|Volume 9, Number 6||16 March 2007|
Welcome to the 197th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. This issue is devoted to this year's Photo Marketing Association Trade Show. We've invented an award to honor some of the more remarkable products. But that won't stop us from discussing everything we saw in our show highlights report. And if that doesn't suffice, Dave will discuss his top PMA picks and answer listeners' PMA-related questions on Photo Talk Radio at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday.
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:
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Having pioneered the Ersatz Nobel for Customer Service and the rotating Missing Oscar, the Imaging Resource Digital Photography Newsletter (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS) today announces the Envy Awards, a new award for exhibitors of particular merit or amusement at the Photo Marketing Association's annual trade show.
The name is borrowed from the Las Vegas restaurant where the idea took form at an editorial breakfast meeting. The award is symbolized by the aircraft-grade aluminum juice pitchers whose handles are too low to permit graceful pouring and were a continual source of frustration to the wait staff. Elegant but impractical, that's an Envy award. But the products are simply to be envied.
The inaugural batch of Envies, heretofore traditionally awarded only after the show in several vague categories, follow.
- Canon EOS-1D Mark III. Two Envies. Yes, it's fast, yes, its LCD has a live view, yes, it costs more than a used Yugo, but what really turned our head about the Mark III (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07/1172710795.html) was the double flash memory writes for instant backup and the 14-bit channels for improved tonal gradation.
- Olympus E-510 and E-410. One Envy each. The in-camera image stabilization tacks just $100 onto the price the 10-Mp E-510 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07/1173070803.html) over its sibling the 10-Mp E-410 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07/1173070802.html). Both of these beauties feature Live View you can focus through. Pop the flash to see an homage to the OM-10. Very reasonably priced and a bargain with the bundled lenses.
- Nikon D40x. One Envy. With 10.2-Mp and 3-fps burst mode, this beefier version (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07/1173153601.html) of the insanely popular D40 can be had, with lens, for $799.95.
- Pentax K10D. One Envy. Also weighing in at 10.2-Mp but adding in-camera image stabilization and the ability to save images in Adobe DNG format, it's not new but still a winner.
- Sony G1. One Envy. The G1's 6-Mp sensor and 3x optical zoom ranging from 38-114mm are standard features but its 3.5-inch LCD, 2-GB internal memory and Digital Living Network Alliance wireless connectivity take it over the top (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07/1173376644.html).
- Sigma DP1. One Envy. This rangefinder-like digicam (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07/1173400237.html) sports a large Foveon sensor that captures 2652x1768 pixel images and a hotshoe which can be fitted with an optical viewfinder.
- Nikon Coolpix P5000. One Envy. Not only is the styling retro, but this baby (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07/1171944059.html) can use those old Coolpix wide angle and tele converters. The hotshoe is also a welcome sight.
- Olympus SP-550 UZ. One Envy. You make an 18x zoom, you get a prize. Period. The SP-550 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SP550/SP550A.HTM) ranges from 28 to 504mm and it's pretty fast with a f2.8-4.5 aperture over that range (which requires quite a long extension). And, yes, it has hardware (and software) image stabilization.
- Sony Alpha vertical grip. One Envy. Shawn noticed the new Alpha (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07/1173883151.html) has a vertical grip that positions you in exactly the same relation to the lens as the horizontal grip. No, everybody doesn't do that. But they should.
- Sigview S2. One Envy. No Live View on your dSLR? No problem. For the price of a digicam, you can add this optical viewfinder attachment (http://www.argraph.com) which doubles as a remote shutter release.
- Jobo photoGPS. One Envy. Pop this (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07/1173138994.html) on your hotshoe and download its data with your images after a shoot to get GPS information added to your Exif headers. The hotshoe powers the unit just when you take a shot, preserving battery life for up to a year.
- Lexar UDMA 300x CompactFlash. One Envy. This Ultra Direct Memory Access card (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07/1171981812.html) with a UDMA reader can write 45-MB a second. That's something we appreciate being stuck at 90 words a minute.
- M-Rock Bags. One Envy. It's the only holster (http://www.m-rock.com/) big enough for a vertical grip with a bungie cord on the bottom for stuff you can't fit inside, plus an all weather cover.
- Ultimate Light Box. One Envy. This inexpensive flash diffusion system (http://www.harbordigitaldesign.com) gives you a studio full of options in a compact collection.
