|Volume 10, Number 20||26 September 2008|
Welcome to the 237th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We tell you what it's like to run Photoshop CS4 while Dave tells you what it's like to shoot super slow-mo on a digicam. Then we start from scratch in the living room, describing a few tricks you can do with your dSLR. Finally, we tell a story about protecting copyright. Jump in!
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(Excerpted from our miniphotokina review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/CS4/CS4.HTM which includes sections on Bridge, Camera Raw, Dreamweaver and InDesign.)
When Adobe shipped Creative Suite 3 in March 2007, the company was already hard at work on the just-announced Creative Suite 4. We were among a group of reviewers and analysts who attended a CS4 boot camp for two days in July and we've been using a beta version of the Master Collection since August.
At breakfast on the second day of the boot camp, John Feld, editor of The Graphics Report (http://www.thegraphicsreport.com), asked us if this was "a compelling update" for our readers.
That's really the question we all have, the heart of the matter. Do you need this?
It's an especially difficult question for photographers. Adobe has been generous to us with the recently released Lightroom 2, adding local corrections and some essential output sharpening smarts to what had been a comfortable but not comprehensive infrastructure for a photographic workflow.
Where does that put Photoshop?
Right where it's always been, really. We still feel a tingle remembering our joy when Russell Brown sent us a copy of Photoshop 1.0. We had an application that allowed us to do on a nine-inch black and white screen what we'd only been able to do in a darkroom. Images were acquired with a scanner not a camera but the game was the same: optimize them for reproduction.
Today Photoshop remains the easel on which we do our most deliberate work. It's the application that can get the most out of any particular image. It isn't the one we use to generate a Web gallery or edit a selection of images. And we don't manage our image collection with it. Lightroom is far more nimble at those tasks.
But when it comes to "developing" a single image, Photoshop remains our tool of choice. If we can't do it in Photoshop, it can't be done.
There are number of suite-wide improvements worth noting. Among the most obvious is the improvement to the interface.
Interface. Adobe had acquired Macromedia prior to the release of CS3 but the Macromedia applications retained their interface for the most part. With this release, all the applications (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Flash, Fireworks, Dreamweaver) enjoy a revised and standardized interface that makes it a lot easier to move between applications.
And it isn't just because the interface is more consistent across applications. It's because the interface, which had grown rather cluttered, is a good deal cleaner, easier on the eyes. And since you can customize it with workspaces of your own devising no matter the application, there's little room for grumbling.
We particularly like two aspects of the new interface:
The first of these is just an evolution in the panel concept which has finally made panels (formerly known as palettes) comfortable to work with. Previously they required a lot of fiddling. Yes, they snapped into position and could be grouped in tabs but they didn't expand very intelligently and quickly took over the screen. The only way we could manage them in CS3 was to use them one at a time.
- Improved panel management that lets us get everything we want in the panels, accessible with a single click, and
- A new application frame that includes the panels and toolbars with the document
But in CS4, we're finding we can use two at a time easily. They are smart enough to expand within the panel section of the screen and collapse with a click. We have 12 tabs in our Photoshop CS4 panel where we had nine in the same space in CS3.
The little rounded corner tabs with upper and lower case legends have been replaced with square tabs and upper case and embossed legends that are simply a lot more readable. By making them more menu-like than folder like, the effect is a cleaner, more comprehensible arrangement. You don't spend as much time scanning the panels for what you want.
But you can also just drag the tabbed panel out from its dock and it will float over your image. These flotillas, as they're called, can be moved to another monitor, too.
The controversial application frame brings to the Mac an interface nuance familiar to Windows users. But combining the tools with the document (and multiple documents in the same window via a tabbed document interface), yields several important benefits:
It's the default in the CS4 beta but it's also optional for Mac users. The shipping version will, we were told, use the prior behavior to avoid being jarring. Since it was new, we decided to try it and we found we like it very much. Minimizing visual clutter is one reason but so is not blocking the image with panels. That makes it a lot easier on our eyes, like having a desk drawer for your pens instead of just the top of your desk.
- Live window tiling for comparing multiple documents or images
- Easier multi-screen management (dragging a window moves the application)
- Panels do not obscure documents
- Minimizes visual clutter by blocking the desktop
You get one other benefit with the application frame. You can resize it by dragging the sides of the window, not just the corner. Very nice.
How does it handle multiple documents? With tabbed documents, much like your browser. Which can be tiled, too. But the windows won't be shuffled around as you work. Your layout is respected.
Flash Panels. In CS3, Flash, Fireworks, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Bridge and Soundbooth could be extended with Flash or Flex widgets. With CS4, this capability is part of the interface.
In Photoshop itself you can see it in the new Adjustments panel. Adjustments presents a set of icons in three rows with a list of presets just below them. Select an icon (Curves for example) and the panel changes to the Curves tool. No modal dialog box, just a panel that can do Levels, Curves, whatever you need. And do it all non-destructively in adjustment layers.
But Adobe will make this feature available to the rest of us with its free Configurator application to be released shortly after CS4, probably via Adobe Labs. Configurator lets you build your own Photoshop control panels written in Flash (without having to learn Flash). Configurator, an AIR-based application, lets you drag and drop widgets and controls to build your own tool, which can easily be shared with your coworkers.
We saw a brief demo of this during boot camp and while it wasn't as polished yet as the rest of the interface, it was very impressive. Imagine dragging a preview window and sliders with text boxes linked to them to set up Unsharp Masking. But let's go beyond the Photoshop dialog box and recommend sets of those three settings. And even explain them with, say, text hints.
All of this helps manage the suite's complexity by letting you tailor it to the tasks you have to do rather than navigate a general purpose interface to do a few specific things. That's just one of the compelling reasons to consider this upgrade.
Flash Filters. Deep breath. That's not all Adobe is doing with Flash. Pixel Bender (http://labs.adobe.com/wiki/index.php/AIF_Toolkit) is Adobe's new scripting language for writing fast imaging filters. It's actually more of a graphics programming language that can tap into that GPU as well as multicore, multiprocessor systems. To use it, we needed the Flash Player 10 beta (http://labs.adobe.com/downloads/flashplayer10.html), but the final version is expected to be released with CS4.
Pixel Bender not only makes faster filters feasible, it makes writing them easier, too. All you need is a text editor.
Already implemented in After Effects, there's also a Photoshop plug-in that runs it and, while Photoshop CS4 won't support Pixel Bender itself, you can download the plug-in to run Pixel Bender filters.
We haven't used Photoshop 10 since we installed CS4's Photoshop 11, doing our routine work for review illustrations and news items with it. Yes, even on our G4. It launches as quickly as 10 and every one of our plug-ins runs without incident.
That includes some old favorites like iCorrect for one-click color correction, Noiseware Pro and Nik products like Sharpener (2.0 and 3.0), Viveza, Silver Efex and Dfine. Our scanner plug-ins also work as expected. And for the most part plug-in installation required nothing more than making an alias to the CS3 plug-in.
Getting our custom actions loaded was no big deal either. We launched PS CS3, saved them as an .atn file and went back to PS CS4 to load them.
Version 11 is about 50MB bigger than v10's 217MB size, we noticed. With today's hard disks that isn't really much of a consideration any more, though. It's more an argument that v11 has a few things that v10 does not.
One thing that didn't work quite as well on our out-of-spec system was dragging an image in the document window. The image broke up and we lost track of where it was. This wasn't the case on a more powerful machine at boot camp, however. And the reason was simple. Our GPU didn't support OpenGL drawing.
New Features. Highlights of the new features in this version include:
That barely describes what's going on with v11. There are some very deep changes and some "efficiencies" or conveniences (like interactive brush resizing) that may seem minor unless you are using that particular tool all day. Let's go a bit deeper than the feature list to see what these are.
- Adjustments Panel. Skip the dialogs and click any of 15 non-destructive, interactive adjustment layer controls, many with presets.
- Editable Masks. Like Adjustments, the Masks panel makes it easy to see your options (which now include opacity) and edit them later.
- Refined Dodge, Burn and Sponge tools.
- Enhanced Auto-Align, Auto-Blend and 360 degree panoramas. Photomerge has improved vignetting and geometric distortion control.
- Extended depth of field. Combine a series of shots to build one image with greater depth of field than your camera alone can capture.
- Fluid canvas rotation. If you draw, you can draw more comfortably by rotating the canvas to accommodate your stroke.
- 64-bit memory addressing for Windows and multi-touch gesture support for Macs.
- Flash user interface support.
- Spring-loaded keys to temporarily shift between tools.
OpenGL. Photoshop now draws pixels on your screen through OpenGL. Hardware accelerated panning and zooming makes for a much smoother close-up inspection of your image if your GPU is up to the task. Even on a portable's GPU, memory management is a lot smoother. We didn't see that on our system, whose video card could not support OpenGL drawing, but we did at boot camp. Even color correction is being done by the GPU now.
Another example of this is the new bird's eye view feature. At a full screen view of your image just hold down the H key and click to see a small rectangle on the zoomed out image. Just move the rectangle to whatever you want to inspect at 100 percent and the screen instantly enlarges that part of the image.
There is also a Rotate document command (hit the R key) with OpenGL that can rotate your image in the document window so you can draw on it at a more natural angle.
There is now a Performance preference panel to enable or disable OpenGL drawing on systems where it is supported and to set other performance-related options.
OpenGL drawing using the GPU is a new strategy for both display and data processing within Photoshop. If you've bought a machine within the last two years, you'll appreciate it now but it will become even more important in the future as Adobe moves more operations to the GPU. Older machines that don't support it won't have these feature enabled.
Brush Resizing. The brush tool can now be resized interactively by dragging. A simple key modifier allows you to drag to resize the brush.
Spring-loaded Keyboard Shortcuts. There's now a distinction between tapping a keyboard shortcut key and holding it, which changes it temporarily. It works with any tool combo. Adobe has actually run out of available modifier keys, so you can now jump from anything to anything else with just a gesture. Why didn't they think of that years ago?
Best Practices. Rather than giving you yet another way to do something, what about giving you the best way to do it? Sound good? It's been how ACR and Lightroom are evolving and it's how Photoshop is going, too, with the new Adjustments and Masks panels.
Adjustments displays all the adjustments Photoshop can render as non-destructive adjustment layers. That's 15 in three rows of icons including Brightness/Contrast, Levels, Curves, Exposure, Vibrance, Hue/Saturation, Color Balance, Black & White, Photo Filter, Channel Mixer, Invert, Posterize, Threshold, Gradient Map and Selective Color.
Many of these also include presets. The Curves adjustment, for example, includes presets for Color Negative, Cross Process, Darker, Increase Contrast, Lighter, Linear Contrast, Medium Contrast, Negative and Strong Contrast. Select a preset and the Curve tool will reshape itself automatically modifying the image's tone and color with a new adjustment layer.
Exposure, to take another example, has Minus 2.0, Minus 1.0, Plus 1.0 and Plus 2.0 presets to quickly change exposure.
These are non-modal operations so you don't have to work within a dialog box to get these effects. You're working interactively, so you can leave the Adjustment panel to do something else and just return to it to finish. In practice, it's just a much smoother editing experience.
Some of these adjustment tools also include an on-canvas tool that let's you modify, say, the curve by dragging across a part of the image you want to change.
Adjustment layers aren't an obvious power tool for new users, but the Adjustments panel makes them your first choice. And that's all good.
The Mask panel allows you to vary the opacity of a mask. And you can adjust the feather on a mask, essentially running a filter on the mask. Those options are displayed on the panel, no hunting around, inviting new users to play with them. And, again, they're editable.
Beyond the Single Image. The HDR merge of Photoshop 9 and the Photomerge features of Photoshop 10 were just a hint at where the product was going. Processing multiple images to create an image that can not be photographed in a single snap of the shutter has been expanded in Photoshop 10 to extend depth of field.
Multiple images shot with a different plane in focus can be aligned and blended into a single image using the Edit menu Auto Blend Layers on a stack of images. Photoshop looks for the regions of highest sharpness and synthesizes a shot with extended depth of field.
The result is built with a series of masks revealing the sharpest area of each image. Alignment is run first then sharpness is detected and the masks built.
Developer Friendliness. With CS4, the suite is more developer friendly so you needn't rely entirely on Adobe for new features. The CS4 apps can be extended by others with Flash using Flash user interface elements.
An example of that is the new Kuler panel, which finds and displays color harmonies. It can consult the Adobe Kuler site on the Web to download the latest or highest rated harmonies other users have created, expanding Photoshop -- and the other CS4 applications -- beyond the latest build.
Content-Aware Scaling. One of the two Israelis who demoed their magical image resizing with a YouTube video last August is now working for Adobe. And by no coincidence, Photoshop now includes content-aware scaling.
CAS is the fancy name for cropping out homogenous areas of a scene while leaving more complex slices alone. So a beach scene with a figure on the left would leave the figure unsqueezed while cropping slices of the sky, ocean and sand that are the same. It recomposes -- even enlarging -- the shot without distortion of key elements.
And you can direct it to protect skin tones, too, so people are protected from distortion.
Tooling the Tools. The Doge, Burn and Sponge tools have also been refined, preserving tonal quality while correcting exposure and color saturation.
To really enjoy the benefits of CS4, you need recent hardware (and, really, we wouldn't have it any other way). Much of what CS4 can do is simply disabled without a powerful GPU.
But if you've got recent hardware, you're in for a treat. The move to GPU code is a big performance hit. And, as they say at Adobe, performance is the best feature of all. There's nothing to learn to take advantage of it.
That may be the most compelling reason for the upgrade. But we've found plenty of others, too. It may be over 18 months since the last upgrade by time CS4 ships, but you have to wonder if anybody ever sleeps at Adobe.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FH20/FH20A.HTM on the Web site.)
It's rare to find a camera with something truly new, but with its slow-mo capture, the Casio EX-FH20 clearly does just that. Actually, the Casio EX-F1 offered this "something new" early this year. But that model had only limited distribution in the U.S. and we never saw a review sample. With a lower list price of $599 and broad availability through big-box consumer electronics outlets, the Casio FH20 may open a whole new dimension for amateur photographers.
Continuous shooting modes are common, but it's unusual to find full-resolution frame rates higher than three frames per second. Most current digicams labor to hit even one fps. Some high-end professional SLRs reach 10 fps, but even frame rates that high require clairvoyance to capture exactly the right moment. Some consumer cameras have offered capture rates as high as 60 fps, but only at drastically reduced resolutions and usually only for a fraction of a second of total elapsed time.
CASIO CONTINUOUS MODE
The Casio FH20 takes the concept of speed in a digital camera to an entirely new level. It can capture high-resolution (7-megapixel) images at up to 40 fps, for up to 40 frames or 8-Mp images at up to 30 fps.
That's pretty fast, but even at that pace, the FH20 is only getting started. Its Movie mode ranges from speeds of 210 fps at a resolution of 480x360 pixels, all the way up to an astonishing 1000 fps, if only at a tiny, short and wide resolution of 224x56 pixels.
That frame rate is quite a bit higher than than those of even the fastest high-end professional dSLRs, although both its focusing speed and overall image quality are both quite a bit lower. Most FH20 owners probably won't care about producing flawless double-truck spreads in national magazines, so its image quality will undoubtedly be more than sufficient. The modest focusing speed may require some working around, but for many applications it will be a non-issue.
People have always talked about using continuous shooting modes to study golf and tennis swings, but standard continuous-mode speeds are simply way too slow for that. With the Casio FH20, all manner of time-motion studies suddenly become not only feasible but dead-easy.
I can imagine all sorts of applications for the FH20's slow-mo: golf and tennis swing studies, certainly, but lots of other sports studies, too, like pitching mechanics, competitive diving, track and field, equestrian events, the list goes on and on. And how about high-school or college physics labs? The high-speed Movie modes in particular seem ideally suited to force/mass/acceleration studies. On a more practical note, the FH20's high frame rates could be just the ticket for capturing the perfect expression on a squirmy toddler or the perfect moment as the birthday candles are blown out. Once you've shot with it, you'll quickly realize how many more keepers it could bring you in many common shooting situations.
One thing I particularly liked was how easy it was to navigate through the hundreds (and hundreds) of photos you can quickly rack up in its High Speed Continuous mode (Casio calls it Continuous Shutter or CS mode). It organizes groups of CS images into stacks, with the first frame displayed on the top of the stack on the camera's LCD. You can then "play" the stacks in an interesting hybrid of a movie and a slide show with easy forward/back navigation and the ability to zoom in all the way to 1:1 on-screen.
Other options include splitting up CS groups and copying single images of a CS group, so they'll appear on the memory card separately. Also nice is that, after shooting a CS group, you can choose to save only certain images to the memory card, pressing the Shutter button for each one you want to save. This can save huge amounts of card space, since in many cases, you may just want to capture one specific moment.
The Casio FH20 also includes a Continuous mode shooting option that Casio was the first to pioneer a number of years back: the ability to capture images before you press the Shutter button!
No, the camera's not psychic, it's just continuously grabbing images and circulating them through a portion of its buffer memory. When you press the Shutter button, it stops dropping the oldest images and goes on to grab as many new frames as the buffer will hold.
If your reflexes are like mine, you probably have hundreds of photos that you snapped just after the key moment had passed. With its pre-triggering capability, the Casio FH20 makes this a thing of the past.
The Casio FH20's High Speed Continuous mode is pretty amazing at 40 fps, but at that rate, it's only getting warmed up. Several High Speed Movie modes are available, trading off resolution for speed. Options begin with 480x360 pixels at 210 fps, move on to 224x168 pixels at 420 fps and wind up with 224x56 pixels at an incredible 1,000 fps. At 1,000 fps, the image is just a narrow strip with pretty abysmal image quality, but if you need to capture really fast for less than $600, it's the only game in town.
Filming high-speed super slow-mo video with the Casio FH20 reveals minute details you'd never see with your naked eye. The FH20's slowest High Speed Movie mode offers what seems to be a pretty good trade-off between resolution and frame rate, recording 480x360 pixel images at 210 fps. Files also remain at relatively manageable sizes, at least for viewing on a computer. (Hard on email or Web site bandwidth bills though. ;-)
I was so enthralled with its high-speed modes that I completely ignored the FH20's normal-speed movie recording capability in my experimenting, which includes the ability to capture either Standard Definition (640x480) or High Definition (1280x720) movies at 30 fps. Movie clips may be limited by card speed, but with a fast card, the FH20 appears to be able to record to the limits of the card's capacity.
While the FH20 can record High Definition movies, the camera itself is limited to standard NTSC or PAL composite output. To see its HD movies in true high definition, you'll have to copy them to a computer or other playback device for output to a computer monitor or HDTV screen.
The FH20 resembles a lot of other long-zoom digicams, with a large lens barrel and hefty hand grip on the right side. I liked its grip quite a bit, finding it quite comfortable. It has a pleasant heft and its general feel suggests high build quality, as would be appropriate for a $600 digicam.
Control placement is generally good, with most of the controls clustered conveniently on its top right panel or on the right side of its back panel, where they're in convenient reach of your thumb. In a number of situations, I found the lack of standard PASM (programmed, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual exposure) exposure modes on its mode dial annoying. I wanted to switch between programmed and aperture-priority shooting mode quite a bit. In truth, though, I wouldn't move the PASM settings from the menu system back out onto the Mode dial.: That would mean you wouldn't be able to select between the PASM modes when you were in one of the camera's high-speed shooting modes and I found it essential to be able to set Shutter Priority or Manual mode exposure in my high-speed tests.
It was quite annoying to deal with separate Record and Play buttons. Most annoying (particularly on a camera aimed at capturing critical moments) was that touching the Shutter button in Playback mode wouldn't bring it out of that mode and prepare it for capturing images. True, the Shutter button is used to save individual shots out of a just-captured High Speed Continuous group to the card, but couldn't some other button have been used for that? Or, couldn't that be left as the one mode where the Shutter button didn't return you to image capture?
So far we've discussed the FH20's high-speed prowess, but how does it do as a still camera? The short answer is "good but not great." Despite its relatively lofty price tag for a long-zoom, the FH20 won't compete with the best in the field, based solely on the quality of its still images.
Probably the closest competitor to the FH20, in terms of resolution, zoom ratio and price tag, is the Panasonic FZ50. The FZ50 has "only" a 12x zoom lens, but in our estimation, its lens is sharper and Panasonic's image stabilization works better. Comparing image samples between the FH20 and FZ50, the FZ50 clearly has an edge in resolution and subtle detail.
Some missing detail in the FH20's iamges is from noise reduction. But even when processing its DNG-format Raw files in Photoshop with Photoshop's NR turned off, there's still more detail in the images from the FZ50. We're pixel-peeping pretty hard, of course. The images from either camera produce very sharp looking 8x10 inch prints.
At ISO 1600, the difference between the two cameras diminishes considerably. The FZ50 still has an edge on sharpness in high-contrast edges, but the FH20 actually holds a bit more detail. This underscores one of the major differences between small-sensor cameras like the FH20 and dSLRs. Almost any consumer grade dSLR will deliver much cleaner images at ISO 1600.
Long-zoom cameras trade off some optical quality to achieve their long zoom ratios. The FH20 does better than many long zooms in the overall sharpness department, but does suffer significant chromatic aberration in the corners at both ends of its zoom range. The effect is somewhat less (and the colors shift in the opposite directions) at maximum wide-angle. Somewhere in between the extremes, the CA crops nearly to zero. At "normal" focal lengths (close to 50mm equivalent), CA is quite low, although what's there does extend fairly far into the frame.
With the exception of its immediate predecessor the F1, the Casio EX-FH20 is literally a camera like no other. It opens the dimension of time to photographic exploration to a degree never before accessible to amateurs (and to all but a precious few professionals, for that matter). For many subjects, having a camera that lets you pick just the right slice of life will result in more "keepers" than you could get with any other camera out there. And if you really need to get down to the nitty gritty of time and space, the FH20's video modes reaching well into the hundreds of fps can provide amazing images and insights.
To find this level of time-stopping ability in the same package as a very credible long-zoom digicam, all for under $600 at retail represents an extraordinary bargain.
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:
Our photokina coverage (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PKNA08/PKNA08.HTML), by two video teams shooting about eight segments a day adds a twist with our miniphotokina reviews of newly-announced products. Those include:
- Web Photo School Lesson: Portraits On Location Using Continuous Lights (http://ir.webphotoschool.com/Portraits_On_Location_Using_Starlite_Continuous_Lights/index.html) teaches you how to set up and light an indoor scene for an individual portrait using Tungsten lights, emphasizing not only lighting the subject but the scene, too.
- Previewed: Panasonic G1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCG1/DMCG1A.HTM)
- Previewed: Casio EXILIM FH20 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FH20/FH20A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Panasonic DMC-FX500 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FX500/FX500A.HTM)
- Creative Suite 4 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PKNA08/1222143923.html)
- Lensbaby Composer (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PKNA08/1222220121.html)
- HP B8550 printer (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PKNA08/1222306655.html)
- Eye-Fi SD Card (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/EYE/FI.HTM)
Of all the shoots we've been on, the most challenging is the safari we occasionally take to the living room. It isn't the wildlife and fauna so much as the quality of the light.
In the afternoon, the windows burn holes in our pictures and make everything a silhouette. And in the evening, the lamps turn everybody yellow and make blurs of them if we don't resort to flash.
What fun is that?
Our latest safari was for a family get together where our infamous niece with the new dSLR (we mentioned her in last issue's book review) was one of the shooters. She needed a little help bringing down her prey.
She has been shooting with digicams for several years now and became so traumatized by shutter lag that she always set her digicams on Sports or Kids&Pets Scene mode. So she had her D60 set to Child mode. And that was popping up the flash in the diffused afternoon light of the living room.
Flash shots are a necessary evil. So if you can avoid them, all the better. Your pictures will look like what you saw. A dSLR provides more options than a digicam to help you get natural shots even in subdued light.
The first thing we tried was Shutter Priority mode. She had a Vibration Reduction optically stabilized lens, so we set the shutter speed to 1/15 second. And we cranked the ISO up to 800.
Whoops. Let's explain all that one bite at a time.
Most people can hold a dSLR steady with a shutter speed set to 1/60 second. You may even be able to do it at 1/30 second. At 1/15 second and longer, it's pretty hard to do reliably.
But optical stabilization compensates for that inevitable camera shake, letting you shoot at 1/15 second, 1/8 second and maybe even slower. So a shot that would have required flash at 1/60 second or even 1/15 second can be taken without flash. Awesome, as our niece put it.
Using Shutter Priority mode, you can tell the camera when to stop slowing the shutter down. We set 1/30 second as a reasonable limit, but we could have gone lower with optical stabilization. Without it, 1/30 is about the limit but 1/60 is safe.
To find out what the light level itself was, we set the camera to Program mode and let it shoot however it liked. It used a shutter speed of one second, which nicely exposed the living room, but wasn't going to be sharp even with optical image stabilization.
The cure for this was to make the camera more sensitive to what light there was by increasing the ISO. We bumped it up from 200 to 800, which on a dSLR is pretty safe from excessive image noise, those speckles you see especially in the darker parts of the image. We also tried a few shots at ISO 1600 but that really requires setting noise reduction on (at least for the D60) and that's a lesson for another safari.
That combination -- 1/30, Shutter Priority, ISO 800 -- worked well for shots where the subject had some light falling on them.
But for the older folks perched on the sofa in front of the bright living room window, it didn't quite work. They were silhouetted against the white window behind them.
So we showed her how to aim the camera at their feet, which (at wide angle) is an equivalent focus distance to their face, and half-press the Shutter button to set both focus and the exposure. We warned her to make sure there was no part of the window in the shot as she locked in the exposure. Then, without moving her finger, she recomposed the image and fired away.
It took a little practice, but that was much better. You could actually see the faces against the white window.
As the day drew on, however, the available light just wasn't enough. So we introduced her to another trick. Firing the built-in flash at full power actually over-illuminated the subjects, blanching their faces. But dialing down the flash power using the Flash Compensation Value setting did just the trick, throwing enough artificial light on the subject to fill in what the available light no longer could. Fill flash, as it is known, is hardly noticeably, if you do it right.
That's quite a lot to learn in one outing but the basics are pretty straightforward. You want to shoot in available light if at all possible to reflect how things actually look. To shoot in available light, let the the shutter fire as slow as you can hold the camera steady, let the camera pick the aperture, take advantage of optical stabilization and increase the ISO until you get a good exposure at the lowest shutter speed you've set. If you need to add artificial light, use the minimum by firing the flash at less than full power, just lighting up the shadowed faces a bit.
We both went home with better pictures than we would have gotten using any Scene mode or the full flash. And a few of them might even pass as trophy shots. But that's mainly because her daughter is, well, adorable.
Readers of this publication take photos, but not other people's photos. They take their own photos. And when they publish them or share them, they aren't putting them in the public domain. They retain all rights to them.
So this isn't about the importance of copyright. You get that.
But some people just don't get it. They figure if it's on the Web and they can copy your picture, they can use it however they like. In our neighborhood, we used to call them brats.
The other evening, we were surfing the photo+video ads on craigslist only to find one of our images being used to sell a printer we'd reviewed. We recognized it as our own immediately even though it has been well over five years since we shot it. It's like that when you're the photographer.
Sometimes this isn't so much a brat as someone who just doesn't know any better. You know, someone who has never heard of copyright. And you really want to get them onboard with the concept because it's, well, fundamental to the creative arts. So we responded to the ad, informing them they were, uh, using our copyrighted image without permission. We asked them to remove the image immediately.
A day later, we hadn't heard from them. Imagining they were anxious to sell their merchandise and would therefore be attentive to their email, we thought that was a long enough grace period.
So we looked for a more formal way to let craigslist know the ad violated our copyright. It wasn't easy to find. There's no obvious link and flagging an ad only starts a tally on how many people complain about it.
But tucked away in the Terms & Conditions page (http://www.craigslist.org/about/terms.of.use) is a section on Notification of Claims of Infringement. In that section, the company explains you can address a complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
After investigating your claim, craigslist promises to "remove the infringing posting(s), subject to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA)."
- Identify the infringing material on craigslist (we linked to the ad)
- Assert that this use is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law (easily enough done with a link to the review)
- Assert "under penalty of perjury that (1) the above information in your Notice is accurate, and (2) that you are the owner of the copyright interest involved or that you are authorized to act on behalf of that owner" (we crossed our heart and hoped to die)
- Include your address, telephone number and email address (two out of three)
- Sign the complaint (our business email signature was sufficient)
So we did that. An hour later, craigslist notified us the ad had been removed.
To her credit we did finally hear from the perp. She promised (after craigslist had removed the ad) to remove the picture but complained we had been too rough on her. She said she hadn't realized the image was copyrighted.
We didn't reply. Normally we believe everyone we run across might be a reader of this publication, incredibly bright and worthy of the benefit of the doubt. But something gave her away. In the ad, she had linked to Steve's Digicam's review of the printer instead of our review -- you know, the review she lifted the image from. So she knew better.
Most of the images we see in craigslist ads, at least in the photo+video section, are shot by the owners of the equipment. But if you find someone using your image without permission, we hope we've saved you a little frustration. To its credit, craigslist makes it easier to deal with an infringement than a lot of other services.
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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RE: Chihuly Show
My wife and I rushed off to the Chihuly show after being told that it was amazing (we hadn't seen his stuff before). Seems when we rush we always manage to forget something -- like a camera.
Any chance that you have your photos somewhere on the Web where we could look at them?
-- Bob McCormick(Well, they're on our Apple TV and, if you happened to drop by, we'd make you watch them over and over <g>. But for a more civilized presentation, visit our public Phanfare album (http://albums.phanfare.com/isolated/647eA9rt/1653444/2760863) where you can see the D300 shots that were not taken in Manual mode. Turn off the Show Effects option so Panfare doesn't upsize the images to pan and zoom them. They were all resized to 1500 pixels maximum. BTW, on our last visit to the show, we were amused to see the security guys actually explaining how to turn off the flash instead of just telling people to do it. -- Editor)
RE: Color Profiling
I'm going nuts trying to get my Acer Extensa 5420 laptop running Adobe Elements 6 to print what I see on the screen (which has been profiled by Spyder 3) on my HP Photosmart C7280. Looking for a step-by-step "How To" set it up right. You guys have anything like that? I looked in your "Tips" section but didn't see anything.
-- Richard Senzig(We've got a lot on this, actually, but it's usually buried in the printer reviews (particularly, for some reason, the Canon 13x19 printer reviews). But our favorite step-by-step reference is in the newsletter archive (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html). Pop over there and look for "A Perfect Print" in the Dec. 9, 2005 issue. There's a lot more on the subject in the archive, too. -- Editor)
RE: Leica Lenses?
Any idea as to when (or if) the new Panasonic G1 will be getting Leica lenses? I will consider purchasing one when they do.
-- Walt(We don't know, Walt. But good question. There have been rumors about Panasonic's relationship with Leica, but in a recent interview (http://fourthirdsphoto.com/G1/05.php), a Panasonic representative said, "We are continuing our very fruitful relationship with Leica. Leica lenses for the Micro Four Thirds standard will be coming in the future. The reason for using Lumix G lenses is because the G concept targets a very wide range of users, particularly the entry level users." -- Editor)
The only way we could cram all the press releases from photokina into this section is to point you to our photokina coverage page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PKNA08/PKNA08.HTML).
Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) announced Creative Suite CS4 [MW] (see the link to our preview above) and ended the Photoshop Express beta period. The company also posted release candidates for Lightroom 2.1 and Camera Raw 4.6 at Adobe Labs.
SanDisk (http://www.SanDisk.com) rejected a $5.85 billion cash offer by Samsung claiming it significantly undervalued the company and characterizing it as "opportunistically timed."
Nikon (http://www.nikonusa.com) celebrated the 75th anniversary of Nikkor optics with the release of its $439.95 AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.4-GB prime lens. the company also released updates for its Capture NX, Capture Control Pro and Transfer.
Nik Software (http://www.niksoftware.com) announced a $599 Complete Collection bundle, a $450 savings over individual purchases. The company's plug-ins [MW] all feature U Point technology and work with both Photoshop and Aperture. After registering your products, you can download free updates, the first of which is Dfine 2.1 with a new debanding tool.
Iridient Digital (http://www.iridientdigital.com) released Raw Developer 1.8.1 [M] with support for new cameras and some bug fixes.
Bibble Labs (http://www.bibblelabs.com) introduced Bibble 5 [MW], designed to improve the photographic workflow, offering finer control over image quality and adjustments, speed gains and increased flexibility and usability.
Delkin Devices (http://www.delkin.com) has expanded their sensor cleaning product line with new SensorSafe Wands in three sizes to fit the most common sensors and an improved, more powerful SensorVac.
Apple (http://www.apple.com) has released a 3.5-MB Raw compatibility update for Tiger and Leopard versions of its operating system to support new cameras.
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That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:
Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM
Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher