The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 7, Number 26 23 December 2005

Copyright 2005, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 165th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We get the big picture on Aperture and enjoy Fuji's high-end S9000. Then we share a tip for fixing a loose battery compartment door before mounting our spotting scope to a dSLR. Finally, we introduce a new trick for our Holiday gift this year. Thanks for joining us!


TOPICS

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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: Aperture -- A Star Is Born

At the time, there were a couple of shopping days left before Christmas. But all through the bunker, the wallboard was trembling from 71 mph winds off the coast and a chilling scream from above told us dinner was getting colder and colder. We reluctantly put our laptop to sleep and left our work for another day.

When we woke up the next day, we found the familiar dim light throbbing on our laptop. But something had happened.

We opened the top and a neutral gray glow greeted us as the little aluminum habitat drew a few spiders to its warm exhaust. Above it, a chorus of gnats was circling as if some great event had occurred. We looked around for someone wiser than us to explain what was going on, but apparently they were delayed by the commute traffic.

Clearly something big had happened. We were hoping it was tax deductible, but we couldn't be sure of that for months. So we grabbed our mouse and clicked to dismiss the opening dialog box and enter the world of After Aperture.

A FEW PREREQUISITES

We felt especially blessed because, well, not everyone can run Apple's new image processing and database application.

You need, first of all, Mac OS 10.4 Tiger, no less. It's Tiger's Core Image library that does the image processing. Don't see Raw support for your dSLR? Just wait for a Software Update to OS X.

Even with Tiger roaring, you need a rather recent Macintosh. Our 15-inch aluminum G4 PowerBook fit the bill, fortunately. But its stock 512-MB of RAM wasn't enough.

That's a good thing, we told ourselves. It means the application is serious about performance and expects us to be, too. We put 2-GB in the PowerBook and reaped lots of other benefits. The entire Creative Suite now starts up and quits much faster for one thing (must have been a lot of virtual memory swapping).

Since we were getting serious, we blew the dust off an old Sony monitor and connected the analog plug to a digital-analog adapter that came with the PowerBook. We connected everything with the power off, then restarted with a two-monitor system. A quick trip to System Preferences let us set up just how the two monitors related to each other, who had the Menu bar, which was the main one, etc. It was a very, very simple setup. And so was calibrating and profiling the two monitors.

We had plenty of space on the hard drive and plenty of space on our external FireWire backup drives to handle the 5-GB free space Aperture required. Our ambition was just to review Aperture, not make a living from it or we'd probably be investing in a couple more FireWire drives, at least one for an offsite backup.

You don't back up Aperture's data to CDs or even DVDs. You back up -- incrementally, fortunately -- to FireWire drives. Aperture keeps track of what has and hasn't been backed up to which device. So when you plug your offsite FireWire in, it knows just what it has to do to freshen it up. You can't hire people that smart.

THE INSTALL

Distributed on a single DVD (with a recent 11.4-MB update to version 1.0.1 highly recommended), installation was simple. After the program was installed, we were invited to register it and did so. A broadband connection is not much of an option these days, with software updates handled through the Web. And it makes registering effortless.

The application itself resides in the root Application folder, available to all users. That's pretty standard these days for OS X.

The data, however, is installed in the user's Picture directory as Aperture Library. The sample library installed with the program is 792-MB of data organized as an OS X package (like most applications) so it appears like one file to the user. When we Show Package Contents, we can see individual elements of the package (including more packages). This is how Aperture protects the data from accidental manipulation at the Finder level. It may disturb you at first because you don't see your camera originals or the edited versions when you look for them in the Finder. But we think it's a very wise approach.

LEARNING APERTURE

Apple provides a rich collection of resources for learning Aperture. The good news is you don't have to plow through all of them to actually use the program. They'll still be there when you need them.

But two you'll want to make friends with quickly. The 224-page manual, clearly written and well organized, covers the basic concepts involved in Aperture's way of image processing and database management in a format that pretty much follows the typical workflow.

After an introduction and hardware setup, you start with the interface and learn how to work with Projects. Then you learn about importing options, using the Browser to work with images, the Viewer to see them, stacking images together and rating them. Then it's on to applying keywords, searching the database and using Smart Albums. One chapter only discusses image adjustments before various kinds of output are covered, including slide shows, the Light Table, printing, exporting, creating Web journals and galleries and creating books. The last chapter talks about backing up your images. And Apple didn't scrimp on the index, either.

The other essential tool is the DVD tutorial. Sections include Acquiring Images, Browsing & Organizing, Rating & Keywording, Searching the Library, Output to Print & Web and Aperture Training (a set of PDFs and a Web site link). There's also a Topic Index broken down into Photo Management, Image Processing and Output sections.

Where the manual tells you about these things, the tutorial shows you. And it does so in a very polished presentation that's a pleasure to watch. But getting through it in one sitting is asking a lot. We white-knuckled it through in two, but that was a grind.

Apple's Aperture subsite doesn't offer support, but you can find help in the Discussions section (http://discussions.apple.com/category.jspa?categoryID=184). There were over 700 topics with over 4,500 messages last we looked.

BASICS

We've only had a few days to get acquainted with Aperture, but a few things are already clear. This is a different way of working. Its efficiencies are many and draw from the hardware and the operating system as much as the application itself. This is really a system for doing professional photography.

But it's a system that wants to manage the data itself. It's happy enough to export a copy of your image, if you'd like, but it doesn't want you fooling around at the Finder level with its files. Rightly so.

Consequently, it wraps its data up in a package that looks like a single file to the operating system. There are ways to circumvent this, but at the risk Aperture won't know what you've done in there. Golden Rule Number One is to let Aperture manage your images.

Let's look (briefly) at the data structure Aperture uses to do that. There are seven elements to it.

Your camera originals (or other original images), whether they are JPEGs or Raw formats, are Digital Master Files to Aperture. They are copied into the Library but they are never changed. That's pretty much what you'd hope. They're one of a kind images, the only ones that can't be recreated. Aperture knows that.

Edits are actually made to copies or Versions of those Master Files. In fact, even the display uses Versions, so when you make adjustments on the image, they are being made to the Version, not the Master File.

Storing thousands of Master Files and even more Versions of them would be unwieldy without some sort of hierarchy. That's what Projects provides. You can group your images into Projects. You import your originals into a Project, populate the project with versions and organize them into Albums, although you can create Albums outside a project. Albums can not only collect Versions but also layouts of Versions, like Light Table arrangements or Web galleries. Aperture also provides Smart Albums. Finally, you can organize Projects and even Albums within them into Folders. This hierarchy helps you keep your collection organized so you see the big picture at a glance and access the details without rummaging around.

All of that -- from the Master Files to the Folders -- are what's inside the Library. You can Show Package Contents to see the individual files, in fact. You can put the Library package on your internal drive, but it's going to grow quite large quite quickly. You think your iTunes library is a monster? You ain't seen nuttin' yet. You can also point Aperture to an external drive as the host of your Library.

Libraries are backed up to Vaults, which are simply copies of the Library. Aperture keeps track of when each vault was backed up and does an incremental back up when you tell it to.

AND NEXT UP

Because Aperture represents a new way of working, we've decided to cast our review in the form of a diary (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/APT/APT.HTM). We've put the first two installments up, covering the hardware setup in detail, the learning resources and our first launch. Next we'll get familiar with the interface and explore some workflow options. We invite you not only to look over our shoulder but chime in with our forum discussion on the series.

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Feature: Fujifilm FinePix S9000 -- The High-End Digicam

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S9000/S9KA.HTM on the Web site.)

OVERVIEW

Released as a successor to the popular (but rather long-in-the-tooth) FinePix S7000, the $699 Fujifilm FinePix S9000 retains the traditional 35mm shape. Though it's larger than other FinePix models (and quite a bit larger than the S7000), it's still no bigger or heavier than a typical consumer dSLR with a kit lens. When you consider its powerful 10.7x zoom lens, the S9000 has a significant size and weight advantage. The body appears to be almost entirely composed of structural plastic, but the camera nevertheless has a fairly solid feel to it.

The big news on the S9000 is twofold: its Super CCD HR image sensor, which produces high-quality images as large as 3488x2616 pixels (9.0 megapixels) without the need to resort to interpolation, and its powerful 10.7x Fujinon optical zoom lens. The resolution is higher than any consumer-level camera on the market and the zoom range puts it near the top of the line as well. A few other improvements over the S7000 include an unusual double-tilting LCD display that helps when shooting from waist level or over the head, a greatly expanded range of ISO sensitivities, a new high-speed shooting mode that trades some battery life and focusing range for reduced focusing lag and a refined control layout that includes a mechanical zoom control for greater accuracy and control.

The S9000 lens dominates its front face, giving the camera a serious, professional look. A removable, plastic lens cap attaches to the camera body or the neck strap and protects the lens surface. The same threads that hold the lens cap in place also accept 58mm accessories. Most camera control is accomplished via external controls, so there's less reliance on the LCD menu system. Because the S9000 uses an electronic viewfinder you can conserve some power by switching to the EVF over the LCD, though not as much as you can with an optical viewfinder. Though the control layout may seem daunting to the uninitiated, I actually found it quite intuitive after a while. I could access commonly-used shooting controls very quickly, thanks to an interface design that let me avoid the LCD menu system.

The EVF is actually a miniaturized (0.44 inches) version of the larger LCD, showing the same information. An EVF/LCD button switches the viewfinder display between the two monitors, so only one is active. As an eyeglass wearer, I appreciated both the dioptric adjustment on the EVF and its relatively high eyepoint, which made it easy to use with my glasses on. With 235,000 pixels, the EVF is also easier on the eyes than some rivals when viewing finer details and menu screens. The 1.8-inch color LCD monitor also has a very sharp display, with some useful focus enlargement options in record mode and a histogram display.

The Fujinon 10.7x zoom lens (28-300mm 35mm equivalent) offers an aperture range from f2.8-f8 (or f11 in Manual mode), manually and automatically adjustable. Focus ranges from 1.6 feet to infinity in normal AF mode and from 3.9 inches to 9.8 feet in Macro mode. Super Macro mode focuses from 0.4 inches to 3.3 feet, about the closest macro range I've seen on a digicam, matched only by a small handful of models. The autofocus system operates in either Single or Continuous AF modes, with an adjustable AF area. A focus switch on the left side of the camera goes between Single AF, Continuous AF and Manual focus modes and the focus ring around the back of the lens barrel adjusts the manual focus with a fly-by-wire system. The One-Touch AF button quickly snaps the image into focus in manual mode, letting you tweak the focus from there, while a Focus Check button enlarges the center of the frame 2x to help with manual focusing. The S9000 has some of the best focusing options of any prosumer-level digicam, although I do wish it had a numerical distance readout. In addition to the impressive 10.7x optical zoom, the S9000 also offers a fixed 2x digital zoom, though as always, image quality decreases with digital enlargement.

The S9000 offers a wide range of exposure control, from full Auto to full Manual modes. A Power/Mode dial sets the camera to either Record or Playback modes, while the Exposure Mode dial on top of the camera features Auto, Program AE, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, Movie, Night, Landscape, Portrait, Natural Light and Anti-Blur exposure modes. Shutter speeds range from 1/4000 to 30 seconds in full Manual mode, with a Bulb setting for arbitrary exposures up to 30 seconds, but the range decreases to 1/2000 to 4 seconds (wide-angle) or 2 seconds (telephoto) in other modes.

In all exposure modes except for Auto, Scene Program and Manual, Exposure Compensation is adjustable from -2 to +2 exposure equivalents in one-third-step increments. By default, the S9000 uses a 256-zone, multi-segment metering system, but Average and Spot metering modes are available through the settings menu. An AE Lock button locks the exposure reading independently of focus. Through the Drive menu, an Auto Exposure Bracketing function snaps a series of three images at different exposure settings, which can vary by 1/3, 1/2 or one full EV step (set through the menu system). In any exposure mode except Natural Light or Anti-Blur, the camera's ISO sensitivity setting offers Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800 or 1600. White Balance choices include Auto, Daylight, Shade, Daylight Fluorescent, Warm White Fluorescent, Cool White Fluorescent, Incandescent and two Custom (manual) settings. You can also adjust image sharpness, contrast and saturation and a Self-Timer mode offers two- and 10-second countdowns. The camera's built-in, pop-up flash operates in Auto, Forced On, Red-Eye Reduction, Slow-Synchro and Red-Eye Reduction Slow-Synchro modes. A hot shoe with a single contact and PC sync connector both accommodate more powerful flash units, but the S9000 also features an adjustment to increase the flexibility of its onboard flash.

Three Continuous Shooting modes are available: Top-4 Frame, Final-4 Frame and Long-Period Continuous Shooting. The Long-Period Continuous Shooting mode is only available in Auto exposure mode, but allows very long sequences of images to be captured. The Final-4 frame continuous mode is unusual, in that the camera begins acquiring images continuously when you press the Shutter button and then saves the last four it shot before you released the shutter. This is great for capturing fleeting moments in sports and other fast-moving situations. Just hold down the Shutter button, then release it as soon as the event has occurred.

In Playback mode, a Voice Memo option records as much as 30 seconds of sound to accompany still images, great for more lively captions. The S9000's Movie mode offers 640x480- and 320x240-pixel resolutions and records for as long as the memory card has available space, at a full 30 fps. For more creative shooting, the S9000's Multiple Exposure mode overlaps as many exposures as you like, producing a double-exposure effect.

Images are stored on either xD-Picture Cards or CompactFlash type II memory cards (a 16-MB xD-Picture Card comes with the camera). The camera also accommodates microdrives and, since it uses the FAT32 file system, it can access the full capacity of the latest solid-state and microdrive cards, where cameras that support only FAT16 would be limited to the first 2-GB of available space. Quality choices include two JPEG compression levels and an uncompressed RAW option. An included A/V cable lets you connect to a television set for image playback and composition and a USB cable provides high speed connection to a computer. The software CD that comes with the camera, also includes Fuji's FinePix Viewer software for image downloading and ImageMixer for creating CD albums, as well as a RAW converter for processing the RAW format files. Power for the S9000 is provided by four AA-type alkaline or NiMH batteries and a set of alkaline batteries comes with the camera. As always, I strongly recommend picking up a couple of sets of high-capacity rechargeable batteries and charger. An AC adapter is available as a separate accessory.

FLASH

The built-in, pop-up flash is effective to 18.4 feet at full wide-angle. At telephoto, the flash is effective to 9.8 feet. It operates in one of five modes: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow-Synchro and Slow-synchro with Red-Eye Reduction. Red-eye Reduction fires a small pre-flash before the full flash, to reduce the occurrence of the Red-eye Effect. The Slow-Synchro modes combine the flash with a slow shutter speed, good for night subjects because they capture more ambient light, avoiding the common syndrome of a ghastly white subject in front of a pitch-dark background. A brightness adjustment accessed through the settings menu increases or decreases the overall flash power from -0.6 to +0.6 EV in one-third-step increments. I'd really like to see it extend further toward negative exposure compensation, for those times when you really want only a subtle fill-light. Internal and external flash units cannot operate together, so the pop-up flash should be closed when an external flash is in use.

MOVIES & SOUND

Movie mode captures moving images with sound at either VGA (640x480 pixels) or QVGA (320x240 pixels) resolutions, with a frame rate fixed at 30 fps, as long as there is card space. Full VGA resolution movies are becoming commonplace, but you do have to have a very fast memory card to keep up with the high data rate. Fujifilm also notes that when using microdrives in higher ambient temperatures to record movies, the microdrive may eventually overheat, requiring the camera to stop recording automatically. Movie recording stops and starts with a full press of the Shutter button and a timer appears in the LCD monitor to report the available recording time. Most of the exposure features are adjustable in Movie mode, with the exception of flash, digital zoom and the high-speed still-capture shooting options.

Accessed via the Playback menu, a Voice Memo mode lets you record short sound clips to accompany already-recorded still images. Voice captions can last as long as 30 seconds.

SHUTTER LAG/CYCLE TIMES

Startup time and shutter response are reasonable and quite good for a camera with a telescoping lens. Shot-to-shot times are slightly better than average, but Continuous mode speed is a bit below par except in the Top4 mode and even there isn't particularly impressive. Flash recharging time is just slightly on the slow side for its class, but downloading over the camera's USB 2.0 connection is exceptionally quick. Pre-Focused Shutter Lag is the one real standout -- at just 0.11 second, this is blazingly fast, among the best on the market. We also noted that buffer clearing and shot-to-shot times were noticeably better with xD than with either a SanDisk Extreme III CF 1-GB or a Kingston 50x card, with the xD capturing seven images and clearing the buffer in four seconds and the CF cards capturing only four images and clearing in eight seconds. Clearing times in Top4 mode were 8.44 seconds for the xD card and about 12.4 seconds for the CF cards. Time to bring up images and switch between images in Playback mode are really way too slow, almost always measuring four seconds between frames at the highest resolution.

Test Results: http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S9000/S9KA12.HTM

CONCLUSION

Falling dSLR prices make it harder and harder for high-end all-in-one cameras to find a place in the market. But the Fujifilm FinePix S9000 makes a pretty compelling case for itself, offering an excellent 10.7x zoom lens (with a very useful 28mm wide-angle end) and loads of resolution at a price a hundred dollars or more less than the least expensive dSLR equipped with only a modest 3x zoom. It doesn't quite approach the quickness or low light/high ISO prowess of most dSLRs, but certainly does well enough for most amateur photographers.

A flash hot-shoe permits the use of powerful external strobes and it even offers a threaded cable-release socket on its shutter button. (Why more digital camera makers don't offer this is beyond us; it can't cost more than a few pennies to add to a camera and is very useful for all sorts of situations where you don't want to jostle the camera by pressing the shutter button.) Control-wise, the S9000 offers a full range of exposure modes from fully automatic to fully manual, with program, aperture-priority and shutter-priority in between, as well as a good handful of useful scene modes. This is a camera that a pure novice can start with and grow into as their skills mature.

No camera is perfect and the S9000 has its own set of foibles, but on balance, it's a great choice for enthusiast photographers on a budget. A Dave's Pick for its good build, smooth operation, rich feature set and affordable price. (Oh yeah -- it takes great pictures too!)

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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: Fixing a Bulging Battery Door

We have observed that not all AA batteries are exactly the same size. Some are a little bit bigger than others. And a bigger battery can strain the locking mechanism of your digicam's battery compartment door. Which, to be perfectly frank, is a plastic latch with little tolerance for stress.

Twice recently we've heard from friends who have resorted to rubber bands to hold their batteries in. And one (who is not so much careless as brutal with delicate instruments) went so far as to buy another camera.

But we were shooting the breeze the other day with our youngest brother when a solution reared its beguiling countenance.

"Hey, Hoss," we thought to ask (and, no, we never call him Eric), "did you ever get your digicam's battery door fixed?" His long-suffering wife had resorted to the rubber band solution on their Coolpix 990, we'd noticed, on her last trip here.

"I fixed it myself, Adam." We have strange nicknames.

We didn't believe him, of course. The last thing he fixed was a three-legged race at one of his kids' birthday parties.

"What kind of a glue holds those little plastic tabs that well?" we subtly challenged him.

"Glue? Me buy something? Adam, you surprise me." That does run counter to family tradition.

"I thought maybe something had congealed under the Ford," I didn't back down. He has a cherry red 1967 Ford Falcon convertible the rest of us call Falcon Crest, which was last driven in the previous century. Don't ask what we call his unupholstered Dodge Challenger.

"Probably, but I can't get under there any more. Besides, that's where the kids play." Since they learned to crawl, he's always respected their privacy.

"So how'd you do it?"

"Actually, I just flattened the contacts very, very slightly at the other end a little to relieve the strain. Works great."

Of course, he was lucky the little plastic tabs that catch the door weren't completely broken off, but with a little less pressure, the batteries still make contact without pushing the door open. The trick, it seems to us, would work on any number of AA digicams.

"You're a genius, Hoss."

"I keep telling you, Adam."

Return to Topics.

Advanced Mode: Scoping Rescoped

When we reviewed Parks Optical's Malibu Scope (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/MLB/MLB.HTM) a while ago, we'd mounted a digicam and a film SLR to it but hadn't had a chance to try a dSLR. When we finally got a couple of dSLRs in here to try it on, we found it an interesting enough experience to distill here.

Shooting through scopes isn't simple. They really weren't designed as long zooms. Nor was your camera designed to accommodate them. And yet, a lens is a lens. But that doesn't mitigate the technical problems.

Let's just start with camera shake.

Sure, mount the scope to a tripod and the camera to the scope but you can't really press the shutter button without inducing some shake on that fragile arrangement. Few digital cameras offer a remote or cable release, so to solve the problem, you usually rely on the self-timer. But talk about shutter lag!

Long zooms are increasingly image stabilized because it's impossible to hand hold one at its telescopic limit (as everyone who has tried it knows). But a 36x scope isn't designed for image stabilization.

So how do you stabilize a scope?

Fortunately, Konica Minolta puts image stabilization in the camera not the lens. The CCD floats, not a lens element. Clever guys. Just the ticket for our scope (even if, as Dave has observed, body-based stabilization is less effective at telephoto focal lengths than at wide angle). With either the 5D or the 7D we could shoot at normal shutter speeds without worrying about camera shake as long as we had the anti-shake switch on.

To mount a dSLR to a scope, you need a T-ring (or T-mount). One end screws tightly into the scope's adapter, a metal sleeve that slips over the focusing arm of the scope. The other end of the ring is the bayonet mount for your camera. The adapter ensures the scope doesn't enter the camera's mirror chamber.

Do this right and you're looking at the scene through the viewfinder even though the camera is off. Light passes through the scope, bounces off the mirror and through the viewfinder. Adjust the scope's focal length to avoid vignetting in the corners and get as tight as you like. Focus for sharpening using the scope's focusing ring. The Malibu adapter has cutouts through which you can adjust either the focal length or focus.

With the camera on, the next trick is to turn off shutter lock, which prevents the mirror from flipping up and exposing the sensor when the camera can not detect a lens. The camera will not detect a lens because there's no AF engagement or electronic contacts on the T-ring.

With no AF on the scope, you have to set the camera to Manual focus. You have no way to control the aperture (there is none on the scope, which always delivers all the light it can gather). Apart from cumbersome neutral density filters, the only control you have over exposure is shutter speed. In Shutter Priority mode you may find yourself working with 1/60 and 1/100 shutter speeds. In Program mode, you can do the same thing with EV compensation, if that's more comfortable.

Now the fun part. Shooting. Evaluate your histograms, please, to correct exposure, but otherwise it's just aim, wait and shoot.

A 36x scope like the Malibu isn't going to deliver the image quality of a prime lens. For one thing, there are atmospheric distortions from heat waves (not severe in the early morning). But color aberrations and optical distortions that are not forgivable in photography are acceptable in unaided vision when you are trying to see as far as you can. So don't neglect your image editor's post processing tools and filters for massaging the original images into what your mind sees, rather than what the scope captures.

In Photoshop CS2, use the new Lens Correction filter under the Filter Distort menu. The Remove Distortion slider at the top and the two Chromatic Aberration sliders can often improve the image.

But even an unretouched scope image is something to see.

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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 ongoing comments about Canon dSLRs at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee92fbe

Visit the Nikon Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f781

Dave D. asks about recovering pictures at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea1230/0

Neil asks about extreme weather conditions at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea125b/0

Visit the Professional Digital Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b4

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Just for Fun: Holiday Special 2005

Each year at this time, we try to come up with some special treat to express our appreciation for your subscription. You can still enjoy all of our previous specials by visiting the Archive (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html). Here's the list:

They all still work, especially the Gift Certificate, perfect for anyone on your list getting into digital photography. A PDF with a nice shot of the Golden Gate, you can download it (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?gsb) and print as many copies on your inkjet as you need. Then just remember to send an email to editor@imaging-resource.com with the subject "Gift Subscription" and the email address of the new subscriber in the body of the message.

This year we put a little programming time into the project, but not the JavaScript we've done in the past. This time, we built a little RSS feed generator for the newsletter.

RSS is a file format designed for syndicating Web content. An RSS feed provides a summary of a site's content with a link to the full version of the summarized items.

In our case, we've built a feed that lists the most recent newsletters with a description of their content and a link to the full version of the current newsletter or, in the case of older issues, to the archive.

You can display the feed several ways. Opera, Explorer 7, Thunderbird, Firefox, Safari all read RSS feeds. You'll see a list of the most recent issues with a description of their contents.

But you can retrieve our feed in a lot of other ways as well. For example, you can install a Konfabulator or Apple widget like the free MultiNewsReader (http://www.widgetgallery.com/view.php?widget=36039) or News Reader (http://www.apple.com/downloads/dashboard/news/newsreader.html) to read our feed.

Or use a news reader application to list the headlines without launching your browser. For a comprehensive list visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_news_aggregators and scroll down to your platform.

Or, at the same link, get an RSS aggregator (as they're called) for your cell phone so you can see what we're up to when you're not at your computer.

In fact, there are already two very interesting RSS feeds on our site. Here's the full list (swap the "http" with "feed" if you have a problem):

We plan to expand the newsletter RSS feed in the coming months. But we hope you find it's already useful as a quick summary of what we've covered.

It's our little way of thanking you for continuing to welcome this newsletter issue after issue. Happy holidays!

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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: Perfect Pitch

Compliments on handling the stoopid questions at "the BigStore." (Been there, done that.) All good wishes to you and your families for the season.

-- Chap Cronquist

(Thanks, Chap! Same to you! -- Editor)

I just read my new newsletter. You said something about profiling a monitor. I am a newbie and never heard of this procedure. I bought a Samsung 910T and an Epson R800 and a Perfection 4990 but I don't have a digital camera yet. I still have my Canon A2E system. I just started scanning some negs and slides. I don't seem to get the same exact color on my print that's on my monitor. Do you have any articles that tell you how to profile a monitor?

-- Ira S. Cohen

(Yes, we do, Ira. Take a look in our Archive (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html) for "Profiling Your Monitor" in our May 13 issue. Thanks for bringing that up -- we really should have mentioned it in the article! -- Editor)

RE: DxO

I recently purchased the DxO upgrade to 3.5 from my 2.0. It seems to do a very nice job of corrections, but I noticed that it copies a .dxo file to my folder as well as the corrected .jpg file. Is this something I have to keep around or can I blow it away?

-- Kevin

(We've asked DxO about this, Kevin, and here's the scoop: "The .dxo file records the settings of the corrections that have been applied to the image. It may be useful if, in the future, you want to slightly change a correction. With the .dxo file, you don't have to set your correction parameters from scratch. If you don't care about the correction settings of your images, you can simply erase the .dxo files." -- Editor)

RE: Cool Digicams

I would like to read your opinion of the Fujifilm FinePix S5200/S5600. I'm pleased with my purchase because I mostly photograph wildflowers and insects and Anti-Blur helps freeze their movement in breezy conditions for example, when a steady hand with the camera isn't good enough. I think this might be an innovation important enough to be worth a review.

-- Brian

(Thanks for the pointer, Brian. We do have a 5200 in the loop right now. Dave notes, "The Anti-Blur mode appears to take advantage of Fuji's newfound prowess at extracting better high-ISO performance out of relatively small sensors. The first camera that showed this ability was the F10, and they appear to be propagating it across their line." -- Editor)

RE: Rights

Allow me to introduce myself. I'm a photographer based in England, and was idly doing a Google search on my images to see who had used pics without me knowing (as often happens) and I came across an interesting editorial topic in your Jan. 23, 2004 issue, referring to some of my pics being used on an Alan Ayckbourn book, Damsels in Distress. I don't know who the contributor was but I would like to hear from him as it sounds like I may need to bill the publishers for picture use. I did a deal for UK publishing rights only.

-- Tony Bartholomew

(Hi, Tony, that was my story, in fact. The ISBN of the book is 0-571-21648-X, published by Faber & Faber in the UK. -- Editor)

Thanks for your response. Although mainly an editorial photographer (I do all the photography at Ayckbourn's theatre here in Scarborough, North Yorkshire) and I was paid by Faber and Faber for the picture usage, I just thought it may have had a U.S. publication without my knowledge.

I've just checked my copy of the poster from when the play was in London's West End. I get a photo credit and Corbis don't get a mention :-)

Wishing you all a great Christmas and a peaceful, prosperous 2006.

-- Tony

(Glad to help and nice to hear from you. And since you brought it up, a Happy Christmas and Wonderful New Year to you and all our subscribers, too! -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

Apple (http://www.apple.com) has released an update to Aperture to address "a number of issues related to reliability and performance. It also delivers improved image export quality and metadata handling." Specific issues include white balance adjustment accuracy and performance, image export quality, book/print ordering reliability, auto stacking performance and custom paper size handling.


Canon (http://www.canon.co.jp) has released firmware updates for the EOS-1D Mark II N and EOS 5D to improve screen brightness and fix Menu typos. The EOS-1D update also fixes a file numbering error during Bulb shooting while the EOS 5D update also fixes a large image file creation problem and an Auto Exposure Bracketing bug.


Iridient (http://www.iridientdigital.com) has updated its $99.95 Raw Developer [M] to version 1.4 with support for over 20 new cameras and a few bug fixes.


Roxio (http://www.roxio.com) has updated its $99.95 CD/DVD burning software package for Mac OS X with Toast Titanium 7.0.2, CD Spin Doctor 3.0.2 and Motion Pictures 2.1.1.


Fantasea (http://www.fantasea.com) has announced a trio of new generation digital photography products for release on Jan. 1, 2006. The $170 FP1 housing is custom-made for the Nikon Coolpix P1 and P2 digital cameras with WiFi. The $140 FS1 housing is dedicated to the Nikon Coolpix S1 and S3 ultra-slim digital cameras. The $120 CoolFlash RL is a durable watertight housing teamed with the Sunpak Remote Lite II flash, perfect for all Fantasea Coolpix housings and other major digital housings as well.


Charlie Morey (http://www.digitalphotography.tv) has announced his $14.99 2006 Yosemite AiR Calendar is available at the print-on-demand Web site, Lulu.com (http://calendars.lulu.com/content/177414). The images were selected from hundreds captured with his digital Nikon D100 camera during a four-week artist-in-residence (AiR) program under the auspices of the non-profit organization Yosemite Renaissance.


WinRecovery Software (http://www.cardrecovery.com) has released version 2.1 of its $39.95 CardRecovery [W], which recovers erased digital photos from memory cards.


Sotheby's Institute of Art in London (http://www.sothebysinstitutelondon.com/ma_photography_art.htm) has announced a masters program in historic and contemporary photography, starting in Sept. 2006, to tap into "the current shift in the way photography is received and understood. It gives students the vital skills needed in appreciating and analyzing photography in terms of intention, production, encounter and interpretation. It prepares them for a career in the art world with a specialization in the most dynamic and prolific of mediums."


DxO Labs (http://www.dxo.com) has announced its Image Masters photography showcase is now online. The electronic gallery features photographs by professionals and rising stars from around the world. DxO Image Masters allows visitors a privileged behind the scenes experience of original, unedited images and enhancements provided by DxO Optics Pro as each photographer fulfills his or her vision of the final photo. A sample of each photographer's work is featured along with his or her biography and thoughts on digital photography and DxO Optics Pro.


Adam Tow (http://www.tow.com/annoture) has released his shareware Annoture to transfer annotations from iView MediaPro catalogs to Aperture projects and albums and back. This two-way transfer of IPTC and metadata information means you are not tied to any one application for your image management and workflow needs. Annoture also features a modular interface that can be extended to support additional applications in the future.


The free JAlbum [LMW] (http://jalbum.net), a Java-based Web album generator, has been updated to version 6.1 adding support for multiple processors, automatic thumbnails selection for folder icons, faster FTP uploads and other changes.


Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com) has released an update to its Raw Image Thumbnailer and Viewer for Windows XP, adding support for new Canon and Nikon dSLRs. It also adds a Save As button to the toolbar to facilitate saving either an embedded preview or processed image as a JPEG or TIFF. Finally, the new version fixes the TIFF file locking issue and a related problem with Canon EOS 5D Raw files.

Return to Topics.

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Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc

Lockergnome's Free Digital Media Newsletter: http://www.lockergnome.com

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Signoff

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

Happy snapping!

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

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