|Volume 11, Number 2||16 January 2009|
Welcome to the 245th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We reflect on the photo products we saw at the recent Macworld Expo before revealing a life-saving trick and discussing priorities when focusing and framing. Then we have a little fun with Obama's official portrait. Enjoy!
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The circus came to town again last week. We didn't run away.
Instead, in addition to our usual onsite coverage of Macworld Expo, we confess to watching several video podcasts on the show. Nothing we could recommend.
The gist of the coverage: "So the friend of the cool guy gave the keynote and he didn't have much to say, really (or the cool guy would have done it). But that's cool because the company has been releasing cool things all year (even if a few of them have been DOA, but hey chill). Some dudes were bummed because they made noise about what products would be updated (like the Mac mini and iMac that weren't), but hey nobody has to wait until Macworld Expo 2010's keynote because there isn't going to be one. You just have to wait until next month. Cool!"
Or something like that.
It isn't just Macworld Expo, though, that's cooled off. It's been hard to take any show seriously the last two years, Macworld Expo notwithstanding. In our private meetings with one company or another, we frequently hear that the company is going to skip the next show or this will be the last one or something to that effect. There's a good deal of show fatigue out there.
The first show after Sept. 11, 2001 was Seybold in San Francisco. People were terrified of flying but the show went on. There were contacts to make, presentations to absorb, hot products to get your hands on.
Even then, though, the game was being changed by the Internet. You can social network, get product info, everything but touch the stuff on the Internet. Seybold made it just two more years after that.
Macworld, photokina and a few other specialty shows (Photoshop World, for example) have survived. And one even sprouted (Nvidia's Nvision 2008) as a forum for GPU programming.
But when was the last time you went to a circus?
We'll shed no tears for IDG's Macworld Expo as it tries to reinvent itself. Instead, let's take an unpodcast-like, well-considered look at a few of the attractions. And unmask a few of the bearded ladies at this year's event.
Like Apple's announcement of its $2,799 17-inch version of its unibody MacBook Pro (http://www.apple.com/macbookpro/features-17inch.html). Carved aluminum is all the rage. Even the space shuttle is getting some. Alenia Spazio of Turin has built a $421 million cupola designed by Boeing, carving it from a single piece of aluminum for strength. Let's hope there are no manufacturing defects.
But this story is about size not strength.
Size matters to some people. Not to us, we scoff, because we still think small is beautiful. Fifteen inches, not 13 (although an 8.5-inch Web book would have been really beautiful). But we didn't notice the 17-inch MacBook Pro on the show floor the first day because it really isn't that much bigger than a 15-inch MacBook Pro. An inch and a half here and an inch and a half there. That's all.
It does have a lot more screen space. At a higher resolution, too, which has the unfortunately side effect of making all the type smaller. We complained to Adobe that Elements 6/7 uses a font size for its menus that is just simply way too small to be seen by anyone over the age of 40. The only solution is to change your monitor's resolution. Which defeats the purpose of a larger screen.
Our solution is to use a second monitor. A 15-inch MacBook Pro and a cinema display is probably a better arrangement than a 17-inch MacBook Pro alone. But we were certainly tempted by the 17-inch MacBook Pro on size alone.
The 8-hour battery life didn't really mean much to us. First of all, that's calculated using the Better Battery Life setting (which means the slower GPU). Second, we're always plugged in. We don't work in airplanes or airports either.
So the non-replaceable battery wouldn't have bothered us. We only buy a second battery when our first can't support life for an hour. And this one, which Apple says lasts longer using its Adaptive Charging that monitors the cells to optimize charging, can be recharged 1,000 times for an 8,000 hour life before you have to cough up $179 to have Apple replace it. By which time some enterprising third party will no doubt sell you a do-it-yourself option for a lot less.
But that's just us, of course. Not much comfort if you travel from the U.S. to Japan or Europe frequently.
The only spec that really made us wonder was the claim that the 17-inch MacBook Pro has a "60 percent greater color gamut." Greater than what, we wondered. The implication was that there's something special about the 17-inch MacBook Pro screen.
