|Volume 8, Number 14||7 July 2006|
Welcome to the 179th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Sometimes the stars are aligned. Like in this issue, which is practically devoted to photo blogging with a feature and book review on the subject. You might even look at the image stabilized SD700 as an ideal tool for blogging available light and even our Fun article is just a blog in love with itself. Enjoy!
This issue of The Imaging Resource News is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ads here. And now a word from our sponsors:
Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by approximately 55,000 combined direct and pass-along subscribers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at email@example.com.
It was another Save the Air Day, when all public transit here is free. We'd been chained to our chair writing reviews for the previous two and this was the last the budget could accommodate this year. We grabbed the latest long zoom and dashed out the door.
We caught a bus, we jumped on BART, we hopped a historical trolley and made our way to the Embarcadero. Hours and dozens of test shots later, we found ourselves at Fort Mason. The walk from Fisherman's Wharf to Fort Mason along San Francisco's northern edge is among our favorites. Great views, historic sites just off the path and the fun of seeing visitors leaving their heart (and lungs) on the hills.
Fort Mason (http://www.fortmason.org) has its own attractions but we always visit the Book Bay. Run by the Friends of the Library, sales of donated titles support the public library system. We donate almost all our book review copies to them, too.
We always seem to find something interesting there. And this time was no exception.
A DETOUR TO THE SUBJECT
To appreciate our find, consider we'd been out of our padded office chair for about four hours, wandering around beneath the Rincon Annex murals, under a skyscraping waterfall, along the waterfront, through Fisherman's Wharf, Aquatic Park and finally putting the camera back in our Domke to step out of the fog into the bookstore. Through it all, we'd been thinking.
One thing on our mind was the pictures we were taking. Everywhere we looked seemed like a postcard. Framing that enormous bow and arrow along the waterfront against a half dozen backdrops, even catching a pair of sweethearts posing under it to kiss. Strolling out on the new Pier 14 to turn around and catch the City shining back at us. Looking down to pause over a snippet of poetry embronzed in the sidewalk.
We knew what we were going to do with all these pictures. Dump them in the Sony H5 gallery as sample shots. The more the merrier. And a few would get printed, too. Just because we wanted to look at them for a while.
But, we shivered, we're running out of disk space again. We need another FireWire drive. A stack of them. This is getting to be like the Complete Works of Henry James. Never-ending volumes. So much, you can't really do anything but store them.
We distracted ourselves from this problem by thinking of one that held a little more promise. Nephew Joe, who had just graduated from college, had announced he was moving to New York City. He told us he had some server space at his disposal and was planning to start a blog to report his experiences. What software should he use?
We thought we could put together a few CSS tags and a Perl script run by an AppleScript interface to grab a text file of his experiences, format it and upload the HTML and images to his server. We were thinking about how all that (hey, throw in an RSS feed, too) would work.
In the New Arrivals section of the store, we saw an attractive maroon paperback titled "The Haiku Apprentice" by Abigail Friedman. You can find it on Amazon for about $10. Abigail works for the State Department and was stationed in Japan working on the North Korea account when she decided to pursue haiku. The book is a memoir of her experience.
Why that appealed to us, we can't say. But we took it home and actually read right through it. We learned about the large amateur interest in haiku, the many sources of information (Web sites, magazines, TV shows) for practitioners, how the short poems rely on images and a few words that evoke specific times of the year, how the poems are shared and what a nice diversion from the pressures of work and joys of family life it was to create them. Ultimately, she wrote, they helped develop her own eye for the world.
Now just reread that paragraph substituting digital photography for haiku and you'll see the same light bulb flash over your head that we did.
Sure, we all take a lot of amateur event photography (birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.), but if there's one thing our Photo of the Day Contest keeps proving, we all take some time to shoot just for pleasure, too. Some composition intrigues us like that giant bow and arrow on the Embarcadero. A particular scene draws us back like the view from Pier 14. We frame and shoot, haiku poets of digital imaging.
But one thing is different. Our images don't come with the commentary that illuminates many haiku that would otherwise be less appreciated. The commentary doesn't extricate the meaning, but describes the context. And the context provides only a starting point for unraveling multiple (even endless) meanings, Abigail explains.
