The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 8, Number 8 14 April 2006

Copyright 2006, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 173rd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We review Photoflex's First Studio Product Kit while Shawn grabs Canon's new 5D before Dave can catch him. You'll want to keep this issue around for 40 years after you read our third feature on restoring an old film SLR. And if you keep it for 100, we have an idea for you in our Fun column.


TOPICS

SPONSORS
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:
E-Book Systems
http://www.flipalbum.com

Looking for a better way to organize and share your digital photos?

FlipAlbum Suite from E-Book Systems may just be what you need.

FlipAlbum lets you create realistic 3-D photo albums with pages you can flip, like a real photo album -- complete with thumbnails, a table of contents and an index page. It's easy to use, with a natural and intuitive user interface.

Download your free trial copy today from http://www.flipalbum.com/dl/ir_01/.

Maha
http://www.mahaenergy.com/

The MH-C204W takes the top spot as Imaging-Resource's favorite charger.

  • Integrated, 100-240V worldwide power supply
  • Charges two AA or four AAA NiMH batteries in one hour
  • Three-stage charging process "tops off" batteries
  • Conditions and rejuvenates batteries
  • Very portable at only 4 oz.!

For a full review, visit: http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/C204W/C204WA.HTM

For more information, visit: http://www.mahaenergy.com

To purchase online, visit Thomas Distributing, an authorized premier distributor, and look for their Limited-Time, Special Introductory Promotion!


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: Photoflex First Studio Product Kit

(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/FPK/FPK.HTM on the Web site.)

On the set, the table was laid out with classic silver and precious china. Gene Kester and his partner positioned their softbox above the scene to take some product shots -- but the supporting rod broke in their hands. The replacement rod was just as fragile, so they resorted to an improvised kludge of foam core, sheet metal and duct tape.

Gene was more than annoyed with the soft box he'd bought, so he talked to his buddy Scott Reeves. He made fiberglass rods and turned Gene's softbox design into reality. And, in a nutshell, that's how Photoflex was born.

DIGITAL LIGHTING

We reviewed Photoflex's digital version of that softbox, the Basic Digital Lighting Kit (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/PHF/PHF.HTM), some time ago. But recently the company introduced its LiteIgloo kit, a nylon tent and bundled the medium-sized one with a couple of lights and stands to make up the $249.95 First Studio Product Kit.

No question, we're Photoflex fans. The build quality is excellent and the products behave like they were designed by a photographer. They don't enjoy the engineering magic of something like the Zenon copy table (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/ZCT/ZCT.HTM), but they certainly do the hot light solution (as opposed to the strobe solution implemented in the Zenon) very well. And that has its advantages.

For comparison, we have a page of thumbnails from each (both unfortunately darker than the originals, thanks to the background we used):

BUDGET ALTERNATIVE?

At PMA, we ran across Photo Studio In-A-Box from American Recorder (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS06mrp/PMA.HTM). For just $99 you get a pair of 250-watt halogen lamps on stands, a tripod, a nylon diffuser screen and a travel carrier. The product is carried by Ritz camera stores and seems perfect for eBay sellers who want more professionally lit product shots.

We find it a little disturbing that we can't confirm the wattage of the lamps in this kit. They looked pretty dim at PMA, but looks are deceiving. The First Studio Product Kit lamps seem on the dim side to us, too -- at least for hand-held shooting. But at least they're incandescent, so you have a built-in white balance setting for them. A halogen lamp will need a custom white balance setting.

Build quality of the Photoflex kit is far superior as well. The nylon tent diffuses the light with a good deal more efficiency than the Box. And the light stands provide much more flexibility than the table-top stands in the Box.

In a word, the difference is whether you need amateur or professional equipment. If you want a simple solution you can put in the closet and use on the kitchen table, the Box will work. But if you want to shoot a variety of materials on a regular basis and hope to publish your work, move up to the Kit.

IN THE BOX

The rather large packing box contains a slightly smaller product box which itself holds the kit contents:

The lamps are themselves sealed in a glass envelope so you can actually touch them without shortening their lifespan. Each power cord includes an on/off switch and plugs into a standard household wall outlet.

Photoflex provides a very well illustrated, step-by-step lesson (http://www.photoflexlightingschool.com/How_Products_Work/The_First_Studio_Product_Kit/) on using this kit, but they know what they're doing. We stumbled along to our own music for this review.

