The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 8, Number 19 15 September 2006

Copyright 2006, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 184th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We discover a terrific new online sharing service that lets you create montages of your images. For free, charging only for their (gorgeous) printouts. Then Shawn takes the Pentax K100D for a ride, marveling at this new chassis for all those fabulous K-mount lenses (and more). Our Letters column discusses the Nikon D80 and D200, f-stops and building your own PC. Don't blink!


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:
Sony
http://www.sony.com

Introducing the Sony a100 DSLR camera.

Creative freedom. Under your control.

The a100 combines Sony's digital expertise with a family of 16 million precision-crafted lenses for a camera that gives you the confidence to explore.

Unique, innovative features help you get exactly the shot you want:

    Super SteadyShot? built into the camera produces sharper images with any lens
  • 10 megapixel image sensor enables bigger, sharper enlargements
  • Anti-dust system helps keep images clean and beautiful
  • Continuous burst mode captures the action at up to three frames per second

    Explore more at http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?sny.

O'Reilly Media
http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com

"Photography has always been about the highest technology of its time." So says Stephen Johnson -- internationally recognized digital photography pioneer, designer, teacher and the author of Stephen Johnson on Digital Photography from O'Reilly Media. Passionate, opinionated, and deeply knowledgeable, Stephen conveys a master's understanding of how any level of "taking pictures" involves a balance of science, craft and artistic expression. He draws on a lifetime of shooting wonderful pictures and showing others how to understand and make great photography. No other book offers the knowledge and background of its author with this breadth of coverage.

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DxO
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All this in a superb new user interface for all photographers shooting with the most popular D-SLRs and advanced digital cameras. Visit http://www.dxo.com/redirect/DxOOP4Beta2/imagingresource-news.htm.

Maha
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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: Tabblo -- Poster Layouts for Your Pix

(Excerpted from the illustrated review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/TBL/TBL.HTM) on the Web site.)

ABOUT TABBLO

Tabblo (http://www.tabblo.com) is a free online photo sharing service with a twist. To share your photos, you lay them out in a, well, tabblo -- a poster-like montage with optional text (that also permits viewing the individual photos as a slide show). You can make your tabblos publicly available, available by invitation only or private. Email invitations include a thumbnail of the tabblo.

And before you worry excessively about CEO Antonio Rodriguez's sanity, the company does charge you to print your tabblos. Rodriguez used to be the vice president of engineering at MyPublisher (where you can create bound books online from your images). So when you (or your visitors) want a hard copy of your tabblo, it's printed on a four-color digital offset press on 100-year archival stock and inks. An 11x17, for example, goes for a little under $10.

That's the basic idea, but Tabblo extends it in some interesting ways.

For example, suppose you take a few birthday party shots of the Little Niece -- and suppose you aren't the only one. Suppose your siblings took some, too. And suppose you all get along and would like to make one single Tabblo to remember the event.

With Tabblo, you can access each other's images to build a Tabblo. You don't have to email, copy, burn or manually share the photos first. The company is even working on collaborative editing features.

That's not just convenient. It's wise. Because, it turns out, you can invite comments for your tabblos. And instead of, "I have a better shot of the birthday cake than that," you'll get a nice, "Oh, that's my shot of the birthday cake! Kewl!!!"

You can even have Tabblo build an Event tabblo automatically (look on the bottom of the Make tab page to set up an Event). Anyone (even non-members) can email a photo to an address you create that will add the photo to the automatically-built tabblo.

MAKING A TABBLO

Creating a tabblo is a three-step process that begins by uploading your images to the service. Before you do that, though, take the time to edit them. You don't have to worry about cropping or sizing the images but you do want to remove red-eye and do any tone and color correction because the service doesn't provide those tools.

Uploading is simple. You have your choice of several methods. The Basic Uploader is a simple form that lets you point to an image on your system. You can add several to the upload page before actually doing the upload.

Tabblo also offers a Java Uploader that lets you select several images at once for uploading, a Flash Uploader, an iPhoto plug-in and integration with Flickr. We tried the Java Uploader, selecting about a dozen images using the Choose Photos button, but it failed to include all but the last few and didn't provide a large enough preview. But with the Java Uploader, you can also just drag them into the browser window from your desktop (where you can see them clearly).

At the same time you upload, you can set the privacy level for your images (Public, My Circle or Private) and you can add tags to them. Tags makes it much easier to select a group of images for inclusion in any particular tabblo.

Tabblo takes you automatically to the next step (or you can use the tabbed navigation to get there) when the upload is complete, prompting you for a title for your layout. Alternately, you can go to the photo organizer to select images (which is where tags really help narrow the field). Selected images are added to your Lightbox where they go before being assembled into a tabblo.

Once you have either completed your upload or made your image selection, you can Make a tabblo. There are three steps to that, starting with choosing whether you want to display square or rectangular photos. Square layouts are a lot of fun, but they're also a hint that the fun in building a tabblo is in the cropping. Rectangular formats don't require quite as much cropping. But this is one of those situations where a restriction can be an impetus to creativity.

The second step is to select a layout. There are different layouts for square and rectangular photos. Each layout has a title but may contain text or not (including captions). Spacing between photos can be tight or loose, too.

The third thing to do is choose a theme. Themes are color-coordinated presentations that flesh out the layouts with borders or shadows and other effects. They're designed to reflect special events or moods. We liked Modern Black, a black background with white type, because it didn't distract from our colorful photos of dahlias. We also thought it would be a good test of the printing capabilities.

With those three choices made, Tabblo can build a default layout for you. This shows your images laid out on the tabblo with your title and a prompt for any text that the layout can include. To edit the title, just click on the blue Edit button next to it. To add text, double click on a text frame. Simple.

Editing photos is more interesting. First, you can change their location by swapping them with another photo. Just drag one photo over another and they'll swap places. If they aren't the same size, the swap also changes sizes. You can change the size of an image by dragging out its lower right corner.

We had a little trouble moving images where we wanted them. Moving, say, a two-rectangle image to the left of a one-rectangle image changed the two- to a one-rectangle image, too. And getting an image from the top row to the bottom row took multiple steps, swapping it with the lowest image on the screen until we got to the bottom row.

In Tabblo's defense, we were working on our second monitor, a 1024x758 screen. That may seem spacious, but it felt tight working on tabblos as we tried to drag an image from one row to the next. The more resolution you have, the merrier.

You can also try editing your tabblo, available in the purchasing process and brought to you by JavaScript. The system scales your tabblo to fit on the screen while providing all the image editing tools of the full-size editing function. You can also switch to the full-size version. But you don't have the tool palette.

We did like the six editing tools inside each photo frame: Expand/Collapse, Scale & Pan, Show Effects (Black & White, Sepia, Oil Paint, Negative), Rotate, Add A Text Box and Remove Photo. The two you really want to make friends with are Expand/Collapse and Scale & Pan. Expand/Collapse makes the image larger or smaller. Scale & Pan lets you enlarge or reduce the image within the photo frame and then move it around within that frame. Enlargement and reductions are done in fixed steps by just clicking the appropriate button. It isn't very precise but it worked just fine. Panning, however, is precise. And really, that was the fun of the thing.

After signing off on our tabblo, we were prompted for just how we wanted to share it. We confirmed the privacy setting and sent email to invite people to look at our tabblo (http://www.tabblo.com/studio/stories/shared/5421/0k4xecm5961tv3u).

So, to repeat: upload, pick photos, choose a style, edit the tabblo and share it. All of which you can do in any order after uploading images, in fact. We found the system very flexible, although we did bounce up against the odd error or two.

But, sticking to the layouts and making life easy on ourselves, we were able to put together a nice looking tabblo in just a few minutes that really told a story. We did two to start with, one of an old Halloween costume and the other one of dahlias.

POSTER PRINTS

On screen, your tabblo is displayed in HTML fortified with CSS. While the company is working on a downloadable PDF or JPEG option for your tabblo, to get output now, you print at Tabblo. At the moment, you can buy printed posters of your tabblos and prints. Cards are coming soon.

Printed posters start at $7.95 for letter-size, $9.95 for 11x17 and $19.95 for 15.5x19.5 with quantity discounts of 10 percent off for 5-9 posters, 15 percent for 10-19 and 20 percent for 20 and over. You select both a poster size (in either portrait or landscape orientation) and a photo layout (shrink to fit omitting photos or not, a simple layout of all photos or a multi-page layout).

Prints start at 25 cents each for a 4x6 and 99 cents for a 5x7. An 8x10 is $2.99, 16x20 is $17.99 and a 20x30 is $22.99. You have a choice of glossy, matte or lustre paper finishes.

There are also framing options. Black metal ($24.95), Flash Black Ash ($44.95) and Scandanavian Pine ($4.95) were available for a letter-sized poster.

Shipping options include FedEx Home Delivery in 1-5 business days for $8, FedEx Express Saver in 3 business days for $12, FedEx 2-day for $14 and FedEx Standard Overnight for $27.

Tabblo FedExed our Dahlia Day Dream overnight, arriving in a 38-inch triangular FedEx box with bubble wrap at the ends. Inside our custom-size poster was rolled up with a protective sheet of paper under a rubber band. In short, the packaging was excellent.

But what did we think we were doing, standing around to admire the packaging?

We unrolled our five-foot montage of the weekend's dahlias and were simply stunned. Dazed. Speechless. Amazed. Awed.

Then we turned it over on the right side and were twice as impressed.

Tabblo uses highly-tuned HP Indigo four-color digital printing presses for the two small size posters. But large format Epson inkjet printers handle the larger size and the new giant-sized poster (available Oct. 15 in three sizes: 16x36 three-footers for $34.95, 16x48 four-footers for $39.95 and 16x60 five-footers for $44.95). The quality on our poster is unlike any printed photo book. It's just like the frequency-modulated screening of your inkjet on a nice glossy sheet that's thicker than most photo papers. But Antonio told us even the Indigo prints don't show the traditional rosette of a halftone screen because, with their liquid inks, they are able to blur the halftone pattern. We suspect they are using stochastic or frequency modulated screens rather than amplitude modulated (traditional) halftone screens.

We took the dahlia pictures with a Casio Exilim Z1000, a 10-Mp point-and-shoot digicam we're reviewing. These were all 3648x2736-pixel images (about 4-MB on disk). So we happened to have plenty of resolution. But some of our late-afternoon exposures were less than optimum (some a little dark, mostly) and we worried about that as we built the tabblo.

But Tabblo optimizes the images before they print them in their all-PDF color-managed workflow. Some optimizations occur on-the-fly as you edit your tabblo, but others like sharpening occur later. The overall effect was very even, though the online display had not been. And each image was quite sharp.

As fun as creating the tabblo had been, seeing the print was over the top. You may be tempted to quit you day job and just hawk your own tabblos on street corners. But you'll probably be pulled into a gallery before lunchtime. They look that good.

COMMUNITY

Because tabblos can be public, there is something of a community aspect to them. Click the Community tab from the View page to see what's going on.

There are Featured tabblos, New people on Tabblo and New tabblos to see. After you create your account, you can upload an image of yourself and add your real name and location and set up a blog. That adds you to the directory (although you can remove yourself from it, too). And you can click through the directory see people's screen names, adding any you want to your circle.

Editing our account did crash Safari when we tried to tell it how to export our tabblos for a blog. But our other changes were effective when we returned to the site.

Tabblo's privacy policy (http://www.tabblo.com/studio/doc/privacy) states the company "will never rent, sell, or share your email, physical address or other personal information to a third party" unless it, well, has to do so. No marketing, in other words. You can opt out of the company's "regular email updates" and promotional offers on your profile page. The company does not track your recipient email addresses, using them only to send email invitations to see your photos.

There's also a nice discussion forum where even the CEO chimes in (http://forums.tabblo.com).

A DEAL

Tabblo is a new service and is developing more features all the time, but that's really no reason not to start playing with it now. It's free for one thing and nothing else quite allows you to assemble multiple images and text on a page with such ease.

We really enjoyed creating our tabblos. But we were just stunned by the printed poster.

So we've arranged a Deal with Tabblo to get $10 off your first order when you either enter coupon code IRTRY10 at check-out or use this link http://www.tabblo.com/studio/club/107363/ir_editor/ with your email address appended to automatically set up an account and apply the discount. If you click on the link, you'll be signed in to the service with your email address in the top right corner and see our <I>Specimen Sheet</I> tabblo as a welcome page.

CONCLUSION

What happens when you mix MySpace, Flickr and MyPublisher together? You get Tabblo, a new online service for sharing your images. Tabblo lets you personalize your Web space like MySpace, show your tagged images in slide shows like Flickr and can produce hard-copy poster prints of your montages like MyPublisher.

It's not only easier than maintaining a blog, a portfolio or just pointing to an unstructured collection of images, it's a lot more fun. And that fun only explodes into sheer delight when your printed tabblo arrives at your door. We were thinking of painting the house before winter, but we might just tabblo it instead.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Pentax K100D User Report

By SHAWN BARNETT
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/K100D/K100DA.HTM on the Web site.)

I have enjoyed my time with the Pentax *istD -- I mean K100D. Yes, it's going to take a little time for me to get used to the new/old name of the latest SLR from Pentax. I say "new" because they've finally left behind the ill-conceived *istD naming scheme that unnecessarily alienated so many. I say "old" because the K100D's name so closely matches the long-running mechanical film SLR, the K1000. Due to the similar shape of the D, you can even mistake the two.

The "new and old" theme continues with the K100D. This is actually the fifth Pentax dSLR (or sixth, depending on where you live), so you can't exactly call the Pentax K100D an all-new camera. There was the *istD, *istDS, *istDS2, *istDL and in some markets the *istDL2. The family resemblance is uncanny. However, the new image stabilization mode is indeed new, as is the new stainless frame. Also new is the K100D and K110D's backward compatibility with all of Pentax's old lenses.

That's right, Pentax claims the two new SLRs will work with "any Pentax lens ever produced." That includes their old K1000 35mm K-mount and the even older M42x1mm screw mount lenses (which were made by many companies: Zeiss, Leica, Mamiya, Olympus, etc.), plus the Pentax 645 and 67 medium format lenses: all can be attached via special adapters. Naturally, many of these lenses are manual focus and won't autofocus with the K100D, nor will they return information to the camera to help gauge subject distance or any of the other niceties you get with the DA-series lenses. But image stabilization will work with any lens you can snap onto this camera and not many dSLRs can stabilize such an old lens.

There are many holdouts who are waiting for a camera that will do this very thing: work with all pre-existing lenses in the line. So this will be a popular move for a select group of Pentax glass owners.

Fit & finish. Still among the smallest dSLRs on the market, the K100D has an excellent feel of quality and a good heft. The grip is well-sculpted, with a reasonable size for most hands and a comfortable shape. It has more of a flat surface for your fingertips bite into, unlike the *isDL, which had a curved surface where the inside of the grip met the camera body. This curve tends to made holding the camera for long periods rather uncomfortable. The K100D's grip material is textured and feels hard at first, but press a fingernail into it and you find a thick, soft rubbery material.

With the camera held confidently in the right hand, my index finger rests atop the shutter button quite naturally. I slide my finger forward a few millimeters, pull the power switch to the right and I'm ready to shoot. As I raise the camera to my eye, my left hand comfortably cups the contoured left bottom corner. My eye finds the viewfinder with no trouble; though like most cameras, I'm forced to press my glasses up against the hard rubber eyepiece for a full view of the frame. The sliding diopter adjustment atop the viewfinder does not match my prescription, but I'm pretty used to shooting with glasses.

In Manual mode, Shutter speed is adjusted with the back dial and Aperture is adjusted with the same dial when activated while pressing the small EV/Av button set just back from the shutter button. The combination is easy to adjust with your eye to the viewfinder. The Pentax K100 also has a unique digital depth-of-field preview built into the power ring that surrounds the shutter button. Just twist the power ring further to the right and the camera quickly stops down the lens to the selected setting and captures a quick shot to reveal the depth of field on the 2.5 inch LCD display. Quick and simple. The exposure is not stored, however, but disappears into digital ether.

The Pentax K100's body has a tight, solid feel and all the doors seem like they'll stand up to reasonable use. Rather than a rubber door to cover the ports, which can actually be somewhat annoying to use, the Pentax K100D has a stiff plastic door that swings out toward the front. It is spring loaded and slams firmly open and shut. The SD card door works like most such doors, opening with a pull toward the back, then a swing to the right. The card pops out with a push.