That brought us back to the Joe. A photo with commentary. Isn't that what a photo blog is?
A while ago, we had flipped through Catherine Jamieson's Create Your Own Photo Blog, which at $24.99 comes with a free month of hosting at nexcess.net. But the poor book design was so poor, we didn't review it. A pity, but a book that's hard to look at doesn't get read. We did, however, check out some of the links to blogs she lists and found some inspiring sites.
You can find photo blogs at photoblogs.org (http://www.photoblogs.org) but googling "photo blog" and adding a keyword of interest will deliver a pleasant diversion, too.
Some photo blogs are simply a photo with a link to prior images (sort of a manual slide show). Others have some commentary below, often including a link for visitors to comment. Then there are blogs with photos -- illustrated blogs, if you like.
We decided to focus on the second of these possibilities. A photo alone is quite a bit like our Photo of the Day Contest, after all, and an illustrated blog reminds us too much of a review (lots of opinion with a few images). The combination of a large image put into some context with a brief commentary (especially when it offers a comment link) struck us as exactly the kind of thing haiku poets do.
And that is?
Not family, not work, but something personal that, when done right, resonates with others. For example, we took a picture out our front window. An unremarkable landscape but defined by the time of day and the season. You can't avoid the Japanese "seasonal word" in photography -- everything is time stamped! Still, it's unremarkable. Even when we look at it, we are quick to pass over it -- until we realize it's the view out our front window.
Here's where commentary helps. For nearly 30 years the view out our front window was Vera's green Edwardian across the street. Then we moved here with a view of the ocean and the sunset and the fog. We began looking out our window every day. We began to resume contact with the natural world. The passage of time became observable again (Vera would turn the porch light on at night, but that was about it). We really didn't know what we were missing.
This context begins to make that unremarkable picture interesting. We start to wonder when it was taken. What had we been doing? What hadn't happened yet? Beyond the sunset, what stars were aligned without our knowing it?
HOW TO BLOG LIKE THAT
Catherine does provide some straightforward advice about the minimal software you need to do this sort of thing. It can seem complicated enough at first to drive you to writing haiku (in Japanese, even). But a warning: downloads from her site (http://www.createyourownphotoblog.com) are Windows executables. Another unfortunate design decision.
We spent some time chasing free templates around on the Web. That got old quickly, though. Some depend on what software your server supports (PHP, Perl, Movable Type, WordPress, etc.). Much as we enjoy the chitter chatter of tech talk, we had foremost in mind not to deflate the amateur energy Abigail delighted finding in Japan's haiku clubs. This has to work for anybody, easily.
Actually, WordPress (http://wordpress.org) just about fits that bill. It's free and even offers a free blog on WordPress.com. Otherwise, your server must support at least PHP 4.2, MySQL 3.23.23 and the mod_rewrite Apache module. See what we mean?
There's one more downside to this approach. You're expected to do your content creation in some other software. An image editor like Photoshop Elements to Webisize your images. A text editor that can spellcheck. Only then do you move your content to WordPress, say, for layout.
BACKLOG TO THE RESCUE
Lucky for us, we have a stack of software sitting around waiting for review. We didn't find the perfect solution. For Windows, we only found the free but rather limited Snaplog (http://www.snaplog.com). Our OS X stack had Apple's iLife '06 (http://www.apple.com/ilife) with a new twist that caught our attention.
We've reviewed iPhoto in an early incarnation (yes, old dogs can run Unix) and iDVD (which we continue to rely on). The latest incarnations are new and improved, of course, but they have been joined by a new Web layout application. iWeb promises to build Web sites with style that can display your images, text and audio without requiring you to learn anything.
The features are not dumbed down, either. You can blog with comments and offer an RSS feed to notify visitors of your site that you've updated the site. Much of this functionality "requires" you to upload your iWeb creation to Apple's servers with a .Mac account (at $99 a year). But you can also FTP them to your own server (usually some free space is available with any ISP account you need to log onto the Internet). A few things aren't available (like comments).
The iWeb model will be familiar to users of Apple's word processor Pages. We use Pages all the time to harmlessly open Word files. But we've also found Mom likes to use it for writing letters and addressing envelopes. Its templates make it unnecessary to format anything. Just select the dummy text and type in what you want. Envelope printing has been conquered at last.
