The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 10, Number 15 18 July 2008

Copyright 2008, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 232nd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Nikon dSLRs are GPS-ready and we find a device that makes geotagging with them a pleasant process. Then Stephanie reports on the Fujifilm F100fd and its ISO 12,800. Finally, an old software friend comes to our aid, bringing a smile to our face. Wherever you are, enjoy!


TOPICS

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Feature: Macsense Geomet'r -- Geotagging for Nikon dSLRs

(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/GEO/GEO.HTM on the Web site.)

Geotagging -- or the inclusion of positioning location in an image file's Exif header -- is the feature of the year. While cameras with receivers built into them are still rare, add-on receivers are becoming a hot accessory. And if the camera already has GPS support (like Nikon dSLRs through the remote 10-pin terminal connectors), all the more reason to start shopping.

There are several ways to get GPS data into your Exif headers. But the general idea is that a receiver communicates with the GPS satellites to find out where you are when you take the picture. It stores that information either in the image file (if the camera supports GPS data through a physical connection) or internally (for syncing via USB later on your computer).

Eye-Fi (http://www.eye.fi) has announced a version of its WiFi SD memory card that the company claims can do geotagging. The Eye-Fi Explore, though, uses WiFi location data supplied by Skyhook Wireless to add geotags. But that's not quite the same thing.

Once you've got GPS data in your images, you use an application or a service to map the location of your images.

ABOUT GPS

The Global Positioning System, developed by the U.S. Department of Defense, is a satellite-based navigation system with at least 24 medium-Earth-orbit satellites that can tell a GPS receiver where on Earth it is using microwave signals.

GPS satellites circle the earth twice each day on very precise orbits. A GPS receiver compares the time a signal was transmitted by a satellite with the time it was received to tell how far away the satellite is. By comparing multiple signals, the receiver can calculate its exact location using a method called triangulation.

In 1982, President Ronald Reagan issued a directive making the system available for civilian use at no charge. All you pay for is the receiver to communicate with the system. That has led to the development of GPS devices that use the system in navigation, map-making, land surveying and other activities that need to know a precise location. Which is why we've begun to see cameras and camera devices that can collect GPS data and associate it with particular images.

THE GEOMET'R

The $145 Geomet'r GPS receiver is one such device, a GPS reciever designed to tap into the built-in GPS support of the Nikon D200, D300, D2Hs, D3xs, D3 and the Fujifilm S5 Pro.

It consists of a 1.5-inch square and 0.75-inch thick waterproof GPS receiver with a built-in antenna and a power and data cable that attaches to the data port of those cameras. The low-power receiver (with a built-in rechargeable battery for memory and Real Time Clock backup) uses a very small SiRF Star III GPS chipset to capture GPS data from any of 20 parallel satellite tracking channels, about the practical limit at the moment. It also includes a built-in WAAS/EGNOS demodulator to improve accuracy and performance.

INSTALLATION

Installation is so simple even an Earthling can do it. You attach a Projovian plastic hotshoe mount to the GPS receiver's underbelly using a couple of 3M Dual Lock patches. Beware, though, of the LEDs under there. Then slide the receiver into your camera's hotshoe and plug the data cable into your camera's 10-pin remote terminal connector. To turn the device on, you press a small Power button built into the 10-pin plug on the cable.

It takes about 42 seconds to start the device up when cold, 38 seconds if you just shut it down and one second to wake it up. Our experience was roughly that.

A software CD compatible with Mac OS X 10.3 and later or Windows XP/Vista is also included. The Geomet'r application included on the CD can display a folder of images using Google Map if you're connected to the Web. It simply makes use of the information retrieved by the Geomet'r hardware and recorded in each image file by your camera's firmware.

So you don't need software on your computer to merge the GPS data captured by the device with the images captured by your camera. The receiver grabs the longitude, latitude and altitude of your location when you fire the shutter and the camera records it in the Exif header of the image on the card when it gets it from the receiver.

ON A D200 & D300

We used the unit on both a D200 and a D300. Installation and behavior was identical.

To connect the cable to the remote terminal, unscrew the cap from the port on the camera and put it in your safety deposit box. Then align the plug at a four o'clock angle and gently pop it in. You can twist it a bit to find the correct alignment before pressing it gently in to seat the pins. Once you've got it seated, screw the metal lock into the camera to secure the connection.

Next, turn on the camera and push the Power button on the data connector to turn on the receiver. It will flash a red LCD on the right side of the unit as it warms up. When it finds a GPS signal, it will stay solid red.

The LED, which can be hard to see outdoors, isn't your only indicator, however. On the camera, a small GPS icon flashes to the left of the battery icon when the red LED is flashing. It stays on solid when the red LED is solid, so you can just read the LCD icon for your receiver status. Flashing means the device is trying to find a signal. Solid means it will record GPS data with your image.

If you turn the receiver off, it can take a minute to find enough satellites for a reading. But you can leave it on once it has synced, just turning the camera on and off as usual. If you do that, the GPS remains synced so there's no noticeable delay when you power up the camera again.

The receiver is small but it's large enough to block the full elevation of the flash unit. When you mount the receiver so its back end is flush to the back of the camera (so you can use the viewfinder without obstruction), it blocks the pop-up flash.

There is a solution to that though. Extra mounting pads are included so you can attach one to your camera strap, freeing the pop-up flash. Orientation doesn't really matter because the unit uses a very sensitive chip antenna.

At first we thought the hot shoe mount should be part of the housing, not Velcroed to it. But when we were handling multiple cameras and resting our forearm on the Geomet'r, we were glad it was able to release itself from the mount. It isn't so much that it falls off, but it does tear away if necessary.

We were able to get a signal both outdoors and indoors. And to record GPS data with the camera held in either the horizontal or vertical position.

While the GPS data is recorded to the Exif header of the image, you can retrieve it while your card is still in the camera. You simply cycle through the display screens using the Down arrow until you come to the GPS display.

EXIF GPS DATA

The Geomet'r only works with some Nikon cameras because it takes advantage of the Nikon 10-pin interface and built-in GPS support to deliver GPS data that the camera can append to the Exif header of the image file.

GPS data was indeed written directly to the file. Some GPS devices, like the Geotate Kato (http://www.geotate.com), require you to sync a data file written to the device with the image files when you import the images to your computer. It also doesn't calculate position but just stores the raw GPS data for processing later on your computer. That minimizes power draw and makes response time much quicker than the GPS device you might be familiar with from your car's dashboard. But it's another step.

The Geomet'r, however, passes the GPS data to the camera, which knows how to write the data to the image file at the time of exposure without any noticeable delay. There's no step two.

Following is a sample of the GPS data taken from the Exif header (and retrieved using Exiftool by Phil Harvey):

Although the data has been formatted for display from the actual raw information recorded in the file, several of the tags could use a little explanation:

GPSLatitudeRef appears in raw form as either N for North or S for South. We're in the northern hemisphere (above the equator), so N would be right. Likewise GPSLongitudeRef can be either E for East or W for West. We're west of the Greenwhich meridian, so that makes sense, too.

The tags GPSLatitude and GPSLongitude report our actual position.

GPSAltitudeRef, in raw form, can be either 0 for above sea level or 1 for below. You're only reading this because we maintain a position above sea level.

GPSAltitude measures our height above sea level based on readings from several satellites.

GPSSatellites indicates the number of satellites used for measurement.

The altitude accuracy of GPS devices is often compromised by the device's view of the sky. Without a clear and unobstructed view, the altitude can be off significantly because it limits the number of satellites that can inform the calculation. It's generally less precise than position data but even under the best of circumstances it can be off by as much as 50 feet 95 percent of the time.

Our initial shots (all of which reported 25 meters) were taken without a clear view of the sky, however, so this value is quite far off. It's the equivalent of 82 feet, whereas our altitude is closer to 500 feet.

Here the clue is the three satellites that were used. That's enough to calculate latitude and longitude but you need at least four to calculate altitude as well.

Delays are sometimes experienced from both humidity and atmospheric conditions. Our first shots were taken after a number of regional fires had noticeably filtered our daylight into a strange orange glow. But the Geomet'r didn't seem sluggish at all. If it weren't for the cable, we'd have forgotten it was there at all.

Our second trip with the Geomet'r was a hike up the highest hill in San Francisco, whose elevation we did happen to know. That day, we tapped into between seven and eleven satellites and got much better altitude information, even indoors. At home our 25 meters measured 171 (561 feet) and Mt. Davidson, which tops out at 282 meters scored 272 meters where we sat down near the top. Accurate altitude measurements in our hilly neighborhood required about nine satellites.

We should point out that the position data is not representative of the image itself but of where the camera was located when the image was captured. With a long lens, that can be confusing when you're reviewing images. A shot of Twin Peaks from Mt. Davidson is going to place the location at Mt. Davidson, not Twin Peaks.

Speaking of Twin Peaks, we just had to hike up to each peak to see which one was taller. No matter what the inaccuracy of the reading, it would be reflected on each peak. So which one is taller?

With 11 satellites reporting, we can report that the southern peak measured 276 meters while the northern peak measured just 251. That's 905.5 feet to 823.5 feet. Officially, the peaks are 922 feet.

SOFTWARE

The Geomet'r application is a quick and easy way to see where your pictures were taken. Point it to a folder of GPS-encoded images and it will open a window with a thumbnail in the left pane. In the middle pane it will display a spreadsheet-like index listing the filename, camera time, GPS time, latitude, longitude and altitude of each shot. And in the right pane it will show a Google map if you're connected to the Internet.

You can configure the display somewhat as well. We elected not to show anything but latitude, longitude and altitude in the listing so we could have roughly equally-sized panes.

Clicking in the L column showed the pin-point location for any image on the Google map (which can be satellite or hybrid as well). Clicking in the R column painted the area in which the images were taken blue. Each column can be sorted by clicking on the title bar.

And Flickr (http://www.flickr.com), the photo sharing site, has been supporting GPS data for almost two years now. The site hosts over 42 million geotaggged photos already.

PRICE & AVAILABILITY

You can pick up one of these little wonders right now directly from Macsense (http://macsense.com) or Amazon.com for $149.99. To appreciate that price, Nikonians, the Nikon user group, sells the Solmeta Digital Photo Locator with the same chip in a slightly bigger housing that includes a remote control connector for $329.

CONCLUSION

The Geomet'r took just a minute or two to attach to our camera, synced with multiple satellites in another minute and seamlessly added GPS data to the Exif headers of our JPEG images. After turning it on and waiting for the sync signal, we didn't have to give it a thought.

It couldn't be simpler but part of the credit for that is Nikon's GPS-ready dSLRs, which recognize GPS data being sent through their 10-pin connectors. When we asked Macsense if they were working on a version for other popular dSLR brands, they explained, "To develop a GPS adapter that works universally with all cameras is the holy grail of GPS adapter making. It is not easy because the camera does not have a direct input to the Exif data at the time of the shot."

But Nikon owners can take advantage of this trouble-free, compact unit for half the price of competing units. Outright prolonged applause.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Fujifilm F100fd -- Some Impressive Tricks

By STEPHANIE BOOZER
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/F100FD/F100FDA.HTM on the Web site.)

At first glance, the Fujifilm FinePix F100fd looks a lot like most other compact consumer digital cameras: sleek, silver and thin enough for a pocket. What the casual observer may not immediately realize is that the F100fd has a few impressive tricks up its sleeve.

LOOK & FEEL

The F100fd features what Fujifilm calls "Slim Arc" styling, meaning the camera body bows out slightly on the sides to fit more comfortably to the hand. Indeed, it's comfortable to hold one-handed, as the gently-curved side arc does feel more natural in the hand than an angular design. Most of the F100fd's minimal controls are all easily accessible with a one-handed grip, though the lower control buttons on the rear panel were a little awkward to reach without resorting to a two-handed grip. Though there are no true finger grips either on the front or back panels, the F100fd does have a slight bump near the top of the back panel that helps secure your thumb. It's a tiny feature, but a useful one that's gracefully incorporated into the design.

A new design feature on the F100fd is the Wheel Dial on the rear panel. This rotating dial not only turns to access LCD menu options, but can also be pressed up, down, left or right, like a traditional multi-controller on other digital cameras. Only a few controls are accessible outside of the menu screens, such as Image Stabilization, Flash mode, Macro mode, Self-timer and Face Detection. The remaining exposure options and modes are accessed either through the F100fd's Function or Shooting menus. The Wheel dial also controls a virtual dial that appears on-screen whenever the Menu/OK button is pressed.

For framing images, the F100fd features a large and bright 2.7-inch color LCD monitor, which dominates the rear panel. In our testing, the LCD monitor showed about 104 percent frame accuracy at full wide-angle and about 98 percent at telephoto, which is pretty good. Results are a little loose at wide-angle, though, meaning less of the image area makes it into the final frame. Though its surface is highly reflective (which translates into easily smudged), the F100fd's LCD monitor is bright outdoors. If needed, you can boost the LCD brightness via an option on the camera's Setup menu. The F100fd also offers a Gridline display mode through the Display button, which divides the image into thirds, horizontally and vertically, to help you line up shots. In any exposure mode, half-pressing the Shutter button displays the camera's selected aperture and shutter speed settings in the LCD display. So, while you can't directly control the exposure, you can at least see what the camera will do and either adjust the EV compensation or enable the flash.

The F100fd offers a 5x optical zoom lens, equivalent to a 28-140mm zoom on a 35mm camera. Not only do you get a 5x optical zoom, but you also get a much wider maximum wide-angle setting at the 28mm equivalent setting. An additional maximum of 8.2x digital zoom is also available. And though the F100fd's digital zoom did a nice job of holding on to detail despite its losses in resolution, we always like to remind readers that digital zoom trades resolution and detail for digital enlargement, because the camera is simply cropping the center of the frame and making it bigger. Still, the F100fd's digital zoom performance is better than average and the 5x optical zoom lens appears to be of high quality.

INTERFACE

With 16 preset Scene modes, Auto and Manual (really a Program AE mode) exposure modes and a nice selection of exposure tools such as ISO, white balance, EV compensation and metering options, the F100fd can handle a variety of shooting conditions very well. Accessing these modes and options is fairly uncomplicated, as the F100fd offers very few external controls and two LCD menus containing the remaining functions. All of the exposure modes are available by pressing the Menu/OK button in the center of the F100fd's Wheel dial. A virtual dial appears on the F100fd's LCD display and turning the Wheel dial lets you select from the available exposure modes or access the Shooting menu. Access to the camera's Setup menu is a little buried, as you have to first press the Menu button, then select the Shooting menu and then scroll down to the Setup option.

The F100fd's Shooting menu is limited to only a handful of options, such as Exposure Compensation and White Balance modes. Additionally, the available options change depending on the exposure mode you're in, which can be a little convoluted at first. For example, if you're in one of the preset Scene modes and want to change the White Balance, you activate the virtual dial and select the Shooting menu. Once you see that White Balance isn't available, you have to back out via the Back button. This does not take you back to the F100fd's virtual dial, but closes down the menu display altogether so you have to re-access the virtual dial and select the Manual exposure mode. To get back to the Menu, you have to press the Menu button a third time and select the Shooting Menu option. It would be a little easier if Fujifilm had designed the F100fd to return you to the virtual dial after accessing modes and menus so that you can make several changes within the interface without going in and out so much.

The rest of the F100fd's exposure tools are accessed through the Function menu, which again limits choices depending on the shooting mode selected. Options like ISO, Dynamic Range, Color, Resolution, etc. are available here. Face Detection, Image Stabilization, Macro, Self-timer and flash mode all have external controls available. It would be nice to have the EV compensation available through a control button rather than a menu option.

In shooting mode, the camera's LCD display reports a lot of exposure information, including shutter speed and aperture settings with a half-press of the Shutter button. The F100fd's Display button on the rear panel can disable the information display, as well as enable a gridline display that divides the area into thirds horizontally and vertically for framing assistance. Through the Setup menu, you can enable a Guide display, which shows short descriptions of each mode available as you scroll through the virtual dial options. In Playback mode, the F100fd's LCD also reports a lot of the exposure information and there are a host of thumbnail display modes, including a Microthumbnail display that shows 100 images at a time. They're tiny, but it's an interesting display.

MODES

The available exposure modes are accessed through the virtual dial, displayed with a press of the Menu/OK button. Normal modes are Auto and Manual, with the Manual option really more of a Program AE mode, since the camera maintains control of aperture and shutter speed. No less than 16 preset Scene modes are also available and include Natural Light, Natural Light & With Flash, Portrait, Portrait Enhancer, Landscape, Sport, Night, Fireworks, Sunset, Snow, Beach, Underwater, Museum, Party, Flower and Text modes.

Of note are the F100fd's Natural Light modes, which optimize the camera for better images without flash or artificial lighting. Natural Light & With Flash mode captures two images continuously, one with flash and one without, so you're covered either way. Portrait Enhancer mode smoothes skin tone and softens the image slightly for more flattering portraits. This is an interesting mode I can see being useful for low-light portraits as well.

In just about all of the exposure modes except those intended for low-light shooting, the F100fd has a maximum shutter time of 1/4 second. Though the camera is capable of longer shutter times of up to 8 seconds, you have to be in Night or Fireworks mode to access them. Hidden in the Setup menu is a Long Exposure mode option, which must be enabled to get to the maximum 8-second shutter time. If Long Exposure mode isn't enabled, the Night mode automatically chooses shutter speeds, but only as long as 3 seconds. In Fireworks mode, you do have the option of manually controlling the shutter time up to 4 seconds, regardless of whether Long Exposure mode is enabled or not.

When shooting in Manual mode, the F100fd offers a lot of useful tools for controlling exposure parameters. Though you can't directly control aperture and shutter speed, you can see what the camera has selected by half-pressing the Shutter button. In addition to exposure compensation, you can also control the camera's metering mode, which offers Multi, Spot and Average options. The camera's White Balance setting not only offers an Auto mode, but also features six presets and a Custom option. You can also enable Standard, Chrome or Black & White color modes.

But the ISO option is where the F100fd beats a lot of its competition. With an available ISO range extending from 100 to 12,800, the F100fd offers exceptional sensitivity. Noise and noise suppression definitely become issues at the highest sensitivities, making them all but useless, unless you want to turn your world into a Renoir painting (which isn't all bad).

In addition to its still image recording modes, the F100fd also offers a Movie mode and a range of Continuous Shooting options. In Movie mode, the camera captures movie files with sound at either 640x480 or 320x240 pixels at 30 frames per second. Zoom is not supported for movies though. The camera's Continuous Shooting options are a little dizzying and include Top-3, High-Speed Top-12, Final-3, High-Speed Final 12 and Long Period. Really, the only two of note are the High-Speed modes, as the other modes aren't much faster than standard shooting cycle times. Fujifilm claims that the High-Speed modes capture frames at about 5 frames per second, though we measured about 4.87 frames per second in High-Speed Top 12 mode. You should also note that the High-Speed modes limit resolution to 2048x1536 pixels, which helps timings considerably.

The difference between the modes is really in how many frames can be captured per burst. The Top modes only save the top 3 or 12 frames in the series, meaning the camera captures only 3 or 12 frames respectively. In the Final modes, the camera can capture as many as 40 frames consecutively, but only saves the last 3 or 12 images. Long Period mode will capture as many frames as the memory has capacity for while the Shutter button is held down and saves all captured files.

SPECIAL FEATURES

The F100fd has a handful of features worth singling out. The Dynamic Range setting is a very useful tool for correcting problems with high contrast images. With Auto, 100 percent, 200 percent and 400 percent options, it can increase the overall dynamic range of the image. We found it quite useful when shooting under harsh lighting. Not only did it help with high contrast, but it also helped bring out detail that was previously difficult to see. To use the 200 and 400 percent options, however, you have to raise the ISO to 200 or 400, respectively, since that's how the F100fd gets its greater latitude.

The F100fd also features enhanced Face Detection 3.0, which claims to detect faces at any angle and even upside down, at a faster pace than competitors. The F100fd can recognize as many as 10 faces in one frame and can also detect faces on moving subjects.

Included in the F100fd's design is IrSimple technology for high-speed, wireless infrared connection to other IrSimple-enabled devices. Currently available from Fujifilm are IrSimple printers and photo service kiosks in retail stores. Expected in the future are IrSimple televisions and mobile phones. You can also share images between IrSimple-enabled digicams.

STORAGE & BATTERY

The F100fd accepts both xD-Picture Cards and SD/SDHC memory cards, but does not come with a card. The camera does, however, include about 57-MB of internal memory, which can hold about 11 full resolution images.

For power, the F100fd uses a single, custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery and ships with both the battery and a charger. Battery life is a bit below average with the F100fd's battery. A fully charged cell should last about 230 shots according to the CIPA standard.

SHOOTING

Though the F100fd is a fairly straightforward camera with only a handful of external controls, shooting with it was a bit of a mixed bag. Overall, the camera was pretty user friendly, as there are few controls to twiddle with and a fairly short LCD menu to scroll through. What became a little tedious was having to constantly go in and out of the virtual dial called up by the Menu button.

Otherwise, the F100fd is easy to get to know. Anything that doesn't have an external control is accessed either through the Function or Shooting menus and each menu screen is limited to just a few options.

In terms of timing, the F100fd ranged from good to a bit sluggish, depending on what you're trying to do. Startup time was quite slow, at 3.5 seconds and shutter lag was average at wide-angle to slower than average at telephoto (0.50 and 0.85 second respectively).

Shot-to-shot cycle times also dragged at 3.27 seconds for large/fine JPEGs, but keep in mind that file sizes are quite large here. Where the camera performed best was in its Top 12 Continuous Shooting mode, which captured 12 frames at 4.87 frames per second (though at the 2048x1536-pixel size). The camera's other continuous modes really weren't much faster than normal shooting.

The flash took a long 7.8 seconds to recycle, but download speeds were fast at 2,172 KB per second.

Bottom line here, the camera is a little on the slow side in general, but should be able to handle normal photo opportunities just fine. For fast-paced action, you'll definitely want the Top 12 Continuous mode.

CONCLUSION

The F100fd is capable in a variety of situations, typically getting good color and exposure even under harsh lighting conditions. Its performance is limited indoors, however, with poor low light results and limited flash range. Still, as an outdoor camera, the F100fd records some amazing resolution for such a small camera. Its high ISOs and the Dynamic Range option definitely push the F100fd up a notch for enthusiasts wanting a little more from a digicam. That it can output ISO 400 shots at 13x19 inches makes the F100fd a unique pocket camera.

Though its low light performance is disappointing, we think it's a good choice if you agree to use flash indoors. Those sharp corners are worth the effort of bringing a small tripod to avail yourself of the quarter-second shutter speed and that 12-Mp resolution.

With its 5x optical zoom lens, wide 28mm lens setting, 12-Mp resolution, Face Detection and host of well-apportioned shooting tools, the F100fd is a pretty good choice for the enthusiast and a Dave's Pick in that category, with the qualifier that you should take care to use flash in low light.

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:

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Advanced Mode: GraphicConverter -- That Old Black Magic

We finally -- and we don't use the word lightly -- made plans to visit our old friends in their new house. It only took six months. So we needed a special house warming gift.

They have everything, of course. They're not just old friends, they aren't young any more either.

But what nobody has is your photos of them and their old house. In fact, our photos went way back to their first house, the second place they lived after they got married during the last century.

We found what we wanted right away. It was a portrait of their pet birds. At the time, they'd owned a pair of lovebirds. We remembered them as the noisiest birds we ever heard, although they found time to groom each other and lay eggs. But now, years later, what a fun gift to make a print of them for the new house. They could all be together again.

The original, antique image had been taken on film, of course. We'd been scanning that very film for the conclusion to our Microtek M1 scanner review, in fact. But we'd had a Kodak PhotoCD made of the film when it was developed. And that's pretty high resolution stuff, so we thought we'd save the scan time and just open the PhotoCD image.

Ah, well, ahem. Cough.

Photoshop doesn't know about PhotoCDs. To open a PhotoCD in Photoshop, you have to install the PhotoCD file filter plug-in, hidden away on the original installation discs in an Extras or Goodies folder. And you have to copy a few color profiles to your system, too.

Even then, if you happen to be running an Intel Mac, you have to run Photoshop under Rosetta to use the plug-in. It isn't Intel code.

iPhoto will open the things, but then you're updating that huge iPhoto library on your hard drive, which will have to be backed up the next time you run your backup software.

Fortunately, we remembered Harris Fogel's Macintouch.com (http://www.macintouch.com) discussion of how he managed to read some old images from an Apple QuickTake camera. Those images were written in a variation of Apple's PICT format, which is not supported by OS X. And for many systems these days, running the old apps that could read the format under Classic isn't an option.

Apple may be the worst offender (it is their OS, after all) but Sony, too, wrote proprietary formats in the early days, with a JPEG extension even. It was a reckless world back then.

What did Harris do? He sent a set of files to Thorsten Lemke, the author GraphicConverter. Thorsten sent the files to Dave Coffin, author of the dcraw SDK that decodes Raw formats, and to make a long story short, the new Universal Binary version of GraphicConverter handles those old PICTs.

Would GraphicConverter be able to read our PhotoCD? You bet. It was a piece of cake to open the high resolution version of the PhotoCD image and save it as a JPEG. If we'd wanted to do the whole CD, we could have batched processed them in the program.

A few minutes later, we had our print. We dressed it up in a fancy imported frame that has to be hung on the wall and wrapped it up. And when we presented it to them, they made such a fuss you might easily have mistaken them for a pair of lovebirds themselves.

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

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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: Mixed Systems?

Are there problems in using mixed systems like a Nikon Speed Light with a Canon Rebel?

That was just an example. I really want to know if there are fundamental issues with mixing components, perhaps excluding lenses? Of course, I presume that a Sigma lens advertised to work with Nikon dSLRs will indeed work, but maybe even here there are cautions.

Thank you. And thanks for recently looking at the issue of in-camera vs. lens stabilization. There are still some questions to be answered in that area.

-- Dick Swenson

(Thanks, Dick! Yes, there are issues with mixing gear. Light is light, but controlling the light is another matter. Even among third-party strobes (like Metz and Vivitar), the generic unit is mated to a dedicated shoe for Canon, Nikon and other manufacturers. But using a Nikon dedicated strobe on a Canon can be done if 1) the essential electrical contacts mate and 2) you're content with Auto and Manual modes on the strobe. If you're shooting with a zoom, for example, you'll have to dial in the focal length and f-stop on the strobe every time they change -- something that happens automatically when the camera and strobe match.... Lenses from third-party manufacturers like Sigma and Tokina tend to function like third-party strobes with the correct dedicated shoe. You simply buy them with the mount for your camera. These days they tend to provide all the electrical contacts they should, but read the fine print for any exceptions or model incompatibilities. -- Editor)

RE: Upside Down Aquarella

I have a PhotoSmart Pro B9180 and recently obtained a box of 13x19 inch HP Digital Fine Art media called HP Aquarella Art Paper. I opened the box and the package holding the paper before reading the instructions. So now I cannot tell which side of the paper is the print size.

I read that if I moistened my finger and pressed it on the paper, the print side is the one to which my finger sticks. I did that and I cannot tell the difference. Is there any other way to tell which side is the print side? The paper and ink are very expensive, as you know, so I cannot afford making several prints to find out which is the print side.

I would appreciate any help you can give me. I tried contacting customer and technical support, but the recorded message did not direct me to anyone who could address paper problems.

-- Ann R. Harney

(We happen to have a package here, Ann. Aquarella is textured. If you run your (dry) finger over the surface, you should be able to feel that one side is smoother than the other. The tiny bumps that protrude on one side are actually shallow dips on the other side, as if the sheet had been stamped with the pattern. If you have trouble feeling this, take a look along the short edge of the paper where you should see one side with raised small bumps that, on the other, are depressed. When we take the sheets out of HP's wrapper, the tiny bumps that protrude are on the printing side. -- Editor)

RE: Fast Lenses

I was pondering my early interest in photography, remembering my old Nikon S2 and the Olympus OM-1 I bought when I decided an SLR was for me. Both cameras were available with an f2 normal lens or, if you had the bucks, an f1.8.

I've gone digital for a little more then a year and, unless I missed something, I don't see anything like the fast lenses of that time. Is it because manufacturers have other fish to fry, like high ISO with low noise or image stabilization?

My thoughts lead me to another question. I bought my Nikon S2 around 1960, maybe 1962. I bought it from Grand Central Camera. Is there any easy way to find out what the camera was going for at that time?

As always, thank you for being there and adding to the fun.

-- Fred Haynes

(We use an f1.4 50mm lens all the time on our dSLRs. And an f2.8 35mm, too. But they're primes not zooms. And neither is image stabilized. It seems as if long range zooms with image stabilization trump a fast zoom with a long range, at least on price. But the primes are still available -- and still a pleasure to shoot with. The S2 rangefinder (did you get the f1.1 50mm with that?) was produced between 1954 and 1958. Over 56,000 were made. We understand they sell now for around $1,000 to $2,000. In 1954, the S2 would have cost you 83,000 yen with a 50mm f1.4 or about $1,954. A good source for this sort of inquiry is Photoethnography (http://www.photoethnography.com). -- Editor)

RE: Manual Help

I am looking for a Manual for the U770SW Olympus camera. I don't want a download, I really want the booklet.

-- Christine Evans

(Just call Olympus customer support at (800) 622-6372, Christine, and ask nicely for a replacement manual. -- Editor)

Thank you. Olympus was fantastic, sending me out a booklet for free.

-- Christine

RE: Cleaning an Epson

Any way to clean the print heads before I toss my R800. Your article said there may be more drastic ways when the Epson way fails. My cyan is the only problem.

-- Frank Carter

(There are some "desperate measures" for an Epson you can try in our "Surviving a Clogged Cartridge" article in the Aug. 25, 2000 issue (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html). The best tip was using isopropyl alcohol dripped directly into the cartridge holder to clear out the dried ink. You'd do this for your cyan holder. Then we'd suggest printing a page or eight of just cyan until the problem disappears. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

HP (http://www.hp.com) has announced three new printers and new print technology that include:


Nik Software (http://www.niksoftware.com) has released its $199.95 Silver Efex Pro 1.0 [MW], a Photoshop and Aperture plug-in that uses U Point technology to convert images to black and white. It can also emulate 18 black and white emulsions.


Casio (http://www.casiousa.com) has released a version 1.10 firmware update for its EX-F1 digicam that adds a Prerecord movie function to the camera.


Rocky Nook has published Artur Landt's Canon EOS 40D: The Rocky Nook Manual, available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952334/?tag=theimagingres-20).


Limit Point (http://www.limit-point.com) has released PhotoTiles 1.0 [M] to create a tiled image from any group of images.


Zevrix Solutions (http://zevrix.com) has released its $39.95 Graphic Inspector 1.5 [M] for both vector and raster files with and improved user interface and faster performance.


Ben Long (http://www.completedigitalphotography.com) has updated his free Photoshop Automator Actions v3.7 [M] with two new actions, now offering almost 100 ways to control Photoshop using Automator.


Human Software (http://www.humansoftware.com) has released it $299.95 Edit for Aperture 1.3 [M] plug-in of 13 modules, adding an AutoCorrect image enhancement module with one-click color correction.


Renegade Photo Shoots (http://renegade-pr.com/blog/not-normal-photo-contest) has announced an online photo contest on the theme Not Normal with an Aug. 6 deadline. Guy Kawasaki and Photoshop educator Bert Monroy are among the judges.


Charlie Morey's (http://www.charliemorey.com) A Face Like Yours ... portfolio will be featured in Paws, Claws, Applause, an Aug. 2 to 29 fine art exhibit at NoHo Gallery in North Hollywood, Calif. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Los Angeles zoo's nonprofit fundraising organization and an artist's reception will be held on Aug. 16 from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m.

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One Liners

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

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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:

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Happy snapping!

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

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