The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 10, Number 22 24 October 2008

Copyright 2008, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 239th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We're in a reflective mood so we reflect on: some emerging technology in Apple's new laptops, a little Raw capture mystery with the LX3 and even our review of the UPstrap. All of which should get you in the mood to reset your camera clock backward a week from Sunday. And that should leave you time to applaud our Nobel Prize winner.


TOPICS

SPONSORS
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ACDSee
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There's more to see when you move away from the viewfinder.

The new Sony Alpha dSLR camera has a tiltable Live View LCD screen that gives you a real-time view of what you're shooting, so you can capture every moment without being glued to the viewfinder.

  • 2.7" Live View screen tilts up or down for low or high-angle shots
  • 14.2 megapixel image sensor delivers the highest resolution in its class
  • Super SteadyShot in-camera image stabilization
  • A broad sensitivity range enables you to capture beautiful color images even in very dim light

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

Feature: Emerging Tech in Apple's New Laptops

When Apple introduced its revamped lineup of laptops last week, it also planted a few flags in the computing landscape worth studying even if you're a PC.

Four of them are particularly interesting for photographers. Those include the dual graphic processing units from Nvidia, the move to a DisplayPort connector for video output, the multi-touch trackpad and the lack of a non-glare screen option.

We've reported on the move to GPUs doing data processing in our coverage of Nvision 08 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/NVISION/nv08/nv08.htm) and our preview of Adobe Creative Suite 4 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/CS4/CS4.HTM), the development of multi-touch technology in our article "It's the Interface, Samson" in the Oct. 12, 2007 newsletter and the Glossy/Non-Glare controversy in our article "A Shiny or a Matter LCD?" in the Aug. 3, 2007 issue. You might also find our "How Many Colors Does Your LCD Display" feature in the May 25, 2007 issue good background reading.

Clearly we've been following these technologies before Apple harnessed them in the new laptop last week. That qualifies us to address the big question. What's all this mean to photographers?

MODEL DIFFERENTIATION

First, Apple has drawn a clear line in functionality between the 13-inch MacBook and 15-inch MacBook Pro despite the physical resemblance from using the same manufacturing method to build both aluminum cases.

The small MacBook laptop lacks FireWire and an ExpressCard slot. It also includes just the Nvidia GeForce 9400M graphics processor with 256MB of DDR3 SDRAM shared with main memory. Image quality from the glossy screen is reportedly inferior to both the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro, changing with very small shifts in screen tilt. Where travel constrains you to a small laptop, you'll have to use the USB port to transfer images to the computer. But it appears to be a lot less capable solution for the traveling photographer than the FireWire MacBooks have been.

So we'll confine our exploration of new technology to what the MacBook Pro offers. It does include an ExpressCard/34 slot for memory card adapters and it does include a FireWire 800 port. You can pick up a $15 Sonnet FireWire 800/400 adapter (http://www.mac-pro.com/Sonnet-FireWire-800-to-400-Adapter) or cable (http://eshop.macsales.com/search/6+pin+to+9+pin) to connect to your FireWire 400 peripherals.

GPU DATA PROCESSING

The MacBook Pro includes two Nvidia GPUs:

These support resolutions up to the native 1440x900 pixels on the 15.4-inch backlit glossy widescreen display. And they promise to deliver "high-speed, high-end game playing power," as Apple puts it, as well as "pure performance for graphics-intensive applications like Aperture and Motion."

The integrated 9400M can use up to five hours of battery life, while the discrete 9600M GT knocks that down to four in exchange for increased performance. GDDR3 memory has quicker read/write speeds and lower power requirements than GDDR2 memory. DDR3 memory uses 30 percent less power than DDR2 memory.

But if you're focusing on the improvement to screen display performance, you're missing the big story. These chips are co-processors that can (eventually) handle single-threaded parallel computing tasks using Nvidia's Computer Unified Device Architecture. In fact, it's easier to program a GPU to process data than manage multi-threaded applications on multi-core processors.

While the default driver does not support CUDA, you can install a custom driver distributed with the toolkit and SDK that does.

On a recent trip to Asia, Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsung Huang was amazed to see how far university professors and taken Nvidia's CUDA GPUs, building personal supercomputers in their closets that processed data on NVidia GPUs instead of the CPU.

You don't have to enroll in an Asian university to see this today, though. Adobe Creative Suite CS4 will use the GPU to do OpenGL processing like the new Bird's Eye View feature and document rotation on the fly, filter operations using Pixel Bender technology and some 3D operations.

Adobe is currently recommending, as a minimum, 128MB RAM on a card that's Shader Model 3.0 and OpenGL 2.0 compatible. If you plan on doing 3D (which runs non-destructively on a layer and will be applicable to 2D operations like shading and texture control, relighting your images when they capture 3D data), Adobe recommends 512MB RAM.

With the MacBook Pro, you meet those specs and with CS4 they have something to do.

DISPLAYPORT

One of the first questions at the press conference introducing the new laptops was why there was no HDMI interface. The answer? Because there's DisplayPort, which supports higher resolutions that HDMI (2550x1600, in fact).

Both the MacBook and MacBookPro lineups use this new interface designed for high definition video with support for audio and two-way data that replaces the DVI and mini-DVI interface of the prior laptop models. The new interface is not, however, a proprietary connection but an open industry standard introduced by the Video Electronics Standards Association in 2006 (http://www.displayport.org) and currently supported by HP, Philips, Samsung, Lenovo, AMD, Nvidia and Intel, among others.

DisplayPort delivers three main benefits.

The first is to provide a digital rather than analog interface to your digital monitor. With its micro-packet architecture that includes a bi-directional auxiliary channel for two-way communications between your monitor and your computer, it delivers 10.8 Gbps of bandwidth over what is a USB-sized connector, about 10 percent the size of a full DVI connector. It supports higher refresh rates and greater resolution than single-channel DVI over the same number of wires, plus greater color depth. And it can do it over a long, 45-foot cable.

The second benefit is the simplicity the design brings to both internal and external interfaces. It replaces the interface between the computer and the monitor but also the low voltage differential signaling interface used in laptops, monitors and TVs to connect to LCD panels. That makes it easy to directly drive any digital monitor while making it possible to design ultrathin displays.

Finally, the third benefit is DisplayPort's interoperability. You can connect your DisplayPort computer to anything from CRT monitors to the latest ultrathin LED-backlit displays or HDMI TVs. All you need is the appropriate adapter (available soon for about $29 each).

Apple's move to DisplayPort on its laptops (and shortly the rest of the product line, we're told) is mirrored by its first DisplayPort monitor, the 24-inch Apple LED-backlit Cinema Display that will be available in November for $899. The new monitor includes a built-in iSight video camera, microphone and speakers. The integrated MagSafe connector can power and charge a MacBook from the display. And it's thinner than the older Cinema displays.

LED BACKLIGHTING, GLOSSY SCREEN

Like the MacBooks themselves, the new Cinema Display uses LED backlighting and is offered in a glossy version only.

As solid-state light sources, LEDs reach full brightness very quickly, eliminating even the short warmup period of a fluorescent-based LCD panel. They are also mercury-free, facilitating recycling or disposal. The technical challenge with them is getting even light distribution over the panel's surface, which Apple seems to have met on its laptops at least.

The glossy screen, however, is not quite as bright a picture, causing a lot of concern particularly for those who have to work under office lighting or by bright windows, certainly not ideal conditions for evaluating color.

That concern was dismissed at the press conference with the claim that the new screens let in more light from the back to counter the glossy effect. And you can move a laptop around to avoid glare, the Apple panel noted.

The decision not to offer a non-glare version seems to be related to the new glass fronting the panel. A non-glare LCD uses a polarizing filter with a non-glare surface treatment while a glossy LCD has one with a glossy surface treatment sometimes referred to as anti-reflective.

The non-glare filter has an uneven surface so light scatters off it. The unevenness is microscopic, so you don't notice it. But a glossy filter is very smooth so light transmitted from the panel is not scattered (hence the observation that colors really pop on a glossy screen). That also, however, causes ambient light to be reflected rather than diffused.

But those anti-reflective coatings applied to glossy LCDs can impair brightness and make them more expensive.

In a darkened room, the issue is moot. There is no ambient light to reflect.

We spent a while with a new MacBook Pro a few days ago at the Apple Store to see just how big a problem it is in a well-lit room. We've been amused to follow the discussion about Apple's marketing images of the screens, all of which show the glossy screens shaded on the left and with glare on the right, presumably to show the viewer that the glossy screens look good in both situations.

In fact, that was our experience.

The screens are so bright (at least uncalibrated) that they overwhelm the mirror-like reflections you see when you first open the laptop and the monitor is black. We were surprisingly unbothered by the glossy screen in the store.

Lighting in the store is by overhead fluorescents that are diffused by opaque plastic panels, perhaps minimizing the problem. But there was plenty of light and we were wearing reflective clothing that didn't disturb the image.

We're a little surprised not to see any anti-glare stick-on filters advertised for these screens. But we'd also be surprised if they're worth the trouble. Remember that anything that resolves the glare has to diffuse the light -- both hitting the surface and transmitted through it. So what you gain on one side of the filter, you lose on the other.

While we're not sure if more is being made of this than really matters, we do wish Apple had provided a non-glare option, even at a slightly higher expense. Apple does have some background in this in their latest iMac line, which is also all glossy. But the glass alone is a highly reflective surface and we remain suspicious of it.

The current workaround would be a non-glare external display with the $29 adapter for a non-DisplayPort monitor. Or turn off the lights.

MULTI-TOUCH TRACKPAD

Less controversial is the new multi-touch trackpad, although it is revolutionary in dispensing with any discrete buttons in favor of behaving like one itself.

Not that you'd notice if you don't look. Tapping with your thumb on the lower side of the trackpad is exactly like tapping a button with your thumb. But because the trackpad is hinged on the top edge, you have to press harder to get the same effect there.

And why would you do that? Well, because you can do a lot more with this trackpad than navigate. Because the trackpad supports gestures you can do a few new tricks:

And with no button, you have more space to do all this in. Apple calculates it as 39 percent more room, in fact.

There's also a Firefox 3.1 beta (http://ed.agadak.net/2008/10/touching-firefox) that supports a number of gestures on the new trackpad.

CONCLUSION

We often point out that with no crystal ball we can't make predictions. Yet, as Apple's laptop introductions demonstrate, if you've been reading this publication, you can appreciate an emerging technology when you see one. Some of the things we were talking about in 2007 (like multi-touch displays) and others we were describing just a month or two ago (like GPU data processing) have been hammered into a purchasable product just now.

That's pretty quick work as hardware things go. And good news for all of us.

Return to Topics.

Feature: A Panasonic LX3 Mystery

If you've read our review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/LX3/LX3A.HTM) of the Panasonic Lumix LX3, you know we liked it quite a bit.

We didn't have much time to get acquainted and with such a complex camera that always leaves us with a few unanswered questions. But one of them actually ranked as a mystery.

Some things, certainly were clear from the start. We fell in love (at first sight) with its image quality. It's one of the rare digicams whose images don't need to be seen from afar to be appreciated.

We also appreciated some of the fine-tuning Panasonic did on a body design that goes back a couple of years to the LX1. The new grip is a really welcome addition. And the high resolution LCD surpasses anything we've seen on a digicam.

But the big question for anyone considering the LX3 -- and the first piece of our puzzle -- is the lens. It's a 24-60mm 35mm equivalent, foregoing the typical 35-105mm range of most digicams. So you enjoy a much wider angle of view at 24mm but you don't get very much closer than normal at 60mm.

Even though the LX3 can accept converter lenses with an adapter, the only one available makes the view wider (18mm). There's really no telephoto solution other than the 4x digital zoom. And good as the image quality is, that's does not cut it.

Forced to shoot wide angle all the time, we actually enjoyed it. It's an acquired taste, obliging you to move very close to your subject (macro shots were really fun), but with a 16:9 aspect ratio it arranged some interesting compositions. We began to think of the LX3 as having a different personality than the digicams we usually review. You know, the guy at the table who leans back in his chair and laughs in the midst of a family squabble.

But we had to marvel at our lab test results showing barrel distortion to be a mere 0.6 percent at 24mm and an imperceptible 0.1 percent at 60mm. It was the wide angle number that really impressed us.

We also liked Panasonic's implementation of Raw capture -- the next piece of the puzzle. On most digicams, of course, there is no Raw support. You can enable it on many Canon models, however, using CHDK, an open-source software project we covered in our April 11 newsletter.

But on those that do capture Raw, writing the large Raw files can be so taxing that the camera is disabled until the data makes it to the card. That isn't true of the LX3. It does take a while to write the Raw data, but the camera isn't disabled and you can shoot normally. That's an achievement considering the large 4:3 aspect-ratio JPEG varies from 3.5-MB to 4.2-MB with the corresponding Raw file fixed at 11.7-MB.

So we shot a few Raw+JPEG images and put the best in our LX3 gallery (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/LX3/LX3GALLERY.HTM).

We opened the Raw files with the included Silkypix, the only application at the moment that can read the LX3's RW2 files. The JPEG and the Raw were identical compositions and we thought nothing of it.

So imagine our surprise when Barry Fitzgerald pointed out that the LX3 Raw files were actually quite different from what we were seeing in Silkypix. It was a mystery to us why.

With the help of Imaging Resource's Zig Weidelich, who ran a few images through dcraw, we found out what was going on pretty quickly.

The Raw captures that dcraw converted showed a very high barrel distortion at wide angle of 2.9 percent along with a very high barrel distortion of 0.6 percent at 60mm. Compare that to our original lab tests of 0.6 and 0.1 percent respectively.

Since simply opening a Raw file can't induce optical distortion, we suspected Silkypix was eliminating it. In fact, the LX3 eliminates it in-camera when you shoot a JPEG. Silkypix was just matching the accompanying JPEG correction.

But it was doing it silently when you open the Raw file.

So you have no idea any serious optical distortion exists or is being manipulated by Silkypix. In fact, if you look at Silkypix's distortion control, it's set at zero, the default. But that doesn't stop it from straightening and cropping the Raw file, for probably no better reason than to match the corrected JPEG capture.

The point of a Raw capture is not just to postpone all image processing until you're sitting at the computer but to also have control over it. With cameras that do distortion correction on JPEGs, the Raw capture can be your only shot at the uncorrected capture. So we'd prefer to have Silkypix politely offer us the option to correct distortion in the distortion panel. A Raw converter that manipulates image characteristics behind your back isn't doing you any favors.

Tsk. Tsk.

Return to Topics.

Feature: The UPstrap Revisited

The other day we received an email from Al Stegmeyer, the inventor of the UPstrap (http://www.upstrap-pro.com). A few issues ago, we reviewed his line of camera straps and we pointed him to the review.

He wrote right back. "Your review was actually quite good and for the most part on target."

For the most part, Al? we laughed. We thought we'd share his reaction to the review, giving us the last word (of course).

To start with, we had worried his metal sliders might scratch the LCDs on dSLRs. We had thought about transferring the plastic sliders on the manufacturer's straps to an UPstrap.

Al: One thing I would defiantly take issue with is the plastic sliders. I have heard all the sad songs week in and week out for over eight years. One song goes "my plastic slider broke and my camera hit the ground." Not often, but it happens.

In another lifetime I shot stock with Getty as my agent. I know about planning and prepping a shoot, traveling, expenses, etc. only to get there and have the quick release let go (for example) and bust a lens or crunch a finder.

So I put myself in the shoes of the young guy who has busted his tail on a paper for a few years and gets a pass to the Super Bowl. He has as much a chance of getting the brass ring as the rest. But here is the kid with a 400mm f2.8 and a D3 and it's 20 degrees. The plastic is brittle at that temp and he looks up and here comes a running back hauling [three letters] right at him. He jumps and jerks his camera and lens with him. Pop goes the slider, down goes the gear and he may be totally screwed if the AF goes down or worse.

This is the guy I build for. Other stories can be imagined like Steve McCurry in Russia and Seth Resnick at the South Pole or the guy in Iraq at 105 degrees dodging God knows what.

When we buy the half-inch keeper for the QR system it comes with a plastic slider. We throw it in storage with the rest of the parts. We have the only metal stamping tool for the sliders in the USA (that I know of). I'll stick to my guns on this one.

IR: OK, Al, point made.

Al: That said, I have heat shrink to cover them if the customer is worried about such things as scratches.

IR: That would be us, Al.

Al: But the sliders are tumbled for a week to remove any burrs. However, I can see that I should actually get the shrink rap note up on the Web site because I think it would solve that issue but moreover your other observation that in a heavy wind the female release on the right side will flop about. The heat shrink will ease the flopping unless you are really in it big-time and then all bets are off. I'll work on that.

IR: Much appreciated! We confess to having a scratch phobia but we're working on it. We're trying to convince ourself they're like tattoos only less painful.

Al: That the wrist strap loop is too long is true unless you put it over a tripod as a safety loop. I am trying to solve two applications with one loop. A short loop would never do the tripod thing, especially with a special head or long glass. I could offer a short version and a long version but as a small family business I am nuts enough trying to keep inventory straight.

IR: One thing that has surprised us, though, is how many emails we get from people asking where we got the hand strap we use on Nikon dSLRs (the D300 review may have a picture). People really like that approach and it's almost always out of stock.

Al: Here's at tip. When I am placing my camera in a bag I usually try to put the pad over the finder. It is extra protection for a sharp blow that could cause a problem. I suspect you could drop the pad on the camera or lens body 1,000 times and never hurt the camera.

About those ideas that require a snap near the camera. I am about 97 percent sure I have looked at every snap made in the USA and some overseas. As you know I have drawn a line in the sand about USA built and parts. Others say "built in the USA" but that is only in part true. Manufacturers can say made in the USA if it is in "part" made here. You will see that happening more and more. Made in USA when all they did was sew on the label.

They may make a decent snap but not totally trustworthy. Again, it is fine for your average Joe with a small kit. It is not appropriate for reasons previously mentioned for professional use on electronics and glass that hit over 10 grand.

Again, that said, I am working on something that should change this release issue totally. It is in my head at the moment and the question is how to get it produced.

IR: Now you're talking, Al. Keep us informed!

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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In the Forums

Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:

Read about Panasonic cameras at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eea297f

Visit the Sony Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f789

Read comments about the Macsense Geomet'r GPS device at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea8f81/0

A user asks about lenses for bird photography at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eea9006/0

Visit the Beginners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b2

Return to Topics.

Just for Fun: The 2008 Nobel for Customer Support

It was another sad year for nominations. Few of you had any good experiences with customer support, apparently. That only makes our 2008 Ersatz Nobel for Customer Service all the more important. One day when the prevailing winds of industry insensitivity and boorishness have died down, we will all look back on this small effort to established a more breezy approach to retail behavior with pride.

The winner of this year's award is involved in an aspect of the business that we all wish wasn't necessary. We wish it so hard that we almost don't believe it exists, in fact. But when the moment comes that we do need it, we are all desperate to find a trustworthy practitioner and inconsolable if we can't.

What are we talking about?

Well, just imagine you are driving your sparkling Maserati GranTurismo down the autobahn in the fast lane at a mere 150 kilometers an hour and suddenly, as you round a curve, you see a bundle of metal strapping scattered unavoidably in front of you. You swerve but can't avoid it. Your front passenger wheel crushes over it and throws it up against the side of the car, sculpting the paint job into ribbons of color and revealing the bare metal.

You pull over to inspect the damage. The tire is still inflated, fortunately, but the side of the car is a mess. You worry about the undercarriage. Has the brake line been cut?

You have that sinking feeling you have destroyed $115,000 and a beautiful machine in a split second.

Whether it's your Maserati or your dSLR, what you need, friend, is customer support. Someone who has been through this before, who sympathizes with your situation, feels badly for you and knows exactly how to put everything right again. And you'd like them no further away than a phone call.

Our winner this year is just such a person, according to Lars Erik Jansson.

"I would like to nominate Mr. Lasse Westman of Lasses kameraservice in Sweden," Lars wrote. "The company is nothing but fantastic and Lasse, the boss and owner, has drilled his family to be the most service-minded personnel you could ever dream of."

Lasses kameraservice (http://www.lassesks.se) opened its doors in 1999 and employs five technicians plus a receptionist. "We strive to provide competent service at reasonable prices. Our goal is to give customers the service they want. Whether they want it cheap, effective, quick or always available, we cater to everyone's needs," the company claims.

"And," Lars adds, "they offer a high level of technical knowledge too -- no less important."

Indeed, the company, which is an authorized Nikon service center with specialize engineering services, can repair dSLRs, analog SLRs, lenses, strobes and even some compact digicams (which is worth an award in itself). The typical turnaround is just seven days. And estimates are free.

You can call ahead to get an over-the-phone consultation about your problem. When you bring your camera in, you actually talk with your repair technician. They examine the camera with you, make a diagnosis and provide that free estimate. And if it's possible, the company will even make the repair while you wait.

Too bad they only have the one office in Sweden, no?

But that's the point of this award: to encourage the proliferation of companies that practice superb customer service where policy exists only to benefit the customer not the guy asleep in the back behind the potted plant and the sign that says "Manager."

Lasses kameraservice not only practices customer service, they raise the bar with their focus on discussing your problem promptly over the phone, consulting with a repair technician instead of a salesperson and even holding out the hope of a repair while you wait. Bravo!

So without further ado, we hereby award the 2008 Ersatz Nobel Prize for Customer Support to Lasse Westmand and Lasses kameraservice in Sweden. Please open a branch in the United States.

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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: Color Correction

Hey guys, great article about the color correction nightmare. Wish I could have seen the images. I have one short question.

You wrote, "Switch to the Layers panel and click on the Adjustment Layer icon (that black and white circle) and select Curves. That brings up the Curves tool from which you can adjust your highlights. In this case we neutralized them."

By neutralize did you mean use the set white point dropper on the white area or did you mean something else?

-- Martin Kimeldorf

(Something else: the gray eyedropper. Click on something that should be neutral with it and you've neutralized it. We had a lot to choose from: white tux, black tux. The white eyedropper sets the whitest part of the image and the black eyedropper the blackest, which can restore contrast in a flat image. -- Editor)

I read about those goofy wedding pictures and reminded myself about the questions I've sent to you about the trouble in getting the proper colors when "scanning" color negatives with my digital camera and a light table.

When I was asked to deliver some old pictures on a CD I brought home a scanner and started to teach myself how to use it.

I had to go through 16 years of photography from different concerts and the light differed so much that I saw myself sitting with the negatives and the scanner for weeks not to say months. And they wanted the CDs like yesterday (isn't it always like that?) so I mounted my D3 on the old repro stand, brushed off the dust from the light table (actually the lightbox from an old slide duplicator) and made some tests.

After looking at the results I was on the way to my telephone to tell them I couldn't make it when I remembered my work with faded black and white pictures in the mid '70s.

Photos that had faded away so you could hardly see anything were brought back to their original condition by using 1000W lamps, slow Ilford Pan F and a blue filter!

So I started to try different filters on my D3. I had a good laugh when I discovered that a KB12 gave the best result.

Impatiently waiting for your next newsletter.

-- Lasse Jansson

(Brilliant idea! Pretty hot one, too <g>. Thanks, Lasse! -- Editor)

RE: Nikon MB-D10

I enjoyed your discussion of the MB-D10.

About that little L-shaped rubber cover. Thanks to Nikon for providing a place to put it when not in use.

But when putting it back into the base of either a D300 or D700, you must make sure it is really in securely. Don't leave a corner not carefully tucked in (as with a with a fingernail) or it will catch on your shirt button or belt or even the camera bag and come off and you will never notice it until too late to find it. I know from experience, so I bought a couple extra just in case.

-- Nick Baldwin

(Thanks, Nick! Or do what we do and never leave the studio, then spend hours on your hands and knees looking for the thing. -- Editor)

RE: White Balance Too?

I liked the article on focus and exposure lock, but I think that you left something out. When you press the shutter button on digital cameras, it measures three things: focus, exposure, and white balance (if it is set to Auto). You didn't mention white balance. Isn't it an important part of the process? When you use the exposure lock button (I have a Nikon D80), does it also lock white balance? One would hope so. I can see the white balance changing from shot to shot if you pan across a landscape scene and end up with just trees and no sky at the end shots. I was wondering if discussing white balance was an oversight or you felt it wasn't important to the discussion?

-- Dave Williams

(Well, Dave, we restricted our discussion to exposure in general to avoid getting too specific. The Lock button's capability varies quite a bit from one camera to another and depending on other settings. But if white balance is set to Auto, it would be set by the AE Lock function. -- Editor)

RE: OtterBox

I enjoyed your review of the Canon SD790. I bought this little marvel and like it very much. I'm a Canon dSLR owner, however I've always wanted a point-and-shoot shirt-pocket-a-long. I'm intrigued with the watertight OtterBox that the SD790 was photographed with in your review on the Canon SD790.

Would you kindly please tell me what is the model of the OtterBox that the Canon SD790 fits in and where can I purchase it?

-- Greg Goldbarth

(That's the waterproof OtterBox 1000, Greg, available for $11.49 directly from Otter (http://www.otterbox.com/waterproof-cases/otterbox-1000/). -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

In the latest J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Digital Camera Usage and Satisfaction Study (http://www.jdpower.com), Canon EOS dSLRs and Nikon D Series dSLRs tied for the highest dSLR rating. "The Canon EOS Digital SLR receives notably high ratings from customers in picture quality," the report notes, "while the Nikon D series, which ranks highest for a second consecutive year, performs particularly well in ease of operation, performance, and appearance and styling." Other products mentioned were the Olyumpus E-System dSLRs, Pentax K dSLRs and Sony Alpha dSLRs, varying only in the Appearance category with Olympus first followed by Sony and Pentax.

Among point-and-shoots, The Fujifilm FinePix S series ranked above the Kodak V series, Kodak Z series and Kodak M Series. In the premium point-and-shoot class, the Canon PowerShot G series and Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ series tied at the top, followed by the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ series. The ultra slim category found the Sony Cyber-shot T series followed by the Casion Exilim Zoom series and Fujifilm FinePix Z.

The study is based on responses from more than 8,000 consumers who purchased a digital camera between April 2007 and March 2008.


Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has released its Creative Suite 4 product family. The suite is available in six versions: Design Premium, Design Standard, Web Premium, Web Standard, Production Premium and Master Collection. As part of the CS4 product launch, the largest in Adobe's history, are new versions of Photoshop CS4, Photoshop CS4 Extended, InDesign CS4, Illustrator CS4, Flash CS4 Professional, Dreamweaver CS4, Fireworks CS4, Contribute CS4, After Effects CS4, Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, Encore CS4, Soundbooth CS4 and Adobe OnLocation CS4. Adobe Flash Player 10, an integral part of the suite, was released at the same time.

Adobe has also just released Photoshop Lightroom 2.1 and Camera Raw 5.1. The releases provide added Raw file support for 15 digital cameras including the Nikon D90, Nikon D700, Canon EOS 50D and Canon EOS 1000D. The Lightroom 2.1 update also includes improvements to Photoshop integration, Web module stability for Microsoft Windows Vista 64-bit operating systems, performance with 64-bit Mac OS X 10.5 Macintosh computers and Keyword migration from Lightroom. There is also a new set of camera profiles and an improved DNG Profile Editor on Adobe Labs (http://labs.adobe.com).

Finally, Adobe's experience design team has launched Inspire (http://xd.adobe.com/#/home), a new online publication designed to describe and discuss the interface design decisions the team of over a hundred designers, researchers and developers makes.


Apple (http://www.apple.com) has released Aperture 2.1.2 [M], which "improves the printing quality of books, cards and calendars ordered through the Aperture printing service." The 48MB update requires at least Mac OS 10.4.11 or 10.5.3.


Nikon has produced A Hands-on Guide to Creative Lighting, a new $39.95 DVD with National Geographic Traveler photographer Bob Krist and photojournalist and lighting expert Joe McNally. Topics include direction, color and quality of light, Speedlight placement, working with wireless flash and creative use of alternative flash sync modes. The DVD will also show users how to use the advanced features of their Nikon CLS system, including the SB-800, SB-600, SB-R200 and the new SB-900 Speedlight, as well as the SU-800 Speedlight Commander. The 2 hour, 34 minute DVD will be available Nov. 1 at Nikon Mall (http://www.nikonmall.com).


DxO Labs (http://www.dxo.com) has released DxO Optics Pro v5.3 [MW] with improved noise removal to improve detail rendition and color fidelity at any sensitivity, support for new cameras and 59 new correction modules.


O'Reilly has published Photoshop Lightroom 2 Adventure by Mikkel Aaland. Mikkel shares the knowledge, techniques and stunning photographs from his Tasmanian adventure where he led 18 colleagues and a team of Adobe experts on a Lightroom 2.0 road test. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596521014/?tag=theimagingres-20).

The company has also just released The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers by Derrick Story, which is also available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596521936/?tag=theimagingres-20).


Phase One A/S (http://www.phaseone.com) has released its $399 Capture One 4 PRO [MW], the Raw workflow software built on a darkroom paradigm to enhance images and minimize the need for post-production. In addition to tethered shooting, you can create custom tool tabs with existing personal toolsets and work with multi monitor setups. A redesigned Styles feature and enhanced Color Editor join new tools that include a Skin Tone tool and Lens Correction tools.


Panasonic (http://www.panasonic.com) has announced the world's first Micro Four Thirds System camera, the Lumix DMC-G1 will be available in mid-November for a suggested retail price of $799.95, which includes the Lumix G Vario 14-45mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH/MEGA O.I.S. kit lens. Also available in November, the Lumix G Vario 45-200mm/F4.0-5.6/MEGA O.I.S. telephoto Micro Four Thirds lens has a suggested retail price of $349.95.


Olympus, Panasonic and Sigma have joined forces to launch an online firmware update service to enable dSLR camera owners to easily update the firmware in interchangeable dSLR lenses compliant with the Four Thirds System Standard (http://www.four-thirds.org), even when the camera and lens are not made by the same manufacturer.


Zip Express Installation (http://www.zipinstallation.com) is a home electronics installation service that offers in-home set-up and training service for digital cameras. Zip has over 16,000 technicians guaranteed to arrive on the day and hour specified.


Walgreens (http://www.walgreens.com) will offer Lucidiom photo book creations using Walgreens' existing minilab to produce them with same-day service.


Andrey Tverdokhleb (http://www.raw-photo-processor.com) has released his free Raw Photo Processor 3.8.0 [M], adding support for the Canon Powershot G10, a new method for the Cold-Warm slider to produce a more natural effect and more.


PresetsHeaven (http://www.presetsheaven.com) collects and distributes free Lightroom presets.


Anthropics (http://www.portraitprofessional.com) has released its $79.95 Portrait Professional 8.0 [MW], adding hair retouching, more detailed control of eyes and mouth, the ability to change eye color, an improved interface and the ability to save slider configurations.


Neat Image (http://www.neatimage.com) has released its $59.90 Neat Image Pro 4.6 [MW] a Photoshop noise reduction plug-in with full support for Photoshop CS4, automated batch profiling, improved EXIF compatibility with Nikon D700, D90 plus several more new Nikon cameras and more.


24x7digital (http://www.24x7digital.com) has released its $20 PhotoCopy 1.0 [M], to mirror iPhoto albums on Flickr with each image's title, date, time, rating, keywords and description.


Boinx (http://boinx.com) has released FotoMagico 2.6 [M] with support for Adobe Lightroom 2 libraries and a plug-in for Aperture, enabling photographers to select their photos from within Aperture and to export them directly to FotoMagico.


O'Reilly has published Deke McClelland's $49.99 Adobe Photoshop CS4 One-on-One, available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 37 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596521898/?tag=theimagingres-20).


Jens Almstrom (http://www.jensalmstrom.se/diy/bicycam.html) shows how to turn an ordinary bike bell into a camera mount.


Video the Vote (http://videothevote.org) organizes citizens to "document election problems as they occur," then distributes that video online and to mainstream media. No camcorder? Take your cell. The non-partisan Election Protection (http://www.866ourvote.org) hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE can advise you at your polling place if you're denied a ballot.


Isis Imaging (ttp://www.isisimaging.com) has released its $64 Isis Locus 1.0 [M] to create duotones or five-color images with side-by-side previews of the original.


We note the passing of photographer William Claxton (http://www.afterimagegallery.com/claxton.htm), famed for his fish-out-of-water shots of jazz musicians and his intimate portraits of legendary loners. He began his long career haunting jazz clubs with a Brownie, wearing one of his father's suits to avoid being carded.

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One Liners

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Signoff

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Happy snapping!

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

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