The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 8, Number 23 10 November 2006

Copyright 2006, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 188th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. If you're shopping for a camera, we explain two developments over the past year that really make a difference. Then we see them in action on Canon's A710 before discovering another jewel from Bruce Fraser, this on the mysteries of sharpening. Enjoy!


TOPICS

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Feature: New Solutions for Available Light

If you'd be so kind as to hum a few bars of "A Problem Like Maria" from the "Sound of Music," we'll unruffle our papers and address what has to be the Eternal Problem of Photography. We've been doing some research, particularly on the current crop of whiz bang digicams and have a lot of ruffled notes that you may find handy if you plan to shop for a camera this holiday season.

But the tune we're humming is more an appreciation than a complaint. Available light photography is what you get when you bravely turn the flash off. No, your camera warns, it won't work! But it often does. Your camera is concerned it can't get a nice even middle gray across the whole scene. But in a if your subject is a forehead lit dramatically in a darkened room, you don't want a gray picture.

The Eternal Problem of Photography is simply that film and sensors have never been as sensitive to light as our eyes. We can see things they can't record. And that's so frustrating we keep hoping one day it will be solved.

Historically (boy, have I got notes here), there have been three approaches to this problem. To appreciate the latest approaches we're seeing in the current class of cameras, we're going to drag you through all of them. You'll thank us for it. If you can catch us.

THE INVENTION OF FLASH

Once upon a time, someone had the bright idea of supplying their own darned light when the sun wasn't working. Fight fire with fire, you know.

Old films, according to legend, were so slow that if a person didn't hold perfectly still for several minutes, they wouldn't appear on the film at all. A blurred portrait was considered action photography. And various devices were contrived (some even by photographers) to steady the subject, not the camera.

Even ridiculous ideas eventually lose favor, however and the fellow with the bright idea of bringing his own light caught the imagination of his colleagues. Except none of them were bright enough to invent the light bulb. Instead, they relied on flash powder and local volunteer fire departments.

Which worked in a wonderful way, primarily because all film at that time was black and white. With no color photography, red eye wasn't a possibility.

As soon as color became a possibility, red eye raised its ugly head, giving the lie to artificial light. Which was never a great idea, everyone whined.

SENSITIVITY

According to the same legend, film got feelings (but please don't hum "Feelings"). With increased sensitivity, slow emulsions became faster and faster, year after year. Photographers using fast film could capture available light images without their subjects disappearing because they moved.

The same trick has been applied to digital cameras (with a vengeance) -- both digicams and dSLRs -- where ISO equivalents run as high as 3200. Fujifilm, Sony and Canon have all aggressively punched up the sensitivity of their sensors in the hope of avoiding the use of flash and the scourge of red eye.

High ISOs, even just up to ISO 400, mean you can capture a shot without flash, get more depth of field and use faster shutter speeds to minimize the blur caused by camera shake (particularly noticeable with a long zoom).

The problem with this solution is something like what happens with very fast film. It's grainy. And when you leave it in the soup longer than you normally would, you start to develop grains of film that weren't even exposed.

On a sensor the equivalent is image noise. The more you crank up the gain on a sensor, the noisier the image. Noise is simply speckles of color or brightnesss unrelated to reality. A response with no stimulus. Light for darkness. Raise the sensitivity high enough and you get color where there was no light. It's not unlike turning up the volume on your stereo only to hear hiss when you expect silence.

Our camera reviews test for noise at every ISO level. And the tests can be somewhat discouraging to look at. But what the camera captures can be significantly enhanced by noise reduction software. Sometimes this software is actually built into the camera's image processing chip, but the really powerful stuff runs as a plug-in to your image editing software where you can decide how aggressive you want it to be.

So when we take high ISO shots we often run a sample through Imagenomic's Noiseware Professional to reduce noise. One day we'll review it, but we really like two things about it. First, it works with any camera, analyzing the image rather than relying on a camera sensor noise profile. Second, it breaks every variable out into a slider we can manipulate individually. (And third, we don't actually have to do that because it comes with lots of powerful defaults -- quite a bonus.) We're always able to improve the image dramatically, such that we aren't so afraid of noise in high ISO images that we don't use high ISO.

