|Volume 8, Number 2||20 January 2006|
Welcome to the 167th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We review Adobe's public beta of Lightroom, its cross-platform photo workflow application. Then Shawn takes a 8-Mp Lumix 12x zoom for a spin before we discuss how to balance your flash with ambient light. Finally, we have a little fun with the future before it's too late. Enjoy!
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(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/LRM/LRM.HTM on the Web site.)
After a particularly intensive session with Apple's Aperture one day, we wondered why Adobe hadn't come up with something similar. They'd certainly made a few stabs at it with their amateur offerings but the power of Photoshop must have blinded them to simplifying a high end workflow, we thought. There was Bridge and Adobe Camera Raw, but they aren't simple tools.
Silly us. For a couple of years, Adobe has been working on a secret project code named Shadowland, the ultimate pro photographer workflow tool. They leveraged much of what they built in other products from keywording in Album to Raw processing in ACR.
It evolved into four main functions: building a library of images, editing individual images, creating a slideshow and printing. The interface was designed to get out of the way of the work of evaluating images, enhancing them and presenting them.
It supports open standards like Adobe's Digital Negative format along with broad support for file formats. It's cross platform (although the Windows version is taking a little longer) and asks only "reasonable" system requirements. And it plays well with others.
It's ready to ship except one crucial thing is still missing.
THE MISSING INGREDIENT
The missing ingredient is your feedback. Taking a new approach to product design, Adobe's digital imaging team decided to hold the commercial release until they'd gotten your opinion of the product. So they've released the product as a public beta which will expire in June.
You can download the newly-christened Lightroom 1.0 beta and contribute your feedback in three forums at the new Adobe Labs site. The forums address General Issues, Bugs and Feature Requests. The company plans to ship the commercial release by the end of the year.
"A good product," said Kevin Connor, senior director of digital imaging at Adobe, "takes on a life of its own." Photoshop, he said, grew into something no one would have guessed when they released the earlier versions. And by getting broad user input from the start, Adobe hopes Lightroom will develop more quickly into the kind of tool you need.
WHAT IT DOES
Lightroom's job is to help digital photographers with high-volume image workflows get their work done more efficiently. It does that primarily by presenting a streamlined interface targeted to common tasks.
This isn't a tool like Bridge for managing complex publishing projects. Nor is it merely a digital asset manager. It can make swift and significant image edits but it complements Photoshop by handling the simpler work, much as Aperture (or, for that matter, iPhoto) does.
And while it does slideshows and prints, the beta won't build Web pages. It is, in many respects, unfinished.
But its innovation is the interface. Adobe is so sure of the friendliness and efficiency of Lightroom's interface that it offers only five rules to get you started. There's no other documentation.
Rule One explains the Module Picker, otherwise known as the Menu bar. But Menu bars are like closets that never get cleaned out. Programmers toss everything in there they've ever used whether or not it makes sense.
Modules are a bit different, a bit more disciplined like accordion folders. A slot for the mortgage, another for utilities, another for bank statements, etc. There are four modules in 1.0: Library, Develop, Slideshow and Print.
Adobe says they correspond roughly to a photographic workflow. When you select one, the panels on the left and right sides of the screen switch to the appropriate tool sets.
Rule Two explains the Panels. The left panel is a bit more generic than the right panel, which often contains the sliders and checkboxes to do specific tasks. The headers are collapsible and the panels themselves are scrollable using elevators (but not a scroll wheel, unfortunately). Change modules and you get different panels.
Rule Three explains the Filmstrip. The bottom of the screen displays your library of images in a scrollable row. If you are working on a selection of images, they'll be in the Filmstrip.
Rule Four list several important key commands but Lightroom is full of single key commands that are easy to learn.
Rule Five is, well, you'll have to see for yourself.
Missing from the rules is the obvious. The central pane of your screen real estate is the thumbnail panel. By default, Lightroom shows you a Grid view (whatever fits -- and, yes, you can resize them). But there is also a Loupe view (fit in window) and a compare view (which displays any images selected in the Filmstrip).
THE LIBRARY MODULE
So what can you do in Lightroom?