- Unibind PhotoBook Creator. One Envy. This version (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07mrp/PMA07C.HTM#uni) is a bit more expensive than the stapler-dependent one in our video (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07/PMAS07VIDEO.HTML#vid39) but you can undo the binding.
- PanDigital 8-inch Digital Photo Frame. One Envy. We saw a lot of digital photo frames at the show, but this one (http://www.pandigital.net) has a unique chip and the 8-inch version has a very bright LED backlight.
- Berlebach Tripods. One Envy. Imported from Germany by HP Marketing, these wood tripods made from ash have been around for 110 years. Beautiful, solid, weathered ash, kiln dried, rigid, immune to environmental changes and vibration free. In a range of sizes from a tabletop that sits on the ground on up. A 7 lbs. tripod that rises from 20 to 64 inches goes for under $200.
- Nikon AF-S DS VR 55-200mm f4-5.6 Zoom. One Envy. But at $250, why envy it? Nikon has not only put an affordable telephoto zoom in reach of its 18-55mm kit lens owners, but it's a stabilized telephoto zoom, which actually makes it usable.
- Epson Stylus Photo 1400. One Envy. We saw it first at Macworld (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/MWSF07/mw-expo.htm#eps) but we're still thrilled about a printer that can reproduce Adobe RGB color. On big 13x19 sheets, too. For just $400.
- Kodak 5300 All-in-One Printer. One Envy. This scanner/printer (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07mrp/PMA07D.HTM#kod) does a lot of things well, including copying prints, gang scanning and keeping print costs down with an inexpensive pigment-based ink system and three tiers of instant-dry papers.
- Piezography Neutral K7 Inkset. One Envy. Despite three-ink forays into black-and-white territory, today's inkjets don't work too hard on monochrome imaging. But refit your Epson with one of Piezography's K7 inksets (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07mrp/PMA07D.HTM#pie) and let your eyes bathe in the luxury of rich grays.
- Boinx Fotomagico 2.0. Two Envies. Our favorite way to make slide shows gets one for making a free upgrade to the Express edition (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07mrp/PMA07D.HTM#fot) and another for the Pro watermarking feature.
- Phanfare Photo. One Envy. If this were a free service (http://www.phanfare.com), no one would be talking about Flickr. But you get what you pay for. Sharing done right. And the new scalable video is beyond right.
- PhotoLab. One Envy. This new Windows application (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07mrp/PMA07A2.HTM#pho) was exhibited at Pepcom's DigitalFocus but we're counting them in anyway. It was simply the simplest camera-to-print process we've seen, with things like red-eye reduction taken care of during image import. These guys spent as much time on the user interface as they did on image analysis -- and it shows. Some companies would just outsource that, but what's that say about them?
Imaging Resource did more than wander in the desert, sending two video crews and two still photographers. The Etchells-Deuel and Barnett-Smith video teams, shooting with Canon XL and GL2 camcorders, were matched by News Editor Michael Tomkins shooting with a new Nikon D40 and your newsletter editor shooting with a Nikon Coolpix 990 from the last century.
We put up 45 videos with knowledgeable spokespeople showing off their products, 17 booth reports with 457 images and 2,490 words hosted by Phanfare, 14 daily show reports (nearly 24,000 words) with over 272 shots arranged as both Flash slide shows and HTML galleries, plus 173 news items, many posted by Zig Weidelich, who manned the home front while the rest of the crew was at the show.
Having enjoyed a few days to reflect on the frenzy (and nap), we've assembled a digest of some of the show highlights before passing out our new Envy Awards to the most impressive products we saw.
AT SNEAK PEAK
Nikon. At the Nikon table (http://www.nikon.com) we tried out the new D40x, the just-announced 10.2-megapixel sibling of the popular D40. But the big news was the new 55-200mm VR f4-5.6 stabilized lens that will only set Nikonians back $250. It's VR I not VR II but it's $250, not $700. The D40x won't sell in a kit version with it for a while, but you can get the body only for $729 and tack on the new 55-200mm lens for $979. You can also get it kitted with an 18-55mm zoom for $799 or the 18-135mm for $1,029. We also got a peek at the Nikon Coolpix 5000, the one with a hot shoe. This one had a Nikon SB-400 flash attached. Very cool.