ASSEMBLY

Assembly (and tear-down) is, as we've found with other Photoflex products, quick and easy. The unit stacks neatly into a corner, taking up very little space when not in use, an incentive to tear it down between shoots.

As the stage for your product set, the LiteIgloo is the first thing to set up. Simply remove it from the carry bag and pry it apart to open it half way. Grab the frame from the inside corner, pull out and the LiteIgloo is fully opened.

You'll notice one side of the LiteIgloo has two flaps. That's the front, through which you can insert your camera's lens. Velcro holds the doors shut around the lens whether you position the lens at the top, middle or bottom of the opening. That bathes the front of the product in light, too. There are also Velcro pads to hold the doors open.

The LiteIgloo also includes both a blue and white sweep that attaches to Velcro tabs on the inside of the unit to create a seamless, infinite background. The blue sweep functions as a Chromakey background, easily dropped out in specialized masking programs to isolate the subject for inclusion in a montage. Both sweeps are folded and require ironing with steam. We used the synthetic setting to avoid melting the nylon. One side of the sweep is nylon and the other is a softer material. You can use either.

There are, in fact, a lot of options throughout this product. It's a very well thought-out unit with nothing missing.

Once you've positioned the LiteIgloo, it's time to set up the LiteStands.

Unlock the knob on the collar of the compact (25-inches when closed) LiteStands to spread the legs apart until the center column rises enough that the legs touch the ground. Then retighten the knob on the collar. The stands expand in three sections to get quite tall, but for this application, you only need them to flood the LiteIgloo, presumably at table height.

These are the same LiteStands used by the StarLight kit, by the way. Very reliable, easy-to-use units. You can even attach casters to the feet to roll the units around.

Attaching the reflectors to the LiteStands is the next step. The reflectors ship with a swivel that sits on top of the LiteStands, locked in place by a knob on its collar. You simply slide the reflector onto the swivel and tighten the other knob on the swivel to hold it in place. Then drop the combined unit onto a LiteStand and secure it with the collar knob.

The grip handle lets you position the reflector from side to side and up and down. Just twice about an eighth turn to the left to unlock it and back to lock it securely. Very quick.

Finally, with power off, screw the 250-watt lamps in the reflectors. Two of those sucks 500 watts out of your outlet, which is generally tolerable in most modern households.

SETUP

Camera setup is straightforward. We were able to handhold shots with the aperture wide open and the shutter speed at 1/60 but a tripod will give you some flexibility. We thought about using the camera's built-in incandescent white balance setting (Auto gives a yellow tinge) but opted for a custom setting. Simple enough. But wait a second before you meter the scene.

You'll want to experiment a bit with setting the lamps to best illuminate your subject. While the Igloo diffuses the light, it doesn't completely confuse it. So setting one lamp on each side will evenly illuminate everything but setting them at the corners and at different angles and even moving one back a bit so it isn't at the same strength will all light your subject differently.

The advantage of this system in product lighting is that you can actually see the effect of these changes before you take a shot. Once you've got something you like, it's time to meter.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION

Since the Photoflex team did metal (something the Zenon does a bit better, we think), we thought we'd shoot some Murano glass. After a quick trip to Venice (we wish), we set up the LiteIgloo on a typing table with plenty of room around it.

OK, that's a bit of a problem. The LiteIgloo is light, just a wire frame and some nylon. The wire frames are four circles that ring the sides of the LiteIgloo. Which means there is no base. This isn't much of a problem on a wide, flat surface, but the typing table is a little narrow to support all four wire frames and the LiteIgloo wobbles on it. Be sure you have all four wire frames hitting the ground -- or maybe even a lightbox.

The LiteStands are a real pleasure to work with. The telescoping poles are easily released and tightened and have enough range to get above the LiteIgloo. And the tripod feet can be narrowed if you're working in close quarters or extended out for more stability. You aren't confined to a certain configuration.

The lamps themselves couldn't be simpler. The biggest problem they gave us was finding the black on/off switch on the power cord. But since we shot with both all the time, we simply plugged them into a power strip and used its power button to turn the lights on and off. The big handles are a blessing, quickly unlocking or locking and letting you position the light exactly where you want it. Very nice.

We could have used more Velcro on the LiteIgloo, though, to hold open the doors in one or another semi-opened position. To use the Velcro on the sides, you have to completely open them up.

It's not a bad idea to set the white balance in your camera for incandescent or tungsten (unless you want to shift the color, of course). Reading exposure with a gray card isn't a bad idea either.