To find out, we put our laptop to sleep and left the building with a new Fujifilm FinePix S 5200 in the review process. We took a lot of, uh, extreme shots. Then we came back from our shoot and copied the card's contents to our hard drive, like we usually do.
That's when we brought Lightroom up. We clicked the Import button in the right panel and took a look at our options. We liked what we saw.
The first thing we liked was our File Handling options. Adobe is letting you have your cake and eat it too, unlike other workflow managers. You can browse your existing collection or you can create a Lightroom Library of your images.
Here are the File Handling options:
Under the hood, Lightroom is building at least two SQLite databases. One for the library and another for the thumbnails. Depending on your File Handling options, it can also manage your image files in its own collection.
- Reference file in existing location. This leaves the originals where you put them. No doubt you have an existing archive and working directories. You don't have to abandon that with Lightroom. Lightroom will build its database and edits of your originals, but it won't copy or move them to its Library.
- Copy file to Lightroom Library. In this case, your originals are copied to the Library, duplicating your collection.
- Move file to Lightroom Library. And here, the originals are copied and then deleted from their original location. So you only have one copy.
- Copy photos as Digital Negative (DNG). Amusingly enough, this will even convert a JPEG into a DNG. In an earlier test, we did just that. It was slow going but it worked and, surprisingly, we were able to make some fairly wide ranging tonal and color adjustments. Not surprisingly, they tended to bring us right back to where we started (the original JPEG) from a rather over-exposed DNG thumbnail.
Adobe told us they're the inventor of non-destructive editing (a bit chagrined at Apple's championing of the concept), but it might be helpful to define the term. It does not mean you can't delete or lose your originals. It does not mean you can't destroy your own work. It does not mean these programs can swallow anything you import into them. What it does mean is pretty simple. Edits to the originals you import will be made to copies of the originals, not the originals themselves.
Rename Files. If you select Copy, Move or Copy as DNG, you can also Rename your files. A name template uses tokens you drag into it, some of which popup to reveal options (like the Date format). You can also set the starting number. And you can certainly just type in a constant, as we did.
Segment. If you're importing a collection that spans more than one day or folder, Lightroom can maintain that organization in its library. You can disable this, too, or define a Containing Shoot to include the whole Import.
Copyright. This is the only metadata that you can plug in on Import, but Adobe assured us they plan to expand this feature. (That's opt-g for the Copyright symbol, BTW.)
You can preview the images in the Import dialog box and you can add a Shoot Name, Keywords and Custom Name, which apparently are written into the database.
Adobe has added a few terms to the lexicon to explain how your images are organized. The Library contains Shoots. An image can be a member of only one shoot. To organize images outside their shoots, you create Collections.
Collections. Press the Plus icon on the Collections bar and type in a new name. Select a few images in your Library and drag them to the new name under the Collections bar and there you have it.
Deleting images from a Collection does not delete them from the Shoot.
Quick Collection. You can tag images temporarily to be included in a Quick Collection. Just click on the empty circle in the top left of the image and it's added to the Quick Collection. This is a nice way to cull a few images from a shoot without the formality of creating a Collection.
Previous Import. You can always display images from just the last import.
Keywords. Assigning Keywords works just like Collections. It's an image-centric way to group shots and keyword them. You aren't working with tags or fields, you're working with images.
View Options. Finally, you can set a few options for what the Library module displays. The Show Extras option enables the display of image Index Numbers (an attractive gray number on the background on which each image sits), a Rating (easily assigned from the keyboard, BTW), Filename and a Rotation control.
We had rotated our images in the camera, but none of that stuck in Lightroom. Selecting a group of images and clicking the Rotate control on any of them rotated all of them. But if the Shift key was held down, the rotation went in the opposite direction. There are two Rotate commands on the image, one clockwise and the other counter.
You can apply a rating of 0 to 5 using the keyboard keys 0 through 5 to any selected image. Or you can switch to Loupe mode, viewing one image at a time as large as it fits in the display pane and press a rating key as you scroll through the set with the arrow keys.
Then you can restrict the view to images with a minimum rating using the Search box Minimum Rating slider.
Lightroom (a play on Darkroom) likes to call image editing "development." Even in the Library module, you can apply some quick edits to any image or selection of images using the Quick Develop options.
