The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 9, Number 22 26 October 2007

Copyright 2007, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 213th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter -- especially to those of you joining us for the first time after signing up via our recent survey. In this issue, we discover a $30 tool we'll never part with before Shawn takes on the Canon 40D. Then we award our Nobel for Customer Support. The news section has a few odd twists and turns (or tricks and treats) in it this time, too. Must be the full moon.


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Feature: WhiBal -- Secret Weapon for Dazzling Color

(Excerpted from the illustrated review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/WHB/WHB.HTM on the Web site.)

When we cover a trade show, the first thing we do is compensate for the artificial light in the convention center. The way we've done this for years has been to use the camera's custom white balance option to shoot the back of our business card.

That gets us close enough to tweak later in our image editing software (which tends to be Lightroom for its modest hardware requirements and batch processing capabilities). But there are a couple of less than optimal things about it.

The first is that it's a camera setting. If we go outside to take a shot of the building or the event signage and, dazzled by all the cool new things we just saw, forget to reset our white balance setting, we've got a problem.

The second is that our business card is white only in a generic sense. We don't know if it's actually neutral and suspect it isn't. So we aren't getting the accuracy in our color capture that we think we're getting.

We shoot with a digicam so a solution like the Expodisc, which puts a diffuser over your lens, isn't really available to us. But the Expodisc, which isn't inexpensive, has to be fitted to your lens (a different one for different filter sizes unless you use step rings) and you have to take an incident reading of the light (turn around), which isn't always convenient. It does average mixed lighting, but otherwise our business card is a more practical solution.

THE PROBLEM

What's the problem we're trying to solve?

Artificial light is not pure white. It casts a color over the image. An incandescent light bulb casts a romantic yellow light. Fluorescent office lighting casts an unflattering green light. To give just two examples.

That really doesn't bother us as we wander from home to office and back because our brain knows which objects are white and which black and if there are any of either and makes the correction without having to be clicked or double clicked. Living room lamps don't look yellow to us (unless we're in the street looking in) and receptionists don't look like they're about to lose their lunch.

But our cameras aren't as smart. They dutifully record the yellow and green color casts. We can set them to incandescent and fluorescent white balance settings to overcome this, but those are generic settings. Auto white balance does a great job, but it too is just guessing.

When you're dealing with company logos and colors, you don't want to be just guessing. If you want accurate color, you don't guess. You record.

THE SOLUTION

There are a lot of solutions to this problem, starting with our custom white balance, continuing with the Expodisc's average white balance and going so far as to include camera calibration for studio lighting.

But what you really need is an object in your image whose values you already know. In this case, all we really need is an object that we know to be neutral.

There are many pretenders to this simple requirement. Among which are an 18 percent gray card (which is not really designed for this application) and a gray microfiber lens cloth (also not designed for this). You may or may not find something in your image that is actually supposed to be neutral (either pure white, pure black or gray). Plug-ins like iCorrect depend on that.

Recently we found a fool-proof, inexpensive solution to this when Michael Tapes sent us his WhiBal (http://www.rawworkflow.com/products/whibal/). It's a great improvement over what we've been doing.

THE WHIBAL

There are several WhiBal models. The one we used is the least expensive, WhiBal G6 Pocket Kit. It's 3.5x2 inches, includes a lanyard with a quick release latch, simple table stand and very lightweight carrying case for $29.95. A larger Studio Kit (6x3.5) is available for $36.95 and the large Reference Kit (11x8.5) is available for $49.95. The two larger sizes are best for setting custom white balances, the larger one for covering the frame and the smaller one for spot custom measurements. You can also buy combinations of the kits and accessories (which are mainly different carrying devices so you can always take it along).

The Pocket WhiBal is a plastic card slightly thinner than a CompactFlash card and about the size of a business card, which makes it easy to take anywhere. The plastic makes it waterproof (unlike paper or cloth, plus it floats) and scratch proof (since the color goes all the way through the material). The luminance value is not 18 percent gray but a lighter gray (70, typically 72 or 73, as measured in Lab colorspace on a D50 two degree observer angle on a precision spectrophotometer) optimized for digital sensors (we'll explain). A label affixed to the front of the WhiBal provides true white (greater than 94 but close to it), black (less than 5, typically 4). The label also includes a measurement scale.