So we hit the Expo floor and asked the black shirts (you know, the Apple employees). One confirmed it had a 60 percent great color gamut. But another black shirt, questioned circuitously about the non-glare option, confirmed there was no difference except size in the screens between the 15 and 17 inch models. The 13s are different, folks. We confirmed this on Apple's site where the whole story is that it has "a 60 percent great color gamut than previous generations." Ah, yes, previous generations.
Stands to reason. Same GPUs, same screens (built by LG?). Why would the gamut be any different?
There was one option that did finally make us stop to think, though. The 17 incher is the only MacBook Pro with a non-glare option. We did visit the TechRestore booth (http://www.techrestore.com) to see their $199 retrofit of a 15 incher with a non-glare screen. But for $50 you can get a 17-incher with a non-glare screen.
TechRestore had the class to use a black bezel. Apple reverted to the aluminum silver bezel on the current model, as if they're trying to make you feel bad (retro, anti-evolutionary, backward, uncool, elderly) about choosing non-glare. It seems like a non-glare screen requires a bezel. No glass panel (not even a sandblasted one). So uncool.
But looking at the two options side by side was not the revelation we had hoped. The glassy model was attractive but the non-glare model was an instant relief to our eyes. Just because we've never used one, we promised ourselves to think about the glassy version (which, Dave assures us, isn't as bad as some people have made it out to be).
Fortunately the 17 incher won't be shipping until the end of the month, so we can mull this over a few more weeks. By that time, the new iLife will be shipping with whatever we decide to acquire.
The annual iLife update included more than a few tidbits. But the big news is that it's Leopard only. If you're not running OS 10.5 on your Mac, you can't run iLife '09. Time marches on.
We've always thought of OS 10.5 as the first release designed for Intel CPUs. It does run on PowerPC CPUs, but time is marching on for that old engine, too.
The other striking bit of news regarding iLife was that it was not yet available. Like the MacBook Pro, it won't be available until the end of the month.
In the old days, Jobs would introduce a product and you could dash up to the Apple Store two blocks away to buy it. At this Macworld, there were only four 17-inch MacBook Pros on the floor and it took a day before the anti-glare model showed up. And you can't buy them or iLife '09 yet anyway.
Two products in the suite actually concern photographers, although the news was probably more compelling if you are an iTunes fan (DRM-free music downloads) or Garage Band buff (music lessons from the stars).
iPhoto '09 (http://www.apple.com/iphoto) introduces two new ways of viewing your photo collection: Faces and Places.
Faces uses face detection to find a face in a photo. Then iPhoto asks you to identify that face with a name. iPhoto then displays other faces it calculates are the same person. iPhoto suggests, but you confirm the identities. Each face you have identified is displayed in a key photo on a corkboard when you click on Faces. Click on the key photo and you can see the confirmed photos and any suggestions.
To move a suggestion into the upper confirmed area of the screen, just click on it. Double-clicking removes the suggestion.
You can flip the snapshot of any person you've named to add their last name and Facebook ID. And you can create a SmartAlbum based on anyone by simply dragging one or more snapshots to the source list.
Places uses GPS geotagging to display locations on Google Maps, translating latitude and longitude into the English location name. If you don't have GPS data in your Exif headers, you can enter the event location and iPhoto will add it.
So both new features rely on human intervention to tidy up what they can't quite manage. It isn't a bad approach but it would seem provisional. The intriguing thing is that Apple, unlike other companies we're aware of that have similar technology, thinks it has made it good enough to release.
But only in iPhoto, not Aperture. Yet.
On the Expo floor, we spent a few minutes going through the standard demo. The program made some glaring errors identifying people but iPhoto made it very easy to confirm with a click or reject with a double click its suggestions. And the smart albums based on people were a very nice touch.
iPhoto also includes six Themed Slideshows, including one with a Ken Burns pan-and-zoom effect. The slideshows use the new face detection technology to avoid cropping out the subject of your photo. There's support for music and a filmstrip at the bottom of the screen for navigation. Exports can be played back on an iPod, iPhone or Apple TV.
Joining Facebook, Flickr support has also been added to iPhoto with a new Flickr button. And if you've added locations to your iPhoto images, they appear on Flickr photo maps.
iPhoto automatically creates albums in the source list for images shared on Facebook and Flickr.
Finally iPhoto's editing tools have been refreshed with a Definition slider to "improve clarity and bring out detail," a Retouch brush to detect edges and the Auto Red-Eye tool uses face detection to remove red-eye more efficiently. The Saturation slider has also been improved with a checkbox to saturate everything but skin tones.
If last year's release of iMovie (http://www.apple.com/imovie) was a step backward in functionality, this year's promises to be two steps forward, restoring much of what simply couldn't be implemented in a timely fashion in the major rewrite.
The demo during the keynote was impressive for its editing ease. But especially noteworthy was the built-in image stabilization. Earth shaking, we would say, but that seems somehow inappropriate.
There are a few compact camcorders (notably the Flip and the very similar Kodak Z series) that are fun, easy to use and handy but what they capture tends to be unwatchable because the scene jerks all over the place. Little camcorders solve the inevitable problem of camera shake with built-in image stabilization. Like Sony's Super SteadyShot.
But iMovie '09 rides to the rescue of these cheap but fun camcorders. It can stabilize their clips after the fact. So that inexpensive camcorder that's fun to use can actually capture stuff that's watchable.
It can also do some pretty simple drag-and-drop editing with some smarts about whether to include video and sound or just one or the other and how much of each. The demo during the keynote was actually exciting.
Apple has also added themes to iMovie, which may work for those boring travelogues and vacations but strikes us as a bit too PowerPoint for sophisticated audiences like the 12 year olds we confer with.
What, you may wonder, was there for the pro?
Well, we spent some time on the show floor with Digital Film Tools President Marco Paolini again. This time his $100 filter set has been picked up by Tiffen (http://www.tiffen.com/dfx_v2_home.html). Our Macworld gallery (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/MWSF09/mw09/index.html) of 67 images has screen shots of the variable focus filter, the defogging filter and the masking tool. The whole set of over 110 filters (see the list) with special effects, masking and layering runs in a standalone app or as a plug-in for Photoshop and Aperture.
The variable focus filter was a lot of fun. It uses a luminance mask to adjust sharpness in the image. So by changing the tonal value on the mask, you can affect focus on the image. You can create the mask from the original of course but you can also paint your own.
E-Z Mask was particularly painless, too. Vertus drew a big crowd at its booth showing off its notable but expensive Fluid Mask 3 masking software. But for $100, Dfx gives you some very sophisticated yet simple masking software. You mark the foreground area simply by drawing a line within it. And you mark the background by drawing a simple line within it as well. Then it generates a detailed mask.
One phrase Paolini kept repeating was music to our ears. "Within reason," he would say when describing an effect like removing fog from an image. It isn't, after all, magic. But we've been very impressed with his suite of image filters (originally designed for the motion picture industry). We're glad to see it's hit the big time with Tiffen.
It's always fun to catch Adobe's Russell Brown in action. Adobe didn't have a booth on the floor, but they did present hour-long sessions on the various CS4 packages and Lightroom 2 (with Julieanne Kost). You don't need pachyderms with hilarious clowns like Brown.
Brown kicked the day off with his latest passion: 3D imaging with CS4. He presented not only a slide show of dinosaur images (you can buy a 3D dinosaur computer model for about $25 online) but a 3D movie that was a takeoff on Star Wars. He was also rather generous with awarding books for audience members who clapped or asked a question or just wanted one.
But best of all, everyone walked away with his tips and techniques on a DVD.
He didn't get through his whole presentation but he did spend the rest of the day in the digital imaging workshop in North Hall where you could sit at a computer and follow him step by step as he worked through one or another image editing task.
HP MEDIASMART SERVER
One of the hotter hardware products at the show was HP's compact MediaSmart Server (http://www.hp.com/united-states/campaigns/mediasmart-server/), which automatically organizes files across all the computers in your house, streams media from the Internet or your local network and publishes photos to social networking and photo sharing sites like Facebook, Picasa and Snapfish.
The idea (an old one) is that content (formerly referred to as data) should reside on one machine on the network that any other networked machine can access. That requires capacity and some software smarts to share the content.
There are four SATA hard drive bays in the MediaSmart Server plus an eSATA connection and four USB ports. That takes care of capacity.
You do have to configure the unit with a Windows XP or Vista computer. HP does not support Boot Camp, Fusion or Parallels for the setup process using Windows Home Server. But you can use Time Machine to backup your networked Macs to the MediaSmart Server and Windows Home Server to backup your networked Windows machines to it, too.
If you have the same file on several machines, the Server only makes one copy during the backup to efficiently manage hard drive space.
The iTunes server lets any networked computer access a centralized iTunes library.
You can also access your files on the MediaSmart Server when you are not at home -- as long as you use Microsoft Internet Explorer, configure your router and your ISP permits it. Just tap into the Server with any Internet connection when you're away.
That works for sharing photos with your family and friends directly from the Server, too. You can create an album, notify them and they can upload their own shots, buy prints, download full-resolution images, just like a commercial photo sharing site.
What's missing? A connection to your HDTV so you can see your images and stream Internet content. The Server can connect to a networked HDTV (HP offers MediaSmart TVs, too) but not your garden variety HDMI HDTV. If you can't network the device, you can't use it. And that Explorer requirement for remote access excludes Macs (on which the product has not been supported for some time now). Hot it may be, but we found its limitations stifling.
The $599 HP MediaSmart Server EX485 has 750 gigabytes of hard disk storage but no media collector or remote media streaming, while the $749 HP MediaSmart Server EX487, available in February, has 1.5 terabytes and both the media collector and remote media streaming.
We dropped by the Canon booth to see if anyone could tell us the density range of the film scanner on the MP980 multifunction device we recently reviewed (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/MP980/MP980.HTM). One enterprising fellow scanned the Web for the information, hitting a couple of product specification pages at Canon. We could have told him it wasn't there. He promised to look into it for us.
We thought Canon would be bragging about the density range after seeing the slide and negative scans we did on it. But no, they are practicing a humility rarely seen in this business.
We also took a look at the new 18-200mm zoom lens (http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1219/cat/11). We found the focus to be pretty quick, comparable to Nikon's 18-200mm. But the lens creep was severe. Tilt the lens down and the heavy glass pulls the zoom all the way out. Tilt it up and it contracts. The Nikon creeps, but not that badly, and you can stop it entirely with no more than a rubber band if it bothers you. The Canon should ship with a rubber band.
LaCie showed its d2 DVD+-RW 22x with LightScribe and Hi-Speed USB 2.0 and/or FireWire disc burner (http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?pid=11170). That has about everything you could stuff into a DVD burner except Blu-ray.
But what we liked about it is that it's the fastest burner you can buy. We do our household chores when we have to burn our photos to backup DVDs. Like reroofing the garage and painting the gazebo.
The unit ships with Toast 9 Basic plus LaCie LightScribe Labeler for Mac OS X 10.4 or later and Easy Media Creator Suite 10 with LightScribe Labeler for Windows for simple content management and labeling. Linux customers can download the LaCie LightScribe Labeler for four popular Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Fedora, SuSE and Mandriva) from LaCie.
As we mentioned above, TechRestore (http://www.techrestore.com) can replace your 15-inch MacBook Pro's glassy screen with a matte screen for $199.
The company removes the glass panel on the MacBook Pro, replacing it with a black bezel that holds a new matte finish screen which includes a one-year warranty from TechRestore. The company promises 24 hour turnaround.
The model on the Expo floor looked every bit as good as recent MacBook Pros with non-glare screens. We even preferred the black bezel over the silver bezel used by Apple on the 17-inch model.
You can also slap a $20 Photodon matt screen film (http://www.macintouch.com/reviews/alumabook/#updates) over the glassy MacBook Pro screen.
While we did find some products we wouldn't mind playing with in the bunker, they were not what we were thinking of when we left the show.
The O'Reilly booth had been featuring presentations by its various authors and we'd been dropping by to hear a few of them. On our last day we happened to catch Mikkel Aaland just after he finished his presentation on Lightroom 2.
It's always the same with him. He sees us coming and moans, "Oh no!" Then he warns everyone around him not to say anything because we remember every word.
After everyone scattered, he asked us if we'd like to take a look at the working prints for his new book. It was a different kind of book, something special, the story of his family, illustrated with images from his "backyard" in Norway, which seems to extend to the Arctic circle. He's spending the year there.
We pulled up at the Microsoft booth, Mikkel explaining to the curious Microsoft booth dude that the new 13x19 inch Microsoft paper was just amazing (particularly since it had Epson stamped on the back of it) as he took out a stack of prints and shuffled through them. Just gorgeous. Send in the clowns, we're going to cry.
Things are slow, Mikkel pointed out. But that's OK. That's when you do the important stuff. The stuff that matters to you. Like the story of your family.
It was the most inspiring thing we heard at the show. And so we left Macworld Expo once again with something to think about. And glad we had remembered every word.
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:
- Macworld Expo Gallery (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/MWSF09/mw09/index.html)
- First Shots: Pentax K2000 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/K2000/K2000A.HTM)
We have succumbed to the allure of photographing sunsets. Despite our better judgment. We know there's no way our cameras can possibly capture a sunset. It will always look different on the little LCD, our monitor and a print than it did when it captivated us.
But we can't help it. We are compelled just like the ancients who nudged those huge rocks at Stonehenge. We think we can commune with the universe by framing the sun in our camera's eye.
The other day we strapped a tripod and a camera bag over our left should and marched up Twin Peaks. Fortunately there are two of them because one guy in a convertible thought it would be fun to take his unleashed pit bull up one of them. We hiked up the other, taller peak.
But we weren't alone. There were a couple of fellows who couldn't resist grabbing a shot with their cellphones. And there was a young couple who romantically preferred looking over the Pacific than back at the glittering city.
And then there was us, braced against the wind, sticking our tripod in the rocky surface, one small step for mankind, etc. We did what we could, slipping inevitably toward manual control of the exposure (but that's a story for another day) and rudely snapping shot after shot as if we were in some great replay booth of the universe.
You don't need to know all that. But it does set the scene. The sun had sunk into the ocean and we were over 900 feet from sea level.
Sure, most people would have driven up there and just walked down off the peak to your car, turned on the headlights and driven back to the taqueria for some nachos and fajitas. And a cold brew or two.
But we had walked up. And were obliged to walk down (not anxious to share a seat with a pit bull). In the fading light of dusk. As all those guys in their cars were careening around the curves on their way to the taqueria.
Don't ask us why, but we found this life threatening.
But a passing cyclist suggested a sure-fire life-saving trick that we knew immediately we had to pass along to you.
The cyclist had a flashing bike light. We happened to have a small LED attached to our keychain because we never remember to leave the light on our front and back doors when we go out to photograph sunsets.
It was the simplest thing to snap our keychain onto the back of our camera bag, turn on the LED and let it swing a warning to the half dozen motorists who passed quite wide of us on the way down. We think it saved our life.
Some LED flashlights are brighter than others, we have to point out. A little research goes a long way here. Ours is quite bright because we need all the help we can get. That's what made it particularly suitable for our trip downhill.
There are other ways of solving this sort of problem, of course. We're dabbling with the idea of photographing sunrises instead. The romantics have other eggs to fry at that time of day and the traffic isn't quite as big a problem. And when you're done shooting, you are blessed with a walk home in the plain light of day.
It's one of those things you never think about. It comes naturally. You just do it. You focus, you frame. Or you frame and then focus. You probably don't even know which camp you're in. We can see you hoisting your camera to your eye to see how you dance that number.
We could get technical and discriminate between distant subjects and close-ups or even tackle portraits separately. But we don't tackle portraits. We've discovered the subjects tend to find that rude.
And we could point out the problem is a bit exacerbated by autofocus lenses and greatly exacerbated by zoom lenses. If you learned photography with manual focus lenses, your habits may be quite different from someone who only knows dSLRs.
What do we do? Well, both. We think of it as optical fidgeting. You have to compose your image, of course, no way around that. And it helps immeasurably if you have a sharp image to compose. So we tap the Shutter button to bring the scene into focus and then fiddle with the zoom to compose or lean forward or back with the prime.
But -- and herewith is today's jewel -- you should refocus after composing, particularly if your subject is close at hand. Focus is the last thing you should do. But it's perfectly legal in all 50 states to focus more than once.
A double-clutch on the Shutter button will do it or you may find yourself resorting to that last little tweak of the focus ring after your autofocus lens thinks it's done.
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 Sony cameras at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f789
Visit the Pentax Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eea2980
Angela asks for help with XSi editing software at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eeab734/0
A user asks about screen protectors at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eeab622/0
Visit the Printers Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b8
On Tuesday at 5:38 p.m. photographer Pete Souza made history -- twice.
In just 1/125 second, he snapped the official presdential portrait of President-elect Barack Obama -- complete with a flag lapel pin (to put that issue to rest). This is the portrait that will be silkscreened on commemorative knickknacks and printed on place mats and show up all over the place as long as time ticks. That's one way to make history.
The other way he made history was to use a Canon EOS 5D Mark II, making this the first official portrait shot digitally. And because the transition Web site (http://change.gov/newsroom/entry/new_official_portrait_released/) released the full image for download, it was no trouble at all to peek at the Exif header to find out Souza had used a 105mm lens at f10 in Manual mode with multi-segment metering.
Adobe found the Exif data interesting, too. It revealed Souza processed the image on a Mac using Photoshop CS3. That prompted Photoshop team member Adam Jerugim (http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2009/01/obama_via_photo.html) to offer Souza a copy of Creative Suite 4 as, well, a sort of stimulus package.
Souza has been named the official chief White House photographer. He had previously served as an official White House photographer for Ronald Reagan so he knows, he said in a recent National Public Radio interview (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99353598), how to "move around in a sensitive meeting and not trip over the furniture."
Besides the grace of a gazelle, Souza has plans, too. He's been troubled by the failure of White House photos to set the scene. You get the principals but the setting is ignored. He fondly remembered the only photo of Lincoln giving the Gettysburg Address in which the battlefield and not the orator is the subject.
And according to a National Press Photographers Association story (http://www.nppa.org/news_and_events/news/2009/01/souza.html), he's ready to start assembling his team for the White House photo department, which itself went digital during the current administration. Hold onto that resume, though, because he's "got people in mind for that."
Souza's work has appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, National Geographic and Life magazine. He covered the war in Afghanistan, including the fall of Kabul after 9/11. He has recently been teaching photojournalism at Ohio University's School of Visual Communication. Besides his Canon 5D, he uses a Leica M8.2.
And apparently he doesn't mind working after 5 p.m.
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RE: Canon MP980
You reviewed the new Canon MP980 but what is the density rating compared to the Epson V700/750? I can't find the destiny range for the MP980 on the Canon site.
-- Fred Jorge(Canon has not published the MP980's density range, but we asked them at Macworld to find out for us. We did scan an IT8 target in 35mm format to add to the review, though. -- Editor)
I always read your reviews with great interest -- keep up the good work!
The Canon MP980 caught my attention some time ago but you seem to be the first reputable review of this great sounding unit.
However you did not mention one feature of interest to me: the quality of the B&W printing. Does the light black ink really do it's job and give really pro quality? Comparable to Epson's 2400/2800?
-- Michael Hoffman(The extended review online has an illustration of an image rendered both in color and black and white. And we did discuss the luscious monochrome output of the MP620 (without the gray ink of the MP980) in this review. But you're right, we didn't say much about black and white. The Epson, interestingly, uses pigment inks and a much larger droplet size of 3.5 picoliters (compared to dyes at 1.0 picoliter on the Canon). Consequently the Epson relies on light magenta and light cyan for color prints and light black and light-light black for black and whites. The smaller droplet size of the Canon allows it to dispense with the light inks. The print in our illustration is a grayscale print, but we prefer to print black and white as monotone color. But we promise to do a few tests on the MP980 and update the review. -- Editor)
I too bought a Geomet'r unit for my D300 with a Nikon 200-400mm, f4 zoom lens and it worked very well, allowing me to go automatically to the Google Map location from my Mac using Lightroom.
Unfortunately, about half way across country on a recent trailer trip to hot birding spots and visiting family, the unit disconnected between the nut attachment to the 9 pin connector on the camera and the switch at the attachment end of the unit. It was probably caused by my leaving it on the camera while placing and removing the relatively heavy camera from the case.
I called Macsense and they told me to send it back to them, which I did. They kindly replaced the unit for free. I am writing this to inform your readers to be careful about storage and remove the unit while not in use.
I would also like to urge Macsense to either increase the size of the nut so the unit can be connected and removed easier or make the connection with the switch a bit stronger. I added some silicon glue to that area of the connection on my new unit which might do the job.
The Geomet'r has been a terrific addition to my bird photography as I move around the country and I would recommend it to anyone who shoots a lot in different locations and wants quick access to the info. To know within feet where a shot was taken has been a boon to me when I forget to appropriately fill in the Metadata slots in Lightroom as I should.
-- David Gluckman(Thanks for the Lightroom suggestion, David! Nice story about Macsense's customer support, too. -- Editor)
RE: Batch Cropping?
I am an event photographer that needs to quickly batch process (including cropping) many hundreds of action sports photos to get them ready for onsite proofing at events.
I have not been able to find a Raw editing program (since Kodak PhotoDesk) that allows me to set a crop quickly by simply dragging it on the preview thumbnails of the programs image browser. Virtually every program I have looked at, including Nikon's Capture NX and Adobe Lightroom 2, all require you to actually open a preview image to set the crop.
I miss being able to open an entire media card full of Raw images in a browser window, quickly drag a crop on several hundred thumbnail previews (it is hard to get them all correctly cropped in camera) and simply click "Save As" in order to render all of my action JPEGs for proof sheet printing.
In your reviews of Raw convertors have you ever run into one with this capability?
-- Dave Buckendahl(Lightroom 2 does do batch cropping, but not with the flexibility you need. You crop one image, select all of them, sync them and set the sync for cropping only. But if you want different crops on each image, you can't do that. We did suggest this feature to both Lindsay Silverman and Mike Rubin at Nikon while we were at Macworld, so you may have only yourself to blame if a future version of Capture NX or Nikon View offers it. -- Editor)
RE: Articulated LCDs
I have a Fuji FinePix S9100. The feature I like most is the adjustable LCD viewing screen. I take many images at ground level and rather than lying on the ground I just turn the screen up to view my subject. That's so wonderful! I am thinking of upgrading cameras and am asking if any other camera manufacturer will offer this feature as I presently do not see it offered on other camera makes.
-- David Adams(That's one of our favorite features, too, David. Some digicams do have screens that tilt. But the Panasonic G1 Micro Four Thirds camera and the Olympus E-3 and E-30 dSLRs do have a swivel screen, we're happy to report. For other dSLRs, look for a right angle attachment that slips over the viewfinder so you don't have to get as low as your camera. Hoodman (http://www.hoodmanusa.com) makes a universal model with different mounts for different dSLRs so you only have to buy one. -- Editor)
RE: Continuing Ed
Just a short note (long overdue!) to thank you and Imaging Resource for the many great newsletters I've received.
Your newsletter always provides very helpful Reviews and general photo-related information, much of which I have archived for future reference. I consider your help akin to taking an ongoing course in digital imaging.
Again, thank you very much for the down-to-earth, very helpful newsletter.
-- Ron Thomson(Thanks very much for your kind words, Ron! We think you're right about the "on-going course" -- we're learning something new every day to pass along. Thanks again! -- Editor)
Eye-Fi (http://www.eye.fi) is developing a card that can wirelessly upload videos from a digicam to YouTube and a home computer. All video resolutions including high definition will be supported, the company said. It previewed the new technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week.
iLovePhotos (http://www.ilovephotos.com) is a Mac-based photo community with facial detection, tagging, auto sharing, and intelligent, portable slideshow creation and distribution. Slideshows can be embedded in Web sites, blogs, and social network profiles and synced with iTunes for playback on iPods, iPhones and AppleTVs.
The 2009 PhotoVision Series (http://www.photovision2009.com) delivers a two-hour instructional DVD every other month beginning the last week in February. Sixteen photographers contribute to six seminars in twelve hours from their own studios. The $149 seminar is available for jus $39 when you use the promo code "NIK."
DxO Mark (http://www.dxomark.com) has published detailed Raw-based image quality data and DxOMark Sensor rankings for the Nikon D3x. With a DxOMark Sensor score of 88 points, the Nikon D3x takes the lead among the 54 cameras currently evaluated on the site.
Epson (http://www.epson.com) has announced its $79.99 Epson Perfection V30 scanner featuring 4800 dpi optical resolution with 48-bit color, 3.2 dynamic range and the same CCD sensor technology used in higher-end Epson scanners. Bundled software includes Epson Scan with Easy Photo Fix, ArcSoft MediaImpression and ABBYY Fine Reader Sprint Plus OCR.
Andrew Darlow (http://darlow131.eventbrite.com) is hosting an Inkjet Printing Workshop Jan. 31 in New Jersey.
Phase One (http://www.phaseone.com) has released Capture One 4.6 [MW] with support for Phase One P 65+, Canon G10, Nikon D3x and Olympus E-30. The new version improves performance, adds tethered capture for Nikon dSLRS and introduces a software update feature.
DataRescue has updated its PhotoRescue [MW] image and movie file recovery program (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM) with support for a large number of new significant cameras including the Canon 5D Mark II, Canon G10, the Sony A900 and the Nikon D3x.
Mogo Media (http://www.mogoseminars.com) has announced its $49 Shortcut to Brilliant: The Adobe Creative Suite 4 tour, a series of one-day seminars. Presented in conjunction with Adobe, the tour launches Jan. 16 in New York City with stops in Chicago on Jan. 21 and Los Angeles on Feb. 19.
The SD Association (http://www.sdcard.org) has announced the next-generation SDXC (eXtended Capacity) memory card specification, providing up to two terabytes storage capacity and accelerated SD interface read/write speeds up to 104-MB per second. SDHC, Embedded SD and SDIO specifications will also benefit from the new SD interface speeds.
Nikon (http://www.nikonusa.com) has announced its free iPhone my Picturetown application for photo storage and sharing is now available from the iTunes App store for both the iPhone and iPod Touch.
Bobby Cronkhite Software (http://bobbysoftware.com) has announced its 99-cent Frame It 1.0, a new photo enhancement tool available for the iPhone and iPod touch from the Apple App Store.
Artly There (http://www.artlythere.com) has released its $33 Compositor 2.11.0 [M], adding tiled poster printing, a Rectangular Gradient Fill and Tool, CMYK Balance, a Resolution and Print Size dialog, Laplacian Edges and Inverse Light filter.
PhotoLine (http://www.pl32.com) has released its 59 Euros PhotoLine 15 [MW], a 16-bit image processing program with with an improved user interface, color blend editing, a red-eye tool, variable blur and more.
Rorohiko (http://www.rorohiko.com) has released its free Lightning Brain ImageHorn 1.0 InDesign CS2/CS3/CS4 plug-in [MW] to enable dynamic image fitting. Imagehorn (as in "shoehorn") automatically reapplies the active fit settings (Fit, Fit Proportionally, Fill Proportionally, Center) when you resize an image frame.
JetPhoto (http://www.jetphotosoft.com) has released its free JetPhoto Studio 4.1 [MW] with Coverflow web galleries, a new map view for geotagging and a few bug fixes.
PhotoAcute (http://photoacute.com) has released PhotoAcute Studio 2.84 [LMW], its high dynamic range editing program with 16-bit grayscale TIFF support, improved image alignment and more camera profiles. Prices range from $19 for camphones to $49 for digicams and up to $119 for dSLRs.
SeeFile (http://www.seefile.com) has released its $499 SeeFile 4.6 [M], with "a more intuitive user interface compatible with all modern Web browsers, automated notifications of new or changed files, improved administrative control over users and groups and extended support for a wide range of file types including PDFs, graphics files and videos."
Houdah has released its $30 HoudahGeo 2.0 [M] geocoding application with variable time zone display, support for more GPS devices, read and write access to master images in Aperture and iPhoto originals, support for Adobe Lightroom 2 libraries, a Map Inspector that provides a view of where photos were taken, a track log inspector, support for Flickr sets and more.
The $169 Orbis (http://orbisflash.com) turns your strobe into a ring flash for shadowless lighting effects. Unlike competing devices, the Orbis fits a wide range of external flashes.
Andrey Tverdokhleb (http://www.raw-photo-processor.com) has released his free Raw Photo Processor 3.8.4 [M] with improved Sharpness and Local Contrast algorithms, better support for Hasselblad H3D .FFF files and a fix for color fringing in Half mode.
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher