The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 10, Number 23 7 November 2008

Copyright 2008, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 240th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We start by telling you how you can make your shopping easier and help support this publication with just a click of your mouse. Then we reflect on the hardware requirements of high end editing software like Aperture and Lightroom. Shawn reviews the new Canon 50D, detailing all the new and improved features. Then we do our best to solve the world's financial crisis with an old but apparently forgotten remedy. Well, you know what free advice is worth, right?


TOPICS

SPONSORS
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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: Let's Trade Favors

We don't often ask for a favor and when we do, we make sure it doesn't cost you anything. In fact, there's usually a nice little perk involved. So let's trade favors.

Here's the favor we're asking. Visit http://ir.pricegrabber.com to comparison shop twice before the end of the year. Your clicks on the merchant links are an important source of support for us. And thank you!

Here's the perk.

First, you get our one-stop page to find anything you're shopping for on the Web. There's a list of the most popular computers, electronics, software and cameras (of course) plus links to each category to dig even deeper. Or you can do what we do and just use the Search box.

Powered by PriceGrabber, all of these links take you to a list of available products sorted by popularity. You can also sort them by merchant rating and price. And you can compare any of them just by clicking a checkbox next to the items you want to match up against each other.

You can set filters to narrow the search just by clicking a link. And you can get to user reviews directly from the list. Even rebates are linked to each product.

It's just what you need for informed holiday shopping, we think. And we should know because, well, we use it ourselves.

Oh, there's one more perk.

As Newsletter Publisher Dave Etchells put it, "If every Newsletter reader made just two clicks on the merchant links on our Pricegrabber pages this holiday season, it'd pay for the costs of producing the Newsletter for the next year!"

Nothing to buy. Just a mouse click. Well, two. And nothing restricts you to just two either. Because every time you use http://ir.pricegrabber.com for your comparison shopping -- even if you don't buy anything -- you're helping to bring this publication to you for free.

Which, we humbly suggest, is quite a deal.

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Feature: The Hardware/Software Wars

It was an interesting week here at the bunker. Even before Tuesday.

Adobe had offered us the chance to download the release version of Creative Suite 4 as soon as it was available to speed our review process. But we declined. We wanted the packaged version to more closely reflect your typical experience. It arrived on Monday.

So we 1) deactivated our prerelease version on a G4 PowerBook and 2) uninstalled the beta version of the Suite we'd been running -- all our CS4 applications, that is. We left our serial number available to the new installer, though. That's how things work these days with the Suite.

Then we popped in the first install disc.

After a few minutes of disc music and progress-bar eye candy, it reported it wasn't able to install anything.

There was nothing wrong with the disc itself. It's just that, in the intervening months, Adobe had eliminated the underperforming G4 from its supported systems. The minimum system requirements for the Suite had called for a G5 or Intel processor and the new installer was now enforcing them.

So we weren't really surprised (although a few apps hadn't earlier required a G5). But the old installer had happened to work well enough for us to preview the suite so we thought it was worth one last shot.

Nothing for it, really, but to order a new machine.

Except we weren't really sold on the idea of spending the next four years with a box that had not only just been redesigned but had introduced an entirely new manufacturing process. We'd hoped to wait until the bugs were ironed out.

The glossy screen of the new MacBooks doesn't bother us (you can slap a $20 Photodon matt screen film (http://www.macintouch.com/reviews/alumabook/#updates) on them, according to macintouch.com). But the quality control issues do. We continue to read user reports of defects like fingerprints behind the glass on the screen, loose screen hinges, poorly attached keycaps, dents in the aluminum, flack in the speaker grills, trackpad sensitivity issues, power consumption during sleep, difficulty finding a Firewire 800-400 converter or cable, etc. Apple is such a tiger on quality control, these problems -- and the number of them -- did surprise us.

We could see ourselves returning the thing two or three times until we either had the hardware we had actually paid for or gave up on the project. And even if we had an acceptable box, it would still take weeks building up the software system until we could rely on the thing to do what we do every day.

Not a great time to migrate to a new MacBook Pro, we thought.

Then on Tuesday Tom Hogarty published a few figures in his Lightroom Journal (http://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal) from a new InfoTrends study on what software pro photographers have been using to convert Raw images.

Photoshop Camera Raw slipped from 66.5 percent in 2007 to 62.2 percent in 2008, in part attributable to Lightroom's rise from 23.6 to 35.9 percent in the same period. Aperture, reflecting "an increase in the number of respondents who are using the Mac platform," went from 5.5 to 7.5 percent.

Subtract the Windows users from the Lightroom numbers and you still get an increase from 26.6 to 40.4 percent. Among Mac users only (which eliminates the new Mac owners), Aperture showed almost no growth: 14.3 to 14.6 percent.

And that was all before Adobe released Lightroom 2. The survey ended in July 2008.

Lightroom, a favorite of ours, clearly has found a place on the pro hard drive. And it is a pretty efficient tool.

But as one comment on the Lightroom Journal pointed out, "Part of this has to be that Aperture just doesn't run on a large number of Macs out there." And Lightroom does.

In fact, Lightroom 2.1's specs are modest enough (it still runs on a G4) that we can run it on our PowerBook. And, unlike Aperture (which also only requires only a G4 running at least 1.25 GHz), it runs on Windows. Of course, the recommended configuration for Aperture is substantially more powerful: G5 or Intel.

But the cross-platform nature of Lightroom (not to mention the Creative Suite itself) is giving a lot of photographers pause as they grumble about the glossy-only screen option on the new MacBooks. If you can live inside Lightroom and the Creative Suite, what does the OS matter? You can get a Lightroom box with a non-glare screen if you run Windows.

That doesn't work for us because we run both platforms, so we do need a Mac solution. But it works for a lot of photographers unwilling to put up with Apple's glossy-only approach at a time when software is requiring hardware upgrades.

And that can't be good for Aperture.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Canon EOS 50D User Report

By SHAWN BARNETT
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E50D/E50DA.HTM on the Web site.)

The jump from the Canon 20D to 30D was similar to this transition from 40D to 50D, with most of the changes made internally. This time, though, those internal changes are more significant, helping the 50D better compete against the current crop of 12 to 14-megapixel dSLRs, including Canon's own consumer model, the 12.1-Mp Rebel XSi (450D). In both cases, the 50D's resolution exceeds the norm for this level of camera, while the 40D's 10.1-Mp resolution didn't exceed any of the market leaders at the time, nor did it hold up for long against the Canon XSi's 12.2 megapixels, introduced earlier this year.

We've never held that megapixels were as important as noise handling and high-ISO performance, though, so we're excited that the 50D's 15.1 megapixels also includes excellent high-ISO performance. Other interface improvements are also welcome, including a Quick Control screen, as well as several feature enhancements, like face detection in Live View mode and contrast-detect autofocus in Live View, all making the already great EOS 40D even better.

NEW & IMPROVED

Live View mode grows up a bit with the 50D, offering two grid modes, more informational icons, focus confirmation in Quick mode and a new face-detect mode.

Most importantly, the new features make the 50D's Live View work more like experienced digicam users will expect, though it's still slower than most digicams on the market at focusing, regardless of focus mode. Experienced users will know to expect this from the mode and use it only when nothing else will do, as when shooting off-angle or while carefully composing and focusing on a tripod.

Quick mode. The first Live View focusing mode uses the traditional SLR method of flipping the mirror back down to use the phase detect autofocus sensors for focusing. This can indeed be quicker so long as you put one of the nine AF points over an area with good contrast that enables fast focusing. New to the system is that the selected AF points light up after the mirror flips back up to tell you which areas are in focus, rather than leaving that to guesswork as the Rebel XSi does. Autofocus in this mode is quite a bit slower than with the optical viewfinder, but faster than Live mode. Because you have to press the AF-ON button as a primary step before you press the shutter button, the fastest time we could get was 0.85 second.

Live mode. Contrast-detect mode is called Live mode, because the 50D does its focusing with the data that comes live from the sensor. You get a rectangle that you can move around the screen with the Multi-controller. When you press the AF-ON button, the 50D focuses and changes the gray rectangle to green. You can zoom in either five or 10 times to confirm focus, the zoom following the AF point. It takes many seconds to focus in this mode, between 2.24 to 7.32 seconds in our testing. A histogram can also be overlaid over the image, though it's a shame that the histogram is still opaque, blocking so much of the image, rather than translucent as other companies have managed.

Live Face mode. We've all seen face detection by now and if you've seen Canon's face detection on a simpler digital camera, you know about how well it detects faces on the 50D: quite well. Autofocus is a lot slower on the 50D, however, as it has to process a lot more data to judge focus and move far larger optics than are found in a digicam; but it's not bad. It'll take a few seconds to focus at times, especially when handheld. Sometimes faster, sometimes slower. The system can track far more faces than other systems we've seen, though, at up to 35 forward-looking faces.

If the 50D detects more than one face, it adds two arrows around the frame it's placed around its top-priority face, telling you that you can turn the Quick Command dial to select another face as the priority.

Creative Auto mode. Canon's new exposure mode is called Creative Auto, marked with a "CA" on the silver mode dial. It's a cross between the Auto and Program modes. When set to CA mode, the 50D allows the user to adjust the Flash, resolution, drive mode and Picture Style. Setting aperture and exposure are converted to easier concepts of background blur (blurred or sharp) and exposure level (darker or brighter) with a slider that's adjusted with the Quick Control dial. The more complex exposure decisions remain under automatic control in CA mode. The exposure slider is the more useful, standing in as a more comprehensible EV adjustment. Sometimes the blur or depth-of-field slider isn't available, as when shooting indoors, because the flash is deployed automatically. Turning on the flash brings this control back, though, so it's handy that you can actually disable the flash in a full-auto mode.

DIGIC 4. Dropping the roman numerals from its name, Canon has included their new DIGIC 4 image processor in the EOS 50D. The new processor is said to offer improvements in processing speed, necessary to handle the 15.1-Mp files while maintaining the 6.3 frames-per-second top speed. The 50D's DIGIC 4 processor also keeps the noise down when compared to the Canon 40D, according to our tests, despite the smaller pixels.

High ISO. While the Canon EOS 40D and its predecessors had an ISO sensitivity range of 100 to 1600 with the ability to extend this to ISO 3200, the 50D's ISO ranges from ISO 100 to 3200 in 1/3 EV increments and can be extended to ISO 6400 and 12,800, using the H1 and H2 ISO settings. This step up is in an answer to the Nikon D3 and D700's impressive high-ISO performance. Though the 50D doesn't reach to the astonishing ISO 25,600 available in the latter two cameras, it does reach ISO 12,800 at 15.1 megapixels on a cropped sensor vs. Nikon's full-frame sensor at 12.1 megapixels, an easier (though surely not easy) feat. To see how the 50D does at these extended ISO settings, read the Image Quality section below.

Sensor technology. The 50D's 15.1-Mp CMOS design raises the resolution significantly from the Canon 40D's 10.1 megapixels. As we've seen with other recent resolution increases in Canon SLR sensors, though, a few changes have been made to the sensor design to keep noise low.

First, the light-sensitive area of each photosite has been increased in size through more efficient cell design. Second, there are also now no gaps between the microlenses that sit over each photosite. Canon calls them "gapless" microlenses. Judging from our test images, Canon has indeed managed to improve image quality while raising ISO and increasing resolution at the same time.

14-bit A/D conversion. Brought over from the 40D, the 50D uses 14-bit Analog-to-Digital conversion when creating JPEGs, for smoother color transitions and Raw files are saved as 14-bit files. Converting from 14-bits worth of data means the saved images are theoretically formed from four times the color information than was available to the Canon EOS 30D, which was only able to generate 4,096 colors per channel. The 50D can recognize 16,384 colors per channel, which should mean smoother tones and more accurate color overall. Though JPEGs will still be saved as 8-bit color, Raw images will benefit from the 14-bit depth, making for more accurate 16-bit images in programs like Photoshop. And unlike the Nikon D300, the 50D's frame rate does not slow down when capturing in 14-bit mode, because it has no other mode.

New Raw formats. Raw files can now be recorded at three different resolutions: 3.8, 7.1 or the full 15.1-Mp resolution of the camera. This option gives you the post-processing control offered by Raw capture without the large file sizes. An example is the wedding photographer who knows he won't need a 15-Mp Raw image for shots that will never be reproduced larger than 5x7.

Frame rate. The 50D offers 6.3 frames per second burst shooting at the camera's full 15.1-Mp resolution. While the speed is just slightly reduced from the 6.5 fps on the 40D, it nonetheless represents a dramatic increase in throughput to the memory card, given the significant increase in sensor resolution. Holding the frame rate steady in the face of a 50 percent increase in pixel count is quite an accomplishment. The buffer depth is close to unchanged in Raw mode, with the 50D offering 16 shots vs. a 17 shot burst-depth for the 40D.

Vignetting correction. In a first for Canon's EOS series, the 50D includes Lens Peripheral Illumination Correction (also known as vignetting correction to fix shading in the corners of an image). This has been available for a while now when shooting Raw files processed through the company's Digital Photo Professional software, but is now available in-camera when shooting JPEG images. The function can be disabled and works by default with 26 of Canon's most common EF-mount lenses. Data can be stored in the EOS 50D body for up to 40 lenses, while Digital Photo Pro ships with data for 82 lenses that can be added to the camera via the EOS Utility software as needed. Canon has even gone as far as to include some lens models that are no longer available at retail, a boon for those with old lens collections. The Lens Peripheral Illumination correction function will work for any focal length, f-stop or focus distance.

Auto Lighting Optimizer. The Auto Lighting Optimizer introduced on the Rebel XSi allows the photographer to expose for the highlights and then the camera adjusts the image to open up the shadows during image capture. On the 50D, ALO now has four settings, including Off, Low, Medium or Strong. Though we didn't see much effect from the Auto Lighting Optimizer in our tests on the XSi, the 50D's ALO series above is quite revealing.

AE Bracketing. High Dynamic Range shooters have a new tool in the 50D's enhanced AE Bracketing feature. The new feature allows you to bracket images starting from four stops darker or ending four stops brighter than the meter's selected exposure value, over a two-stop range, when combining exposure compensation with AE Bracketing. A new display makes it easier to understand the feature.

AF Sensor. The 50D's AF sensor is a 9-point diamond array, with nine cross-type f5.6 autofocus points, meaning they're all sensitive to vertical or horizontal lines. Nestled in the center is an additional precision AF sensor that is arrayed diagonally and used when you mount a lens of f2.8 or faster. It has the advantage of detecting both horizontal and vertical lines.

Interestingly, the 50D now includes the ability to detect the light source (including the color temperature and whether or not the light is pulsing) and then take these into account and microscopically shift the focus as necessary.

AF Micro-adjustment. The 50D's lens micro-adjustment function allows focus to be fine-tuned for twenty different lenses, negating issues with back- or front-focusing. The adjustment is stored in the camera body for use whenever the lenses are attached. (Lenses are identified by the combination of focal length and maximum aperture; the camera can't distinguish between multiple lenses of the same aperture and focal length.)

I sat down with a set of lenses to try out AF Micro-adjustment and got fairly good results, though the process was a little confusing at first. Our test target is an array of AA batteries set in a diagonal line receding away from the camera from left to right. The distance is approximately one battery-width per step. It's not a perfect target for this particular AF array, it seems, as my results at first were random with some lenses, first back-focusing, then front-focusing, regardless of the setting in the Custom Function dialog. But once I got the camera pointed at the right part of the target, it went fairly well.

Of the lenses I mounted and adjusted, the 18-200mm needed the least adjustment, a setting of +1. The 85mm f1.8 needed a setting of -3, the 60mm Macro f2.8 required -3 as well and the 28-135mm a setting of -7. The 50mm f2.8 needed at least a -2 setting, but no setting made a change at all in either direction.

Out of curiosity, I attached a Sigma 70mm Macro f2.8 and it was spot-on, though the lens data didn't come through correctly, showing an EF 50mm f2.5 Macro lens instead.

In addition to adjusting for individual lenses, you can choose to adjust all lenses by the same amount, useful if all your lenses are off by a nearly equal amount, suggesting your camera's AF sensor is out of adjustment.

Create and select folders. Also new to the 50D is the ability to create and select new folders on the loaded memory card. Once a new folder is created, file numbering starts over. You can switch between folders at any time.

New DPP features. A number of new features will come via the included Canon Digital Photo Professional software, like the ability to register a copyright notice into the proper Exif field in each image. If you want to see which AF points were active when you took your shot, DPP will also show you all active points at the time of exposure. And when opening a Raw image from the Canon Image Browser, the program links directly into DPP rather than going through the old Raw Image Task. DPP offers greater control, while the old Image Task was more like the camera's native conversion.

HDMI output. Also helping catch up with the latest offerings, the 50D includes an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port, for displaying images on a high-definition television.

Dust reduction. Yet another upgrade is in the 50D's integrated cleaning system. Canon has now applied a fluorine coating to the camera's low-pass filter, which should make it easier for the existing ultrasonic dust removal system to remove sticky or wet particles (the dust removal system vibrates the low-pass filter to shake off dust particles; wet or sticky particles obviously will adhere more firmly to the surface than dry ones would).

STORAGE & BATTERY

Images are stored on CompactFlash cards, Type I or II, including Microdrives. Canon recommends against using Microdrives when shooting in Live View mode, as the drive's additional heat can combine with the heat generated by the sensor and start to degrade images.

The Canon EOS 50D uses the same BP-511A battery that the EOS 20D, 30D and 40D use and is compatible with the BP-511 and BP-512. Canon says the EOS 50D is capable of capturing up to 640 shots when using the optical viewfinder, but only 170 shots when shooting via Live View modes. My experience bears this out, as I'm used to getting several days out of a single battery with the 40D and 50D, but switching to Live View is the fastest way to test the battery meter.

UDMA card support. The new 50D supports even unreleased UDMA cards, up to UDMA-6, capable of transferring up to 133M per second. The current fastest cards, UDMA-3, handle data transfer rates of up to 45-MB per second.

The 50D is capable of shooting 90 Large/Fine JPEG frames in a burst on UDMA-3 cards or 60 frames on non-UDMA cards. The 40D was estimated to get 75 frames regardless of the card type. There's no improvement with UDMA cards when shooting in Raw mode, suggesting that the bottleneck for Raw shooting lies elsewhere in the imaging pipeline. The 16-shot Raw burst depth applies whether shooting on UDMA or non-UDMA cards, but the buffer took 22 seconds to clear with the Kingston 266x CF card and only 9 seconds to clear with the SanDisk Ducati 4-GB UDMA-3 card.

IMAGE QUALITY

Since the beginning of Canon's dSLR line, image quality has stood out. Lately Nikon has made impressive leaps to take over the lead in the noise vs. detail aspect of image quality, but the 50D's new 15.1-Mp sensor makes up some lost ground.

High ISO. Getting hand-holdable shots indoors and at night is the holy grail of photography for a great many of us. From consumers to pros, we want our cameras to capture the interesting light we see with our eyes. Consumers especially don't care why it's difficult to do so with digital cameras, they just want the shot. Enthusiasts and pros know why it's harder, but few carry tripods to stabilize their cameras for slow shutter speeds. Instead they invest in fast lenses and image-stabilized cameras and optics. What's been missing is faster sensors and now camera companies are working to meet that need. Canon's 50D does well enough in most situations that you can feel safe shooting at up to ISO 800 with little loss to image detail, even when printing at 13x19 inches; ISOs below that can withstand printing up to 20x30 inches. At ISO 1600 detail is still good, but 13x19 is probably the upper limit thanks to noise and softening due to suppression.

Those are some pretty large print sizes.

ISO 3200 shots are still pretty decent at 8x10, with little chroma noise, but ISO 6400 shots start to get a little grainy and banding starts to show up in the shadows; when shadows make up a large part of the image, banding is severe. At ISO 12,800, noise gets worse, with yellow and purple blotches, as well as noticeable hot and dark and sometimes bright red pixels scattered among the noise. Only when you set the noise suppression to high are these images usable at 5x7-inch sizes and even then you have to forgive the banding and blotchiness. Depending on what you shoot, you might not notice the grain and if you shoot raw and process the images with a good noise suppression program, you might come out with more usable images, but for the most part I suggest steering clear of ISO 12,800.

The 50D almost achieves parity with the Nikon D90 and D300 at ISO 6400 when noise suppression is set to high, but falls short of the mark. Of course, some of that is due to the smaller pixels on this sensor when compared to the 12.3-Mp sensor in the Nikons.

Naturally, the Nikon D700 does better at ISO 12,800. We're comparing apples to watermelons at this point, since the D700 is a 12.1-Mp full-frame sensor, with much larger pixels, but if you're looking for a superb low-light camera, you might want to consider the D700 (we have not seen samples from the Canon 5D Mark II as of late October, so we can't say how it will compare to the D700 at its highest ISO settings).

The 50D delivers high enough quality from ISO 100 to 3200, though, that most users will just be impressed. Shooting indoors with a reasonable shutter speed is usually achieved at ISO 1600 or 3200, so there's still room to play, especially if you have a faster lens.

CONCLUSION

Canon's EOS 50D sticks with the conservative pattern the company has established for their semi-pro dSLR in terms of physical design, but now it also includes most of Canon's cutting-edge dSLR technology. Where this line usually leads is in image quality for a reasonable price and Canon has also worked to improve that aspect, which is really why loyal customers keep coming back.

Excellent low-light performance, impressive printed output, very fast shutter lag times, solid build, superb customization and excellent image quality all add up to make the Canon EOS 50D a great choice for all types of photographers and a sure Dave's Pick.

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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 Fuji cameras at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f779

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Just for Fun: A Prescription for Saving the Economy

We were holding office hours the other day. Or so it seemed.

When the lights went up, we were busy scribbling illegible prescriptions and shuffling manila folders as if we were board certified and a century behind ordinary office automation. Our Bic pen made big oil spills every time we looped a loop but we only had the temerity to yearn for the smooth glide of a gel pen. Nothing so bold as a Bluetooth keyboard.

"Your two o'clock is in Exam Room Two," the intercom buzzed. We recognized the voice. It was same voice we hear when we mistype a word in our waking hours and Spell Catcher, our spelling checker, alerts us with a charming "Curious." She'd been redeployed in the dream -- at a higher salary, too (with medical benefits). Alas, we still haven't gotten a glimpse of her and must remain, well, curious.

We pushed back our chair, a Herman Miller knockoff, and made sure our pocket protector was full before we walked across the hall from our office to Exam Room Two. We took the manila folder from the holder on the door, knocked once to announce our arrival and entered.

There before us, stripped to his underwear, was the patient looking, for all the world, like our doctor.

"What's up, Doc?" we joked.

"I think I've lost it," he mumbled, his eyes searching the linoleum floor tiles for a pattern.

"Lost what?" we asked, clinically.

"My camera."

"You lost your camera again?" we confirmed, scribbling down the symptoms as illegibly as we could on a blank sheet of paper in the folder. He'd done this before. More than once. Apparently the medication we'd prescribed (freely available at Peet's) hadn't done the job.

"Well, yes. I was going to Los Angeles to visit my son. He just moved into a new apartment and I wanted to take pictures of the place. I thought I packed the camera in my suitcase. That's the last time I remember seeing it. I think."

Obviously a short-term memory problem, we decided. We tried to lighten the mood. "Well, that's not a pretty picture," we chuckled, emulating his abysmal bedside manner. "Breath deeply for me," we said, pretending to listen to his lungs with our toy stethoscope.

The old ritual gave us time to think.

"You know, we were just talking about this at a conference I attended in the Cayman Islands last month," we reassured him.

"Really?"

"Uh huh. And a colleague of mine, a Dr. Cunningham, had an interesting suggestion." He was all ears, so we took out our battery-powered otoscope and pulled hard on his pinna, straightening his ear canal before we slipped the speculum in. And you thought we had no training.

"So what was his idea?" the patient pleaded.

"Well, he said he'd had a similar problem with his digital camera. Which he had diagnosed as a hereditary condition after discovering his daughter exhibited the same behavior in regard to her cell phone charger. Apart from gene therapy -- which his wife wouldn't hear of -- he didn't believe any treatment would help."

"So what did he do?"

"Well," we said, stepping back and looking him directly in the eye, "he took a clue from his daughter. She'd bought extra chargers, several of them -- one for the office, one to leave at home, one for the car -- so she was never farther than 100 feet or five minutes on the freeway from a compatible charger."

"Hmmm, interesting. But how does that apply to my situation?"

Ah, patients. So little imagination. You have to spell it out for them every time. Illegibly, perhaps, but still.

"Well, I'll prescribe several digicams for you, not just one. Buy in bulk. Keep one in your wife's purse, another in your glove compartment, one in your tuxedo jacket, another in your rain coat. You get the idea," I encouraged him like a grow light over a yellowing plant.

"But, geez, with the economy the way it is now...."

"Oh, don't believe everything you hear," we dismissed his reservations. "So we finally found out you can't actually get something for nothing. Big deal. Imagine, companies trying to cover payroll with bank loans, people buying houses with nothing down, that sort of thing. What were they thinking? And as for the stock market, that's easily fixed by raising hemlines," we explained using as little technical jargon as possible.

"This prescription," we continued, "involves creating value. With multiple cameras, you'll be able to take pictures wherever you are without the burden of having to remember to bring your camera. And what will you have at the end of the day? Pictures you would not otherwise have had. That's real value, in short."

"Well, if you say so," he demurred, looking a little dejected.

"Not only us but Dr. Cunningham, remember. It worked like a charm for him."

And really, when you think of it, what doctor voluntarily takes his own medicine? That observation was enough to finally persuade the patient, who nodded slowly as if the wisdom of the thing had finally seeped in.

"I suppose if we all did that it would be like an economic stimulus package of its own. All those iPhone owners buying three chargers, all those camera owners buying more cameras, why even laptop owners could have a machine at every destination. And they could all be networked! I think you really may be on to something there, Doc!" he rushed to get into his shirt. "I think I'll even put a buy order in today before the market closes! And then shop from your Buy page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/buynow.htm) tonight to get duplicate gear!"

"Now you're talking. I'll want to see you again in two weeks -- and stay out of trouble until then," we admonished him as we flipped his folder shut and stepped brightly out of the room and back into the real world.

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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: LightValue Exif Tag

I have a question about the Exif values on the light sensitivity tests on the PowerShot G10. Looking at the lowest lux image at ISO 100 and ISO 1600, they are very similar except for shutter speed. There are small differences in focus and MeasuredEV and the ISOs are different. But there is also a significant difference in the field called LightValue in the section called Composite. I haven't found any documentation of this value, so I'm wondering if you know what it represents.

-- Stephen Linhart

(LightValue is "similar to exposure value but includes ISO speed," according to Phil Harvey's Exif Tag documentation at http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/TagNames/Composite.html. Which would explain, as you noticed, why ISO and LV are significantly different while EV isn't. -- Editor)

RE: Geomet'r Reviews

This product works like a charm! I travel at least once a year to different locations and it sucks when I can't remember where I took a particular photo. Was it in this city or that one? I'd be stuck telling friends and family, "I took this in X or maybe it was Y, I don't remember." Then a friend of mine told me about this product and after reviewing Jon Bauer's review (http://www.nikoncafe.com/vforums/showthread.php?p=1967581#post1967581), I decided to purchase the item and discovered that this thing is amazing!

The price was another great thing about it. I would think a product like this would cost hundreds but Macsense offers it at a cheap price. Their customer service was great as well. I would definitely recommend this product to people. It's a little confusing to use at first but once you get the hang of it, you'll love it! =)

-- Victoria L.

(Installation can be a little confusing, but using the product is quite simple. Just turn it on and forget about it. Our July review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/GEO/GEO.HTM) can help you with the installation. -- Editor)

RE: Noiseware Review

Great review. I've used the community edition of Noiseware for awhile and love it. I take some shots that are noisy enough to wake the neighbors, and Noiseware gallops to the rescue. I think your review could be improved if you could put the comparative sample images side by side, with close up (200 percent or more) inserts on each. That way the reader could better understand the work of the filter.

Keep up the great work. Very informative. You've convinced me I should get the pro edition.

-- Jay Ladouceur

(Thanks, Jay. We appreciate the kind words. The reason we didn't post 200 percent enlargements is the interpolation. That's a factor that just confuses the issue. At 100 percent you can see exactly what happens. At 200 percent, you're once removed from the real data that Noiseware created. So we limited our samples to one illustrative example at 100 percent and a gallery of original and processed images that you can download and compare (and even enlarge to 200 percent) for yourself. -- Editor)

RE: Digital Photo Frames

Having just bought a 10.4-inch frame, I am finding out that a lot of info is being hidden from the consumer. I have a new 20-inch iMac with all the bells and whistles, but apparently it's not compatible with the Fidelity Picture Frame. Go figure! Do you have any info that could help me find a picture frame that can hold about 1,000 pics from iPhoto that I took with my Fuji Finepix S700 camera that I just love?

-- Elmer Strumecki

(As a USB device, the frame should just plug right into any USB port on your iMac and appear on your Desktop as a removable mass storage device to which you can copy images to or from it. That's how they all work here on our PowerBook. But before you load the frame, you want to resize (and sharpen) your images. The frame can only display a much lower resolution image than your S700 can capture. Why clog the frame's memory with more data than it can use? Check the frame's resolution and resize your images to no more than that -- unless you want to be able to zoom in. -- Editor)

RE: Photo Deadlines

I submitted a photo late in October for the photo contest. Will it be considered for November or is it considered for just October because it was uploaded in October?

-- Rich Levandowski

(There's no fixed rule, Rich. When you upload a photo it stays in the inbox until one of the judges moves it into the candidates box. This can actually take quite a few days because the judges don't drop in every day. But daily winners have to be chosen in advance (obviously), so the editors do stay ahead of the calendar. Before the end of the month, for example, all that month's daily winners have been chosen (even if that month's monthly winners have not been selected). So if you upload within about five days of the end of the month, you are almost certainly going to be in the next month's batch. Daily winners, by the way, are always notified in advance by email to tell them which day they've won. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Apple (http://www.apple.com) has released Camera Raw Compaibility 2.3 to extend Raw file compatibility for Aperture 2 and iPhoto '08 to Canon EOS 50D, Nikon D90, Sony A900 and Nikon Coolpix P6000. The 4MB update also "addresses issues related to specific cameras and overall stability."

Apple also released iPhoto 7.1.5, a free 9MB download to improve "the printing quality of books, cards and calendars ordered via the iPhoto printing service." Apple previously updated Aperture with a similar revision.


Photojojo (http://photojojo.com/safaris/details.html) is hosting several Photo Safaris sponsored by Adobe in San Francisco and New York City this month. Just bring a camera, take the tour, transfer your images to a slide show when you collapse at a local bar and win prizes.


Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com/shop) has announced a full line of imaging products, including photo books, holiday cards, photographic prints and archive DVDs in time for the holiday season.


O'Reilly has published Ben Long's The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS/1000D Companion, available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596154526/?tag=theimagingres-20).


M-Rock (http://www.M-Rock.com) has announced its new $230 Zion 525 and $290 McKinley 526 camera backpacks are now available. The McKinley adds smooth roller wheels and a locking telescope handle.


Rocky Nook has published Darrel Young's Mastering the Nikon D300, available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952342/?tag=theimagingres-20).


Digital Railroad (http://www.digitalrailroad.net) has shut down after failing to find financing to continue operations.


301 Inkjet Tips and Techniques by Andrew Darlow was chosen as the winner in the Photography: Instructional/How-To category of the National Best Books 2008 Awards, sponsored by USA Book News. It's available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 37 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1598632043/?tag=theimagingres-20).


Open Door Networks (http://www.opendoor.com) has released Envision 1.2 [M], its Web-image browser, with "greatly enhanced integration between the Mac and iPhone releases, among other new features."


HDRsoft (http://www.hdrsoft.com) has released its $99 Photomatix Pro 3.1 [MW] with new settings for the blending method, optional automatic reduction of chromatic aberrations, optional reduction of noise in HDR images and more.


LQ Graphics (http://www.lqgraphics.com) has released its $49.95 Photo to Movie 4.2 [MW] with a new title rendering system with effects, a Gather Media option archiving option, support for more aspect ratios, a Fit Photos to Audio option, keyboard shortcuts for moving forward and back through photos, performance improvements and more.


Kepmad (http://www.kepmad.com) has released its $19 ImageBuddy 3.5.8 [M] with support for PNG files and a crop marks option in page layout.


Karelia (http://www.karelia.com) has released its free iMedia Browser 1.1.2 [M] with live media library updating, improved library parsing and more.

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One Liners

For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).

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

PhotoRescue: http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM

Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc

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Signoff

That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM
New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM
Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM
Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM
Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM

Happy snapping!

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

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