|Volume 9, Number 23||9 November 2007|
Welcome to the 214th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Andrew takes a look at Nikon's bargain 55-200mm VR lens before Theano rings all the Canon S5's bells and blows its whistles. We reveal a little trick for taking someone's picture before getting back to the holiday gift guides coming in the next issue. Stay tuned!
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By ANDREW ALEXANDER(Excerpted from the illustrated review posted at http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1088/cat/13 on the Web site.)
Whether you call it Vibration Reduction (as does Nikon) or Image Stabilization (as do Canon and several others), it's a feature with real utility for most shooters. It obviously won't do anything about blur caused by subject motion, but the ability to reduce the effects of camera shake can make a big difference when shooting under limited lighting, particularly at telephoto focal lengths. Given that VR usually adds a hundred dollars or so to the cost of a lens, finding it on a lens selling for $200-250 is a real surprise. True, this particular lens' VR is based on an older version of Nikon's technology, but Nikon says it still provides a good two f-stops worth of shake reduction. That is, you should be able to shoot at shutter speeds four times slower than whatever level you need to get sharp handheld shots without VR. (BTW, we're working on a way to measure VR performance and hope to have some initial results published in the next month or so. Preliminary results for the 55-200VR weren't that great, so we've asked Nikon for a second sample.)
VR is all well and good, but how does well does this lens perform its main task, namely delivering sharp, distortion-free images?
The Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6-GB VR does pretty well in the sharpness department, particularly considering its selling price. It is a DX lens, meaning it has an APS-C size image circle and so isn't compatible with Nikon's full-frame film cameras; this helps the price somewhat. But still, $200-250 for a VR-enabled lens is a remarkable price point, making its very decent sharpness performance all the more noteworthy. Like many inexpensive zooms, it's sharper at shorter focal lengths than at long, the worst blur performance occurring at 135mm in our DxO tests.
But even its worst isn't all that bad, the softest point coming in at under three blur units. That's a blur that's easily noticeable when compared against the best lenses we've tested, but is as good as that of many lenses likely to be considered by even relatively well-heeled amateur shooters. The 55-200mm VR's blur characteristics are also unusually uniform across the frame, with much less variation from center to edges than we're accustomed to seeing, particularly in this price range. Sharpness improves somewhat as you stop down, but images never get truly crisp. At the risk of sounding like broken record though, the 55-200mm VR's image quality does exceed expectations for its market segment.
The 55-200mm VR's chromatic aberration was also something of a pleasant surprise. It begins on the low side of moderate at 55mm, drops to truly low levels through the middle of its focal length range and then rises to the high side of moderate at 200mm. At 200mm, average CA remains fairly low as you stop down, but maximum CA increases, meaning you'll see more CA in the corners and edges and less in the center as you close the aperture. Across the entire range though, CA is better than that of many more expensive lenses, again drawing attention to the excellent value offered by this lens.
It was probably inevitable that something had to give in the design of the 55-200mm VR and it turned out to be shading. Light falloff in the corners of the frame is quite pronounced when shooting wide open across the entire focal length range, decreasing more or less linearly as you stop down; falling to about 1/4 EV two stops down and 1/10 EV or less at three stops below maximum aperture. These are much higher levels of shading than we're accustomed to seeing in the lenses we test, but it's worth noting that shading isn't too hard to correct in recent versions of Photoshop, so a solution at least exists -- even if the software involved costs more than twice as much as the lens in question.
While the 55-200mm VR's shading performance was well below average, geometric distortion is in line with other lenses sharing its focal length range. It starts at about 0.25 percent barrel distortion at 55mm, changing to about the same amount of pincushion at 70mm, increasing thereafter to a maximum of 0.5 percent pincushion at 105mm and then decreasing again to about 0.35 percent pincushion at 200mm. That's a noticeable amount of pincushion, but not more than we've seen in many other lenses we've tested in the past. And again, recent versions of Photoshop make it fairly easy to correct even significant amounts of geometric distortion.
As befits a DX-series lens intended for use with the lower end of their camera line, the Nikon 55-200mm VR sports an internal focus motor, as evidenced by its AF-S designation. This means it will work with the D40 and D40x or any future Nikon bodies lacking an internal AF motor. AF operation isn't blazingly fast, but isn't bad either, taking roughly a second for the lens to slew from closest focus to infinity. As is the case with many modern AF lenses though, the price for this fairly fast AF performance is a relatively limited amount of travel on the manual focus ring, making manual focus a bit touchy.
Macro performance is fairly typical for a non-macro lens, with a minimum coverage area of 97mm at a lens-subject distance of 0.95m (1.3 feet) when shooting with our D200 test body.
BUILD QUALITY & HANDLING
Build quality is better than we'd normally expect from a "budget" lens, with smooth operation of both the manual focus and zoom rings and no play between lens components. Another happy discovery was that this lens is an internal focus design, so there's no rotation of the front element/filter threads during focusing, nor during zooming for that matter. This makes the lens well-suited for use with polarizers, graduated neutral density filters or other front-element accessories sensitive to rotation. The lens isn't an internal-zoom design though, as the barrel extends about 37mm beyond its minimum length as you zoom from wide to tele.
While we did find this lens a little tweaky to focus manually, it was otherwise a very nice-handling optic. Operation was quite smooth and while it has a largely plastic construction, its feel was quite nice and relatively solid. The zoom ring operated smoothly, but took enough force that we were surprised to find the lens prone to zoom creep, if only slightly. That is, if you hang a camera with the 55-200mm VR attached around your neck, the lens will maintain its zoom setting fairly well as long as it isn't jiggled too much. Vibration will cause it to creep to more telephoto settings over time though, so you'll likely want to make use of the zoom lock when carrying it for extended periods.
While fairly solid-feeling, the all-plastic construction makes the 55-200mm VR light enough that it balanced very nicely on our D200 test body and isn't too unwieldy, even on smaller bodies like the D40 and D40x.
Being designed for subframe sensors, there aren't a lot of lenses yet that cover the specific focal length range of the Nikkor 55-200mm f4-5.6 VR and of those available, we've tested only a very few. Besides a direct match for its focal length range though, potential purchasers may also be comparing performance against the long end of the 18-200/250mm "vacation zooms," or perhaps against the shorter end of 70-300mm lenses. Comparison with all possible options would thus be a rather tedious process, so we'll restrict our discussion here to a subset of the alternatives that we've tested.
- Nikon 55-200mm f4-5.6-GB ED AF-S DX Nikkor. This is the original, non-VR version of this lens, intended as an inexpensive complement to the traditional 18-55mm kit lens bundled with many of Nikon's entry-level SLRs. It's less expensive and does OK for its price, but for the slight increase in price in the VR version you get image stabilization, significantly better sharpness, as well as a noticeable reduction in chromatic aberration and distortion. ~$170
- Nikon 18-200mm f3.5-5.6-GB IF-ED AF-S DX VR. Nikon's ultimate travel lens, the 18-200mm is also equipped with VR image stabilization technology; however, it's a newer version, VR II, able to make photos at shutter speeds four stops slower than required without stabilization, rather than the 55-200mm's two stop improvement. Optically, the 55-200mm is a bit more solid; sharper at the same focal lengths and apertures, as well as exhibiting less chromatic aberration, distortion and vignetting. That said, it is nowhere as versatile as the 18-200mm, which covers the entire range from wide to telephoto, which accounts for and perhaps excuses some of its optical shortcomings. ~$800
- Sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3 DC. The Sigma 18-200mm exhibits corner softness wide open across its full range of focal lengths, where the Nikon 55-200mm is much better-controlled; when both are stopped down to about f8, both are very sharp, the Nikon being a hair sharper on our test results. Obviously these are different beasts, with the Sigma being optimized to handle both the wide and tele ends of the focal-length spectrum. Chromatic aberration and distortion are better controlled on the Nikon, while Sigma does well in controlling vignetting. ~$300
- Tamron 18-250mm f3.5-6.3 Di II LD Aspherical IF Macro AF. Another case of corner softness wide open, where the Nikon performs better across all focal lengths. Stopped down to f8, both lenses perform well, but the Nikon is still sharper across the frame; at the telephoto end, the Nikon is a fairly uniform 2 blur units across the frame, while the Tamron is sharper at the center, but hits highs of 4 blur units in the corners. Not surprisingly, chromatic aberration is better controlled on the Nikon, vignetting is better on the Tamron and distortion is similar between the two lenses. ~$470
If we haven't said it enough through this review, lenses that used to cost this much didn't have much to offer other than the savings in the wallet. The Nikon 55-300mm VR isn't a perfect lens -- there are some obvious issues with vignetting and its focus mechanism is a bit of a step backwards from even slightly more expensive AF-S models. However, it's sharper than most alternatives, controls chromatic aberration well and distortion isn't a real issue. Paired with Nikon's basic 18-55mm kit lens, you would have a full range of focal lengths in two lenses, for half the overall price of the Nikon 18-200mm super-zoom. With a real improvement in optical characteristics from its predecessor design and the addition of VR image stabilization technology, you can't do much better for the price.
By THEANO NIKITAS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S5IS/S5ISA.HTM on the Web site.)
The Canon PowerShot S5 IS is more of an evolutionary update than a major upgrade in Canon's megazoom PowerShot line. That's OK, since the camera has been updated enough to keep it current but still maintains the attributes that made the S3 IS so popular. Of course I and probably many other photographers, would welcome the ability to shoot Raw with the Canon S5 IS, but the camera has more than enough features to keep both control-obsessed enthusiasts and point-and-shooters happy.
In addition to its extensive feature set, the Canon S5 operates more like a dSLR than many of its competitors. Lots of external controls make for easy access to settings and help the Canon S5 deliver an efficient shooting experience. While its performance and image quality don't match those of a dSLR, the Canon S5 will certainly appeal to a wide range of photographers, whether as an affordable substitute for a dSLR or as a step-up model for snapshooters who want the power of a telephoto lens without the learning curve and expense of a dSLR.
LOOK & FEEL
Like most superzooms, the solidly built Canon S5 has the look and feel of a dSLR. Although this model is slightly larger and heavier than some of the competition, the extra heft provides a sturdier handhold and the additional real estate provides room for good-sized control buttons. The Canon S5's grip is deep enough for most people to hold the camera comfortably and there's lots of wiggle room between the grip and the lens barrel, which is not always the case with some megazooms. Even though the Canon S5's optical image stabilization is quite effective, the aforementioned design attributes provide a little extra help in holding the camera steady so you have a better chance of grabbing a telephoto shot without blur.
Unlike most digital cameras the Canon S5 uses an interesting combo Power/Mode Lever to power the camera on, switch from Record to Playback (and vice versa) by jogging the lever to the left or right. The camera is powered down by an Off button located in the center of the Mode Lever. I really disliked this control when it was first introduced by Canon but have since become accustomed to -- and more adept at -- using the lever. It's really a very efficient method of turning the Canon S5 on and switching modes; you can even power-on the camera directly in Playback mode with a quick jog of the lever to the right. Since the Canon S5's lens does not extend when the camera is powered-on in Playback mode, you don't have to remove the lens cap when reviewing or sharing images. I still think the small, center-positioned Off button is a little difficult to access, though.
Control buttons are sufficiently large and high-profile enough to be located by touch so you don't have to look away from the LCD or Electronic Viewfinder to operate the Canon S5 once you memorize the purpose of each button. Control layout is relatively efficient, although out of habit I kept trying to press the center of the Four-Way Controller instead of the Set button (located directly below the controller) to implement a setting change. Although the Manual Focus and Macro/Super Macro buttons are located on the left side of the lens barrel, they're within easy reach once you realize they're there. The Canon S5's Direct Print/Shortcut button has been moved to the left of the viewfinder and can be customized for one-touch access to a number of different functions such as White Balance, Manual White Balance, Light Metering, AE Lock or AF Lock, among others.
Naturally, the Function button, which accesses a menu of most frequently changed settings, is extremely convenient and streamlines camera operation, eliminating multiple trips to the Canon S5 IS's more extensive menu system. Canon's tabbed menus are easy to understand and navigate, although the icons at the top of each tab can be a little cryptic.
Canon changed the design of the lens cap for the S5. The new cap has spring-loaded buttons to hold it in place. While this is an improvement over the S3's friction-fit lens cap, the new cap still pops off a little too easily. I often carried the Canon S5 in a large tote bag and frequently found that the cap had fallen off when floating around in my bag. The lens cap can be attached to the neckstrap or neckstrap lug, so at least it doesn't get lost if/when it falls off; but it could easily scratch the lens when in a bag. It's really better to protect any camera in a case of its own.
The SD/SDHC/MMC card slot has been moved to the bottom of the camera, sharing space with the Canon S5's four AA batteries. You may be able to change both card and batteries while the camera is mounted on a tripod, depending on the tripod design and your dexterity. I have always found it difficult to open and close digital camera compartments that house AA batteries since the top of the batteries seem to protrude ever-so-slightly above the edge of the compartment. Changing batteries or card without a tripod isn't bad on the Canon S5 but watch for dropping batteries, as AA batteries are seldom locked in place.
Although the Canon S5 has a huge focal range, there may be times when you need to expand the zoom, particularly on the wide-angle end. All you have to do is remove the ring on the front of the lens and attach one of several accessory lenses from Canon's offering of wide, tele, macro converters. At 36mm (35mm-equivalent), the lens is wide enough for most day-to-day purposes but it would be nice to start at a wider field of view without having to purchase an accessory lens, especially since you might want to spend your extra money on a Canon Speedlite instead, now that the Canon S5 has a hotshoe.
Auto, Program or any one of the camera's many scene modes turns the camera into a simple-to-use point-and-shoot camera with a very long lens. But it would be a shame not to make full use of the Canon S5's many features. Even experienced digital photographers should make at least a brief foray through the User Guide. While the camera is relatively easy to use, you may not know what the camera offers without reading the manual.
Like all superzoom cameras, the Canon PowerShot S5 is equipped with both an LCD and an Electronic Viewfinder. The S5's LCD is articulated, which means you can flip it against the camera body to protect the screen, which automatically switches to the EVF when the camera is powered on. You can also swing the LCD out and rotate it to grab overhead and very low shots without putting a strain on your neck, back or knees. Or, if you prefer a more conventional viewing option, the LCD can be rotated and flipped up against the camera body with the screen facing outward.
Thanks to its increased size (2.5-inch vs. the S3's 2-inch monitor) and higher resolution (207,000 pixels vs. the S3's 115,000 pixels), the Canon S5's LCD is a pleasure to use regardless of lighting conditions. It is bright, clear and easily viewed in bright sunlight. The ability to tilt the screen also helps when you're shooting outdoors at high noon.
The EVF is decent but not outstanding. It's large and bright but it doesn't seem quite as crisp as it could be. The diopter works well and it was easy to adjust the EVF to my eyesight. When shooting at telephoto, I tended to use the EVF, because I found it easier to hold the camera steady with it pressed against my eye. Even with the Canon S5's optical image stabilization, I believe in taking advantage of every option available to keep the camera from moving.
I really liked being able to pick and choose the type of information that appeared on the Canon S5's LCD. All it takes is a quick trip to the Custom Display option in the camera's menu to decide, for example, if you want a live Histogram or Grid Lines to appear when you shoot; and because of the LCD's larger size, the screen doesn't seem quite as crammed when you choose to display full data information.
Overall, the Canon S5 is fast enough for most shooting conditions. Start up is relatively quick and there's very little shutter lag throughout the focal range. The lens, benefiting from Canon's Ultrasonic Motor, moves smoothly throughout and is absolutely silent when zooming at a standard speed. High-speed zooming (achieved by pressing the zoom lever to its extreme position) creates a little bit of noise, but the lens movement still feels smooth.
Compared to start-up and shutter lag, the Canon S5's shot-to-shot time is relatively slow. You'll have to wait 1.6 seconds between shots when shooting Large/Fine JPEGs. Add another seven seconds or so if you're using the flash at full power.
For continuous shooting, the good news is that your finger is more likely to tire from holding the shutter down before the camera stops shooting. The bad news is that when set to Large/Fine JPEG, the Canon S5 snaps off just over 1.5 frames per second. Performance tests were conducted using a Kingston Ultimate 133x SD card and it seems likely that some performance attributes will lag when using a slower card.
The Canon S5 comes with four AA alkaline batteries, which you should immediately relegate to another electronic device or to the junk drawer for emergencies only, since you only get about 170 shots from alkalines, if you're lucky. You're much better off picking up four to eight rechargeable NiMH batteries and a charger. The latter delivers, according to CIPA standard, about 450 shots per charge -- a much better deal all the way around. Our older NiMH batteries didn't work for more than a few seconds with the Canon S5, so make sure you get a fresh set. We switched to Sanyo's new Eneloop batteries (http://www.eneloopusa.com), which promise a longer shelf life, and had no trouble.
Canon's Face Detection technology, one of the better ones on the market, works pretty well on the Canon S5. However, I sometimes found it easier to simply move the AF point to my subject's face. Regardless, autofocus was generally fast and accurate, even under low light conditions. Occasionally the lens would search at the telephoto end and it wasn't as accurate as I hoped when shooting in Super Macro mode. Don't use the on-board flash for either Macro mode; the lens gets in the way and casts a shadow.
Despite some corner softness at both extremes (wide-angle and full telephoto) and an average amount of barrel distortion at wide-angle, the Canon S5's 12x zoom lens did a good job of producing sharp and nicely-detailed images in well-lit areas. Details became softer in shadows due to noise suppression, though. Image noise and loss of detail due to noise reduction detract from the Canon S5's image quality, starting at about ISO 800 up to 1,600, so keep it to 400 and below unless you're only planning to print 4x6-inch prints.
The Canon S5's other major shortcoming is an unexpectedly high level of chromatic aberration. Fringing and halos were noticeable along high contrast and even some medium contrast edges. The extreme brightness and width of the fringing was not only surprising but disappointing.
However, the Canon S5's metering options worked well to deliver generally even exposures, albeit with some clipped highlights. Colors were well-saturated, delivering the vibrant images that consumers have come to expect from non-digital-SLR cameras.
The Canon S5's optical image stabilization worked well, especially when set to Shoot Only mode, which activates OIS only when the shutter is pressed. Continuous and Panning OIS worked fine as well, although panning -- with or without OIS -- takes a little practice to perfect.
I took the Canon S5 with me to New York City to complement the tiny, point-and-shoot Nikon Coolpix S200 I also brought. The Nikon S200 was great for quick snaps but I also needed a camera with a little more sophistication in case I needed manual options. As it turned out, the Canon S5 came in handy in the late afternoon when city streets are alternately very sunny or shady, so I was able to make good use of Aperture- and Shutter-priority modes. The Canon S5's optical image stabilization was extremely useful when shooting on the shady side of the street or in a local park with large, sunlight-blocking trees.
I made good use of the Canon S5's articulated LCD when shooting upward at the top floors of buildings from the outside or angling the camera to grab a shot of some interesting tree formations that I couldn't get close to. I really missed having a wider angle zoom when shooting in the street, though; 36mm isn't quite wide enough when you're standing right in front of a building -- even a low-rise set of apartments.
But the Canon S5's telephoto range and optical image stabilization were invaluable when taking pictures of the Chrysler building from a friend's office high above Times Square. Even shooting through a window, the Canon S5 did a good job balancing the bright sky and the distant buildings. I used the EVF to brace the camera against my eye, always conscious of the fact that even with optical image stabilization, when you're shooting at 432mm and can't achieve a reciprocal shutter speed of 1/432 sec, it's important to hold the camera steady. As it turns out, everything worked well and my shots were focused and relatively sharp considering I was shooting through a window into the hazy sky of the city.
I also took the camera around my neighborhood, looking for interesting fall foliage, but the high temperatures have kept most of the trees green. I decided to try out the Canon S5's Super Macro mode on some tall Milkweed plants. It was late in the day and there wasn't much light (and I knew I couldn't use the on-board flash because it would cast a shadow), so I did my best handholding the Canon S5. I kept the ISO as low as possible, made sure IS was enabled and opened up the aperture to get a decent shutter speed. As I put the camera near the Milkweed pods (Super Macro can allegedly focus down to 0cm), I noticed that the plant's pods were loaded with insects. Interesting subjects, but I was a little too phobic to approach as closely as I could have. But those images allowed me to examine the details of these odd little insects from a safe distance. The Super Macro mode definitely has great potential, even though it has shortcomings like slightly soft details and evidence of some chromatic aberration.
Although the Canon PowerShot S5 has a few shortcomings, most notably image noise and some problems with chromatic aberration, I really enjoy shooting with the camera. It has pretty much everything that I want or need in a camera of its class; everything but Raw and a wider-angle lens. When I'm in a point-and-shoot mood, the S5 is just as obliging with its Auto, Program and Scene modes.
An extra benefit to the Canon S5 is its quick switch into Movie mode. You never have to select a mode, in fact, just press the Movie button on the back. The Canon S5's high resolution movies include stereo sound and a wind filter, which means this camera also serves as a full-function camcorder with a 12x, image-stabilized zoom. Movie quality is quite good and the sound isn't bad either.
The Canon PowerShot S5 IS's extensive feature set combined with its image-stabilized 12x optical zoom lens will please photographers who want a solidly built and capable non-dSLR camera with all the bells and whistles. Aside from the omission of a Raw mode, the Canon S5 is one of the more capable megazooms on the market. External controls and easy access to setting changes add to the Canon S5's appeal, as does its excellent movie mode with stereo sound. The Canon S5's automatic and semi-manual functions will be comforting to snapshooters looking to step up and/or develop their photographic skills. Noise and chromatic aberration issues, unfortunately, detract from the camera's otherwise pleasing image quality. Still, the Canon S5 serves as both a camcorder and a long zoom, all-purpose event capturing device and we think it's one of the best on the market. We give the Canon S5 a Dave's Pick for overall utility, quiet, reliable operation and a refined interface.
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W200 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/W200/W200A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot SD870 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SD870IS/SD870ISA.HTM)
- Reviewed: Kodak EasyShare V1003 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/V1003/V1003A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Samsung L700 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/L700/L700A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot S5 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S5IS/S5ISA.HTM)
We awoke the other day to a radio piece (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15886704) on a new book by Time White House photographer Diana Walker. Near the end of the story, she reveals a trick for taking portraits she'd learned early in her career.
It was one of her first portrait assignments and she was anxious to do a professional job. Let's set the scene.
The subject was the designer Bill Blass, nattily attired in a light suit, tie, handkerchief. A right-angled sofa of simple straight lines behind a big dark coffee table with a shiny metal ashtray. Black and white. A bit stiff, a bit formal. Black and white.
Walker had taken a full set of shots. But she didn't quite feel she had captured her subject. She really couldn't think of anything else to do. though. She was done, really, she had to admit. "Well, thank you so much," she said to Blass. "It's been terrific."
"Thank God!" he said, leaned back and threw his leg up on the coffee table, his closed eyelids echoing the satisfied smile on his lips, a man who, even in repose, looked stylish.
She snapped the picture and captured her subject.
That little experience suggested that her subjects would relax as soon as she told them she was finished. "And so I used to kind of say I was finished before I was. And it was good."
You might give it a try next time you have the family arrayed on the living room couch or seated around the dining room table. Sure, get them to say, "Nice," as Peter iNova recommends in his eBooks so "they don't look like oversmiling loons, but have a natural and pleasant look to their mouths and eyes." But then tell them you're done -- and snap another shot. Or two.
It's also handy for those shots of children who seem to be able to hold a pose as long as the Statue of Liberty. Everyone knows children aren't really rigid and formal. So tell them you're done and snap the shutter. You'll capture real delight in their eyes.
And those recalcitrant old birds are easily plucked with the very same trick. They hate having their picture taken as if they've never seen a good one. They put their hands up, stick out their tongues, anything. Throwbacks to the days where you could intimidate a photographer with the fear of wasting film. Just surrender. "OK, I'm done." And they'll be mid-laugh just as you snap the shutter.
Be careful not to overuse this little trick, though. Walker had the advantage of using it in a professional setting where each private seating lasted a fixed time and the subject knew they would be free to go as some point. Your friends and relatives are sticking around for dessert, so be discreet. If they catch on, they'll wait to relax until you turn off your camera. Or send you out for more ice.
Walker's book, by the way, is The Bigger Picture: Thirty Years of Portraits, available at a 17 percent discount via our Amazon affiliate link at http://www.amazon.com/dp/142620129X/?tag=theimagingres-20.
Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:
Read the Canon 40D discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eea6b8d/0
Visit the Olympus dSLR Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eea6bcb
Richard asks for advice about choosing a dSLR at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eea6c1a/0
Audrey asks about optical zoom versus megapixels at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eea6c08/0
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RE: Klikk Stand
Thanks for the review. I bought the Klikk and it works great. However, your idea of storing a camera in the pouch with the Klikk over the LCD falls in the category of "close, but no prize." The mounting screw in that position grazes the surface of the LCD.
-- Paul Sager(Hmm, both Klikk models we used have lots of clearance between the screw bottom and any flat surface. We wonder if your camera's LCD protrudes into the base? One thing you can do (although it isn't real efficient) is remove the screw by sliding it down into the slot by the edge that is notched. -- Editor)
Actually, it does not seem to be camera-dependent, given the type of camera mounting screw they used on my Klikk. With my Klikk, (the large, offset-screw type) even when you set it on a table, the head of the screw comes within a millimeter or two of the table surface. If you put the slightest pressure on the stand, such as might well happen in the pouch, the screw comes in contact with the table.
Also, when you put the Klikk in the pouch with a small camera, the edges of the two items do not remain perfectly aligned, so when any corner of the camera intrudes into the hollow of the stand, the screw readily touches the LCD. Of course, one could eliminate all this by placing any thin object, hard or soft, between the camera and the Klikk in the pouch; or by removing the screw as you suggest; but that defeats the simplicity of the idea.
But I'm well satisfied with the product, and again, thanks for tipping your readers to it.
-- Paul(Take a look at the illustrated version of the review at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/KLIKK/KLIKK.HTM and see if the hardware is the same. -- Editor)
Mine is the same, and now I see what's going on. It's that my screw slides too freely from one end of the slot to the other. When it's at the highest point of the stand, no problem with the LCD, but it slides down to the lower part. I take it that yours stays put.
However, problem solved -- I just put a rubber band around the Klikk over the screw and running along the slot. The rubber band won't move because one end is anchored in the notch in the edge of the stand. This keeps the screw at the high point of the curve and provides the needed clearance underneath. Also, on the bottom, the rubber band covers the screw though it doesn't touch it. Lastly, it keeps the camera from nudging into the hollow base and getting on an angle where it can touch the screw.
Thanks for keeping after this. Now I can use it as you originally suggested.
RE: Microtek F1 Scanner
I am a novice with scanning and find your reviews of scanners very helpful. Especially enjoyed your review of the Microtek i900.
Microtek has released a new model the Microtek Artix F1 a flatbed with Auto Focus. Could you please do a review of this scanner. I am thinking of purchasing this one and I can't find many really good reviews.
-- George(The F1 is, with some unspecified differences, the fabled but unreleased M1 for markets other than North America, George. The long-waited M1 has, according to our contacts, passed its quality assurance tests but is awaiting final software. We hope to see a review unit around the end of November. -- Editor)
RE: Bag It
Like a lot of other people, when I bought my Canon XTi I did not get the kit lens, I got the 17-85mm IS lens. I found that the camera case Canon sells in the U.S. for the XTi won't fit with this lens. My friend at Canon tells me that Canon has no plans to import a case that would (they seem to have one in Japan). Any suggestions?
-- Ron Troy(Ron, we used to use camera cases when we shot film, but there are so many doors for batteries, cards and connections, that we prefer to use a holster now. We usually sling it over our shoulder and just flip the top up to get the camera (which is pointed down). When we're done, we just holster the camera again. We use a Lowepro TZ1 (which is probably a little large for your arrangement) but there are a number of them that are quite convenient. -- Editor)
RE: Our Nobel Laureate Writes
WOW!! What a rush to receive your Nobel Prize For Customer Service!! Every day I try to remember a Maya Angelou teaching and that is: "People won't remember what you said to them but they will remember how you make them feel...." You honor me by your recognition and I am sitting here dabbing at my tears of pride!!! Mike ... truly ... THANK YOU!! This honor is definitely going into my "Keeper" file!!
-- Pamela Young, Director of First Impressions(Thanks for the quote, Pamela! It should be engraved somewhere. Love your title, too -- although, maybe it should be Director of Lasting Impressions <g>. -- Editor)
Rich Ford's MacInTouch site is maintaining a list of Leopard compatibility issues organized by company. Before updating to the new Macintosh operating system, visit the list (http://www.macintouch.com/leopard/compat.html) to check for any issues that might affect you. Scanner software seems particularly hard hit, except for Ed Hamrick's VueScan (http://www.hamrick.com), which has been upgraded to support Leopard.
Apple has reported a conflict between Time Machine and Aperture in which backup and restore operations "may lead to inconsistencies" in the Aperture database. The workaround is to exclude the Aperture Library from automatic backups.
MacInTouch has also recently reported an issue moving files from one volume to another using Leopard's new Finder. If a file move operation is interrupted (by disconnecting the destination drive, for example) "folders disappeared from both drives!" Using mv, the Unix version of the move command, the original files were not deleted before the copy had completed. Manually copying and then deleting files, rather than moving them with the Finder is the recommended workaround.
Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com) has posted a service notice to owners of the EOS-1D Mark III for free repair of an autofocus mirror adjustment problem affecting cameras with serial numbers between 501001 and 546561. "This issue may cause inconsistent focusing accuracy or inconsistent focus tracking with moving subjects when using AI-Servo AF and continuous shooting modes, particularly in high temperatures," the notice explains. Canon will publish details of the repair program "on our Web site as soon as they become available."
Chris Russ has co-authored Introduction to Image Processing and Analysis (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0849370736/?tag=theimagingres-20), a 347-page tome that details the programming involved in image processing and analysis using a C compiler in both Windows and Mac OS programming environments. "It is now really easy (and you don't need a huge programming background) to make a Photoshop plug-in to do something," Chris told us. The $109.95 book, aimed at college juniors, includes a CD with over 40 problems and solutions that can be built with Developer Studio, plus well over a hundred student problems. It also contains code and algorithms for doing everything from simple sharpening up to advanced Fourier processing.
Rocky Nook has published its $49.95 The HDRI Handbook with a companion Web site (http://www.hdrlabs.com) to reveal the secrets behind High Dynamic Range Imaging. The book includes practical hints and tips, software evaluations, workshops, and hands-on tutorials. It's available at a 34 percent discount via our Amazon affiliate link at http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952059/?tag=theimagingres-20.
Kodak EasyShare All-in-One Printers, sold only by Best Buy at launch, are now available from a number of retailers including: in Australia: JB HiFi, Ted's, Paxtons Camera and Video; in the UK: PCWorld, Currys Superstores, Currys Digital; in Germany: Media Markt, Saturn, Conrad, Otto Office, Amazon; in France: Boulanger; in Canada: Wal-Mart, Staples Business Depot, BUREAU En GROS; in the U.S.: Sam's Club, Office Depot, Best Buy, Fry's, Circuit City, Wal-Mart.
Zenfolio (http://www.zenfolio.com) has announced its $100/year Premium service ($80 through Dec. 31) that lets you create a fully-functional Web store with customizable look-and-feel and flexible price lists integrated with partner labs EZ Prints in Atlanta and Mpix, a division of Millers Professional Imaging.
The Los Angeles Center for Digital Art (http://lacda.com) notes that Dec. 5 is the deadline for entries to its juried competition for digital art and photography. Entrants may submit three JPEG files of original work. Visit http://lacda.com/juried/juriedshow.html for details.
HP (http://www.hp.com) has announced it is currently working to identify an original equipment manufacturer partner that would be licensed to design, source and distribute digital cameras under the HP brand. HP will continue selling its own cameras through the holiday season and intends to have the partnership arrangement in place in the first half of 2008.
AKVIS (http://akvis.com) has released its $72 Sketch 6.0 [MW], available as a standalone application and a Photoshop plug-in, to convert images into artwork, imitating graphite pencil, color pencil, charcoal or watercolor. The new version can also mimic various textured surfaces.
Sony has announced that its ImageStation service will close on Feb. 1, 2008. At midnight Pacific time, Nov. 12, the site will no longer accept new members or uploads and will cease redemption of coupons and sales of photo prints and gifts. Its sole function will be to sell CD/DVD archives of galleries ($7.49 and $14.99 per disc), allowing members to get a copy of their original image data.
Intriguing Development (http://www.macscrapbook.com) has released its $39.95 iRemember 2.1.1 [M] for creating digital scrapbooks with bug fixes, performance enhancements, and support for Leopard.
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
We hope to send our next issue out a little early once again to help you get a head start on the holiday shopping season. Our annual holiday gift guides cover our favorite cameras -- and everything else!
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