First, there are a number of Preset edits (which you can create yourself) that you can apply. Second, you can change the White Balance. Third are Exposure, Brightness, Contrast and Saturation options that with a click increase, reset or decrease the option. Exposure also has an Auto option.
You can also Convert Photograph to Grayscale.
Finally, Quick Develop takes advantage of Adobe's non-destructive editing to copy and paste edits from one image to another. You can even Synchronize edits between images. And because it's non-destructive, you can Reset the edits.
In the same pane, BTW, are the Info (with keyword and copyright data) and Exif Metadata displays. Just scroll down to see them.
THE DEVELOP MODULE
Adobe cautions that Lightroom is no substitute for Photoshop. But where Photoshop has every possible tool hanging from hooks in its menus, Lightroom plays the handyman who can fix just about anything with no more effort than a phone call.
We took a very underexposed image of a grave marker shot in the dark nave of Mission Dolores and used two different techniques available in the Develop module to improve the image.
Basic. First, we used two of the Basic adjustments. We knew the image was underexposed, so we simply moved the Exposure slider to the bright end. Ah, much better. We could see the red in the tile floor but the marble marker was quite yellow. To correct the color balance, we selected the White Balance dropper and clicked on the white marble.
Tone Curve. After reverting to the original underexposed image, we used the new Tone Curve tool. Adobe has provided a user-friendly but still powerful Curve tool in this version. Connor explained that Curves can do anything but it's hard to get them to do something specific unless you're a master. So Adobe built a better Curves tool.
The usual Curve is there but you don't click on it to anchor points and drag others around. Instead, you observe the new histogram in the background as an aid to setting two markers. One marks the spot between Shadows and Midtones. And the other marks the spot between Midtones and Highlights. Once you've divided the Curve to match the image, you use sliders above the Curve display to modify each part of the Curve.
Highlights has two sliders: Compression and Luminance. Midtones has a Brightness and a Contrast slider. And Shadows gets Compression and Luminance sliders, just like Highlights.
It sounds more complicated than it actually is. The Histogram is a great help in evaluating where to set the markers. And the sliders let you work on just the parts of the image that need it. Curves with training wheels, maybe, but you get where you're going.
Raw images have a good deal more at their disposal, inheriting Adobe Camera Raw functionality and, like the Curves tool, making it a bit friendlier.
THE SLIDESHOW MODULE
Probably the first thing you want to do after any shoot is see a slide show of the images. But for some inexplicable reason, this is much harder than it should be. Ideally, you'd like to just drag the imported folder of images onto a slide show program's icon and, uh, see the slide show. Unfortunately, you have to jump through other hoops before you ever get that option.
Lightroom doesn't make it any easier and certainly doesn't add any polish to the task, but it is, after all, a beta. There's a rudimentary slide show function that lets you tweak the presentation but doesn't delve into the more powerful world of animated slide shows like Boinx's Fotomagico or Photo to Movie. Even worse, the output options avoid any sort of MPEG or AVI option, relying instead on HTML, PDF and Flash.
But here's one place where Lightroom's branding is useful. Lightroom calls it the Identity Plate. You enter your name (or your business's name) and it appears not only where Adobe Lightroom's name appears on the application but on each slide as well.
THE PRINT MODULE
A little more attention has been paid to the print functions. There are a number of templates, for one thing, and in the opposite panel a good number of options, too. And everything seems to work well with any printer driver (which, sadly, is not the case with iPhoto, say).
Here, too, Identity Plates can be applied, varying Opacity and Scale. You can add Exif data, too, and maintain a border, even print multiple images on one sheet. The flexibility is extensive and accessible. If we were disappointed by the slide show options, we were impressed with the printing power.
This is particularly true when it comes to printing a lot of high res images as thumbnails. Lightroom can, when you enable Draft Mode printing, scale the images down and print them very quickly. With sharpening. Very cool.
There's nothing like trying something on for size, and since it's a free public beta, there's almost no impediment. But we'd urge you to take your half of the deal seriously, too. Adobe wants your feedback and typically it's the quiet types who have the most to say.
Lightroom is, no question, a work in progress. In a sense, it's a slave trying to break free of its chains. And you are the one who can help it. The chains are the conventional idea of what you need. Which always falls a bit short of the dog bone. But Lightroom provides an efficient and pleasant approach to the work of being a photographer. And for that alone, it's worth pursuing.
By DAVE ETCHELLS & SHAWN BARNETT(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FZ30/FZ30A.HTM on the Web site.)
Though Panasonic was late offering a wide array of digital cameras, they've produced some excellent and very popular digicams in the last few years -- particularly in the long zoom category. The $699 Panasonic Lumix FZ30 combines a 12x optically stabilized zoom lens with a 8.0-megapixel sensor, a host of features and a new burly look designed to entice novice and enthusiast in a market that's swinging toward the dSLR.
The Panasonic FZ30 is very similar to the FZ20 model, the biggest difference being its 8.0-Mp CCD vs. the 5.0-Mp chip on the FZ20 and a handful of minor control updates. It is not a dSLR.
True to its Leica heritage, the Panasonic FZ30's long zoom shows very good optical quality and the rest of the camera happily measures up as well. Read on for all the details, but if you're in the market for a long-zoom digicam with optical image stabilization, the Panasonic FZ30 looks like a good bet, as Shawn observes in his report.
Panasonic's Lumix FZ-series digital cameras have a long list of fans and for good reason. They're not only fun to shoot with, the images are also satisfying. Every time I go out with a Lumix FZ I get great shots and find myself turning the camera around to remind myself just what I'm shooting with. With a nod, I resume shooting, satisfied that I am probably getting shots as good as they seem on the LCD.
Last year's FZ15 and FZ20 were hot sellers, strong competition for the also popular Canon S1 IS and S2 IS. With the advent of the Panasonic FZ30, I'd say the S2 IS is still a contender, but the FZ30 does have some important advantages that might sway me. Of course, they come at a higher price, so that must also be considered.
Others will tell you its the SLR look, the build and the resolution that will draw you to the Lumix FZ30. That may be. But the reason I think you should be interested is the FZ30's manual zoom ring. When you want to compose your shot with speed and accuracy, you don't want to wait for a motorized zoom to catch up to your vision. Furthermore, you don't want to wait even longer while it stupidly lumbers past your desired zoom setting and then wait again while you try to force it back into your will. A motorized zoom is fine if you have time to compose a shot on a tripod; but honestly, if you're shooting the kids or a sporting event or just trying to get a good portrait, you want a responsive lens like the FZ30's Leica Vario Elmarit 35-420mm f2.8-3.7.
I enjoyed shooting family and events with the Panasonic FZ30 primarily because it covered such a wide range of focal lengths in one lens, something impossible to achieve with an SLR with any quality. It was great for spanning a room in a hurry and responded quickly so I missed fewer shots. I also can't believe how powerful it is to have a manual zoom when shooting video. You can zoom without the noise associated with motorized zooms. As long as you hold the camera with one hand on the zoom ring you can pull focus very naturally. With the help of the FZ30's Mega OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) and a little care, you can make some decent quality video.
The Panasonic FZ30 also has a fly-by-wire manual focus ring. It only changes the focus if you turn that option on. It's the only manual focus system I've seen in years that actually seems to work well enough that you can see when it's focused; and that's without a wonky magnification mode. The image just pops. To get into the ballpark in this mode, you press the manual focus button, then turn the MF ring until the object you want to emphasize is in focus.
FIT & BALANCE
One aspect of the FZ15 and FZ20 that I wasn't crazy about was its smallish grip and the camera's small size when compared to its very large lens. Though it was light, it was lens-heavy. The Panasonic FZ30 is better balanced, with a grip large enough to counter the big lens.
Controls are thoughtfully arrayed, allowing easy adjustment without moving my hands from the shooting position. Most dSLRs today have an array of buttons on the left of the LCD as well as the right. Activating them requires you to remove your left hand from the lens. It's not a huge nuisance, but the Panasonic FZ30's design is easier to use. With your left hand's fingertips on the zoom and focus ring, your thumb can move back to activate the sliding flash release or snick the focus switch.
