|Volume 10, Number 14||4 July 2008|
Welcome to the 231st edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We celebrate the Fourth with a feature on camera straps, Shawn's hands-on preview of the Nikon D700 FX dSLR and a cookbook review. What no fireworks tutorial? Our June 24, 2005 issue (it's in the Archive at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html) covered that, citing News Editor Michael R. Tomkins' classic checklist. To recap, for digicam owners, it's Fireworks Scene mode. For cameras with a Manual mode, start by setting focus to infinity, use a tripod for exposures from two to 10 seconds, set your aperture to f8 or smaller and ISO to 100. Cheers!
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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Al Stegmeyer, the inventor of the UPstrap (http://upstrap-pro.com), recently offered us the chance to use an assortment of his unique camera straps. We've tied ourselves in knots trying to devise the perfect camera strap, so we accepted. But before we discuss Al's straps, let's philosophize about them a bit. After all, it's a holiday.
No matter what kind of a digital camera you have, it probably shipped with a strap of some kind in its retail box. These straps range from perfectly adequate to about as useful as a 4-MB memory card. None of them are really something you want hanging around all day, though.
Compact digicams usually come with a cord-like wrist strap that is often as hard to install as threading a needle. Al can't help you there. But a good wrist strap is often no harder to find than your warranty card. Our favorites are small but strong with stiff cord to slip it into the camera eyelet. They also have a plastic slip knot to snug against your wrist so the strap doesn't slip off.
Long zooms and larger digicams tend to ship with one-inch wide shoulder straps embroidered with the company name and often the camera model. Those are a little thinner than the 1.5-inch straps shipped with dSLRs. They often have a felt, leather or vinyl pad midway on the inside that's designed to stick to your shoulder a good deal longer than the strap material itself.
Oddly enough, we don't like shoulder straps (even when they're around our neck). If the camera is small, we just put a spare wrist strap on it. But our preferred strap is a padded wrist strap with tripod mount we picked up at Nikon Mall (http://www.nikonmall.com/product.asp?sku=3065120 but not always available). There's even an eyelet on the bottom plate so you can attach your shoulder strap to that and the free one on the left side. So you can have the best of both worlds.
But that wasn't going to work on the Nikon D3 we were testing at the time of Al's offer because the D3 has a built-in vertical grip. Pro cameras tend to build that grip into the camera whereas semi-pro cameras tend to make it optional. Our wrist strap functions fine when you hold the camera by the horizontal grip but because it screws into the tripod socket, it interferes with the vertical grip.
So when we use a vertical grip on a camera, we use a shoulder strap. And that's how we tied ourselves into knots. We've been looking for a way to quickly and easily swap the wrist strap for the shoulder strap. And the way a strap attaches to a camera eyelet is neither quick and nor easy.
We were so thrilled to find Op/Tech's Adapt-Its at PMA (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS08/MRP/pma-fri.htm#opt) that we gave them an Envy Award. Pop one into each camera eyelet, then thread your camera straps to plastic hooks that you can just snap into the Adapt-It. To change straps, just unsnap. You might wonder why you need the Adapt-It until you try to fit a plastic hook into a camera eyelet (they don't fit).
Good theory, but a source for the plastic hooks themselves continues to elude us. We've been to craft stores (which seem to prefer the big, wide ones), camera shops (uh, forget it) and Chinatown (thinking we could buy a half dozen fanny packs and snip them out). And we have Googled the things mercilessly. And unzipped countless inexpensive bags to see if they have the right size. It's becoming a very strange obsession.
So when Al suggested we try his UPstrap, we figured we had nothing to lose.
The UPstrap comes in a variety of models for different kinds of cameras. There's even a model designed specifically for the Canon G9 and another for camera bags.
All models include stainless sliders to secure the strap ends. And they are all extremely well made, the sewing done by a military contractor (and it looks like it, too). Models include:
But the real attraction of the UPStrap is the patented double-sided, non-slip pad bonded to a single piece of web so it can't slide down to one end or the other of the strap. Made of a soft, non-rubber compound, it's designed with very small, flexible nipples that form a tread to grip your clothing securely. And that's why you'd buy an UPstrap: it won't slip off your shoulder.
- SLR-Kevlar. The Limited Edition Kevlar web with SLR classic pad is the preferred choice for active shooters when your camera uses the slot/bracket strap attachment method which can eventually cut the web on the inside edge of the slot if it has a sharp edge. For cameras over 3.0 pounds, the 600 lb. test Kevlar web has very high abrasion resistance.
- SLR-Classic. The 1250 lb. nylon web is best for camera and lens setups over 2.5 pounds with a split ring like the Nikon D1H, D2H, D300, D200, D1H, D1x, D3. The Classic nylon web will work with the bracket system but will wear faster than the Kevlar.
- SLR-QR. A 300 pound tensile strength mil-spec Quick Release system. The equipment release section uses the super abrasion resistant Kevlar embedded webbing. The UPstrap's Ultimate Non-Slip SLR shoulder pad section has a double locking adjustment system on thin 2500 pound test one-inch mil-spec web.
- RF/DC. This is a smaller pad for lighter gear like the Canon EOS 40D, Panasonic DMC-L1, Nikon D40X, Olympus E-410 or E-510, Leica M8 or M series. Factor in the weight of the lens, batteries, flash and optional grip to get your total working weight.
It won't even budge from your shoulder loaded with the D3 and big glass as you wander around looking for suitable shots. Not even if you bend over to pick something up with the arm that should be cradling the camera. Not even, we suspect, if some thief tries to snatch your camera. Yes, it's practically a security device.
Al says the polymer nipple tread will wear away and even break off, depending on what you're wearing. Gortex, which is very rough, will shorten its life the fastest but after a few weeks of use wearing cotton jackets, we didn't detect any wear. Al makes an unusual offer to his customers though. "All I ask is if you think you did not receive full value for your money that you call or email me and present your case. I aim to please and I rarely find a member of the photographic community to be unfair."
Installation is just as annoying as installing any camera strap. You have to thread it through the eyelet, back up through a keeper, into the top slot of the metal slider and then the bottom slot so the excess strap is sandwiched between the downward side of the strap and the return side. On the Quick Release system (which we used on the D3) there are also wide locking bands that slip over the keeper and slider adjustments so they don't go anywhere.
We used the QR strap on the D3 because Al also sent a wrist strap (just a loop of strap that plugs into the QR snaps). We had hopes of unsnapping the shoulder strap and snapping the wrist strap on for lighter duty. The trouble with that plan was two-fold. It left the short strap on the other side of the camera dancing in the wind and hitting us in the face. And the wrist strap itself was a bit too much strap for us. We had to wind it around our wrist to take up the slack.
The patented pad does make the UPstrap heavier than other straps. We often reminded ourselves to gently place it over the camera when we got out of harness rather than just let it fall. The standard pad is eight inches long and one and five-eighths inches wide, although there is a smaller version for small cameras that's seven inches long and just an inch wide.
But the large size of the UPstrap is also what makes it so comfortable to wear. We knew we had a D3 slung over our shoulder but we didn't get tired lugging it around. And our shoulder, which we were rehabbing after an injury, didn't complain.
In addition to the weight of the pad, we also worried a bit about the metal sliders. In use on your shoulder, they don't come into contact with the camera LCDs or plastic body parts. But we were careful to be gentle when putting the camera down. Camera manufacturer straps use plastic sliders, we've noticed. We didn't worry so much about it that we swapped them, though.
If your camera (or bag) slips off your shoulder at embarrassing moments, get an UPstrap. We're so tired of hiking up our camera strap at trade shows that we're probably going to use the whole line. One for the camera, one for our bag, one for our notepad and the smaller one for our gel pen. Our shoulders are big enough to fit two on each.
Now if Al only made napkins that would stay on your lap.
By SHAWN BARNETT(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D700/D700A.HTM on the Web site.)
Not losing stride after last year's stunning announcements of the D300 and full-frame D3 dSLRs, Nikon now has a full-frame dSLR for pros, semi-pros and well-heeled enthusiasts: the Nikon D700.
The Nikon D700 is mostly an amalgam of the D300 and D3, actually borrowing more features from the D3 than the D300; but the overall look and feel is more D300 than D3. That the controls match the D300 more makes perfect sense, because the D700 is a logical upgrade path for serious photographers already invested in a D200 or D300.
The 12.1-megapixel, FX (full-frame) sensor is taken directly from the Nikon D3 dSLR camera, with the same 8.45-micron pixel pitch and 12-channel data readout. As a result, the D700 has the D3's renowned image quality at high ISO, but in a smaller, more affordable form factor. Like the D3, ISO ranges from 200 to 6400, with Lo 1 (100), Hi 1 (12,800) and Hi 2 (25,600).
Other major features include the Virtual Horizon Indicator from the D3 (which is now active in Live View mode as well), the 51-point AF system with 3D tracking and the two Live View modes (Handheld and Tripod). The 3-inch LCD has 920,000 pixels, for the same excellent photo preview and detailed Live View as the D3 and D300. The D300's Integrated Dust Reduction made it into the full-frame D700 as well.
The D700's magnesium alloy body is sealed and feels like a rock, just like its predecessors; and a new accessory attaches to seal the connection between the camera and the new SB-900 flash. A new information display on the rear LCD augments the monochrome LCD status display on the top deck. The new display includes onscreen hot buttons similar to the Nikon D80, which allow quick access to commonly changed functions without having to find a button or delve into the menu; helpful when the camera is mounted high on a tripod.
Combining the best of the D300 with the excellence of the D3 is a masterstroke that's sure to attract a lot of sales. Coming in at $2,999.99, $300 less than the Canon 5D's initial retail price, the D700 is sure to sell well when it ships in late July. A Nikon representative also told me the D700 will be available with the 24-120mm lens, but pricing and availability for that bundle has not been set.
Though I called the Nikon D300 the "build-it-yourself D3," the D700 brings you a lot closer to that goal, with the ability to add not only the D3's faster frame rate to your camera, but you start out with the D3's exact 12.1, full-frame, high-sensitivity CMOS sensor. According to Nikon, that includes the 12 channel readout for faster image acquisition.
The bulk of the story is that the D700 is a lot like a D300 with a full-frame sensor and that's pretty much how it shot in the field. The only major difference I experienced when shooting the D700 was that the lens's 24mm setting produced an image more like the one I used to get back in the days of 35mm film SLRs. That can only be described as a welcome change.
LOOK AND FEEL
Though the D700 feels and shoots almost identically to the D300, one major difference stands out: the pentaprism housing. It's a lot taller to allow for the larger pentaprism inside. The bulging shape looks strange at first, but now that I've used the D700 for a bit, the D300's pentaprism housing looks small relative to the large, tall body. Pros considering the D700 will be pleased that the camera's built-in flash can control two flash groups, just like the other cameras in the line; it's a pity, though, that they didn't include that third group for full versatility. The grip on the D700 seems a little fatter as well, but I didn't confirm this.
Weight is about 2.2 pounds without the battery and dimensions are 5.8x4.8x3 inches.
The other two major differences in the D700's front design is another redesign of the Flash Sync and Remote Terminal covers and the addition of the gold FX badge from the Nikon D3.
On the back, the differences become more obvious. The optical viewfinder is a lot larger, like that of the D3, complete with a large shutter to close the viewfinder opening when using Live View mode or when metering on a tripod. The diopter wheel, though smaller than the D3's, is still mounted perpendicular to the back, rather than parallel on the D300. The larger viewfinder has also pushed the AE-L/AF-L button and the AF-ON buttons over a tad and the graphics for the metering mode switch are now above this button/switch, instead of on the left as on the D300. The aggressive thumb grip on the other two SLRs has been tempered a bit (a welcome change for me, because the other grips tended to put a strain on my thumb after a day of shooting).
The D700 also inherits the rear multi-controller from the D3. Though I've always found the D300's multi-controller a pleasure to use for navigation, properly centering it to press down to confirm selections requires too much thought. The D700's button makes it harder to press the entire controller in the wrong direction.
The CompactFlash card door opening lever has been removed to make room for the Info button. The new rear status display, similar to the display on the Nikon D40, required a dedicated button, so it was moved from its former position, which it shared with the Protect button just beneath the Menu button (marked with a key). The CF lamp is now located just to the right of the Info button. Naturally, with the CF door lever gone, the D700 had to borrow the door design from the Nikon D80. A quick pull to the rear releases the door to spring open toward the camera's front. Though existing D200, D300 and D3 owners might object to the lack of a lever or other complicated mechanism, D80, D40, D60 and Canon dSLR owners will feel right at home with the design (might that, too, be by design?).
The D700's bottom hosts the battery door, the tripod socket and the battery pack contacts, covered by a removable rubber door (this door nestles in a socket on the MB-D10 battery pack for safe keeping).
The D700 has a strong magnesium alloy body for a rock-solid feel. It is sealed to keep dust and moisture out and the optional battery grip is built of the same material.
Though the body is fully sealed against moisture, once you pop up the built-in flash you've broken the seal and opened the casing to moisture, according to Nikon. If your shooting will include outdoor flash work in any weather, Nikon advises you use the new SB-900 external flash and the optional Water Guards to seal the connection between flash and body to avoid shorts there as well.
The D700 is a bit bigger than its predecessor, but not bad for those used to a semi-pro dSLR camera.
Rear Status Display. The new rear display shows a lot more information at a glance and is called up by the new Info button.
Info button. Press the Info button a second time to bring up the on-screen menu for commonly accessed items. Pressing the navigator's central button takes you straight to the menu for each item.
Controls. They've changed a little, but for the most part, the controls on the D700 are excellent, with plenty of buttons dedicated to oft-used functions. I like the changes, which include a better multi-controller arrangement from the D3 and the addition of the Info button, which brings up a new rear status display. The Quality, White Balance and ISO buttons are where they should be on the top deck, where you can press them and make the setting on the top Status LCD by turning the Main command dial. The Mode and EV compensation buttons are also on top, behind the shutter release. Having the power switch around the shutter button has always appealed to me, because you've turned the camera off (which I do by habit), you can just flip it on without taking your eye from the viewfinder or your hand off the grip.
Viewfinder. The D700's viewfinder looks a lot like the D3's, with the same internal shutter to block stray light, but it has the same rounded AF points as the D300 and it lacks the D3's manual metering scale on the right side of the viewfinder. Though it is big and bright, the D700's viewfinder shows only 95 percent of the frame area and is limited to 0.72x magnification.
The big, round viewfinder opening makes it easy to get your eye in close so you can see the entire frame and though I had to press my glasses against the rubber guard, it was pretty comfortable. The diopter adjustment wheel allows settings from -3 to +1.
LCD. The D700 has the same high-resolution LCD as its counterparts. Those 920,000 pixels give you a very sharp view of what you've captured and make checking focus that much more accurate. There's nothing new about the D700's LCD display, but it sure is nice to use. The LCD has a 170 degree viewing angle and offers a 100 percent view, whether you're looking at captured images or framing in Live View mode. The D700 includes a protective screen cover, but it's main glass is said to be quite scratch resistant.
Virtual Horizon Indicator. One of the few features that is truly new on the D700 is its Virtual Horizon Indicator. The Nikon D3 actually has a VHI, but it's not available in the one mode where it would truly help: Live View. Set the D700 to Live View and scroll through the display options with the up and down arrows. Once you've reached the right screen, the camera presents you with a virtual display that's similar to the horizon indicators on airplanes. When you get the horizon just right, the horizontal line lights up green. It works pretty well and can help straighten out a common photographic problem.
Live Leveling. Keeping your horizon straight is made easy with the Virtual Horizon Indicator in Live View mode.
Autofocus. The D700 also has the new MultiCam 3500FX autofocus module introduced on the D3, a 51-point sensor array that includes 15 cross-type points, sensitive to both horizontal and vertical lines and 35 horizontal AF points. The Multi-CAM system can be set to five modes on the D700, including 9-area, 21-area, 51-area and 51-area with 3D tracking.
The Scene Recognition System enhances subject tracking by merging data from the AF sensor and the 1,005-area metering sensor. With this extra information, the AF system can better select and track a subject, even when it leaves the AF area. A red car moving toward the camera could conceivably be tracked from one side of the frame to the other, tracked more accurately through the AF zone.
My pre-release camera's Auto-area AF mode was considerably faster at calculating in-focus areas than the Nikon D300, behaving more like the Nikon D3.
Fine-tuning. Like its predecessors, the D700 has a the new AF fine-tune, which allows the camera to store adjustments for up to 12 lenses. Not individual lenses by serial number, mind you, but at least by type.
Auto Active D-Lighting. D-Lighting is a popular post-processing feature in Nikon cameras. It's a quick software process that attempts to overcome underexposed images and bring detail out of shadows. It's seen as a solution to a number of common problems, including backlit images where fill lighting could have been applied, but wasn't. It works well enough that many of us have been persuaded to leave it on most of the time and the D700 makes taking that tactic a little more reassuring with Auto Active D-Lighting. Set this mode and the camera will look at each image and make an intelligent decision based on the dynamic range of the image which of the three Active D-Lighting levels to use and whether to use it at all.
Live View. The Live View modes on the D700 come in essentially unchanged, save for the already mentioned Virtual Horizon Indicator. There are two modes, Hand-held and Tripod mode. The former uses the traditional method of dropping the mirror to focus with the camera's phase-detect autofocus array. The second mode employs a contrast-detect algorithm on the data being clocked off the sensor, working more like a regular digicam. Unfortunately, the D700 is very slow at this job, so that's why it's called Tripod mode: the camera needs a very stable image to perform its calculations accurately.
You can control the D700 from a computer remotely with the Camera Control Pro software, receiving a Live View image from the camera. You can focus, adjust settings and fire, all from the computer, via cable or WiFi connection, with the optional WiFi adapter.
Shutter. The D700 is capable of five frames-per-second (fps) and up to eight fps when used with the MB-D10 Multi-Power battery pack. Nikon says the shutter lag is 40 milliseconds and expected shutter life is 150,000 cycles.
The D700 can capture over 100 JPEG images without pausing to clear the buffer and can fire about 23 lossless NEF 12-bit images and about 20 14-bit lossless NEF images.
Quiet and well-behaved shutters are the Nikon standard and the D700 follows suit. It does seem like it takes a little longer to move that bigger mirror, but viewfinder blackout time didn't seem to be too long, something I lament when shooting with the Canon 5D.
Processor. The D700 uses the same Expeed processor as the Nikon D3, if not an upgraded one, we're told, which should give the D700 greater speed than the D300. It also enables such impressive features as the Scene Recognition System, in-camera Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction and Active D-Lighting.
Scene Recognition System. Nikon's Scene Recognition System in the D700 is identical to the one introduced last year. SRS does a more complete analysis of the image area than the old Matrix metering did, improving white balance, focus tracking and exposure. One of its chief benefits is highlight analysis, which is designed to prevent blown highlights in common situations by adjusting the tone curve to compensate.
Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction. The D700 has the power, thanks to the Expeed processing system, to analyze each image after capture and fix the chromatic aberration before saving the JPEG file.
Picture Control. Nikon has standardized their Picture Control system so that camera settings for tone, saturation, brightness and sharpening can be set and ported to other Nikon dSLRs, limited to the D700, D300 and D3.
Storage and Battery. The D700 uses an EN-EL3e battery, which will drive it through 1,000 shots on a single charge. The optional MB-D10 Multi-Power Battery Pack adds three frames per second (with the higher capacity EN-EL4a lithium-ion battery or AA cells installed), taking the D700 to 8 fps, probably its most enticing feature. But it also allows a battery to be kept in the camera body to supplement the battery grip's input. Other designs use a tower that goes up into the battery compartment, which introduces a few problems, including packing an L-shaped grip in a camera bag when it's not in use. The MB-D10 is easier to use and packs well.
WiFi. The WT-4A wireless transmitter announced last year is compatible with the D700, D300 and D3, providing support for wired LAN (10BASE-T and 100BASE-TX) and 802.11a/b/g. A Live View image can be transmitted to a computer via wire or wireless using the optional Camera Control Pro 2 software.
Dust Cleaning. The D700 has a dust cleaning system that the D3 does not have. It's the same one found on the D300, though it's larger to cover the full-frame sensor. They're careful to call it "reduction," which is admirable, because we haven't seen a single system that actually keeps all dust off the sensor. "Four different resonance frequencies vibrate the optical low pass filter," according to Nikon.
Though I knew it was a cool new camera and was ready to be dazzled, the D700 didn't feel much different from a Nikon D300. As I've said of the D300, I think the control layout and overall design is nearly perfect, with all my most frequented controls readily available.
The new Info button and Status screen really did help changing some other items I wanted to explore, especially the new Auto Active D-Lighting.
I tried all four of Active D-Lighting's settings in bright daylight and definitely found differences in how Auto handled the scene, depending on the subject. The high-resolution screen showed the differences quite clearly, even in the bright light, as did the histogram.
Wandering into a very old Civil War Memorial building, I tested the ISO range on the fireplace, whose mantle had a listing of men who had died in the war. Portions of a bookshelf were just adjacent, with dark leather covers embossed with metallic letters, which I also included in the shot. The series is remarkable. At ISO 200, the small, affordable 24-120mm VR lens performed admirably handheld, maintaining sharpness at 42mm and 1/10 second. ISO 400 looks identical to 200. Here I should mention that on the leather books the only words I can read from the given distance are "Long Island" in probably 18 point type and "1959" and "1960," in maybe 30 point type. The numbers on the small mantle clock are clearly visible and all the names on the plaque are quite legible.
To put it simply, the big letters on the plaque are quite smooth from ISO 200 to 3,200. They start to get a little fuzzy only at 6,400, but even that's not bad. ISO 8,000 gains in grain a bit, as does 12,800, but it's still better than most dSLRs at ISO 3,200. ISO 12,800 starts to gain random chroma noise and softness, but it handles printing up to 8x10. Pretty incredible.
The numbers on the clock are quite sharp up to ISO 3,200 and only a little bit soft at 8,000.
The numbers and letters on the books, which are dark and in shadow, are clear up to ISO 1,600. They get soft, but are still legible at ISO 3,200 and the Long Island title is illegible at 6,400. The numbers are too soft to read reliably at 12,600.
These are very small elements in these images, as the image itself covers floor to ceiling of this eight or nine-foot high wall. As I said, remarkable.
Shooting with the D700 was natural and easy. I've been shooting a lot with the D300 since my review, so I'm familiar with the interface. Regardless, I think any photographer with experience would fall in love with either camera. However, there's something to be said for having a 24mm lens work like a 24mm lens again.
The D700 is a camera that can do what no other camera but the Nikon D3 can do: shoot great quality images at ISO 3,200 and good quality images all the way up to ISO 25,600. It's insane. If you've ever push-processed film to ISO 3,200 and marveled that you got anything at all (usually a grainy mush), you'll understand the pleasure of what I describe above.
There's a lot more to talk about on the D700, but we'll have to wait until we get the production version for testing. Let's just say I enjoyed my time with the D700 enough that I want one. I use a lot of cameras every year and there are a few I would like to own, with the more affordable, but still too expensive Nikon D300 at the top of that list. But I really want a D700.
Nikon has done it again, producing what seems to be a market-leading dSLR that sets a new standard for image quality and ISO performance. Stacked up against its nearest competitor, the three-year-old Canon 5D, the D700 wins in high ISO performance and overall camera features. The 12.8-megapixel 5D, for its part, may hold a slight lead in overall image tonal quality, but that remains to be seen when we get the shipping version of the D700; and that kind of quality is indeed found only in the eye of the beholder.
That Nikon has produced a full-frame dSLR camera that can be cranked up to eight frames per second and ISO 25,600 should make jaws drop. That it's as well-built, with such superb features and a nimble, smart interface won't surprise Nikon D200 and D300 owners one bit. This whole game just changed completely and I think Nikon had better crank up production on these and their lenses, because they're going to sell boatloads of both.
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:
- First Shots: Olympus E-520 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E520/E520A.HTM)
- Previewed: Nikon D700 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D700/D700A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Fujifilm FinePix F100fd (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/F100FD/F100FDA.HTM)
We like cookbooks. Especially around lunch time. We climb out of the bunker, stumble into the galley and take a cookbook off the shelf to see just what kind of a mess we can make on the stove.
Having survived several decades doing this, we can recommend the method. It's fun, too.
So we were a little amused to find Tim Shelbourne extend the technique to Photoshop (really any image editor, although others may make you work harder). His Photo Effects Cookbook includes 53 recipes to try on your digital images. We were licking our chops as we turned to the Table of Contents.
The first 18 pages are a cook's tour of the kitchen that's a pretty nice overview of what's new in Photoshop CS3. That includes Smart Objects, Smart Filters, Multiple Clone Sources, Refine Edges, New and Improved Curves, the Quick Selection Tool, a few pages on Layers, Sharpening, Paths and more.
That just whets your appetite, though.
Apart from the Glossary (and Index) there are eight chapters of effects to cook up. They include Tonal and Color Effects, Graphic Art Effect, Lighting Effects, Natural World Effects, Traditional Photographic Effects, Distortion Effects, Texture Effects and Presentation Effects. Pretty comprehensive, it covers every diet from BBQ to vegan.
But you'll have your favorites. And it's easy to skip right to them. Each recipe starts with a short introduction before leaping into the profusely illustrated stages of each technique. They aren't really step-by-step instructions, although nothing is skipped. Each stage includes multiple steps, nothing left out, but you aren't treated like a tyke learning to tie a pair of shoes.
Which makes sense because in the kitchen, you have to know what you're doing. You can't 1) turn the gas pilot on and ... run back to the book to find out you have to 2) light a match. The stages are easily digestible instructions.
The illustrations are as large as they have to be, some spanning the whole 9x10 page, some laid out in two columns, some just insets. That makes it easy to show dialog boxes and screen shots, too. The book designer should be exempted from doing the dishes.
There are also a few tips scattered here and there, too. In the oil painting effect, for example, a tip suggests using canvas-textured paper to print your masterpiece. It even tells you how to fix any color shifts you experience on what is not a standard surface (but use the ICC profile if you have one).
The real test of a cookbook, though, is whether or not you use the recipes. Are they impractical? Are they boring? Are they things you don't really need to look up?
Not in this case. They mostly reminded us of our favorite mushroom recipe, which we can not for the life of us remember. It's simple enough: saute some garlic in oil, toss in the sliced mushrooms, add some salt and pepper, finish with parsley. But the part we can't remember is the several heat changes that are required to do it right. We always have to look it up.
Just to pick a few we really liked, though, let's start with the black and white Tonal and Color Effect that goes beyond desaturation and grayscale conversion (the two tricks you don't have to look up). This recipe uses the eyedropper trick new to CS3 to adjust just one hue in the black and white tonal map. And the tip talks about tinting your monochrome image. Just two pages.
In the Graphic Art Effects section, we really liked the watercolor recipe, which not only converts your image to a line drawing but then shows you how to paint the color back in. The pencil sketch recipe goes on for four pages, but it's worth it as you learn to scribble tones using a graphics tablet.
Light Effects has a convincing recipe for adding fire and flames to an image but we really found the chiaroscuro technique handy.
Our favorites in Natural World Effects were simulating rain, adding water droplets to an image and changing day into night.
You might think Traditional Photographic Effects would be one chapter we could skip, but there was a lot of good stuff in there. The Vintage Hollywood portrait was our favorite, but there were recipes for solarization, film grain, infrared simulation, cross-processing, hand-tinting and duotones, too.
Distortion Effects showed us how to create caricatures using the Liquify filter, simulate soft focus and selective depth of field, add motion blur, clone with perspective and create panoramas (with some new CS3 tools) but our favorite was how to add a tattoo. No one in the family is safe now.
Texture Effects show how to emulate wood, stone metal, glass and plastic. But we liked the recipe for turning a figure into stone.
Finally, presentation effects cooks up adding a frame to an image, vignetting an image, adding painterly borders (all the rage) and, our favorite, bringing part of an image out of the frame.
Like any cookbook, this one is worth keeping around. It's a valuable resource you'll turn to again and again to get just the right instruction to make some ordinary ingredients into a special dish.
Photoshop CS3 Photo Effects Cookbook by Tim Shelbourne, published by O'Reilly Media, 176 pages, $29.99 (or $19.79 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596515049/?tag=theimagingres-20).
Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:
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You can email us at [email protected]. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.
RE: Black & White
Is there a way to get true or close-to-true black and white photograph using a digital camera?
-- Roy A. Stout(Interesting question, Roy. First, no digital camera actually captures color. The photo sensor is only sensitive to luminance values (black and white tones). Each photo site is filtered to capture color information (one site capturing the luminosity of red, another of green, another of blue) that can be assembled into a color image. So at heart, all digital cameras are black and white. And you can easily remove the color information in any image editor using the desaturate command. -- Editor)(Desaturating will give you technically correct luminance values, but it won't mimick black & white film emulsions because they responded to different colors of light very differently. Software that emulates film emulsions includes Alien Skin's Exposure2 (http://www.alienskin.com) and DxO's Film Pack software (http://www.dxo.com). Visit http://www.dxo.com/intl/photo/filmpack/available_film_looks to see how different emulsions behave. -- Dave)
RE: Digitizing the Archive
I have a large number of slides and prints from many years of film photography. I would like to find a source or equipment I can purchase that would help me put them on a CD for better storage and preservation. What can you suggest?
-- Bernard Mallinger(Kodak showed their Rapid Print Scanner at PMA this year. Our brief coverage (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS08/MRP/pma-thu.htm#kod) notes you can get through 30 prints a minute, far surpassing what you can do at home with a desktop setup. The plan was to lease them to photo shops where they would be installed as kiosks so users like yourself could drop in and burn a CD of their shoebox. The big advantage here is that you're never separated from your images.... Our long-standing recommendation is Mitch Goldstone's ScanMyPhotos.com (http://www.scanmyphotos.com). He uses an earlier version of Kodak's technology to scan a thousand 4x6 prints in 10 minutes for $50. He also does slides at 2000x3000 pixels.... Once you've got an archive of scans, the fun is picking a few great ones and rescanning them on your own equipment (the Epson V700/V750 or Microtek M1 are our two current recommendations) to get the most out of them.... Finally, the dye-based CD medium used for one-offs is not permanent. Plan to copy your collection every few years to extend its life. More on this can be found in our index of articles (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-indx.html). -- Editor)
RE: Shooting Your TV
Your advice to Constance who wanted slides from her digital images failed to mention one important item. When taking photographs of a TV screen, use a shutter speed of 1/15 second. This will allow the TV to complete two full sweeps of the screen and avoid a diagonal boundary of light and dark. Use daylight film for best color balance. No flash and room lights off to avoid glare and reflections.
-- Michael Sandow(Thanks, Michael. We weren't actually recommending she shoot a TV (even HDTV) because of its poor resolution. We were thinking of a computer monitor -- an LCD, actually, rather than a CRT. But your point is certainly worth heeding for shooting CRTs of any stripe. -- Editor)
RE: Getting Mysty Eyed
Is this (http://www.findlostphoto.org) real or a game?
-- Harald Johnson(We have no idea, but it sure looks like a game. A real game. Makes us want to dig up an old copy of Myst. But the mystery is just about to be revealed, apparently. -- Editor)
Sure, Nikon (http://www.nikonusa.com) announced its $2,999.95 D700 FX dSLR previewed above, but they also sent some strobists popping off with its new $499.95 SB-900 Speedlight, with a range of 17 to 200 feet, Creative Lighting System wireless compatibility, 360 degree rotation and barcoded gels for auto white balance. But the big news about the SB-900 is its revised control panel with a simple switch to change modes.
The company also announced two perspective-control micro lenses: its $1,799.95 PC-E Micro Nikkor 45mm f2.8D ED and $1,739.95 PC-E Micro Nikkor 85mm f2.8D. It was just the week for tilting and shifting.
Celebrating its 39th year, Verbatim has launched PhotoStorageGuide.com (http://www.PhotoStorageGuide.com), a new public Web site specifically designed for photo enthusiasts. To celebrate the launch, Verbatim is sponsoring a photo contest (http://www.photostorageguide.com/contest) with a Nikon D40 dSLR as the prize.
LaserSoft Imaging (http://www.silverfast.com) has released SilverFast 6.6 scan software with full support for Mac OS 10.5 Leopard and Nikon Coolscans. In addition to the 35mm film scanners Coolscan IV and V ED, Super Coolscan 2000, 4000 ED and 5000 ED, now also supports Nikon's medium format scanners LS-8000 and LS-9000 under Mac 10.5, including Intel Macs.
Deke McClelland has released 101 Photoshop Tips in 5 Minutes (http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com/2008/06/24/dekepod-101-photoshop-tips.html), a shameless music video in which the aging podcaster sings, buzzes, leaps, dances and kick-boxes his way through dozens upon dozens of useful Photoshop tricks.
Boinx (http://boinx.com/fotomagico/beta/) has released a public beta of FotoMagico 2.5, its story-telling tool for professional photographers. The new version includes several new features, among which are Teleprompter mode, integration of the iMedia Browser and YouTube export to name a few. The beta will expire July 31.
Adobe Labs (http://labs.adobe.com/wiki/index.php?title=Camera_Raw_4.5) has posted Camera Raw 4.5 and DNG Converter as release candidates.
Canto (http://www.canto.com) has announced a set of updates for its Cumulus product line. Available for download now, Cumulus 7.5.4 offers a few minor updates and marks the end of the Cumulus 7.5 update schedule.
Fantasea Line (http://www.fantasea.com) has introduced a new underwater housing for the Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS and IXUS 80 IS digital cameras. The FSD-1100 housing, depth-rated to 60 meters/200 feet, provides access to all camera functions.
Leica (http://en.leica-camera.com) has announced a $500 mail-in rebate on its Leica M8 and an $800 rebate on the camera with a new M lens purchased from any authorized Leica dealer in the U.S., Canada, Central or South America.
Lemke Software (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released its $34.95 GraphicConverter 6.1.1 [M], with MIME image attachment decoding, a Set Label operator, sorting by label and creation date in the browser, constrained caliper calibration modes, IPTC browser Unicode support and more.
For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).
Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com
Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc
That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:
Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM
Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher