The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 9, Number 5 2 March 2007

Copyright 2007, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 196th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Canon has raised the dSLR bar with its new EOS-1D Mark III while Sony's new high-speed sensor has Peter iNova imagining a VSLR. Then we explain some less-than-obvious concepts and reveal a pro sales trick before packing for PMA 2007. See you after the show!


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Feature: Canon EOS-1D Mark III -- Hands-on Preview

By SHAWN BARNETT
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E1DMK3/E1DMK3A.HTM on the Web site.)

At a glance, you really can't tell the difference between the Canon EOS-1D Mark II N and the Canon EOS-1D Mark III. They're both large, cut an imposing profile and look like high quality instruments. Even the name looks similar. But look more closely and there are different design accents and new buttons, new button arrangements and a nice big three-inch LCD.

But the exterior is more like the Mark II N than the interior. Canon says the Mark III was redesigned from the ground up. I believe it. There are so many changes in the Mark III that it's a little tough to know where to start describing them.

Quoting the bare specs says a lot: 10 frames per second, 10 megapixels, 110 JPEG buffer, three-inch LCD, Live View mode, dual DIGIC III processors, automatic sensor cleaning. These are all impressive, but the Mark II N was pretty darn impressive, too.

What I'm more excited about is the radical interface improvements that make all this impressive power more accessible to the photographer. If I have to think too much about how to set the camera while I'm shooting, I lose connection with my subject and the creative process is stifled.

As it was, going out to shoot our usual Gallery shots left me feeling a little frustrated. The EOS-1D is far more sophisticated than any of my snapshots of inanimate objects could convey and the limited time I had wouldn't allow me to get truly creative and explore the vast possibilities of this camera. But the Galleries aren't intended to show any artistic ability; they're taken to give you a sample shot of something textured and colorful with the camera in the daylight. Let's just say I was wishing I had a week in the Sierras, four days with models in a studio, three days with the same models on a beach, 36 hours photographing bears in Alaska and a weekend at the racetrack. Just me and the Mark III.

But I did the next best thing and closer to my heart. I took some pictures of my kids in my makeshift studio in the basement. Righteous.

Anticipation. Picking up the Mark III is like climbing on a mountain bike at the top of a long hill and placing your feet on the pedals. It's like taking a glider to the edge of the cliff on a perfect spring day and looking down. It's like pushing your raft out toward the center of a river just above the rapids and jumping aboard. Nothing has happened, but it's about to. And you're really looking forward to it.

But with that anticipation comes a sense of responsibility. The Mark III costs $4,000, not including the lens. You better take a good picture! If you don't, it's you. That's not nice, but it's true. The good news is that $4,000 and the Mark III's serious capabilities will draw you into learning more about it and drive you to experiment until you make some great images worthy of its power. OK, I may be projecting, because the 1D Mark III sure is drawing me.

The funny part is, I've had access to other EOS-1D cameras, but I've not been drawn at all, at least not after the review. I've been frustrated instead. They've long had a cumbersome menu system and that alone has kept me from exploring the depth of the 1D cameras after the review, despite their superior capabilities.

When the full-frame EOS 5D hit the market, I was pleased it had inherited the EOS 20D's straightforward interface and I'm happy to report the Mark III has adopted many of the same intelligent design elements of that prosumer EOS series, refining them along the way. So I'm less frustrated with an odd interface and better able to explore, adjust settings and take pictures.

That's what a pro camera should do: give easy access to its myriad features. Like anything worth doing, it will require practice. You don't just jump on a bike, jump off a cliff or push to the center of a raging river without some experience with and knowledge of your equipment.

Once I get over the reverie that comes from picking up the Mark III, I generally support it with my left hand, because it's heavy. It seems a little lighter than the Mark II N. My middle finger feels secure in the grip's top groove (though not as comfortable as it is on the 5D) and my index finger settles perfectly on the black shutter release. It might not be so perfect for everyone's hand, but this couldn't get better for me. My thumb supports the weight comfortably and surprisingly does so without accidentally pressing the new AF-ON button. This new button is positioned in the same place you'll find it on the Nikon D200. It's just right. On the Mark II N, there's a button in the same place, though it's slightly smaller and a smidge higher; but was used in conjunction with the Command dial to switch between the last Registered AF point and the auto AF selection mode or to adjust the White balance. I think it's better used as the AF-ON button.

Since I do most of my shooting vertically, I like that the vertical release is built in, rather than an accessory as it is on the 30D and 5D. Attach a battery grip to either of those and they easily approach a 1D in size and weight, but there's often flex between the body and grip. There's nothing like that here. It's all one big rock. The surfaces are different and all the buttons are in slightly different places from the horizontal grip controls, but it's all quite comfortable. The AF-ON button is also higher than the WB button was on the 1D Mark II N.

Joystick. The first major import from the prosumer series is the eight-way, joystick-like Multi-Controller. In general, it's a little more useful than it is on the 20D/30D. You can use it to navigate among tabs and menu items, which makes the tabbed menu system superior to the long list that I once preferred on the 20D. You can also use the Main and Quick Control dials to navigate the tabs and items: Main for the tabs and Quick Control for the menu items. I haven't settled on either just yet. The dials are faster, but the Multi-Controller requires only the thumb.

By default, the Multi-Controller doesn't make selecting an AF point easy, like it does on the 30D. On that model, the eight directions of the joystick take you to the eight AF points surrounding the center and pressing the joystick in selects the center AF point. With 45 AF points total and 19 that can be manually selected, picking your AF point is unfortunately more complicated. The joystick only switches between the center point and an AF mode that illuminates only the 20 outer points, but enables all 49 the intelligent AF system, regardless of the Custom Function. CF 3.9 modifies the behavior, but it's more than a little confounding. You have to choose to use all "19 points" (default), the "Inner 9," or the "Outer 9."ĘTo be completely accurate, it's all 19 cross-type AF points including the center, the inner eight plus the center point and the outer eight plus the center point. Only the camera can select the non-cross-type AF points in Auto AF mode.

There's no question, though, that having 19 cross-type AF points to choose from is very good. I've had some struggles working with the AF system on previous 1D cameras and come away feeling deceived by the camera's idea of "in focus" as represented by the selected points in post-processing. The photos last night were far better, with the only out-of-focus shots being either wiggly kids or daddy error. There are far more in-focus shots in the studio than I'm used to getting from any of the other cameras I work with. Some of those shots were in Auto AF mode, but most were one of the single AF points.

Viewfinder. I found the viewfinder quite accurate while framing shots outdoors. I'm curious to see what our VFA target shows, but I'd guess it's 97 percent or better. I do have trouble seeing the entire viewfinder with my glasses on, without pressing them against the rubber cup. Adjusting the diopter wheel requires removing the eyecup (just pinch the sides at the bottom and pull up). I still prefer the diopter wheel out in the open, but I seldom use it anymore, as my prescription has long since moved out of the range of even a professional camera's range of settings.

Live View. While on the subject of viewfinders, the Mark III has a new feature that has heretofore only appeared on the Olympus E-330 and its offspring, the Panasonic Lumix L1 and the Leica Digilux 3. Canon's Live View mode operates much like the E-330's Live View B mode. You're seeing the image directly off the main imaging sensor, but you can't autofocus while you're viewing with the LCD. You can zoom in either 5x or 10x and focus manually. The clarity and speedy refresh on the 1D Mark III's three-inch LCD is really impressive, making manual focus fairly easy. Using the new CameraWindow MC program, you're supposed to be able to remote control the camera, seeing exactly what the camera sees. You can do this either wired or via WiFi with the WFT-E2A that screws into the side of the camera.

Using USB 2.0, I had varying degrees of success depending on the computer. A three-year-old computer is not going to cut it; you'll need a faster, more recent model, with a faster system bus to make good use of the 1D Mark III's Live View mode through a computer. At this point, I've only tested it with Macs. The frame rate is nowhere near as fast as it is on the back of the camera. The fastest, with the iMac G5, was about five frames per second, which is jerky, but good enough for tripod work. My PowerBook was only about 1 to 2 frames per second, which is too slow. Bear in mind, this is all with Beta software. There are six icons that do allow you to focus from the computer. It's slow but at least it's there. You can also zoom in what looks like 10x, which really helps you get even sharper focus. With the 50mm f1.8 attached, I was able to get quite good focus in the normal view. Note that all on-camera controls are disabled in Live View mode, so all settings must be made through the computer. Someone also needs to come up with a more permanent attachment system, because the cable can fall out with the slightest tug.

Live View lets you AF from one perspective, but take the shot from another. I wanted to focus on the second lantern in one scene, for example, taking advantage of row of repeating lanterns, but including some of the street and paintings below. So I focused on the lantern from head level (first shot) then switched into Live View mode and raised the Mark III above my head and framed the image using the three-inch LCD.

Access. Changing settings on the Mark III has improved somewhat from the 1D Mark II N, with a slight retasking of several buttons. On the left deck, the three buttons used to control six functions: three with a single press and three more with a combination press. Though it seems strange at first, I think most photographers liked the clever simplicity of the method. Now those three buttons only have one direct combination purpose, which is to set the bracketing mode. Drive mode has been integrated into the AF button. Just press the button and AF is changed with the Main dial, while Drive mode is adjusted with the Quick Control dial. Users of prosumer Canon SLRs are familiar with this style of control. ISO has been moved from this cluster to a new button on the right. This oft-changed control is better placed here, where you can watch the change on the top Status display as you turn the Quick Control dial with your thumb.

Two of the three buttons on the back beneath the LCD display have also been repurposed. The trash button is the same, but the middle button is the Function button and lets you adjust the image quality mode or White Balance with a turn of the Quick Control dial. That leaves the third button open for locking images, recording audio notes to images (just press and hold) or accessing Picture Styles in a hurry.

New Battery. The good news is that the Mark III has a new battery. It looks just like the battery in the Nikon D2xs, probably because it's made by the same battery supplier. That's the same reason most of the batteries in prosumer dSLRs have nearly the same form factor. Unfortunately, they don't have the same contact arrangement, so those shooting both Nikon and Canon might get a little confused now and then.

The battery's a lot smaller and lighter and packs a lot more power due to the higher power density inherent in lithium-ion batteries. The LP-E4 delivers 11.1v, 2,300mAh and weighs 6.29 ounces. And is good for 2,200 shots according to CIPA standards (I'm sure that doesn't include Live View mode). The new LP-E4 is also easier to remove, without that secondary lock button on the NP-E3. The dual-pack charger that comes with the 1D Mark III holds the batteries on its back, rather than just leaving them to sit on the carpet or table connected by a cable, as the older 1D-series chargers do. Yet another major improvement.

The LP-E4 is no longer a "dumb" battery, either. It has integrated electronics that can monitor charge cycles and adjust the battery gauge readout as the battery's capacity changes. Not only does the Status LCD report more charge levels, you can see the percentage remaining in the Battery info dialog, available in the Setup menu 2. This is a change that has been long overdue.

A secondary power supply comes with the camera, with its own power cord and dummy battery to provide power from a normal AC wall outlet.

Ten Frames Per Second. I know, all you care about is speed. Sorry to bore you with all that talk of buttons, batteries and modes. You're right, though. This camera is very fast. It's tough to write about fast, though, so I made a little video (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E1DMK3/1DMarkIII.mp4) to convey the speed.

The video shows the worst case, with Raw + JPEG, with JPEG set to the highest quality. The resulting file sizes are 15-MB and 4-MB each, but the Mark III handles them more quickly than the Mark II N handled the data generated from its lower-res sensor and lower speed shutter, thanks to the dual DIGIC III chips onboard and an as-yet-unspecified buffer. With high quality JPEGs, the Mark III should capture about 110 images before the buffer fills. Naturally that depends on the subject and how compressible the elements are. At high ISO, the number is significantly lower, only 47 in low light, at ISO 3,200. But changing that to ISO 100 with a fairly simple subject, I'm able to get 150 shots, so the 110 figure is a believable average.

Image Quality. Images from the Mark III are beautiful. Though we usually roll our eyes when companies list ridiculously high ISO ratings, we were pleasantly surprised by how good the Mark III's ISO 6400 images are. Noise is present, of course, but it's at a level that most cameras produce at ISO 1600 or 800. We found the 8x10 printed results to be quite acceptable from the ISO 6400 setting.

That means that ISO 1600 should be more like ISO 200 or 400 on another camera, right? With Noise Reduction on, some would make that argument. Since most don't enlarge their images significantly beyond 8x10, it's true that the Mark III at ISO 1600 delivers images that are better than acceptable at 8x10, they're great.

Return to Topics.

Guest Spot: The (Sensor) Revolution is Now

By PETER INOVA

(We're pleased to bring you an excerpt from Peter's illustrated article (http://www.digitalsecrets.net/secrets/HighSpeedChip.html) on Sony's new high speed chip.)

If you've been sitting around waiting for new ideas to come forth from the various What's New columns (2,137 last count), then you may find this a tad boring. It's about an image chip for compact digital cameras that merely combines a bunch of existing ideas in a new package with implications that will remove your shoes, peel your socks off, then replace your shoes.

Sony took the idea of Analog to Digital and lifted it to a new plateau. Someone asked the question, "What would the effect be of making a little A>D circuit for every line of pixels in an image chip?" Several other people around him in the break room slapped their heads and shouted, "High Speeeeeed!" That was months ago. After many months of banging heads, squashing problems and pumping up the designs, a new imaging chip has surfaced.

Technically it's the IMXX017CQE, but you can call it Speedy Gonzalez if you wish. I just call it the X017. Here's why it matters:

WHY IT MATTERS

Although the whole chip is 6.4MP, speed increases when only a portion of the pixel map is used to create an image. It's a technique that has been with us since the 1990s when live viewing became available through the monitor on the back of your camera. None of those chips were full-rez video rate. The monitor view was a compromise.

If you only viewed the results of every third pixel on every third row of sensors, you would effectively reduce processing time to 11 percent of the chip's previous performance. In other words, it would still make a picture -- cruder by a significant degree -- but speed up by 888 percent. If you ignored 4 out of 5 pixels and 4 out of 5 rows, the live image would become 4 percent of its full resolution, but could speed up as much as 2500 percent.

Believe it or else, this was actually the case in every digital still camera you've been peering at since 1997 that showed a live picture on its monitor. That's why the "live" images looked so steppy with generous amounts of poor edge continuity, but who cares -- it's only a viewfinder, right?

The so-called "video" output of these cameras was similarly flawed. You can't get a perfect image out of every ninth or twenty-fifth pixel. Recent cameras have gotten better, but still not pixel-perfect video.

The reason for the odd divisions is that with any sort of Bayer pattern -- that color checkerboard overlay that teases full color separations out of a single chip -- even divisions would keep repeating the same colors, but odd divisions kept the Beyer effects coherent. If you don't know what that all means, you could find our in one of my eBooks (see the Deals section) or move on to the next paragraph.

STEP FORWARD

Sony's X017 chip is a logical step forward. There's "logical" and then there's "Holy Spumoni: are you telling me that's logical???" This appears to fall into the latter category. The full frame rate of the whole chip is 60 shots per second.

I'll let that settle in for a moment. Of course it means very high speed motor drive-like still camera sequences, but it goes way beyond that. You see, the 60 frames per second thing has no limit. The chip can pump out these pictures forever, given a really, really high capacity battery.

So it's not actually a still camera chip, now, is it? The 6.4-Mp part of the idea says it is, but the 60-shot-per-second part shouts "Video!" and both would be right.

Chip size is important. I mean the dimensions of the image. This new chip falls into the common 3:4 aspect, 1:1.8" package size with a picture receiving area that has a diagonal of 9.1mm. And that means that many existing optical packages -- some with truly extraordinary ranges and capabilities -- can be adapted to the X017 chip.

NEW CAPABILITIES

What does all this give to the world? More than you might think.

  1. Viewfinders may have real-time, full-resolution images. At 60 full frames per second, the viewfinder of the future will be a glorious full resolution view. So full, so fast and so high in resolution that the need for optical dSLR-style viewing may fade as the next generation of killer cameras appear with these -- and similar -- chips. OLED viewing is on the rise. Pixel counts are already above the camera monitor pixel densities of current gear and the day in which a 3-inch screen will hold a full-resolution, multi-MP image is landing soon at a camera store near you.

  2. HDTV cameras the size of your cell phone will become common. With a 6-Mp image, the chip shoots a superior quality 60 full frame 10-bit image stream of shots. Processing that into a high quality MPEG or JPEG stream could result in massive storage requirements or it could result in HDV-like compressed data stream easily absorbed by any technology (chips, tape, Wi-Fi, 802.11n) that can breathe quickly enough.

  3. Super high-speed frame rate video for motion analysis. Add a version of the pixel-skipping that was needed in the past for seeing a live picture at all and suddenly you have the ability to see the world at 300 fps. Like the water balloon above. Not full rez, mind, but still video quality.

What happens to a world that can see at high speed for the price of a pocket camera?

SKY'S THE LIMIT

You could do a lot with that capability. Here are some blue-sky notions:

HDX Movie Cameras. At 60 fps, the X017 spits out a 10-bit image with every frame. Saving this into a high-speed disk drive is an already solved suite of technologies. Now you have every shot 2916 pixels wide by up to 2178 pixels high.

Out of that you can carve a 2916x1576 pixel frame in post production yielding a 1.85:1, movie screen format image. Or perhaps do it in the camera to save some storage space. Reduce the frame rate to 24 (itself a 60 percent data savings) and you have a Panavision, Arriflex and Mitchell cine-camera killer for the price of a Coolpix.

With in-camera compression cranked up, HD images in HDV format can become everybody's business at superior quality. Switching among frame rates now becomes business as usual for all the HD formats including 1080/60p (60 full frames per second).

Super Slow Mo for the Masses. Normal video makes an interlaced image every 1/60 sec. The X017 can do that full frame, full rez. But cut out the need for full resolution and the frame rate goes up exponentially. At 1/3 resolution, the camera still shoots 972x726 pixels, delivering a potentially half-HD image with 888 percent higher frame rate. Meaning perhaps as much as 533 fps. Am I dreaming? Yes, but it's such a good dream.

Sony is rating the chip using pixel-skipping readouts at 300 fps, but the math suggests that this is a conservative number. Dreaming forward, a 1/5 rez image, still 538x435, VHS-ish in dimension and acuity, could speed up 2,500 percent for a 1500 fps view of the world. And the data recording rates for these would be no higher than 60 fps full-frame shooting.

Where this becomes significant is when you throw the switch and shoot pictures of anything speedy. Hummingbirds get flappy, bees pump air at a reasonable rate, water drops do liquid coronets, kitchen matches fluff into fire in macro close ups and Christmas tree bulbs crash into gleaming shards of sparkles right before your lens.

Black Box Video. With a 60 fps huge picture feeding an ever-recycling data storage unit, super-quality security camera systems could shoot and constantly update the last hour or more of activity in real time, only stopping to preserve the data when some significant event were to occur.

Most of the cop car video a camera captures is insignificant, but if a crash, traffic stop or arrest were flagged by the officer or by sensors automatically, the stream of way-above HD images could be of immense value.

Using the 300 fps mode, this enters other new realms. Conceivably, a continuous stream of 300 fps video could be recorded and recycled until something significant happens as detected by sensor or decision-switch. Huge chunks of time could be preserved at previously impossible frame rates in great temporal detail. Anything that fails in critical systems can afford to have a fabulously rich visual slow-motion monitor tracking it continuously.

VSLRs. I've invented yet another new term. The VSLR. It's not an optical SLR and yet it might as well be.

The X017 has a 1/3 rez mode that creates a 959x719 pixel image three times faster than phlegm and with an OLED view screen (over 100MHz in today's lab versions) and fast support electronics, the live displayed view could be well under 1/30-second behind real time.

You aren't under 1/30 second behind real time, for comparison. The eye/brain system we've all inherited is slow, compared to that of a cat, spider, bee or bird. So much for thinking you were Number One. But I digress again.

Where this is Big Time Significant is that the major definitive difference between compact digital cameras and dSLRs is that the viewfinder is full-resolution (photons) and has no lag at all in a dSLR (photons at the speed of themselves). Compact digital cameras show a picture that is from 1/10 second to 1/4 second in the past. It's all that processing in the back room that slows the image down.

The lower the lag time, the easier it is to view a display screen and anticipate the critical moment for shutter release. By the same token, the higher the resolution of the display, the better to focus and frame and the more you feel connected to the world through your camera. HDTV live viewfinders are way more transparent than what you've been seeing on compact digital cameras. Ask me about mine.

As each frame takes 1/60 second to capture, that time will always be part of an electronic lag, unless, of course, improvements to collecting the image speed up on the next version of one of these chips. But even with this 16.7 millisecond amount of lag, fast image distribution to the viewfinder would result in so little perceived lag that you wouldn't feel cheated.

Wirelessness hasn't hit digital cameras much, but here it comes. Separate the viewfinding from the camera part and magic happens. X-tooth anyone? You could wear the viewfinder on your sunglasses, flipping it into viewing position while your hands positioned the camera head elsewhere. No need to keep the pieces together any more. Isn't wireless fun?

DEJA VIEW

I'm getting a sense of deja view. Back in the '70s I drew pictures predicting where the evolving world of image chips could lead. I called my anywhere-mounted micro-cam the Vistor and the head-mounted direct view playback, solid state display chip the Pictor. Ah, misspent youth.

For decades the world has been evolving those in the familiar forms available in every video camera, but the X017 expands that vision.

Hopefully, Sony will introduce a tour-de-force camera with still, video, hyper-video, super high speed slow motion and introduce it soon. I'm waiting...

Return to Topics.

New on the Site

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

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Beginners Flash: About Images, Metadata and Databases

The other day we were out at the bird fountain filling it up before happy hour when a couple of early arrivals hopped over. Life's simple for them, we thought wistfully.

They don't have to deal with files and permissions, hard drives and USB devices, plastic mice and double clicking, you name it. You take a picture with your digicam and it's even worse. You get metadata.

What is metadata?

To put it simply, it's data about data. The data it's about, in the case of your images, is the pixel or image data you capture when you press the shutter button.

Rather than count the pixels, for example, there's a metadata entry called ImageWidth and another called ImageHeight stored right at the beginning of in the image file (in the header). There's even one called ImageSize to put them together for you. There are also entries for the shutter speed and the lens aperture, things you can't easily tell by looking at the image data. And things like the contrast and compression settings that you might easily forget. The Scene mode is recorded there and even whether or not the flash fired.

But someone stop me. There are about 90 of these details packed into the Exif header of every image you capture.

So what good is all that information?

Well, it's nice to know what the aperture and shutter speed were for any shot. Or the ISO setting. Or if you used any Exposure Compensation.

But it's more interesting to compare settings between photographs. Why is this one of the kids playing blurred and that one just right? Ah, the shutter speed was different! Why is this flower perfectly brilliant and the previous one all washed out? They were both shot on Auto mode but the perfect one had an EV setting of -0.7.

You can learn things from this information.

You can also organize (and therefore find) your images with it. And that's where a database comes in handy.

What's a database?

A database is simply a collection of data (organized in a variety of ways). An image database collects information about your images. It keeps this information in usually just one file. And the information it keeps is, you guessed it, that metadata. At least.

If you use a program like ACDSee or iPhoto or Aperture or Lightroom, you are (to some extent) using a database to keep track of your images. Even the thumbnails you see are part of that database -- which is why you can still see them when the image files themselves are no longer on your computer.

With a database keeping track of everything, it's very quick to find all the images you shot last Valentine's Day. Your image program just displays all the thumbnails whose images had a creation date matching last Valentine's Day. No need to open thousands of image files on your hard drive to find the creation date metadata, create a thumbnail and display it. All that information is already neatly packed in the database.

You may not know the name of the database file or files. The program probably doesn't want you to fool around with it. But it's there.

This gets even more exciting when you discover a program that does metadata image editing from its database.

Let's just say you have a speck of dust on your lens and it shows up on all your ski pictures from Aspen. Ruined? Nope.

You could launch your image editing software and painstakingly brush the defect away with the Healing Brush or Clone tool. Not a bad approach for two or three images. But if you have 137 images, it's not a good idea. Life being as short as it is.

But what if you could just add a little instruction to each affected file to fix the blemish? You know, something like, "Go down to pixel 1234x756 and make it lighter by 15 red, 23 blue and 16 green and do the same through pixel 1237x762." And what if you could copy that little recipe to apply it to the other 136 images?

Well, you can with metadata image editing in a program like Lightroom. There are quite a few settings you can copy including White Balance, Base Tone (exposure, highlight recovery, fill light, black clipping, brightness, contrast), Tone Curve, Sharpening, Noise Reduction (luminance, color), Treatment (Color), Color (saturation, vibrance, color adjustments), Split Toning, Lens Corrections (chromatic aberration, lens vignetting), Calibration, Spot Removal (there it is) and Crop (straighten angle, aspect ratio).

Where the metadata edit is stored varies from program to program and file to file. A JPEG, to be readable by other programs, has its edits stored in the database, not the image file itself. It takes an Export to make the changes to the pixel data of the image. A Raw file can store edits in its header and still be readable by some programs but it can also store than in a sidecar file with the same root name and an .xmp extension. Which programs recognize which edits is still evolving, but all it takes is saving or exporting the file to create a new image with the edits applied. So you're never worse off.

Ah, the whole flock is splashing around the fountain now. Or is that outright prolonged applause we hear?

Return to Topics.

Advanced Mode: The Magic of Mirrored Portraits

A trick of some professional photographers we know is to display their freshly captured portraits of certain clients on screen in mirrored mode. Experience has taught them that the images are much more appreciated than if they were shown right reading.

A little reflection suggests why this works.

The term "certain clients" would refer to the sort who take great pains with their appearance. They, naturally, take those time-consuming pains in front of a mirror, trusting no intermediary. Consequently, they're accustomed to seeing themselves reversed.

It can be quite jarring to see what you really look like. Mirror mode, if your software can manage it, can provide all the comforts of home. Lightroom can do that, for example, apparently egged on by photographer Jeff Schewe (who has been known to shoot himself in his motorcycle rear-view mirror).

Of course, the inescapable question is just what orientation to make the prints? The certain client might find a mirror image familiar -- but no one else will.

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In the Forums

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

Read about the Canon EOS-1D Mark III at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea4d4c

Visit the Sony Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f789

Ben asks for help choosing an outdoor photography camera at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea4ce1/0

George asks about compact cameras that shoot RAW at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea4d27/0

Visit the Panasonic Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eea297f

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Dave's Deals

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We Have Mail

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

RE: Black & White

Can you recommend a camera with a 10x or 12x zoom lens with 5-6 megapixels that would produce good black & white photos? I am just an amateur but really enjoy blackĘ& white photos I have taken with my old 35mm camera. I just want to go digital now and I want to be able to get some large (12x14, 14x16 prints).

-- Marg

(For hardware recommendations, take a look at Dave's Picks (http://www.imaging-resource.com/WB/WB.HTM) in the Long Zoom and Professionals categories. One feature worth putting on your list is Optical Image Stabilization, which will allow you to hand hold the camera is very dim light.... Many cameras offer a B&W mode to capture only luminance values. Which is helpful to people who prefer to see the scene in B&W when they compose. An interesting alternative, however, is to shoot in color. The color data can then be processed in applications like Photoshop to mimic the color transforms of various B&W emulsions. But you can also restrict tonal shifts to a range of colors (with the Photoshop CS3 beta at least) -- which is a thrill. As for print size, you'll need a sensor that can deliver at least 180 pixels per inch for inkjet prints. -- Editor)

RE: Unexposed dSLR JPEGs

Like Belle Spall in the last issue, I too have a Nikon D50 and have shot the D80. They both have a bad habit of underexposing some and as such have low contrast, I use Photoshop or ACDSee to enhance back or you can shoot at +1/3 EV. The trouble may be in the Nikon sensors as the 50 and 80 have the same sensor. Hope this helps. Wish Nikon would address the issue in a firmware patch.

-- David McLemore

(See, this is the kind of problem you don't have if you shoot in Manual mode all the time <g>. Dave observed at the virtual water cooler that dSLRs (two different sensors here: the 6-Mp D40 and 10-Mp D80) tend to underexpose to protect the highlights. That does deliver a darker image than your typical point-and-shoot. Shooting Raw rather than JPEG can protect your highlights and let you brighten your JPEGs, too, on conversion. But the simple trick is to increase the EV to compensate. Interestingly enough, though, many photographers prefer to shoot at -0.3 EV to save the highlights and recover detail in the shadows later during image processing. -- Editor)

RE: Aperture/Lightroom Stampede

Thanks for a great publication! I read it religiously.

I am confused about Aperture and/or Lightroom. Where do they fit into a photographer's workflow?

I have finally become fairly proficient in using Photoshop (CS2), but keep seeing comments about the two afore-mentioned programs. Should I be using one of them or will the new CS3 be all I need?

-- Lynn G

(Well, it depends what you need. CS3 really doesn't go where Lightroom or Aperture are. Photoshop remains a pixel editor, not a metadata editor. Here's one test. If you regularly need to do the same edit to a set of photos, you should investigate a metadata editor like Aperture or Lightroom. Another test is just how useful the print and Web gallery output tools are. Still another is managing your image collection. Bridge is really about the Suite's files, not images themselves. -- Editor)

RE: Kodak Printer Stampede

Reading the piece about the new Kodak printers soon be on the market I am again confronted with the dye vs. pigment problem. Pigment lasts longer than dye. But, as I seem to recall from a review done on the Epson R800 that it would be a problem if not used frequently as the print heads would clog -- and I think that is what used to happen with my old Epson 780. Since I am an infrequent printer (may go two weeks without printing), would not these pigment based printer be a problem for me or others like me?

-- T. Bennett Finley

(Yes, but both pigments and dyes last longer than we human beings do. Unless you're selling to the art market, the longevity issue isn't really a problem. Any inkjet printer, dye or pigment, will clog when infrequently used. In fact, the HP B9180 pigment printer actually flushes itself every now and then. And HP recommends you leave it on so it can do that. -- Editor)

RE: Mounting Prints

I found a method for mounting prints on walls that I am so far very pleased with. The product is StikkiClips (http://www.stikkiworks.com). I have had 8.5x11 and 13x19 Epson Premium Luster prints up for several weeks. You can easily slide a print out of the clips and slide in a new one. For 8.5x11 I used two clips near the top corners. This seems to work for both landscape and portrait. For the 13x19 landscape I used five clips along the top edge.

-- Gary

(Thanks, Gary! Now to find the things. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

A Google study (http://216.239.37.132/papers/disk_failures.pdf) of hard drive failure among 3,000 server-class disk drives concluded that drives are not as susceptible to high temperatures as previously thought but lower temperatures do produce high failure rates. The study also found that the SMART predictive analysis built into most modern drives is largely ineffective. "After the first scan error, drives are 39 times more likely to fail within 60 days than drives without scan errors," the authors concluded.


Noromis (http://www.noromis.com) has announced $49.95 Noromis PhotoLab [W] to import, enhance and print digital photos, which can "intelligently and automatically adjust for exposure, contrast, color balance, saturation, sharpness, red-eye and digital noise."


Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has released new versions of its free DNG Converter and Camera Raw plug-in for Photoshop CS2, adding support for two dSLRs and Lightroom settings. The update also makes "several significant changes to Camera Raw 3.7 in how it handles auto and default settings," according to the company.


Western Digital (http://www.westerndigital.com) has introduced its $499 My Book World Edition external hard drive system in a $499 1-TB and a $279 500-GB version. This new devices make digital content accessible anywhere in the world "as if that content were stored local to the user," the company said. The terabyte My Book World Edition II model is equipped with a dual-drive configuration and RAID capability.


Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) and Photobucket (http://photobucket.com) have announced a partnership to integrate Adobe Web-based video remix and editing technology directly into the Photobucket user experience, giving 35 million Photobucket users direct, free access to world-class digital video editing tools. A Photoshop-branded image editor is also planned.


Pandigital (http://www.pandigital.net) has introduced its $114.99 Pandigital 6.0-inch digital photo frame showing 410x234 pixels in a 5x7 aspect ratio with a 6-in-1 memory card reader, 128-MB internal memory and USB host connectivity. The company's existing line of digital photo frames ranges in size from a $119.99 7-inch model to a $199.99 9.2-inch model.


Microsoft (http://www.iview-multimedia.com has released iView MediaPro 3.1.3 [MW] with Nikon D40 and D80 support and bug fixes including an issue with corrupt DNG files.


A slew of new camera announcements were made since our last issue. Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony all announced new models. See our News page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM) for the details.

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One Liners

For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).

Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com

PhotoRescue: http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM

Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc

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Next Issue

Look for our PMA wrap-up in the next issue and, if you can't wait until then, you can follow the action live from the floor with our six-man team's video, special reports and galleries of stills (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07/PMAS07.HTML).
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Signoff

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

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

Happy snapping!

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

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