufacturer's warranty. -- Editor)
RE: Missed Last Issue
I didn't receive the most recent newsletter and when I tried to resubscribe, the reply said I was already subscribed.
-- Ruslan Henderson(Apologies to everyone for the last mailing. It was the first newsletter we sent with the new software. Despite testing with our courtesy email, the big one caused a problem that took a day to resolve. A few subscribers got two copies but by now everyone should have received at least one. -- Editor)
Konica Minolta and Sony will jointly develop dSLRs with Maxxum/Dynax lens mounts, the companies announced this week (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1121782359.html). The new dSLRs will benefit from Konica Minolta's autofocus, auto exposure and unique CCD-shift anti-shake technologies and from Sony's CCD and CMOS sensors, image processing and lithium ion battery technologies. The dSLR market reached 2.5 million units in 2004 and is expected to hit 3.6 million units in 2005.
We've put our review Apple's iLife (http://www.apple.com) on the back burner, expecting a resolution to iPhoto's nagging problem of tagging an edited image with the wrong color profile. The recent 5.03 release promised to fix this, but "concerns remain," as Chris Murphy, co-author of Real World Color Management, put it. In a posting on Ric Ford's macintouch iPhoto discussion (http://www.macintouch.com/iphoto14.html#jul19) Murphy describes what iPhoto does to untagged images, images tagged with table-based profiles and images tagged with matrix and gamma based profiles.
The New York Times (http://nytimes.com) July 20 article Amassing a Treasury of Photography describes a collaboration between the George Eastman House in Rochester and the International Center of Photography in New York. They plan "to create one of the largest freely accessible databases of masterwork photography anywhere on the Web." The site, Photomuse.org, is expected to launch in the fall of 2006 with almost 200,000 images.
Photographer Jeff Schewe, editor of PhotoshopNews (http://photoshopnews.com) has published a two-part article describing his DNG workflow to handle Canon Raw images.
Canon (http://www.canon.com) has introduced its $129.99 PIXMA iP4200 photo printer with 9600x2400-dpi resolution, an 1,856 nozzle print head with one picoliter droplets and its ContrastPLUS five-color ink system with four color dyes and a pigment black.
Stone Design (http://www.stone.com) has released its $49 iMaginator 2.0 [M], which uses Tiger's Core Image technology to edit images. The new version adds painting and erasing on unlimited layers, direct use of OpenGL and CoreImage for improved speed, more new effects chains, precise setting of the crop rectangle and more.
1STEIN (http://www.codedcolor.com), (pronounced "Einstein"), has released it $39 CodedColor PhotoStudio 4.2 [W] for viewing organizing and editing images. New features include frame capture to import single or multiple frames from digital video and a tool to straighten misaligned horizons. The slide show option permits viewers to instantly zoom and scroll large images like panoramas.
The $39.95 Photo Layout 1.1.6 [M] (http://www.donsgames.com) gang prints photos and text on a single page with drag-and-drop positioning, text and photo borders, cropping, kerning, special effects for text and more. ITEM: Pixel Corps (http://www.pixelcorps.com) has announced a new open enrollment policy. For a nominal monthly fee, members get unrestricted access to its digital media software, a global learning community and online training on products ranging from Photoshop and Apple Shake to Luxology modo and SOFTIMAGE|XSI. Membership options include three months for $150, six months for $240 or 12 months for $420.
On select Thursdays, Pentax is sponsoring admission to Six Flags (http://www.sixflags.com) when you show any Pentax camera and a downloaded personalized voucher at any U.S. Six Flags Park ticket booth. Offer is valid July 28, Aug. 4 and Aug. 11.
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
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