The battery door on the K100D is locked with a small switch. You'll need to remember to turn the camera upside down before releasing the switch, because the door slides forward easily and then it's free to swing open and dump your four AA batteries all over the place. It's worth noting here that the Pentax K100D didn't like most sets of our NiMH batteries, frequently complaining that a somewhat used set of four wasn't sufficient to continue. Not so with alkalines. A relatively new set of Energizer NiMH batteries does work fairly well, however, so I recommend a nice fresh set of NiMH batteries (or two) for the Pentax K100D.

Flash. The flash pops up quickly with the press of a button on the K100D and it deploys automatically in Auto Pict mode, but only if the camera is set to Auto flash mode. That makes a lot more sense than most systems I've reviewed, where the full auto mode pops up the flash whether you like it or not. There is one instance where it would be good for the flash to pop up automatically and that's when the AF system needs a little help, for pulsed flash is the K100D's sole AF assist lamp.

On-camera flash coverage is pretty good with the bundled 18-55mm lens, with only slight vignetting in the corners at the widest setting.

If you really want to impress yourself with what the K100 can do, however -- and overcome some of its indoor limitations, which I'll discuss later -- you'll want to consider investing in the large but versatile AF-540FGZ hot shoe-mounted flash. Folded up, it really is about as big as the Pentax K100D itself. Without going into great detail, it appears nearly as powerful as the flashes from Nikon and Canon and its controls are more accessible, with commonly used features like first and second curtain sync and high speed sync available via a switch rather than a menu selection. You can also easily switch between a test pulse flash when pressing the Test button or a rapid pulse to serve as a modeling light. I even like how the flash attaches, with a quick, positive 120 degree turn of a large thumb-actuated lock, rather than a knurled ring that requires many turns.

The AF-540FGZ's head zooms with the lenses and turns in almost every direction. There is no lock to hold it in forward position, however; the one button on the side of the Pentax K100D merely allows the flash to tilt down for better close-up coverage. Perhaps most impressive is the massive and wide AF-assist pattern the flash throws on the scene. I imagine all eleven sensors could take advantage of that baby.

Lenses. What keeps turning my head in the Pentax lineup are its unique and well-built lenses. The 18-55mm that comes with the K100D bundle is a decent lens, but I'm more impressed with its build than its optical quality. Unlike some kit lenses, the lens on this camera appears of decent quality. It has a non-rotating front element and while it does whine when focusing, it's still mostly demure about it. The zoom ring provides both a good gripping surface and a soft touch and the mechanism is tight. The front focusing ring has the slightest looseness, but it's not bad. And there are markings for both zoom and focus distance on the rings, another Pentax touch I can appreciate.

Pentax seems to have worked hard to create truly innovative lens designs that deliver the digital advantage that others have mostly only promised. I'm talking about smaller lenses that fit into tight spaces. Pentax has some gorgeous little "pancake" lenses so small and flat they make the overall camera look like something's missing. What they give you, however, is an SLR that can slip into a purse or coat pocket. They also deliver excellent optical performance such that when I shoot with these cameras, except for the purpose of evaluating this kit combo, I prefer prime optics like the silver 43mm Limited Edition f1.9. Its external focusing ring is very fast and rips to its destination with a loud but sure ring of the focusing motor. Its soft silver anodize is etched with a sans serif font that harks back to the days of a fine rangefinder. It even has a manual aperture ring. Oh baby.

As if that weren't enough, the inside of the lens hood is lined with a photon-slurping fine black felt and the metal lens cap is lined with a fine green felt, which not only looks refined, but serves to hold the cap onto the lens hood with a gentle pressure. It's design like this that can put the sense of precision and even love, back into photography. I love this lens.

I have not yet seen a Pentax lens that feels cheap. They're all pretty small, very tight and solid and sound like precision tools when they're attached and removed, probably due to the six spring loaded contact bearings on the camera body's lens mount.

Shake Reduction. Body-based stabilization -- the main feature distinguishing the K100D from the K110D -- means all lenses that fit the K100D benefit from this helpful technology.

Each company has had to create their own version of anti-shake and each has its own name for its particular version. Canon's Image Stabilization, Nikon's Vibration Reduction and KonicaMinolta/Sony's Anti-Shake are now joined by Pentax's own Shake Reduction. Nikon and Canon's are lens-based solutions, which means you have to purchase a specially-engineered lens to take advantage of the technology in each focal length range you think you need the extra help. With lens-based systems, the lens tracks the camera's motion and compensates for it by moving a special optical element inside the lens body.

Sony's solution is like Pentax's, which also tracks the camera's motion, but moves the imaging sensor inside the camera body to match. It's a little more like the catcher moving his mitt to meet the ball, rather than some elaborate mechanism that tries to redirect the ball to the mitt as it approaches the plate. Both work just fine in practice, however, despite what the baseball analogy might imply and both have their benefits. We're of the opinion that lens-based solutions will do better with long telephoto lenses and camera-based solutions are better for wide and mid-telephoto applications.

Nevertheless, when Pentax's SR system is used with their modern line of electronic lenses, the camera can detect what lens is attached and adjust the magnitude of compensation applied to match the focal length of the lens. When you're using an older lens, you can use the K100D's menu to tell the camera the focal length, from 8mm to 800mm.

Having used all current stabilization methods, the K100D's Shake Reduction impressed me. There were fewer blurred shots, with good performance all the way down to 1/13 second. Pentax says that its Shake Reduction Technology allows stable shots at 2.5 to 3 stops lower than with the feature switched off. Unlike Sony's solution, there is no display inside the K100D to tell you how hard the stabilizer mechanism is working based on your current motion, nor do you have the visual "floating image" feedback you get from optical image stabilizers. Instead, the camera compensates for the motion it detects when you trip the shutter.

There's a good argument that the moment of capture produces the most common and relevant source of motion blur in images, because so many people seem to mash down the shutter and shake the camera with it. It's why only some soldiers make marksman: it takes training, discipline and a special character to learn to squeeze that trigger gently and let the shot surprise you every time. Camera companies have been trying to figure out how to help people with the moment of capture for a long time and Pentax may have hit on the better body-based solution.

They claim that their SR system is different from others because it not only compensates for up/down/left/right/diagonal motion, but rotational motion as well.

After all, what happens when someone mashes down on the shutter release with their right finger? The camera rotates clockwise and down. It might even rotate back before the shutter closes, depending on the button masher in question and the shutter speed. A camera that can compensate for this very common motion as the shutter trips is likely to deliver more clear shots to the rank amateur, as well as compensate for the intermediate photographer's occasional excitement over capturing a promising moment. Regardless of the motion's cause, human motion is rarely linear or occurring along rigid x and y axes, so the more methods of compensation the better.

Autofocus. Our lab autofocus times are decent, but not stellar, with a full AF shutter lag of 0.182 second. But that's an average and once it's relatively close, if the camera does not seek, this number is often faster than you'll get with real-life subjects that are at random distances. In low light, it gets worse. On the plus side, the Pentax K100D will keep trying to achieve focus. On the negative side it can take a second or two for the camera to run through its thought process and get the job done. Sometimes you can just feel the wheels spinning as the K100D tries first this setting, thinks about it, then tries another, thinks about it some more, then tries again and finally beeps confirmation. In sunlight, it's much better and feels quite a bit faster.

Also like most of the lenses for the Sony A100, the Pentax K100D's AF motor is in the camera body, not the lenses.

The new SAFOX VIII AF system has 11 focus points, nine of which are cross type, meaning they can sense both horizontal and vertical lines. Most AF systems reserve the cross type sensors for the center and outer edges.

Summary. The Pentax K100D was enjoyable to use, looks great, handles well and delivers images that exceed what I have seen from the company's other dSLRs. The included lens is very good and the available accessory lenses are terribly cool.

Tungsten white balance, unfortunately, doesn't cut it as well as it should. Our lab test results show the same problem as my own extensive informal shooting reveals: the K100D just can't compensate for Tungsten lighting, delivering extremely yellow images. Flash does fix it, so if you're happy carrying a big bounce flash or dealing with the specular highlights often generated by direct flash, it's not a big deal. For serious indoor photography, controlling the light is arguably the way to go, so I do recommend purchase of a hot shoe-mounted flash.

My only other bugaboo with the K100D was its often slow and indecisive AF in low light. I've never seen a camera play for so long to finally lock focus. Pop up the flash as AF assist and things speed back up. If you're doing a lot of toddler photography, get a flash.

The K100D's Shake Reduction works very well and is probably worth the extra $100 if you can afford it over the K110D. Once again, in low light, you need all the help you can get. I got sharp images at 1/13 second, which really surprised me.