The template concept extends to styles. You simply use an Inspector palette to change the default format however you like and then create a style. No style dialog with a preview to confuse you with options. Just do it and name it.
iWeb comes with a number of design templates. We found one we liked for photo blogging. And got to work.
Each design template displays a number of template pages populated with dummy elements. You just select File, New Page to pick what you want to add to your site. A Welcome page. An About page. A Blog Page, a Podcast page, you name it. Even a blank. We added a Welcome page to our site and changed the dummy title by clicking on its text and typing our own. No sweat. Then we added some text to explain what the site was about: a haiku-inspired image/commentary site.
On to the Blog page with File, New Page. We duplicated our title and dragged in an image we'd shot earlier in the day. We'd been wandering around Potrero Hill and just at the very moment France's Henry scored against Brazil in the World Cup semifinals we were passing a French cafe. The staff poured into the street, jubilant. That was our picture of the day, a little French cafe. With World Cup commentary.
We wrote away with our spelling tools pointing out various fouls and free kicks. But when it came to improving the photo, we didn't back out to iPhoto, much less Photoshop. We dragged the image onto its placeholder and then simply used the Adjustment palette to fiddle with the histogram and sharpen the automatically resized image. Neat. The Adjustment palette is a real pleasure to use. It's a little sluggish, but it provides a nice interface for making the image edits we needed.
Even more neat was that we could rotate the image and add a shadow or a reflection (as if it were sitting on an invisible polished table).
The template blog page has a lot of stuff on it we didn't want to publish (like our birthday), so we just deleted it. But one thing we wanted to keep was the RSS Subscribe link. When a visitor clicks on it, they can bookmark the RSS feed URL.
Another thing we didn't have to touch was our page links. As soon as we added a blog page, our Welcome page included a link to it. Simple as that. Automatic site management.
We could customize the design a bit, too, using the object inspector (but not completely redesign the template). There's nothing as complicated as a master page, just objects to bend to your will. Very flexible.
And very quick. We had a new site with its first entry done in just minutes after launching an application we had never used before.
We don't have a .Mac account but we have some free server space. So we saved the site to a folder by Publishing it to a Folder.
A dialog box warns us we won't have hit counter, password protection, enhanced slide show, comments or attachments. But the RSS link will work.
This built a pretty complex collection of folders and files. Our Welcome page images were converted into PNG files with "filtered" appended to the name where we'd adjusted them. But our blog images were left as JPEGs.
Our RSS feed was created along with the site. We were able to load the feed URL in a Dashboard news reader and see just what we were up to.
To upload our files to our server, we used Interarchy (http://www.interarchy.com). We created a bookmark to mirror the remote site with our local version. When we change our local version, we just have to run the mirror bookmark to update only the changed files (not the whole site) on the remote server. Very tidy.
We extended our test drive of iWeb as a haiku-inspired photo blog for a couple of days without running into any problems. The whole process was so pleasurable we were tempted to really publish a photo blog. Not to make more work for ourselves, but to make time for ourselves to reflect on what we've been doing that day. An excellent exercise, like walking around the block after dinner.
Then it occurred to us that we're not alone. If you've enjoyed a site like this or publish one yourself, send us the URL and we'll visit. If it's worth a click, we'll broadcast the URL in a future article.
Abigail was always surprised to discover another haiku practitioner in the most unlikely places. We suspect there are just as many interesting photo bloggers out there, too. Let's see if we're right.
By DAN HAVLIK(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SD700/SD700A.HTM on the Web site.)
Though I had said in a previous review of the SD600, I felt the classic Digital ELPH "box and circle" design was getting a little long in the tooth, the SD700 IS offers a nice refresh. The SD700 IS is an extension of the "Perpetual Curve" design introduced on the SD550 about a year ago, but with three different colored materials -- brushed silver, beige satin and black gloss -- contoured together to form one unit. Despite the various tones, there's a luxurious subtlety to the design, which Canon has dubbed "Curvature and Stream." Though the name's a bit unusual, the SD700 IS does have a great look and feel to it with the camera's various lines blending together artfully. Even though its a bit thicker than some competing models on the market, the camera slides easily into your pocket, with the smooth curving design preventing snags. The camera weighs in at about six ounces without the battery, so while it's not heavy, it has enough heft to give it some balance. The SD700 IS extends slightly on the right side (from the user's perspective) with the right edge of the camera slanted inward to provide a good place to grip the camera. Even though this is a camera designed for size and style, it's fairly easy to hold.
