The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 10, Number 26 19 December 2008

Copyright 2008, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 243rd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Thinking about giving a photo frame this holiday season but intimidated by the bright lights and background music at the BigBox store? We'll help you out with a checklist of things to look for. Then Shawn reviews the Rebel XS, comparing it to other Rebels we've known and loved. Finally, we offer a token of our appreciation for your continued support with our tenth annual holiday gift. Season's Greetings!


TOPICS

SPONSORS
This issue is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please tell them you saw their ads here. And now a word from our sponsors:
Nikon
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Feature: Gifting a Digital Photo Frame

(Excerpted from the illustrated review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/GDF/GDF.HTM on the Web site.)

Talk about a fish out of water. Take an ordinary reviewer, present him with a special occasion or holiday, pop the idea into his head that a digital photo frame is just the ticket and drop him off at the mall. See the beads of sweat form along his forehead.

But that's just what happened to us.

Our ambition was pretty simple. We were looking for a small digital frame, preferably with a calendar, that could show a couple dozen images. Sort of a novelty item, really, not a family heirloom.

The idea popped into our head at Brookstone. We saw a couple models there, just about what we had in mind. But none of them had any power, so we couldn't see if they were, you know, any good.

Even if they had had power, we forgot to bring the one item that would have proved the point: an SD card of images we were familiar with. Load it with some high contrast images, an image full of blue sky, some portraits and anything else near and dear to you. That will help evaluate these popular devices.

There are a lot of companies offering digital photo frames these days and the frames themselves seem nearly indistinguishable from each other. But we found on our shopping safari that there are vast differences between them. And we're here to tell you about them.

THE TROUBLE WITH KEYCHAINS

One day they'll make a keychain photo viewer worth its weight in credit cards, but we didn't find one. Naturally, you can't expect much resolution on such a small device and the power requirements to illuminate it are another issue.

But we've all gazed admiringly at small LCDs on old digicams that looked just fine. So the hope does not die. Where did all those bright, 2.0-inch LCDs go?

Although, what turns us off to the keychain concept is the inevitable slapping of a half dozen metal keys against the plastic screen. Not bright.

THE TROUBLE WITH SMALL FRAMES

The small desktop frames we saw at Brookstone were really tempting. They had a calendar function (so they weren't entirely useless) and enough real estate to identify a face at arm's length.

But the trouble with all LCD screens is that they do not show 24-bit color. They show 16-bit color. That's why you take along a picture of the blue sky, which can look posterized on a 16-bit LCD if the frame doesn't have the smarts to blend that graduation intelligently.

And for $30 you don't get smarts like that.

OTHER SMALL FRAMES

Next stop was Ritz. We would have gone to Goodwill, frankly, if they had frames. Last minute shopping can do that to you.

We may award the Ersatz Nobel Prize for Customer Support and we may also launch into a tirade or three on salespeople who do not know their merchandise. But we felt genuinely sorry for the clerk who helped us at Ritz.

There were a couple of house brand models that looked nice. Shiny black plastic frames with an index card size screen. They were in a lock case, hence the necessity for a clerk. Under $50, hence no idea what the necessity for a lock case would be unless the girls high school across the street is actually a reformatory.

He managed to show us the display models and even plug one in and even hunt around for an SD card with some real images on it (they do sell cameras there). He actually worked at it, we mean. And we appreciated his effort.

The trouble was that the product wasn't very good. When we finally saw an image on the screen, it looked, well, terrible. The 320x240 pixel resolution didn't help, certainly, but the color was a contrasty and the tones were posterized.

It was a gimmick in short.

FRAME WITH THE STARS

We stopped for lunch. It became clear to us that our quest for a small frame with a calendar wasn't going to be successful. If the idea was any good, after all, we might as well go for a normal size frame. You know, 5x7 or so, and sacrifice the calendar, if necessary. You can always take a picture of a calendar and put it in the slide show.

So we went to Target, where we vaguely recall seeing a shelf of digital frames. If we'd had more time, we would have gone to Sears or Best Buy or Circuit City, but time (and gas) was something we didn't have. Target was closest to the bull's eye.

And indeed they had a shelf of frames.

Most of the brands were unfamiliar to us (there are hundreds) but the one brand we would have bought without thinking twice (Pandigital) wasn't on the shelf. There were only two brands we recognized: Kodak and Polaroid. But Polaroid isn't Polaroid any more.

Oddly enough the Kodak frame was not plugged into the power outlet hidden in the shelf hardware. The other half dozen frames were. We looked them over and were unimpressed. Then we plugged in the Kodak. It clearly was the better frame, much brighter with better contrast and a much nicer looking image.

It also happened to be a touch frame with a set of touch buttons on the mat along the bottom and right side of the frame. And the image area itself was wide screen, not 4:3, perfect for HD movie playback. No calendar, although it did have a timer.

But as a gift, missing features can be forgiven -- especially if the price is right. And manufacturers know that most frames are given as gifts.

Regardless of features, missing or not, it's the image that counts, after all.

THE IMAGE

As much as we take for granted (though we shouldn't) the quality of a computer monitor image, photo frames vary quite a bit more in quality. Like a television, it's best to go to the store and look at them in operation before you buy one.

There it's easy to see the difference between an 8-inch frame with only 600x480 resolution and one with 800x600 pixels.

It's also easy to see the difference in how a frame is lit. A frame that uses LED backlighting will be brighter than a frame that uses fluorescent backlighting. Brightness matters a good deal because your frame will typically be viewed in a room lit either by diffused sunlight or artificial light -- not, that is, a darkened viewing booth. LED backlighting can stand up to that but fluorescents get as washed out as your camera LCD in bright sunlight. We half suspect the Kodak was unplugged at Target to make the cheaper fluorescent frames look better. So look for LED backlighting.

Oddly enough, like HDTV screens, all these screens are non-glare not glossy (like laptops). They have to be seen in bright rooms where you can't control glare for multiple viewers. Some models, however, do include a frame with glass.

Your computer monitor needs calibration to be trustworthy, no matter how much you paid for it or how new it is. You can calibrate a photo frame, but not with any hardware calibration. You're reduced to fiddling with the built-in brightness, contrast and color controls until your eye is happy. That's why bringing a set of images along with you when you shop is helpful. Some frames can be adjusted, others can't quite cut the mustard.

The trick to that is the firmware.

THREE FRAMES

We've rarely found a frame whose firmware did not allow you to adjust Brightness and Contrast. Color controls like Tint and Saturation are not so universally available. And the outside of the box doesn't always reveal this sort of technical detail.

Pandigital does a nice job here, with Brightness, Contrast, Tint and Color adjustments on the 8-inch PandTouch frame we reviewed (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/PNT/PANTOUCH.HTM) recently. In contrast, the GiiNii 8-inch Ultra Thin frame, here for testing, offers just Brightness and Contrast but uses an ambient light sensor to adjust the display for room light.

They're both attractive frames. The very thin GiiNii is set in a contemporary brushed metal frame with a quarter-inch white mat. You can set this in a wooden frame for a more traditional look. The Pandigital has a traditional black wood frame and three-quarter inch reveal on the mat.

Perhaps even more attractive than these fairly traditional approaches is the GiiNii 7-inch Wedge frame, an aluminum box shaped like a wedge with a widescreen LCD. There's no adjusting the angle of view but it doesn't tip over easily either.

But unlike the larger two frames, it only accepts small SD and xD cards, not CompactFlash or Memory Stick cards. So if you shoot with a camera that uses either of those cards, you'll have to copy your images from the computer to the Wedge to see them. There isn't a USB connector suitable for plugging in a thumbdrive either. So make sure the frame you buy supports the camera cards you use. Because the easiest way to get display photos is to just pop a card into a frame.

Also unlike the other two frames, the Wedge doesn't include a remote. That may not seem important for a frame you can reach when you're looking at it, but we found remotes to be very handy, so to speak.

The Pandigital mat covers the IR receiver for the remote control, so you can't tell by looking at it that it has a remote. For that matter, you can't tell it's a touchscreen unless you tap the top right corner of the mat. Well done.

Both 8-inch frames are LED backlight frames and are nearly indistinguishable in quality next to each other. You do have to look at them straight-on to enjoy the best display because looking at an LCD frame from an angle distorts the image.

Neither achieves more than a tinny sound from their small stereo speakers. But both play movies and audio files.

But don't even ask us about transitions (of which they have many). All we want is a simple fade. Everything else distracts from the show.

FEATURES

As a gift, features may not sway you (who looks a gift frame in the firmware?) but that's how hundreds of frames, whose hardware is made by a handful of companies, distinguish themselves.

Memory card slots and battery power (rather rare) are the features that most influence purchase. But there are a number of other tidbits to look for.

The 8-inch GiiNii, for example, offers a Collage function that can show two or three images at the same time. Westinghouse frames also have this feature but the GiiNii approach adds background templates. Templates are built into the frame for Mother's Day, Baseball, Golf and Fishing.

That clock/calendar function we were looking for is another firmware bonus on all three of these frames. The Wedge alternates its clock or calendar display with your images (an annoying approach in our view). The Ultra-Thin overlays its calendar over your images, ghosting them underneath (also aggravating). The Pandigital can run a slide show in the corner of its calendar display, the approach we like the best.

Some frames, like the Kodak and the Ultra-Thin, offer alarm features. We're not alarmists so we aren't big on that feature.

A TINY OS

In fact, the features themselves often sound a lot better on the box than they work in practice. More important is the little operating system built into every frame that lets it communicate with its card reader and your computer.

Card readers are pretty straightforward, but beware a slot location that makes it hard to load and extract your card. The Ultra-Thin exhibits that flaw with a very narrow reader (not much wider than the slots) and cramped slots that are not spring-loaded. The Wedge has a much nicer spring-loaded SD slot that clicks when you insert a card. And the Pandigital gives you enough room to push cards into its spring-less slots.

When connected via USB to your computer, they all mount as removable disks so you can copy images, movies and music to their internal memory. USB specifications are hard to find on most models, probably because few support USB 2.0 Hi-Speed. Copying can be pretty slow unless you wisely resize your images first. Another reason to rely on the card reader.

Actually interacting with the frame, though, can be the hard part.

It took us a while to get used to the Wedge's touch buttons on the right side of the frame. They aren't buttons with clicks but indentations that send a signal when touched. The frame responded slowly to them, however, and we had to slow down our expectations. If you leave your finger on them, they repeat the command quickly. Ingenious indeed, but they take getting used to. And on the Wedge the Power button also functions as a button, switching between playback modes of Photo, Clock, and Photo/Clock.

What a button does, however, is the tricky part. Every frame seems to redefine how a frame should operate. That's tolerable if all you have to do is set the date and time and a few options for display (like whether to view one image or a slide show and which music to play). But if you like to fiddle much or get bored easily, changing things on a frame can be a trial.

Remote controls are our preferred way of interacting with a frame. The controls built into the back of the frame require you to hold the frame, risking a smudge on the glass. Touchscreens are a nice touch (we prefer Pandigital's implementation to Kodak's because it's subtler than Kodak's illuminated touch panel) but we use the remote a lot more.

We liked both GiiNii and Pandigital approaches to menu design. GiiNii wins the looks award and Pandigital the function award but they both get the job done.

Finally, frame firmware isn't very tolerant of marginal images or high-fps movies. If your slide show or movie playback is disturbed, the frame may be choking on a file it can't understand.

MAKE AN ALBUM

If you're buying the frame as a gift for someone who doesn't have a camera or any images, why not include a flash card full of images?

We went through our archive the other evening to copy every image shot on every Christmas since we started shooting digital in 1998. We put those on an old memory card, resized for the frame, making the best Christmas "card" we ever created. Ten years of family get-togethers.

We popped it into the Wedge frame, whose stability promises to survive the eggnogged, and let it run a slide show with some of that free Christmas music stored on the card.

Some frames can be updated via WiFi over your local area network. Kodak frames can read your Kodak Gallery albums over your Web connection, too. Tapping into this feature may require a resident geek, though.

BUYING TIPS

So to recap, our shopping advice is pretty simple.

We've used several Pandigital frames and like them very much. We've also used several GiiNii frames and find them an attractive alternative if you don't need movie playback. We haven't used Kodak frames but have looked them over at trade shows, as we have Westinghouse and Smartparts and a few other brands. But Pandigital stands out in this crowd, with Kodak and GiiNii fighting for second place.

A good frame will list for $100 and up, but you can find them at street prices for $80 and up. Cheap frames, however, really are cheap, sacrificing resolution and brightness, not to mention features.

CONCLUSION

We suspect digital photo frames are big sellers because they're usually bought as gifts. And as electronic devices, they have the added bonus of implying the giver is pretty smart.

But fighting it out on the price tag, many frames cut back severely on image quality while touting features that are, frankly, half-baked.

Your gift will be most appreciated if you take the time to test the frames you find available in the store, shopping at a store that displays them with power so you can pop in your own card. And including a card full of images with your gift is a great idea.

After all, it's the thought that counts.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Canon Rebel XS User Report

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

Canon's original Digital Rebel debuted in 2003, bringing dSLR technology within the grasp of consumers for under $1,000. And with each new Rebel, Canon has offered both the latest model and the previous model under that price. With the XS, Canon is offering two new dSLRs in the under $1,000 category for the first time. Though the word "Digital" has been dropped, the Canon Rebel XS continues the tradition of bringing advanced digital camera technology within the range of the casual photographer at a price that leaves room in the budget for an extra lens or two.

While the step from the Rebel XT to the Rebel XTi brought more internal than external changes, the Rebel XSi and XS are more complete overhauls and the XS is subtly different from the XSi. Many of the external changes are welcome, including the slightly taller grip and bigger LCD, but the XS has the same sensor as the XTi, so not much is new there. Missing on the XTi is the XS's Live View with both phase- and contrast-detect autofocus, an image-stabilized lens and several new automated features.

LOOK & FEEL

My favorite thing about a Rebel is its small size. I use other SLRs when I need more advanced features, like a faster frame rate, but sometimes the only camera that will do is a small SLR and the last four Rebels are among the smallest. The Canon Rebel XS is only a little larger than its predecessor, but it looks bigger and its contours are a little smoother. The XS is about two millimeters wider and four millimeters taller than the XTi and weighs about 60 grams less, despite the heavier image-stabilized lens. So while it's a little bigger, the Canon Rebel XS is less of a burden when walking around.

Canon has improved the grip again, adding a slightly taller grip area. My four fingers fit almost entirely, with only about three millimeters of overhang. The grip is not as nice as the XSi's grip and the XS has no rubber pad on the back to serve as a thumbgrip.

It takes a real camera geek to notice, but the shutter button is set at a more aggressive angle than all Rebels but the XSi. It now matches the angle of the semi-pro Canon 50D camera and pro 1D. Matching the natural bend of your finger does make it easier to gently squeeze that important button.

The XS looks less like the XSi and more like a smoothed-out XTi. The pop-up flash that was a distinct element of the XTi is flush with the rest of the XS's flow. While the XTi's metal parts, the hot shoe and strap loops, are painted black, those of the XS are metal. I prefer the black, but paint wears off and the XS's silver won't show the wear quite as clearly as the painted parts. The new design also eliminates more parts compared to both the XTi and XSi.

The 3-inch LCD on the XSi's rear pushed the buttons off the left side, necessitating quite a shuffle of buttons and their assignments. Though the XS's LCD is smaller, they likely used the same internal components from the XSi and so the left buttons did not return. The result actually looks a lot cleaner, though, and your eye has to search fewer places for the various controls. The downside is that the button for one of the most-changed functions, ISO, has moved to the Canon XS's top deck, right behind the Command dial. When I first saw this move, I liked the idea. In use, though, it's a pain. ISO buttons only belong on the top deck when there's a separate Status LCD up there. But because the Status display is on the back, the ISO button should be there too, since you're less likely to even think of looking at the top deck.

The four navigation buttons, which Canon calls Cross Keys, behave better than they once did in Record mode. The White Balance button (the Down button on the XTi) used to require pressing the Left and Right arrow keys to make changes. That button has been reassigned to the Picture Styles menu, but now the icons are oriented in a vertical column and pressing the same button repeatedly scrolls through the various styles. The AF button activates with the Right button and repeatedly pressing the Right button also scrolls through the horizontally oriented options. Naturally, using the Left arrow scrolls in the other direction, but the menu wraps, so you can just stick to one button. White Balance has been given its own button, so you still have to go to the Left and Right arrows to make changes, but at least all the arrow keys work logically.

LIVE VIEW

Though I still advocate using the optical viewfinder most of the time when shooting with an SLR, there are times when nothing but Live View will do.

There are two modes to the Live View system, selectable via Custom Function 7. Live View is disabled by default, by the way, so you'll need to find this menu item in Settings Menu 2 to turn it on. The two options are called Quick and Live modes. Quick mode works as most Live View modes do, dropping the mirror when you press the AE-Lock button (marked with an asterisk) to use the conventional phase-detect autofocus system. This temporarily blacks out the Live View image, which makes it impossible to know that you're still framing the subject and holding your AF point in the proper place.

That's why they added the second mode, which they call Live, but is better described as contrast-detect autofocus. This works just like a digicam, reading the image from the imaging sensor while adjusting the lens for the setting that produces the most contrast in the image. A small square appears in the center of the image area and you can move it around with the cross keys. Just like Quick mode, unfortunately, you have to press the AE-Lock button first until you hear the focus confirmation beep, then press the shutter button to fire. It's a little slower at times than phase-detect mode, but it gets the job done. Live mode is really better for tripod work, where you can place the AF area right where you want it and confirm focus onscreen.

Both modes offer the ability to zoom in on your live view, excellent for confirming focus before capture. Using the Magnify button just right of the AE-Lock button, you can zoom in 5x or 10x, then press the AE-Lock button to focus if you like; but of course you can't confirm framing in that mode.

Another "digicam" benefit that comes thanks to Live View mode is Exposure Simulation, where the image you see onscreen in non-flash shots will appear approximately how your final image will look. If you're about to underexpose the image, for example, the Live View image will appear dark; or too bright if your settings will overexpose. It's great for fine-tuning in Manual mode. Exposure Simulation isn't always desirable, but it's something many digicam owners are spoiled by without even knowing it's unique.

A grid can be displayed on the display in Live View, as well as a histogram, though like the Canon 50D, the histogram isn't translucent, instead blocking almost 1/4 of the screen.

Like all other Canon Live View cameras, you can connect the XSi to your computer via a USB 2.0 cable and see a live image on the computer, as well as remote control the camera from the computer.

Unlike the XSi, the Rebel XS doesn't have a dedicated Live View button; instead Live view is activated with the Set button.

Imperfection. It's frustrating when they get so very close to excellence, yet leave out something important. Though I think it's great that the Rebel XS's main Quick mode includes an image of the seven autofocus points overlaid on the image, the chosen AF points don't light up red after you've pressed the AE-L button (marked with an asterisk above the button) to focus, making them almost useless. What it does show you if you see all seven AF points is that you are in Auto Select mode. And if you have selected a single AF point, only that point shows. So it's not a total loss, but it would be a lot better if the Live View display behaved like the optical viewfinder. This was a problem with the XSi, but the Canon 50D fixed the problem in its Live View implementation.

My other beef is left over from the Canon 40D's Live View mode. I love that it has a histogram display option, but I can't understand why you'd make something that takes up almost one-quarter of the screen completely opaque. Other companies have managed translucent histograms for years. Canon needs to get this coded up and loaded up and quick.

STORAGE & BATTERY

Some Canon dSLR fans might not like the XS's switch to SD/SDHC cards from the CompactFlash card standard still in use in professional dSLR cameras. The advantage to SD is that you're less likely to damage the simpler connector interface by inserting the card incorrectly, whereas the CompactFlash header's many pins are often damaged when beginners try to insert the cards sideways. SD cards cannot be put in sideways, have a sturdier, simpler contact design and the cards are also now quite affordable and common, so the time was ripe for a switch. Pros who carry a Rebel as a backup might be a little annoyed to have to carry two types of card, but one 8-GB SDHC card goes a long way (and pros with 1D-type bodies will already have an SD card for their second slot).

There's also a new battery for the XS, the LP-E5. This new 1080 mAh lithium-ion battery offers 50 percent more capacity (about 500 shots total with 50 percent flash usage) at about the same weight. Whereas the power pads on the XTi's NB-2LH battery could easily cause a fire if exposed to metal in a bag or pocket, the new LP-E5 battery's contacts are concealed inside a small protrusion out the side of the battery, making a pants fire less likely. Which is nice.

PROCESSOR

Canon uses the DIGIC III processor in the XS, but the XS is limited to 12-bit analog-to-digital processing, rather than 14-bit image processing, nor can it capture 14-bit Raw files. So though the XS has a powerful processor, Canon chose not to use it for capturing smoother images, as the XSi does.

They do still use the DIGIC III processor to power their Auto Lighting Optimizer mode, which works to maintain highlight and shadow detail, working similarly to Sony's DRO and Nikon's Active D-Lighting. Canon's literature says that the Auto Lighting Optimizer mode uses Canon's Face Detection technology to make sure faces are exposed properly in backlit situations. Unlike Nikon's D-Lighting, however, it cannot be applied after capture. It's designed to enhance photographs for direct printing, camera to printer, via PictBridge. We didn't notice much of an effect in our tests, though.

ISO. The XS's highest ISO setting remains low compared with other recent offerings from other companies, ranging from 100 to 1600. Image quality across the range is good, except in certain situations, with ISO 100 shots producing good 13x19-inch prints and ISO 1600 shots looking good at 8x10 inches.

IMAGE QUALITY

The XS has good image quality, but not as good as we'd like. Canon has made many changes in how they compensate for noise, especially chroma noise and in specific situations, there are demosaicing errors that create disturbing patterns that are difficult to remove.

However, the XS's ISO 1600 setting is impressive, creating usable prints at up to 11x14-inch print sizes. Yes, there's noise, but it's hardly noticeable, which is impressive for ISO 1600.

The demosaicing errors are really the only major aspect we find problematic about the XS. And the fact is many people won't see them at all. Ironically, as you raise the ISO on the XS, some of these artifacts become less noticeable, especially the diagonal bands. When we printed the images to see when the artifacts would appear, we found the color errors appeared early on, affecting images at ISO 100 when printed at 8x10. We knew what we were looking for, however; most would not notice the effect at all. The diagonal banding didn't appear until 11x14 and didn't really stand out until printed at 13x19 inches. So take it with a few sprinkles of salt and the XS is still a good, usable camera.

You have to decide whether the above artifacts would bother you if you didn't see them at 8x10, especially when you consider how little you paid for your rather capable SLR.

You can use the XS to get great images almost all of the time and you'll get impressive detail at all ISO settings, so we think the tradeoff of artifacts against high ISO performance is worth it for the average consumer photographer on a budget.

ANALYSIS

The Canon Rebel XS is a good quality dSLR, well-suited to the consumer shooter looking for a little more from a digital camera. Canon sought to compete with Nikon and Pentax at the extreme low price level and had to cut a few corners. The body isn't quite as nice as the Canon Rebel XSi and the image quality suffers from a few more hitches, but you'll only notice if you zoom to 100 percent onscreen and search around like we do. The XS's image stabilized lens and impressive high ISO performance should mitigate most of the other problems and the XS's fast autofocus should make this year's holiday pictures better than ever. While we really like the XS for consumer photographers on a budget, most enthusiast shooters will be better served with the Canon Rebel XSi kit, which is available for about $200 more.

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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 Canon dSLRs at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee92fbe

Visit the Olympus Digicams Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f783

Jody asks about flash information at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eeaaeb1/0

A user asks about moving from a point-and-shoot camera to a dSLR at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eeaaadf/0

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

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Just for Fun: Holiday Special 2008

Each year at this time, we try to come up with some special treat to express our appreciation for your subscription. You can still enjoy all of our previous specials by visiting the Archive (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html). Here's the list:

They all still work, especially the Gift Certificate, perfect for anyone on your list getting into digital photography. A PDF with a nice shot of the Golden Gate, you can download it (http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?gsb) and print as many copies on your inkjet as you need. Then just remember to send an email to editor@imaging-resource.com with the subject "Gift Subscription" and the email address of the new subscriber in the body of the message.

And this year?

Well, there's certainly a chill in the air this year. Foreclosures, layoffs, disappearing retirement funds. It's been the worst of times.

But bad times can also be great opportunities. The trick is to put a bookmark in the bad news and climb above all the fear seasoning this holiday to get a different perspective. Once above all the street noise, whether this is your profession or your hobby, you can hear yourself think and see things that can't be appreciated when you're stuck in a crosswalk.

So that's our holiday gift: a bookmark. Well, two. One features a panorama of San Francisco, the other a mountain top as a winter storm breaks.

The PDF (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/archive/v10/ir-bookmark.pdf) is set up to print two-up on 4x6 photo paper. Set your printer to use a 4x6 borderless sheet in landscape orientation and make sure you set the paper type to whatever you're using. Then all you have to do is cut it down the middle to get two scenes with a little nicer perspective on the world than we've been getting.

And every time you use it, remember it came with our gratitude for your company on this adventure. Season's Greetings!

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Dave's Deals

Looking for special prices on featured products? Because of their time-limited nature, we only publish them in the email version of this newsletter. The good news is that you can subscribe for free on our Subscriber Services page:

Subscribe for Great Deals!

We deliver -- just Subscribe!

Support this Publication!

Visit the IR PriceGrabber Page twice a year!

Support this Publication!

Visit the Amazon from this link!

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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: Upgrading

I feel the urge to upgrade finally. My Canon G2 has been fantastic but it is only four million pixels and has a lot of lag time (very irritating). I am not a pro photographer so I am looking at mid price cameras like the Canon Rebel XSi or the Nikon D60. I just read about the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 which sounds intriguing. I am looking for a 28-105 lens, however, as I shoot a lot of portrait type images (reference for my paintings, mostly although I do occasionally get commissioned to shoot portrait photography). I really like the look of the Nikon D60 but am right, it doesn't have a swivel viewing screen? I use the swivel all the time on my Canon G2.

I know you can't pick it for me but just thought I send along my input. I am learning a lot on your site and newsletter. Thanks.

-- Karen Martin

(That's right, Karen, the D60 (and the XSi for that matter, not to mention the G10) does not have a swivel screen. We're a fan of them, too, and miss them. The G1, however, does have a swivel screen. The 4-megapixel sensor in the G2 wouldn't bother us but the shutter lag would. You'll be glad to know current cameras are quite a bit faster. Upgrades are tough because you often have to give up something you really like about the old camera for the advantages of the new. The trick is not to look back <g>. -- Editor)

RE: Camcorders?

I do read and like your newsletters -- thanks. Do you have a sister site/publication which deals with camcorders?

-- Ian Williams

(Thanks, Ian. No, we don't but you might try http://www.camcorderinfo.com for that. And while we're at it, http://www.hdguru.com can help explain the whole HDTV thing. -- Editor)

RE: Model Release Forms

Do you know where I can get a model release form for doing video and photos is there a standard form?

-- RX7Chi

(Just google "model release form" and take your pick (and take your pic). Dan Heller, who wrote a book on the topic, has a primer on the topic at his site (http://www.danheller.com/model-release-primer.html). -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

The New York Public Library (http://drupal02.nypl.org/blogs/2008/12/16/nypl-joins-flickr-commons) has joined Flickr Commons with 1,300 images from its photographic collections with more to come. Flickr Commons is a project dedicated to sharing and describing the public photo collections of the world's leading cultural heritage institutions.


Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has released its $299 Lightroom 2.2 [MW], adding support for seven new camera models and including refinements like enhanced performance of its local adjustment tools and native camera profiles.


RawWorkflow (http://www.rawworkflow.com) has introduced LensAlign, a focus calibration system designed to measure front and back focusing. Available in a $139.95 Pro model and a $79.95 Lite model, the device features quick and easy setup. Read our review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/LA/LA.HTM) for the details.


Apple (http://www.apple.com) released Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 2.4 to support the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and PowerShot G10; Pentax K2000/K-m; Leaf AFi-II 6, AFi-II 7, Aptus-II 6, Aptus-II 7 and Leica M8.2. The update also addresses "issues related to specific cameras and overall stability."


Olympus (http://www.olympusamerica.com) has updated its $99.95 Studio 2.2 [MW] remote control and image processing application, enhancing cropping options, adding manual focus to the camera control window and saving control settings.


Koingo (http://koingosw.com) has released its $15.95 Image Smith batch image processor [MW] adding Raw image support, Quick Look support for single image operations, and rudimentary cropping.


Ironic Software (http://www.ironicsoftware.com) has released its $34 Deep 1.0 [M] to search images by color, size, aspect ratio, tags and keywords without importing them into a database.


Iridient Digital (http://www.iridientdigital.com) has released RAW Developer 1.8.2 [M] with support for new camera models, improved deep shadow rendering, improved default camera profiles for many models and several bug fixes.


Boinx Software (http://www.boinx.com) has released its $129 FotoMagico Pro 2.6.2 [M] with an improved media browser, improved handling of multiple Lightroom libraries and more.


Serif Ltd. (http://www.serif.com) has released its $49.99 Digital Photo Suite 2009 [W] to organize, enhance and share photos by combining the tagging and sorting features of AlbumPlus X3 with the image stitching of PanoramaPlus 3 and other one-click image editing tools.


XtraLean (http://www.xtralean.com) has released its $39.95 Shutterbug 2.5 [M], adding a PayPal shopping cart option, random and loop slide show options, improved text zoom in the browser and more.


Photoflex (http://www.photoflex.com) is having an inventory clearance sale through the end of December featuring up to 72 percent off select products.


Hamrick (http://www.hamrick.com) has released its $79.95/$39.95 VueScan 8.5 [LMW] with support for multiple wireless HP scanners on Mac OS X, faster skew correction, a fix for Nikon slide feeders 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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