The Pentax K100D is priced pretty low for what you get, but I think prices will need to drop before the end-of-the-year holidays to keep ahead of some of the older cameras still on the market, like the Nikon D50 and Canon Rebel XT. Online prices have dropped quite a bit on these two cameras over the last few months. Neither offers shake reduction, though; and their prices in retail stores will probably still be higher than the Pentax K100D at the outset.

It's good to see Pentax come out swinging, offering a tight, affordable camera for consumers. For my part, I'm still rubbing my chin about the concept of the K100D with a 43mm or 40mm prime lens for daily carry in a waistpack, chucking the point-and-shoot digicam in favor of a larger sensor and higher quality optics, not to mention the ease of AA batteries. Now that this review is over, I'm going to twist that silver Pentax FA 43mm Limited lens back on and test my theory until they make me return it.

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:

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In the Forums

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

Visit the Canon Digital Rebel Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee946e1

Visit the Olympus Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f783

Dennis asks for help choosing a camera for a friend at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea38ac/0

Mauricio asks for help choosing a camera with image stabilization at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea22ed/0

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

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Dave's Deals

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We Have Mail

You can email us at editor@imaging-resource.com. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.

RE: Nikon D80

As an amateur, I have been spending the summer researching and dreaming of a new dSLR with plans to buy one in the very near future. I have been recently struck with a bad case of NAS (Nikon Acquisition Syndrome). Although there have been many raving reviews over the new Nikon D80, the one thing I haven't seen discussed yet, is what everyone thinks this will do to the Nikon D200? Does Nikon plan any price changes or is there a D300 in the works due later this year?

For a person looking to buy a new dSLR, is the $1,000 price difference between the two cameras worth buying the D200 over the D80?

-- Dwayne

(Interesting times, aren't they? The D80 has a more compelling kit lens, certainly, than the D200 (which is the same as the D70s kit lens). Take a look at our feature comparison: http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D80/D80COMPARISON.HTM. Then ask yourself if the in-camera post-processing the D80 adds (D-Lighting, red-eye corrections, cropping, effects, image overlay, etc.) is more important than the faster frame rate, stronger body and more sophisticated flash options of the D200. As for the future, we have no idea what Nikon is up to. But it's awfully hard to get your hands on anything they announce -- although our local Ritz did get the D80 in this week. -- Editor)

RE: What's in an f-Stop?

I have a question about the relationship of f-stops on a film SLR and a digicam like my Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ7. It lists a range of f-stops from f3 (I think) to about f8. Now with my old SLR, I had from f1.8 to f22. Is this due to the focal length of a digicam lens and how do they relate? Film camera mid was about f8 or f11. Is this still about f 6 on my new one? Is there a chart showing about the same? Is the depth of field similar and how do we figure or just look at it. I may of over looked the explanation but have tried to read all I can and or related articles.

-- Bruce E. Manning

(No translation is needed. f6 on a digicam is exactly the same as f6 on a dSLR or a view camera (or all light meters on the planet would be useless). This really just describes the ratio of the diameter of the lens opening to the focal length: f4 (or more precisely f/4) is the aperture/focal length ratio. The May 12 issue had a piece on this (Zoom Lenses 101 with a follow-up letter in the next issue). -- Editor)

RE: Size Matters

I read, with interest, the SanDisk USB article. Now I want one of those cards, but it must fit my Pentax S4i camera, which means that any SD card must be no larger in any dimension than a standard SD card.

I did look on the SanDisk site for compatibility and they don't list any Pentax cameras. Amazon.com has this card for $48. Locally, the cheapest I've seen is $80. I don't want the hassle of returning a mail order product. So I'd like to have some confidence that this card is indeed no thicker or longer than an ordinary SD card. I couldn't even find dimensional specs on the SanDisk site.

Thanks for any advice or help you can give. And do keep the fascinating Newsletter coming.

-- Dave Williams

(Did you see the illustrated review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/SDUSB/SDUII.HTM)? There are three shots showing a Kodak SD card with the SanDisk. They're identical. We've tried the SD in two compacts with the same sort of slot. No problem. -- Editor)

RE: Raw Speed

I had tried shooting Raw this summer, but abandoned it because it took so long to process the Raw files. I'm using an Olympus E500. The old computer was a 2002 Gateway with a Pentium 4 running at 2-GHz with 512-MB of RAM.