Bags. The Teton holster we saw at the M-Rock (http://www.m-rock.com) table has a large enough mouth to accommodate a vertical grip. It also came with a weather jacket and a bungie strap on the bottom to grab a jacket or a light tripod. And two straps so you can wear it over your shoulder or attached to a backpack or on your chest. It even includes a lens cloth for just $60. We also liked their $100 Everglade dSLR bag with configurable compartments, a U-shaped lens cradle and all the extras of the Teton.
Dfine With U Point. Nik Software (http://www.niksoftware.com) was showing the first application of its U Point technology outside Nikon's Capture NX. It has revamped Dfine, its noise reduction software, using the revolutionary masking interface.
Wireless USB. It's coming. In the next generation of cameras that support USB. In the next generation of laptops. In the next generation of any device with USB support, that USB will be Wireless USB. Artimi (http://www.artimi.com) develops wireless semiconductors for USB electronics. At their table, they had a digicam retrofitted with Wireless USB and a USB dongle plugged into a laptop. They took some shots and wirelessly transmitted them to the laptop and then printed them on a printer with Wireless USB.
Image Trends. Image Trends (http://www.imagetrendsinc.com) announced two new applications (of a slew about to be released) priced at $49.95 each. DustKleen is an automatic dust removal program with manual touch up controls for scanned images from both film and prints. SensorKleen a semi-automatic SmartBrush that removes artifacts created by dust and debris on the dSLR sensor cover. They're also planning face sheen, teeth/eye whitening and other edits too processor intensive for in-camera application. And a standalone app to run them in.
Jobo photoGPS. Jobo (http://www.jobo.com) had its Spectator storage and display device, the new Giga Vu Pro storage and display device and the photoGPS device, which attaches to your dSLR's hot shoe to record GPS data as metadata for each shot with no extra cables (which can run $100 for conventional GPS systems). The photoGPS is triggered by the flash signal in the hot shoe and stores the data (latitude, longitude, altitude, etc.) for each shot in its internal memory. With the included NXP swGPS software, the GPS data downloaded via USB is merged with the image data.
Flash Diffusion System. Ultimate Light Box (http://www.ultimatelightbox.com) is a system that starts with a custom plastic mount available for about 20 different external flash units. To that you can add a simple $19.95 domed diffuser (mount included), a $24.95 light box (which functions like a soft box), a $6.95 mini reflector (the light box without a diffuser in front), a $19.95 black box (a black rather than diffused light box), sensor shields (to block light on one or another side of a light box) and colored gels.
Tripod Heads. Acratech (http://www.acratechusa.com) showed its Ultimate Ballhead, which weighs less than a pound and the Long Lens Head, which can support a 600mm f4.0 lens with perfect balance.
Batteries. If you haven't bought some AAs in a while, you're in for a surprise. Energizer evangelist Elizabeth Sedlock said recent advances in NiMH rechargeables (which Energizer does sell in 2500 mAh capacities) now make it possible for a fully charged set to hold nearly 80 percent of its charge up to five years. Energizer sells a compact charger that can charge four cells in a pod that doubles as a carrying case.
PanDigital Frames. PanDigital (http://www.pandigital.net) distinguishes itself from its many digital frame competitors by being the first to use an MP3 player chipset rather than a DVD player chipset in its frames. This makes image transfers to its large internal flash memory fast, for one, but generally improves performance and connectivity. PanDigital President Dean Finnegan told us the company sold 520,000 frames in the last quarter of 2006, 70 percent of the buyers female and they bought 1.8 frames, coming back for a second frame after the delight of experiencing the first. The company is looking forward to updating the chipset in June with some exciting new options like Wireless B/G connectivity, a lithium-ion battery, a timer for turning the frame on and off at regular intervals and support for more document formats so you can store recipes in the internal memory, bring it into the kitchen and cook with it.
PhotoLab. Noromis (http://www.noromis.com) recently introduced its $49.95 PhotoLab Windows application 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." The company spent a lot of time developing the program's image analysis capability but it also spent a lot of time on usability and the user interface. It actually rigged up a test room with video cameras to record user's faces and the screens they were looking at.
Muvee. Another piece of software that caught our attention was muveeNow (http://www.muvee.com). The Singapore-based company's earlier muvee offering is embedded in some Nikon Coolpix models and in some kiosks as well. The new version is a standalone Windows application that, they company said, makes it a three-step process to create a video presentation from stills or video. Step One is to select the images or video clips you want to use. Step Two is to pick the MP3 music file you want to use and the template for the production. A number of templates ship with the product and more are available online at an additional charge. Step Three is to play the production.
Microtek. We had a chance to meet with Microtek's Parker Plaisted to discuss the whereabouts of the long-awaited M1 scanner (http://www.microtek.com). They've actually wrapped up the hardware side of it but are still working with another firm on the software. We asked him about the i900 large film scanning issue where some unevenness was reported in our forums. He thought it was most likely a flatness issue with the film but confessed he wasn't familiar with it. He was familiar with LaserSoft's new SilverFast 6.5, which, he confirmed, dramatically improves the dynamic range of scanners it runs on. LaserSoft tests indicated two exposures were sufficient to capture highlight and shadow detail independently, merging the two like Photoshop's HDR format to enhance dynamic range.
Camphones vs. Digicams. Chris Chute discussed what people do with their cameras and camphones. His survey from Sept. 2006 showed the mean number of images captured per month with a digicam (57) was almost three times higher than those taken with a camphone (18), with almost four times as many printed (41 percent vs. 12 percent). But digicam images even beat camphone images in the percent emailed a month (25/16), uploaded (14/8) and enhanced (19/8). The only category camphones prevailed in was the percent instant messaged (8/5).
Last year, he said, sales of camphones topped 508 million units while digital cameras hit 105 and digital camcorders fell just short of 13. The numbers will increase this year, he predicted, with multimedia handsets responding to the increasing desire to upload video. Those sets will feature two to 5-Mp sensors with DVD quality video and be able to directly upload stills and video with rich-media browsing and geo-tagging thrown in. They're particularly attractive because they're the "king of connectivity," providing seamless connections while hiding the complexity of it all from the user. Something digicams have yet to do.
While about half of all digicam and camphone users both take video with their devices, camphone users capture 5.0 clips a month compared to digicam users at just 2.7. But that's where the good news stops for handsets. They're still largely just one or 2-Mp units with significant shutter lag and no flash.
DxO, we note, has a solution for some of those problems with software autofocus that can focus as close as six inches, uses no power and is instant. The threat to digicams is video capture. It's the next big thing, he said. He also noted that 85 percent of U.S. shipments are going to repeat customers as dSLRs begin to cannibalize the high-end segment.
So the question is whether digicams can be competitive with camphone connectivity while maintaining their edge in image quality.
Home Printing. Ron Glaz took a look at digital photofinishing in the home. Today 56 percent of prints are made at home with 39 percent made by retail outlets and 5 percent online. He expects retail to do about 54 percent by 2010 at the expense of home printing, he said, even though home printing continues to attract new vendors.
Kodak, for example, has just introduced its multi-function inkjet line featuring high quality, ease of use and lower ink costs. But he suspects the company won't be able to modify buying behavior. At the point of purchase the customer will find it hard to justify spending $50 more for a Kodak when ink is just $10 less a cartridge and they use just one a year -- a five year stretch to return the initial investment. By which time, he observed, the unit will no doubt be overshadowed by new technology.
Zink, too, has been bitten by the home printer bug. The company bought the rights to Polaroid thermal color paper technology that can produce a 2x3 inch print for 20 cents. A price that is not quite competitive yet.
The 4x6 printer is attractive because of its print quality and direct-connect convenience. It's usually bought as a bundle or gift (particularly for Christmas, graduation and Mother's/Father's Day). And the mean price is $149. Price, however, is not the most important factor influencing purchase. That award goes to quality (4.43 on a scale of 1 to 5), followed by a direct camera connection (3.96), then price (3.59) and memory slot (3.39).
The real bottleneck to home photo printing growth, he suggested, was that photos are imprisoned in the personal computer. The industry needs a black box to release them, an eShoebox, that anybody can set up and access at any time, which also backs itself up. Windows Home Server has the right idea, but is too restrictive. After all, he observed, the more images are seen, the more prints will be made.
Q&A. In the question and answer period following, a couple of interesting observations were added to the presentation:
- They expect to see the megapixel race continue into the 12-Mp range and higher if noise can be managed. It's really a question of deploying all those Japanese engineers, they said.
- Consumers have 2.2 cards per camera and bite when they see more capacity for around $50. It's a good business to be in with solid-state camcorders just around the bend.
ON THE SHOW FLOOR
Lexar. Lexar (http://www.lexar.com) showed their new stackable FireWire 800 card readers that allow for concurrent downloads from multiple cards. The readers can handle both UDMA and standard CompactFlash cards, leveraging the faster UDMA card speed. The UDMA 300x CompactFlash card is not just fast, though. It's bundled with a tempting software suite that includes Image Rescue 3 software, Lexar Backup n Sync software powered by Sharpcast (http://www.sharpcast.com) and the full version of Corel Paint Shop Pro x software to enhance, edit and manage photos.
Zigview S2 & Twin1. Argraph (http://www.argraph.com) demoed the $499.95 Zigview S2, a miniature video camera that slides onto your dSLR's eyepiece to provide a 2.5-inch articulated LCD monitor (with 230K pixels) with a live view of your subject. The company also sells an infrared wireless shutter release called the Twin1 sold in two configurations. If your camera has a built-in sensor, you can just buy the $34.95 transmitter. Otherwise, you can buy the transmitter with a receiver as an $89.95 set. Because it has two sensors in the front of its large disc and one in the rear, you can trigger the shutter from any angle. Range is up to 60 feet and a cable is included to use it as a wired shutter release.
Hall of Fame. But for completely unattended remote operation, you can't beat the International Photography Hall of Fame booth (http://www.iphf.org) where no one was in attendance. Operated by the Photographic Art and Science Foundation in the Oklahoma City, it's "dedicated to education and preservation of photographic prints and equipment" with a mission statement "to promote awareness and education of the history of photography." Its attractively illustrated Fall 16-page quarterly included articles on Adolf Fassbender (the Dean of Pictorialism), Earnest Haas, D.A. Black, a history of the CCD and digital cameras and a piece on stereographs, among other items. Membership in organization starting at $20 for students and $35 for mere mortals.
SeeFile. SeeFile (http://www.seefile.com) showed the third generation of its $499 Web-based file sharing software for OS X that allows instant sharing, annotation and sales without transferring files or maintaining services with a hosted service. The product is particularly suited to pro photographers who want to have complete control of their online sales. Unlike hosted providers, SeeFile runs locally so you can just copy your large image files to a local hard disk. Thumbnails and watermarked previews, plus HTML display that makes them accessible via a Web browser to anyone, are automatically generated. SeeFile provides side-by-side comparisons, onscreen annotations and color-coded collections for each user. Athentech's Perfectly Clear (http://athentech.com) technology is also included to automatically and instantly optimizes the lighting for each and every pixel while maintaining accurate color and zero clipping. At the same time, it automatically corrects white balance and restores faded colors. For a final touch, Perfectly Clear uses patented medical imaging technology to provide photographs with optimal contrast and sharpening.
Unibind. Ah, the bound photo book. And at the show, there are a few companies with one or another way to bind your images into real books at home. One we liked is the $119.99 PhotoBook Creator (http://www.myphotobookcreator.com) manufactured by Unibind (http://www.unibind.com), which includes the binding machine, two covers and Windows software. We had a short demonstration -- 90 seconds is all it takes. You drop one of the empty hardback book covers into a magnetic warming bar with two panels to hold the book's spine against the warm metal bar. Inside the spine is another steel strip, which accounts for the attraction. The heat is necessary to melt a resin coated on the inside of the spine. When the resin has melted, you can insert a stack of papers (your book, that is) and the resin will harden, holding them in the cover. Presto! You've made a book at home. You can also drop the finished book back in the heater to loosen the resin and remove the pages a few times. After that, you lose enough resin that the pages won't adhere to the cover any more.
HP. Encouraged by the success of their in-camera slimming effect, HP has added a couple more tricks. Pets don't reflect the light from your flash off the back of their iris quite the same way we do. They have green-eye, not red-eye. HP figured it was just as easy to do for green what they do for red. Just navigate to the pupil, click and its gone. And what you can do for pets you can do for blemishes. A new feature called Touch Up lets you spot away pimples, moles and scars the same way you remove red-eye. HP also introduced Vista-compatible tagging with these models. You can set a tag to be used on all the images you'll be taking or just assign a tag to images you've taken and Vista will recognize them when you copy the images to your computer. The company has also redesigned its free Photosmart Essentials software package.
Panasonic. Panasonic is launching its Digital Photo Academy (http://www.DigitalPhotoAcademy.com) this May in 20 different cities. Courses offered at three different levels of expertise (beginner, intermediate and advanced) will be taught by a local professional photographer, giving students on-going access to photo experts and resources in their own community. Cities include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa and Washington, D.C.
Fotomagico. We're great fans of Boinx Software's Fotomagico (http://www.boinx.com) for Mac OS X. It's fun to work with and the results are always first class. There is an issue with computers that use the ATI Radeon 7500 graphics card, which export an all-black video. But otherwise, we've recommended it without hesitation. The company has just released version 2.0 and made it a free upgrade to anyone with a version 1.x license. Version 2.0 is being released in two versions, the $49 FotoMagico 2 Express and the $129 FotoMagico 2 Pro. The free upgrade is to the Express version but upgrading to Pro is just $50 until May 31. There's also a 15 percent discount if you use "PMA07" as the coupon code when ordering on the Web. Which might come in handy if you're interested in the new family license that lets you use the software simultaneously on up to five computers "in a private household" at the same time. The new version can create standalone players and screensavers (Mac only at the moment) with the same playback quality as the full version of FotoMagico. Since the show is rendered in real time, the file sizes remain small compared to HD video. Standalone players and screensavers start the show as soon as they are opened and can be made to time out or after quit after having been played a set number of times. Another new feature, only available in the Pro edition, allows you to add a watermark to your presentation. Any JPEG can be used, resized and repositioned using the usual Fotomagico methods. The ghosted images appears throughout the entire show. The Pro edition also supports Aperture libraries, HD movie export and custom export options.
Piezography. Another product that made us drool is Piezography's Neutral K7 archival inkset (http://www.piezography.com). It's the world's first neutral tone, archival inkset for black and white printing. Using seven shades of monochrome ink composed of carbon pigment, each perfectly neutral, color tone is cast strictly by the paper you're printing on. But how do you tell your printer it has gray ink in it instead of color? You use QuadToneRIP, a shareware program that knows what's in each cartridge and what to do with it. Like use the very light gray rather than small dark dots in the highlights and mix a couple of the darker grays in the shadows to build detail. To print with these inks, you just install the cartridges in your printer, install QuadToneRIP on your OS X or Windows computer, open your grayscale image, pick your paper from the list in the QuadToneRIP window and print.
Kodak. At Kodak's booth we finally got a glimpse of Goldeneye (and even learned how to spell it). Bring your Bluetooth mobile phone within range of the Goldeneye Bluetooth dongle in a Windows computer's USB port and your phone will ask you if it's OK to transfer its images to the computer. The computer has to have paired with your phone first, so not any camphone will get that generous offer. But once paired, any time you walk by, you can automatically transfer images off your cell to your computer. They can even be sent automatically to the great gallery in the sky, EasyShare Gallery. Freeing them from that cell phone forever. Kodak hasn't figured out how to market it yet, but it could just be one more Bluetooth accessory for your cell phone, like a headset. And we finally got a chance to get some pictures of Kodak's new all-in-one inkjet line. The 5300 mid-range model (with the LCD that functions like a mini-kiosk) was on display with its inexpensive replacement ink cartridges. The company won't disclose printing or scanning resolution, but apparently scanning resolution is 1200 (that's what comes up in the dialog box anyway, we were told). We also learned the exclusive distribution deal with Best Buy is only for three months. After that, other distribution chains will open, although Kodak wasn't naming names.
Wilhelm. We stopped at the press room to get copies of the DIMA press releases and ran into Henry Wilhelm of Wilhelm Imaging Research (http://www.wilhelm-research.com). He gave us a copy of his latest report on the permanence of all types of 4x6 prints (http://www.wilhelm-research.com/ist/WIR_IS&T_2007_03_HW.pdf), which he just presented this week at the show.
Wilhelm took a look at how long 4x6 prints last when you display them (as a framed print or just on your refrigerator) and when your store them (say, in an album). He found that your choice of ink and paper can affect the longevity of your print by a factor of 200 times.
One of the most pernicious factors in shortening print life is what he calls "ambient ozone exposure." Also known as gas-fading (from ozone in polluted air), it does its worst damage on prints made with dye-based inks on instant-dry (porous) paper. Kodak's new all-in-ones do use instant-dry paper but with pigment-based inks. But if you buy instant-dry paper (instead of the usual swellable sheets) for your dye-based printer, you risk short print life.
Roughly speaking, framing a print behind glass doubles its life, partly by protecting it from ozone. That isn't always the case, as you can see by comparing the framed and bare bulb columns of the report, but generally true.
An even more surprising factor in print longevity is the brand of ink and paper you buy. We have argued with readers for years about the importance of buying the stuff the printer manufacturer sells. There's a superstition that this is just a way to squeeze more pennies out of your purse and that any ink and paper is about the same as any other. But Wilhelm proves dramatically the difference is significant.
Take the HP Photosmart 145 and 245 printers. He made prints on them using the highest quality, branded materials -- both ink and paper -- he could buy in January from Office Depot, Staples and HP. If you tack them up on your fridge, the Office Depot print will go two months before fading, the Staples print three months and the HP print 32 years. Frame them behind glass and you get four months from the Office Depot print, three years from the Staples print (less than a drugstore print still) and 68 years from the HP print.
Just making a print at a Photosmart Express retail kiosk will last 200 times longer than that Office Depot print made with store-brand ink in a refilled HP 57 cartridge on Office Depot Professional Photo Paper.
Wilhelm notes, "Epson, Hewlett-Packard and Lexmark now manufacture inkjet prints, inks and photo papers for home printing that have higher WIR Display Permanence Ratings than traditional silver-halide color prints." Kodak's dye sub prints (what comes out of those docks) survive the longest at 10 years unprotected and 26 years framed.
Back at the bunker, we finally got a good night's sleep. Only to have a horrific dream of cables twisting in the grass (we don't have a lawn) and devices in the bushes (we haven't landscaped yet, those are really weeds). In the dream, every night this collection would escalate into more and more boxes and wires. Had the tables been turned? Were we now being reviewed by the devices?
Turns out, according to the dream anyway, it was just a sloppy cable installer with the wrong address. But we think we got a few review units out of the thing. And that's nothing to snore about.
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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The other day some friends came by, crammed us in their GMC Envoy and took us into the mountains for a few days. And people wonder why we never answer the door.
Actually, we knew they were coming. They'd made all the arrangements. All we had to do was pack. And that was simple enough until we got to the part where we pack the camera.
This used to be easy. Find the Average Digicam, its battery charger, a few spare cards and put them in the Domke bag.
But we were going into the majestic mountains. The gorgeous Sierras. Dusted with snow. With a bunch of wild, fun-loving characters.
We could have taken the Average, but it tends to live up to its name. It makes a wonderful note taker and event reporter. But its not really sociable or particularly sensitive, let's say.
We thought, instead, that we'd take the Big Boy dSLR we acquired last year. We've been practicing with it for a few months now. Rarely deviating from Manual so we could make the controls second nature. What a great chance to see how we're doing.
But the Big Boy isn't quite the right camera for social occasions. Sure, you can do it, but it's intimidating. You have to tip the waitress more in a restaurant. And it won't shoot movies anyway.
So we decided to take a sociable digicam. Our EasyCam has a long-lasting battery and a spare in a slim little charger, a three-inch LCD so you can pass it around, a Movie mode with sound and zoom, and a Scene mode for Snow. And it's small.
Astute readers will recognize these brand names as the ones we always recommend when prompted. The best dSLR? A Big Boy, of course. The best deal in a digicam? The EasyCam. Add our Nameless Printer and you get the picture.
Whenever we went out -- and we were out a lot -- we pocketed the EasyCam and holstered the Big Boy.
If we pulled over at a Scenic Overlook, we took a few shots with the Big Boy through a circular polarizing filter to cut glare (call it Snow mode, if you like). We slipped into Raw mode for those and spent no little time composing the shot with the zoom lens. The lens hood, which took a minute to click into place, was a boon, too, in the low arc of the sun.
If we were goofing around in a restaurant, we pulled out the EasyCam. We even took a few movies of the Backup Generation (you know, the ones you rely on when we fail) tubing down the hillside. Or, even better, cooking dinner. It may have been a mistake to teach them to speak, but teaching them to cook was ingenious.
Back at the cabin, the fire roaring, it was a different story. We didn't want to share our Raw images. They weren't processed after all, except as quick and dirty JPEG thumbnails. And they were just scenery anyway. But our EasyCam JPEGs were fun to pass around. As was the EasyCam -- either to shoot with or to watch.
And when we got home, both sets of images were a pleasure to pull up on the screen. With the EasyCam scenics we even made a few newsletter ads you'll see in the coming weeks. So they weren't too shabby. And the Big Boy Raw files turned into a few 13x19 prints. We thought we'd take them over to show Mom for a laugh. She's used to flipping through 4x6s not 13x19s.
So we admit it. We need two cameras wherever we go. One for fun, one for show. Now if we could only think of a good reason to bring three!
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RE: Fuzzy Photos
For a long journey through Thailand and Laos, I bought a Canon PowerShot SD800 IS. I took 1,300 pictures. On the little screen they look great but now at home on the monitor not one of the pictures is really sharp, showing instead an overall slight unsharpness. I am very disappointed. Am I the only one with this problem?
-- Martin Lampe(Martin, compare your results to our shots in the review (http://www.digital-photography-resource.com/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=821). If your camera didn't do as well, you may indeed have a hardware issue but we're not aware of any general focusing issue with this model. -- Editor)
RE: Pigments vs. Dyes
I disagree strongly with the following statement: "Yes, but both pigments and dyes last longer than we human beings do."
You should have at least qualified the statement. My wife likes to hang my prints on the refrigerator, which is exposed to bright daylight (not direct sun) and bright fluorescents at night. Prints made with older Epson dye-based printers fade in a few months. A black dog turned green in a short time. By contrast, prints from the pigmented ink Epson R800 have been on the refrigerator for several years with no observable fading. Epson, in their longevity ratings, state the results are based on the prints being kept out of bright light and under glass. I'm sure that will greatly reduce the fading.
However, what most people are looking for is the same fade resistance they get with their 4x6 prints made from their point-and-shoot film cameras. When stuck to a refrigerator under the conditions I described, the film prints and pigmented ink prints have similar fade resistance. Dye-based prints just don't compare, at least from older printers. Are new dye-based inks formulated to have fade resistance the same as pigmented inks?
-- Dave Williams(If you had put a Canon ChromaLife print on the fridge, it wouldn't have faded in a few months, Dave. If you'd put an HP Vivera dye-based print up it would have made it at least 16 years, maybe 42. If you had an Epson Claria print, 17 easy. But the question is what's the difference in the maximum life of a dye or pigment print. Canon says that dye print will last 100 in an album, 30 years in a frame and 10 years on the fridge. So the latest dye technology made with manufacturer-brand paper and ink can indeed outlive us. But if you use instant dry papers, dyes will fade in a couple of months from the ozone in the air. Which is why Kodak went pigment on its new printers and Canon uses swellable papers. -- Editor)
Your online Noiseware review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/INW/INW.HTM) should make a comparison, between the software and in-camera noise reduction algorithms (process a Raw file with third party software and a JPEG made by the camera with its internal noise reduction).
-- Royi Avital(You may assume that digicam high ISO images (and in particular all those in the Noiseware review) have already had noise reduction applied by the camera. So what you are seeing with Noiseware, except for the D70s samples, is an improvement over built-in (and often undisclosed) noise reduction. -- Editor)
Apple (http://www.apple.com) has released Mac OS X 10.4.9 Update which includes a handful of enhancements to Aperture, its image editing software, including support for more Raw formats, improved Spot & patch results thanks to changes to Core Image, black Viewer issue addressed and GPS metadata preserved on export.
At the same time, the company released iPhoto 6.0.6 to address "issues associated with Exif data compatibility and Photocasting."
NASA scientists calibrated some cameras aboard the STEREO-B spacecraft and saw the moon pass over a grapefruit sun (http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2007/12mar_stereoeclipse.htm?list39638).
Dave Cross (http://www.informit.com/articles/article.asp?p=420092&rl=1) interviewed Scott Kelby about Lightroom, his new book and the launch of Darkroom, his new magazine for Lightroom users.
Light Crafts (http://www.lightcrafts.com) has released LightZone 2.2.1 [MW] hot on the heels of v2.2, which introduced a number of changes in the Zone System-based image editing software.
Ovolab (http://www.ovolab.com) has released it s$49.95 Geophoto 1.0 [M] to arrange and display photos on a 3D Earth map. You can add pictures to Geophoto's library from iPhoto, from Aperture and directly from the Internet from sites like Flickr.
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