|Volume 9, Number 18||31 August 2007|
Welcome to the 209th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. An extended look at Nikon's new D300 leads this issue followed by Peter iNova's comprehensive look at Apple's '08 software from a photographer's perspective. Then we reveal our inexpensive solution for framing 13x19 prints. It's all about value, as Peter says.
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By SHAWN BARNETT, DAVE ETCHELLS and SIEGFRIED WEIDELICH(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D300/D300A.HTM on the Web site.)
If you've held on to your Nikon gear while others defected to other brands, your day has come. Though Nikon has long since re-established its prominence in the dSLR market, the announcements of the D3 and D300 take the battle to a new level. If the D80, D40 and D40x were a shot across the bow of their largest competitor, the D3 and D300 are a broadside, point-blank.
Both the D3 and D300 are pro-grade cameras and share many of the same revolutionary features. While the D3 breaks new ground for Nikon with a full-frame sensor (called FX) at 12.1 megapixels, the D300 nearly matches that resolution at the old DX-size, recording a 12.3-Mp image with a 1.5x crop factor. They share so many features, we've come to think of the D300 as the build-it-yourself Nikon D3. You can almost achieve the D3's performance by adding accessories to the D300; all but the larger frame size.
Nikon's D300 displaces the D200 at the top of the prosumer DX lineup, but it does not replace it. The D200 will live on. But D200 owners in particular will be especially drawn to the D300's new features. The camera's increased resolution, 14-bit A/D conversion and a frame rate of six frames-per-second will pique their interest. The new Scene Recognition System that merges data from the AF system with data from the 1,005-point metering system for greater accuracy and better tracking will draw them closer; the new 51-point AF system that fairly dominates the DX-sized frame and includes 15 cross-type sensors will make them chuckle with joy; and the 920,000 pixel, 3-inch LCD will make them check their bank balance for available funds.
They won't know whether they care for Live View, in-camera Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction, a self-cleaning sensor or optic-by-optic autofocus fine-tuning until they have the camera in their hands; but the ability to upgrade to eight-frames-per-second with the purchase of a battery grip will set their resolve.
The only disappointment is the Nikon D300's November shipping date. That's a long time to wait for something that so whets the appetite. With an expected retail price of $1,800, D200 owners will be on familiar ground, investing a little more money for a lot more camera. Here's hoping that the legacy of the D200's supply shortages -- which we're told persist to this day -- won't be a problem with the D300.
LOOK & FEEL
The D300 has a strong magnesium alloy body for a rock-solid feel. It is sealed to keep dust and moisture out and the optional battery grip is built of the same material. The substantial grip looks similar to the D200, which was an excellent fit for most hands.
LCD. The first major aspect that the D300 shares with the D3 is its high-resolution LCD. At 920,000 pixels, the D300's LCD resolution is higher than any SLR currently on the market. As LCDs get bigger, the value of higher resolution becomes clear. You can more easily check focus, sometimes even without zooming in. But when you do zoom in, you can really check focus.
The actual resolution in more familiar dimensional terms is 640x480, because Nikon counts each color in their calculation. But even if you count three horizontal pixels as one, that's still 266 pixels per inch, which is a lot finer resolution than your computer screen. The result is a remarkably smooth, crisp and sharp view of your images. Menus look like they're printed on photographic paper.
The new LCD has a 170 degree viewing angle and offers a 100 percent view, whether you're looking at captured images or framing in Live View mode. We'll test that when we get a sample, but in general we find that to be true.
Autofocus. Though Nikon has been criticized for having fewer AF-points on their pro cameras when compared to Canon, Nikon's new Multi-CAM 3500DX AF system will silence the critics. Its 51-point "precision focus" AF points include 15 cross-type points, sensitive to both horizontal and vertical lines.
The Multi-CAM system can be set to five modes on the Nikon D300, including 9-area, 21-area, 51-area and 51-area with 3D tracking. The fifth mode is an 11-area mode designed to mimic the D200's AF system for those making the transition.
The big story with the new autofocus system, however, is its intelligent integration with data from the Scene Recognition System metering to enhance subject tracking. When in 51-area with 3D tracking mode, the camera-operation CPU looks at data from both the AF sensor and the 1,005-area metering sensor. With this extra information, the AF system can better select and track a subject, even when it leaves the AF area.
The implications and actual integration into the system aren't fully clear at this point, but this kind of innovative thinking is a hallmark of Nikon. It seems to recognize more than anyone just how much can be done with a camera that is also a sophisticated computer.
Fine-tuning. If we've discovered anything reviewing lenses on SLRgear.com (http://www.slrgear.com), it's that lenses and bodies don't always match. Sometimes they focus in front of the subject, sometimes they focus in back of the subject. Camera companies are starting to acknowledge this, building in adjustments to compensate for front- and back-focusing problems.
The Nikon D300 has a new system that just does that, but unlike the D200 it doesn't just work for the body side of the equation. Sometimes it's the lenses that are out of tune too, so adjusting just the camera's AF to work well with one lens won't solve the problem with another. Indeed it can make other lenses worse.
So the Nikon D300 has a new system where the camera can store adjustments for up to 10 lenses. Not individual lenses by serial number but by type. If you have only one of each type of lens, say a 50mm f1.4 and a 100mm f2.8, you'll have no problem.
Perhaps triggered by Olympus and Panasonic in the consumer SLR space, Live View on dSLRs seems to be becoming a more common feature. With the advent of Nikon's CMOS sensor, the Nikon D3 and D300 both now feature Live View modes of their own. Here again though, Nikon has gone the competition one better, by providing what is to our eyes the most useful and usable dSLR Live View mode yet. What makes Nikon's Live View mode so uniquely effective are the two options it provides for autofocus operation.
The first mode is the one used by everyone else. Because the traditional AF sensors are blocked when you flip up the mirror for Live View mode, you have to drop the mirror to focus, then flip it back for Live View. Canon, Nikon and Olympus all have this mode.
The second mode -- Live View (Tripod mode) -- is the real charm, using contrast detect autofocus driven from the imaging sensor. Instead of flipping mechanical switches, the Nikon D300 and D3 simply read data off the CMOS image sensor and evaluate how abruptly light to dark (or dark to light) transitions happen on the image plane. Contrast-detect AF isn't nearly as fast as phase-detect (which is why the shutter response of most digicams is so much slower than most dSLRs), but at least these new Nikons can focus without interrupting the Live View display.
As an added benefit, because it's working with data coming from the main image sensor, you can move the AF point anywhere you want within the frame area, right out to the extreme edges. We're very interested in testing this feature. Apparently Nikon really means the camera must be mounted on a tripod because the sensor isn't quite fast enough to handle camera or subject movement while autofocusing.
The D3 and D300 also provide up to a 10x zoom in Live View mode, providing excellent focus discrimination when focusing manually. Less than 10x magnification really doesn't do the trick for reviewing focus, but at 10x we felt we could pretty well nail the focus every time.
Both the new Nikons and Canons include the ability to control the camera from a computer remotely and that includes receiving a Live View image from the camera. You can focus, adjust settings and fire, all from a computer. What's more, you can do it via cable or WiFi connection, with the optional WiFi adapters. It's a feature Olympus cameras do not yet have.
Viewfinder. Of course, where you'll find the real speed of an SLR is through the optical viewfinder. And though the Nikon D200's viewfinder was big, bright and beautiful, the Nikon D300's viewfinder delivers 100 percent frame coverage, something we wished for in our D200 review. Magnification is still a very good 0.94x.
Sensor. Measuring 24x15mm, the Nikon's new 12.3-Mp CMOS sensor produces images with slightly greater pixel dimensions than its big brother, the full-frame D3. The D300's images measure 4320x2888, compared to 4256x2832 on the D3. Of course, the pixel pitch is a little smaller, at 5.49 microns, compared to the D3's 8.45 microns. Generally, the larger the pixel, the more light-gathering capability, so we expect the D3 to have better low-light noise control.
Still, Nikon has raised the ISO for the D300, ranging from 200 to 3200, plus Lo-1 (100) and Hi-1 (6400).
Also like the D3, you can switch between 12-bit and 14-bit analog-to-digital conversion. The latter mode avails you of far more color nuance than the traditional 12-bit mode. Though JPEG images are saved at 8-bits, NEF images can contain the full 14-bits of data.
Shutter. The D300 is capable of six frames-per-second and up to eight fps when used with the new MB-D10 Multi-Power battery pack (more on this below). Shutter lag is 45 milliseconds, the viewfinder blackout time is 100 milliseconds and expected shutter life is 150,000 cycles.
Processor. The Nikon D300 uses the same EXPEED processor as the D3, at least we think so. It has a 16-bit pipeline and is the engine for processing the 14-bit color data from analog to digital at such a rapid rate. The buffer is sufficient to handle up to 100 shots at eight fps in JPEG Large/Normal mode. It also enables such impressive features as the Scene Recognition System, in-camera Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction and Active D-Lighting, detailed below. Nikon's latest releases on the matter describe EXPEED as not necessarily a piece of specific hardware, but rather a method of processing images for a desired output.
Scene Recognition System. The old Matrix metering system has improved so much that Nikon had to rename it Scene Recognition System. We don't have a lot of detail at this point, except that the system takes more of the scene information into account. Matrix metering in general compares what it sees through the lens to a special database, one that's created from several hundred thousand different possible scenes. The SRS version does a more complete analysis, improving white balance, focus tracking and exposure. One of its chief benefits is highlight analysis, which is designed to prevent blown highlights in common situations by adjusting the tone curve to compensate.
The D300 also includes a new white balance tweaking tool, with x/y axis adjustment, as we've seen on a few other dSLRs.
Active D-Lighting. D-Lighting is a popular post-processing feature in cameras like the Nikon D80 and D40 and even Nikon's consumer cameras. It's a quick software process that attempts to overcome underexposed images and bring detail out of shadows. It's seen as a solution to a number of common problems, including backlit images where fill lighting could have been applied, but wasn't (hence the name, for digital lighting and a play on delighting).
Well, the system has been improved in the new Nikon D300 and D3, to include optimization of image contrast. That's a good tweak because often D-Lighting could overprocess the shadows and flatten the overall contrast. But it's the new EXPEED processor that gives the new feature the Active prefix, because D-Lighting can be applied to images automatically, immediately after capture. We'll have to see how that works and we do wonder whether it adds time to buffer clearing, but if it works, it could be a good solution in poor lighting.
Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction. While other cameras have had lens distortion processing built-in, notably the Olympus E-1, none have done the processing based on the distortion they see in the image like the D300 and D3 do when Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction is turned on. The E-1 took its distortion-correction cues from whichever lens was mounted and applied a pre-set amount of correction; but no image analysis actually took place. That's also the approach taken by most software applications. But the new Nikons have the power, thanks to the EXPEED processor, to actually analyze each image after capture and fix the chromatic aberration before saving the file.
We'll have to see how well this works once we get a production sample to play with, but the prospects are exciting, particularly on the D3, whose full frame sensor places more demands on most lenses. We'll report more on this exciting development, including sharing the results of some tests made with DxO Analyzer to compare before/after performance, once we have a chance to test a production model of the D3.
Picture Control. Nikon has standardized their Picture Control system so that camera settings for tone, saturation, brightness and sharpening can be set and ported to other Nikon dSLRs. Currently the only camera compatible with the option is the Nikon D3 and new models are set to follow the standard.
Storage and battery. The Nikon D300 uses an EN-EL3e battery, which will drive it through 1,372 shots on a single charge. The optional MB-D10 Multi-Power Battery Pack adds more than two frames per second, taking the D300 to eight fps, probably its most enticing feature. But it also allows a battery to be kept in the camera body to supplement the battery grip's input. Other designs use a tower that goes up into the battery compartment, which introduces a few problems, including packing the grip in a camera bag when it's not in use. The MB-D10 is easier to use and packs well.
The reason it's called a Multi-Power Battery Pack is that it takes other kinds of batteries, including eight AA cells and an EN-EL4a, the same lithium-ion battery that the Nikon D3 and D2x use. Now we're talking power: 11.1v 2500mAh to be exact. No word on how many frames you can get with that pack, but it's significant.
Dust cleaning. We don't know a lot of detail, nor do we really need to, but the D300 has a dust cleaning system that the D3 does not. Its first dust reduction system, Nikon is careful to call it "reduction," which is admirable, because we haven't seen a single system that actually keeps all dust off the sensor. Nikon does say "four different resonance frequencies vibrate the optical low pass filter," which is an interesting approach. Apparently dust reduction for their full resolution D3 will have to wait for the next revision, due to complications in vibrating such a large piece of glass at the necessary frequencies.
WiFi. The new WT-4A wireless transmitter is compatible with both the D300 and D3, providing support for wired LAN (10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX) and 802.11a/b/g. A Live View image can be transmitted to a computer via wire or wireless using a new version of the optional Camera Control Pro 2 software.
Shipping. Compatible with all current Nikkor lenses, the Nikon D300 will ship body-only sometime in November at a suggested retail price of $1,799.95.
Nikon's D300 has some very promising new features, all built into a proven camera design. The D200 has quite a following and for good reason. The D300's improvements will be well-received by both existing D200 owners and those looking to upgrade. If noise is kept under control with the increase in resolution, the D300 should be a strong contender against the Canon 40D, even at a higher price.
The 51-point AF array alone is a huge upgrade to what the D200 offers, competing directly with Canon's $4,500 and $8,000 cameras. If the 3D tracking is all Nikon promises, the D300 will be an excellent professional sports camera, especially with the battery pack.
Live View, high resolution display, extra battery capacity, WiFi and the self-cleaning sensor are just gravy. The broadside has been fired. We can't wait to get our hands on the D300 to gauge their aim.
By PETER INOVA(We're pleased to bring you this excerpt from Peter's Digital Secrets site (http://www.digitalsecrets.net/secrets/Dimroom.html). He's recently published his D40/D40x eBook (http://www.digitalsecrets.net/D40) -- 1,013 pages with 660 Photoshop actions. See the Deal below. -- Editor)
Remember when Apple converted to Unix through its radical jump to OS X (which they call "oh ess ten" and everybody else calls "oh ess ecks") in 2001? Missed that? Most did, but it's important to you and your pixels for a number of reasons.
The Unix conversion happened because Steve Jobs had returned to Apple, the prodigal son who had gone off into the world and learned life's lessons.
Macintosh is the personality extension of Steve Jobs, near-death survivor, comeback kid, typography artist, animation pioneer, Disney's biggest stockholder and clever planner.
Fired from Apple in 1985 by CEO John Sculley in a palace coup, Steve founded NeXT computing, bought Pixar Animation (Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars) and eventually was asked back to a dying Apple Computer, which had been ravaged by Sculley and his successors.
Interestingly, the World Wide Web was created on a NeXT computer by Tim Berners-Lee, facilitated by software Jobs had been intrinsic in developing through his philosophical outlook that said "people should be able to focus on the result, not the intermediate complexities."
Jobs' Interface Builder gave Berners-Lee the ability to focus on the result, not the process. That philosophical bent has been a trademark touch in Jobs' software efforts all along.
Just as he was turning Apple around, Steve nearly died of pancreatic cancer in 2004. Cured now, he has a perspective on life, art and business you can't buy with all the money in the Universe. In his words, he wants to bring things into the world that he and his team can take pride in.
Now he has completed a full circle of sorts and that bodes well for the digital photographers who use Macs. While Mac marketshare is low, compared to Microsoft, it's growing quickly and in the universe of digital photography and digital video, it's growing three times as fast.
The Mac OS runs on top of Unix. It's like a pretty shell sitting on top of a world-class mega volcano. Unix is the most solid uber operating system, having powered the top echelon of serious supercomputers, government, business and academic for decades.
What's significant about this is that anything running OS X is already running Unix at heart and can be made to run any Unix program in the open. Nearly forty years of continuous reform and rejuvenation is immediately accessible in its code.
All the tweaks, improvements, repairs, updates, enhancements, refinements, fixes, augmentations and advances that have entered Unix are flowing in OS X's veins -- a staggering computational achievement measured not in man years, but man-multi-millennia.
Inherent in Unix is its stability. All those thousands of man-years of refinement have created a base that is the stainless steel of operating systems.
OS X is now in version 10.4.10 (Tiger) and soon will jump to 10.5 (Leopard) in October, if all goes according to plan.
In a parallel note, Jobs knows typography. Typographers practice a tightly-defined, upper-atmospheric art, which considers letter shapes, subtle balances, refinements and the psychological effect on readers that lettering inevitably has.
Words are important, but lettering, font dynamics and the metrics of spacing are important, too, in penetrating ways. Look at advertisements. Typography can sell you on ideas and does, daily. TV bombards you with crafty nuances of typography in every commercial break and although typography has little to do with digital photography, immersion in it can exercise sensitivities of composition, balance, graphic refinement and artistry.
In Japan, everybody is trained in calligraphy, which is considered to be as important to a classic poem as the words themselves. And who builds your camera?
Macs are now Intel-Macs (or Macintels, depending on how you think of them), meaning that the conversion to Intel CPUs is finished and all Macs can now run every single thing Intel and AMD PC chips can run. Windows XP, Linux and even Vista, should the mood strike you.
Now the circle of Mac capabilities is quite broad. This week's latest offerings include a suite of DP-savvy programs called, appropriately, iLife, that ships with every new computer (or you can buy them all for $79 for older Macs) including iPhoto 08, iMovie 08 and iDVD 08, all of which are of immediate interest to digital photographers.
iPhoto can tweak as well as organize your stills. Its new '08 version organizes your shoots as "Events" optionally, giving you a way to see and taste large chunks of effort at a glance.
Like other organizing programs it lets you keyword, search and see your shots in order or sorted in many ways. It has a non-destructive editing ability that lets you do common tasks moderately well and while it's no Photoshop, you can set it up to use Photoshop for editing instead of its internal editor.
iPhoto has grown. It has always had a basic level of image tweaking, but the 08 version refines the process, giving you gamma control, nostalgia-like image tweaks (antique, sepia, edge blur, color drain, color boost) and on-screen sharpening and noise reduction. Enough to get you by for quick fixes. When you open an edited image in Photoshop, your iPhoto tweaks are applied to the image and an asterisk appears in its header, but you can always go back to the iPhoto page and "Revert To Original" losing your tweaks but opening the virgin shot in Photoshop.
I always travel with my laptop in tow. It's now a MacBook Pro and iPhoto has been my collection and simple tweak editor of choice on the road for years. It goes with me to location shoots and road trips with equal frequency: always. The current model is the first Mac with LED illumination brightening the screen and it can be read outdoors in sunlight, due to a "transflective" property in the screen.
Hint: If you are thinking of one of these MacBook Pros, I believe you will appreciate the matte screen more than Apple's recent "glossy" screen treatment. Glossy is under a sheet of optical polycarbonate and while it is touted as having more contrast and punchier color, it reflects the environment like a sheet of glass. The matte option has no such reflection. Perhaps you could see one in a store first, just so you can decide from some level of experience.
iMovie can animate your stills into a TV show. In high definition video, if you wish. While its main job is to edit your videos, still photographers will appreciate how still-friendly it can be when making cool video presentations from your shots.
The story is that one of Apple's own people went skin diving with an underwater HD camera and was disappointed in how long it took to edit his clips. So he designed a completely new desktop video editing program that would allow fast, accurate, flexible and high-production value editing.
That program has become the all-new iMovie '08. Older iMovie files can be imported into the new version (already being referred to as "eye mote") where they can be further enhanced, but the real fun is in using it from scratch.
Hybrid productions with stills, titles and video are the norm these days. Nobody wants to preclude one medium for another, so blending them together is the right way to go.
And, of course, the titles in iMovie are world class, being generated from the company that has a CEO who knows typography.
iDVD will burn files and video shows to disk either as files and archives or as moving, animated presentations with moves and soundtrack enhancement. When traveling, carry some blank DVDs with you and dump your work from time to time into back-up disks. Carry the finished disks somewhere that baggage handlers can never touch.
With iDVD, your computer becomes the production line for media that moves, looks good, is formatted professionally and works in DVD players all over the world. It offers numerous themes, each top-drawer professional in animation, concept and executing. Again, Apple Knows Type, so the results speak for themselves.
If you had used prior versions of iDVD, you'll appreciate this. The usual Apple logo "watermark" that sits in the corner of your menu screen can be user-deleted. When you give or sell your work to somebody, all they see is the menu, not its Apple software origins.
Ten world-class new visual themes are available and prior themes from earlier versions of iLife work with it, too.
#4 & #5: Garage Band and iWeb
Two other non-photographic programs are in iLife, Garage Band '08 and iWeb '08. Garage Band facilitates composing music and synchronizing it to visuals.
For my own slide show, I made the visual first, exported it to Garage Band and composed the music to fit the timing and mood of each still image. The GB '08 and iM '08 programs are even cooler.
iWeb is a limited page layout program for Web pages only. We use it for our eBook Order Page Overview. It's the least useful and least-productive of the iLife suite, but at an average price of $16 per application or free in a new MacBook or iMac, you can not beat the price.
If you let the price sway your sense of value for these applications, you would underestimate them by the widest margin possible.
THE CIRCLE COMPLETED
For another 79 digi bucks, you can buy the iWork '08 suite of programs that absolutely moves Apple into territory formerly dominated by Microsoft. How so?
Remember Microsoft Office? Previously the word processor, spreadsheet, Internet access and business theater presentation suite of programs every Windows and Mac computer simply had to have.
iWork is a suite of applications that includes Keynote, a Power Point-on-steroids program; Numbers, a new Excel Spreadsheet-on-steroids program and Pages, a page-layout program that has, for the first time, a word-processor mode.
At last, a word processor designed to the specs of someone who understands typography!
The new Numbers spreadsheet program comes with a bunch of pre-formatted layouts to get you started with ideas like List Composition, Budget Formatting, Project Organization and more.
- Typography is very important. Fine points of letter spacing, line spacing and font choices are meaningful to sentient beings.
- Page layout is very important. How a page is composed is a non-trivial matter. Where and how inserted graphics, photos and illustrations appear along with the type helps, hinders or is neutral to the message being conveyed. With iWork's Pages, you can compose your text in Word Processor mode, then finish the idea in Page Layout mode without blinking too many times. And the results are professional, attractive, flexible, communicatively enhanced and better than you've experienced in the past.
If you just used Apple's given layouts, you would be miles ahead already, but of course, Apple lets you tweak, move, customize and re-arrange things to taste. Now the Spreadsheet has entered a new form: the Page Composed of Inviting Data instead of The Dreary Block Of Numbers.
You can even use it to organize your images. After all, photo files are data, too.
And if you are working in an environment that insists on Excel Spreadsheets and no other (Pentagon?), then you can export your Numbers work as the Excel format to pass around the office.
The Keynote application is legend. Power Point Presentations that Put People to sleeP (the six deadly P's), are out. Apple's answer is to animate the show and make it sing in ways that Propel your People by Punching them in the Peepers (the four lively P's).
Sure, you can export your Keynotes into Powered Points, but some of the magic will be excised in the process. Still, the resulting .ppt file will gain, somewhat, from its source, due to the ease of combining options through the Keynote interface.
Keynote, once you get used to it, is faster to work with, I think, and I've used both. I tend to spend more time with presentations made in Keynote, not because it's more difficult, but because it has so many more interesting options for animation, transition, automated sequences, layouts, typographic tweaks and tasty enhancements.
If you were to make a Keynote presentation for running photographic clients through a bunch of portraits or images of any sort, you could conceivably recycle that show into the next client's material with minor tweaks to image content and type. Of course, you could do this with Power Point, too, but the results in Keynote would be more audience-friendly.
Apple's iMac, MacBook and MacBook Pro computers all have a remote control feature called Front Row that lets you control media playback and Keynote presentations from a tiny iPod-like infrared controller. You can sit your client down in front of the screen and manage the show's progress from behind them while they have the best seat in the house.
Jobs has been planning. First he comes out with an operating system that is head and shoulders above anything else. Then he converts to Intel computational architecture, stealing thunder from PC makers. Then he announces that all along he has had a back-room parallel OS X development effort that makes the snap from G5 computing chips to Intel computing chips a fait accompli, blindsiding the industry. Now he has the major players in Spreadsheet, Word Processing and Business Theater all available at a price that makes prior software look like a Bad Dream.
If you are still using Internet Explorer, mosey over to the Apple.com site and download your free copy of the Internet browser, Safari for Windows, which is faster than previous experiences you have known.
If all goes according to plan, Apple will sell you Leopard in October for 129 digi bucks in all of its glory, complete with a huge array of new features that will expand your outlook.
APPLE POLISHMENT, DP STYLE
For the pros, Apple has two other genre's of top-drawer world-class applications.
One is the Final Cut Pro Studio suite of programs that is being used by Hollywood's top editors, finishing movies and TV shows on a daily basis.
The other is Apple's pro level of iPhoto called Aperture, that allows freeform non-destructive tweaks to Raw images from your dSLR.
Final Cut Studio is $1300 and Aperture is $300. Other programs of their approximate ilk are WAY more expensive. Apple is luring you in with Great Software at a stunningly affordable price.
The operative word in gear and software is not Lowest Price. It is Value. With a capital V.
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Previewed: Nikon D3 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D3/D3A.HTM)
- Previewed: Nikon D300 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D300/D300A.HTM)
- Previewed: Canon EOS 40D (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E40D/E40DA.HTM)
- Previewed: Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E1DSMK3/E1DSMK3A.HTM)
You would think that by now every framing store from Aaron Brothers to Cheap Pete's would have realized that 13x19 inch prints are awesome, chill or at least neat-o. But walk into any do-it-yourself framing outlet and you're likely to be disappointed by your options.
For a few years now, we've been framing our 13x19 prints as sort of extreme business cards. They aren't so large that they aren't welcome and they are just big enough to be appreciated across the room without resorting to binoculars.
We do it infrequently enough that we've written down the specifications and thought we'd share them with you. You can certainly upgrade the frame on this plan. Our concern was to do it nicely but do it cheap.
To that end, the design relies on a simple museum-style off-white mat and a thin black metal frame. Unobtrusive but large enough to set the image off from the wall and anything else around it.
Let's start with the image size.
With a 13x19 inch image to frame, you can't just pick up a 13x19 inch frame. It isn't a standard size, for one thing. And, more importantly, you do need a mat to 1) set the image on its own visual turf and 2) keep the surface of the print from contacting the glass.
So we order 18x24 inch mats (the Cheap Pete variant is style A4901). We have them cut at the store (life being increasingly shorter) for $18 each. We'd pay about $7 a mat without the cuts.
Specifying the cuts is an art. We simply say, "The opening should be 12.75 x 18.75 inches for a 2-5/8 inch border all around. Center the opening. And save the cutouts." You can get away with centering the opening because you don't have much of an apron to begin with -- and a centered opening can be used for either horizontal and vertical formats.
Saving the cutouts gives you nice mats for 11x14 frames for your 8x10 prints. Those we cut ourselves with a Dexter mat cutter just for the humbling religious experience.
The next trick is to find 18x24-inch frames, which is a standard size.
That takes us to another store, unfortunately. But we've been able to track down 18x24 black metal frames complete with glass made by Structural Industries in China for just $14.99. And that's not a sale price.
One or another clerk has tried to convince us that they won't take a mat, but indeed they do. The spring clips on the back yield reliably to the thickness of a mat. We add just one sheet of paper (you can use the one included in the frame) to back our matted image, so the tension only grows by the thickness of the mat.
So there you have it: $33 bucks for an elegant 13x19 frame.
The metal frames do scratch (you can easily touch up a scratch with a little acrylic paint) so get them up on the wall quickly and protect them in transit.
One nice thing about this arrangement is that, unlike a custom frame, it's easy to replace the image after a few months. But we like to keep one or two empties on hand just for those special occasions that deserve a very large souvenir.
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:
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You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.
RE: A Second Lens
I think forgetting the Canon f4 25-105mm L lens was a major oversight in this article. Great versatile lens!
-- David Blanchard(Thanks for the tip, David! -- Editor)
RE: Focal Length
Thanks for another amusing newsletter. I read the question from Mr. Wilson about focal length and APS contra 35 cameras. I have this question almost every day in my shop and I just don't understand why this problem has come up.
This never used to be a problem. Hasselblad 6x6 with a standard 80mm lens is the same as a 4x5 large format cameras standard 150mm or the 35's 50mm lens.
You gave Mr. Wilson the same answer (exactly) I give my customers, but some of them just don't believe me -- or maybe they just don't understand.
I think we should not say that a 50mm lens is actually a 75mm equivalent. Try to get the customer to look in the camera's viewfinder to see what really happens.
-- Lars Erik Jansson(Excellent idea! Seeing is believing, after all. -- Editor)
RE: Waiting Game
Shannon Monk's letter in the last newsletter reminded me of my most recent experiences with the Canon PowerShot S. When my daughter was visiting here last March, I complained that all the short videos of my grandson she sent me were silent because they were taken with her old Olympus D490. To solve that problem I presented her with my S2 IS and replaced it by buying an S3 IS. I am happy with the S3, but couldn't I have waited until her next visit coming up in October and replaced the S2 with an S5? I expect that by then the price of the S5 might be pretty close to what I paid for the S3.
-- Bob Schuchman(<g> The only real solution to this problem is to get in the habit of skipping an update. The S6 (when and if) will no doubt make you feel better that you didn't buy an S5! -- Editor)
RE: Moon Mode
I have a Panasonic TZ1 which has plenty of modes but no manual facility. I have been trying to take zoom pics of the moon to show the surface but can't seem to find a mode which will give me the correct exposure. Any ideas please.
-- Frank Mansfield(Sure. The moon is daylight, after all. So if you can spot meter for the bright side and increase your EV +1.0, you should be close. Our article 'Sunny 16 for the Digital Age' in the Oct.13 issue (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html) has more on this. -- Editor)
I loved your Fun article in the last issue. It's no surprise, I always do. You're a very gifted writer. I wrote you a few years ago and told you the same thing. I think you should write a novel or at least publish some short stories. You would do well. I've been a subscriber for years and I always look forward to reading your work. You're very insightful on a lot of different levels.
-- Jamie(Thanks very much for those kind words, Jamie! I hope some day you become a publisher <g>. -- Editor)
It was a good time to wait a week to buy a new camera with almost every manufacturer announcing mouth-watering new models.
Panasonic introduced its L10 with live view mode, face detection and an articulated LCD. The company also announced a smaller, lighter 14-50mm f3.8-5.6 Leica D Vario-Elmar lens with image stabilization.
Canon unleashed its EOS-1Ds Mark III (note the 's'), an update of the 1D with a 21.1-Mp sensor and five fps capture of 12 Raw or 56 large/fine JPEGs. Canon also announced the EOP 40D, the 10-Mp successor to the 30D with 6.5 fps to a burst depth of 17 Raw or an impressive 75 JPEG frames.
And Nikon updated its lineup with a CMOS full-frame 12.1-Mp D3 that can capture nine fps at full resolution and a DX sensor D300 that crams in quite a few of the D3's features. Not to mention three new super-telephoto lenses.
There were also plenty of digicam announcements (like a new 18x zoom from Olympus and high definition digicams from Kodak) to fill out the fall product introductions. Details are all on our News page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM).
HP (http://www.hp.com) has introduced three new compact photo printers, four new all-in-one printers and the company's Print 2.0 strategy focused on Web printing. Highlights of the announcement include compact inkjet printers that can handle 4x6 and even 5x7 prints with optional battery operation and all-in-one printers with a touch-screen interface. See the News item (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1188316290.html) for details.
Epson (http://www.epson.com) has announced its $249.99 Perfection V500 Photo scanner, with 6400 dpi optional resolution from its ReadyScan LED Technology, which delivers faster scans and no warm-up time; Digital ICE technology for automatic removal of scratches and dust; and a built-in transparency unit, for scanning multiple 35mm negatives, slides and medium-format film.
Jalopy Gallery (http://www.jalopy.biz) opens "Objects of Desire: The Visual Language of Musical Instruments" by Brooklyn photographer Liz Schnore on Sept. 1.
O'Reilly's Derrick Story will be conducting live interviews at Photoshop World 2007 with O'Reilly authors McClelland, Tapp, and Aaland, as well as other industry notables. The interviews will be podcasted on the O'Reilly Digital Media site (http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com), as well as broadcasted so that attendees on the Expo floor can listen in.
Phase One (http://www.phaseone.com) has announced the beta release of its Capture One 4 Raw workflow software [MW].
Boinx (http://boinx.com) has released FotoMagico 2.1 [M] with the ability to non-destructively adjust the color of an image, adapts to changes to iPhoto '08, exports to iPhone and Apple TV and exports better looking movies.
Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com) has released updated beta versions of its HD Photo plug-in for Adobe Photoshop CS2 or CS3. The plug-in can open and save files in Microsoft's HD Photo format, also known as Windows Media Photo.
Houdah (http://www.houdah.com) has released its $29.95 HoudahGeo 1.2.5 [M] geocoding application, which now remembers time zone and clock error settings.
Missed Dave's appearance on the Shutterbug Magazine Radio Show (http://www.wsradio.com)? You can catch his discussion with host Jack Warren about his recent trip to Japan for the unveiling of Nikon's D3, D300 and newly-announced lenses in the show's archive.
And Shawn will discuss the new Nikon and Canon dSLRs on a pre-recorded program that will air Saturday morning on PhotoTalkRadio.com (http://www.phototalkradio.com/ptr090107.html).
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
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