Control placement does not deviate much from other Canon Digital ELPHs except for the placement of the mode dial which is embedded in the right corner of the back of the camera instead of being exposed in the middle. While this allows you to rest your thumb on the back without covering the dial, the dial itself is a little tricky to operate. First of all it's very small, so discerning which mode you're in requires looking closely at the tiny icons. Also compared to the high-end construction of the rest of the camera, the dial is made of plastic and turns raggedly. Otherwise, the controls are fine overall, but small, which is the continuing trade-off of putting larger screens on small cameras.
One trade-off the SD700 IS did not have to make concerns the optical viewfinder. Despite having a 2.5-inch LCD that takes up most of the rear of the camera, there's still a microscopic porthole on the back that serves as the optical viewfinder. While Canon should be commended for keeping this "old-school" touch, it's difficult to see how anyone would prefer this to the generous display screen on back. With 173,000 pixels of resolution, the screen does a decent job of rendering an accurate live preview and sharp image playback. The screen has a wide-angle of view which allows you to still see the display when shooting overhead or from a low angle. One other subtle point about the viewfinder is that the lacquered black finish surrounding the screen serves as a nice frame, making the pictures stand out better during playback.
POWER IT UP
It takes slightly longer to start up the SD700 IS than the SD630 and SD600 because the SD700 IS takes a split second longer to extend to its larger 4x lens, compared to the other two models' 3x zooms. When pre-focusing and shooting without flash, shutter lag pretty much disappears completely. We clocked it at 0.075 second, which is among the fastest we've tested. Shot to shot, the camera is also quick even when shooting in Continuous IS mode which keeps the Image Stabilizer on even when you're framing a shot (more on this later). It can shoot every 1.36 seconds for large/fine JPEGs with the buffer clearing almost immediately after each shot. In Continuous Shooting mode, it can capture 2.18 frames per second, about average for this class of digicam. DIGIC II combined with Canon's snappy 9-point AiAF focusing system go a long way to eliminating the sluggishness in digicams which turned off consumers in the past.
A LOW-LIGHT KILLER
When shooting at high ISO light sensitivity levels with the Image Stabilizer turned on, the SD700 IS just might change how you think about digital photography. With Canon's dSLRs, the ability to shoot in low-light without a flash is part of the reason for their popularity. In addition to some of the recent achievements Canon's made with low-noise CMOS sensors in its dSLRs, it's offered IS in its interchangeable lenses for quite some time now, as well as on its S-Series ultrazoom models. The combination of both technologies has been very effective in letting photographers shoot at slower shutter speeds while keeping their images sharp. While it doesn't match the low-light abilities of those more advanced cameras, the SD700 IS is not far behind. That is quite an achievement. I shot some wonderful flashless, low-noise images with the SD700 IS in a dimly lit sake bar in New York City that would have been impossible for most cameras outside of professional dSLRs.
Along with low-light situations, the camera's IS is effective in reducing blur when shooting all the way at 4x without a flash. Shake during Macro photography is also reduced with IS turned on. The Image Stabilizer on the SD700 IS comes in three flavors: Continuous, Shoot Only and Panning. In Continuous mode, the IS stays on so you can check the effect on the LCD monitor when you're setting up your shot. The only downside to this mode is that since it's on all the time, the battery takes a bigger hit. On the plus side, Continuous IS can also be used in Movie mode but the other two IS settings cannot. In Shoot Only mode, the Image Stabilizer turns on only when the shutter button is pressed; and in Panning IS mode, the camera only stabilizes for up and down movements which helps, for instance, if you're panning the camera horizontally when shooting sports.
I found the IS on the camera to be very effective, particularly when used in combination with the ISO HI auto setting or when shooting at ISO 400 or 800 in low-light. Since it didn't drain the battery as much, I kept the camera locked in on the Shoot Only IS mode. The one quibble: I wish there were a dedicated IS button on the SD700 IS; instead, you can only change settings through the menu.
HIGH ISO, LOW NOISE
As mentioned in the previous Canon SD600 review, images shot indoors without flash at ISO 800 had less digital noise than images shot with competing models at ISO 400. Furthermore, ISO 400 shots were on par with most competitor's ISO 200 or even 100 settings.
With these new ELPHs it appears Canon has been able to bring its low-noise/high ISO expertise to a non-professional audience; very good news for consumers. Most people have gotten so used to shooting with flash in low light that they're amazed when they see the results without one. Instead of blown-out faces and blacked out backgrounds you have nice natural skin tones and details of the room behind your subject. It looks more like what your eye sees. While there's still a greater chance of blur when you shoot without a flash (even at the SD700 IS's speedy ISO 800 setting) if you keep the Image Stabilizer on, low-light shots can be impressively sharp.
The effect became even clearer when I printed 4x6s of my low-light shots with the presence of noise barely detectable and good general sharpness. The one criticism I could level at the SD700 IS -- which went the same for the SD 600 -- is on the somewhat confusing choice of ISO settings. Along with being able to select between ISO 80, 100, 200, 400 and 800, you can pick from two automatic settings -- ISO AUTO or ISO HI. In regular lighting conditions both the AUTO and HI settings perform similarly, but in lower lighting the HI setting automatically cranks up the ISO to 800. According to Canon, the only other difference between the two settings is that the HI ISO setting will almost always yield a higher shutter speed. If you want to play it safe, I'd say always go with the HI ISO setting since the benefits are greater. Canon's thankfully included a dedicated ISO button on the camera's multi-selector on the back, so accessing all these settings is easy.
Though the camera's low-light shooting abilities are clearly the story of this camera, the SD700 IS also performed well in regular daylight conditions. The lens produced decent sharpness to the corners of the images and its 6-Mp CCD captured accurate color that was well saturated, but not overly so, as is the tendency in some competing consumer models.
The SD700 IS has 16 special modes including Digital Macro, Portrait, Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks and Underwater. Canon's My Color Modes are useful for changing settings to mimic various picture styles including Sepia, B&W or Positive film which makes reds, greens and blues more intense, along with a host of other lighter, darker and more vivid color settings. But I've found using Color Accent and Color Swap frustrating with the results just mixed. Color Accent lets you pick a color to retain while the rest of the scene becomes black and white. Color Swap switches colors in a scene so, for instance, a red apple becomes purple and a yellow sweater becomes red. The SD700 IS also has four Movie modes with sound and a maximum size of 640x480 at 30 frames per second. If the My Colors modes are your thing, there's a Movie mode option that lets you shoot with Color Accent or Color Swap.
One other special mode worth noting is the SD700 IS's ability to shoot stills in 16:9 "widescreen" format for playback on widescreen TVs. This appears to be a carryover from Canon digital camcorders which all have 16:9 modes now. Why Canon decided to import 16:9 Widescreen for its still images on the latest Digital ELPHs but not for its movies is a bit of a mystery.
Overall navigation is straightforward and hasn't changed much from previous ELPH models. Manual control is still limited. Don't be fooled by the M for Manual setting, which just controls exposure compensation, white balance and various photo effects. If you want more manual features, look to Canon's A-series cameras which offer great creative options but are not as small and sleek as the ELPHs.
Battery life on the SD700 IS is better than on the SD600 and SD630, capturing an impressive 240 images with the LCD monitor on, based on CIPA standards. With the LCD Monitor off, you get about 700 images. You also get approximately six hours of image playback on the SD700 IS's fully charged battery.
A $400-500 VALUE?
There's no getting around the fact that the Canon SD700 IS is an expensive product. Just under $500 (as of this writing) is a lot to spend for a 6-megapixel compact digital camera when some competing models are offering 10 megapixels for the same price. But if you can look beyond megapixels -- and with the SD700 IS, you absolutely should -- this new flagship Digital ELPH is a great value. Instead of giving you extra megapixels that you're probably never going to take full advantage of unless you're creating poster-size prints, the SD700 IS gives you a very effective Image Stabilizer and the ability to shoot at High ISO light sensitivity levels with surprisingly low noise. Both of these tools might not necessarily impress at cocktail parties, but they will definitely help you take better pictures.
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot S3 IS IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S3IS/S3ISA.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot SD700 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SD700/SD700A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot A430 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A430/A430A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Fujifilm FinePix V10 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/V10/V10A.HTM)
Martin Kimeldorf warns you right at the beginning of his Digital Photo Journal, "For me, it is not about capturing reality but rather taking the broken, mysterious or transitory moment and expanding it into something closer to my heart's desire with both words and images."
For Martin, the photo itself is just the beginning of a process that taps into the computer to refashion captured pixels into a more expressive final image that, paired with a text entry, turns another page in his digital diary. It's an art, certainly, but one anyone can practice, he says. Think of it as folk art, he suggests, allowing "greater latitude in choosing subjects, executing, sharing and enjoying our efforts." And a lot less pretension and pressure.
Digital Photo Journal is designed to be a "cornucopia of ideas" about "shooting pictures, editing them and recording the thoughts and feelings behind your images." It's stuffed with example images and entries in 11 "collections," each bound by a common theme. The collections include: Dusky and Private Moments, The Synthetic World, E-scapes, Animal Crackers in My Soup, Collages and Montages, Current Events, Carnival Humor, Angst and Other Sadnesses, Zooming, Painting with Pixels and Blow Up.
Each example includes 1) a journal/blog entry discussing what the image means to him, 2) a prompt to inspire you to shoot your own images with some commentary and 3) a technique commentary. These are the heart of the book, and the part we enjoyed the most.
Martin's background in the visual arts and his years at the blackboard both play heavily in these examples. While not all the images are manipulated, most have been heavily but not frivolously treated, the manipulations informed by Martin's fine arts background. And the explanatory journal/blog that follows tells you something about the original image and something about the manipulation itself. The prompt that follows them suggests what you might do (questions to ask yourself, things to think about) that is clearly drawn from the author's teaching experience. Finally, he discusses one or another technical aspect of the image (how it was shot, how to shoot similar images, how it was edited, what filters used, etc.).
To get a glimpse of the kind of photo manipulation he does, take a look at Martin's "Pixel Playground" Flickr blog (http://www.flickr.com/photos/martinsphotoart). His bio (http://www.pritchardschool.com/portfolio/martin/bio.html) will suggest the style he employs. It isn't quite unimpeded pedantry but topics are discussed in detail and embellished with metaphor such that, when you realize you have escaped without a homework assignment, you consider yourself fortunate <g>.
There's also a bit of the librarian in him. He points to Google's Blogger (http://www.blogger.com) and Flikr (http://www.flickr.com) for their photoblogging possibilities and lists sites of interest that aren't, strictly speaking, blogs.
But the entries in the collections and Martin's discussion of them are really the heart of the book. He candidly discusses his motives and intentions, inspiring you to take a shot at it yourself. And that makes it worth the price of a couple of martinis. And better for you, too.
Digital Photo Journal by Martin Kimeldorf, published by Martin Kimeldorf, 120-page ebook that can also be purchased on CD with larger images and additional essays, $10.
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 Sony Alpha A100 dSLR at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea2ef0/0
Visit the Kodak Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f77d
Tony asks about choosing between the Nikon D70S or the Olympus E-500 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea30f0/0
A user asks about the EOS 20D's shutter noise at: http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee9cedb/0
Visit the Pentax Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eea2980
The first tool we reach for when we have a repair project is our digicam. It can do a CAT scan of the problem, an X-ray of the situation, an MRI of the predicament.
So when we turned the oven on to cook a marinated pork roast and nothing happened, we didn't grab the Yellow Pages. We grabbed our digicam.
After, of course, we'd looked up the problem in the oven manual and discovered the oven igniter was likely burned out. Sure enough, there was no glow in the broiler when we turned on the oven.
Ordinarily ovenless people just make an appointment with the Official Repair Guys. But with all the Non-Disclosure Agreements laying around here, not to mention the hardware we're reviewing and the fact we aren't presentable before 4 p.m. except on holidays, we couldn't do that.
Instead, we looked up the part online at Easy Appliance Parts (http://www.easyapplianceparts.com), which makes it, um, easy by showing you exploded (knock on wood) diagrams of your appliance. You just find the numbered part in the diagram, enter it in the form and compare their picture to your part to make sure it's the right thing.
Of course to do that, you have to be able to see what you've got. Our igniter is mounted in the back of the broiler, not easily visible. But our digicam could see it. We took a few shots (with flash for once) and went back to the computer to compare images. Yep, that was it. And 40 percent cheaper than buying locally. With FedEx delivery the next day (even though we opted for 3-5 day delivery). Wow.
Note, however, that we are unusually gifted in the repair department, having repaired 22-inch Webendorfer printing presses, rebuilt Baumfolders, wired up bathrooms, remodeled the odd Pyramid, done board-level soldier repairs to computers, kept the Rumbolino running on fumes, fixed the plumbing, restored magic to certain princess wands and performed other various feats that defy scientific explanation. So we aren't recommending you apprentice in your own house. Just that you get a better idea of the problem by photographing it.
A couple of wire nuts later (the connector had evolved since ours was manufactured) and we had our oven back at 10 percent the cost of the Official Repair Guys. Saving enough, it turns out, to buy one of those image stabilized digicams.
Looking for special prices on featured products? Because of their time-limited nature, we only publish them in the email version of this newsletter. The good news is that you can subscribe for free on our Subscriber Services page:
Subscribe for Great Deals!
We deliver -- just
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.
RE: Coolpix S5
I enjoyed Dan Havlik's review of the S5. I don't have the S5, but I have found out a few things about my S6 which might be useful. True, the little off/on button is tiny, but what Nikon doesn't tell you is that there is a delayed action. Just press briefly with your finger and the button activates. Honestly, it will switch on/off in a moment. I noticed the little indented "finger" spot up on the camera, but that is a poor place to hold. Much better to use it like a big camera, with your thumb on the bottom of the camera, so you can squeeze off the shot. The pictures, at low ISO's are very good, with good shadow detail and color, but beware of oversharpening with these images.
-- Al Clemens(Thanks, Al! -- Editor)
RE: Digital Macro
Leica's 60mm lens focuses through a full range from about 2" to infinity -- and works very well with the R9's digital module. One of the zoom lenses also has a macro adjustment.
-- Gloria Fogler-Mancini(Thanks, Gloria! If only we had a Leica <g>. -- Editor)
RE: A dSLR With a View
I am looking for a dSLR, but all the ones I have seen only use the screen to review pictures, can't be used to compose the picture before taking, as can be done with all smaller digital cameras. Do you know if any are available with this feature, does the new Sony Alpha A100 have it?
-- Mike Creed(There's only one, Mike. The Olympus EVOLT E-330 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E330/E330A.HTM). -- Editor)(Sony's DSC-R1, with a live LCD preview, is very SLR-like with an excellent lens built in. The Fuji FinePix S3 Pro technically has a live preview mode, but it's black/white only with a limited viewing time due to power consumption and heating. Panasonic's forthcoming L1 SLR uses some of the same innards as the Olympus E-330, and will also offer a live preview. -- Dave)
[Translated from the Italian]
I bought and use a dSLR, but always take an Oly 5050 with me and, at the bottom of my heart, am always convinced that the compact with its mobile display is the tool of the future. Today I saw a photo series on a fair in L.A. and one image hit me because the model, in the background, appears framed in the foreground by stiffened arms brandishing cameras. Because the model is "over there," the spectator is here and can only point their own hand toward "the best point of view possible."
A memory came back to me: Umberto Eco once wrote that "obviously" the best place to have a third eye is on the tip of your index finger. Obviously. Eco says so!
Medieval students cited Aristotle to support their own arguments on issues which, in fact, Aristotle had never taken very far himself. I do not want to do the same thing invoking the authority of Eco to support my point of view on the technology of digital cameras. But I feel just as sure.
-- Frank Tagliaferro(We too prefer the lens disengaged from our face. But we would like to have eyes in the back of our head. -- Editor)
RE: World Cup
OK, your sense of humor has caused me to have my suspicions for some time now but with the cheeky references to the USA's performance (or lack of) in the World Cup I'm almost certain ... so I just have to ask.
Are you British? Or just one of the few American soccer fans that also happens to have a quirky, Brit-like sense of humor?
-- Janet(Innocent on both counts, but we'll take them as compliments. We do love the World Cup, though, no matter how the stars are aligned. -- Editor)
RE: Good Work!
Why is it that no matter what photography subject I am researching, I always go first to Imaging Resource? It's because your articles are well written, provide accurate and credible information and are enjoyable to read. You add a personal touch with your commentaries that I don't find too often at other sites and this perspective makes me feel as if you are having a discussion with me personally. Nice touch. Keep up your fine work because so many of us out there in the camera universe may not take the time to tell you, but we thoroughly enjoy -- and learn from -- your newsletters.
-- Gil Coon(Ah, nothing like a man who answers his own questions <g>! But seriously, Gil, thanks for your very kind words. They're very much appreciated! -- Editor)
Acquisition fever seemed to hit to software side of the imaging business at the end of the quarter, with iView Media Pro and Rawshooter changing hands.
Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com) announced the acquisition of iView Group Limited (http://www.iview-multimedia.com). iView founder Yan Calotychos noted in an open letter on the company's site, "In my view, this Microsoft acquisition affords us an unprecedented opportunity to be even more responsive to a thriving market and ensure that iView MediaPro continues to perform to its full potential. Our engineering and marketing team here at iView are energized and excited to be joining the Microsoft team and I personally will continue to be involved in the evolution of the product for years to come."
Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has purchased Pixmatec's technology assets, noting RawShooter Premium will be discontinued. Adobe plans to integrate Pixmantec Raw processing technologies into "Lightroom and wherever customers will be working with Raw files," the company said. While Pixmantec RawShooter Premium is being discontinued, the free RawShooter Essentials will continue to be available until the Lightroom public beta program is completed.
Bibble (http://www.bibblelabs.com) responded immediately with a $30 competitive upgrade for Rawshooter owners to Bibble Pro for $99.95.
Nikon (http://www.nikondigital.com) has released 30-day trial versions of Capture NX and Camera Control Pro. Capture NX is "expected to be available for purchase in July" for $149 with an upgrade price of $89.95 for Capture 4 owners. We reviewed a beta of Capture NX (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/NX/NX.HTM) recently.
Roxio (http://www.roxio.com) has released Toast 7.1, including updates to CD Spin Doctor, Motion Pictures HD and Deja Vu.
Lowepro (http://www.lowepro.com) has introduced four new camera straps designed for unique photography applications. Photojournalists will appreciate the lightweight and simple design of the Speedster. Studio photographers will value the Transporter's adjustability and ease of use with multiple cameras, while nature photographers enjoy the soft, breathable neoprene construction of the Voyager on long hikes.
Light Crafts (http://www.lightcrafts.com) has released its $149.95 LightZone 1.4 [MW], a photo editing tool built around the Zone System familiar to many photographers. New features include improved handling of large images, Exif and IPTC exports to TIFF, support for alpha channels in TIFFs and faster printing, among others. A $99.95 Retouch Edition integrates LightZone's paradigm into workflows based on Aperture, Lightroom, Photoshop Bridge, Bibble and Capture One.
O'Reilly/Pogue Press (http://www.oreilly.com) has published its $29.99 Digital Photography: The Missing Manual by Chris Grover and Barbara Brundage.
Filmmaker Patryk Rebisz's short film Between You and Me splices together over 2,000 stills taken in burst mode with a Canon 20D. Rebisz describes it, "A young woman, snapping photographs in a big city, is attacked and loses her camera. The assault sparks the attention of a young man whose attempts to save her are in vain. In the end, her lost camera becomes his only clue to finding her." YouTube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-5cJse8_Zk&search=%22Between%20You%20and%20Me%22
Plasq (http://plasq.com) has released its $24.95 Comic Life 1.2.6 [M], increasing performance and iPhoto compatibility.
Canto (http://www.canto.com) has released Cumulus 7 [MW] in Universal Binary versions for Mac OS X, with a new Web Services interface, enhanced security, a 64-bit database, MySQL mirroring, Quark 7 support, workflow Actions and more.
ACDSee (http://www.acdseephotoeditor.com) has released its $69.99 Photo Editor [W] to make quick fixes like lighting and red-eye correction to creating projects like scrapbook pages, CD covers and invitations.
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
Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc
That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:
Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM
Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher