The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 10, Number 11 23 May 2008

Copyright 2008, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 228th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. You won't go on vacation without setting up a blog after you read our lead feature. And you might want to take along Canon's new SD1100 IS, too, after that review. No doubt you'll find our simplified explanation of image resizing helpful while you're away. And if you need a place to go, try the Tasmania Sweepstakes. Just don't forget to return!


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:
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Feature: Photo Blog Your Vacation

We were minding our own business the other day, clearing out the back forty (feet, not acres) when we heard a virtual cry for help. We immediately dropped what we were doing to find out what it was all about.

The Beebas (which is not their real name unless you are two years old and have trouble pronouncing real names) had gone on vacation. It was one of those special vacations you don't get the chance to do every year. In their case, that was a Caribbean cruise.

To share the adventure with their family and friends they had a great idea. They decided to blog their vacation. With photos, too.

They set up the blog before they left and everything was fine. They even did an entry after boarding the ship without any trouble. Then they set sail and guess what?

They couldn't upload their pictures.

"We plan to bribe a younger person (as soon as we find one!) to help us with our uploads," the blog for that day ended.

We thought we could help them with that, but before we reveal the stunningly simple solution to their predicament, let's look at how stunningly simple it is to blog your vacation.

BLOGGING

You can set up a blog at no charge using nothing more than your Web browser. And you can post entries using any Web browser (and in some cases even your cell phone), too.

It's a great way to keep friends and family updated on your adventure. And it's much more convenient, cheaper and even more fun than writing postcards.

SETUP

The Beebas followed the example of three of their kids and used Google's Blogger service (http://www.blogger.com) to host their blog. You can create a free blog at Blogger in just three steps: create an account, name your blog and choose a template.

There are other ways to create blogs, of course -- other services and other software both. New Macs come with iWeb, which can do the job, although not quite as seamlessly as Blogger. And Wordpress (http://wordpress.com) offers a similar free blogging service with easy-to-use software.

We've tried them both and while we like Wordpress for our needs, we tend to recommend Blogger for its simplicity.

To create a Blogger account, you just have to enter your email address, pick a password, create a display name to sign your posts and agree to the terms of service. Naming your blog is as simple as coming up with your email address was. A quick search tells you if your preferred name is available. Finally, picking a template lets you easily dress your entries in an attractive, color-coordinated layout. You can preview any number of layouts and even change your mind later.

You can also opt to host your blog on your own server, if you prefer, but hosting it on Google's servers is free.

Once your blog is created, you can dabble a bit more with it before actually posting anything. Or not.

When you enter your email address and password at the name.blogger.com URL the service assigns for you, you're taken to your blog's administration page. There are three tabs -- Posting, Settings, Layout -- and one link (View Blog).

Under Posting, you can not only upload text, images and video, but you can edit your posts and moderate comments others make.

Under Settings, you can change your blog's title, its description, whether your blog is added to Blogger's listings, whether search engines can find your blog, if your blog has a Quick Editing button, if it shows email post links and even if it should display a warning about mature content. You can also add a compose mode to your blog so you can see how things look as you make your entry and even add a translation button to the toolbar. And yes, you can even delete your blog.

Settings also lets you change your blog's address (subject to availability) and switch to a custom domain, if you prefer. The Comments section allows you to show or hide comments, as well as decide who can comment on entries. You can also set up to be notified by email when anyone comments on your entries. There are archiving options and syndication setup (so readers can link to an RSS feed address and be notified when you've entered a new post).

The Layout tab lets you rearrange or delete elements of your blog. You can change where elements like the posts or the About Me link sit on the page just by clicking and dragging them (or deleting them). You can also change fonts and colors and edit the template's HTML, if you like. But none of that is necessary.

It's worth emphasizing that even if you want to keep your blog private, it's on the Web and the Web is not as private place. Be on your best behavior, as if you were in public, and you won't be embarrassed later. Likewise, be judicious about who can post comments to your blog and moderate them. There are programs running right now trying to post garbage to any unprotected site, blog or not. Protect yourself and your readers.

POSTING ENTRIES

Once you're set up, you can start posting entries.

It's pretty easy. Logging into your administration page will take you to the Posting tab's Create pane. You can give your entry a title and then write a message in the large text box field.

You'll see a toolbar above that field with some formatting buttons that may be familiar to you from text editing software you've used. You should also see a button that looks like a photo and another button right next to it that looks like a frame or three of film. Those are your photo upload and video upload buttons.

To upload a photo, just click on the photo upload button and a new window will pop up with two main options. You can point to an image on your computer using a browse button that's very similar to the one we use to help you upload photos to our Photo of the Day Contest (http://www.dailydigitalphoto.com/potd-images/ir_potd_enter.htm). Or you can point to an image on the Web by entering its URL -- if you have permission to use it. Acceptable formats include JPEG, GIF, BMP and PNG. And the file size should be no more than 8-MB. At the same time, you can set the layout so the text runs around the image or skips over it. And you can size the image on the page so it appears either Small, Medium or Large. Then just click the Upload Image button to copy your photo to your post.

To upload a video, you use the Choose File button to point to an AVI, MPEG, QuickTime, Real or Windows Media file under 100-MB in size on your computer. You can also add a title. After agreeing to the upload terms and conditions, click the Upload Video button to post your video.

Couldn't be easier, really.

THE PROBLEM

But if it's so easy, why were the Beebas having trouble?

That's the question that was stumping us when we finally got out of the sun and checked their blog again. Good thing we did, too, because they'd already figured out the problem.

"The Internet connection is very slow," they wrote, "and what happens is that the uploading of images times out before it is finished. It is purely a lucky or unlucky moment as to whether it uploads. Remember the days of trying to call the radio station to ask for your favorite song and it was busy, busy, busy until at last! You got through."

INTERNET AT SEA

Like any vessel at sea, their cruise ship relied on a satellite connection to the Internet. There's no cable or DSL in the ocean. You have to beam your stuff up, Scottie.

Satellite Internet can be slow, though, because it's a long trip to get from the ship to the satellite and back. In some cases, earth stations facilitate communication between the ship and a satellite.

Not only does it take a while, but all the ship's data is going through the same uplink access point connected to the ship's satellite dish. That data isn't just your blog entry, but also credit card transactions, reservations and passenger status.

The ship looks for one of four high-orbit satellites, which provides a connection for the whole ship that's about twice as fast as a home dial-up modem. Most ships use multiple connections to increase bandwidth capacity, but that's expensive. It can cost up to $10,000 a month.

But ships also prioritize what is sent to the satellite. Audio and video transmission make it hard for other data to be transmitted efficiently because they're so large and take so long. So they can get bumped.

There are yet other factors. Weather can disrupt the connection as can a change in the ship's position. In fact, the best upload speeds are achieved when the ship is not moving.

TIPS

So what could the Beebas have done to improve their odds?

They could have resized their full resolution camera images down to Web-sized morsels to avoid sending such large files. Then, no matter what time they tried to upload them, they would have spent less time online.

The second thing is to connect during off-peak hours. The most obvious of which is during the dining period. When everyone else is adjusting their napkin, they could be uploading.

In desperation, they might have tried another browser, too. Sometimes it works.

Finally, you they could have used a land-based Internet cafe, bringing the images and text with them on USB thumbdrive or CD. As an alternative, they could have looked for a local library with free Internet access.

CONCLUSION

The Beebas are pretty smart and they quickly solved their problem. Each day's entry included up to half a dozen exotic images that we all looked forward to almost as much as their return.

Their blog turned out to be a great way to share their cruise adventure. Highly recommended, as we like to say around here.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Canon SD1100 IS -- Improving a Classic

By TONY GOMEZ
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SD1100IS/SD1100ISA.HTM on the Web site.)

The Canon SD1100 IS Digital ELPH includes an 8-megapixel 1/2.5" CCD imager and a 3x optical zoom lens with image stabilization, which covers a fairly standard range of 38-114mm equivalent, a moderate wide-angle to a moderate telephoto.

Exposure is fully automatic, but the user can tweak it with 2.0 EV of exposure compensation and four metering modes to handle difficult lighting, including a mode which ties metering to the camera's face detection system.

Thirteen scene modes keep the camera approachable for beginners. A long-exposure mode in the Canon SD1100 IS ELPH lets you set exposure times as long as 15 seconds manually and a 2.5" LCD display plus an real-image optical zoom viewfinder, rather rare on digicams these days.

It sports a fairly wide ISO sensitivity range, from 80 to 1600. And it's PictBridge compliant. Images are stored on SD/SDHC/MMC memory cards with a not-so-generous 32-MB card in the product bundle and power comes from a proprietary NB-4L lithium-ion rechargeable battery.

The SD1100 IS has just about all the bells and whistles you could imagine for a camera that's about the size of a pack of cards. There's a healthy 2.5-inch LCD monitor, built-in optical image stabilization (that's the IS designation), Face Detection, a small, but still quite useful optical viewfinder, 8-Mp still capture mode, an excellent 640x480, 30 frames per second movie mode, a 3x optical zoom (expandable by 1.6x and 2x) and a host of other cool features that we'll get into later in this report.

Available since March, the Canon SD1100IS Digital ELPH retails for under $250. Five body colors are available: silver, gold, brown, blue and pink.

LOOK & FEEL

The Canon SD1100 has a simple, yet supple feel. Corners taper softly, quite a change from the SD1000's hard angular design. It's actually a little thicker than the SD1000, perhaps to accommodate the new image stabilization system inside; but the controls are essentially unchanged. The shutter button is flat and easy to find, with the zoom toggle surrounding it. On the back you'll find the 2.5-inch LCD and a selection of controls. The mode switch is on the upper right, with choices of Still Record, Movie Record and Playback modes. The other buttons and the multi-controller are flush mounted and a soft press activates them.

One feature in particular that I appreciate is the way you can reprogram the function of the Transfer button just right of the LCD screen. You can set it to one of a number of functions, including Face Select, EV compensation, White Balance, Custom White Balance, Red-Eye Correction, Digital Tele-converter, Display mode, Record Movie, Display Off or Play Sound Effect. Because I often switch between Still and Movie mode, I chose Record Movie, which instantly drops me into Movie mode and starts recording.

An optical viewfinder also graces the SD1100. This is a rarity in digital cameras in this size category and Canon is to be commended for keeping it in such a small digital camera. There are many scenarios in which having an optical viewfinder is huge benefit, such as in overly bright environments where you can't see the LCD screen very well or in very dark places where it's hard to judge framing.

Of course, these viewfinders are seldom accurate, so be aware that you're going to capture more than you see through the optical viewfinder. According to our tests, you see 84 percent of the view at wide-angle and only 82 percent at telephoto.

On the bottom of the Canon SD1100 is a nice surprise: a metal tripod socket that replaces the plastic one on the SD1000.

LENS

The 3x optical zoom is equivalent to a 38-114mm lens, with digital enhancements of 1.6x and 2x. This means that effectively the zoom is about 60mm on the wide end at 1.6x digital zoom and 182mm on the telephoto end. From a practical standpoint, I'd keep the digital zoom at 1.6x maximum because digital artifacts start creeping in if you blow the images up significantly. Another problem is that using this digital zoom mode eliminates your wide-angle photography ability, so it's probably best to stick to the traditional digital zoom if you use it at all.

Canon pioneered Optical Image Stabilization many years ago in its camcorders and in special IS lenses made for its larger EOS dSLRs. It's a tribute to their genius that they have evolved the design of their image stabilization hardware to fit inside the Canon SD1100 IS, the smallest of their pocket digital cameras. Canon uses optical image stabilization, where the actual elements of the lens are shifted to stabilize any shaking. This form of image stabilization is arguably the better of the various forms of IS available today.

INTERFACE

The menu system in the Canon SD1100 is a little confusing unless you're already familiar with Canon cameras. It's the Menu system that must be mastered before you can become really adept at setting up the camera for the many shooting conditions you might encounter. There are two menus and two ways to enter them. To enter the Function menu, you must press the Func./Set button. You are presented with a left column and a lower row that is used to set all the controls for the Canon SD1100. At the lower row are the menu controls for selecting either the Automatic or Manual mode.

There are also special Scene Modes for selecting shooting conditions that will help you take better pictures under specific shooting conditions: Portrait, Night Snapshot and Kids and Pets. The Manual mode allows even more controls, with selections for JPEG resolution: Superfine (least compression), Fine (moderate compression) or Normal (the most compression). The lower row also controls the capture image size.

For the finest print quality, images should be captured at Large/SuperFine resolution. For sharing images on the Internet, you select select Small/Normal for images that are lower in resolution, but very quick to upload and download, but if you ever plan to enlarge your images, be sure to stick with the Large/Superfine resolution, since images shot at lower resolutions or compressed too much can never be upsampled.

Along the left column you also select the type of metering (Evaluative, Center Weighted or Spot). Evaluative is the default metering mode, but the Spot setting is great for difficult lighting situations. White Balance is also selectable here (Automatic, Daylight, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Manual). Finally, manual exposure override can also be selected through 12 different offsets in 1/3 EV settings.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Face Detection is the newest buzzword for most of today's point-and-shoot digital cameras. Canon's version of face detection performs very well in scenes that have a moderate amount of light. The Canon SD1100 found faces quickly and accurately, even from a surprising distance. The Canon SD1100 not only sets autofocus with its face detection algorithm, it also sets exposure; quite useful since having the face exposed properly is key to a good portrait.

We live in the era of High-Definition TV, so it was really nice to see that the SD1100 IS has two features that make it easy to capture shots ideal for viewing on your wide-screen HDTV: the Widescreen mode and the Stitch Assist Mode. Widescreen is a special mode that captures an image at a 5-Mp resolution of 3264x1832 pixels. When you view this image on the SD1100's built-in LCD monitor you'll see black bars at top and bottom, the so-called letterbox mode. This is OK because the LCD monitor was only designed to show images that were captured in the more standard 4x3 capture mode. But when you watch the Widescreen captured images on your HDTV set, thanks to a provided AV output cable, it will look much more dramatic. You'll still see a black bar at the top and bottom because all widescreen TV's have a larger screen size.

To enter the Canon SD1100's Widescreen capture mode, you press Func./Set and select WS (Widescreen) from the row at the bottom of the LCD screen. This is where you also select the six other image size modes (including the 8-Mp maximum size for best print quality, all the way down to low resolution 640x480 for quick uploading and downloading). In my opinion, once you start shooting in Widescreen mode, you may never want to go back to the normal mode, especially if you watch the image playback on HDTVs or if you make DVD slide shows based on these widescreen images.

The Canon SD1100 IS also has a great movie mode -- 640x480 resolution at 30 frames per second -- but they also have several lower resolution versions that are very useful if you were shooting video for email or for Web sites. The image quality rivals MiniDV recordings on camcorders.

STORAGE & BATTERY

The video recording time at the highest quality is about 16 minutes for a 2-GB SD card. So if you want to shoot an hour epic, be prepared with an 8-GB SDHC card. These cards are essentially commodities today at under $100, with 16-GB and 32-GB versions becoming available later in 2008. A 4-GB SDHC card will also hold about 1118 Large/Superfine shots.

The Canon SD1100 uses the same NB-4L 3.7V 760mAh lithium-ion battery as its predecessor, which can capture 240 shots, which is about average. Note that the plastic battery door seems quite fragile, but should be fine if the camera is treated with the care that all camera components demand.

Another feature that Canon has been promoting for almost as long as they have been making digital still cameras is the Stitch Assist mode. In this mode you can shoot a sequence of overlapping images and have the bundled Stitch Assist program stitch or blend them into a new, seamless, wider-than-wide screen image. The trick to make this work right is to shoot with the right amount of overlap. Canon makes this easy by retaining a small amount of the previous image to allow you a fast way of getting the proper overlap.

Stitch assist works in the horizontal mode and you can shoot successive images in either a left or a right direction. If your overlap doesn't fall within the proper range, you will get a noticeable seam at the overlap points. The panoramic stitched effect is startling. It can even be made comic if you have a person staging themselves in different parts of captured images -- a process that can have your friend and their many digital clones reacting in the same panoramic scene.

IMAGE QUALITY

As with any digital camera as small as the Canon SD1100 IS Digital ELPH, there are compromises. But thankfully I didn't find many compromises in image quality, which was excellent. Naturally, as ISO increases, quality degrades, but we found the printed results to be quite good, with even the ISO 1600 image preserving enough quality for a decent 4x6. The ISO 80 and 100 images were capable of withstanding up to 13x19-inch print sizes, despite a little softening in the corners.

There is some chromatic aberration in the wide-angle shots, but it's not very bright, so it's not very noticeable except at high magnification or large print sizes. And despite the slight softening in the corners at wide-angle, the rest of the frame at is quite sharp, ditto for telephoto. Macro mode was good, capturing a very small area (smaller is better, meaning that you can get closer to your subject), though the flash did overwhelm the exposure system at this distance, an unsurprising result.

Optically there's some average barrel distortion at wide-angle, but no detectable pincushion at telephoto, which means that the lens does pretty well for such a small design.

Color from the Canon SD1100 is pretty accurate, with only the reds and cyans being slightly oversaturated and hue is pleasingly accurate overall.

SHOOTING

I used the Canon SD1100 in a wide variety of lighting environments, from indoor incandescent and fluorescent to bright outdoor sun. For the indoor scenario, I chose the Manual mode because that allowed me to preset a manual ISO setting.

In one particular case, I chose ISO 800 because I was shooting small items of jewelry in an antique shop in Palm Springs, Calif. I was handholding the Canon SD1100 and also shooting in macro mode, so I really needed the ability to shoot at higher shutter speeds to capture sharp images without significant image blur. (Many thanks to Route 66 West Antique Shop in Palm Springs, Calif. and owner Matt Burkholz for allowing me the use of their store to shoot the great jewelry and art pieces.)

Most of these macro shots were taken with the lens wide open at f2.8, but at speeds that varied from 1/30 to 1/400 second, depending on the lighting. Many of the captured macro images exhibit limited depth of field, but that's expected at f2.8. If I could have selected a higher f-number like f5.6 or f8, I could have expanded the range of focus; but that's not possible with the Canon SD1100. Though it's called Manual mode, aperture and shutter settings are still under the camera's control.

I also used Automatic White Balance in this shop and I was satisfied with the results. On closer inspection of the jewelry images, you can see some digital noise, but this is expected when shooting at ISO 800. It was an acceptable compromise in order to get sharp, blur-free images.

In outdoor environments, I chose the Auto ISO mode. I visited a desolate village called Pioneer City near Yucca Valley, California. Because of the bright outdoor sun the ISO was automatically set to 80. This meant the image quality would be as noise-free as possible. This was confirmed when I zoomed in on the captured images of amazing rocks, flowering purple cactus and other interesting plants in the area. I would expect that large 13x19 blowups of these images shot at ISO 80 would be excellent, revealing all their detail.

CONCLUSION

Easily the greatest bargain among pocket cameras, the Canon SD1100 has it all: small size, sleek design, optical image stabilization, a good lens, face detection, custom modes and a low price. Though it's an improvement over last year's incredibly popular SD1000, the Canon SD1100 retains the impressive image quality, despite a slight increase in resolution from 7.1 to 8.0 megapixels. The Canon SD1100 increased in thickness just a little, probably due to the addition of image stabilization, but it's still quite comfortable to hold and it slips discretely into most pockets. High ISO performance was reasonably good, with ISO 1600 still producing a decent 4x6-inch print; and ISO 80 and 100 maintained surprisingly good quality at 13x19 inches. Overall, the Canon SD1100 is an improvement to an already impressive camera and well worthy of a Dave's Pick.

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:

Return to Topics.

Beginners Flash: Resizing an Image

Resizing remains one of the most confusing things about digital imaging. It does eventually become routine, don't worry. You just have to understand how, um, simple it is.

Any image -- or any crop of an image -- is no more than a certain number of pixels across and a certain number of pixels down.

You might say the same thing about any monitor: it has a certain number of pixels across and a certain number down. Those numbers are generally much smaller for a monitor than a digital photo -- unless it has been cropped a lot.

Your monitor may be, for example, 1024x768 while your photo may be 3072x2048 (for a 6-megapixel image).

If you crop that photo to be 1024x768 in your image editing software, you'll see no loss in quality when displayed to fill your screen. If you crop it to 640x480, it won't fill the screen. It will just use 640 pixels across and 480 pixels down.

To fill the screen, you would use your image editing software to enlarge that 640x480 crop to 1024x768. That's 384 imaginary (extra) pixels wide and 288 imaginary pixels down. Where does that imaginary data come from? Neighboring pixels.

Your image editing software takes a look at the real pixels that will surround the imaginary new pixel and by one means or another (you usually have a choice of methods) calculates a guess about what color and brightness the new pixel should be.

That imprecision and approximation is what decreases quality. But it's unavoidable. And that's why you can't enlarge a digital image without losing quality.

But somehow we do it all the time.

One factor in successfully enlarging an image that is rarely mentioned is the role of viewing distance. The quality of a billboard illustration is pretty poor when seen up close (about the distance you are from your screen reading this). But seen from your car on the road, it looks pretty good.

Another factor is making the enlargement in small steps of about 10 percent each time. So instead of trying to guess a bunch of new pixels from just a few pixels of data, your software is making a smaller guess but doing it several times.

That technique really does as well as any plug-in designed to enlarge bitmapped images.

Simple, isn't it?

Where most people tend to get confused is mapping these pixels to a print, which itself has no pixels (prints are all made by halftone screens of one kind or another if they aren't continuous tone) and in discussing resolution (which is really just the mapping of pixels to some area like a print).

The confusing thing is that digital images have no inherent resolution. Just pixels across and pixels down. How many pixels per inch is something you can change at will without affecting the data itself. You're simply mapping those pixels to some area.

One printer may require 180 pixels per inch, another might require 225. The size of your printed image will consequently be larger on the printer that requires only 180 pixels per inch. Your monitor may require just 72 or 96 pixels per inch, though, which is why images always seem so large when you display them on your screen.

How do you know how many pixels your printer requires? Dye sub printer manufacturers will tell you (300 or 200 or some such number) but inkjet printer manufacturers do not. You can run a few tests to see for yourself, though. You really shouldn't need as much as 300 pixels per inch, nor any fewer than 150. And probably your magic number is closer to 150. So if a print made with 150 pixels per inch looks the same as one printed with 300 pixels an inch, you just need to send that printer 150 pixels per inch.

When you actually change the number of pixels, however, you do affect quality. You also always change file size when you do this. Even reducing the number of pixels degrades image quality, softening the image and losing detail. In that case, we always do some Unsharp Masking to recreate sharpness.

And if you're using software to resize your images, make sure it also sharpens them after resizing. A surprising number of popular programs do not sharpen after resizing.

There are, of course, limits to how much enlargement or reduction any set of pixels can survive, but if you keep these principles in mind, you'll be able to do whatever is possible with those pixels.

Return to Topics.

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:

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

Visit the Canon Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f773

Bruce asks about Nikon lens choices at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea8612/0

Donna asks for help with lens "blue ghosting" at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea7efa/0

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

Return to Topics.

Just for Fun: Lightroom Team Sponsors Tasmania Sweepstakes

If you enjoyed following the Adobe Photoshop Lightroom Adventure 2008 to Tasmania (http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com/adventure), you probably wished you'd gone along.

Wish no more. Enter the team's Tasmanian Sweepstakes (http://xyzadventures.com) and you might be going on your own Tasmanian Adventure. But you get to bring along anyone else you like, instead of cramming into a Tasmanian tour bus with a bunch of photographers and programmers, like the team had to do.

There's just one prize in this sweepstakes, but it's a Grand Prize: a two-night trip for two to Tasmania, Australia (not the other one). Included is roundtrip airfare (economy class tickets) departing from either Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO) or New York (JFK) and arriving in Hobart/Launceston. Accommodations for two nights will be provided in Tasmania. You can tell your accountant that the approximate retail value of the Grand Prize is $4,598.

So how do you enter? We did some research on just that topic, interviewing Team Leader Mikkel Aaland at length recently.

Q. How do you enter this sweepstakes, Mikkel?

A. What?! Just leave your email address! No strings!!!

This avoids the problem of translating an essay into Tasmanian or finding Australian sponsors in case your bar bill exceeds your available funds.

There is a deadline, it turns out (or nobody would actually get the prize). The contest ends at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on May 31. But don't delay -- there's no point polishing up your email address.

Take a peek at the contest rules (http://xyzadventures.com/rules.php) and pop over to the entry form (http://xyzadventures.com).

And if you win (well, someone has to), don't forget to bring along your camera. "I mean, Tasmania is a great location for photographers," Mikkel told us. He must have meant the clean air (is it really the cleanest on the planet, as Jeff Pflueger wrote in his Tasmanian blog?), the photogenic people (which made Catherine Hall homesick for a place that wasn't even home) and the strange rituals (Bruce Dale attended both pirate weddings and pig slaughterings).

On second thought, you might want to send someone to Tasmania, even if, as Mikkel explained to us at the end of our interview, it's no longer a prison colony. It's still a long, long way away.

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Dave's Deals

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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: Leica Repair

I need help. I have two Leica Digilux Zoom digital cameras. I bought one in the early 2000s when they were first introduced and put on the market. The other was given to me by a friend shortly thereafter. Both were made by Fuji and they appear to be the same model as the Fuji MX 1700 with slight cosmetic changes.

Both worked well until last fall when the lens cover on one stuck opened and will not close. On the other, the door which closes the compartment which houses the SmartMedia card will not open.

I sent them to Leica for repair but Leica sent them back and stated that they could not repair them. I then sent them both to Fuji and asked them to repair them, especially since they are essentially a Fuji camera. Fuji sent them back to me and stated that they did not repair Leica cameras although they had made them.

I have invested a good bit of money in the Leica Digilux Zoom that I bought and hate to be unable to use it as it made very good pictures. Since neither Leica nor Fuji seems to be willing to repair them, can you suggest any other firm or individual that you know who could repair these two digital cameras? I have used Leica cameras for years and am amazed that they cannot help me.

Any help that you can give me will be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much.

-- Charles Hampton White

(The only third-party Leica repair facilities we're aware of, Charles, do not handle Leica digicams. Perhaps our readers have a recommendation or two. -- Editor)

RE: Kodak 5500 Scanning

Thanks for the useful review. I'm strongly leaning toward buying the Kodak ES 5500 but I wonder if I should go with separate scanner and printer. I just bought a Cannon MP 830 that I'm returning to the store. I want to see the quality of the scan. It doesn't scan if the print head and inks are not installed and once they are installed I can't return it. Also I just found out that nothing works when you run out of one ink -- you can't print in just black or use the scanner. My old HP Deskjet 722C will still keep printing in black when you run out of color ink. It would be nice not to be shut down completely every time you run out of one color of ink.

I need to scan locks of wool to put on my Web page (http://www.cormo.us/07wool/07white.htm). I only have to do it once a year but when I need it I need it and would like to do a better job. It is interesting that the first inexpensive scanner that I bought over 10 years ago did a better job than the newer ones. You can see the images on my Web page that were done with an HP3500c (it's dead) last year.

I'd like better images. The wool that has a finer crimp (more crimps per inch) doesn't show up well at all. My friend used her camera for the pictures on the 2008 colored fleece page. They were better in some aspects but the old scanner still did a better job. Do you think that the scanner on the ES 5500 would work well for the wool locks or will I have to get another stand alone scanner and if so what should I look at?

I'm very frustrated and would appreciate your help and ideas.

-- Sue Reuser

(We can certainly appreciate your frustration, Sue. But a scanner really isn't the right tool for this application. And even a digital camera is only part of the solution. The real trick is learning to light your product so it can be appreciated. And that takes an external light source. Not the scanner's light bar or a camera's flash. The light coming in a window, say, diffused with a shower curtain would be infinitely better. We're aware of no all-in-one (or printer) that will function without ink in all cartridges. Having multiple cartridges means you aren't wasting other colors when one runs dry in a multi-color cartridge. So it isn't all bad news. You should be able to test a 5500 for yourself at a store that sells them just by scanning your wool to a card or thumbdrive of your own inserted into the machine. But we really can't recommend a scanner for this application, nor the 5500 in particular. -- Editor)

RE: Sinar Drivers

All Sinar camera drivers may be downloaded from http://www.sinar.ch after following a free registration process.

-- Edwin Blenkinsopp

(Thanks, Edwin. We've updated our Drivers Project at http://imaging-resource.com/ARTS/DRV/DRV.HTM with that information. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Adobe has released version 1.2.0.0 of the Digital Negative Specification (http://www.adobe.com/products/dng/pdfs/dng_spec_1_2_0_0.pdf), the first revision in the last three years. The update brings two new features to DNG: it formalizes the concept of a camera profile and adds a metadata tag to validate image data. At the same time the company released a 32-big Codex for Windows Vista (http://labs.adobe.com/wiki/index.php?title=DNG_Codec) as a "release candidate" on Adobe Labs.

The company has also announced that Photoshop Express (https://www.photoshop.com/express/index.html), its online image editing and sharing application, can now browse and edit images stored on Flickr. Flickr joins Facebook, Photobucket and Picasa as Express-compatible services. Images stored on any of these sites can be browsed and edited without leaving Photoshop Express.


O'Reilly has published Face to Face: Rick Sammon's Complete Guide to Photographing People, covering proven techniques and tips you need for photographing people here and abroad, from different cultures, young and old. The title is available via http://www.amazon.com/dp/059651574X/?tag=theimagingres-20 at a 34 percent discount.


Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com/consumer/controller?act=PromotionsAct) has announced rebates on purchases made between May 18 and July 19, which range in value from $15 to $300. Eligible products include two camera bodies, 13 lenses and strobes.


Image Trends has released its Fisheye-Hemi Plug-In for Aperture 2.1 (http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/aperture). The Fisheye-Hemi Plug-In filter set provides correction for hemispheric fisheye lens distortion, working seamlessly within Aperture's photo editing and management environment.


Pentax (http://www.pentax.com) has announced its $329.95 Optio W60 with a 10-megapixel sensor, 5x optical zoom lens and a slightly smaller and lighter body that the W30 it replaces. The W60's most impressive features are that it's waterproof up to 13 feet and can also be used in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit.


Sony Electronics and Reuters Media have teamed up to launch the Everyday Smiles (http://www.reuters.com/smiles) photo contest on Reuters.com. Aspiring U.S. photographers are invited to submit photos of themselves, their friends and their families smiling through June 16.


LaserSoft Imaging (http://www.silverfast.com) has announced the addition of Printer Calibration with ICC-Profiling to its SilverFast Ai Studio product line. The "1-2-3 Click" SilverFast Printer Calibration uses the existing scanner calibration and any suitable color printer. No other measuring devices are necessary.


Rocky Nook has published the second edition of Fine Art Printing for Photographers by Uwe Steinmueller and Juergen Gulbins, which includes expanded coverage of the newest printers and papers. The title is available via http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952318/?tag=theimagingres-20 at a 34 percent discount.


Eye-Fi (http://www.eye.fi) has announced three new wireless SD memory cards. The Eye-Fi Explore automatically adds geographic location tags to each photo and allows you to upload your memories from WiFi hotspots. The original Eye-Fi Card, now called Eye-Fi Share, is designed for the photographer who wants to effortlessly upload images directly to their preferred photo sharing site in addition to their computer. And, the Eye-Fi Home is aimed at users who want to simply and wirelessly upload digital memories to their home computer.


David Ekholm (http://jalbum.net) has released his free JAlbum 8.0 [LMW], a Java-based Web album generator, with drag-and-drop support, a new image editor, RSS support and more.

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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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