Center-weighted exposure metering is a good idea, too, unless you're using the darker Chromakey sweep. Metering the whole scene tends to lead to overexposure to knock down the white background a tone or three.

But the real fun of using this kit is manipulating the lights. We generally started with them both close in on the sides to give as full illumination as possible. But we backed one or both off a bit and raised one or the other or sent one backward or put them both on one side -- all to give some more flattering modeling of tone to the subject. And every subject was different.

We tended to shoot with a slow shutter speed (1/30 second) to get more f-stops to work with, but we weren't able to stop down much without resorting to a tripod. That really shouldn't be an issue for product shots; just use a tripod to get good depth of field.

CONCLUSION

We enjoyed using the Photoflex First Studio Product Kit from setup to making lighting variations. We'd like a couple more Velcro catches in front but that's about it. It's well designed, well built and easy to use. Photoflex is making it very easy to put together a nice set of lighting gear for the budding pro, but we think even amateurs will like how this kit flatters their subjects.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Canon EOS-5D Shooter's Report

By SHAWN BARNETT
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E5D/E5DA2.HTM on the Web site.)

One company has radically changed the digital camera marketplace in only five years. Starting with their consumer EOS D30 in 2000, Canon quickly went pro in late September 2001, a month that was overshadowed by distracting events only days earlier. Since then Canon has shipped nine more SLRs in five years, both pro and consumer grade, and launched a new digital-specific lens line aimed at the consumer line of cameras. Today's current lineup of five shipping SLRs is the most comprehensive in the business.

In the middle position is the new EOS 5D, a full-frame SLR with the easy-going personality and solid build of the EOS 20D, plus a full frame sensor, previously only available at the top of Canon's pro line. The 12.7-megapixel sensor has an 8.2 micrometer pixel size Canon considers optimum for low noise images, the same pixel pitch as the smaller sensor on the EOS 1D Mark II.

Canon is calling the 5D "The world's first premium DSLR." The title fits.

CATEGORIES

Each of Canon's five SLRs defines its category. The Rebel XT is the current consumer benchmark camera, with an 8-Mp sensor in a tight, small package and excellent image quality for under $1,000. The EOS 20D/30D is the next step up, with image size and quality similar to its little sibling, along with a more rugged body, faster frame rate, greater buffer depth and features attractive to both beginners and professionals at between $1,200 and $1,400.

The gap between the 20D/30D and the two current pro cameras, the 1Ds Mark II and the 1D Mark II N is significant. The 1Ds Mark II is a full-frame, 16.7-Mp camera that rivals medium format film for around $8,000. Weighing about the same 3.5 lbs., the not-quite-full-frame 1D Mark II N sports only 8.2-Mp but was built for speed, with the ability to zip off 60 full frame images at 8.5 frames per second. It is intended for action and news photographers and is available for around $4,500.

That $4,500 price point represents a $3,000 gap that Canon saw as an opportunity. Through most of 2005, the Canon 20D actually outsold the Rebel XT among our readers. This suggests that dSLR buyers are willing to pay more for greater quality and control.

LOOK & FEEL

From the front, the 5D looks like a 1D without a big battery pack beneath. From the back it's a 20D with a bigger rear LCD. The big bulge at the top resembles the 1D line as more than a genetic implication; it's bigger to house the bigger 35mm-sized pentaprism beneath and it also lacks a pop-up flash like the pro cameras (also probably due to space constraints). The camera draws one feature in particular from a little further down the consumer line that the 20D does not share (but the new 30D has): the Print/Share button found on the Digital Rebel XT and on nearly every Canon camera introduced since Fall 2004. For the lucky few who own both a 20D/30D and 5D, both will be familiar enough to shoot without much thought about controls, but a few key aspects of each will make shooting with either noticeably different.

Where the grip on the 20D/30D is good mechanically, the 5D's grip is better tuned to the human hand. The 5D grip is just more comfortable while still encouraging a firm hold. There's a smooth notch borrowed from the 1D line beneath the shutter bulge where the middle finger rests, but it's wider and more comfortable than that grip as well, more like the similar indent found on the EOS Digital Rebel (but absent from the sickly grip on the Rebel XT). This is Canon's best grip to date.

The two pound Canon 5D is about four and a half ounces heavier than the 20D/30D. The grip really does help mitigate the extra weight, but there's no doubt the 5D is a considerable commitment to carry around. It weighs less than the big pro models, but not much, particularly when you add the big BG-E4 battery pack/vertical grip.

EXPANSE

Hold the 20D/30D to your eye and you see most of the frame, though as an eyeglass wearer, I think it could have a slightly higher eyepoint. The same is true of the EOS 5D, but what you see covers a considerably greater area. Though I wish it had the higher eyepoint of the 1Ds Mark II, there's no complaining about having such a big image to frame shots. (A note from Dave: With my eyeglass prescription, I find I have to press my lenses pretty firmly against the eyecup on the 5D to see the full viewfinder frame.)

The same nine-point AF cluster from the 20D occupies the center of the screen, but it appears to have remained the same size as the 20D, covering less of the overall image area. While we're used to having those far left and right sensors out near the edge of the APS-C sensor, on the full-frame 5D they only make it halfway to the edge from the center, significantly changing their utility. Switching between the 20D and 5D is made more difficult to the photographer accustomed to using his outer AF points for emphasizing eyes in head-and-shoulders portraits, for example. According to Canon's White Paper on the 5D, the outermost points are in the same position as the outermost AF points on the full frame EOS 1Ds Mark II, so here's a place where the pros will find the 5D more familiar than 20D owners.

While on the subject of AF points, the 5D has six supplemental sensors in addition to the nine selectable points. Residing in the central circle in the center of the frame, they are designed to enhance subject tracking in AI SERVO AF mode as the subject approaches or moves away from the camera. Other EOS cameras have this feature, but the 5D's 15 total AF points enhance this ability. Like its professional brethren in the EOS 1D line, the 5D reports which AF points were used at the time of capture in histogram playback mode and the six supplemental points appear if they are used. This feature is missing altogether in the EOS 20D (but exists in the new 30D, albeit without the additional six AF points).

SPEED

Since the 5D captures and moves more pixels than the 20D, it does have a slower frame rate and presumably because the mirror is so much bigger, the vertical blackout time is longer than every other current SLR except the Digital Rebel XT, at 145 milliseconds. Vertical blackout time is how long it takes the mirror to return the full view through the viewfinder. Shorter times mean you have more time to observe your subject and frame for follow-up shots. The 20D with its smaller mirror is 115 milliseconds and the 1Ds Mark II, with the same full-frame mirror but a more powerful actuator, is 87 milliseconds. The 1D Mark II boasts an impressive 45 millisecond viewfinder blackout time, which really is a noticeable difference. The 5D's 145 ms is not a nuisance by any means, but it is noticeably slower than the 20D, even as the shutter speed goes up to 1/8000. Add that to the three fps frame rate and the 5D emerges as a better portrait and art photography tool than an action camera, with a slight advantage going to the 20D.

SHOOTING

All of the above adds up to a familiar experience for the 20D owner, but it also requires him to think and shoot very differently. 35mm lenses that you currently rely on for the 20D or Digital Rebel take on a totally different character.

My 28-135mm IS lens is a pretty good example, serving as an excellent image stabilized 45-216mm (equivalent) lens when mounted on the 20D or Rebel XT. That's a decent telephoto range that, while not quite wide enough, is very good for spanning most normal shooting conditions, from portraits to group shots. When I mount it on the 5D I find I'm disappointed. Though I've always preferred 24mm as the ideal wide-angle reach, having the 28mm back is excellent; however, I find myself having to get up and move around a lot more to make up for the loss of that 216mm crop. Until you get to focal lengths as short 24mm and wider, I find the more interesting pictures are made with a tighter crop, so I end up cropping most of my 5D shots on the computer, regardless of the lens I choose.

Optical quality is also challenged with a larger sensor. Using just the central, "sweet spot" of the image circle, the 20D makes a lens like my 28-135 IS seem terrific, especially in terms of chromatic aberration, but the 5D reveals the flaws in the corners of this relatively inexpensive lens.

There's also an intangible quality to images from the 5D that I've not been able to quantify. I can't be sure if its the L glass I've tried with it, like the astonishing 24-70mm f2.8 L or if there really is something different about shooting with a full frame sensor. It might just be that larger canvas. Or the bigger viewfinder. It could also be those big 8.4 micron pixels that just seem to love light. I do miss the pop-up flash I've grown accustomed to, even on the Nikon D200, but the best news is that you can shoot indoors at ISO 800 without noticeable noise.

FOIBLES

I do find the longer vertical blackout time to be distracting. Any extension of the time that I can't see my subject doesn't help, especially when the subject is a living thing. Anticipation and synchrony with a subject are harder to achieve if they are blocked from view for too long.