But the most important feature of the WhiBal is that it is calibrated. So each WhiBal is measured on a spectrophotometer in the Lab color space to guarantee it is neutral. To be neutral, the A and B channels in Lab should ideally be zero. Tapes believes a credible white balance reference has to be within one percent of neutral. But the WhiBal is certified to be between 0.5 and -0.5 in both the A and B channel, half the margin of error of the one percent criteria. Each side of the WhiBal is actually measured so the best side is marked with the label.

The WhiBal also features a flat spectral response. It responds the same no matter the light source, exhibiting no metamerism or color shift in differently colored light.

Because it's light gray, more information is captured by the linear capture of any digital camera than would be the case with a darker gray color. White can be clipped, so the color has to be lighter than white.

And it's rugged enough to be sanded if it gets damaged, too.

In addition to online video and PDF documentation (http://www.rawworkflow.com/products/whibal/), the RawWorflow site includes a discussion and support forum.

SHOOTING WITH WHIBAL

No matter what lighting you're shooting under, all you have to do is take a shot with the WhiBal in the same light as your subject. It doesn't matter if you're shooting JPEGs or Raw, either.

Make sure you aren't getting any glare by looking through your viewfinder or LCD at the black reference patch on the WhiBal. If it looks black and not gray, you're OK.

If you're shooting JPEG, Tapes recommends setting your camera's white balance setting to the light source of the scene (Daylight, Flourescent, Tungsten, etc.) rather than leaving it on Auto. That locks the camera's white balance rendering to just one value. If you shoot with white balance on the Auto setting, it can shift from image to image.

If you're shooting Raw, the white balance setting doesn't change the data so this isn't an issue. You can select any white balance to apply later.

Then just take your reference shot, exposed normally. And take another one whenever the light source changes. You don't have to make the WhiBal shot your first shot, but it saves remembering to take one and makes it easy to find it later. But if you forget to take a WhiBal shot under artificial light, you can always do it later. As long as the light is the same, the WhiBal shot will be valid no matter when you take it.

JPEG HANDLING

If you're using Photoshop CS3 or Lightroom to adjust your JPEGs, skip this section and use the technique described for Raw images below. Those programs have a White Balance tool that will correctly read the WhiBal value.

If you're using any other program, you might think you could just pull up your favorite tool, either Levels or Curves and select the gray eye dropper and click on the WhiBal in your image. But you can't. The gray eyedropped wants to make the spot you clicked a middle gray of 128 on a scale of 0 to 255. And the WhiBal is much brighter than that.

Instead, you should install the included JPEG plug-in written by Jan Easman of Power Retouche (http://www.powerretouche.com). That does pretty much the same thing as you'd be trying to accomplish with Levels and Curves, but it's optimized for the WhiBal. It knows it's a bright gray.

Once you've clicked on the gray part of the WhiBal card, you should see an instant color shift that eliminates any color cast, turning the WhiBal itself in your image a neutral gray.

Optionally, you can select the black eye dropper and click on a true black in the image. And you can select the white eye dropper and click on a true white in the image.

The plug-in lets you save that adjustment and simply apply it to every other image shot under the same lighting.

RAW IMAGE HANDLING

With Raw images, the process is just a little different. Whether you are using Photoshop Camera Raw with Bridge or Lightroom or any other Raw conversion software, you want to open the reference shot to set white balance to the card and optionally set the black and white points.

Use the White Balance tool to click on the gray part of the WhiBal, whether the image is a JPEG or a Raw file.

In Bridge, you can just click the Done button to affect the image and save the settings in the Develop Settings's Previous Conversion cache. Then select all the other images shot under the same light and simply apply the Previous Conversion. When you open the images, they'll all be corrected.

Any Raw conversion application allows you to copy and paste settings from one image to another. It's just a question of how they do it. Just be smart about whether to include black and white points with the white balance setting.

In Lightroom, which can be puzzling, you use the Photo, Develop, Copy Settings in the Library module or just the Develop, Copy Settings in the Develop module to lift the white balance and exposure settings. You can then use Develop, Edit, Paste in Develop module or Photo, Develop Settings, Paste Settings to apply them to any photos selected in the Filmstrip.

