|Volume 8, Number 25||8 December 2006|
Welcome to the 190th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Surprisingly, we often get email offering to pay for a subscription to this publication. So we've made it easy to help support us with three new shopping options that credit us when you visit PriceGrabber and shop at B&H Photo and Amazon (all white hats on the Web). After explaining that, Dave raves about Nikon's new compact but competent dSLR and we jump up and down with glee over Canon's Pro9000. Finally, we explain what curtain sync is all about just to keep you on your toes. Business as usual, you might say.
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 protected].
Imaging Resource delivers a wealth of, well, resources to help you learn about cameras, printers, scanners, software and accessories. But we also offer a few new buying resources, conveniently arranged on our revised Buy Now page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/buynow.htm), that provide you with good deals and us with the support we need to continue publishing the most comprehensive information on the Web.
When we discussed shopping on the Web in our Nov. 2, 2001 issue, it was a new phenomenon. Even though more people are more comfortable shopping on the Internet now, our caveats then about gray market goods, mandatory accessory packages and refurbished units sold as new still apply.
Of course, the best way to protect yourself against fraudulent business practices (which can happen anywhere), is to be informed. That's where we come in.
When you read one of our reviews, you'll notice a small orange box in the right corner just below the navigation tabs. That box -- not incidentally headlined "Shop Smart!" -- reports the lowest and average prices for the product as of 7 a.m. Eastern that day. It also provides a link to see all current prices at retailers listing with PriceGrabber. Clicking on any of those retailer links helps support Imaging Resource.
PriceGrabber's price comparisions cover a lot more than just cameras, printers and scanners. Anything you shop for using our PriceGrabber pages helps support the cause!
So when you shop for prices, shop from our reviews to support the site. You can also use the direct link (and bookmark it as your shopping link, too) to our PriceGrabber pages (http://ir.pricegrabber.com), which is conveniently listed on our new Buy Now page.
We've also just recently formed an affiliate relationship with B&H Photo. B&H has been serving imaging markets for over 30 years with competitive pricing and outstanding service before, during, and after the sale.
While the company's large inventory includes everything from cameras to home theater equipment, B&H knows "professional photographers are understandably the most demanding customer group we serve, and knowing that their repeat business would be essential to our success, we adopted the phrase 'The Professional's Source' to describe our business focus and use it as a promise we are dedicated to keeping."
Proof of that is that several of us at Imaging Resource (to our mutual surprise) have always used B&H for our photo gear and supplies.
Now, by visiting B&H through 1) the many links at our sister site SLRgear at http://www.slrgear.com 2) directly using this link (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/?BI=771&KBID=1047) or 3) from the direct link on our Buy Now page, you can help support our efforts.
Finally, you know we're the only guys out there who review books on cameras and software. Makes you wonder if anyone else can read! But our reviews (and book excerpts) now include links to Amazon for discount pricing and convenient ordering.
You'll find a number of titles in the Book Bag and Bookmark sections of the newsletter index (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-indx.html) now have an Amazon link. And our Grab Bag Gift Guide (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/GIFT/guide2006mrp.htm) book recommendations also have them.
But visiting Amazon from any one of our links helps -- no matter what you're shopping for. "Amazon is a great place to buy tools," Dave told us. "I've used them for a lot of stuff in my workshop." Not to mention CDs, DVDs and more.
EVERY CLICK HELPS
To make it easy to dive into your holiday shopping from our site and help support our efforts, we've revamped our Buy Now page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/buynow.htm) to include links to our new shopping resources, including a search form for Amazon.
Every click helps -- especially when you buy through B&H and Amazon -- but even when you're just researching prices. So take a moment to visit our Buy Now page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/buynow.htm) and bookmark it as your portal to Web shopping! Then start your holiday Web shopping -- or any shopping, no matter what you're shopping for -- right there every time! It would really help keep the lights on and fires burning here at Imaging Resource and SLRgear.com. Thanks for your support!
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/ND40/ND40A.HTM on the Web site.)