Some aspects of the right hand's controls could have been refined a bit. I do like the shutter release. It has a very clear first and second stage switch that give excellent tactile feedback. But the location and function of the power switch is uninspired, requiring you to let go the grip to turn the camera on. I'm also disappointed that the Panasonic FZ30 is not a shooting-priority camera. The mode dial has a position for Playback mode, which requires you to switch out of that mode and into a shooting mode to take pictures. When you're chimping at the zoo and the chimp you were chimping at does something funny, you're going to miss it unless you keep your wits about you. ("Chimping," by the way, is slang for the act of looking down at your LCD and saying, "Ooo, ooo, ooo.")
I prefer cameras that leap out of Playback mode when you press the shutter. The workaround is to use the Quick Review function, by pressing the down-arrow in Record mode. This gives you a range of Playback options, and immediately switches back to Record mode when the shutter button is pressed. You don't get all the Playback functions, but it's a useful compromise.
The rest of the buttons and controls are just fine, easily accessible and they even seem durable. The SD slot cover is sturdy and the Panasonic FZ30's big battery is protected by both a switch-locked door and a spring-loaded latch.
I also enjoy digital cameras with a swivel LCD, but the FZ30's design is odd and its motion somewhat limited. The 2.0 inch LCD can flip to face out and down, to the left or up. Since most often it will be used to shoot over crowds, it's good that it first faces down. Other designs allow for self-portraits and easy family portrait composition when swiveled to face the subject, but that's not possible with the FZ30's design. Not a great loss, but good to know.
The FZ30's nine-point AF is excellent and fast. Shutter lag performance is also very good, making for fewer missed shots of kids and pets. I was particularly impressed by how well the flash handled zoomed shots even from twenty feet across a room. The camera has to raise the ISO in such shots, but the result isn't bad (see our Test Results section for more).
You'll want to buy a fast card for this 8-Mp super zoom camera, because images don't display quickly at all with garden variety 1x cards. It takes six to eight seconds to move between images with a "normal" SD card and only two seconds with a SanDisk Ultra II 256-MB. This is a camera where investing in a high speed card is wise.
The Panasonic Lumix FZ30 enters a market where dSLRs are emerging as a viable and affordable category. It's well equipped to compete in terms of looks and build, as well as optics. In addition, it offers a huge zoom range -- all of which is image stabilized -- fast autofocus and a live digital LCD view that many prefer. It's easily a medium camera bag's worth of photographic equipment in one piece. Its price, however approaches many low-end, high quality dSLRs, like the Konica Minolta 5D or the Nikon D50.
These latter cameras, however, have greater image quality at higher ISO settings due to their larger overall pixels, as our test prints bear out. Bottom line, if you're only shooting family pictures to enlarge to 8x10, you'll be very happy and well-served by the Panasonic FZ30. Compared to many others in this category, its image quality stands up as excellent. Add the refined image stabilization, manual zoom, solid build and easy controls and the FZ30 fairly shines. It will remain high on my list of recommended cameras, often taking the top spot (depending on individual need). I sure enjoyed shooting with it.
Test Results: http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FZ30/FZ30A13.HTM
Without a doubt, the Panasonic FZ30 is one of the stronger entries at the top end of the enthusiast all-in-one digital camera range. Its performance and specs may not quite match those of typical dSLRs, but when you consider the superb optical quality of its image-stabilized 12x Leica zoom lens, you'd have to pay literally a couple of thousand dollars to match its reach with a dSLR body and kit of two or three zoom lenses. You could certainly match the zoom range for less money than that, but matching the optical quality and image stabilization capability of FZ30's lens would be expensive indeed.
Image quality overall is very good, with excellent resolution and sharpness and bright, saturated but hue-accurate color. If you like more understated color, you could find the FZ30's color a bit too much of a good thing, particularly in the blues and reds, but we suspect most consumers will find it very appealing.
The one negative point against the camera is its somewhat higher than average noise levels. As always though, we need to emphasize the importance of judging image noise in printed photos, rather than 1:1 on a computer display. Noise that seems dramatically obvious on-screen can become a non-issue at normal print sizes. The FZ30's ISO 400 photos are a little rough when printed at 8x10 inches (albeit usable for wall display), but look just fine when printed at 5x7 inches. ISO 200 shots look fine at 8x10.
With a full range of exposure control modes, including a full manual setting and no less than 14 preset Scene modes, the DMC-FZ30 is an approachable camera for both novices and more experienced users alike. Bottom line, the Panasonic Lumix FZ30 is a very strong player at the upper end of the all-in-one digital camera field and represents an excellent bargain for anyone interested in a long zoom range, optical stabilization, high resolution and responsive performance. We'd like to see less image noise at higher ISOs, but the FZ30 is a virtual shoo-in for a Dave's Pick.
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: Maha C-801D Battery Charger (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/C801D/C801DA.HTM)
- Reviewed: Nikon Coolpix 7600 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CP7600/CP76A.HTM)
- Macworld Coverage (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/MWSF06/MWSF.HTM) -- from the Keynote to the Expo floor, we cover everything from photo blogging to Zone System image editing to mining your memory with photo annotations. And we even spend a good bit of time with the elusive Nikon D200 before we cover the big printers. There's something here for everyone, even Windows aficionados. Don't miss it.
- Reviewed: Lightroom (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/LRM/LRM.HTM)
With one light source, Auto White Balance does a reliable job. But Auto can't balance two light sources with different color temperatures, which often happens when you're shooting flash shots.
You might, for example, resort to fill flash in an office lit by overhead fluorescents that are casting that ghastly ghoulish shadow around everyone's eyes. Or, you might just need to pick up the light in a room lit with modest incandescent table lamps or a twinkling chandelier. In either case, your flash is clashing.
In the office, the background is illuminated primarily by the fluorescents and will, therefore, have a green cast. With the incandescents, the background will look too warm.
You can't change the overhead lighting or all the bulbs in the table lamps, and one filter over the lens won't balance both kinds of light. But you can change the color of your flash. All you need is the right gel.
A green gel, for example, will balance the flash light with the fluorescents. An orange-yellow gel will do the same for incandescents (if your flash isn't already biased toward yellow by its lens -- take a look). Simple. Just filter the flash to match the ambient light and shoot.
A few gel facts are worth noting:
Don't feel you have to make a perfect match, though. One of the fun things to play with (especially on secondary strobes) is a colored light that doesn't match. A devilishly red glare emanating from a slave hidden in your camera bag, say.
- They fade. Replace them as they age.
- The heat from the flash may warp them. Never mind.
- Front, back, scratches, curls -- none of this affects performance.
- They do cut the light output a bit. Experiment.
- They aren't washable but feel free to wipe them now and then.
Some strobes come with such wonders, others handle it with an attachment. But you can always just tape a sample filter over the flash lens for the desired effect. And the Lee (http://www.leefiltersusa.com) or Rosco (http://www.rosco.com) swatch booklets are both free (try a photo or theatrical lighting store) and just about the right size.
Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:
Read about The Great Battery Shootout Article at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee89ea5
Visit the Canon Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f773
Ted asks for photo printing advice at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea1917/0
A user asks about choosing a telephoto lens at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea1900/0
Visit the Software Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b0
We were perched -- precariously as usual -- on the Bleeding Edge the other day when someone below asked us if we'd heard Kodak Chairman and CEO Antonio Perez's keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show. Even if we had heard it, we bellowed back, we wouldn't have noticed. Keeping your balance on the Bleeding Edge takes all your concentration.
Well, we were informed, Perez made quite a splash. He said, "Today's digital cameras are dinosaurs, with the same basic architecture and functionality as the box Brownie camera that Kodak introduced more than one hundred years ago." Which, if history serves, was not a bad idea in itself.
But the point was true enough, we tottered. Out here on the Bleeding Edge it can get kind of boring counting megapixels and Scene modes. Sometimes just going through the Flash modes is like counting a newborn's fingers. It's always a relief to find all five.
Turns out, though, that's about all he said, unless you can figure out what he meant by, "In the next era, we will design digital cameras from the ground up to take full advantage of the creative power that digital technology provides." The man clearly needs a speech writer who lives on the Bleeding Edge not in the Vapor Trail.
Meanwhile, he laid out a three-prong initiative (it's hard to run a company without one):
One thing he said did make us stand up (so to speak) and take notice. "Images are an integral part of our lives," said Perez. "We must enable people to share faster, seamlessly and much simpler than is possible today."
- Kodak Perfect Touch technology will automatically detect and fix (before you know it) common flaws like under-exposed shots, high contrast, back-lit subjects and red-eye in both stills and video. (Getting red-eye in video must require some of that "creative power of digital technology." You don't shoot video with flash.)
- Kodak's e-finder technology, which automatically tags digital content with a unique identity, enables you to "instantly access any image or information [you] wish anytime, anywhere" taking metadata tagging to the next level by enabling organization of pictures based on GPS location, automatic scene classification (beach, birthday party, etc.), decade mapping, face recognition technology and more." (Oh, copyright would do.)
- Kodak's e-moment technology, which enables pictures to automatically recognize each other using metadata, will let photos find each other with related data and assemble themselves into new groups based on how they relate to one another. (Like conventioneers, say?)
And cheaper, too, we hope. That might even slow the bleeding out here on the Bleeding Edge.
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RE: Nikon D2x or D200?
The Nikon D2x is a fairly new camera. Why don't I see very much written about it? Why is the D200 getting most of the attention? Is it the cost factor?
-- Nancy Putman(Ah, a year is a long time in this business, Nancy. The D2x is old news. We first reviewed it in April and followed up in June: http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D2X/D2XA.HTM. The D200 is just hitting the street now (with much of what made the D2x popular). Simple as that. -- Editor)
RE: Depth (of Field, Anyway)
Have you ever written an article about controlling depth of field on the Minolta 7D? I'm having a tough time figuring it out for myself, though overall my photos are incredible with this camera.
-- Mike Baxter(Sure, Mike, just pop over to the Index page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-indx.html) and use the second search box (Regexp) with "depth of field" to see where we've mentioned it. The trick is simple enough. The wider your lens aperture, the shallower your depth of field. Open up to f3.5, say and focus manually to get the idea. You'll be able to shift focus from one plane to another. As you close down the lens (f16, say), you won't notice the effect because the 7D (well, any SLR) keeps the lens wide open so you can read the scene in the viewfinder. To see the actual effect, you have to press the depth of field preview button near the lens. That stops the lens down to the actual aperture (everything will get darker in the viewfinder). -- Editor)
I'm a UK mature student in Documentary Photography. Been reading your very informative newsletter. Thought I'd like to sign up for it.
I'll ask this Q because it seems an issue with far too many people. Photography -- both film and digital -- often use computers in the process somewhere along the line. Therefore, are you Mac or PC centric, Nikon or Canon centric, Epson or HP centric, etc. This often flavours people's perceptions when they are reviewing products and apps.
I'd also like to know if you review Mac photo stuff or at least state in your articles whether useful apps are single/cross platform.
Cheers from this side of "the pond"!
-- Wolf White(We review products for both platforms (using a little code to indicate platform in the Editor's Note section: [LMW] for Linux, Mac, Windows), but we pay more attention to cross-platform products because they're available for all our readers. When we deviate from that, it's because the product provides some unique and compelling capability. And that has happened with both Mac and Windows products. We also review every camera we can get our hands on (and scanners and printers, too), regardless of manufacturer. But it's really the photographer, not the equipment, that counts. Which is why we write a lot about how to do things, too. -- Editor)
RE: Math Problem
I know which charger is your first choice, but it charges two or four batteries at a time, not one or three. Since I use equipment that uses three AAs, the 2/4 chargers aren't really useful.
What would be your current favorite among chargers with separate circuits for each battery, so they can handle three at a time, preferably with dual voltage?
-- Robert Lewis(Dave just reviewed the Maha C-801D (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/C801D/C801DA.HTM), whose independent charging cells do the job. Dave's also evaluating the LaCrosse BC-900, which can measure the actual capacity of each cell and charges each cell separately (available at http://www.thomas-distributing.com). But how about a really frugal approach? Just use two sets of three at a time, charging the six in pairs when they are both exhausted. The second trio will function more like an emergency backup, having less power by the time you get to them. -- Editor)
RE: HTML Version?
Please change my subscription to the HTML version if possible.
