|Volume 9, Number 26||21 December 2007|
Welcome to the 217th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Happy Holidays! We celebrate with a tour of the new M1 scanner, some interesting background on Kodak's inks and the printhead used in their 5000 Series printers and Shawn's appreciation for the lively Live View of the Panasonic L10. And we've even got a little gift for you, too. See you next year!
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(Excerpted from the diary posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/M1/M1.HTM on the Web site.)
It's hard to believe we first wrote about the M1 in October 2006, publishing a short feature in the newsletter on the state of the art in scanning. Last Friday, FedEx delivered the $699 Microtek ArtixScan M1 Pro and we thought we'd share our experience with it in our diary format (with updates online). You've waited long enough.
In that long ago article, we discussed the Epson V700 along with the M1 and Microtek's i900. We've since reviewed the Epson V700/V750 scanner (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/V700/V700.HTM), noting not only its very high resolution but its rather finicky focusing adjustments.
As good as the Epson is -- and it's very good -- it handles transparency scanning through the same glass bed it uses for reflective scanning. A lamp in the cover provides illumination. But nothing removes that scanner bed glass from the optical path.
Microtek has long championed a glass-less approach by using a separate bed below the scanner glass for scanning transparencies. Microtek, which first made the dual bed design famous with the Agfa Duo Scan, calls this its EDIT architecture. It uses a tray below the scanner's glass plate to scan film, eliminating the glass from the optical path (like any other film scanner).
And in fact, the M1 is a film scanner at heart with reflective scanning thrown in as a bonus. The specs are not yet available, but optical scanning resolution is 4800x9600, exceeding the 3600 dpi of the i900 if falling short of the 6400 of the V700. That's still the equivalent of a 34-megapixel dSLR, though. It resembles the i900 physically, except it has only the one USB port.
One of the more intriguing features, though, is its autofocus capability. Both the i900 and the V700 have a fixed focus lens. On the V700 you can position small feet in three different ways to optimize focus. If you need finer control, third party products provide alternate mechanisms. But they are all a lot of work. The autofocus capability of the M1 promises a large leap in productivity.
The name, by the way, was derived from the Artix brand for its film scanning capability, the M from Microtek and the one to indicate this is the first scanner in a new series.
But Productivity seems to be the M1's middle name.
Feature highlights of the M1 include:
- Single-pass, dual-platen color flatbed scanner
- 4800 dpi
- 4.4 maximum optical density
- Sony CCD
- Cold-cathode fluorescent lamp
- Reflective originals up to 8.5x14; Transparent originals up to 8x10 positive, negative, color or monochrome
- Batch scanning of 35mm slides up to 12 frames, 35mm filmstrips up to 24 frames, 4x5 inch film up to 2 frames, 6cm (120, 220) film: 6x4.5cm up to 4 frames, 6x6cm up to 3 frames, 6x7cm up to 3 frames, 6x9cm up to 2 frames, 6x17cm one frame
- Auto focus (user selectable: on/off)
- A/D conversion: of 16 bits per color channel
- Output data of 16-bits or 8-bits per channel (user selectable); Multiple Sampling; 2, 4, 8, 16 times (user selectable in software)
- Hi-Speed USB (2.0)
- TWAIN driver
- Standard one year limited warranty
IN THE BOX
There are two M1 packages: the $649 M1 and the $799 M1 Pro. The difference between the two is in the bundled software and accessories.
You see that immediately when you open the M1 Pro box to find a second set of four film holders, which is not supplied with the M1. While scanning a set of 12 35mm slides, you can load a second holder. Scan four strips of 35mm film while you load another four. Scan 22cm of 120 film (four frames) while you load more, or two 4x5s while you clean the next two.
Larger film can be placed on the included glass holder that replaces the film holder drawer on the transparency bed. Microtek supplies a set of black vinyl tapes with the company name on them to hold the odd-sized film on the glass.
The scanner itself is accompanied by a power cord and a USB cable.
One thing that's missing, however, is Kodak's Digital ICE. And SilverFast only supports software Smart Removal of Defects not the infrared version.
Both the M1 and M1 Pro include:
The M1 adds:
- ArtixScan M1 scanner
- Power cord
- Hi-Speed USB 2.0 cable
- Main staging tray for film templates
- Glass tray for scanning large or odd size film
- CD for Windows PC: Microtek ScanWizard Pro, Microtek Scanner ICC Profiler, ABBYY FineReader 6.0 Sprint, Adobe Acrobat Reader, InterVideo MediaOne Gallery
- CD for Mac OS X: Microtek ScanWizard Pro, Microtek Scanner ICC Profiler, ABBYY FineReader 5.0 Sprint, Adobe Acrobat Reader
- CD with Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 (Mac OS 10.4, Windows 2000/XP)
- CD with Adobe Photoshop Elements 5.02 (Windows XP/Vista)
- Adobe Photoshop CS3 upgrade offer
- Documentation including Start Here Guide, Supplement guide, ScanWizard Pro User Guide, Quick Reference Guide, ArtixScan M1 film template order form, ScanWizard Pro vs SilverFast SE Plus comparison table
- Warranty card and Technical support card
The M1 Pro instead adds:
- One Film Holder Package with a set of SnapTransTM film templates for 35mm mounted slides, 35mm filmstrips, 4x5 inch film, and 6cm film
- CD with Kodak IT8 calibration data
- CD with LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast SE Plus
- Kodak transmissive and reflective IT8 targets
- Two Film Holder Packages each with a set of SnapTransTM film templates for 35mm mounted slides, 35mm filmstrips, 4x5 inch film, and 6cm film
- CD with Kodak IT8 and SilverFast IT8 calibration data
- Kit with LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast Ai Studio CD and LaserSoft Imaging transmissive and reflective IT8 targets
But the big mystery until Friday was what software bundles the M1 and M1 Pro would include.
Apart from versions of Photoshop Elements, ABBYY FineReader Sprint (for OCR) and an ICC profiler application for both platforms, the M1 Pro package includes Microtek's ScanWizard Pro as well as LaserSoft Imaging's SilverFast Ai Studio. Ed Hamrick's VueScan doesn't yet support the M1.
ScanWizard Pro offers Microtek's ColoRescue color restoration, auto film holder detection, network scanning, auto dynamic range correction and auto color cast correction. SilverFast is not a lite version but the full version with multi-exposure, auto frame recognition, grain and noise elimination, dust and scratch removal, negative film optimization and automatic IT8 calibration.
The M1 includes ScanWizard Pro, Microsoft Scanner ICC Profiler, ABBYY FineReader 6.0 Sprint, the latest version Adobe Photoshop Elements for your platform and Lasersoft Imaging SilverFast SE Plus.
Installation went smoothly. You can follow along with our Installation Gallery of snapshots. We unpacked the scanner, following the directions to unlock it (once we had cleared a permanent spot for it) and delay connecting it to our system before we installed the software.
We decided to install SilverFast. We weren't sure we'd get away with it (sometimes the manufacturer's installation includes drivers required by any third-party package), but it's the software we're familiar with.
That worked well, in fact. We popped the CD in, installed the software, took advantage of the hint to look online for a more recent version, and indeed found one. The CD had version 6.5.5r1 but on Dec. 3, LaserSoft released 6.5.5r3, so we downloaded the disk image, mounted it and installed it over our current version.
The cover of the manual has the code you need to activate the package. You'll also find two IT8 targets in the SilverFast DVD box. They're special IT8 targets with barcodes that the software reads to find the value of the samples on the film and reflective IT8 targets. That greatly automates the calibration process. Productivity again.
Not every scanner comes with IT8 targets, which are not cheap. And getting barcoded targets that work with SilverFast is icing on the cake.
With the software installed, we connected the M1 to a powered USB 2.0 Hi-Speed hub. USB designations are tricky. You'll want to ensure you have a Hi-Speed certified path from your computer's USB port to the M1. Full Speed doesn't cut it.
It took a minute or two for the scanner to wake up and be recognized by the system, but once it was, we launched SilverFast and it found the scanner with no problem.
Our first scans were going to be the IT8 targets, supplied in both the M1 and M1 Pro packages. We wanted to calibrate the scanner before we did anything else. The M1 Pro calibration can be done in SilverFast automatically, sufficient reason to invest in the Pro bundle. You'll calibrate more frequently if it's easier to calibrate.
We started with the reflective target. In addition to the barcode, it also has an ID code other software can use to look up the values in the appropriate file.
We had a little trouble getting the target out of its envelope so we slit one end carefully to release it. You don't want to risk creasing or tearing a target. The transparency target was also included in the envelope, but it's smaller and wasn't a problem.
We loaded the reflective target on the M1's bed and returned to SilverFast, which supports the M1's autofocus feature, by the way. The task icons along the left side of the preview window include a gray IT8 calibration icon. We clicked that, although the recommended procedure is to do a preview scan before clicking it.
Fortunately, the software is smarter than we are. It scanned the target, overlaid a grid to show what it would be reading and allowed us to adjust it (it didn't need any adjustment) and then compared the scanned values to the known values of that target. It quickly reported it had successfully profiled the M1 with a delta E (or variance) of 1.0 and turned the IT8 icon into a colored icon to indicate calibration had been completed.
Then we did the transparency target. We loaded the film in the 120-format holder, dropped it into the film drawer and returned to LaserSoft, switching from transparency to reflective mode. The IT8 icon was gray again since we hadn't calibrated for film yet. Again we clicked the icon and let the software build the profile. We did have to adjust the grid to match the scan this time, but that's all we had to do.
This is really an easy way to calibrate and profile a scanner. We mentioned it in an update of our SilverFast review, but couldn't test it, not having barcoded targets. In our first experience, with a new scanner, it performed admirably.
We couldn't stop there, though. We had to try a simple reflective scan. So we found an old portrait of great grandmother and grandmother and scanned it in color.
We really didn't take notes except to say that the scanner does, like the i900 before it, make some frightening noises as it warms up, focuses and scans. But the results were very pleasing. The old girls never looked so good.
We'll be using the M1 in the days to come to do the bulk of our serious scanning. And we'll report on its performance, comparing it to both the V700 and i900. Stay tuned!
(Excerpted from the full review of the EasyShare 5500 AiO posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/K5500/K5500.HTM on the Web site.)
Recently we visited Kodak's Canal Ponds campus in Rochester where the hardware and chemistry for the company's All-in-One printer series was developed. Dr. John Reczek and Cathie Burke told some very interesting stories about the evolution of their side of the monster.
And monster it is indeed. There's a great deal to admire about Kodak's AiO printers, which recently were released from their Best Buy distribution scheme. But there's also a great deal of frustration in actually using them. The problem is the firmware, which continues to defy us in small but ridiculous ways.
But there's no denying the technical advances in both the media and the mechanics. With its pigment ink/porous paper combination of media, Kodak has brought a new level of quality and longevity to the 4x6 print. And with its touch-free printhead design, it has introduced a new level of reliability to inkjet printing. Bold claims, but what we learned at Canal Ponds seemed to support them.
We ended our tour at Canal Ponds wearing safety goggles and walking through the custom cartridge assembly line with Diana, who put together a cartridge from scratch for us.
The various brews of ink formulations had to be packaged in cartridges for testing, of course, and this is where it happened. The custom built equipment, each module of which went through wooden prototypes before the final metal versions, was designed to build and fill the cartridge tanks.
It may not look like much from the outside, but the plastic wrapped cartridge is actually enclosed in Argon gas which is pumped into the bag with the full cartridge before it's sealed. The Argon gas blocks contaminants from entering and cushions the cartridge, which will last up to 18 months stored in the bag.
Under the paper label with the color information is a mylar label that seals the top of the gray vent cap's vent system. It takes both labels to make the seal against evaporation. The vent cap itself is welded to the black tank using high speed vibration that melts it on in a very precise operation.
Inside the tank is a large felt that absorbs the ink. No mystery there. Except it would seem to make it difficult to prep the ink by shaking the cartridge.
We asked Diana if she recommended the cartridge be shaken before it's installed (which we do with every cartridge anyway). You do have to shake non-stabilized inks, she said, but Kodak's inks are stable. You don't need to shake them.
Installing a Kodak ink cartridge in the printer is really one of the most pleasant experiences we've had. Just snap it in. It makes contact at six points to stabilize the cartridge as the printhead rapidly moves over the sheet.
But one of our pet peeves about the printhead installation process is just how hard you have to press the delicate printhead to get it seated in the printer. How come is that? Again, it's a hedge against the high velocity at which the head will be traveling. It's secure, no doubt about it.
Earlier Dr. John Reczek proudly showed off the pigment ink technology used in the new system. We've reported on this extensively, beginning with the product introduction announcements (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/KAO/KAO.htm), because it's really the key to the system. Without these inks, there wouldn't be a Kodak inkjet. So we'll summarize here.
They are pigments not dyes, to begin with. But they are unlike other pigments because they are quite small. Kodak drew on pigment grinding patents going back to its X-ray film emulsion technology to develop its miniscule 20 nanometer ink pigments with polymer binders. The X-ray project was an attempt to replace a dye interlayer designed to prevent color contamination that scattered too much light with a pigment layer that would scatter less light and therefore avoid losing sharpness.
The exceptionally small size of the pigments provides two key benefits, John told us. First, because they scatter less light, they provide a larger gamut than normal size pigments. Second, they increase printhead reliability, clogging the nozzles less frequently.
The color gamut issue is a confusing one. Kodak actually claims their pigment set has a larger gamut than dye-based ink sets, not just other pigments. But in our tests back at the bunker, Canon's dyes exceeded the Kodak pigment gamut, as we reported in our 5300 review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/K5300/K5300.HTM). We asked John about that.
The Canon print, he pointed out, has the advantage of having been made with a high fidelity ink set. While the Kodak print relied on a set of just three color inks plus black, the Canon had the advantage of a set of eight inks. As a former pressman, I can vouch for that explanation. And in fact, when you compare the output of an HP three-ink print like those from the A626 we reviewed (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/HPA626/HPA626.HTM) to the Kodak prints, the Kodak has deeper shadows and more contrast. No doubt using a black ink helps Kodak here, too.
The smaller particles also improve gloss performance, John said. In fact, the clear ink in the color cartridge is not a gloss optimizer (as you might find in an Epson inkset). Instead, it's a polymer coating that is designed to seal the ink in the porous papers Kodak uses. Kodak's papers are not the swellable sheets typically used with dye-based inks to encapsulate the dye in a gelatin layer. They are porous sheets that suck in the liquid vehicle that delivers the pigments to the surface of the sheet. The clear coat seals those pigments on the paper and provides instant-dry handling. That slight tackiness you feel when you touch a print fresh from the printer is that coating. It extends over the full width of the image, we noted, regardless of the printed image size.
One of the more interesting stories in the development of Kodak's pigments involves what they early observed as a haze that would form over the image in some places. The effect was the result of subsequent drops of ink physically distorting the drops of ink that had been previously laid down on the sheet. Light was being scattered by the distortion, forming the haze.
Because Kodak developed every ingredient in the ink, it could optimize the formula to defeat this effect rather than merely find some compromise. There are many variables to working this out, John told us, including hue.
That prompted us to ask if the technology was restricted to a three-hue set of inks. Not at all, John answered enthusiastically, without giving any further details.
Anyone who has used an Epson pigment printer knows about clogged printheads. It's revealing that in our inconstant usage over several weeks, neither Kodak clogged.
Cathie Burke referred somewhat shyly to the Kodak printhead as "permanent." Nothing, of course, is permanent. But what Kodak has achieved in the printhead will pass for permanent.
Cathie explained that the Kodak drop ejector is designed so the heater will never be "attacked mechanically." To eject a drop, a heater in the firing chamber is pulsed on, forming a vapor bubble in the ink. As the bubble expands, surface tension pulls the ink into a droplet. After the heater is pulsed off, in many designs, the vapor bubble collapses onto the heater with significant force, and over time will damage the heater. In the Kodak design, the vapor bubble vents to the atmosphere, and the chamber refills with ink. Fire it as many times as you like, the heating element remains untouched.
That wasn't easy to achieve, she pointed out, even though Kodak had printhead technology from earlier projects. She credited the companies superb fluidic, electrical, and Micro Electro Mechanical Systems or MEMS simulation capabilities, which provide the ability to mimic the real world consequences of a design before it escapes the computer. That saves a lot of time, she said.
Early in development, she confided, they witnessed what seemed to be random early failures of some heating elements. Diagnosing the cause of the problem wasn't simple. But Kodak isn't your average home improvement show. It's more like a collaboration of crack CSI investigators with red ink on their gloves. They investigated the problem using microscopic images of cross sections of the printhead. And that revealed the cause of the problem. An otherwise undetectable variation on the surface over which the ink had to travel was the culprit.
Firing the printhead requires electricity and we were amused to learn how Kodak determined the power consumption had to be 35 volts. In some countries, Cathie said, special permits are required to operate equipment at voltages above 40. Keeping it at 35 volts meant it qualified as an appliance worldwide.
The printhead's quick-firing nozzles operate at 24 kHz, whereas the competition runs between six and 12 kHz. That delivers faster prints and consistent laydown.
But it also illustrates how Kodak's control of the entire design -- ejectors, ink, media -- lets them optimize instead of compromise. And from our chat with John and Cathie it was clear that's something they really love to do.
Kodak's porous sheet makes instant-dry performance a reality in inkjet printing. But print with dyes on that sheet and you get lousy longevity. Print with pigment inks and you get longevity that exceeds the 100 year mark. That means, simply, Kodak is providing the best consumer-grade, four-ink 4x6 print available.
You can get a larger gamut with seven- or eight-ink dye systems on swellable papers, as we've shown in our 5300 review. But you'll pay more, too.
Add to that Kodak's touch-free printhead design, which brings a new level of reliability to inkjet printing. And you can start to get excited.
Unfortunately, our experience with both the 5300 and 5500 printers has been disappointing thanks to firmware issues on both. We almost wished the company had introduced this new technology with a simple 4x6 printer rather than try to work out the firmware for a complicated all-in-one design.
But, as we like to say, stay tuned. The inks and the printhead aren't going away any time soon.
By SHAWN BARNETT(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCL10/DMCL10A.HTM on the Web site.)
Whether you consider it a departure from their first dSLR camera -- the Panasonic L1 -- or an evolution, the Panasonic's Lumix L10 is far more approachable than its predecessor. It also sports better Live View functionality than any other dSLR camera on the market as of this writing, at least in terms of the promised benefits that Live View is supposed to bring. I'm not talking just about its excellent swiveling LCD, but it's the contrast detect autofocus, complete with Face Detection capability in some modes that offers at least some of the promise of "just like a digicam" experience.
Don't think I'm disrespecting that fine articulating LCD screen. I'm extremely happy to see it here on the first SLR to have such an important innovation. Long a favorite feature on medium-sized digicams, this particular type of swiveling LCD screen is rare; at one point I understood that it was a patented Canon design. Perhaps this was licensed. Whatever it took, it's great to finally see the best swiveling LCD design on a competent SLR. Now, of course, it's also appeared on the Olympus E-3, but let's give the Panasonic L10 its due for being first.
I found the swiveling LCD to be quite useful when out shooting Gallery shots, letting me get images that would have been difficult with a non-swiveling Live View SLR, let alone with an optical-only design. I used it most often to shoot a little higher, to get on an even plane with interesting objects. But once I found a unique angle on a building I've been trying to photograph for some time without success, the Panasonic L10 made it easier to get a better image by swiveling out the LCD so I could compose the image from about 1/8 inch off the ground. Such a nice feature to have, one of the only items I've missed from the digicam.
Of course, you can also use Live View to focus manually with greater precision than is possible with an optical viewfinder. This is hampered somewhat by the fly-by-wire focusing rings that are built into Four-Thirds cameras, as they're not as sensitive as a mechanical coupling.
The Panasonic L10 has the best Live View mode I've seen so far. Though the camera still has to drop the mirror before firing, the most impressive function of the Panasonic L10 is its contrast detect AF when Face Detect mode is enabled. I don't mind a little extra shutter lag if I can be sure where the camera is focusing before I press the shutter release and you get that feedback with contrast detect. The number of options is quite impressive. Again, this is the most comprehensive Live View we've seen and Panasonic has made it as useful as possible.
Optical viewfinder. Of course, I'll have to repeat my recommendation that most of your shooting with the Panasonic L10 should be done with the optical viewfinder. Its speed is tough to beat. Though there's a nice rubber eyecup surrounding the eyepiece, I do have to press my glasses into it to get a good image. I also still don't like the status display appearing on the right side of the viewfinder window instead of beneath, as it is on most other SLRs. Still, the display is bright and clear and shows me what I need to see. Happily, the diopter correction handles the poor vision in both of my eyes, which is rare.
According to our tests the optical viewfinder was about 95 percent accurate, shifted slightly to the right and the LCD was 100 percent accurate.
The Panasonic L10 also has "only" three autofocus points, arrayed horizontally across the center. Though I like cameras with a lot of AF points, I typically lock the AF to only one point, not trusting the automatic system to guess what I want it to focus on. Three AF points is just fine in my book and keeps things simple. You may think differently.
I love the look and feel of the Leica D Vario-Elmar lens. Its rubber grips are slotted perfectly, giving full and easy purchase on the lens barrel and the mechanism turns smoothly. It's not as nicely built as the D Vario-Elmarit lens (the f2.8 model that comes with the Panasonic L1), with its metal body, manual aperture ring and focusing scale, but if you look at the focusing scale on the Elmarit, it's not like there's a huge range or resolution to its overall scale, as it traverses from 0.95 feet to infinity in under an inch; so that's hardly what you're missing.
You lose just under one stop at wide-angle and just over one stop at telephoto with the Elmar, so it's not a huge loss; and the optical quality of the Elmar is impressive. We'll have test results up on SLRgear.com hopefully soon, so check that out when you have time. If you can afford the Elmarit, go for it; but don't feel like you're missing out on a whole lot. I've used both lenses on the Panasonic L10 and like the Elmar better for walking around town.
The Elmar design is only slightly louder when focusing, but it's still quieter than most non-ultrasonic motors. Image stabilization is very good with this lens, working about as well as I'm used to seeing from competing optical image stabilization designs. There are three O.I.S. modes, which are selected from the Function menu. Mode 1 keeps stabilization active while you frame your shot, while Mode 2 doesn't start the stabilization process until you press the shutter release, which Panasonic says is more effective. Mode 3 is panning mode, where it only corrects for up and down motion while you follow a moving object with the camera.
The front element doesn't turn or move when focusing, though it does move in and out when zooming (of course). Focusing is fly-by-wire and you have to press the shutter halfway before the digital focus ring will respond to your movement.
Panasonic's Lumix L10 was a welcome surprise. It was announced with none of the fanfare that accompanied the Lumix L1, but the Panasonic L10 is the one truly worthy of praise. It's built right, works well, looks competent and has an excellent, more affordable optic. There are some limitations in the sensor or image processor that affect JPEG image performance, but Raw images are quite good.
The promise of Live View mode is fulfilled with the addition of two important features on the Panasonic Lumix L10's implementation: a swivel screen and contrast detect autofocus. Yes, the shutter lag is still long, but so long as you can plan for it, you'll learn to appreciate the versatility that the Panasonic L10's Live View delivers.
As for the lens, well, you can't get better in a kit lens. We haven't seen a kit lens perform this well in the corners; and with assistance from the Panasonic L10's processor, chromatic aberration is nearly eliminated. I also liked the Panasonic L10's Film Mode button, whose presence was a good reminder that I can try different capture modes with ease.
It's a shame that it costs more than many of its competitors with similar features, but SLR buyers would do well to remember that good optics are essential to getting great pictures and the Panasonic L10 has a very good optic. With the Lumix L10, Panasonic has made a capable dSLR: an SLR that handily earns a Dave's Pick.
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: Canon PowerShot SX100 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SX100IS/SX100ISA.HTM)
- Reviewed: EasyShare 5500 AiO (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/K5500/K5500.HTM)
- Reviewed: Microtek ArtixScan M1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/M1/M1.HTM)
- Reviewed: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T2 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/T2/T2A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Panasonic Lumix DMC-L10 dSLR (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCL10/DMCL10A.HTM)
- Test Shots: Nikon D300 dSLR (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D300/D300A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FZ18/FZ18A.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 about Canon dSLRs at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee92fbe
Visit the Sony Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f789
Nick asks about choosing a camera at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea70f9/0
Jeremy asks about protecting a camera during a skiing trip at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea70e9/0
Visit the Printers Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b8
Each year at this time, we try to come up with some special treat to express our appreciation for your subscription. You can still enjoy all of our previous specials by visiting the Archive (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html). Here's the list:
They all still work, especially the Gift Certificate, perfect for anyone on your list getting into digital photography. A PDF with a nice shot of the Golden Gate, you can download it (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?gsb) and print as many copies on your inkjet as you need. Then just remember to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Gift Subscription" and the email address of the new subscriber in the body of the message.
- 2006: Card Size Calculator (Dec. 22)
- 2005: RSS Feed Generator (Dec. 23)
- 2004: dSLR Focal Length Converter (Dec. 10)
- 2003: Lens Calculator (Dec. 12)
- 2002: A Gift Certificate (Dec. 13)
- 2001: Mike's Holiday Recipe (Dec. 14)
- 2000: Aspect Ratio Calculator (Dec. 1)
- 1999: Resolution Calculator (Dec. 17)
And this year?
This year, to tell you the truth, we could use a laugh. And we found one that wasn't even off topic. So we thought we'd share it with you. A full length feature film titled My Favorite Brunette starring Bob Hope and Dorothy Lamour with a cameo by, well, you'll have to wait to the end to find out. Absolutely free, too, thanks to that marvelous Web repository known as the Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org).
Here's the modest plot synopsis from the Internet Movie Database (http://imdb.com/title/tt0039645): "Baby photographer Ronnie Jackson, on death row in San Quentin, tells reporters how he got there: taking care of his private-eye neighbor's office, Ronnie is asked by the irresistible Baroness Montay to find the missing Baron. There follow confusing but sinister doings in a gloomy mansion and a private sanatorium, with every plot twist a parody of thriller cliches. What are the villains really after? Can Ronnie beat a framed murder rap?"
There's some very funny stuff in this 87 minute flick set in 1947 San Francisco, which makes you wish Billy Crystal had done a remake with Cher. Who would you cast today for this movie? Fortunately, we don't have to think about it. You can just enjoy this classic instead.
Now that we've got you interested, you have a couple of choices for viewing it. You can just visit its page on the Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org/details/my_favorite_brunette) and select one of the streaming options (even dialup) to view it in postage stamp size on your computer. Or you can download the full resolution MPEG2 version (3.2-GB), burn it to a DVD (Toast did the job for us) and pop it into your DVD player. It may take a while either way, but you deserve the break. We'd make popcorn for you if we could!
It's our little way of thanking you for continuing to welcome this newsletter issue after issue. Happy holidays!
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RE: Eneloop Batteries
Regarding the new Eneloop batteries covered in the latest newsletter, have you tested the Maha Imedion low loss batteries yet? I bought a set based on previous experience with Maha products, but it will be a while until I find out how good they are.
-- Bob Schuchman(Our battery testing is way behind, Bob, sorry. That's one of the reasons we wrote that story. This technology has been out there a while now and we wanted to highlight what was good enough about it to get a couple of us to use it. There are several brands featuring the technology. GE/Sanyo, Maha, Kodak, among them. The Eneloops are the only ones we could find locally, but Shawn picked up some Kodaks at Target recently. The Mahas are labeled as 2100 mAh cells, a bit more than the 2000 mAh GE/Sanyos, but not noticeably so. Roughly the same price, too. We think you'll enjoy them. -- Editor)
RE: Scan This
I've recently come across your site and am impressed by the detail with which you review things.
I have a very large library of medium format black and white negatives and transparencies. All are 6x7cm, 2.25x2.75 inches, 120 film size, taken with a Bronica GS-1 camera. Many of the photos are already cut into individual frames (as they were placed in transparency holders) and the rest are in strips of three frames.
In the relatively few products in which I see medium format capabilities discussed, it seems like 6x7 film is never specifically mentioned as a size. Consequently, I'm concerned that whatever film holders are employed will not work perfectly with my film.
-- Reed Galin(That "120" is the film size designation for the 6x7cm frame size. On 120 film, you can shoot 6x6 6x7 6x8 6x9 etc. frame sizes, but 6x7 has the same aspect ratio as an 8x10 print. We talk about 120 film holders because they can generally accommodate any of those frame sizes (no bars across the holder. -- Editor)
RE: Sanyo Digicam
I just bought my mother a Sanyo VPC-S650 digicam for Christmas. She has had a Fujifilm FinePix A205 3.2-megapixel digicam with 3x optical zoom. It's worked well over the years but her old camera is big and bulky, and recently has started having problems with a read card error. She (we) use camera quite often, not just holidays. She's a big scrapbooker. So do you think that the Sanyo is a good one for her and her camera needs?
-- Tonya(For the read error, the best thing to do is format the card in the camera (Setup, Format). That should take care of it. If not, a new xD card would be the solution.... For some reason Sanyo doesn't send us review units, so we can't fairly answer your question. The specifications look more than adequate for her needs, though: six megapixels of resolution is plenty for lettersize prints (and a big jump up from what she's used to), 3x optical zoom helps with composition and a 2.4-inch LCD is pretty good at that price. Among the cameras we have seen, though, the best bargains among those are Canon SD1000, Nikon L-series and the Fujifilm Z5fd. -- Editor)
RE: Lost (& Found) Manual
I have an Olympus Stylus 720 SW camera and have don't have the book that comes with a camera that has all the features. Is there anyway I can purchase another book. Thank You
-- Peggy Osse(Sure, you can download them from the Olympus site. The 720 SW page is here: http://www.olympusamerica.com/cpg_section/cpg_support_product.asp?id=1225 -- Editor)
How do photographers take a little break? Close their eyes -- and listen to some old holiday radio broadcasts. Among our favorites are OldRadioFun (http://www.oldradiofun.com/main/?page_id=18) and Paul Fucito's Vintage Christmas Wax (http://paulfucito.blogspot.com/2007/12/vintage-christmas-wax-revisited.html).
Light Crafts (http://www.lightcrafts.com) has released a free Linux beta version of LightZone [LMW], its image editing software based on the Zone System.
Bibble Labs (http://www.bibblelabs.com) has released its $129.95 Pro and $6995 Lite versions of Bibble 4.9.9 [MW] Raw workflow software. New cameras in this release include the Nikon D300 and D3, Canon 1Ds Mark III and G9, Sony Alpha A700 and Olympus E-3. Tethered shooting has been added for Nikon dSLRs on Intel Macs (PowerPC Macs and Windows were already supported).
DataRescue (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM) has release of a new version of its $29 PhotoRescue [MW] file recovery software optimized for image files with improved recovery in contiguous mode, support for Hasselblad H3D .3FR files, Nikon D3, Canon 40D and many other new cameras. The program can also be used from the command line.
Rocky Nook has published Take Your Photography to the Next Level by George Barr, based on a series of essays originally featured at Luminous Landscape (http://www.luminous-landscape.com). The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952210/?tag=theimagingres-20) at a 34 percent discount.
The company has also published Digital Astrophotography: A Guide to Capturing the Cosmos by Stefan Seip, available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952164/?tag=theimagingres-20) at a 34 percent discount.
O'Reilly Media has published Creative Digital Darkroom by Katrin Eismann and Sean Duggan to "help photographers think more creatively." The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596100477/?tag=theimagingres-20) at a 37 percent discount.
Phase One (http://www.phaseone.com) has released its $129 Capture One 4 [MW] Raw workflow software with a newly designed user interface featuring time-saving workflow features.
Plasq (http://plasq.com) has released its $24.95 Comic Life 1.4 [M] adding image controls, actual size image viewing, improved image export quality, a jagged tail option for balloons, rotation of balloons, shift-click multiple selection of objects and more.
AKVIS (http://akvis.com) has released its $49 Noise Buster 5.0 plug-in and standalone application [MW] to reduce luminance and color noise on digital images. The new release includes an improved noise suppression algorithm, a noise histogram, ICC profile support and more.
David Ekholm (http://jalbum.net) has updated JAlbum, his free Web album generator, redesigning the user interface to be more "workflow-logical," supporting password protection, adding new printing partner support and more.
SimpleImage (http://www.simpleimage.com) has released its $19.95 SimpleImage 5.0 [M] to view and catalog images and videos with slide shows and snapshots of groups of images.
Ovolab (http://www.ovolab.com) has released its $19.95 Geophoto 1.7 [M] with speed improvements, improved loupe behavior and bug fixes.
Fantasea Line (http://www.fantasea.com) has released its $245 FL-14 housing depth rated to 200 feet for the Nikon Coolpix L14.
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
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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