|Volume 9, Number 1||5 January 2007|
Welcome to the 192nd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Wondering how to share that new printer or the old with with some new gear? We show you a couple of ways. Then Shawn considers the G7, weighing on the meaning of its missing features as the market shifts toward dSLRs. Finally, we have a moment of clarity despite a head cold at the top of hill. Let the year begin!
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We call our little friends personal computers instead of microcomputers because that's exactly what they are. With more of our photos, music and video stuffed onto their hard disks and remembering every email we sent or received (not to mention tracking every Web site we've visited), what could be more personal?
Printers, however, were meant to be shared. Ignore an inkjet for a couple of weeks and it pouts. Keep a laser printer warm and you won't need heating oil.
So the inevitable question is: How can you share your printers among a few personal computers?
There are two basic approaches to sharing a printer. Which you use depends on 1) what the printer supports and 2) on whether you have a network.
Some printers include an Ethernet port that makes it easy to share them on a network. Just plug one of these guys into a router, install its current printer driver on each computer that will print to it and you're done. They're network ready.
But most printers today only offer a USB port. Fortunately, Mac OS X and Windows XP both know how to share a USB printer. Just plug the printer into a computer, install the driver, enable sharing for that printer, install the driver on any other computer networked to that computer and add the printer to the list of available devices.
Sharing a USB printer connected to a computer isn't always that simple, however. The good news is you can easily revert to the network option, either by using a router with a USB printer port (like Apple's Airport Express) or adding a USB print server to your network.
AT THE BUNKER
Down here in our bunker, we share several printers between Mac and Windows systems both ways.
We network any printer (including review units and USB printers) that we can. It's just simpler than firing up two computers and a printer to get a sheet of paper printed. And it always works. So we have:
We also have a few non-networked printers (one USB, one FireWire) just to cover the bases down here. Our all-in-one devices are also non-networked. They require a good deal of two-way communication best done directly (and from the same chair).
- A 4x6 dye sub USB printer attached to an Apple Airport Express that talks wirelessly to our WiFi router
- A 4x5 dye sub wireless EasyShare printer dock talking to our WiFi router
- Two HP printers (a LaserJet 4MP and DeskJet 870C) connected via their AppleTalk ports to an antique Dayna EtherPrint box that connects to our Asante Ethernet hub (which is wired to the WiFi router)
- And, when necessary, we connect a USB printer to one of the computers on the network and enable USB sharing.
THE PROBLEM FACTORY
With that assortment of options, we've managed to encounter (even invite) most problems.
Take that DeskJet, for example. A four page per minute printer with 512K RAM using four inks at 600x600 dpi, it was our first photo printer in the 1990s. With the LaserJet, it was the first printer we shared, too. It started life on an AppleTalk network, shared between two Macs. But it was easy enough later to connect its AppleTalk port to the Dayna and the Dayna to our Ethernet hub so every computer on the network could see it.
Then along came OS X and, fortunately with it, the Common UNIX Printing System (http://www.cups.org/). By the time Apple had reinvented itself, HP had given up on the 870C, providing no OS X driver for it. We think of it fondly as one of the earliest obsolete photo printers.
CUPS, however, provides a collection of drivers to print to thousands of printers. Sure enough, the 870C is among them. It took us a while to find out how to tell CUPS where to find the 870C on the network, but we finally figured it out. We told CUPS via its HTML interface that the Device used AppleTalk Printer Access Protocol (pap) and its URI was (drum roll) pap://*/Louis/DeskWriter (not DeskJet). We found that juicy tidbit by popping into Terminal to run the Unix command line interface and ask the system what's on the AppleTalk network using the "atlookup" command. Where there's a will, there's a Unix command.
Ah, but that was 2002. Since then, the WiFi network has blossomed, especially at home, where the urge to share a broadband Internet connection like cable or DSL has spurred the adoption of home networks. Some routers designed to share a broadband connection also include a USB hub to share a printer.
Among them is the Apple Airport Express (http://www.apple.com/airportexpress), an ingenious little box a bit larger than a power adapter that also includes Wireless G connectivity. The Express is targeted at iTunes users who want to play their music anywhere in the house, but the USB port makes it possible to print anywhere, too. More importantly, it makes it possible to share a USB printer.