Nikon has always been known as a leader at the high end of the photo industry, but the words "inexpensive" and "Nikon dSLR" have never been close companions. That has all officially changed with the announcement of the new Nikon D40 dSLR. Announced at a price of just $599, bundled with an 18-55mm "kit" lens (the camera and lens will only be offered as a kit, the body and lens will not be sold separately in the U.S.), it's coming out of the box a full $300 cheaper than the Nikon D50, which was announced little more than a year and a half ago. If you've been sitting on the sidelines, waiting until you could afford a real Nikon dSLR, your time has come at last. While geared for the entry-level market the D40 packs enough features into its diminutive frame to keep serious enthusiasts interested as well. It's also the smallest and lightest Nikon dSLR to date, so the point-and-shoot photographer looking to move up to a real SLR can do so without having to put up with the heft and bulk the genre usually dictates.
We've managed to get our hands on a production model and will post full test images and analysis on the site by the middle of next week. A full set of test images are available on the site now, via the thumbnail index page. Here we'll discuss the D40's full range of features and capabilities. We think you'll agree it's an impressive offering, particularly at its price point.
Before we delve into the D40 in detail though, let's take a quick look at its basic characteristics:
- ~70 percent of D80 feature set, but smaller, lighter, cheaper, with simpler user interface
- 6MP sensor (Same as D50, down from 10MP in D80)
- 3-area Autofocus system (Down from 11 in D80, 5 in the D50)
- No auto-area AF mode as on D80
- No focus motor, so AF-S lenses only (No old lenses: No big deal for new photographers, but important limitation for enthusiasts. Also obviates buying old lenses on eBay for cheap. Makes sense for a new camera going forward, cuts out size, power drain and cost.)
- No DOF (Depth of Field) preview as on D80 (D50 didn't have this either)
- DOES have a programmable Fn button, moved to the left side of the lens mount
- New "i" button activates help system in most modes
- User interface, has Classic, Graphic and "Wallpaper" display modes
- No focus-mode switch on camera body, use menu option (Custom Setting menu option 02) or lens-mounted manual/auto switches
- Big 2.5," 230,000 pixel LCD display
- Flash uses Nikon's excellent i-TTL exposure system, but has no Commander mode for use with Nikon's wireless lighting system. (Can use the SB-800 external flash in commander mode though.)
- Small! -- Almost 1 cm less in width and height, 7mm smaller in width than D50
- Light! -- 145 grams less than D50 without battery. (And smaller battery in the D40 to boot)
- Simpler user interface system, fewer external buttons, all-new shooting status display with sub-menus for common settings.
- Expanded help system, with "image assist" to aid understanding
- Full Optimize Image menu, as on D80
- 2.5 fps continuous speed (Same as D50)
- Shutter speeds from 30 to 1/4000 second (Same as D50)
- Flash sync of 1/500 (Same as D50)
- Gated CCD exposure control, vs. true shutter (Same as D50)
- Standard Scene modes plus new "Flash Defeat" option that enables auto ISO up to 1,600 and "Child" mode. (Drops Night Landscape mode from the D50 though)
- ISO range from 100-1,600, plus "Hi" setting for 3,200. (D50 didn't have Hi option, D80 does)
- 420-segment Color Matrix Metering sensor, same as D80, D50
- JPEG or NEF file formats
- Raw+JPEG mode only provides Basic-quality JPEGs
- Black & White shooting mode doesn't have color-filter options of D80
- List price of only $599 with 18-55mm f3.5-5.6-GB II lens
WHO IT'S FOR
Before getting into the details of the camera, it might also be good to talk a bit about the market it's aimed at. Filling out the bottom of their line of dSLRs, the Nikon D40 is clearly targeted at the new SLR user. This is important, because the huge influx of new users is accounting for a large part of the overall SLR marketplace these days. While there are clearly a lot of "enthusiast" shooters looking for SLRs to fit their budgets, a huge number of former point & shoot users are discovering that most any dSLR in Auto mode makes a heck of a lot better point & shoot camera than even high-end ($350-500) consumer digicams.