The three-fps limit is understandable on the 5D, given the greater number of pixels it has to move and store, as well as the larger mirror, but I'm left wondering why they added the six extra AF sensors to enhance subject tracking when this isn't a camera that is tuned for action photography. Canon has often introduced superior features in cameras as they become possible, even if they don't seem to fit into the pecking order, but the recent release of the 30D does not include these additional sensors, so the anomaly remains.

MORE IMPROVEMENTS

The Canon EOS 5D has a pretty good set of other features that earn it the name "Premium." The new 100,000 cycle shutter mechanism is a nice addition. The longer cycle life leaves me less concerned about burning up the shutter with long motor-drive sequences (not that I'd really given it much thought before). Two optional focusing screens are also available for the 5D, a feature that has heretofore been confined to the EOS 1D series. One screen adds a grid and the other allows for finer focus, intended for lenses of f2.8 or greater.

Folders are no longer limited to 100 per, so you can now have up to 9,999 images per folder name. In general, that will mean that you can have one big folder for each shoot if you like, without having to manually copy images out of multiple folders for one shoot.

A three color histogram display is another useful option not on the 20D (but now included on the 30D), allowing you to see whether a particular scene might not be properly color balanced.

Gone are the Scene modes normally found on every Canon camera from the 20D down the line, leaving the mode dial rather empty of icons. This is a pro camera. Surprisingly, though, the Green Zone mode remains for those who just want to point-and-shoot.

Turning on the Expanded ISO custom function gives you access to ISO 50 and ISO 3200, which opens up extremely fine resolution shots and longer exposure times when you want them or else very low light photography.

A new PictBridge interface allows photographers to print a contact sheet, an important tool I think many have been missing from the film days. Displayed with a simulated film background, the sheets can be printed directly from the camera without a computer if you're using a Fall 2005 or later Pixma printer.

STEPS FORWARD

For most serious photographers, the 20D and 30D will continue to serve very well. Those with an extensive collection of Canon L glass will dive for the 5D like a runner to home plate.

At around or above $3,000, the 5D is still quite a chunk of cash, but it's less than half the price of the only other full frame (35mm-sized) sensor on the market, the 1Ds Mark II, and it's easier to bring along.

Those seeking the best will do better with the 5D than the 1D, which delivers the prestige and status without all the extra weight and complexity. Portrait photographers will also appreciate the lighter weight and easier controls as well.

Bottom line, like anything else Premium: You probably don't need it, but you sure as heck want it if you can get it. The Canon 5D's like that.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Resurrecting an Old Friend

The last time we used our film SLR, we were both in good shape. We pulled it out of the Zero Halliburton case in the closet to test a gadget lens on a full frame, uh, sensor. But right away, it was frustratingly difficult to focus through the diopter focusing lens. We went back to the non-diopter lens and popped in a different focusing screen, too. That was better (with our glasses anyway), but we were alarmed by the smudge of black ooze on our finger after we'd snapped the new focusing screen into position.

ABOUT OOZE

The ooze was from the foam mirror dampener, which absorbs the shock of the mirror as it flips up (and meanwhile keeps light out of the box). We'd bought the camera when Reagan was President. Foam doesn't last that long, apparently. It melts.

Same thing was happening to our Zero Halliburton, come to think of it. All those meticulously cut inserts were softly oozing onto our gear. Our closet was beginning to emulate the La Brea Tar Pits.

A SOLUTION

It took just a quick call to Zero to have a $20 replacement set of foam sent. But how tough a problem would it be to repair the SLR, we wondered?

We resorted to our oldest instincts and rummaged around the house for a suitable replacement for the dampener foam. We thought some black adhesive felts would do the trick but felt takes very little encouragement to disintegrate. We didn't want that shedding all over our film.

Then we resorted to our newer instincts and Googled a solution. In seconds we'd found Jon Goodman's ProSeal Kit. For six bucks he sends you a new set of adhesive foam strips of varying thicknesses, not just for the dampener but also some finely pre-cut ones for the light seals all along the camera back. We hadn't noticed that was a problem, but when we looked, yes, it was. He also includes a custom cut bamboo tool that puts any toothpick to shame and some very thorough documentation, covering all the possible gotchas and revealing all the secrets and tricks of the masters (http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/sealreplacement.html).

Jon is a very thorough man, it was obvious. So we emailed him on a Sunday. And got a reply right away. We ask you: Is that any way to run a company?

Replacing our film SLR would have cost us about $480 on the used market (with the same problem, no doubt). A repair, if we could find a shop, would have been around $60, we suspect. Six bucks was worth a try.

We sent Jon a check for $6 (you can order through eBay, too; search for seller ID "Interslice" with the "Camera Light Seal Kit") and he mailed us a kit -- and even added a barcode to our address so it would get here faster. You can spend a little more ($25.95) to get a CD of Rick Oleson's Tech Notes, which are a serials of sketches and notes Rick made over a 20 year career repairing cameras.

CLEANING THE CAMERA

We set aside a lazy Sunday afternoon and evening for the work. And a lot of work it was!

Cleaning the ooze out of the slot seals was the big job. Rather than use (and repeatedly clean) the tool Jon sent, we relied on half a dozen toothpicks we could just throw away. We scraped the old goo out, put a small piece of Kimwipe into the slot, doused it with lighter fluid and ran the tool through the slot. Over and over again until it was clean. We fretted about rubbing so close to the shutter, but we were careful and it survived unscathed.

Cleaning the camera back itself took a bit of time, too. The documentation wisely points out you should let the lighter fluid do the work by waiting a bit before you start scraping. But even so, it takes a while to get a clean surface. And you want a clean surface for the new material to adhere to.

For some reason, cleaning out the old dampener mirror foam was the easiest of the three cleaning jobs. When we got that far, we stopped for dinner.

REPLACING THE FOAM

We also spent some time getting acquainted with the foam supplied in the kit, identifying the 1mm fabric seal for the camera back hinge, the thin 2mm pre-cut strips for the camera back light seal and the one cell foam in 1mm, 1.5mm, 2mm, 2.5mm and 3mm thicknesses.

The documentation had a good tip for cutting the open cell foam to fit the mirror dampener spot. Cut a paper template first to see it if fits. Tolerances are very tight, so if you don't have a steel ruler that marks millimeters or 1/32 of an inch (or can't see one that does), this is a good alternative.

When we were ready to cut the foam, we used a single-edged razor blade on a self-healing cutting board with a precise metal ruler. We didn't make a single error.

Applying the new foam to all these clean surfaces was a breeze. The light seal foam just gets stuffed into the slot. For the hinge seal and mirror dampener, the documentation suggests licking the adhesive to momentarily deactivate it. Then you can slide it into the perfect position before it sets.

The results speak for themselves. Now the back springs open like it used to when we were both young. And the shutter foam is doing it's job again, too. A complete restoration of an old friend in just a few hours for just a few bucks -- with enough supplies left over to do the whole neighborhood.

ABOUT JON

So how did Jon get into this business, we wondered?

"Camera repair was an adjunct of sorts to mechanical watch repair," Jon told us. He'd picked up watch repair as a hobby in the 1960s, which he practiced until digital watches took over the world twenty years later. When mechanical watches became hot in the 1990s, he returned to his old hobby but the heat in Dallas, where he lives, made it a lot more fatiguing.

"I noticed several film cameras were being sold here and there for almost nothing (at least the ones which needed repair)," he continued the story. "To my surprise I found camera repair quite easier and just as satisfying as watch repair.

A few light bulbs went off as he was restoring cameras. Most of the time, broken cameras worked fine when they were cleaned and re-sealed. But getting a camera repaired was more and more difficult, as shops closed up. Supplies to do it yourself were expensive and hard to find. And there was no place to find out what you needed to know to do a good job.

Sensing an opportunity, "I researched foam styles, foam makers, why some foams fail for their applications in a short time and others tend to last virtually forever," Jon picked up the story. "I discussed needs, desires, etc. with camera repairers and restorers all over the world, settled on what was needed and decided to have it produced for me. Eventually, this led to the need to sharpen my understanding of importation, currency exchanges, foreign trade practices, foreign customs, transport methods, minimum production requirements, allowable percentages of waste, damage, etc.

When he needed a way to cut 2mm wide foam strips, he built a machine to do it. Which took a few tries. And he built a machine to cut the bamboo cleaning tool. "Sometime thereafter, I contracted to have some fabric seal made for me and the 'project' has remained in its current form for the past several years," he said.

We asked Jon how he liked doing business on eBay.

"Actually it is a very nice format," he said. "The frictional cost of eBay and PayPal may seem sort of high at first, but one has to remember how many millions of people are reached with the vehicle. I've sent light seal kits in the past two weeks to: Italy (three times), Latvia, Israel, Poland, South Korea, South Africa (twice), France (three times), Croatia, the Philippines, Canada, the UK (almost daily), Wales and Ireland (which are technically the U.K., but I still think of them as individual), Spain, Portugal and Brazil. I can't think of a way to offer the kits to more folks more effectively.

"Besides, the small seal kit's directions have been correctly translated into Italian, Spanish and German. I'm hoping to find somebody to translate them into Korean, French and possibly Dutch in 2006. It is all volunteer work, so I understand not many people want to spend the time."

CONCLUSION

While today's dSLR doesn't have the light seal problem of a film back, it does surprisingly enough have the mirror dampener issue. We found foam in the Nikon D70 and Canon 5D, 20D and 30D laying around the virtual office. In a few years, they could be candidates for the Goodman treatment, too.

We're always grateful for how easily the Internet makes it to retrieve obscure information, but in this case, it also came up with just the right product and exemplary service. Now that we know our cameras will outlive us, we can really rest in peace <g>.

Return to Topics.

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:

Return to Topics.

In the Forums

Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:

Read about The Great Battery Shootout Article at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee89ea5

Visit the Digital Cameras Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2a8

Cory asks about point and shoot camera lenses at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea2673/0

Nitesh asks about memory sticks for Sony cameras at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea25b1/0

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

Return to Topics.

Just for Fun: One Hundred Years of Reconstruction

Next Tuesday, it will have been 100 years since San Francisco woke up to an earthquake and fire that leveled the city and left a quarter million homeless. We toured the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art exhibit 1906 Earthquake: A Disaster in Pictures (http://www.sfmoma.org/exhibitions/exhib_detail.asp?id=222) recently to see with our own eyes what the photographers of the day captured using everything from Brownies to panorama cameras flying on kites.

Crumpled buildings (not unlike the images from the 1989 quake), twisted rail tracks, rubble in the street, the sky full of smoke, buildings whose windows breathed fire -- it was all there, of course. The surreal portrait of disaster.

But so were the ladies dressed in their finest gowns and wide brimmed hats and the gents in their suits and white shirts. Must one dress up for a disaster? Or did they just layer on their finest on the way out of their disintegrating past?

We've noticed that about every five to 10 years, San Francisco seems to rebuilt itself anyway. So 100 years later, there are only a few sacred vestiges of that landscape. Market Street, the Palace Hotel, Lotta's fountain.

The Brownies are, for the most part, gone. But everyone at the museum seemed to have a digicam. And certainly, there's no one flying a kite 2,000 feet up with camera aboard taking panoramas. But there are helicopter rides from which you can photograph the city as it stands.

One hundred years of building is something we take for granted. We humans are builders. You can see it in the long white aprons covering the fancy ball gowns of the women stoking a fire to make dinner outside their damaged 1906 address. Or the sign pricing a shave and hair cut posted on some tent erected despite the debris. And you can see it definitely expressed in Mark Klett's After the Ruins, 1906 and 2006: Rephotographing the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, which pairs images of the destruction with today's view.

There was certainly nothing then like the sophisticated if over-matched infrastructure for disaster relief we have now. But even then, in nine years the city hosted a world's fair. And the world returned to San Francisco.

We thought we'd celebrate San Francisco's recovery by wishing New Orleans an even speedier one. No one knows the trouble you've had, friends.

Return to Topics.

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!

Return to Topics.

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: Ultimate PC-Free Printer

Thank you for the wonderful newsletters, particular the user experiences.

My query is this: is it possible to be totally PC-less and still be able to print at home?

My friends usually take their memory cards to the shop, print the pics (I remind them to ask for the contact sheet) and burn the files to a CD, so they can have a blank card for their next outing. Thankfully, most DVD players today can view the pictures, so they don't need a computer. They also don't use online photo albums, certainly not with hundreds of shots. However, the only way to print the pictures is to write out the filenames ("see, didn't I tell you to get the contact sheet?") and to take the CD back to the shop.

Are there portable printers that can receive CD or DVD outputs or perhaps players that have PictBridge like interfaces? I do foresee convergent devices in the future, I think Epson had that HDTV with a printer prototype, but for now, what can you do with those files? In fact, since I backup my files to a portable hard drive (but not quite a PMP or OTG or MSV device), could I myself do without a PC and that little exercise to walk down to the photo shop?

-- scribbleed

(No, you can't. You're not really backing those files up. You're just copying them. When the portable drive goes, so does your archive. We've always preferred a device with a card reader that can write a CD (for small files) or DVD if you really have to copy files in the field or on vacation, say. But the same device solves the computer-less printing Gotcha, too. Just burn your own CD/DVD before you erase the card (and burn two on different media). Now if someone would make a Bluetooth-compatible model, people could even save their camphones shots! -- Editor)

I'd forgotten about the portable Flash to CD writer, but searching, did not see any device that could offer a PictBridge-like connection. But then I found the Lexmark P450, an all-in-one printer that can write CDs and print from them. And guess what, it has an option of a Bluetooth adapter (http://www.lexmark.com/uncomplicate/product/home/946/07044,204816596_379811319_550954930_en_0_1,00.html). Now this is something for my PC-less friends.

-- scribbleed

(It looks like an interesting product, the built-in CD burner is a particularly neat trick. So-so specs though, it's only a three-color printer (not even a black ink) and no mention of droplet size. -- Dave)

RE: Tube Adapter

I'm a faithful reader of your newsletter and love your site. I recently acquired a Canon G6 in an upgrade from Canon. I'm trying to find a 52mm tube adapter to attach my filters and other lenses, but have only been able to find a wide-angle one. Are you aware of any after market one that would work? :-(

-- Jill Vaile

(We popped over to the Filter Connection (http://www.2filter.com/prices/products/digitubes.html) to see if they had any tube adapters to mount 52mm filters to the G6 but they only list up to the G5. So we dropped by Camera Filters (http://www.camerafilters.com/pages/adaptertubesg6.aspx) and did find one for $8.17. Forty-Seventh St. Photo (http://www.47stphoto.com) also has one, but for $19.95. -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

NASA published a shot of the March 29 solar eclipse -- but from the International Space Station looking at the ground shadow cast by the moon (http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/debrief/Iss012/topFiles/ISS012-E-21351.htm). The shadow fell across southern Turkey, northern Cyprus and the Mediterranean Sea.


Apple (http://www.apple.com/aperture) has released Aperture 1.1 with new Raw decoding and enhanced controls are accompanied by a new price, too. Aperture 1.1 is just $299 and available as a free update to 1.0 users.

Apple today released Aperture 1.1 with new Raw controls and improved Raw decoding using custom parameters. A new Color Meter tool can sample color values from any area of an image. And the new version also includes a new export resolution option.


Photographer Lloyd Chambers (http://diglloyd.com) has posted a comparison of Raw file conversion on a MacBook Pro and a PowerMac Quad. "The MacBook Pro 2.16 GHz is within striking range of the performance of the PowerMac Quad once these applications are offered in Universal Binary form," he concluded, predicting a three-time speedup with a Universal Binary version.


Iridient Digital (http://www.iridientdigital.com) has released its $99.95 RAW Developer 1.4.7 [M] with Canon 30D and Olympus E-330 support and improved detection and elimination of dead columns and dead pixels for Phase One digital backs.


Apimac (http://www.apimac.com) has released its $29.95 Slide Show 7.2 [M] with support for multiple displays, slide notes, improved previews in author mode and more.


Light Crafts (http://www.lightcrafts.com) has updated LightZone [LMW] with an RGB mode in ZoneMapper; support for the Pentax *ist-D, *ist-DS and *ist-DL; and improved presets for Canon and Nikon dSLRs.


Bibble Labs (http://www.bibblelabs.com) has released Bibble 4.7 [LMW], integrating Athentech's Perfectly Clear automatic image correction technology into the Raw workflow. The new version also includes support for the Canon 30D, Olympus Evolt E330 and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30, as well as a new Vibrancy control. Bibble is available in a $129.95 Pro and $69.95 Lite version.


O'Reilly (http://www.oreilly.com) has published its $41.99 iPhoto 6: The Missing Manual by David Pogue and Derrick Story.


Funky Pixels (http://www.funkypixels.com) has released its $39 PhotoComplete [M], a 16-bit photo editor offering curves tonal adjustments, cropping, resizing, sharpening, noise reduction and more with direct uploads to Flickr.


Rentglass.com (http://www.rentglass.com) rents Canon lenses online for one to three weeks, shipped UPS Priority or Express Mail. The company plans to offer Nikon rentals shortly as well.

Return to Topics.

One Liners

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

PhotoRescue: http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM

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

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

Return to Topics.

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

Go to Imaging Resource Home | News | Tips | Digital Camera Index | Scanner Index