But there's one more defect high ISO adds to the mix. At very high ISO settings, color disappears in the image processor's quest to reduce color noise.

Well, it was never a great idea, everyone whined.

IMAGE STABILIZATION

Only a few human beings are noted for their speed. Most of the species is pretty easy to catch smiling on the couch. So it stands to reason that if you could slow the shutter down a few more stops, you could take pictures in a lot less light. Maybe just the light of a plasma TV, even.

It turns out that holding a camera steady at a modest 1/30 of a second is an iffy proposition (more iffy the more you zoom in). Some of us can and some of us can't do it. If you can't, your image is blurred from what the experts call camera shake. All because you're holding the camera. And shaking.

Yes, you could use a tripod but nobody uses a tripod. Fossils of tripods have been discovered in some remote public parks, but where actual people still tread the earth, tripping over litter and curbs, they are never seen any more.

Instead, some bright soul wondered in the middle of a shower one day why the image had to be shaken just because the photographer couldn't hold still. When they figured out how to decouple the image capturing stuff in the camera from the photographer's hands, image stabilization was born.

On a digital camera, image stabilization can take two forms (sometimes in the same camera). The image sensor itself may float, compensating for camera movement. Or, like film cameras, a lens element may float to compensate for movement. It doesn't matter much (well, a little) which method a digicam uses but on a dSLR, having built-in stabilization means whatever lens you buy will have stabilization. Of course, buying a stabilized 18-200mm lens takes care of that problem, too.

There aren't really any drawbacks to image stabilization. It gets you a sharper picture when you zoom in to the point you can hardly keep the subject still in the frame. And it gets you an image in available light when other cameras would insist on using flash.

In fact it does low light photography very, very well, allowing as much as four more stops of exposure and opening up a whole new world to photography. An available light photography never before seen, one might wisecrack.

CHOICES

You might think image stabilization is so exotic no one has made a little sticker about it they can slap on the front of a digicam. But you'd be wrong. Panasonic, in fact, includes it on every one of their digicams. And Canon has added it to both its top-end A Series and SD Series Powershots. Just to name two.

But that doesn't mean you can't bump up ISO, too. You can nudge it up to ISO 400 pretty safely but you can even go higher and still get good prints if you do a little noise reduction in your image editor.

If you're shopping for a digital camera, you're probably concerned about how many megapixels it has and the size of the LCD. You may also be struck by some of the gorgeous camera designs we're seeing from companies like Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Sony. But two factors that make any camera a lot more fun are High ISOs and image stabilization. Don't give up either.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Canon PowerShot A710 -- Image Stabilized A-Series!

(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A710/A710A.HTM on the Web site.)

The Canon PowerShot A710 IS couples a 7-megapixel CCD imager sensor with an image stabilized 6x optical zoom lens that offers a 35mm-equivalent focal range of 35 to 210mm -- a moderate wide-angle to a useful telephoto. With a total range of 6x optical zoom, this is quite a bit more than most compact cameras offer and the inclusion of a stabilizer should help ensure photos aren't blurred from camera shake at the telephoto end of the zoom. Maximum apertures vary from f2.8 to f4.8 across the zoom range. The A710's sensor yields an ISO range equivalent to 80 to 800, while shutter speeds from 1/2000 to 15 seconds are possible.

Designed with ease of use in mind, the Canon A710 IS offers a range of features that make it approachable to beginners, plus the ability to exert more control over the photographic process. For the former category of users, there's a fully automatic mode and a generous selection of thirteen scene modes. For the latter, you'll find manual and aperture/shutter priority exposures possible, plus preset or manual white balance and three metering modes. A VGA-or-below movie mode captures videos at a maximum of 30 frames per second, for up to one hour (or one gigabyte) per clip.

A USB connection allows easy offload of images from the SD or MMC card to a Mac or PC. And unlike some manufacturers who are still clinging to the older USB 1.1/2.0 Full Speed standard, Canon has adopted a much swifter USB 2.0 High Speed interface in the Canon A710. For users without a computer (or those who like to make quick prints without the hassle of touching their PC), you can bypass the extra step completely and print directly from the PowerShot A710 IS to a Canon or other PictBridge-enabled printer via the same USB connection.

Though it has a relatively large 2.5-inch LCD, Canon retained a real image optical viewfinder in the A710's design. Not only can optical viewfinders help to save battery life by turning off the LCD display, but they're also useful when ambient light makes it tough to see many LCDs properly. Power comes from two AA batteries and Canon includes single-use alkaline disposables in the product bundle. Also included with the Canon A710 is a not-so-generous 16-MB Secure Digital card. If you don't already have some, you'll want to purchase some rechargeable batteries and a larger flash card along with the camera.

USER REPORT

The $350 Canon A710 arrived just in time to take the trip with us to Cologne for photokina 2006. It seemed that just as we bemoaned the A700's lack of image stabilization, Canon put the A710 together with just that additional feature. How could we complain?

It's remarkable how quickly image stabilization has, as a feature, propagated. You see it on digicams with even modest zoom ranges because it permits two to three (sometimes four) stops more natural light shooting. Its popularity is the direct inverse of the aggravation everyone has expressed about red-eye. It is, in fact, the perfect antidote to red-eye. Turn off the flash and use image stabilization with the Canon A710.

Canon has implemented it on the A710 as a lens-shift design, moving lens components rather than the image sensor. It can be operating continuously or only when the image is captured. It can also be restricted to correct up/down blurring during horizontal panning.

Design. Somehow, the Canon A710 seemed a bit sleeker to us, more like the S3 than the A700. The only unsleek thing about it was something we really liked. Like all other A-Series Canons, it's an AA battery camera and that means it has a nice bulging hand grip. Not a very obtrusive one, but more than the little ridges, bumps and fins compact digicams offer. So you can actually operate the Canon A710 safely with just one hand, your thumb dancing around the four buttons and one navigator on the back panel.

The A700 requires only two AA cells, rather than the usual four. The difference, according to Canon, is 360 shots instead of 500, but our heaviest day at photokina required about 130 shots per camera. Much as we like the grip and much as we like AA cells, two is better than four.

Otherwise, we'd rave about what a great travel companion the Canon A710 turned out to be. In fact, as we flew over half the world, it was easy to slip out of our camera bag and shoot a few dozen pictures of the planet, a diversion we enjoy more and more. And it was also easy to pack along as we wandered the streets of Cologne.

Oddly enough, we weren't as fond of the Canon A710 for shooting photokina itself. There's a lot to be said for what Canon calls a "variable" LCD, permitting you to see what you're doing when you hold the camera above your head or below your belt -- or just angling the LCD to avoid glare while you focus on your subject.

Fortunately, Canon makes a few A-Series digicams with variable LCDs. In fact, the one Canon bash we attended sent us home with a municipal road crew orange bag packed with their catalogs and press releases. Look carefully and you're bound to find the model with all the features you want. If not, just wait a few months for the next model. Somehow we think I'll see an A7xx with a variable screen before long.

For a body that's partly metal, it's odd to discover that the tripod mount is plastic. There are no plastic tripod screws, so guess what gets stripped if you overtighten?

Display/Viewfinder. The one drawback of an articulated LCD is that it requires a sturdy frame so the LCD itself can't be very large. No three-inch LCDs. But at 2.5 inches, the Canon A710's LCD is the same size as the variable LCDs on the A640 and A630. Unfortunately, it only displays 115,000 pixels.

The interesting thing about the Canon A710 is that it also includes, like its predecessor, an optical viewfinder. This matters a great deal to a large number of people. In bright conditions, most LCDs are unusable. And bright conditions are photogenic conditions. So being able to resort to an optical viewfinder is a welcome relief.

On the other hand, Luke (who shot all the test shots for this model) had a different appreciation of the optical viewfinder. "Horrible, sloppy, blurry, distorted, misframed, nearly useless (and unfortunately, typical) optical viewfinder," he wrote in his shooters notes. Typical is the revealing word, we think. These things tend to be tiny and the Canon A710's is very small, like looking through the eye of a needle. It's only an approximation of what the lens is looking at, but sometimes that's all you need.

Performance. The Canon A710 wouldn't have made much of a travel companion if it took forever to get ready and forever to get settled. A good travel companion has to be ready before the bus and unpacked as soon as the door to the room swings open. The Canon PowerShot A710 approximated that behavior very well.

This was no more true than in the plane. It may not feel like it, but the landscape changes every few seconds. And no digicam battery can last as long as an international flight. So when you see something to shoot, you turn the camera on, take a few shots and turn it off. The Canon A710 was responsive enough to do that without aggravation.

At 6x optical zoom, the Canon A710's lens is the longest (250mm) in the A-Series, all of which get as wide as 35mm (not terribly wide). It's a fairly fast lens at f2.8-f4.8 and image stabilization makes it even faster in practical use.

The 7.1-Mp sensor offers more resolution than the A700's 6.0 megapixels, but less than the 10-Mp A640 or the 8.0-Mp A630. If that's a concern for you, study the ISO noise images to see how these models compare. The more megapixels at this sensor size, the more noise.

Shooting. We made much of the A700's PASM options -- particularly its real Manual mode -- and the Canon A710 inherits that versatility (and praise). There is, typically, no one correct exposure. There are several, ranging from a wide open lens to a stopped down lens at various shutter speeds to complement the aperture (and vice versa).

When you limit yourself to green Auto mode, you're telling the camera to pick something in the middle. On the Canon A710, you can't adjust Auto mode.

But what's a "correct" exposure? Often what the light meter is rendering in middle gray isn't representative of the subject. Neither black cat or a white rabbit, for example, should be gray. Program mode lets you adjust exposure by setting EV compensation. It isn't quite a full Program mode (letting you adjust either the shutter speed or aperture and compensating with the other variable), but more like Auto on most digicams.

The Canon A710's versatility is really in the other three standard modes. You can select a different correct exposure (adjusted with EV compensation, if you like) with a more open or closed aperture in Aperture Priority mode or a slower or faster shutter speed using Shutter Priority mode.

If you only want to limit the shutter speed to handheld speeds, Shutter Priority is the ticket. Set it at 1/60 second or 1/30 (if you can handle it) and you don't have to worry about camera shake. Ranging from 15 seconds to 1/2000 second, you have quite a few choices.

Aperture Priority does the same for your lens stop if your concern is depth of field. Like most digicams, the aperture options on the Canon A710 are fairly restricted, ranging from f2.8 to f8.0 at wide-angle and f4.8 to f8.0 at telephoto. Still, that's a few stops to work with.

And then there's Manual mode for complete control.

These four modes -- Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual -- are surprisingly absent on many digicams. We were very happy to see them on the Canon A710.

We used to have a good deal of trouble navigating Canon's menu system, but we find it a lot simpler these days. In Auto, you don't worry about the buttons at all. In Program, just hit the EV button and change the exposure with the Left or Right arrow keys. Shutter and Aperture Priority modes use those arrow keys to adjust their values, too. Manual uses the EV button to toggle between aperture and shutter speed, both adjusted with those same arrow keys.

There are Scene modes, yes, but we never resorted to them, frankly. Some manufacturers offer dozens of them, but Canon puts a few (like Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Panorama and Movie) on the A710's Mode dial and others (like Night Snapshot, Kids & Pets, Indoor, Foliage, Snow, Beach, Fireworks, Underwater, Color Accent and Color Swap) under the Scene option of the Mode dial. We prefer Canon's focus on PASM over Scene modes, but there are some cute tricks (like keystoning business cards) we wish were included in the Scene modes. Not, that is, just some convenient configurations but some advanced processing.

We did miss a live histogram, but the Canon A710 shows a histogram in Playback mode. But we found we could trust the Canon A710 enough that we didn't flip back and forth between Record and Playback mode.

In-camera photostitching hasn't come to the Canon line yet (although HP and Kodak both offer it), but you can take panoramas to be merged into one shot later on a computer using the included PhotoStitch application.

One large aggravation with Canon in general and the A710 especially is the difficulty we had rotating Canon images into the proper orientation. We found that if you turn off the Auto Rotation feature, the images were fine, but once the Canon A710 was allowed to intervene in the rotation process, we lost control depending on which program we decided to use. It's one very rough spot in a relatively smooth ride.

CONCLUSION

Outright prolonged applause for the introduction of image stabilization in the A-Series. Canon's retention of an optical viewfinder on the PowerShot A710, no matter how spare, is also to be applauded. Startup and shutdown are quick and the menu option you need is quickly at hand, too. The Canon A710 has enough megapixels for excellent resolution in enlargements without risking much image noise. The A710's excellent 6x zoom is impressive and a great argument in favor of picking a slightly larger camera over those sexy slim cameras, with great corner sharpness and very little chromatic aberration. A variable LCD would have made the Canon PowerShot A710 more useful to me and we would have appreciated a live histogram, but that's just quibbling. The Canon A710 is a very nice piece of equipment to have at hand, which makes it an easy Dave's Pick.

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New on the Site

At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:

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Book Bag: Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop CS2

It's taken us a while to review this title because we'd hoped to run an excerpt from it. But it's so well illustrated that a text-only excerpt really doesn't do it justice. So we reigned ourselves in.

That speaks well for the integration of the text and the images in this book but we have to go a bit further and applaud how useful the illustrations themselves are. Most digital photo books are printed by publishers who have no clue how to halftone an image. The before and after image are identical (often even swapped) and images intending to demonstrate something simply fail to show it. No doubt you've seen more than one attempt to illustrate pixelization that was halftoned into obscurity.

Bruce's images, in contrast, are eloquent. And considering that the topic is something as microscopic as sharpening edges in an image, that's miraculous. He not only shows you full image comparisons with distinct differences but is generous with enlargements that make his point plain. It's an expertly and exceptionally well illustrated book.

But then, the man knows what he's talking about. He's been doing this for 15 years. Sharpening images, that is. Developing detail.

And he has some finely honed opinions on what you can and can't do and when you should do what you must. Somehow, though, this all comes out in very clear, modest and readable prose, with tough subjects reduced to simple statements -- like those enlarged illustrations that are perfectly clear.

The book starts with a Preface that briefly describes the sharpening problem and its workflow. It would be easy to skip right over that, but here Bruce describes the essential problem, which is that there are three reasons to sharpen any image, often contradictory and the only real solution is to devise a multipass workflow. He points out that your monitor "can be highly misleading" in judging the results of your work and, while bemoaning the limits of human vision, asserts there is a creative aspect to sharpening as well. Not bad for a preface.

Chapter One answers the question What Is Sharpening and explains why unsharp masking is named so strangely. It also dips into noise reduction.

Chapter Two asks Why Do We Sharpen? The monitor comes into play again here, but so does in-camera sharpening. Bruce goes on to discuss what he calls context-sensitive sharpening (the quality of the sharpening, not its quantity) and just how much is enough. Finally he goes over the requirements of sharpening of various kinds of output from printing press to inkjet to dye sub.

Sharpening Strategies in Chapter Three covers traditional one-pass prepress sharpening before introducing a multipass sharpening workflow that optimizes sharpening for the image source, the image content and fixed output. It then delves into creative sharpening before considering output sharpening again.

Sharpening Tools and Techniques in Chapter Four limits itself to Photoshop CS2's tools (despite Bruce's involvement with Pixel Genius's PhotoKit Sharpener) but it's the most thorough treatment of them you'll find. Sharpen, Sharpen More, Sharpen Edges, Unsharp Mask and Smart Sharpen are defined and described. But "Photoshop also offers ways to sharpen images using features that don't provide any hint by their names that sharpening is one of their capabilities," he writes. Those include techniques like layer sharpening and sharpening on selections, channels and masks, demonstrating ways to control sharpening after it's been applied and non-destructively, too. He continues with techniques for reducing noise that don't interfere with sharpening, mentioning some third-party solutions, too.

In Chapter Five, Putting the Tools to Work, Bruce walks us through the consideration of evaluating of an image, its initial optimization, optimizing for content, creative sharpening and sharpening for output. Follow the steps and your images will get optimal sharpening.

Finally, in Chapter Six, Case Studies, Bruce runs the gamut of sharpening jobs from large format transparencies to 35mm color negatives, a hard copy scan, a digital JPEG capture and a digital Raw capture.

"The way we handle image detail," he concludes, "is every bit as important to the final appearance of our images as is the way we handle tone and color." This tome gives sharpening the attention it deserves -- and that makes it a classic on our bookshelf. But it won't spend much time up there, we suspect.

Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop CS2 by Bruce Fraser, published by Peachpit Press with Adobe Press, 288 pages, $39.99.
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Just for Fun: A Rose Reprinted

Cameras, cameras, cameras. We had just finished boxing up a dSLR we'd had on loan for a couple of months, trying to think of an appropriate farewell toast and getting maudlin doing it, man. Just maudlin.

To distract ourselves, we stirred the dust in one of the cardboard boxes we never unpacked from our move three years ago. It was full of framed photos. When we first moved in, it seemed like it would be a moral victory to rehang everything we had hung at the old place. But as time went on, we started to think we should only hang new stuff. New house, new stuff.

So the old stuff just gathered dust in an opened top box. Or three.

Just before boxing up the camera we'd gotten so attached to, we had printed an 8x10 we liked so much we put it in an 11x14 frame. And we found a good place to hang it, too. Right next to the mirror over the piano. But that left the other side of the mirror annoyingly vacant. We thought we could find an 11x14 in the old collection to balance the composition.

Hmmm, well, yes. There was a nice shot of some roses, buds and full bloom. But it had faded terribly. An old inkjet print we'd left exposed to the sun without glass. It made us wonder what the original looked like. It was a nice composition, beautiful red roses against a green fence on an overcast day. Worth trying to find, we thought.

Our archive system is a work in progress. We started way back with CDs. Then moved to DVDs. But flipping through a dozen of the things to find what you want got old quick. So we bought an external drive large enough for our entire collection and more (because there's always more). And that's been a joy. Everything on one big drive. It won't last long (actually we just replaced it with one four times bigger), but while everything fits, we've really enjoyed it.

We found what we were looking for in 2001. The folder was named with the date and the slug "Roses." We'd looked at all the "Roses" and "Garden" and "Spring" folders we had. We really should index all these things in one or another asset manager now that they're on a drive of their own. It's just that our loyalties are constantly shifting just as the technology is constantly evolving. From Shoe Box to Cumulus to Portfolio to iView MediaPro to Lightroom and maybe Aperture, too. We can't commit to any particular product. Same problem with cameras.

Green fence, did we say? Nope, we were thinking of the wrong rose bush. This was a rose from the old place. There had been two. A real antique that bloomed like crazy all summer, pink roses and wild, twisted branches, a hardy thing, neglected for years. We learned to cut it back in January and water it and deadhead it and it had responded. So we thought we'd try that on the sad, scrawny red rose stalk on the other side of the garden, stuck in the shade. It had been a much later planting, probably a gift to the landlady. And had never really bloomed. Two or three years spent soaking up the sun and just growing leaves with a half hearted attempt at a bud once in a while.

But a little attention and it started to perk up. Our photo has some half dozen blooms in it. It always reminded us what a little affection (and the right nutrition) can do.

We pulled up the photo, made absolutely no enhancements and printed it on a Canon MP950 with Canon Photo Glossy. Wow.

Had to laugh, though. Some people have to prune and fertilize and take care of leaf mold and get the aphids out to grow a rose. All we had to do was, well, reprint it.

But we'd paid our dues. And the memory was making us maudlin again, man.

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RE: Scanners

Your article on what's new in scanners was interesting. Price and a release date were given for M1 right up front but nothing for the V700. What is the expected price and availability?

-- chuck j

(Good point, Chuck. The omission was simply because it's already shipping (for about $530 from Amazon). -- Editor)

RE: Take It From the Top

Just purchased the new PowerShot Canon G7 (has only JPEG file format but I can live with it). I have 40 years experience in photography mostly analog (last 3 years digital with a Sony) as well underwater photography with Nikon gear. Now that I am progressing into digital the only problem I face is the software. Photoshop for beginners like me in digital progressing can be quite overwhelming.

Therefore I ask your opinion on:

  1. What software is suitable?

  2. Is there a book for Beginners which is easy to understand?

  3. Color management easy guide book?

  4. Management system (meaning to find quick and easy your images, old and new)?

I am in the process of scanning over 5,000 color negatives to my computer.

-- Roland Lickert

(We appreciate how overwhelming this can be, Roland. Your questions alone are overwhelming to us <g>. You'll find the Archive of the newsletter (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html) a big help, particularly the Beginners column and the Software reviews. You may even have time to read all of them while you scan those 5,000 negs! Meanwhile, try out Adobe Lightroom. The free beta is constantly evolving into a comprehensive but comfortable workflow tool for many photographers. In the past, we've suggested Adobe Elements for its tutorials, so if Lightroom is too much, try that. It's often bundled with hardware products. As for books, we very much like Peter iNova's eBooks (see the Deal above), tailored to specific cameras but including a lot of excellent basic information. Color management isn't simple, but the current classic text is Fraser, Murphy and Bunting's "Real World Color Management" (reviewed in the Book Bag column). Eddie Tapp has a new Studio Series title just out as well. And while we haven't reviewed Tim gray's "Color Confidence," we do admire it. The best book on digital asset management is Peter Krogh's "The DAM Book" (also reviewed in the Book Bag column). Lightroom can help here, too. Our previous tool of choice has been iView MediaPro, but the special functions of catalog programs are being swallowed whole by workflow solutions like Lightroom and Apple's Aperture. That should get you started, anyway <g>. -- Editor)

RE: Argus!

It was like meeting an old friend to see your notes on the old Argus C-2 camera. The one I remember was also $15. Something you did not mention was the ability to use the camera as an enlarger in the darkroom when mounted on a stand. I don't remember whether Argus sold the stand or not. The light source was an incandescent bulb!

-- Doug Laidlaw

(Ingenious! And don't think we aren't tempted to try it out as soon as the bathroom is free. -- Editor)

RE: Finding Manuals

Is it possible to get a new Manual for Toshiba digital camera PDR-2300?

-- William Kriegbaum

(Sure. The long answer for questions like this is to visit our Drivers Page (http://imaging-resource.com/ARTS/DRV/DRV.HTM) where you can get to the manufacturer's support site and dig for the manual (http://www.toshiba.com/taisisd/isd_svc/svcdsc/dscpdf.shtml). -- Editor)

RE: White Balance

I took a series of 150 photos at an outdoor car show (bright sunshine, clear day, 12 percent relative humidity) with the white balance on my Sony DSC-W7 set for fluorescent lighting. What's the best way to correct the color in the photos?

I own Paint Shop Pro 8 and Adobe Elements 3.0 although I am not professional with either.

-- Jay T. Jones

(Either Paint Shop Pro or Elements can do this for you, Jay. Elements makes it very easy. Try Enhance, Adjust Color, Remove Color Cast, using the eyedropper to click on a part of the image that should be either white, black or gray (colorless). By analyzing the color casts of the neutral area you clicked, the program can shift the color balance toward neutral. Compare those results to using the histogram method in Paint Shop Pro, where you adjust the black and white points of each channel (the Red, Green and Blue channels) of each image to restore the color balance. Some programs offer an even easier way using the Levels command and a gray eyedropper you use to click on a white, black or gray area of the image. -- Editor)

Thank you Mike; I am using "Elements" as you suggested and to my tired old eye there has been a vast improvement in the photos. I will at least share some of them with a car buff at work. Thank you guys for a great newsletter and the response to my email.

-- Jay

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Editor's Notes

O'Reilly Media (http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com) has announced the winners of its Photoshop Cook-Off Contest. Grand Prize Winner Suzanne Pitts and 10 additional winners in five categories were selected from hundreds of submissions created by Photoshop aficionados who "cooked" their digital entries using "recipes" from any of five O'Reilly Cookbooks.


Apple (http://www.apple.com) has updated Aperture to version 1.5.1 to address "numerous issues related to overall reliability and performance in all areas of the application."


Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has updated its Camera Raw plug-in for Adobe Photoshop CS2 and DNG Converter to version 3.6, extending Raw file support to 13 additional camera models including the Canon EOS 400D (Rebel XTi/EOS Kiss Digital X), Fuji FinePix S6000fd, Fuji FinePix S9100/9600, Leica D-LUX 3, Leica Digilux 3, Leica V-LUX 1, Nikon D80, Olympus E400, Olympus SP-510 UZ, Panasonic DMC-LX2, Pentax K100D, Pentax K110D and Samsung GX-1L.


Rune Lindman Development (http://www.qpict.net) has released QPict 7.0 [M], "the biggest update in the history of QPict," according to the company. Version 7.0 is a Universal Binary with several new features including a metadata organizer, source list, integrated toolbar search, extended support for Raw files, support for more media file formats, 16-bit Raw image processing, automatic detection of corrupt media files and more.


DxO Labs (http://www.dxo.com) has updated DxO Optics Pro v4 to support the recently released Nikon D80 and the Canon EOS 400D (also known as the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi) Digital SLR camera bodies. DxO Optics Pro v4 is the award-winning digital image enhancement tool incorporating revolutionary optics, geometry, noise, exposure and color corrections in an easy-to-use, feature rich application. Support for the new cameras is provided in both the 'Standard' and 'Elite' versions of DxO Optics Pro v4. DxO Optics Pro v4 for Windows is available immediately from http://www.dxo.com and selected resellers. The Macintosh (Universal Binary) version is slated for late November.


Jeff Rogers (http://www.JeffRogers.com/kentuckywide) has published Kentucky Wide, a gorgeous book of panorama images. "Even though I have been shooting digital, professionally since 1995," Jeff writes, "all of the images were created with dedicated panoramic film cameras ranging from a V-Pan 617, Noblex 120 and Hassy Xpan."


Congratulations to LaserSoft Imagining (http://www.silverfast.com), the creators of SilverFast scanning software, on its twentieth anniversary! (They're having an anniversary sale, BTW.)


Image Trends (http://www.ImageTrendsInc.com) has released its $29.95 Fisheye-Hemi plug-in, which "renders an aesthetically pleasing and natural view of people," correcting the extreme distortion common with fish-eye optics.


Kepmad Systems (http://www.kepmad.com) has released its $19 ImageBuddy v3.5.0 [M], adding Universal Binary support and new Crop and Scale controls for Page Layouts. ImageBuddy offers Drag & Drop from iPhoto, greatly extending the limited printing capabilities of iPhoto.


Zykloid (http://zykloid.com) has released Posterino 1.0b6 [M], a photo composition application for creating specialty output from iPhoto pictures. The beta release expands the online help with new chapters on image placement and layout options, fixes an image distortion issue and more.


Andrew Darlow has published a resolution chart "which I've found is very helpful for people who want to learn about file sizes." Andrew, who publishes The Imaging Buffet (http://imagingbuffet.com), graciously agreed to share the link with our readers (http://www.andrewdarlow.com/Resolution_Chart_Darlow.pdf). The chart is documented at http://imagingbuffet.com/?p=112>http://imagingbuffet.com/?p=112.

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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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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:

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Happy snapping!

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

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