While it's always possible to take even a professional SLR and run it in "Green" mode (and thereby safely ignore 98 percent of its controls), it's important for an entry-level dSLR to present a friendly face to the user. It's also key for a novice's camera to have good Scene modes, to help with difficult subjects and lighting. Finally, a small form factor and hand grip that's comfortable for a wide range of hand sizes will help the camera appeal to multiple segments of the emerging market, particularly women (who, here in the U.S. at least, are the long-standing "Chief Memory Officers" of most families).
The Nikon D40 succeeds admirably on all these fronts and makes for a very complete dSLR lineup for Nikon. With an unheard-of low price for a Nikon dSLR and a feature set that's both rich and novice-friendly, the D40 makes a great entry point for someone to enter the world of Nikon photography. At a noticeably higher price, the D80 adds a load of features, making it a near-ideal dSLR for the photo enthusiast. Finally, taking another moderate price step, the D200 is a no-excuses professional model, that also works particularly well with legacy Nikkor lenses. The overall result is an unusually broad and well-structured product line, with something for everyone and a logical price/feature correlation as you move up the line.
Pixel counters may turn up their noses at the D40's 6-megapixel resolution, but the fact is that 6 megapixels is more than enough to make excellent 13x19 inch prints, larger than most novices will care about and enough to satisfy even enthusiasts on budgets. This is a camera that will more than meet the needs of 80 percent of the dSLR marketplace and continue to do so for some time to come.
By the same token though, the D40 in no way imperils the D80's position in the market. The D80 adds a lot of features that many enthusiasts will demand or at least drool over and its 10-Mp resolution is a noticeable step up from 6 megapixels for shooters who want to crop their images heavily before printing.
Positioned against other entry-level dSLRs, the Nikon D40 has a lot to offer. Here's a quick bullet list of some of its winning features:
- Compact & Light, about as small as anything else out there
- Great user interface, very inviting for newbies
- Very respectable specs across the board
- Very strong feature set for an entry-level model
- Unusually powerful in-camera image editing & adjustment
- Plenty of flexibility to keep even advanced users happy
- A great entry into the world of Nikon photography
- A great price point
THE NIKON D80
With all it has going for it, a natural question might be what the D80 has that the D40 doesn't. The answer is a lot. Here's a list of some key D80 features not found on the Nikon D40:
- 10-Mp resolution (bigger prints, with more cropping)
- 3 frames/second continuous mode, vs. 2.5
- A true pentaprism viewfinder, vs. pentamirror in the D40
- Higher viewfinder magnification (a larger, brighter viewfinder overall)
- Wider diopter adjustment on viewfinder eyepiece
- Exposure entirely via an electromechanical shutter (no streaking from over-bright highlights)
- Much superior/flexible AF system, with 11 AF points vs. 3 in the D40
- Compatible with older, non AF-S autofocus lenses
- Camera can control remote flash units itself, using Nikon's Wireless Lighting system
- Much more capable, higher-quality lens
- Depth of Field preview
- Auto exposure and white balance bracketing
- Exposure adjustable in 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps
- Kelvin white balance option
- Variable size area for center-weighted metering
- AF points highlight in viewfinder, plus has an optional alignment grid
- Sophisticated color filtration available in black/white mode
- Separate RGB histograms for better exposure visualization (D40 does show an RGB histogram via its Retouch menu though)
- Exposure delay mode for steadier tripod shots in low light
- Works with FP-capable external flashes for flash use at very high shutter speeds
- FV (flash exposure) lock option for AE-L button
- Repeating flash mode
- A second command dial and a few more buttons for faster adjustments
- Raw+JPEG mode allows high-quality JPEG, not just Basic
The first thing that strikes you about the Nikon D40 is just how small it is. The D50 that preceded it (and which the D40 will eventually replace) was far from a large camera, but when posed next to it, the D40 is significantly smaller. Despite its small size, I was surprised to find its grip as comfortable as it was (and Shawn was postiively ecstatic over the camera's feel and handling). It definitely required a different grip than the D50 or D80, with my middle and ring fingers slanted down more parallel to the body, rather than curling around the handgrip and my pinkie finger curled under the bottom of the camera, but my fingers nonetheless didn't feel too cramped. My initial perceptions held up well as I spent more time with it. At first contact though, it was much more comfortable than I found the original Canon Rebel XT to be and it would clearly be easy for a woman or others with smaller hands to hold and operate. In terms of physical size, it fills almost exactly the same space as Canon's Rebel XTi.
The second thing that struck me about the D40 was that it clearly feels like a camera and a Nikon camera at that. It doesn't have quite as many external controls as its big brothers, the D80 and D200, but the user interface and its feel in your hand are both very comfortable. While it's aimed at novice users, it in no way comes across as a "dumbed down" camera. The D40 is clearly all Nikon, its heritage apparent throughout.
The body itself has a very nice feel to it. As you'd expect in a low-priced camera, it's largely made of plastic, but nonetheless manages to escape the cheap, plasticky feeling of many plastic-bodied dSLRs I've handled in the past. Its huge 2.5 inch display is very bright and readable: I didn't have a chance to play with it outdoors in the sun, but it appears to be the same display as used on the D80, which is quite good. In even bright indoor lighting though, it's very readable.
From a style standpoint though, a really killer combination is the D40 with the new SB-400 flash unit on top. Very sleek looking, very petite, very easy to hold. The flash is small enough that it doesn't unbalance the camera to nearly the extent typical accessory flashes do and it gives you about twice the range of the built-in unit, plus its rotating head lets you bounce the flash off the ceiling.
The short story of our preliminary Test Results is that the camera does unusually well at high ISO settings, most consumers would likely find its ISO 3200 shots acceptable at 5x7 inches, possibly 8x10. The kit lens isn't fantastic wide open, but isn't appreciably worse than most kit lenses and does a decent job when stopped down. Shutter response and cycle times are both pretty good, as is battery life, despite a smaller battery than that in the D80.
Color balance outdoors is good, indoors it struggles in Auto WB mode, does reasonably well in Incandescent (under that light source, of course) and very well (almost too neutral) in Manual WB mode. Exposure accuracy is pretty good/typical.
One notable negative about the D40 is that its rear-panel graphical display is rather slow to update, lagging behind the Command Dial when you're flipping through aperture/shutter speed settings rapidly. The internal display in the optical VF doesn't lag though.
We're just in the process of conducting our final image analysis of test shots made with a production-level D40. We'll have full results on the site by next week, but thus far, it's safe to say we're greatly impressed. Color and tonality are very good to excellent, resolution is good for a 6-megapixel camera, and high-ISO performance in particular is exceptional.
All other elements of the camera point to the D40 being a real winner as well. Its small size (yet with a comfortable grip) combined with strong capabilities and loads of novice-friendly features make this a camera destined for greatness. It also establishes a new benchmark price for entry into the world of Nikon (digital) photography. This looks to be simultaneously a nearly perfect camera for a photo student, a soccer mom or an enthusiast on a budget.
Stay tuned for our full analysis next week, but we think this is going to be one the hottest cameras on the market this holiday season!
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/CP9K/CP9KA.HTM on the Web site.)
It took two printers to replace Canon's beloved i9900, the 13x19-inch printer whose lifespan extended well into the PIXMA era. But Canon's two new PIXMA 13x19 printers carry the torch well.
The Pro9000, shipping since October, is an 8-color dye-based inkjet while the Pro9500, due in 2007, is a 10-color pigment-based inkjet (with a second black and green-yellow cartridge). Both enjoy the same 4800x2400-dpi FINE print head technology that made the i9900 such a fast printer, although the Pro9500 has a three picoliter droplet size rather than the two picoliter of the Pro9000. And, of course, different inks are used from the i9900 -- and each other.
This review is based on the test unit Canon shipped, which was not a production unit, but was packaged much as if it were.
In addition to its 8-color ink system using ChromaLife100 dye-based inks (http://www.canon.com/technology/canon_tech/explanation/chromalife.html), the $499 Pro9000 has a large print head for very fast printing. The feature list includes:
- Maximum 4800x2400 dpi FINE print head technology
- Photo lab quality 11x14 color photo in about 1 minute 23 seconds
- Two separate paper paths, including front feeder for heavyweight paper types
- Easy-PhotoPrint Pro (with Photoshop plug-in)
- New printer driver with advanced color controls
- Eight-ink ChromaLife100 system
- Supports fine art papers of various weights including PCM Deep PV "hakou" papers, Arches Pure White Soft 240g/m2 papers, Canson Mi-Teintes and Canvas papers and Hahnemule Torchon, Photo Rag 308g/m2, and William Turner 310g/m2 papers
- Rollers on the back end for easy printer placement
- USB 2.0 Hi-Speed connection (compatible with USB 1.1 ports, too)
- PictBridge connection
The Pro9000 is much larger than its predecessor, the i9900. It's also a squared off design, attractive in its own right. The front tray can be opened to catch the printer's output. But it can also be pulled up at a 45-degree angle and reseated a bit higher to feed thick stock into the printer.
When you set it to be a feeder, you also open the back of the printer and release two plastic wings that extend out the back door to support 13x19 sheets. This gives you a straight-through paper path for thick media.
Like other front-feeding designs, you have to manually slip a single sheet of paper into the printer and line it up with a silk-screened target. We find that a little too analog, but it works fine in practice. The trouble is that the path can't be obstructed by any physical guides because you are only placing the paper where the printer will load it before printing and ejecting it.
On the Pro9000, you also have to tell the printer you are loading paper by pressing the feed button, waiting until the printer grinds away for a few seconds and flashes its power light to tell you it's OK to slip the sheet in. When you've done that, you press the feed button again to start printing. And you'd be wise not to do this until the driver asks you to. Otherwise, you'll get an error about paper size.
On the bottom of the printer along the back edge are two wheels that spin freely when the printer is flat. Lift the front of the printer and you can roll it into place or just forward a bit to make a little more room for the front feed option. Very nice touch. On a printer this big, it's nothing short of an anti-hernia device.
The USB connection is indeed 2.0 Hi-Speed but around here that doesn't quite make up for the inconvenience of connecting yet another USB device. The i9900 offered both USB and FireWire and we miss the FireWire if only because it's a much less trafficked interface than USB. An Ethernet option would let you take advantage of that free Ethernet port on the wireless router you use to share your Internet service.
There's no LCD screen (PictBridge operations are controlled through the camera's LCD) and no card reader. The reason you buy this guy is for the 13x19 prints.
INK, PAPER & ARCHIVAL PRINTS
With this generation of 13x19 printers, Canon gives you a choice between its ChromaLife100 dye-based ink system in the Pro9000 and the new Lucia pigment-based system in the Pro9500. We haven't tested the Pro9500 but we've had the pigment-based HP B9180 here for a while. The comparison is interesting.
While Wilhelm Research (http://www.wilhelm-research.com/hp/PhotosmartProB9180.html) touts a print permanence rating over 230 years for the HP on HP's Advanced Photo Paper Glossy, results for both the ChromaLife dyes and Lucia pigments are only preliminary. But Wilhelm reports, "A review of preliminary test data indicates that prints made with the Lucia pigmented inks and select Canon photo and fine art papers printed with the Pro9500 will have WIR Display Permanence Ratings in excess of 100 years for color images and significantly beyond that for monochrome images."
Considering that traditional chromogenic (color-coupled dye) color prints have a life expectancy of 22 years for Kodak Ektacolor Edge 8 paper and 60 years for Fujicolor's Crystal Archive paper, both multilayer gelatin-coated RC sheets, any of these big inkjets exceeds expectations in the art market.
And for the rest of us, the question boils down to just how long you expect to live. At 100 years, you're making lifetime color prints, assuming you store and display them properly.
So the old dye vs. pigment debate would seem to be less compelling than it was just a year ago, say. We're free to return to the real issue: the print.
And here the question of which paper to print on threatens to resurrect the old debate. Epson, as far back as its P2000, supported all sorts of papers, but that's the anomaly. To get good results from a dye-based inkjet, you had to print on a swellable glossy sheet that encapsulates the dyes in the paper surface.
Part of what may be taking Wilhelm a while to evaluate the new generation Canons is that they support more papers. You can now print on Fine Art sheets that offer Museum Etching, Photo Rag, Premium Matte and Semi-gloss surfaces. Only the last of those resembles the smooth coated surface of a glossy sheet. The others have rough to smooth uncoated surfaces that cry out for black and white prints but show a vibrancy with color images that surprised us.
GETTING TO WORK
We printed a number of images on the Pro9000 but several were especially instructive.
We wouldn't recommend the Pro9000 as a black and white printer with the Pro9500 in the wings featuring two black inks, the HP B9180 offering three and Epson long the leader in the field with even more blacks via third-party solutions. If you want to print black and white, it's worth outfitting a printer to do just that.
But you may want the occasional black and white, so we wondered how the Pro9000 would do. We scanned an ancient 35mm image shot under overcast skies, a fairly high-key image without a lot of deep blacks but detail in the shadows. We have a 16x20 silver halide print of this image and wondered if we could duplicate what we did in the darkroom.
We had a very large scan, plenty of detail, and printed it with and without the Grayscale option checked on Canon's premium matte uncoated but smooth paper (which must be fed through the front). Without the option, the image printed using all the inks to render black and white image very quickly but with a slight warm color cast. With grayscale checked, the printer used only the black cartridge, printing much more slowly but with no noticeably cast. Detail was superb. With sharpening, we even surpassed the silver halide print. Only under a 10x loupe were we able to detect the droplets and, frankly, they were finer than the grain on our 16x20 print.
We missed the richness of a multiple-black printer, but the results were more than serviceable compared to the original print.
Next we considered a vibrant orange sunset with blue sky above the cloud cover with a very dark foreground, almost a silhouette of trees. We had a print of this from the pigment-based HP B9180 that we liked very much, although we felt the orange was a good deal less vibrant than it might have been.
We were right. With dye-based inks, the orange was vivid again. But to our surprise the black foreground was much deeper, too. The Canon far surpassed the HP for this particular image. And the HP was printed on glossy paper, which should have flattered its dynamic range.
Finally we compared semi-gloss to photo rag with a shot of three yellow and orange dahlia flowers dancing across a 16:9 image. It seemed an odd aspect ratio for a 13x19 sheet, but printing it with a wide border (1-3/8 and 1/3/4 inches) only made it seem intentional. You can do 16:9 very well that way on 13x19 paper.
We printed from Photoshop with application-managed color (the Canon driver didn't do any color conversion) using the profiles for the two Canon papers we tried: the semi-gloss and photo rag (with a slightly uneven surface). Uncoated sheets soak up a lot more ink than glossy sheets, but we wondered what advantage they offered in color printing. We prefer them for black and white printing, but color?
We expected to see the inks absorbed by the photo rag paper, delivering a slightly higher-key image. No dark color as dark, the highlights brighter. But the effect was hardly noticeable. The two images side by side two days later looked identical, except the photo rag sheet had no sheen. Studying it carefully from an angle, we could detect a slightly less dense black but highlights were just as brilliant.
Canon's new PIXMA Pro9000 dye-based inkjet had a tough act to follow in the i9900. But it brings down the house with vibrant color, fast printing and versatile media handling that challenges not just the i9900 but pigment-based 13x19 printers. We miss the FireWire option of the i9900 but once again enjoyed a straightforward installation process. We also missed the compact footprint (in comparison) of the i9900, but that's the trend in 13x19s (the HP B9180 is much larger). At least the Pro9000 has wheels to make it easy to balance its weight and move it around.
But the biggest drawback to the Pro9000 is image quality. Looking at these gorgeous 13x19s we know we're just going to spend a small fortune at the frame shop and, right after bringing them home, be calling our real estate agent to see if there are any small mansions with a lot of wall space going for a song -- or a set of prints. That's probably all it would take!
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:
- Previewed: Olympus Stylus 740 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/OS740/OS740A.HTM)
- Previewed: Nikon Coolpix S10 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CPS10/CPS10A.HTM)
- Previewed: Fujifilm Finepix S6000fd (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S6000/S6000A.HTM)
- Previewed: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/TZ1/TZ1A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot SD900 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SD900/SD900A.HTM)
- Updated Review: Canon Digital Rebel XTi (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/XTI/XTIA.HTM)
- Previewed: Canon PowerShot A630 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A630/A630A.HTM)
You may be one of those lucky people with a flash sync option for either the front or rear curtain. If visions of the Emerald City come to mind when curtains are mentioned, we can help.
When you use flash to take a picture, shutter speed doesn't work quite the way it does when you don't use flash. Normally when you're using available light (and no flash), the lens aperture and the shutter speed directly control exposure. Change the shutter speed and you've changed the exposure. You've either increased or decreased the amount of light getting to the sensor.
With the flash firing, the shutter isn't quite as effective. You're firing the flash because not enough light gets to the sensor without it. You might even be able to leave that shutter open for a while without ever capturing an image. In flash photography, the exposure is actually made by the speed of the flash itself, not the time the shutter is open.
The flash is quick, lighting your subject for just a fraction of the time the shutter is open. With through-the-lens flash metering, the camera actually tells the flash when to turn off, rather than trying to close the shutter. The flash is in control. In fact firing the flash multiple times when the shutter is open and your subject in motion captures a stroboscopic effect of multiple exposures.
Some cameras let you decide whether the flash should fire when the shutter first opens and just before it closes. If it were called this Immediate or Delayed flash, you'd get the idea. But it's called Front or Rear Curtain Sync. Let's explain.
The shutter on a dSLR is in front of the sensor. It has two curtains, one in front and one behind the one in front. Nothing mysterious there. You need two curtains so the closing movement can follow the opening movement. If you only had one curtain and it worked like that big red one in the theater, it would let more light in at the bottom than at the top. Not good. So you have a front curtain that opens first and a rear curtain that closes, following the front curtain after the sensor has been exposed for the chosen time.
During that window when the sensor is exposed to light, the flash fires. In most cameras it fires when the front curtain completes its trip, exposing the sensor and before the rear curtains starts to move. Immediate flash. That freezes motion, just what you expect a flash exposure to do.
But sometimes you have either ambient light or a slow shutter sync and front curtain sync has a strange side effect. Since the flash fires first, it captures the subject -- say a car rolling across the scene with its headlights on -- first and then the ambient light. So your car has streaks of light in front of its headlights, as if it's traveling backwards.
The solution is to use rear curtain sync. Capture the ambient light first and then fire the flash to capture the car. Then you'll see the tail lights streaking behind the car, as you expect. It gives the effect of a motion blur.
Think of it as Immediate or Delayed flash and you'll know just what to do in either situation.
Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:
Read about The Great Battery Shootout Article at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee89ea5
Visit the Olympus Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6f783
Lynda asks for help choosing a camera for wildlife photos at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eea432a/0
Cassandra asks about a polarized filter for a Sony camera at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eea421f/0
Visit the Printers Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6b2b8
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You can email us at [email protected]. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.
RE: Rain Gear
Enjoy your articles in the Newsletter. About covering cameras in the rain, just wanted to say that in Europe (where I live) the Kata company (http://www.kata-bags.com) sells a great system of rain covers for cameras small and large as well as all video equipment up to professional requirements. They also have a fantastic series of camera bags from mini slim compacts to full size studio equipment.
-- Edward(Thanks, Edward! -- Editor)
RE: Grab This!
In your Grab Bag Gift Guide, the Deluxe Gear Bag from Cabela's is listed as a Peter iNova favorite at $40. I just picked one up today and it is really a great bag and right now on sale for $19.95. Although I bought mine at the local store, it is also on sale at their Web site.
-- Steve McIlree(Thanks, Steve! We've updated the HTML page with the sale price. That's quite a deal for a big padded bag with zippers on every side but we'd love ours at any price. -- Editor)
RE: When to Buy
I've been saving money for many years and finally in February I'll be able to buy one of the two cameras I've been looking at. Is February a good time to buy or if I wait will I be able to get the newest and greatest model at a later date?
-- Bevan Biggs(Early in March there's a big photo show (PMA in Las Vegas) at which a number of new cameras are introduced. If have the latest and greatest is important to you, you might wait. But the way we look at it, every day you wait adds up to missed opportunities. You can take great pictures with the cameras that are available right now. So why wait? -- Editor)(Sometimes existing models drop sharply in price when new ones are announced. But other times they just disappear from the market before a replacement makes it out to stores. Mike's observation of missing shots while you're waiting could be the most important consideration. -- Dave)
RE: Card Me
I'm looking for a memory card for a Canon A630. I'd appreciate if you could let me know following:
Would a Kingston 512-MB SD memory card be compatible with that model. What's the difference between a Kingston Ultimate 512 SD Secure Digital card, a Kingston 512-MB SD memory card and an Elite super high speed digital memory card?
-- Smit(Smit, we always recommend getting the biggest, fastest card you can afford because the card will outlast the camera. See 'Buying a Bigger Card' in the Feb. 3 issue of the newsletter (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html). Faster cards like the Ultimate and Elite are often required for the higher video capture options, too. -- Editor)
What has NASA been drinking? Water on Mars? Decide for yourself (http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mgs/gallery/20061206a-gullies.html) if the gully on the wall of a crater in Terra Sirenum shows a change from its 2001 image in its 2005 image. Same sun angle, same season.
Fujifilm (http://www.fujifilmusa.com) has announced the its $1,999 FinePix S5 Pro, introduced at Photokina 2006, is scheduled to ship in February 2007. Features include expanded dynamic range from the Super CCD SR Pro sensor, the new RP Processor Pro with smoother tonality and an ISO equivalent of 3200, Face Detection Technology, excellent ergonomics with weatherproof seals, a robust shutter mechanism tested to exceed 100,000 cycles, and advancements to the Film Simulation Mode with the addition of three new settings for varying skin tones.
LaserSoft (http://www.silverfast.com) has released SilverFast 6.5 [MW] with improvements to the interface, NegaFix and more.
Scoopt (http://www.scoopt.com), which licenses amateur content to mainstream media and emerging markets, is inviting Flickr members to tag their images with keyword "scoopt" to mark them for sale. Sales revenue is split 50/50 between Scoopt and the photographer, but the photographer keeps full copyright.
Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com) has announced it will fold iView MediaPro into its Expression Studio [MW] suite of tools for professional designers as Expression Media. The company expects the suite to ship in the second quarter of 2007. The entry-level iView Media will continue to be available separately.
Iridient Digital (http://www.iridientdigital.com) has released Raw Developer 1.6.1 [M] to fix a bug that can reduce image quality. The free update also includes support for the Nikon D40, Pentax K10D and Samsung GX-10 models and improves the camera default settings for the Canon 1Ds.
ITEM: Peter iNova (http://www.digitalsecrets.net) is promising holiday delivery for his latest eBook on the Nikon D80. Pretty quick work after just releasing his Nikon D200 eBook! See the Deals section for a link to our discount page.
Michael Johnston's The Online Photographer celebrated its first anniversary recently. The site is a photography news and opinion Web site in blog format that is updated daily.
Rocky Nook publishes Mastering Landscape Photography: The Luminous Landscape Essays, 13 essays on landscape photography by master photographer Alain Briot for $39.95 or via our discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952067/?tag=theimagingres-20).
Rocky Nook has also published Color Management in Digital Photography: Ten Easy Steps to True Colors in Photoshop by Brad Hinkel, who provides enough information to create a simple and effective system allowing the user to get on with photography, to focus on creativity instead of technology. Available at $29.95 or via our discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952024/?tag=theimagingres-20).
Kubota Image Tools (http://www.KubotaImageTools.com) has released of a third set of Artistic Tools with 50 new color enhancing, enriching and beautifying actions for Photoshop CS at $99.
Arthur Bleich (http://www.dpcorner.com/cruise) reports that several openings remain for the dSLR Photography and Imaging Workshop Cruise that sails to Central America from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. on March 8-16, 2007. The $1,995 cruise, seventh in a series, teaches dSLR techniques, Photoshop and printing with professional instructors and includes over $1,000 in gifts from participating sponsors. No equipment required.
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Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com
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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