|Volume 9, Number 24||23 November 2007|
Welcome to the 215th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We're sending this issue a little early to help you get a head start on the holiday shopping season. The first article covers the top cameras in several categories and the second covers, well, everything else! We even think we can save you a little money in our third feature. If your mouth is watering, rub your hands together. Then plunge in!
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What with global warming, there are no icicles at the virtual water cooler this time of year. In fact, several of us broke a sweat as we compiled this list of recommended cameras. Which, at least, made it easy to slip out of each other's grasp when we didn't agree. But after wrestling with this topic for days, we think we've finally come up with something for everyone.
Prices quoted reflect average prices earlier this week.
It's the year of the dSLR (really). They've not only come of age, but they've overrun the market. There are inexpensive (but surprisingly capable) models costing no more than a point-and-shoot that are guaranteed to thrill even novices with their shutterbugging. And the high end represented by the Nikon D3 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D3/D3A.HTM) and Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E1DSMK3/E1DSMK3A.HTM) just continues to keep amazing everyone (but those are tax deductions, not gifts). If you need convincing, read Shawn's article "Five Reasons You Need a Digital SLR" (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/FIVEREASONS/FIVEREASONSA.HTM) in which his daughter explains it in terms even we can grasp. Zoom, zoom, zoom!
Among the bargain recommendations are:
Looking for a bit more? Let's take a step up the ladder:
- The Nikon D40/D40x (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/ND40/ND40A.HTM) -- The D40 is probably one of the best bargains around and the D40x (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D40X/D40XA.HTM) adds even more value to this package. Great features, impressive image quality, particularly good low light performance with a compact body. D40 under $500; D40x under $650
- Olympus E-510 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E510/E510A.HTM) -- The E-510 has in-camera image stabilization so it works with every lens you put on this compact dSLR. And this time of year, Olympus likes to bundle a couple of lenses with their cameras, making them almost irresistible. $670
- Nikon D80 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D80/D80A.HTM) -- The 18-135mm kit lens is "a huge step up from the cheap lenses typically found in kits," Shawn wrote in his review. Support for Nikon's Creative Lighting System and a great menu system make it a real partner in photography. ~$1,100
- Canon 40D (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E40D/E40DA.HTM) -- You'll spend a bit more for a 40D but the kit lens is a 28-135mm IS lens. "It also offers as much value and image quality as competing designs that are hundreds of dollars more," Shawn wrote. $1,300
You might think an inexpensive digicam would be right down there with cubic zirconia as a gift, but as Dave put it recently, "You can get incredibly good stuff for very little money." And then, too, cubic zirconia is optically flawless.
- Nikon Coolpix L10, L11 and L12 -- At five megapixels, the L10 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CPL10/CPL10A.HTM) can make you a Nikon photographer for under $100. The L11 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CPL11/CPL11A.HTM) goes up to six megapixels with a larger 2.4-inch LCD for $118. And the L12 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CPL12/CPL12A.HTM) adds image stabilization to its 7.1 megapixel sensor for just $150. And they're easy enough for children to use.
Bargain With a Real Manual Mode
- Canon PowerShot SD1000 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SD1000/SD1000A.HTM) -- The SD1000is a real gem. And about as small, fitting easily into a pocket or purse. But with its excellent image quality, you won't leave it there long. $190
Bargain Long Zoom
- Canon PowerShot A570 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A570IS/A570ISA.HTM) -- How about a camera with Manual mode, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Programmed Auto? Not to mention image stabilization on its 4x optical zoom? The A570 IS cuts that mustard for just $170.
- Canon PowerShot A720 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A720IS/A720ISA.HTM) -- How about another camera with Manual mode, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Programmed Auto? Not to mention image stabilization on its 6x optical zoom? The A720 IS has all that and a price tag around $220, too.
- Panasonic TZ3 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/TZ3/TZ3A.HTM) -- The TZ3 is a pocket camera with a 10x zoom with IS (much improved over the TZ1) for $250.
ULTRA LONG ZOOMS
These three are all quite similar: 8.1 megapixel sensors, 18x zooms, image stabilization, 2.50-inch LCDs with EVFs, high ISO sensitivity.
- Fujifilm S8000fd (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S8000/S8000A.HTM) -- The S8000fd was fun to shoot with and very responsive. $350
- Olympus SP-560 UZ (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SP560/SP560A.HTM) -- The SP-560 updates Olympus' pioneering offering in this category with more megapixels and a slightly revised lens. $420
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FZ18/FZ18A.HTM) -- The FZ18 comes in third with a lens much like the original in this category, the Olympus SF-550 UZ. $370
They're so compact (and attractive) that they're almost jewelry. They do give up a little ground in the optics department, but sometimes you just want a snapshot, anyway.
- Fujifilm FinePix Z5fd (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FPZ5/FPZ5A.HTM) -- The Z5fd is a delight. You don't have to be a photographer to enjoy shooting with it. $160
- Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W80 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/W80/W80A.HTM) -- The W80 has a Bionz processor, face detection technology, High ISO and Super SteadyShot one-two punch, in-camera editing and HD output signal. $200
YOUR SECOND CAMERA
What do you pocket when you leave your dSLR in its bag? Here are some favorites:
- Canon PowerShot S5 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S5IS/S5ISA.HTM). The S5 IS updates without quite replacing the PowerShot S3 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/S3IS/S3ISA.HTM), which is no slouch itself (6-Mp, 12x zoom, 2-inch LCD) and perhaps the better bargain at $300 to the S5's $364 average price. But the S5's 8-Mp, 12x zoom and 2.5-inch LCD are worth a few ducats in themselves.
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/LX2/LX2A.HTM) -- The LX2 features a 16:9 image sensor, lens and LCD but will remind you more of a rangefinder than a point-and-shoot. The very high quality 4x lens, optical image stabilization, high ISO sensitivity and 10.2 megapixel sensor make this a favorite second camera that can run with the best of them. $392
OK, there's only one but it gets great mileage. We found it awfully hard to hold but we can't palm a basketball either. What we liked about it -- and it alone -- is that it can capture 16:9 stills and 16:9 video (at either 30 or 15 fps). Can you say HDTV? This is the digicam for it.
- Canon PowerShot TX1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/TX1/TX1A.HTM) -- The TX1 is a compact hybrid digital camera that is surprisingly good at taking stills or video. $470
Both Canon and Nikon offer a premium digicam that escapes the orbit of mere point-and-shoots and floats in the enthusiast's weightless world of the rangefinder. They've got things you don't see in most digicams including Raw file format support, a hotshoe for external flash and converter lenses.
- Canon PowerShot G9 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G9/G9A.HTM) -- The G9 is a really sweet box. Nothing fancy on the outside, it's responsive and comes with all the glitter: hotshoe, ISO up to 3200, 3.0-inch LCD, 6x zoom, 12.1 megapixels, full manual control. $500
- Nikon Coolpix P5100 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CP5100/CP5100A.HTM) -- The P5100 updates the recently released P5000 just in time. We only played with it for a short time one evening but it seemed more responsive (even in low light focusing situations) than the P5000 (which was a bit slow to autofocus). Nearly the same glitter: hotshoe, all the Coolpix converter lenses you can throw at it (including a new wide angle), ISO up to 3200, 2.5-inch LCD, 3.5x zoom, 12.1 megapixels, full manual control. $400
When we phoned the North Pole this year for a little advice on the subject of gift giving, the elves were a bit miffed. "Ain't there a writers strike going on?"
We tried to explain we were just hacks, immune to holidays, strikes and literary awards. But they weren't persuaded. "We've got electricity up here now, pal. We read the New York Times online, you know. We know what's going on."
When you can't beat 'em, you join in on the fun. "OK, guys, you got me. I'm just trying to save a little money this holiday season, since I'm on strike, that is. Normally, I'm a generous guy. But you know how it is. No reindeer, just a 12 mpg Rumbolino that needs a tune-up."
"Yeah, sure, we know how it is. The minute you sign that new contract, you'll forget the little people who stood by you when you needed them."
"No, really, guys. I never forget you. It's just that your names are so hard to spell. Even when I get them right, my spell checker beeps." I could feel the ice melting.
"OK, OK. We didn't get where we are by being grumpy," they laughed. "We're elves, not dwarfs!"
It only took a few hours and some double-checking, but as usual the elves proved to be an excellent source of information, even if we seem to have heard some of it before. Apparently they've been subscribers to this newsletter for years!
- Photoshop Lightroom Adventure by Mikkel Aaland, published by O'Reilly, 350 pages, $39.95 (or $26.39 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/059610099X/?tag=theimagingres-20). Aaland traps a few photographer friends and the Lightroom programmers on a desolate, frigid wasteland, conning them with tales of the perfect light and instant software updates. But what we liked about the book was seeing how real photographers look at their own images and use Lightroom to alter them.
- Introduction to Image Processing and Analysis by John Russ and Chris Russ, published by CRC Press, 356 pages with CD, $109 (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0849370736/?tag=theimagingres-20). See if you're as smart as a college junior trying to write Photoshop plug-ins. If you're not, you can just use the code on the CD to make your own plug-ins.
- Peter iNova's Canon & Nikon dSLR eBooks (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?dgn) are classics in digital photography education. They put paper manuals to shame with over a thousand images (many of them animated illustrations) in a 500-page (even 1,000-page) PDF you can copy to your computer. Each title includes basic instruction and over 500 custom Photoshop actions. Terrific D40/D40x eBook, BTW. $49.95
- Window Seat by Julieanne Kost (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/KOST/KOST.HTM) is a down-to-earth book on creativity, photography and digital imaging, featuring sections that sandwich her portfolio of images culled from 3,000 originals between advice on remaining creative in a need-it-yesterday world and a technical appendix that reveals the equipment and techniques used to create the images reproduced in the book. $39.99 (or http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596100833/?tag=theimagingres-20)
Another lens is one of those un-hoped-for blessings that is, unfortunately, also one of those difficult gifts to figure out. Of course, if your giftee drops a few hints, it can help immeasurably. If you're undeterred, however, (or know what you're doing) you can peek at what's on the camera right now and look for a similar model (same zoom range) with VR or IS. You might gamble on a macro lens, too. Or how about a sharp, prime lens (a 50mm or an 18mm, say, no zoom?). You can do a little research on all this at SLRgear.com (http://www.slrgear.com) where there's also a nice article on selecting a second lens (http://www.slrgear.com/articles/secondlens.html), with a few recommendations in each category.
- Lensbaby 2 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/LBY/LBY2.HTM) focuses only on a small circle of the whole scene for just $150. The newer $270 Lensbaby 3 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/L3-GB/LBY3.HTM) can also hold its position. Both are a good reason to remove your kit lens once in a while.
- Hoodman H-RAV universal right angle viewfinder with a built-in 1x and 2x diopter (http://www.hoodmanusa.com/products.asp?dept=1018). The device lets you get the camera off your nose and even compose a shot at floor level. But you don't have to look down to appreciate it, really. It's just a more convenient way to compose through your dSLR's viewfinder -- especially considering the view is magnified. $129.99
- Sigview S2. No Live View on that dSLR? No problem. For the price of a digicam, you can add this optical viewfinder attachment (http://www.argraph.com) which doubles as a remote shutter release. $470
Need a stocking stuffer memory card? No problem:
- SanDisk SD/USB Card (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/SDUSB/SDUII.HTM) is an SD card that folds in half to reveal a USB connector. No reader necessary. 512-MB, 1-GB, 2-GB, 4-GB versions starting at around $35.
- Lexar UDMA 300x CompactFlash. This Ultra Direct Memory Access card (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07/1171981812.html) with a UDMA reader can write 45-MBs a second. That's something we appreciate being stuck at 90 words a minute. In 2-, 4- and 8-GB sizes. $219.99 for 8-GB
- Kingston (http://www.kingston.com) has redesigned its inexpensive 133x CompactFlash Elite Pro cards, which write at about 20-MB a second and are available in 2-, 4-, 8- and 16-GB capacities. $64.95 for 4-GB
- CompactFlash (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/m/pl.cgi?memcf)
- Secure Digital (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/m/pl.cgi?memsd)
- Memory Stick (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/m/pl.cgi?memms)
- Memory Stick Pro (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/m/pl.cgi?memmspro)
- xD Picture Cards (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/m/pl.cgi?memxd)
- GE/Sanyo Eneloop NiMH AA Batteries (http://www.eneloop.info) are ready to use when you buy them, have a long shelf life, high performance at 2000 mAh, are environmentally friendly, inexpensive and compatible with current chargers. When you buy them, they'll have at least an 85 percent charge because after sitting on the shelf for a year, they'll retain that much. No need to freshen the charge on your NiMH before you shoot if you use Eneloop. $11.88 for four
- M-Rock Bags (http://www.m-rock.com). The Teton is the only holster big enough for a vertical grip and includes a bungie cord on the bottom for stuff you can't fit inside, plus an all-weather cover. $60
- Lowepro (http://www.lowepro.com) Sling Bags make it easy to get your camera out. The SlingShots, in three sizes, carry your equipment like a backpack but let you at it like a fanny back. $70, $90, $110
- Think Tank Photo (http://www.thinktankphoto.com) has an Urban Disguise line in six sizes ranging from $69 to $189 that "allow you to travel in style and protect your valuable equipment without attracting attention to yourself as a photographer."
- Op/Tech (http://www.optechusa.com) has a dizzying range of camera strap systems. But the prices won't make you swoon.
We buy our digital filters from 2filter (http://www.2filter.com), which discounts high quality, multi-coated filters from Hoya and Tiffen and provides some bundles, too. Prices vary on the size of the filter.
- Circular Polarizers can capture the world as it appears through your shades. $40-$100
- Neutral Density filters can knock down bright sunlight to give you more control of depth of field.
- Infrared filters limit capture to infrared wavelengths if your camera does not have an IR blocking filter on its sensor.
- An external flash. While not inexpensive, a dedicated speedlight can open new doors of creativity for your photographer. Typical units: Nikon SB-600 $200, SB-800 $400; Canon 430EX $235, 580EX $350
- Ultimate Light Box. This inexpensive flash diffusion system (http://www.harbordigitaldesign.com) gives you a studio full of options in a compact collection. Bounce diffusers for $19.95, Box Kits for $69.95, Pro Packs for about $100
- Camera Bright (http://www.camerabright.com) LED illumination to help find focus on cameras without AF assist lamps. Starting at $29.95
- MicroSync (http://www.microsyncdigital.com). World's smallest wireless strobe sync system for firing strobes and cameras.
- Lightroom (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/LRM/LRM.HTM) makes workflow child's play. $299
- Vertus Fluid Mask (http://www.vertustech.com). For masking without the sweat. $200
- Linotype FontExplorer x (http://www.linotype.com/fontexplorerX) can impose order on anyone's Windows or Mac font library, saving them disk space and sanity. It's free, too.
- Boinx Fotomagico 2.0. Our favorite way to make slide shows now comes in an Express edition (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07mrp/PMA07D.HTM#fot) and a Pro edition with a watermarking feature. From $49
- VueScan (http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/VUE/VUE.HTM) is an affordable and comprehensive scanning software solution. Buy one copy, use it on any scanner you own. It's was the one product that worked with Leopard from Day One. $49.95/$89.95
- PhotoRescue (http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM) remains the leader in image recovery software. $29
- Imagenomic's Noiseware, Portraiture and RealGrain plug-ins (http://www.imagenomic.com) can intelligently reduce the noise of your high ISO images without erasing their detail, automatically retouch portraits to eliminate flaws and add film grain effects. $239.85 for the suite
- MemoryMiner (http://www.memoryminer.com) is the modern way of telling your family's story. $60
- Phanfare Photo (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHF/PHF.HTM), a file sharing service that uploads your images automatically as you organize them, with captions and movies, too. Annual fee from $29.95 to $54.95, with a monthly rate of $6.95.
- Zenfolio (http://www.zenfolio.com) can set up your budding pro in business selling their images. The new hosting service provides a complete storefront with order fulfillment for a percentage of each sale (you set the markup) with a modest annual subscription fee for the service.
- Klikk Camera Stand (http://www.klikk.it). When we reviewed (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/KLIKK/KLIKK.HTM) this small plastic camera stand, we said, "If you need convincing, make a gift of one to someone and watch how much they rave about it." Now's your chance.
- Gorilla Pod (http://www.joby.com). Made in three sizes -- one for digicams (12.5 oz. maximum fro $21.95), a $39.95 larger one for dSLRs (2.5 lbs.) and a $49.95 pro model that can take 4.5 lbs. -- the Joby Gorilla pod has a quick release mount attached to three legs made of interconnected balls that can wrap around and lock to any surface.
- Berlebach Tripods (http://www.berlebach.de/e_index.php). Imported from Germany by HP Marketing, these wood tripods made from ash have been around since 1898. Beautiful, solid, weathered ash, kiln dried, rigid, immune to environmental changes and vibration free. In a range of sizes from a tabletop that sits on the ground on up. A 7 lbs. tripod that rises from 20 to 64 inches goes for under $200.
A disappointing category this year, frankly. Can you wait until the Super Bowl? It might all clear up by then.
- Kodak 5300 All-in-One Printer. This scanner/printer (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/K5300/K5300.HTM) does a lot of things well, including copying prints, gang scanning and keeping print costs down with an inexpensive pigment-based ink system and three tiers of instant-dry papers. No film scanning, though. Unfortunately, the firmware is not up to snuff and if you've got a Mac, you can't update it. $200
- HP C8180 (http://www.hp.com) has some fabulous specs. We're testing it now, in fact. It's the company's top of the line all-in-one device, mating a 9600-dpi scanner capable of both reflective and transparency scanning with a printer that also includes CD/DVD burning and label printing with LightScribe. But it also wins the Congeniality Award for its touchscreen interface, card reader and its connectivity options: Hi-Speed USB, PictBridge, Wireless G and Bluetooth. Stayed tuned for our review. $339.99
- Canon MP960 (http://www.usa.canon.com). Great prints, a nice 3.5-inch LCD, PictBridge and Bluetooth (adapter optional), card reader, built in duplexer, 4800 dpi scanning with 48-bit color depth, print directly from film (with enlargements). Can't beat it. $399.99
- HP A626 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/HPA626/HPA626.HTM). A great little 4x6 printing using just three dye-based inks (no black), it's easy to take with you anywhere. The built-in card reader and Bluetooth capability (with an optional adapter) make it pretty friendly when it gets there, too. $200
- Canon Pro9000 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/CP9K/CP9KA.HTM) and Pro9500. Canon just seems to get it right, whether it's dyes or pigments. But we really do love the dye-based Pro9000. $450
- Epson Stylus Photo 1400 (http://www.epson.com/cgi-bin/Store/consumer/consDetail.jsp?oid=63066043). Featuring a six-ink Claria ink system, gets you those big poster prints a bit less expensive than the Canon. $399
- Piezography Neutral K7 Inkset. Despite three-ink forays into black-and-white territory, today's inkjets don't work too hard on monochrome imaging. But refit your old Epson with one of Piezography's K7 inksets (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07mrp/PMA07D.HTM#pie) and let your eyes bathe in the luxury of rich grays.
- Epson V700/V750 Photo (http://www.epson.com). It uses two lenses for up to 6400 dpi resolution and a Dmax of 4.0, handling both film and reflective art. $549.99/$799.99
- Apple TV (http://www.apple.com/appletv). Still the best (and easiest) way to show your high resolution images on an HDTV. $299
- Datacolor Spyder3 (http://www.colorvision.com) monitor calibration systems. The $279 Spyder3Elite and the $599 Spyder3Studio are not cheap, which is why they make nice presents that will not be returned.
- Jobo photoGPS. Pop this (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS07/1173138994.html) on your hotshoe and download its data with your images after a shoot to get GPS information added to your Exif headers. The hotshoe powers the unit just when you take a shot, preserving battery life for up to a year.
- Celestron (http://www.celestron.com) Vistapix IS70 spotting scope/digicam with its two-inch LCD and 14x-magnification, fully-coated lens featuring a 70mm aperture and 210mm focal length attached to a 3.1-megapixel digicam with an SD card slot for $479.
- Brother's embroidery system (http://www.brother.com) can reproduce your digicam images as embroidery. The basic components of the system are 1) a Windows computer running Brother's $99 PE-Design software and 2) a USB Brother sewing machine (either the $1,800 Innov-is 1200 or $6,000 Innov-is 4000D, both of which are single needle machines; the six needle PR-600 II costs $9,999.95 but gets the job done more quickly).
- When we last saw the Popabrella (http://www.popabrella.com), it was a charming solution for protecting your camera from rain and, more importantly, sun (shading the lens no matter which direction you aim the camera). But the company has added a compelling twist to the plot with a new silver interior lining designed for flash bounce. Since you attach the Popabrella to your camera using the tripod socket, the ideal flash solution would be a strobe you can mount on the camera's hot shoe with a flash head that rotates to face backward and fire into the Popabrella, which can be aligned in almost any direction. The company is considering a gold lining as well, but at the moment, silver is the only option. $35
- Belkin Bluetooth USB Adapter with KODAK Picture Upload Technology (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/KPUT/KPUT.HTM). Attach this USB adapter to your Windows computer, install the Kodak software and every 100 seconds it looks for a paired camphone to download any new images and optionally send them up to EasyShare Gallery. One day all camera-computer transfers will be like this. $49.99
- Pirolettes (http://www.turnyourhead.com) are wood turnings that cast a shadow in the shape of your profile. $150
- Photostamps (http://photostamps.com) can print a sheet of perfectly legal stamps with either an image or a logo on them in just one day. Two sheets of 20 stamps are about $16.
- USB extension cable. This is especially nice if you use one of the SanDisk SD/USB cards mentioned above. It just gives you a flexible, easily manipulated USB port.
- USB 2.0 hub. Inexpensive but look for a 2.0 Hi-Speed USB port, even if it comes with a power brick. Providing power to the hub means you can attach power-hungry devices like external USB drives to the hub without draining your laptop's battery.
- External drive. Speaking of which, nobody ever has enough external drives. Compact 2.5-inch drives in small enclosures are more expensive than 3.5-inch drives for the same capacity. Network drives let you share the drive among a number of computers. And some drives even feature one-click backup capability.
- Drobo (http://www.drobo.com). This "storage robot" takes external drives one spin further. It's a robot. You populate it with up to four drives of any size (they don't have to be the same) and your data is protected without configuring or managing the box. The robot does it. And tells you how things are going with a traffic light system (yellow means buy a bigger drive to swap in). Ingenious. $499
- Digital picture frames? Oh, don't even ask. While we've reviewed a Pandigital (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/PDGTL/PD8.HTM) and peeked at a few Kodaks, we find them a bit hard to leave on all the time (like, you know, real frames). But have at it. People love them for a reason.
- Merchandise from your images? Absolutely! Nothing says I-love-you like a T-shirt for Dad branded with that picture you took of him dozing after Thanksgiving. And Mom will love her high school picture on her T-shirt (you can even color her hair they way it should have been). You not only express what's truly in your heart, but you save gas and these things aren't that expensive to begin with! Consult your favorite online photofinisher.
You know that Imaging Resource delivers a wealth of, well, resources to help you learn about cameras, printers, scanners, software and accessories. That's why you keep an eye on us, after all.
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When we discussed shopping on the Web in our Nov. 2, 2001 issue, it was a new phenomenon. Even though more people are more comfortable shopping on the Internet now, our caveats then about gray market goods, mandatory accessory packages and refurbished units sold as new still apply.
Of course, the best way to protect yourself against fraudulent business practices (which can happen anywhere), is to be informed. That's where we come in.
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So when you shop for prices, shop from our reviews to support the site. You can also use the direct link (and bookmark it as your shopping link, too) to our PriceGrabber pages (http://ir.pricegrabber.com), which is conveniently listed on our new Buy Now page.
We've also just recently celebrated our first anniversary of our affiliate relationship with B&H Photo. B&H has been serving imaging markets for over 30 years with competitive pricing and outstanding service before, during, and after the sale.
While the company's large inventory includes everything from cameras to home theater equipment, B&H knows "professional photographers are understandably the most demanding customer group we serve, and knowing that their repeat business would be essential to our success, we adopted the phrase 'The Professional's Source' to describe our business focus and use it as a promise we are dedicated to keeping."
Proof of that is that several of us at Imaging Resource (to our mutual surprise) have always used B&H for our photo gear and supplies.
Now, by visiting B&H through 1) the many links at our sister site SLRgear at http://www.slrgear.com 2) directly using this link (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/?BI=771&KBID=1047) or 3) from the direct link on our Buy Now page, you can help support our efforts.
Finally, you know we're the only guys out there who review books on cameras and software. But have you noticed our latest reviews (and book excerpts) include links to Amazon for discount pricing and convenient ordering?
You'll find a number of titles in the Book Bag and Bookmark sections of the newsletter index (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-indx.html) have an Amazon link. And our Grab Bag Gift Guide book recommendations above also have them.
But visiting Amazon from any one of our links helps -- no matter what you're shopping for. "Amazon is a great place to buy tools," Dave told us. "I've used them for a lot of stuff in my workshop." Not to mention CDs, DVDs and more.
And this year, Amazon is putting up a Black Friday page at http://www.amazon.com/b/?node=384082011&tag=theimagingres-20 to list hourly deals from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST along with thousands of products on sale for a limited time. You'll also get gift wrapping for $0.99 an item.
EVERY CLICK HELPS
To make it easy to dive into your holiday shopping from our site and help support our efforts, visit our Buy Now page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/buynow.htm) where you'll find links to our new shopping resources, including a search form for Amazon.
Every click helps -- especially when you buy through B&H and Amazon -- but even when you're just researching prices. So take a moment to visit our Buy Now page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/buynow.htm) and bookmark it as your portal to Web shopping! Then start your holiday Web shopping -- or any shopping, no matter what you're shopping for -- right there every time! It would really help keep the lights on and fires burning here at Imaging Resource and SLRgear.com. Thanks for your support!
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:
- Revised: Future review thumbnails. We've increased the size of our thumbnails from 300 pixels wide to 800 pixels on the longest side. So our thumbnail sizes are now standardized (portraits are not larger) and you get a full screen image when you click on the thumbnails in our reviews or test image pages. Coming soon!
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot SD950 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SD950IS/SD950ISA.HTM)
- Reviewed: Pentax Optio M40 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/M40/M40A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Olympus E-3 SLR (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E3/E3A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot A720 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A720IS/A720ISA.HTM)
- Reviewed: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H3 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/H3/H3A.HTM)
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 Pentax K10D discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eea528b/0
Visit the Kodak Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6f77d
Roberta asks for advice about choosing an underwater camera at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eea6d72/0
Greg asks about paper for the Canon i9900 at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eea69ef/0
Visit the Beginners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6b2b2
Looking for special prices on featured products? Because of their time-limited nature, we only publish them in the email version of this newsletter. The good news is that you can subscribe for free on our Subscriber Services page:
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You can email us at [email protected]. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.
I have owned (and enjoyed) the Fujifilm F10 and F11. The F10 eventually broke down and the F11 I sadly lost. Seeking a replacement I got excited by the new F50fd publicity but sense ambivalence on the part of some reviewers. I have found raves over the F31 and not much on the F40.
Do you have any experience with these cameras? I have checked your archive and have found no reviews of these cameras. I have found no mention of any Fuji cameras. Do you have a policy of not reviewing them? Are you of the opinion that they're not very good? I have only owned those Fujis and found them fine, but then I've not experienced any others.
Lastly would you say is the best compact digital camera, from the point of view of image quality and low light photography.
-- Paul Hamlyn(We're admittedly behind on a number of reviews (some dozen or so outstanding at the moment, I believe) but this is the place to track the Fujifilm reviews: http://www.imaging-resource.com/MFR1.HTM?view=Fujifilm_reviews. There are quite a few listed there because we do review everything we can, Paul.... Any camera represents a set of compromises, so there really is no generic "best." There are tradeoffs you can live with and tradeoffs you can't live with. Even among ourselves we disagree about what those are. Some, for example, don't mind chrominance noise in high ISO images but it bugs other guys on the staff and we throw AA batteries at each other all the time trying to impress each other.... For low light shooting, look for a larger sensor (rather than more megabytes), high ISO, low noise and image stabilization. Nikon and Canon take a different approach to high ISO than does Sony, focusing more on retaining detail than color. Some people prefer color over detail, though. We try to make those tradeoffs clear in our reviews. But we can't tell you which is better. -- Editor)
RE: Wrong Setting
A friend with a Canon digital point-and-shoot took a few short movie sequences, instead of single shots as he intended, by accidentally bumping the setting into Movie mode a few times while on vacation. He didn't realize it until he got home and would like to be able to get a still image instead. Any idea how to do this?
-- Lynn Maniscalco(Happens to us all the time <g>. Very few image editors can snip a JPEG out of a movie file but almost all movie editing software can do it. iMovie, for example, has a Save Frame option. Lacking that, a screen shot will do since the resolution (640x480 at best) is not very high. -- Editor)
RE: Nikkor Lens
First, thanks a lot for your great newsletter and Web site. I wrote to you once before, many years ago and you've only gotten better since then.
Here's my question. I saw Andrew Alexander's review of the new Nikon 55-200mm lens with Vibration Reduction. I have been "on the verge" of buying myself the Nikon 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 IF-ED AF-S VR Nikkor lens for months and have been waiting for Christmas as a good time to buy it for myself. I own a D50. Your very favorable review of the 70-300mm even talks about getting it for yourselves as a Christmas present, so that probably inspired me to do the same.
However, now comes this review of the 55-200mm, which says in particular that "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." Will this review be out before Christmas shopping time? Also, do you know of a better choice out there that's compatible with the D50 (I have the 18-55 and the 55-200 already, neither with VR)? Is Nikon about to announce a better choice at this price range, for a similar lens?
-- Juan Migliore(Our VR scientists are still working on a way to test VR performance, Juan, but we can tell you Nikon has a compact 18-200mm lens with VR II that can focus as close as about nine inches in front of the lens. You can read the review and reviews of other Nikkors with VR at http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showcat.php/cat/13. -- Editor)
RE: On the Eighth Day...
I accidentally removed Photo Impression 4.0! Please advise how I can restore or download a new copy.
-- Maryann(Contact ArcSoft's customer service for a replacement copy of your original CD if you no longer have it. Then just reinstall. -- Editor)
Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) delivered a series of updates recently. They were unrelated to Apple's release of Leopard, with versions for both OS X and Windows. Buckle up: Lightroom 1.3, Camera Raw 4.3, DNG Converter 4.3 were released first followed by Photoshop 10.0.1 and Bridge 2.1.1.
In addition, Photoshop Product Manager Bryan O'Neil Hughes published his Photoshop CS3 Printing Notes to optimize Mac or Windows printing workflows (http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/docs/PhotoshopCS3PrintingNotes.pdf).
Wait, as someone once said, there's more. Tom Hogarty announced in his Lightroom Journal that Adobe Labs has released a free Export software development kit for Lightroom (http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroomsdk). It's the first SDK Adobe has released for Lightroom.
onOne Software (http://www.onOnesoftware.com) has released its $159.95 PhotoTools and $259.95 PhotoTools Professional Edition, a Photoshop plug-in that uses the power of Photoshop Actions to deliver over 150 effects, corrections and styles. The Pro edition features an additional 100 effects.
Rocky Nook (http://www.rockynook.com) has published Managing Your Photographic Workflow with Photoshop Lightroom by Jurgen Gulbins and Uwe Steinmuller. The $29.95 title is available for $19.97 through the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952202/?tag=theimagingres-20).
The company has also published The Glossary of Digital Photography with over 1,500 words, abbreviations and acronyms. This title is also discounted through the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952040/?tag=theimagingres-20).
xTrain.com (http://www.xtrain.com) has published the latest installment of their free Dr. Brown's Photoshop Laboratory Classes featuring Photoshop Guru Russell Brown. Titled "The Good, the Bad, the Ugly," it features professional portrait retouching tips and techniques made easy.
Fujifilm (http://www.fujifilmusa.com) has announced a free seminar on Digital Forensic Photography for law enforcement and forensic photographers, as part of the grand opening of the new B&H state-of-the-art Event Space in the B&H Super Store, 420 Ninth Avenue in New York City. Taught by C. Jason Guffey, a professional photographer with 10 years experience as a crime scene investigator, the seminar will take place Nov. 28, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration is required in advance by contacting Jennifer Diamond at [email protected].
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.
The PBS television series Travels to the Edge (http://www.travelstotheedge.com) features Canon Explorer of Light Art Wolfe as he travels the globe in 13 episodes.
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