Using the Adobe DNG conversion program or the Photoshop Elements plug-in, the Gateway took 25 seconds to process and convert one ORF file into a TIFF or DNG.

This was really the reason I first thought about building a faster computer (http://www.buildyournextpc.com).

The new machine has the Intel Core 2 Duo 6600 CPU and 2-GB of high-speed RAM. It does the same ORF conversion in two seconds.

Hard to tell whether the difference is the processor or the amount of RAM. Probably both. The WD hard drive in the new machine has a SATA interface, a 16-MB cache and is rated for faster throughput (forgotten what you call that) than the hard drive in the old machine. The hard drive in the old machine was also a WD, PATA interface, less than a year old, with an 8-MB cache.

I'd be interested in your assessment of how the conversion time could be so much faster in the new computer.

-- Clarence

(Readers, Clarence has published a very clearly-written PDF on his experience building a Windows computer from scratch. We've had a quick peek at it and will review it shortly.... Now, back to your question, Clarence. All three suspects (disk I/O, RAM and processor) are culprits but the processor, RAM and disk I/O in that order would be our guess based on file size and complexity of conversion. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Adobe has released a corrected version of its Photoshop 9.0.2 update that resolves the printing problem of the previous 9.0.2 update on systems running Mac OS 10.2.x and 10.3.x (http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/detail.jsp?ftpID=3444). The update, which includes the 9.0.1 update, fixes an Acrobat Touchup crash with unsupported file types, opens supported files without the "unsupported color space" message, opens TIFFs with layer data great than 2-GB and fixes banding problems on inkjets with Tiger. A reinstall is necessary to apply the update to systems updated with the prior 9.0.2 update.

The company also announced updates to the Windows versions of its $99.99 Premiere Elements 3.0 and $99.99 Photoshop Elements 5.0. A simplified interface for Premiere Elements enables you to easily add professional quality effects and enhancements, as well as output to a wide variety of devices and formats, including Adobe Flash Video, the standard video format for popular social networking Web sites. Elements adds new and more flexible ways for consumers to organize files, edit images and share photos. The products can be purchased separately or together as a bundle for $149.99.


ACD Systems (http://www.acdsee.com) has announced the release of its $39.99 ACDSee 9 Photo Manager [W], adding Quick View mode, desktop Showroom, the Shadow/Highlight tool, Private Folders, Auto Categories, Calendar Events View and more to the fast and powerful image management tool.


Iridient Digital (http://www.iridientdigital.com) has just released RAW Developer 1.5.4 [M], adding support for the Canon Digital Rebel XTi and Nikon D80 models; improving default tonal rendering for the Hasselblad CFV, CFH-39 and H2D; and fixing a few bugs.


Preclick (http://www.preclick.com) has released its $19.95 PhotoMovieMaker [W] to turn up to 250 still digital photos into a stylized movie, complete with music, captions and titles. PhotoMovieMaker movies can be made into VCDs, shared via email or played as a PC screensaver.


O'Reilly (http://www.missingmanuals.com) has published its $39.99 Photoshop Elements 5: The Missing Manual by Barbara Brundage.


Is your favorite college football team slipping in the polls? Tear your eyes away from the standings and take a look at Flagrant Disregard's Top Digital Cameras -- or at least the most popular models among Flickr devotees (http://flagrantdisregard.com/flickr/topcameras.php).


Light Crafts (http://www.lightcrafts.com) has released its $149 LightZone 1.6.2 [MW]. Version 1.6 adds a new ToneMapper tool, improved noise reduction, improved Raw conversion, Nikon D80 support and several bug fixes.


BeLight Software (http://www.belightsoft.com) has released its free Image Tricks 2.3 [M], an image editor based on Tiger's Core Image filters, adding four image filters, a Hide/Show Filter Effect, Flip Vertically/Horizontally, keyboard shortcuts, faster launch and more.

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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

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Next Issue

Our next issue will be published from Cologne, Germany, where we'll be attending Photokina 2006. Which means we have until six a.m. Saturday to get it done <g>. In English, as usual.
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Signoff

That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM
New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM
Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM
Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM
Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM

Happy snapping!

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

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