The catch is that it connects to your computer wirelessly, breaking the two-way communication the USB protocol provides and that printer utilities rely on to report ink cartridge levels and do maintenance. To maintain that capability, you have to wire the connection.
Apple's switch to the Intel platform has raised a whole new class of issues with printer sharing. As Epson puts it, "When you are sharing a printer between a Power PC and Intel Core processor, you will not have all the driver functionality. This is not a limitation of the printer driver, but is a result of sharing across a mixed processor platform. Whether or not a newer printer driver is available will not resolve your issue."
We suspect this has something to do with the byte order of the binary data sent to the printer. Intel byte order is little endian. Motorola's PPC, naturally, is big endian, the opposite. In the little endian scheme, the least significant byte value is at the lowest memory address. In big endian, the most significant byte is at the lowest memory address. They're reversed, in short.
So if you send big endian binary data to a system that churns out little endian data to its printers, you aren't going to get what you saw. A driver isn't likely to know if it's writing to a shared printer, we surmise, so the solution to this problem is likely Leopard, the next version of OS X. Or just use a network setup.
Computers aren't the only things that want to get your printer's attention these days, though. Cameras are getting in on the act, too. Good thing they're better behaved. Thanks to PictBridge.
Cameras are generally cabled to a special PictBridge USB port on printers that are, like most cameras these days (including dSLRs), PictBridge compatible. The PictBridge protocol (which we detailed in our Jan. 7, 2005 issue) turns your camera into a print kiosk if not a computer, allowing you to at least print a single image and see error messages (but usually able to print multiple images, multiple copies and various sizes).
Some companies offer a $100 Wireless adapter that plugs into the PictBridge USB port of a printer (usually made by them) so their WiFi digicams can transmit images to the printer without a cable. Because these use the PictBridge protocol, they actually work on any printer with a PictBridge port. We've plugged a Canon, for example, into a Kodak dock and printed wirelessly to it with no restriction.
Whether you're running Windows or OS X, the rules for sharing a USB printer are the same.
There are some preliminaries:
OK, now we're ready for the hardware rules:
- Make sure you have the latest driver for your operating system. Amusingly enough, if you just bought the printer, your driver is probably out of date. Check the manufacturer's Web site for the latest. Check our Driver Project (http://imaging-resource.com/ARTS/DRV/DRV.HTM) if you don't know where to find that.
- Oddly enough, some printers also require the occasional firmware update. We wrote about updating a Kodak printer dock in our Sept. 1, 2006 issue, if you need a guiding hand. You'll usually be told about firmware updates when you download a new driver.
- Remember this isn't the latest driver, but the latest that matches your operating system. The match is important. If you're running different operating systems on various computers, that's not as big a deal as running different versions of the same operating system. Don't expect full functionality if you aren't up to date across the board, though.
And, finally, the software rules for USB Sharing:
- If you decide to share using the more efficient network setup, all you have to do is plug your printer into your network (not a computer). Any computer with the printer's driver installed will be able to print to it (after adding the printer to your available printer list).
- If you want to share the printer from a computer, connect it to that computer's USB port and continue with the software setup below. Note that this computer should be the fast one with lots of disk space for spool print files and that it must remain powered on (and not asleep either) for other computers to find the printer.
That's all there is to it.
- On the host Mac computer, open System Preferences, Print & Fax option, Share tab and enable the box next to printer after enabling the sharing option.
- On any Mac that wants to print to the shared printer, open the Printer dialog box. If you don't see the printer, click the Add button and patiently wait for the printer to appear and the system to find its driver. You're set to go.
- On the host Windows machine, open the Control Panel, Printers and Other Hardware, click on Printers and Faxes and click on the printer's icon, then in the Tasks pane click Share This Printer. Open the printer's Properties dialog box and click the Sharing tab. Click Share Name and then OK.
- On any Windows machine that wants to print to the shared printer, open Control Panel and click Printers and Other Hardware. Then click Add a Printer. But don't add a local printer, just click Printer Connection and browse for the shared printer.
The encyclopedic references for this (and troubleshooting) are:
- Apple's Tiger Printing Support page: http://www.apple.com/support/tiger/printing/
- Windows Sharing Word document: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=87c0a6db-aef8-4bef-925e-7ac9be791028&DisplayLang=en
- Windows Troubleshooting page: http://compnetworking.about.com/od/windowsnetworking/tp/winfilesharing.htm
Printers were meant to be shared and today's operating systems make it as easy as it has ever been. You can make it even easier by networking with a router that includes a USB printer port. Or you can use a wireless hub with a USB port to share wirelessly. Some printers include wireless connections to mate with WiFi routers and even some that don't can be connected to a WiFi network with a PictBridge USB WiFi adapter, which also makes them available to WiFi cameras. Just make sure you've installed the same driver on any system you want to print from.
By SHAWN BARNETT(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G7/G7A.HTM on the Web site.)
There's a flap among camera enthusiasts about the Canon PowerShot G7. The controversy is especially poignant because the camera enters a shifting market. Low-cost SLRs have largely pushed high-end digicams like this out of existence.
The controversy centers around a few features enthusiasts loved about the G-series that were not included in the G7. When you hear the G7 specs, it's hard to believe one could want more: 10 megapixels, 6x zoom (35-210mm eq.), f2.8 max aperture, optical image stabilization, 2.5-inch high-res LCD, super-quiet USM lens motor, flash hot shoe -- what else could enthusiasts want?
What's missing? For all five of the previous models (there was no G4), the G-series included the following three features now missed in the G7:
The good news is that most who haven't experienced one of the old G-series won't care much. Canon G7 images are impressive and still good up to about ISO 800. When I say good, I mean when enlarged to about 11x14 inches. That's good. The G7 is not so great at ISO 1600 or 3200, but with Canon's optical Image Stabilization system, you're not going to need to jump to ISO 1600 much.
- The lens was f2.0. That's a full stop of extra light for low light shooting.
- The screen articulated, meaning you could swing it out and up and down so you could shoot from many angles. You get used to that kind of convenience.
- The cameras could save images in a Raw file format. Shooting Raw allows you to tweak the image on a computer after capture.
Experience. With Canon's SLR sales rising against cameras like the G6 and Pro1, the company realized they needed to make their next high-end digicam appeal to a photographer's sense of nostalgia. The Canon G7 reminds me of an old film camera -- one of the rangefinders from the '60s and '70s, back when they were more metal machines than computers with plastic bodies.
It's natural to think of an old rangefinder, but the Canon G7 is smaller and flatter than most of those were. It also doesn't have a big, bright optical viewfinder. Still, the feel is there, as is the look; and with a 6x zoom, the parallax problem is still there too, if you're nostalgic for that.
Looking back to the year 2000 they've returned to the mostly flat design of the original, 3.3-megapixel Canon G1. This camera didn't even have a small bulge for the grip, it only had a bit of plastic up front to give your fingertips a place to rest. But enthusiasts will remind you that even the G1 had an f2.0 lens, an articulating screen and Raw capability.
The Canon G7 looks and feels like a fine instrument. I mentioned this factor in the Pentax K100 review, where their special lenses just had the look and feel of precision. Early cameras were drafted by engineers on paper, crafted by machinists on lathes and mills and assembled by skilled workers. They were treasures to own. The Canon G7 gives you a little more of that than most digital cameras, without the price tag of a Leica.
So many digital cameras today are just a collection of the same basic array of buttons that pop up menus and navigate around on a glowing screen. Gone is the unique dial that gave you the sense that you'd made a precise setting. But the G7 has that.
Dials and Gauges. I'll start with the two dials on the top. The mode dial is common. No news there. I ding it a bit for not being as sure as the dial on the Canon A640. It feels and sounds great, but it can easily be nudged to rest between settings. So much for precise, but I still like it.
The ISO dial to the left of the hot shoe has the same problem, but thank the Maker that it's there. Of all camera settings, ISO is probably the most important to have here, since I do change it more often than anything else; worse, I forget to change it more than I remember. On most SLRs I use, the current ISO setting is hidden until I press the associated button to bring up a status screen (the new Rebel XTi is a notable exception). I appreciate the visual cue here, prominently placed on the top deck.
The Canon G7 does finally bring back at least the feeling of analog to the world of digital with their onscreen slide-rule style display of shutter speed and aperture. The display pops up when in Program, Shutter priority, Aperture Priority and Manual modes. Though it's not obvious when you look at the back of the Canon G7, that's no ordinary four-way navigator to the right of the LCD screen. That knurled ring surrounding the small, icon-speckled nav-disk is ready to spin at a thumb's notice. Called the Control dial, it can be used to rip through menus like an EOS SLR; though it must be used in concert with the four-way disk to switch menu tabs. There are other odd rules that apply to its use, but anything can be learned. A dial really isn't new to the G-series. It was out on the grip from the G3 on, but the elimination of that grip on the G7 meant it had to go somewhere.
In Program mode, you have to press the AE Lock, FE Lock button to lock the exposure and bring up a gauge that shows you graphically which combinations of Aperture and Shutter will work to maintain this exposure. If you have the flash on, unfortunately, the Canon G7 will instead fire a test shot to lock that setting and you won't get the cool gauge. Love of this gauge might encourage more people to shoot without flash and that can't be bad.
In Shutter and Aperture priority modes, you only get a single rule for either setting. It's still helpful to see the continuum of options, especially when it's about to run out. Manual mode is where it gets even more retro. You get not only the sliding gauge for the aspect you're adjusting, but you get a nice simulated match needle on the right side. Of course, we see these on dSLRs in Manual mode and it was present on the now deleted status display on all other G-series cameras, but it's nice to see in concert with the sliding scale back here where you're making your decisions, instead of on another plane altogether (the LCD status display was on the top deck). I'm also glad to see the onscreen image update as you make the adjustments, approximating what the actual exposure will capture. This is a benefit to digicams that I don't think I mentioned in my aging SLR vs. All-in-one article (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/SLRvsDIGICAM/SLRA.HTM). Sure, you can see what the exposure will look like after the capture on the dSLR, but with a digicam like the Canon G7 you can see it change live before you press the shutter.
Focus & Metering Modes. Thankfully, you can also still lock the exposure to the AF point in FlexiZone and Spot metering modes. Those folks inexperienced with the G-series and a select few other PowerShots are scratching their heads, "FlexiZone?" There are essentially four focus modes on the Canon G7 and three metering modes. Meant for the patient, calculating photographer, FlexiZone allows you to move a green box around the screen until you pick out where you want the camera to concentrate its contrast-detect AF system. If you lock Spot metering to this point, the combination can be very useful.
With FlexiZone, we're not just talking a few predetermined points in the viewfinder, as we see on dSLRs. The green AF box is big, so there's plenty of overlap, but I can move it to 29 separate positions left to right and 17 positions top to bottom. That's an array of 493 possibilities. It's a shame you can't make the box a little smaller, but it's still pretty flexible, allowing you to keep your composition while placing the focus and spot metering point right where you want.
Most shooters will do well to stick to the 9-point AiAF system. It's always given me not only great feedback when shooting candids, but accurate AF. If I don't like its first try, I just release and half-press the shutter again and it'll quickly recalculate and re-select another arrangement of AF points. It's rarely wrong the first time, but if it is, it usually gets it right the second.
Face me. The hot ticket now, of course, is face detection and the Canon G7 has that too. It can track up to nine faces and put a box around them. It's among the fastest I've seen at this task. It will ID each face with the boxes, but it puts a white box around the one it's going to bias its main focus setting on. It'll then do its best to keep the others in focus if it can.
Face detect has also enhanced the FlexiZone system. When you press the AF Frame Selector button to pick among AF methods (which you do by turning the big dial), the first message that comes up in FlexiZone invites you to press the Set button to select a face in the scene as your AF point. This is the most common reason I use FlexiZone, to make sure faces are in focus, so it's a great use of the technology, removing a lot of waiting while you move the AF point over to the nearest face. Just hit the Set button instead.
Finally, there's Manual focus, which is activated by pressing the MF button on the four-way navigator. This brings up a small square in the center where the image is magnified. In most cameras, I can't see much of a difference with this method, but the Canon G7's LCD is of sufficient resolution that I can see a change, especially close up. It's still fairly vague, but better than most.
Handling. Though enthusiasts do have a few legitimate beefs, the Canon G7 really is a very nice camera, among the slickest produced for the money. The scant grip out front does have a raised, grippy plastic ridge to give your fingers extra purchase and there's a small ridge surrounding the AF/AE Lock button that serves at a tactile guide to thumb placement. If you rest the right bottom corner in the palm of your hand, the G7 is easy to hold securely with one hand; though it's better to use two, as it's pretty heavy for its small profile.
Its heft feels very good and helps stabilize shots. The right camera strap lug is recessed into the body so it doesn't bother you at all. Its location puts the strap a little close to the shutter release for my taste, however, so I don't use the G7 with the strap.
I was never fond of the odd dual-toggle power switch on recent G-series cameras (also found on the Canon S2 and S3), so I'm glad to see a simple silver button recessed into the camera's top deck. You can enter Playback mode with a similar button on the back of the camera, whether the Canon G7 is on or off.
Pressing the power button brings out the 6x zoom lens with a quiet motorized swish worthy of a science fiction gadget. While we tolerate loud whirring from our digital cameras, it's nice to hear one that whispers. With the various beeps and sound effects turned off, the G7 is a graceful companion, great for surreptitious shooting in public.
Initially I wasn't fond of the shutter button, nor its surrounding zoom toggle. I've grown accustomed to larger, wider buttons out on protruding grips. But this works just fine and is a little easier to trip lightly.
When you press the shutter release, there's a very quiet "tick, tick," as the image disappears and reappears onscreen. Shooting the Canon G7 side-by-side with the Canon A640, I was impressed with how much better the G7's 2.5 inch LCD with 207,000 pixels showed the shot after capture. I could generally tell whether my attempt to shoot with a long shutter speed had worked, but the already soft display on the A640 left that discovery for later.
Adjusting settings on the fly is fairly easy, especially in Shutter or Aperture priority modes, which I've already covered. This easy manual adjustment via the big, bright LCD screen is a boon to more intermediate shooters.
It's also notable that the Canon G7 is a shooting priority camera, meaning that regardless what mode you're in, a half-press of the shutter button sets the camera into capture mode.
Image Quality. When the G7 arrived, I was excited. I sat down with the G7 those first two nights and spent some time. I took it out to shoot. I really liked it. It was built like a camera. Its aluminum skin felt similar to my old Olympus OM-1. Its lens mechanism was smooth and quiet, like it should be. Its screen was silky and sharp. Its extra ISO dial on the top deck was nostalgic as well as informative and the presence of a hot shoe was somehow comforting.
My reverie was interrupted by the sample photos from the lab. We're cognizant of being pixel peepers and we're well aware of how irrelevant 10-Mp cameras are making such practice, because the difference between a monitor and printed output is far greater than it was back in the 4 and 5-Mp days. That's why we print our laboratory test images from each camera we review.
High ISO noise from the G7 was frankly ridiculous. Not at ISO 800, but at 1600 and 3200: just laughable. The images look like they're from another camera entirely or else from an airbrush with a clogged nozzle that spatters paint all over the painting. That's not what got me, though. We see poor quality in most non-SLRs that try to reach too high.
What got me was the anti-noise suppression swimming through even low ISO images. This kind of low ISO noise suppression is precisely why I lean toward Canon when buying and recommending digital cameras: because they seldom exhibit the problem. You usually get clean, noise-free images from Canons at low ISO, without the paintbrush effect we see in other cameras. Not so with the G7.
You won't notice it at 8x10, so it's not going to be an issue for most. But it will be an issue for much of the G7's former target market, who will be looking closely. Apparently, Canon just couldn't control the noise on the very tiny pixels used on a 10-Mp sensor, so they had to smoosh it out. Though I do miss the articulating screen most from the G7, this anti-noise processing is what most spoils it for me.
Conclusion. I've struggled with the G7 for one simple reason: It's not for me. It's not for shooters like me. Two or three years ago, the Canon G7 would have been a very hot pick, even if it had the noisy 5-Mp sensor that was available then. Two or three years ago, it would have also had Raw and an articulating screen. They would have been required. But most shooters like me have already moved on. Back when cameras like the G7 were all that were affordable, we did what we could to make them work for us. Now a dSLR better meets my needs.
But Canon isn't looking to sell one to me. They're looking to sell this premium digicam to those who haven't made the jump to a dSLR as their main camera. The Canon G7 is a step up from the mediocre digicam to a higher level, as the G-series has always been.
Those SLR owners looking for a second or third shooter should give both the Canon G7 and the A640 a close look. In addition to IS, the G7 has the advantage of a long-lasting Lithium-ion battery. But you might be disappointed with the speed of the Canon G7 relative to your dSLR. Once you're tuned to one type of shutter, it's very difficult to return to a slower mechanism.
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot G7 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G7/G7A.HTM)
- Revamped: OK, we finally updated our Printer (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT.HTM), Scanner (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN1.HTM) and Software (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT.HTM) index pages to reflect that reviews written in 2005 are not new <g>. It broke our heart, but we did it.
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 Canon Digital SLRs at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee92fbe
Visit the Kodak Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6f77d
A user asks about how auto-focus works at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eea4640/0
Kim asks about retrieving lost software serial numbers at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eea466a/0
Visit the Software Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6b2b0
Next time they're looking for a new Olympic event, they should consider Respiratory Infection Recovery. It's grueling, elusive and, really, not even the fittest survive. We know from experience. Recent experience.
We were feeling better and the sun was shinining even though it's Winter here, too. So we hopped on the bike and pedaled up Twin Peaks to take our zoom range shots with a couple of neglected digicams. We huffed, we puffed, but there was no wind and we made it to the top.
After firing off our usual shots from the one stand that no longer has a scope attached, we looked south and saw San Bruno Mountain in the mist. Gorgeous, really. A telescope was even pointed that way, right in the middle of our shot. So we stepped over, swung it around to a more photogenic position and took the shot. The digicam's LCD was unreadable in the sunlight, so we just crossed our fingers and went back to our bike to get the next camera.
"Daddy!" someone behind us was shouting over the gansta rap coming out of his SUV. "Hey, Daddy!" Not having made the qualifying rounds for that one, we ignored the entreaty until it changed to "Sir! Excuse me!"
We turned around and looked up into the face of a 6-10 giant.
"Did you move that telescope to aim it on the city?" he asked.
"That's right. It was pointed the wrong way for the picture," we admitted, sounding like Marlon Brando in the Godfather.
"I just want to say I appreciate that," he said.
There being far too little appreciation in this world, we thanked him so profoundly that we suspect we encouraged him to express his appreciation without reservation as long as he lived.
"I'm a native San Franciscan," he added, beaming with pride as he leaned over the rock wall to look at his city.
"Really?" we croaked. "What high school did you go to?"
Native San Franciscans can't help asking each other that. It's the first question that comes up. And here's why.
"Washington," my giant replied.
"Washington? My mother went to Washington."
"Your mother went to Washington? So did mine!"
San Francisco is a small town. But then, it's a small world, too.
"Yeah," he continued his story, looking out over the city, "I played for Mr. A., God rest his soul."
"Mr. A.?" we said, incredulously. We knew Coach Alex Athanasopoulis. Just one of the most beloved high school coaches in San Francisco athletics. "He was the best!" we agreed.
Pictures shot, we exchanged have-a-good-ones with our fellow citizen and rolled back down the hill only to spend the rest of the day coughing and choking to death. We hurriedly revised our will while we had the chance. Then, with what little strength we had left, we called Mom to tell her we found yet another Washington High grad out there taking care of the city. Didn't surprise her one bit.
She's known for a long time the world is small enough to fit in a neighborhood. And it always delights her when we act like it, too.
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RE: Digicam or dSLR
I am looking to replace my Olympus Camedia 5050 (old I know but I like it!) and I had just about decided on a superzoom (10x to 12x) with image stabilization, such as a Canon Powershot S3 IS, Fujifilm S6500FD or Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7.
I am a typical keen amateur photographer mainly shooting family (especially grandchildren), holidays and friends plus scenery (while out walking) and I had decided that one of the above cameras or similar, would provide a flexible multi-function, reasonably priced and easy-to-carry solution to my photographic needs, instead of a dSLR with a bagful of lenses.
And then I read in the IR Newsletter for 8 December 2006:
"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."
You have filled my head with doubt and confusion. Can you help please?
-- Barry Wicks(You're quoting Dave, but we'll give the old digicam vs. dSLR choice a whirl. Shawn wrote the definitive comparison of the two experiences ( http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/SLRvsDIGICAM/SLRA.HTM) and you're obliged to read it, having asked. We, on the third hand, prefer them both. For a very long time, we'd hoped the industry would cobble up a really unique digital hybrid of the point-and-shoot camera and the professional SLR, just to save us some money. But it seems to have been satisfied with making compact digicams and dSLR systems instead. So we content ourselves taking a little digicam along all the time and using the dSLR when we want to show off. But Dave's point that it's pretty easy to shoot with a dSLR is worth thinking about. Put a 10x lens on it, slip it into Auto mode and enjoy much better image quality than the digicam can deliver. -- Editor)
RE: Glue Dots
Thanks for the info on Glue Dots. I have used them with some success. For larger prints, you have to use quite a few.
Another solution that I have started to use is Scotch Poster Tape. It is double sided, removable tape. So far, it seems to have more holding power than Glue Dots. I have been using it on╩acrylic╩wall paint.
-- Gary Babcock(Thanks, Gary! We're off to find some Poster Tape. -- Editor)
I put up four letter-sized photos on Epson Pro Luster. One of them had a double row of 3M Poster Tape. That one and two others fell down. So back to Glue Dots for me. I will just use one dot every inch or so across the top.
For 13x19 prints, I have used 3M Command Strips. I usually use just one at each upper corner. They hold well. To get them to release from the photo and the wall, there is a tab that you slowly pull up parallel to the wall. I purchase them at Home Depot. They have a version that attaches a spring clip to the wall. Then you can open the clip and slip in the top edge of the photo. For me, the problem with the clip is that it is about two inches long and sticks up beyond the top of the photo. Kind of ugly, I think.
There is a version of the 3M Command Strip that has Velcro like strips on adhesive that is promoted for picture hanging that may be the best yet. I haven't tried it yet. It is called 3M Command "Picture Hanging Strips."
-- Gary Babcock(The 3M products we found at an office supply store nicely report how much weight they support, but none we saw were removable. -- Editor)
RE: Book Recommendation
I've been looking for an alternative to printing/pasting all my digital photos to photo albums. I've been trying a new service (http://www.blurb.com) by BookSmart. I simply downloaded the program and followed the user-friendly instructions to layout pictures (with or without text) and then uploaded the completed╩layout to their Web site.
What I've gotten back so far are really outstanding books, both soft cover and hard cover. My first attempt was from a two week trip to the Rhine Valley in Gemany, followed by a cruise with two of my sisters and a trip to the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa. It pretty well blew me away when I saw the results -- almost as though I could say, "I'm published!"
My next project is to put all those family photos I scanned during the last two years into a book and letting the relatives order their own copy. Beats the heck out of mailing photocopied "geneology" stuff back and forth.
I'd certainly like to see reports on similar services and find out what everyone else is using. If you want to view a sample of my first attempts I've opened them to public view at blurb.com.
I really enjoy your newsletter and have taken your advice when purchasing new equipment -- currently have the Sony DSC-H5 and DSC-T9 both of which I purchased after looking at your reviews. Keep up the good work.
-- Joyce Stein(Thanks for the tip, Joyce. Any other recommendations, readers? Worth a story, no doubt. -- Editor)
RE: By Any Other Name
I know how difficult it is to come up with the right word, particularly when the wrong one has already taken the world. While you -- this time -- correctly identify the factor which is actually meant when talking about "lens multiplier" (namely, the in-camera crop factor), you still use the completely misleading term to denote it.
To some, sloppyists I like to call them, this sounds like nitpicking and a purely semantic point. Well, not only is semantics about the real meaning of otherwise nonsensical symbols, it relates directly to the world: There is a real world and we need to describe it as accurately as possible.
The only thing different between a 28mm lens mounted on a 35mm film camera and a dSLR is the angle of view retained in the recorded image. I will not insist on calling it "crop divider," although this would be mathematically correct, but please let us drop the misleading, total misnomer "lens multiplier." Let's call it "crop factor" or "in-camera crop" or whatever; we could even make a contest of it.
-- Dierk Haasis(While we see your point, Dierk, the term has legs, as we say in show biz. People use it and know what it refers to. But let's see.... It's certainly a factor. We kind of like Sensor Size Factor, except it doesn't mention the lens. "To get the 35mm equivalent crop, multiply the 35mm focal length by the sensor size factor." We'd get a lot of mail asking where to find that. But you do have to know the 35mm focal length to use the factor. So calling it a focal length multiplier isn't inaccurate, if confusing. Where's that Suggestion Box, Dave? -- Editor)
If the aftermath of holiday gift giving has you on the phone with customer service, you might find the gethuman project (http://gethuman.com) helpful. The project is "a consumer movement to improve the quality of phone support in the U.S." It includes a database of 800 numbers and techniques to reach a human at each one of them. Don't miss the Tips page if you visit.
The National Association of Photoshop Professionals has launched Darkroom (http://www.darkroommagazine.com), a how-to magazine for Lightroom users. It will be distributed with Photoshop User to NAPP members as part of their membership at no additional cost and a downloadable electronic version will be available to non-NAPP members through an annual paid subscription.
With the release of its $97 Coloriage v4.0 [MW], AKVIS LLC (http://akvis.com) offers its unique plug-in technology for automatic B&W photo colorization. The new version can change both the color and brightness of an object.
Photographer Annie Leibovitz has published A Photographer's Life: 1990-2005, a collection of both her personal pictures and commercial work. Save 40 percent via our discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0375505091/?tag=theimagingres-20).
Peachpit Press (http://www.peachpit.com) has launched a Photoshop CS3 Beta Resource Center with tutorials by Scott Kelby and Russell Brown on everything from a tour of the program's new features to how to use Smart Filters. Also available is Ben Long's Adobe Photoshop CS3 Beta First Look ebook.
Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com) is rolling out a few changes to their photo sharing site and software, including a new album layout that makes slide shows easier to start, providees offline slide shows, bulk download of whole albums from the Web and improvements to MyPhanfare.
Lemkesoft (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has updated its $30 GraphicConverter [M] to v5.9.4, adding .xmp sidecar support, scroll wheel zooming and feathering while redesigning its unskew function and improving thumbnail rendering speed.
Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com) has posted a safety notice for its A530 and A540 digicams. "We have discovered that in cameras where the opening/closing spring on the inside of the battery cover sticks out beyond its regular position, if a battery is put into these cameras and the battery cover is closed, it causes a short-circuit," the company said. The issue affects cameras whose serial numbers begin with 21, 22, 23, and 24. Canon will repair affected models at no charge. Call (800) 828-4040 for details.
Staples (http://www.staples.com/hometownviews) has launched its Hometown Views photo contest, offering 40 amateur photographers a chance to win Staples gift cards and royalties of up to $5,000 from photos sold in over 1,300 Staples stores.
Light Crafts (http://www.lightcrafts.com) has released LightZone 2.0.6, its Raw image editing software based on the Zone System, with custom aspect ratios in the Crop Tool and several bug fixes.
Boinx (http://www.fotomagico.com/beta/2) has released FotoMagico 2 as a public beta to test its standalone slide show players.
For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).
Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com
Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc
Before we publish our next issue, we'll be covering the Consumer Electronics Show next week in Las Vegas and catching the end of Macworld Expo right after that, after replacing the wheels on our skateboard. Look for our daily reports on the News page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM).
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