-- Rich Scharf(We don't offer an HTML email version, Rich, but the very first link in each issue does take you to the HTML version we post on the site (without Dave's Deals). In addition, you can use the RSS feed for the newsletter (http://www.imaging-resource.com/irnewsltr.xml) to monitor when the new issue goes up on the site, usually a few hours before you get it in your email. -- Editor)
Konica-Minolta (http://konicaminolta.com) has announced a withdrawal plan for its camera and photo business. Citing the difficulty of providing "competitive products even with our top optical, mechanical and electronics technologies," the company will transfer camera business assets like its Maxxum/Dynax lenses to Sony, with whom the company had last year agreed to jointly develop dSLRs. The company said, "Sony is planning to develop digital SLR cameras compatible with Maxxum/Dynax lens mount system, so that current Maxxum/Dynax users will be able to continue to use them with Sony's digital SLR cameras. In addition, we will consign camera service operations for Konica Minolta, Konica, Minolta brand cameras and related equipment to Sony." In fact, Sony Executive Vice President Yutaka Nakagawa said Sony will launch its first dSLR, which is based on Konica Minolta technology, in the middle of this year.
Nikon (http://www.nikon.com) announced it will discontinue seven film cameras to focus on "business categories that continue to demonstrate the strongest growth." The company will continue to manufacture the F6, its high end SLR and its all-manual FM10. It will also discontinue most of its manual-focus lenses (including large format and enlarging lenses) to concentrate on its autofocus lenses. The company ranks fifth in digital camera shipments in the U.S., trailing Kodak, Canon, Sony and Fujifilm.
PictoColor (http://www.pictocolor.com) has released iCorrect EditLab Pro 5.0 [MW], a color correction and color editing Photoshop plug-in. The new version features automatic black and white conversion, automatic sepia tone conversion and sharpening and noise removal.
Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has released a DNG Converter and Camera Raw 3.3 Update with support for 17 more cameras.
The National Association of Photoshop Professionals has launched the Lightroom Learning Center (http://www.photoshopuser.com/lightroom) for learning Adobe Lightroom, the new workflow tool for professional photographers. The site offers free Adobe Lightroom video tutorials, articles, news and interviews, along with an insightful panel discussion from the hosts of the top rated "Photoshop TV" video Podcast, which looks at differences between Adobe Lightroom and Apple's Aperture software.
O'Reilly (http://www.oreilly.com) has published its $49.95 Adobe Creative Suite 2 Workflow by Jennifer Alspach, Shari Nakano and Steve Samson. The 640-page tome gives an overview of each application; a guide to when, why and how to use each of them; tips and tricks for integrating them; and the top 15 "How Do I...?" questions for each application.
Boinx (http://www.boinx.com) has released FotoMagico 1.5 [M] as a Universal Binary with 10 new transitions. The company also released iStopMotion 1.9 [M] as a Universal Binary and adding flipbook printing.
Planet82 (http://www.planet82.net) has announced a Single Carrier Modulation Photo Detector, which enables cameras to take high-resolution photos or video in the dark without a flash. The sensor, manufactured using a CMOS process, is half the size of and 2,000 times more light sensitive than other CCD sensors.
Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com) has improved their online slide shows with zoom and pan effects, better looking captions, improved visual controls and a scale-to-screen option.
Centico Ltd. (http://www.centico.com) has released its $49.95 Centico Photo Album 1.0 [W], a digital photo management application with support for backing up photos. Each album in Centico Photo Album has an attached "Shoebox," in which the user can place photos that shouldn't appear in the album, e.g. because they're duplicates, too dark, etc.
Think Tank Photo (http://www.thinktankphoto.com) has introduced its Airport Security, a rolling airline carry-on bag for photo gear.
The Plugin Site (http://www.thepluginsite.com) has released the MacOS X version of its FocalBlade plug-in for sharpening photos for screen display or printing and for producing blur, soft focus and glow effects on 8- and 16-bit images.
Fantasea (http://www.fantasea.com) has introduced its $999 F350D waterproof housing for the Canon Rebel XT. A unique o-ring and gasket seal and double O-rings on every control allow the housing to be rated to a depth of 200 feet.
Converting 8mm film to DVD? We got a hot tip from a subscriber who had a terrific experience at Home Movie Depot (http://www.HomeMovieDepot.com). See, it pays to read to the end <g>.
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher