The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 10, Number 7 28 March 2008

Copyright 2008, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 224th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We edit our first images with Photoshop Express, Adobe's new online image editor. Then Dave points out some of the more impressive innovations in the compact Olympus E-420. We've got a couple of copies of Derrick Story's latest tome to give away and we also point you to a site with great advice about traveling with your gear. Not that we want you to go anywhere!


TOPICS

SPONSORS
This issue of The Imaging Resource News is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ads here. And now a word from our sponsors:
Sony
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Aperture Users Professional Network
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The Aperture Users Professional Network is an international association for photographers based around the Aperture 2 workflow. Hundreds of articles, tutorials, screencast and dozens of forums are available for free to visitors. AUPN Pro memberships benefits include guaranteed tech support, access to members-only content and big discounts on our national and international workshops and classes.

Aperture Road Tour (http://apertureroadtour.com) is our one-day eight-hour demonstration class in Aperture 2 and digital workflow.

Aperture Intensive (http://ApertureIntensives.com) two-day hands-on workshops in Aperture 2 cover every aspect of the program's operation, a real boot camp for the veteran or new Aperture user.

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Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by approximately 55,000 combined direct and pass-along subscribers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at editor@imaging-resource.com.

Feature: Photoshop, Express & Another Public Beta

(Excerpted from the illustrated preview posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PSX/PSX.HTM on the Web site.)

Today's announcement by Adobe that it had launched Photoshop Express (http://www.photoshop.com/express), its latest "Rich Internet Application," as a public beta came with adjustment layers of meaning.

The first is the rather shocking admission by the company that it needs to get its brand out there to a new generation of snapshooters. Who stares at you with their mouth open when you say you photoshopped a picture? And yet, the company worries that its success at the high end has made it a suit in the tattooed world of the newest photographers.

At a press briefing, Doug Mack, vice president of Consumer and Hosted Solutions at Adobe, said the company believes the time is right for a Web-based image editing solution for the novice user because 1) there are a lot of images out there, 2) broadband is common in the home and 3) social networking has taken off as a way to share images.

SOCIAL NETWORKING

Social networking is a layer all its own. But the party's on the Web these days so that's where Express is. No need to download and install anything or keep the application up to date or even read a Read Me file. Just log in with any browser on any platform to the latest revision and tool away. Do it at Starbucks, do it at home, do it at the library or on your friend's computer.

But Express isn't just on the Web. It's part of the Web, "friendly to the Web 2.0 ecosystem," as Mack put it.

What's that really mean? It means Express is able to read from your albums on popular image sharing services like MySpace, Facebook and Picasa and even write back to those albums. Mack demonstrated Express reading an image from a Photobucket album, editing it and then publishing the edited version simply by saving it in an album on a supported site. A deal has just been reached with Flickr to read images stored there as well, he confirmed.

And what goes for other sites also goes for Adobe applications, which will be Express-aware during the next product cycle. The next revision of Elements will be able to look in your Express Albums, and even be able to import your Express Library into Elements.

ADOBE'S SERVERS

And if you don't have an online album, you can always store up to 2-GB of your images on Adobe's new servers, which have been built out over the past year, Mack said, revealing yet another layer to this project.

You can share individual images or groups of them, which Adobe calls Albums, in public Galleries. Just drag and drop images from your Library (or collection) into a new album created by clicking on the + icon. Very simple.

You can upload images as large as 10-MB but only JPEG images are supported. And downloading your edited images is just as easy as uploading them. After editing an image, you can download it just by hovering over it in the My Photos view until a Photo Options bar appears. Download is just one of the options. You can elect to get code for three different sizes of the image as well.

PRESENTATION OPTIONS

Adobe has also stirred some impressive presentation options into Express to help you show off your work. The album slide show option includes transitions, captions and borders (but no music).

Mack gave a demo of creating a slide show and changing transitions with just a click of the mouse. Everything in the application is done that simply. It really is the first image editing application that does not need a manual.

You can embed your slide show on your own Web page with a link and the first image. And an embeddable player like YouTube uses is planned the future.

There's no print ordering, he added, noting that the company felt a Web workflow would be sufficient for launch. They do plan to add print ordering however, a subject with which they have extensive experience. But that's also a key motivation for buying an application like Elements, which provides templates for lots of products besides prints.

REAL PHOTOSHOP?

OK, but is Express really Photoshop or just a cute little red-eye remover?

Well, that's another layer to unpeel. There is indeed some Photoshop horsepower in it, with Photoshop tools like the Healing Brush working behind the scenes to touch up images by sampling a clean region and applying the same texture. In fact, the red-eye removal tool doesn't just blacken the red in eyes but desaturates and darkens like the pro tools.

And you just may forget you're using a Web application with customizable thumbnail and data displays or individual point-and-click edits with tool tip help. Even better, your edits are non-destructive -- and you don't have to know anything about layers to achieve that, either. You just click on a checkbox to activate a feature and uncheck it to disable it. Everything can be undone.

REAL HORSEPOWER

That's all feasible for two reasons. First, this is running on Adobe's CPU not yours. And second, you can interact with the image using Adobe's Flex and Flash platforms. Flash provides the interface (and a nice one it is) while Flex is Adobe's free open source framework for building Rich Internet Applications. All you need to run a Flex app in your browser is a broadband Internet connection and an up-to-date Flash Player 9.

Of course, the Flash Player requirement also means you can't do this on your iPhone. Yet, anyway.

While Adobe wants to make its brand familiar to a new generation of snapshooters, it also hopes Express will show off its Flex and Flash platforms to developers, too. Yet another layer of meaning.

PUBLIC BETA

Down the line the company expects to offer paid subscriptions with more storage space and options like support for file formats besides JPEG. But right now, as a public beta, Adobe is hoping to hear from you. To that end, it has put feedback buttons on every page. One critical topic is which third-party sites to support. Mack said the company will add more sites based on consumer rankings.

When Adobe offered Lightroom as a public beta, some skeptics wondered if it was just trying to take a little air out of the balloon Apple launched with Aperture. But the company found the public beta process a valuable tool for engineering a product that solves real problems. They're hoping Express generates the same amount of interest.

To participate in the public beta, you have to register with Adobe. A confirmation email is sent to the email address you enter and you are very quickly granted access to the program.

Uploading images is the first task, unless you have an album at a supported site. We uploaded a handful of images in just a few minutes. You can upload them to your Library or to a new or existing Album. Progress bars for each image and the total upload inform you of the upload progress.

Double click an image in the My Photos view and its prepared for edit, displaying full screen when ready. We had some red eye to remove, so we clicked the Red-Eye Removal tool and then the + button to enlarge the image so we could see the faces. Click on each eye and we were done.

The image was saved, which took a minute. A 'Please Wait' dialog box over the darkened window indicated Express was occupied. Back at the My Photos view, we downloaded a 1370x2048 sized copy of the original 2592x3872 original.

Our next trick was to Auto Correct an image. Double click the image to open it for editing. Click on Auto Correct and the screen shows a film strip of corrections above the corrected image. Pick and choose which variation you prefer. Fill Light works the same way, showing a film strip of variations to choose from. The arrow keys shift from one option to another and the main image changes to reflect the option after a few seconds. Clicking the View Original button (and holding it down) shows you where you started from.

Facebook, Photobucket and Picasa were all available on the left panel to log into if we wanted to tap into other images.

But we wanted to look at a slide show. So we created an Album and clicked on the Album slideshow option. You can add captions to each image very easily in the My Photos view and enable their display in the settings for your slide show. We got a pretty lively slide show with very little effort.

The Browse option (near the My Photos and My Gallery options on top) lets you see what other Express users are up to. You can make any Album public and that's what these guys have done.

That's it in a nutshell. Visit Photoshop Express (http://www.photoshop.com/express) to join the party.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Olympus E-420 Preview -- Big News in a Small Package

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E420/E420A.HTM on the Web site.)

Basing its dSLR offerings on the Four-Thirds System, Olympus has produced a whole line of unusually compact dSLRs suited to entry-level users. The new Olympus E-420 will replace last year's E-410 in the market. As is generally the case with new digital camera models, the E-420 sports a number of enhancements relative to the previous model.

NOTABLE IMPROVEMENTS

Here's a brief list of notable improvements found in the new Olympus E-420:

DIMENSIONS

We mentioned at the outset that the Four-Thirds lens mount/sensor standard has allowed Olympus to produce unusually compact dSLRs. Last year's E-410 was the smallest dSLR we'd encountered when it was first introduced. Now Olympus is claiming that the E-420 is the world's smallest and lightest dSLR. With dimensions of only 5.1x3.6x2.1 inches and weighing in at 13.4 ounces, it's hard to dispute the claim.

GRIP

While we enjoyed the exceptional compactness of the E-410's body, it always seemed a little hard to hold onto in our large hands. Its body was quite svelte, lacking the bulging handgrip of larger dSLRs we've used.

Olympus appears to have remedied this in the E-420 by bumping the grip out slightly, in what they call a "double crescent line" design. We'll have to wait until we can hold one, but even a little more grip than the E-410 sported would be very welcome.

AUTOFOCUS

Arguably the biggest advance in the Olympus E-420's design comes in its autofocus system. Olympus pioneered the development of "Live View" in dSLRs, which has since become a must-have feature for many users upgrading from conventional digicams. While the attraction of a Single-Lens Reflex camera is that the optical viewfinder lets you look through the same lens the camera will take the picture with, digicam users are loathe to give up their big rear-panel LCD viewfinders. Conventional SLR design precludes this, but various manufacturers have found various ways around the issue.

A limitation of Live View is that the reflex mirror must be raised to expose the main image sensor for viewfinder use. This disables the camera's normal autofocus system, which relies on a secondary mirror and a sensor in the bottom of the mirror box. (Olympus' original Live View dSLR (the E-330) and Sony's most recent Live View models use a secondary image sensor inside the viewfinder optics just to avoid this necessity.) As a result, Live View dSLRs have tended to have very sluggish shutter response, because the mirror must be dropped before the exposure in order for the lens to focus. While Live View is attractive from a convenience and familiarity standpoint, the sluggish shutter response eliminates one of the most important features of SLRs: low shutter lag.

In the E-420 though, Olympus has included an option for contrast-detect autofocus, the same type of autofocus system used in digicams. This may be slower than the phase-detect system the E-420 and other SLRs use for normal focusing, but is likely to be a good bit faster than the conventional Live View system.

Live view in the Olympus E-420 should perhaps come as no surprise. Olympus and Panasonic are partners in subsystem design for Four-Thirds SLRs and the Panasonic DMC-L10 offered a contrast-detect AF option when it was announced a little while ago. Nikon also introduced contrast-detect AF in their D300, announced last summer. On the D300 though, contrast-detect AF can only shift the lens position rather slowly, leading Nikon to refer to it as "tripod" AF mode.

In fact, via a menu option, the Olympus E-420 offers three different AF options: Phase Detection (the conventional SLR AF technique), Contrast Detection (the normal digicam method) and Hybrid AF (a combination of the two).

With phase-detect operation in Live View mode the mirror must be dropped every time the focus is adjusted. Once whenever you press the AEL button and again when you fully press the shutter button to snap the picture.

When the E-420 uses contrast-detect autofocus, the lens can be focused without dropping the mirror, so Live Viewing isn't interrupted to achieve focus. Just half-press the shutter button and the lens focuses, using signals coming straight from the main image sensor. When you finally do fully press the shutter, the mirror will drop and raise again, but there's no additional time required for focus operation.

In Hybrid AF operation you can focus the lens by half-pressing the shutter button in Live View mode, but when the shot is actually taken, the phase-detection AF sensor will be used.

We'll have to see how these different AF options play out in the lab when we get our hands on a test sample of the E-420. We do think the addition of contrast-detect AF to Live View cameras makes sense and expect to see it appearing in more dSLRs in the future.

One benefit of contrast-detect autofocus on dSLRs may not be apparent. When you're using the main image sensor for focus determination, suddenly you can autofocus on subjects anywhere in the frame, not just where the AF sensors are located. Even more dramatically, main-sensor AF opens the possibility of more intelligent AF modes, such as Face Detection -- which is exactly what Olympus has implemented in the E-420.

WIRELESS FLASH

Wireless remote flash operation has generally been the province of professional photographers, but is now coming decidedly down-market. And it should, as it can dramatically simplify multi-flash shooting and make it accessible to the interested amateur.

Canon, Nikon and Sony all make wireless flash systems, with Nikon's arguably being the most flexible of the three. With their FL-36R and FL-56R flash units, Olympus has joined the wireless-flash club, taking a page from Nikon's playbook in the mode of operation and considerable flexibility of their system. A full discussion is really beyond the scope of this brief overview article, but we'll take a quick swing at it anyway.

The central idea behind all of these wireless flash systems is to use very rapid pulses of the flash tube to convey digital data between the camera and the various flash units. All of which happens in a surprisingly short period of time, well under a second. The sequence begins with camera's flash sending out a series of pulses to wake up the remote units, tell them what exposure mode they'll be operating in and configure them for the upcoming exposure. It then triggers a pre-flash from all the remote units, measuring the light coming back from each group (there can be as many flashes as you like, configured in up to three control groups). The camera's CPU performs some exposure calculations, then uses its own flash head to transmit power-level commands back to each flash group. Finally, a last pulse from the camera's head triggers all the remotes to fire at their assigned power levels.

The beauty of this system is that the power and operating modes of each of the groups of remote flashes can be controlled from the camera itself. This can come in very handy when one of the flash groups is mounted up in a tree, behind a window on a set or in some other inaccessible location. Even when the flashes are readily accessible, the ability to adjust settings without running around the room each time is far more pleasant than the alternative.

There are several different modes in which the various groups can be operated: TTL (Through The Lens metering), Manual or Auto. A column of figures to the right of the flash modes shows the exposure compensation adjustments (in the case of TTL and Auto modes) or power level (in the case of Manual mode) selected. Two more columns show the options for flash sync speed (x-sync or Focal Plane sync), the intensity of the AF-assist illumination cast by the flash units and the channel they're operating on. Four separate control channels are provided, to allow multiple photographers to work in the same area without interfering with each other.

It's noteworthy that manual power level settings can be made in 1/3 stop increments as well.

NEW 'NORMAL' LENS

Along with the E-420, Olympus has announced a new lens, the Zuiko 25mm f2.8. Traditionalists will likely rejoice at this lens, which offers angular coverage equivalent to the 50mm "normal" (neither telephoto nor wide-angle) lens so common in the 35mm film era.

The new lens is very slim, making for a uniquely compact dSLR setup for street photography and just walking around. We finally have a dSLR that can truly be said to be pocket-sized.

As with the camera itself, we can't wait to get this new lens into the lab, to test and post on SLRgear. (The lab guys are drooling already.) We've found Olympus' Zuiko lenses to be of unusually high optical quality, supporting Olympus' claims for their "digital specific" optical design.

SUMMARY

We'll just call this a "summary" for the moment, as no conclusions can be drawn until we can put an Olympus E-420 through its paces in our lab and in field shooting. It certainly looks like Olympus did their homework though and came up with a number of really nice enhancements over the already very capable E-410. Stay tuned for a full review as soon as we get an E-420 to work with; this is a great time to be alive for SLR shooters!

Return to Topics.

New on the Site

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:

- Faster image serving: All full resolution images are currently being served by a new service that caches the images. You should notice a marked improvement in download times if you have a fast broadband connection. We're migrating all our image serving to this scheme so even illustrated reviews (with those big movies) will load faster.

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Book Bag: The Digital Photography Companion

We can just imagine what happened. It had been a very long time since the third edition of Derrick Story's Digital Photography Pocket Guide was published in 2005. His editor, who had been chasing him for what we calculate to be at least a year, finally caught up with him one day and breathlessly suggested it was time for the fourth edition.

So he went to work thinking it would take just a tweak here and there, be done in a month. By the time he was finished (we calculate about a year) he'd come up with, well, a lot more copy. After all, there were new features to write about like image stabilization, new techniques to describe like using a shower cap in the rain, new software to explain like Lightroom and Aperture -- and there was that one subject conspicuously missing from the Pocket Guide, which now took up its own whole chapter.

His editor, being brilliant at this stuff, realized immediately it was too much to whittle down to a 100-page pocket guide. "How about we turn this into a whole new title," she must have suggested.

And so the 216-page Digital Photography Companion was born. It's probably the most compact encyclopedia you'll ever own.

Derrick makes it clear that if you want your pictures to be different from snapshots, you have to learn how to drive. The camera, that is. Sure, setting it on Auto and snapping away will get you good results most of the time. But the spectacular and special will elude you until you learn what all those buttons, dials and menus do. Then you can take control of the vehicle yourself.

The Companion begins with a crisp and clear discussion of the differences between dSLRs, digicams and camphones to help you see which is good for what. Then, like the Pocket Guide, he goes through an alphabetic list of camera features (which makes it easy to find the one you're looking for) before explaining how they actually work.

In the third chapter, How to Shoot Like a Pro, he expands on the 16 shooting tips and tricks in the Pocket Guide with 29 entries. Then the fun really starts.

In the fourth chapter -- I've Taken Great Pictures, Now What -- Derrick gives you 36 pages (and they're bigger pages than the Pocket Guide) on life in the digital darkroom, covering basic survival skills (like emailing images and presenting a slide show), ramping it up (with Raw file processing, converting stills into a movie and recovering images from an erased card, to name just three) and finally discussing six major photo management applications.

Then we get to that missing topic, printing. Printing Made Easy suggests a fresh approach to printing with some simple setups for busy photographers. In six sections, he lays out all your options (from having it done for you to doing it yourself). He concludes with the interesting observation that you can grow into a better photographer by making prints.

The appendix has a number of tables you may want to tear out of the book, but don't. You can print them from the online edition of the book from O'Reilly's Safari service that you get when you buy the book.

Or if you're feeling particularly lucky, you can send an email to editor@imaging-resource.com with "Derrick Drawing" in the subject line. Derrick has generously donated two signed copies of the Digital Photography Companion to be awarded to our subscribers. We promise to wear a blindfold -- which is not one of Derrick's tips, by the way.

The Digital Photography Companion by Derrick Story, published by O'Reilly, 216 pages, $24.99 (or $16.49 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596517661/?tag=theimagingres-20).
Return to Topics.

Web Cite: Flying With Fish

Steven Frischling called his blog for traveling photographers Flying With Fish. But that's as cute as it gets. The blog itself (http://flyingwithfish.blogspot.com) is a treasure of reassuring tips on getting through airport security, packing precious gear, avoiding sophisticated thieves and even dressing more efficiently so you can fit one more long zoom in your bag.

Fish also offers what he calls No Jet Lag courses in which you learn how to pack with only what you can carry as you shoot and hop around the globe at a pace around one city a day. It's how he keeps his blog free of advertising.

But back to the blog.

During our last visit, we learned we could sometimes pre-board with our gear on an open-seating airline like Southwest. And even when we can't, we learned how to get get into the first groups to board when there's still room for our gear in the overhead compartments.

We were a little frightened by his electrical outlet advice but we were a good deal more unnerved by his detailed descriptions of what airport thieves are looking for as you go through security.

Theft in front of security? Fish explains several ways a thief can take advantage of you as you put your gear through. You almost wonder if he doesn't have a brother-in-law in the business. But he also helps you out with a number of tips including what stuff to put in which bin to make it tougher on a thief. And sometimes that's all you have to do.

His advice goes even further with passport information and Visa requirements. And not just for you but for your equipment, explaining what a carnet is and how to prove you're only bringing back the gear you brought with you.

He gives plenty of packing advice, too, showing you which bags he uses for different purposes and what he puts in them. Each blog entry on packing includes several photos of the gear and bag.

We spent so much time going through Fish's blog that we were in danger of not getting this newsletter done. Until we realized we really should tell you all about Flying With Fish and killed two birds with one stone.

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In the Forums

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/WebX?50@@.eea6b8d/0

Visit the Digital Cameras Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2a8

Roy asks about movie modes in dSLRs at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea7eeb/0

Luis asks for advice on the Canon Rebel XTi versus the Sony Alpha 200 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea7e7f/0

Visit the General Q&A Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee718ec

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Just for Fun: What You See, What You Get

We've had some time to think about it and it all seems very clear now. It seems to happen to us every year just after Thanksgiving. We get out of the house a bit more that weekend, mix it up in the malls, the parks, restaurants, museums. And we get deathly ill.

We've diagnosed it as some migratory respiratory thing that doesn't know when to move on. Beyond all the warnings on the NyQuil bottle, the Wal-Act package, the half gallon of scotch. "Call your doctor," the warnings plead like a choral group.

Well, we email him these days. He emails back, "Get some rest, have an orange, thrive. Email me in 10 days if it persists. We'll schedule a cremation." The man hates to type.

Ten days is a long time during the holidays. Ask any previously top-ranked college football team, if you have any doubts.

So we indulge in a little alternate therapy. We sleep through a Saturday and get up Sunday determined to go through the piles of stuff we've built during the year. No way we remember what's in them. But they certainly weren't action items. Our theory is that when you're feeling sorry for yourself, it's hard to muster up much guilt. Which makes it a great time to clean up the office.

We cranked up the drawing table so we could stand up for the duration and moved one pile at a time to it. Some things got filed, some got permanently filed, some recycled. A great weight was lifted. And we enjoyed standing at the drawing table. It's great exercise.

What are we doing with a drawing table? It was the first piece of furniture we bought. We needed a work table. And a drawing table, which can be inclined so the top of a piece of paper is the same distance from your eyeball as the bottom (thus avoiding any distortion as you draw), seemed like a great idea. We bought a compact wooden one with our first check (for doing some drawings, in fact).

When we cranked up the table, we couldn't help but notice the tools we store under it on a shelf we built when we first got it. They were dusty. A hole punch, an old 18-inch ruler showing halftone tints, a multicolored centering ruler, some triangles, a compass, a brush, an eraser shield.

Stuff, that is, from the days before What You See Is What You Get. The days when you had to describe what you wanted. And describe precisely, to get anything at all. In fact, these days our keyboard rests on an old Varityper headline machine table. The Varityper is gone, but we still remember its LP-sized disks you would spin to expose the negative of each letter of a headline on the concealed photo paper. You had to remember where you were in the word because there was no visual feedback.

We dusted our old tools. Fondly. We used a pair of scissors to trim out a copy of our Rumbolino registration and remembered the miles of type galleys we used to trim for pasteup. We could make a straight cut through 10 point type on 10 point leading without snipping an ascender or descender.

Tools and skills no longer necessary, their pleasures only a memory, we realized. To be able to code a galley of type on an IBM MT/ST or Friden Justowriter, set a headline on a Varityper, paste up a magazine page in seconds using rubber cement, rule lines between stories using a ruling pen loaded with India ink, expose a halftone by eye, process film in a tray, strip a four-page form in a minute (including opaquing the negatives) and burn and process a plate for the press in five minutes. Useless, we sighed.

But that's not the whole story, really.

Someone taught us all those things. Sam taught us how to burn a plate. Lillian showed us how to code that MT/ST, Joel how to set a headline, and on and on. And in time, we found new ways to do all that, using PostScript and computer networks, which we taught to others as we had been taught. That's where HTML came into the picture actually, as a way to encapsulate that knowledge. One thing led to another.

We put our old tools back. We'll never use them again to put together a magazine, we know. They seem no more useful now than the half-full NyQuil bottle. But they'll always remind us of what you get when people are kind enough to pass along what they've learned. You get some help. And that always feels like a breath of fresh air. Even with a head cold.

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Dave's Deals

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:

Subscribe for Great Deals!

We deliver -- just Subscribe!

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We Have Mail

You can email us at editor@imaging-resource.com. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.

RE: Time/Date Problem

I recently purchased an A720IS and, in general, I am very pleased with it. One thing has been bugging me. After less than two weeks of use, the lithium button battery that is supposed to keep the date and time correct died. The manual said that this was likely since it had been running since manufacture. I bought another battery and installed it. At about the same time I had to replace the two alkaline AAs that had come with the camera. I put in a pair of Duracell Power Pix "long life" alkalines.

From that moment on I had to reset the date and time every time I powered up the camera. I returned the button cell (to Radio Shack) and got another. Same thing happened. I finally decided that perhaps the AAs were no good. This shouldn't matter since the button cell should have been doing all of the work. Two days ago I replaced the Power Pix cells with a pair of Energizer Lithium AAs. All seemed well until last evening. I turned on the camera and had to reset the time/date again!

-- George Keller

(Contact Canon about this, George. Your warranty is for one year. The A720 uses a lithium CR1220 coin cell which isn't rechargeable and it should last a very long time even under continuous use. The first one, after all, lasted until you opened the box and started using the camera. Fresh ones shouldn't die after two days. So our guess is something is fishy with the coin cell circuit. You probably can't do anything about the contacts inside the camera (where the drawer is inserted) but there may be some corrosion or manufacturing defect that is disabling the coin cell. So you're only keeping the clock alive with your AAs and, while the lithium AAs will do that a long time, it isn't a solution. -- Editor)

RE: Vivitar 283 Flash

I have read your very informative newsletter about using the Vivitar 283 flash with a digital camera. I also own a Vivitar 283 flash and would like to use it with my newly bought Canon S5 IS camera, which has a hot shoe. But when I wrote to Canon, they informed me I should not this flash with the Canon camera.

In your article (referred above) you used the 283 Flash with a Kodak digital camera with satisfactory results and it did not spoil your camera's circuitry. I would be very much thankful to you if you could tell me whether I will be able to use the Vivitar 283 flash with my Canon S5 IS camera.

I live in Bangladesh and follow your write ups in the Newsletter and find them very informative and useful. Please keep up the good work, because it will help people like us. There are very few books available here and those are written in Bengali and not very useful.

-- Badar Bin Rahaman

(Yes and no, Badar. No, do not attach the 283 to the Canon hot shoe. Even with the cable attachment. The problem is that the 300 volt charge that shoots through the system when you trigger the flash is more than the Canon's circuit can handle (which only Canon knows, but tends to be around 6 volts). But, yes, you can use the 283 with your Canon if you protect the Canon's circuit with a Wein Safe-Synch voltage regulator (http://www.weinproducts.com/safesyncs.htm). It goes on the hot shoe and knocks the trigger voltage down to 6 volts. -- Editor)

RE: Epson V700 Scanner

Your review of the Epson V700/V750 Scanner was excellent. Question: Will it work for glass negatives or do you have another suggestion?

-- Roy S. Ostenso

(While we haven't scanned glass negatives on the V700, it shouldn't be a problem once you've found the sweet spot for focus. Laying 8x10 film on the Epson's glass bed isn't an issue, but with a glass negative, you run the risk of scratching the bed, so we'd suggest building a holder out of paper (multiple layers of black construction paper or mat board, for example) approximating the depth of the plastic holders. Try several test scans of a small crop of the negative at various heights to test focus. -- Editor)

Mike, I'm really torn about a scanner. Having read yours and other reviews, I've narrowed it down to the Epson V700 or the Microtek Scanmaker i900. Most of my work will involve reflective artwork but I'm considering going back to my 35mm color negatives and scanning them to the computer for achival purposes. Don't want a dedicated film scanner as it's just a bit too much gear on my desk if you now what I mean. I'm confused. Can you help?

-- Stuart

(We sympathize, Stuart. Reflective work isn't going to distinguish any of these high-end flatbeds. They all do that very, very well. And the thing that does (scanning film) is admittedly not a priority for you. We'd focus on the V700 and possibly the Microtek M1 (currently reviewed in diary format). The V700 does gorgeous work but the M1 has the advantage of autofocus and the dual bed design. The M1 is a little too new even for us to recommend at the moment, but quite promising. So in short, we're a bit confused too <g>. -- Editor)

RE: Canon G10?

Are you aware of any plans of a G9-successor with a built-in (not adapter kit) 28mm wide-angle? Or is there such a camera out there I have overlooked? I'm currently mostly shooting with a Canon SD800, before that with a Ricoh R1. And I admit that wide-angles are a bit like cooking with hot peppers: once you start it, you'll never go back.

Many thanks for a great Web site and an excellent newsletter, which, despite being daily flooded with information, I always enjoy and take time to read.

-- Tobias Kaiser

(We're not aware of any Canon plans to update the G9 with a wide-angle lens -- or any other Canon plans, really <g>. We can, however, point you to the Panasonic Lumix LX2 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/LX2/LX2A.HTM), which does have a 28-112mm range and delivers excellent image quality at 10.2 megapixels with its Leica lens. It's a Dave's Pick and one of the top Editor's Choice cameras for enthusiasts. -- Editor)

RE: Viveza Review?

I was wondering if an in-depth review of Nik Software's Viveza plug-in was forthcoming? Perhaps in the next IR newsletter?

-- Charlie

(It's true, we've installed in and run it from Photoshop CS3. Once. So it's a little premature for an in-depth review. Like all Nik products, it has a very nice interface. And it's a real pleasure to have U Point technology for masking tasks. The company earlier released a revision of its Dfine noise reduction software using U Point technology as well. Our Capture NX review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/NX/NX.HTM) explained the advantages of U Point, now happily available to Photoshop users.... BTW, apologies to anyone who tried to order Nik products through our Deals section. That link was broken when the company stopped fulfilling orders through Digital River. You can always get the discount by calling Customer Service toll free at (888) 284-4085 or +1-619-725-3150 outside of the U.S. or use the new code in the Deals section. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) was busy this week. Not only did they launch Photoshop Express (http://www.photoshop.com/express) as a public beta, but they released Photoshop Elements 6 for the Mac several months after the Windows version.

But it may have been a little too busy, removing the Lightroom 1.4 update along with the Camera Raw 4.4 plug-in update just a day after releasing them when bugs in both products were discovered.


Apple (http://www.apple.com) has been doing its own housekeeping, releasing Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 2.0, Plugin Manager 1.7.3, a security update that disabled printing from Aperture and a fix for that. Finally, Apple released Aperture 2.1 with a new plug-in architecture.


X-Rite (http://www.colormunki.com) has introduced its ColorMunki portfolio of three products designed to ensure accurate color from screen to final output for various creatives. The $499 ColorMunki Photo calibrates displays, projectors and printers, measures ambient light and captures spot colors. The new AppSet automatically sets the printer profile for the user. ColorMunki Photo also includes new color creation and communication tools, such as automatically extracting colors from images and transporting images with DigitalPouch to ensure ViewSafe environments.


PictoColor (http://www.imagetitler.com) has released its $19.95 ImageTitler 3.0 [W] to add descriptive titles to any image. It features a straightforward, easy-to-use interface for adding text in various sizes, colors and fonts with excellent sharpness and clarity. It's also available bundled with CorrectPhoto 3.0 Digital Photo Editor.


Rocky Nook has published its $34.95 Digital Photography from the Ground Up by Juergen Gulbins, which deals with the photographic workflow, from capture to print and storage. It's available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952172/?tag=theimagingres-20).


Kodak (http://www.Kodak.com) has announced an enhanced Digital Picture Frame portfolio available in 10-inch and 8-inch multimedia and 7-inch standard photo versions with a suite of features including the newly announced Quick Touch Border interface. The new models include the M820, M1020 and P720 frames. See our news item (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1206632389.html) for the details.


Plustek (http://www.plustek.com) has announced three new OpticFilm film scanners: the $289 OpticFilm 7300, the $399 OpticFilm 7500i SE and the $589 OpticFilm 7500i AI. Improvements in the 7200-dpi scanners include a new four-scan multi-sampling and multi-exposure engine designed to replicate every nuance of a slide image in exquisite detail.


Roxio (http://www.roxio.com) has released its $99 Toast 9.0 [M], followed quickly with a 9.0.1 update. Highlights of the new release include $20 optional Blu-Ray and HD-DVD video authoring, streaming video from a Mac to iPhone or iPod Touch, audio recording, support for El Gato's Turbo H.264 encoder hardware, batch media conversion, Growl support and user interface improvements.

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One Liners

For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).

Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com

PhotoRescue: http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM

Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc

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Signoff

That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM
New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM
Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM
Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM
Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM

Happy snapping!

Mike Pasini, Editor
editor@imaging-resource.com
Dave Etchells, Publisher
web@imaging-resource.com

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