THE MAGIC

Magic? There's no magic to the WhiBal. It's simply a calibrated color reference that reflects red, green and blue light equally. It's guaranteed to be neutral. Any reference shot with the WhiBal in it will have a known color value.

With that known value, you can correct any color cast by the light source on your scene. You simply tell your image editing software that the WhiBal is neutral and it will do the rest.

SOME EXAMPLES

At a recent trade show, we took the WhiBal along and shot JPEGs on a Canon G9 and Raw images on a Canon Rebel XTi. The lighting was screwy enough on both the tradeshow floor and later at a press event that we left the camera's white balance on Auto. Nothing else was really appropriate.

On the trade show floor our ISO 800 images were all Raw format. They were all underexposed about a stop. The reference shot was taken under the main hall lighting before we got started on our tour of the exhibit hall.

The two images reproduced in the online version of this review are of a yellow Corvette and a black Lamborghini. The light Corvette has spectral highlights and a rather bright sign in the background. The dark Lamborghini is flanked by a red wall.

Applying the reference shot's white balance and exposure modifications really lit up the Corvette. We didn't lose a lot of the insignificant background sign either, but the people in the shot came alive, too. Note that the carpet didn't lose detail either.

Only a white balance adjustment was made to the Lamborghini. Still, we picked up some detail in the shadows of the black car. It's a tricky shot. Open the original image and try to find a neutral black in the car paint. Good luck. It's proof of the necessity of having a calibrated neutral in the image.

The press event shots are a mix of Raw and JPEG images. The first image of the ice sculpture with an orange glow is a Raw shot. But you can see the WhiBal modification to the JPEG image of the same ice sculpture resulted in a very similar improvement.

You'll also see the highlights are clipped (the white shirt is blown out). The white reference patch on the WhiBal label was less bright than the subject. Tapes explained to us that the black and white patches are really best used as references rather than to set the levels of your image. The black reflects very little light but you may have darker shadows in your image. And there are plenty of things that can be brighter than the light that reflects off any white label.

Using the WhiBal in the field is very simple. As you set up your camera, just unclick the WhiBal from its lanyard (which you'll want to hang around your neck in case the light changes) and take a shot under the lighting you encounter.

But using the WhiBal had a funny effect on us. "It's not a camera setting!" we kept whispering delightedly. We didn't have to remember to reset it. And that was a freedom we really enjoyed. We started thinking of it as an unpaid assistant. "Hey, WhiBal, what's the light here?" "Got it, boss!" "Great! Now prop up that model."

SOME QUIBBLES

As you can see in our product shot (probably the easiest product shot we've ever taken, since it was the calibrated card itself), there's a slightly dark line down our WhiBal, a manufacturing imperfection no doubt. We just avoid clicking there, although it does return neutral values.

It seems easy to misuse the black and white patches as well. This is most obvious when your reference shot shows the WhiBal is not as brightly lit as other objects in the scene. But as Tapes told us, the patches "have little to do with the actual shot." And that's where you want to look for deciding what values to clip, what to leave alone.

Neither of those issues, however, threatens our description of the WhiBal as foolproof.

CONCLUSION

Tapes invented the WhiBal to solve a problem he had wrestled with shooting Raw. And we're all the better for it. At least those of us who have (and use) a WhiBal.

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Feature: Canon EOS 40D User Report

By SHAWN BARNETT
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E40D/E40DA.HTM on the Web site.)

A little bigger in so many ways, the Canon EOS 40D is nevertheless familiar. Canon made important additions, some to keep up with the market and others to meet needs expressed by users. The final product is a mostly improved high-end dSLR camera that, while not a compelling upgrade for most 20D and 30D owners, is a great dSLR camera.

LOOK & FEEL

True to the line, the 40D appears very similar to its predecessors, especially the 30D and 5D. From the back, however, there is one very large difference: the 3.0-inch LCD. Its influence on the back control layout is so great Canon had to move four of the buttons usually arrayed to the left of the screen to the bottom, under the LCD. When it comes to viewing images, composing in Live View or changing menu settings, the large LCD is great to have.

Prominent on the back of the 40D is one new button heretofore only seen on the 1D Mark III: the AF-ON button. Perched about where it is on the Nikon D200, this button's purpose is obvious: it activates autofocus. By default when shooting in Creative Zone modes, it works much the same as a half-press of the shutter button.

Also of note from the back and top image below is the gasket around the hot shoe, designed to mate with and weather-seal the 580EX II flash, introduced earlier this year with the 1D Mark III. Also new is a B/W icon to indicate Black and White mode, as well as a two-digit buffer capacity counter.

Stepping up in size from the 30D is the main color LCD display, now at 3.0 inches. The brightness has been raised as well, to help with bright sunlit conditions and they both broadened the available color gamut of the display and narrowed the available viewing angle to 140 degrees. Canon says this concentrates more of the light in a smaller cone, rather than spreading it out over a 170 degree area. While fewer people can crowd around you to see your pictures (which could be a good thing), those who find room will see a brighter image. But you also have a dimmer view of the LCD when holding the camera at extreme angles to shoot in Live View mode.

LIVE VIEW

Speaking of Live View, the 40D's implementation is enhanced when compared to Canon's first Live View camera, the 1D Mark III. If you set C.Fn III-6-1, you can press the AF-ON button to close the mirror and autofocus; release it and Live View returns. This is the same basic technique we've seen on the Olympus E-510, except the Canon 40D doesn't display the selected focus points like the Olympus models do; you can see them if you look through the viewfinder, but that rather defeats the purpose.

You can also magnify the image by five or 10 times to check and fine-tune focus in Live View mode and move the magnification area around with the Multi-controller. This works remarkably well. Once you've achieved focus, either press the Enlarge button again to return and frame or trip the shutter and you're shown the captured image and returned to the non-magnified view.

Canon also offers that using Live View on a tripod can reduce vibration by moving the mirror out of the way long before the exposure is made via the shutter mechanism. Unlike the Olympus E-510, the 40D doesn't drop the mirror to verify exposure and focus before firing, which should result in faster shutter lag times. Unfortunately that makes capturing moving subjects in Live View mode a little more difficult.

The Live View Function is only available in Creative Zone modes (Program, Shutter, Aperture and Manual modes) not in Scene modes.

To bring up the Histogram display, you have to turn on the Live View exposure simulation option under Custom Function IV: Operation/Others. Unfortunately, the histogram is not translucent so it blocks a significant part of the frame. You can turn it on and off with a few presses of the Info button, however.

As I've observed about other Four-Thirds cameras, Live View is great to have on occasion, but I don't recommend it for most of your shooting. Canon seems to have tuned the system to work more for tripod-mounted shooting. They've added two optional modes to reduce noise in Live View mode. Called "Silent Modes," the first leaves the first shutter curtain open while you fire off up to 6.5 frames per second.

First a little explanation. It turns out that the new CMOS sensor is a little more special than we thought, performing a trick more common on CCD sensors, yet still requiring a little assistance. Regardless of the camera, at high speeds, a mechanical shutter never fully exposes the sensor. On the 40D, in order to get a fast exposure above 1/250 second (the X-sync on the 40D), the second curtain has to follow right behind the first, creating a slit that moves across the sensor. Well, it turns out that the 40D's sensor can simulate the first part of this mechanical slit by scanning the pixels in a line from top to bottom. Then the second curtain does have to come into play to close off the slit and finish the exposure. That means you can open both mirror and shutter once to enter Live View mode, then fire off 6.5 frames with only the sound of the second shutter, because the mirror and first curtain don't move.

Mode 1 is quite fast, with less noise and vibration, both because the mirror's not flapping around and because of the electronic first curtain trick. When shooting in Raw mode, it takes about 14 seconds for the final image to display and another two to return to Live View (this depends on the Review Time you have set).

The other quiet mode, Mode 2, is more about spreading the sounds out. It's a single-shot mode, regardless of what Drive mode you've set before you enter Live View. Just press and hold the shutter down. All you hear is a quick "tick." That's the second curtain shutting. The image appears onscreen for two seconds and then the screen goes black because the second curtain is still closed. Hold the shutter for as long as you like. When you decide to release it, the rest of the camera functions will run, resetting for the next shot and Live View will return to the LCD. These reset sounds are also pretty quiet, so Mode 2 should be helpful when photographing wildlife.

AUTOFOCUS

Still in a 9-point diamond array, the EOS 40D's f5.6 autofocus points are all cross-type, meaning they're sensitive to vertical or horizontal lines. Nestled in the center is an additional precision AF sensor arrayed diagonally which comes into play when you mount a lens of f2.8 or faster. It has the advantage of detecting both horizontal and vertical lines simultaneously, adding another dimension to the capability of the AF array.

Canon says various improvements make the 40D's autofocus calculation speed 30 percent faster and more accurate than the 30D and better in low light. The 20D and 30D have what I consider to be the best low light AF system for the price, focusing on a person lit only by a television screen and it does seem the 40D can best them in some situations.

However, there were quite a few situations where the 40D kept on seeking when the 20D just quickly found and locked focus, specifically when the 40D was in Multi-point AF mode. I've found a few situations where the 40D just seeks and seeks and never stops. Most cameras give up after a few seconds. This is the first autofocus SLR of any make that I've seen do this. You can turn Focus Seek off in the Custom Function menu, but that still doesn't stop the endless seeking. Oddly, this occurs more for me in vertical mode.

In horizontal mode, Dave had a heck of a time getting the 40D's top center AF point to focus on Marti's hair during the indoor shots. Hair isn't the best place to focus, of course, but it works well enough when we do it with other cameras. In Dave's case, the camera said it was in focus, but it was either front- or back-focusing.

When shooting a soccer match in AI Servo mode recently, the 40D had a hard time finding and keeping focus on my subject. It was usually OK if I could keep the player over the center point, but not always. It still randomly focused many yards behind a player for one frame, then snapped back to proper focus, then back out. Soccer is an extreme example -- and I am spoiled by shooting the 1D Mark II N and even the 1D Mark III -- but the 20D does better than the 40D in these situations. I got better results shooting in AI Focus mode, which is probably more appropriate for shooting soccer.

Despite my problems with autofocus, I generally shoot with a single AF point selected, mostly the center AF point. I haven't had nearly the trouble I had with the multi-point mode selected. In low light, the 40D outperforms the 20D and Rebel XTi. The 20D and 30D do better than the XTi with the same subjects and same lens and the 40D bests them all. My former extreme test subject of a person in light from a television proved the 40D better than all three. Testing in the lab proved that the EOS 40D does even better than the company claims, focusing accurately at less than -0.5 EV (1/4 foot candle), all the way down to 1/16 foot candle, the lowest light level we test. Of course, that's with a high-contrast black and white test target and we have no way of knowing what Canon's test conditions are.

PRICING & AVAILABILITY

The 40D, which began shipping in September, is available body-only for $1,299 suggested retail and bundled with the EF 28-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS USM for $1,499. That's only $200 more for a good quality, image-stabilized lens that retails for between $400 and $500.

CONCLUSION

At long last Canon intermediate and pro photographers have a new tool, one with quite a few advanced features and a little more resolution. It's familiar and works pretty well. Most important, though, is its excellent image quality.

This series of dSLR has always been more practical and purposeful than flashy or showy. It's somewhat analogous to a Milwaukee Sawzall, a funny looking saw that doesn't seem too useful or appealing until you see it open a door by ripping through its hinges, something it does in mere seconds. Now that's a saw. The Canon 40D doesn't blow your mind when you first see it or run through its specs, but wait until you see the photos. You'll be hooked.

For me, it's not about Live View or the larger LCD, nor even the higher resolution, but the faster frame rate is good, the sealed body is reassuring and the larger viewfinder is always welcome. The new menu is easier to use and the grip is a pleasure to hold. The final bit of excellence is how many aspects of the Canon 40D are similar to previous models. Because, frankly, they weren't broke and didn't need fixin'.

As I've said in the past about other cameras in the line, the 40D is an excellent photographic tool, slightly evolved to take advantage of recent technological advances. This time there are more bells and whistles, but they don't take away from the 40D's ability to make great pictures. The Canon EOS 40D is a sure Dave's Pick.

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New on the Site

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In the Forums

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Just for Fun: The 2007 Nobel for Customer Support

With the increasingly impersonal nature of commercial transactions in general, we weren't surprised at the lack of nominations for our 2007 Ersatz Nobel for Customer Service. When we think of customer service, we think of human beings, not Web pages.

We don't always know the name of the human being who helped us, but there's no mistaking the human touch. And so it was the other day when we visited Kodak Office on State Street in Rochester, N.Y.

We arrived for our appointment at Kodak a bit early, hoping to take a few shots of the famous tower. But a security guard chased after us to ask if he could be any help. We explained we were a bit early and wanted to take a picture. He explained we couldn't take the shot on the property itself but it wouldn't be a problem if we stepped onto the sidewalk or crossed the street.

Interesting policy, we thought, based on the theory we would be trespassing on their property to take that shot. Even more interesting was that he wasn't a bit suspicious of our story about an appointment. But, just a few minutes later (with our photos done), we found out why he wasn't worried.

We stepped into the lobby and approached the elegant blonde woman behind the reception desk to announce our arrival. She looked up and we kept it brief, "I have an 11:30 appointment with Nancy Carr." She smiled but didn't break her gaze. Oh, right. We added our name to the data. Then she snapped into action, pleasantly reassuring us she'd make contact for us right away.

It was that small efficiency of holding her gaze until she got all the information she needed -- without beating us over the head with our omission -- that struck us. Why, that's nothing short of rarely seen Professional Competence, we thought with admiration as we waited. We drifted away from the flat screen TV with the daily news headlines back toward the reception desk to enjoy more of it.

Indeed, she handled the phone like a bandleader with a baton. She managed the traffic on the intercom as if she were Shirley MacLaine. And not one sigh, not one wise crack. But Professional Competence was only half the story.

After our interviews were over, we had a half hour to kill in the lobby which gave us an even better chance to watch her in action. By then some of the 30,000 or so employees were leaving for the day.

One woman, who clearly had not had a good day, came down the stairs from the elevators into the lobby to call her husband on her cell phone. She told him where to pick her up since the front entrance was coned off that day. She had to explain it twice to him, though, and that was nearly the straw that broke her back. But eventually he got the message and she hung up, steamed.

As she waited for her ride, the receptionist (just off the phone) greeted her by name and found out she was waiting for her husband to pick her up. The receptionist asked how the woman's husband and her children had been doing and clearly had been following their stories. They had a nice chat, the woman's spirits restored with nothing more than a little attention.

She did this with several people as we went over our illegible notes, suspicious her handwriting was Palmer perfect, too. Professional, polite and remarkably remembering the important details of each person's life. Who was this woman? Could she secretly be the person really running the company, George Eastman's heir, the stockholder's spy?

We thought no more about it until later that evening when we were visiting a nephew who sells communications gear like Sputnik. We'd just told him about our day at Kodak Office when he asked, "So did you meet Pamela Young?"

That, it turns out, is the receptionist's name. He told us he drops in every month or so on his rounds and she always remembers his name and everything about his family. When he dropped in last week, he said, she had asked how his new baby, just a few days old, was doing.

You can have the most impressive mission statement in the world, but without a Pamela Young, you don't get the message out. Impressed at first by her professionalism devoid of that territorial sword waving common under fluorescent lighting, we were finally impressed by her interest in others. She wasn't simply nice, she was helpful. And she was able to be helpful because she had taken an interest in whoever she met. That focus on someone other than oneself, after all, is how the Kodak Moment came to be something worth remembering. It's the secret inside every camera.

We had seen some stunning new software and intriguing new hardware, but it was Pamela Young who most revealed what Kodak is all about. For that she gets our 2007 Ersatz Nobel Prize for Customer Service.

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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: Canon vs. Nikon

About a Nikon in a Canon-hand and vice versa. To show different cameras to customers in a photo shop really takes some hard thinking. How do I smoothly go from a Canon 40D to a Nikon D200 looking natural? Not to speak about after that showing a Sony Alpha 700.

Customers occasionally ask me, "How is it possible for you to know all the cameras?" The answer is, "It's not! You just have to act like it."

-- Lasse Jansson

(LOL! -- Editor)

RE: Your Second Lens

I'm new to dSLRs and this article did more to educate me about lenses than weeks of prior research, so much so that I recommended it on the Consumer Reports camera forum. (You don't have to subscribe to use the forum.) When you're a beginner, you look at these ranges and f-stops and it's very hard to figure out what lens you want to buy.

I still made some costly errors: my Sigma 10-20mm isn't all that different than my Tamron 17-50mm and it's a pain to pull out a tripod for the Tamron 70-300mm. I should have put the money into a "long-ratio zoom" instead because I hate changing lenses. I need a long-ratio f2.8 zoom with IS. Hmmm, doesn't everybody?

Come to think of it, you should consider expanding this article into a paperback book: "Camera Lenses for Dummies" and sell it on Amazon. Then you could supplement this article with pictures that show the difference between, say, 17mm vs. 55mm vs. 128mm. (For non-full-frame dSLR, not film. Because digital is ushering in beginners like myself and I believe that only hard-core photographers will stick with film.) And include examples of vignetting, chromatic aberration, what it means to "stop down," how a camera body can compensate for certain lens deficiencies, hoods and Lensbabies and filters and step-up rings and all the glorious stuff you already know and take for granted. And maybe mention the Canon EF 50mm f1.8, which sounds like a bargain for only $80.

You should highlight this article more on your home page. It is superb.

-- Cindy Lane Poch

(Great idea, Cindy! But not for dummies. Some may be newbies but none of our readers are dummies. -- Editor)

RE: Resizing

I am on Mac, System 9. I have a Canon 4-Mp camera that takes great images at the highest resolution with a file size of 1-MB. No problem processing or printing these 1-MB images with the Epson Film Factory program. I recently received a CD with images from a family reunion taken with a 10mp SLR. The image size is 4-MB and my program and/or computer will not process this size file.

Is there any way to reduce the file size of these images to about 1-MB? Do you have any other suggestions?

Just to check the CD I went to Costco and made a few prints using their kiosk. If all else fails, I can scan those prints and reduce the file size that way but that is a lot of trouble.

-- Stan Kukawka

(Assuming the large files are JPEGs, not Raw files, try the free Goldberg 2.5 (http://www.macupdate.com/info.php/id/9333). -- Editor)

RE: Ink Reviews

Recently bought a Canon Inkjet. IP4300. Read all the reviews, PC Mag etc., etc. and impressed by "excellent photo quality" comments.

Problems with "pinkish" colors on all types of paper including best Canon. Only use Canon inks. Can do some software tweaking but not ideal solution. Wonder if I have a rogue box/head/inks.

Spoke to Canon support (South Africa and USA) 3-4 times re my gray Elephants etc. appearing light brown -- saw a few other user reports with similar concerns. Done all the printer/head/nozzle checks!

Are there professional inkjet reviews on color accuracy?

-- Barry Brown

(Take a look in the newsletter archive (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html) for the story about the Perfect Print (Dec. 9, 2005). The one thing you don't mention is the likely solution: color calibration. Starting with your monitor and continuing with using the appropriate ICC profile for your ink and paper. -- Editor)

RE: Scanner

Hello and thanks for your wonderful reviews on scanners. I am trying to decide on the "type" of scanner for my dark(light) room. I thought the Minolta Scan Elite II a contender until I read your review of the Epson V750.

I'm very concerned with the Dmax and image sharpness. I'm leaning toward finding a high end unit like the V750 but am concerned about its lack of focusing ability. I think the standoffs supplied are kind of hokey. What are your thoughts and is there anything out there in the flatbed world that has this feature. The flatbed is in a way a plus in that it can handle more slides/negs per scan. Your input is much appreciated.

-- anythingon2wheels

(While we agree about the standoffs and the focusing issue in general, we will say it isn't quite as hokey as it sounds. The standoffs allow for some variation in mounted transparencies, rather than any imprecision in the lens. The density range issue can be very hard to evaluate because you just don't get complete data from the manufacturers. But SilverFast's new multi-exposure feature (which makes two scans, one for highlights and one for shadows, combining them in a high density image) gets the most out of any scanner it supports. Microtek has had the M1, its latest generation scanner, in development for quite a long time now. It does promise autofocus and SilverFast supports multi-exposure on it. But we still haven't seen it. If your needs aren't pressing, it may be worth the wait. -- Editor)

RE: Flattery Will Get You to Florida

It's a great pleasure receiving, reading and getting knowledge from your newsletters. I welcome each edition and congratulate you on the hours of brilliant work and effort you put into same.

Please be advised that I'm a Canadian senior citizen who will be spending December 2007 thru April 2008 in Pompano Beach, Fla. I have a Nikon D200 and would love to take digital photography classes while in Florida in lighting, composition, etc.

Will you please have the courtesy to advise me the names and addresses of any universities, colleges, schools, classes, etc. in Florida (close to Pompano Beach as possible) where I could take a digital photography course.

-- Charles Feldman

(Thanks for the kinds words, Charles! We have no personal info to share, but a quick Google search should keep you busy <g>: http://www.google.com/search?q=Pompano%20photography%20classes -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

We spent a morning playing detective alongside Errol Morris, who has written a three part analysis (http://morris.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/09/25/) of two similar Roger Fenton images from the Crimean War. According to Susan Sontag, "before taking the second picture -- the one that is always reproduced -- he oversaw the scattering of the cannonballs on the road itself."

But Morris wonders if Fenton really did stage the second shot and travels to the Crimea to see for himself. That's just one of the many turns in his complex narrative, which includes a long discussion with Reindeer Graphics' Chris Russ, a contributor to this newsletter, who turned over the stone that led Dennis Purcell to a compelling argument establishing the order in which the images were taken.

The proof has nothing to do with shadows but it's all right there in the images. See for yourself!


Calling his invention of Kodak's first digital camera 32 years ago, "a weird little thing taking place in a back lab," Steven Sasson (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Sasson) will be one of 11 inductees into the Consumer Electronics Association's Hall of Fame. The camera weighed eight pounds and was bigger than a shoebox.

By 1986, "everybody at Kodak knew digital was going to take over the imaging business," according to Tom Abbott, a former Kodak research scientist. "We thought it would take about 20 years. And it has."


Apple (http://www.apple.com) has released a 131-MB update to Aperture to address issues related to performance, improve overall stability and support compatibility with Mac OS X v10.5.


SanDisk (http://www.SanDisk.com) has introduced its Extreme III 8-GB SDHC card, which will be packaged with a SanDisk MicroMate USB 2.0 Reader for $179.99.

The company also announced the filing of three patent infringement actions against 25 companies that manufacture, sell and import USB flash drives, CompactFlash cards, multimedia cards, MP3/media players and/or other removable flash storage products. Among the companies are Buffalo, Dane-Elec, Imation/Memorex, Kingston, LG Electronics, PNY and Verbatim.


Scott Sherman of The Digital Photography Show (http://www.thedigitalphotographyshow.com) has an interesting interview with Carolyn Wright, an attorney and photographer, on 10 common misconceptions of the law for photographers. Carolyn is the author of Photographer's Legal Guide (http://www.photoattorney.com/products.html).


Sony has announced its $400 HDMS-S1D Digital Photo Album with an 80-GB hard drive that connects to an HDTV via HDMI and showcases up to 50,000 high resolution photos. Photos are imported via multiple flash memory card formats, CD, DVD, USB or Ethernet. Once imported, collections can be managed with the supplied remote control via the device's interface.


TechnologyBasics (http://www.technologybasics.co.uk) is a public-interest site focused on understanding technology. It contains over 70 articles written by a team of experts and adds around 10 new articles each month.


A white paper published by IDC titled The Evolution of Wireless Photography notes, "Since the introduction of its first wireless cameras in 2005 to the current Coolpix S51c digital camera, Nikon has been the worldwide leader in regards to Wi-Fi integration and innovative ways to share memories such as the new my Picturetown (http://my.picturetown.com/), Nikon's new photo sharing and storage service."

The white paper reports 60 percent of respondents said they would be somewhat or much more likely to consider one camera over another should it include wireless connectivity. Respondents also said they would be willing to pay up to $86 more for WiFi.


Visual Travel Guide (http://www.visualtravelguide.com) has released its free PhotoKML 1.3 [MW] to generate KML files to position and display geo-tagged photos on Google Earth.


A survey of 1,026 professional photographers taken in August by InfoTrends (http://www.infotrends.com) reports that Adobe Photoshop remains the tool of choice for Raw conversion, used by 67 percent of the respondents. Adobe Lightroom has a substantial lead in second place with 24 percent over proprietary tools provided by Canon (17 percent) and Nikon (12 percent) for Raw conversion. While Aperture trails all four products at six percent, it doesn't run on Windows. Among Mac users, Aperture ranks fourth at 14 percent, ahead of Nikon's Capture NX at eight percent.

Return to Topics.

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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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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