The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 11, Number 8 10 April 2009

Copyright 2009, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 251st edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. At O'Reilly's Web 2.0 we found a service that makes it both simple and affordable to sell your photos as stock photography. Then Dave explains our new Stabilization test, which one reader called, "the most beneficial innovation in camera reviews I've seen recently." Finally, we lighten things up with a tribute to Helen Levitt. Her photos were moving, her observations reluctant but still pointed and her passing is much mourned.


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Feature: ImageSpan -- Automating Content Licensing

Last week we invested in ourselves by attending O'Reilly's Web 2.0 conference and expo in San Francisco. Imagine our surprise to find out someone else had been investing in us at the same time.

In fact, that's ImageSpan's business plan. The Sausalito company has developed what it calls a licensing automation platform to make it no more trouble for someone to license your images than it is for you to upload them. They believe digital photographers have some valuable content locked up on hard disks and sharing sites, crying to break free and make money.

And with LicenseStream Creator for just $49 per year with a 20 percent transaction fee and 2-GB on ImageSpan's server or LicenseStream Creator Pro at $149 with a 10 percent transaction fee and 10-GB, plus a few extra services (like content tracking at 30 percent a transaction), you can put ImageSpan's LicenseStream Creator (http://www.licensestream.com) to work for you.

There's even a 30-day trial so you can test drive the service.

THE PROBLEM

We've been developing Web sites since 1994. HTML was the perfect replacement for our employee manual, conveniently answering any question a new hire might have without slowing the old hands down.

As Web technologies matured, we moved from HTML to CGI programming, tapping into even more sophisticated tools like CSS HTML coding, Perl, PHP, JavaScript and Spry. We began to develop cool interfaces that could control complex processes.

When it came to the problem of licensing content (or, frankly, just selling it) from our own test site, though, things took a turn into a brick wall.

How do you even get the word out that you have some stuff for sale? And how do people looking for stuff find yours?

How do you promptly collect payment while conveniently providing access to the product?

How do you protect your downloaded content from illegal copying? Especially in a mashup culture that believes everything that can be taken is free.

These questions are not trivial because they involve the ecosystem of the Web, indeed of the culture. Way beyond, that is, any particular Web site and its cgi-bin directory.

In a nutshell, we were looking for a way a photographer could license their images. We wanted it to require so little overhead that a one-person studio would not miss dinner to keep it spinning. And we wanted it to be simple enough to set up that a busy pro could get up and running with the defaults -- not, that is, spend a weekend populating fields with policy and pricing information. We also wanted some carefully considered controls over how the images were used.

Understand, we were not looking for a way to sell prints. Firms like Printroom (http://www.printroom.com) do that well now at a reasonable price, making it appear as if the merchandise comes from your studio not their lab.

We were looking for a way to license, not print, images.

THE LICENSING ISSUE

So what's licensing? Licensing is simply selling the right to use an image in a particular way. That could be any way the purchaser likes or it could be quite restrictive, like using the image in a particular magazine story.

Those two approaches are called Royalty Free licensing (use it any way you want as long as you want) and Rights Managed licensing (use it in a specific way for a specific time).

Royalty Free licensing provides an unlimited use, non-exclusive license based on the resolution of the image. The image can be used by any client for any purpose in any industry as long as the client wants to use it. Because it's non-exclusive, though, so can anyone else.

Rights Managed licensing is for a specific use in a specific industry and region making it possible to offer exclusivity for the duration of the license. A Rights Managed license can be very complex and time consuming to construct.

In addition to those two familiar approaches, ImageSpan has developed a hybrid form of licensing called Rights Simple that features the protection and detail of a Rights Managed license with the simplicity of a Royalty Free license. With one click, the buyer can select a Rights Simple license populated with all the terms of the license in a simple rights statement.

Beyond that, ImageSpan's licenses implement the PLUS Coalition's new licensing standards (http://www.useplus.com/home.asp) which specify how rights and attribution information travel within image files. The standards were recently adopted by McGraw-Hill, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Pearson. In fact, ImageSpan developed two PLUS tools on the PLUS site: the free PLUS License Generator and the PLUS License Embedder & Reader.

LicenseStream also includes pricing guidelines based on PLUS standards, but lets you easily override them if you want to set your own pricing. They simply make great starting points, since they reflect standard industry practice and save you a lot of time devising acceptable pricing on your own. Nothing happens, however, unless both the buyer and seller agree on a price.

Some licensing options are only available with LicenseStream Creator Pro. Those include Ready-Made Rights Managed, creating or saving customized Rights Managed Licenses and managing, tracking and collecting royalty payments.

Try the free License Generator (http://www.useplus.com/pluslicensegenerator/Steps/Start.aspx) to learn more about licensing.

THE CONTENT

Your archives are your content. Not everything will be appealing but using ImageSpan to sell images in your archive as stock is far more flexible that submitting your images to a stock photo agency.

ImageSpan is not a stock photo agency so it doesn't have specific requirements for image format and size. But it does make a few recommendations.

The first is to upload the highest resolution version of your image. Those pixel dimensions will be displayed with the thumbnail the system creates (along with HTML code so you can display the same thumbnail on your site without downloading it to your server). Rights Managed or Rights Simple buyers need to know the highest resolution available for their use. Royalty Free buyers select a resolution appropriate to their use. If you upload a low-resolution image, only that resolution will be available to them.

ImageSpan considers an image high resolution if it has pixel dimensions of at least 3000x2000, about a 6-Mp image. High resolution images have enough detail for print, in contrast to low resolution images under 1000 pixels in any dimension that are appropriate only for the screen.

Image formats are also not restricted. The company claims it can support any digital file format (actually an intellectual property) but currently handles photographs, images, illustrations, video and audio. You can upload TIFFs, JPEGs and other media formats as long as a small thumbnail or sample can be created from them.

And uploading images can be done through your browser or in batches with ImageSpan's Adobe Bridge (both CS3 and CS4) and Adobe Lightroom plug-ins.

To get a feel for the kind of photos that sell in the stock photo market, visit a stock agency like Fotosearch (http://www.fotosearch.com) and look for images of, say, "tires."

FINDING THE CONTENT

The best images in the world are not worth anything if buyers can't find them.

Having your images online where the major search engines can find them is, of course, a lot more helpful than having them archived offline. But adding tags and keywords enhances the success of those search engines.

Because ImageSpan makes your content available to image search engines, they can be licensed just as quickly as they are found. And that makes your image available not only to professionals who regularly license images but to consumers who may never have done it before.

In fact, it encourages payment for images simply by making it easy to license the image when it's found.

Your full resolution image is available on ImageSpan's servers but when you upload an image, HTML code is generated to display a thumbnail with the licensing links on your own site.

GETTING PAID

Because the buyer can propose a price, you review the royalty arrangements for each license before the transaction is completed. Once approved, the transaction is executed and royalty payments are automatically generated for each royalty participant. When licensing fee payment is received, royalty records are marked ready for distribution.

Once an image has been licensed and paid for, the buyer receives an email with a download link for the image. At the same time, you will be sent an email notification of payment along with the invoice and the LicenseStream database will be updated to reflect the transaction.

You can view the database to check expiration dates as well as license terms and conditions. And you'll also get notifications of expiration dates by email.

TRACKING CONTENT

At the show, ImageSpan announced a partnership with PicScout (http://www.picscout.com), an image tracking service. PicScout scans the Web as well as print media to see where your image is being used.

The Stock Artists Alliance estimates lost revenue from unauthorized use of images is at least $65 million. Images are a lot easier to find on the Web than they are to license.

PicScout can find your images even if they have been altered or distorted. It uses content analysis technology to identify your picture in addition to the licensing code ImageSpan adds to the Exif header of the image.

ImageSpan complements PicScout's monitoring by reporting suspected unauthorized use to you and providing a set of boilerplate responses ranging from offering the opportunity to legally license the content, requesting a link back to your site, inserting your ad feed, sharing ad revenues or issuing a take-down request. The service also monitors the situation, reporting when action is taken.

Content Tracking is available only on the LicenseStream Creator Pro service.

USING LICENSESTREAM CREATOR

At Web 2.0, we asked ImageSpan to show us what it would be like for a photographer to set up a gallery for licensing. Pam Fischer, ImageSpan's director of strategic relations, was happy to oblige (she uses the service herself). It was a very quick demo.

Register, Log In. The first step was to register and log in. Registering for a new account lets you select either the Standard or the Pro account and indicate if you need additional storage. At the same time, you create a username and password and accept the terms and conditions. There's some personal and company information to enter as well before you can review your order, enter billing information and register.

Then you can log in with your username and password. If you forget your password, a temporary one will be sent to you when you enter your email address and ZIP code.

Setup the Store. A "store" is a URL. You can set up as many stores as you want to separate the work you offer. You enter a Store Name, Store Header, Store Title before optionally uploading a logo or providing a URL to one. You can then enter any biographical information you like in a free-form text window which can include hyperlinks. Finally, you enter contact information to be displayed on your Store Front.

Next you select a default license model. This license will be applied to any image you upload. But you can change the license model for any image at any time after.

While LicenseStream has default pricing for Royalty Free and Rights Simple license, you can update the defaults with your own prices. You can also set restrictions for your content, either globally or for individual images.

If you aren't the only person who should be paid for the use of the image, you can next set up various royalty profiles.

Upload Content. Use the Bridge or Lightroom plug-ins to batch upload your keyworded images. Alternately, you can use your browser.

Currently the service supports JPEG or TIFF images and MOV, AVI, WMV and MPEG video formats. Camera images should include a color profile, the company advises, preferably Adobe 1998.

Image size recommendations are:

Video clips should be 5 to 15 seconds long.

Prepare Content. With images uploaded, the next task is to apply metadata and licensing information to them. You can do that to groups of them or individually. If your image has IPTC metadata, it will be displayed in the Basic and Extended Metadata sections.

Manage Content. If you want to Edit (metadata, keywords), License, Archive/Delete or Download your images or add them to your Gallery or Lightbox, you use the Manage Content page. You can even add watermarks and change which stores the image appears in. From this page, you can change any of the defaults associated with the image.

Market Content. You can market your content to partner sites like Google, your own Web site's store front (linking back to LicenseStream) and through email marketing to your existing customers or additional email addresses.

That's it. Through the whole process, we never bumped into an issue that stopped us cold. There were some, like licensing, that might deserve to be revisited but the defaults get you up and running in one sitting.

CONCLUSION

While we haven't tried the service ourselves, a few things were obvious about LicenseStream Creator from our visit to the ImageSpan booth:

Since we saw the demo, we've often wondered if LicenseStream Creator wasn't all just a dream. But we've come to think of it as a sort of eBay for image licensing that makes it possible for the little guy to play with Corbis, Getty, Hulu and anybody else. Which, come to think of it, actually is a dream -- come true.
Return to Topics.

Feature: How We Test Image Stabilization

By DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the illustrated story posted at http://www.slrgear.com/articles/is_1how2read/readingisresults.htm on the Web site.)

Image stabilization is a hot feature with both lens-based and body-based systems available from a number of companies -- with widely ranging claims as to their effectiveness.

But there have been few, if any, truly objective reviews.

Chief lens test tech Jim Tanner and I have spent the last 22 months studying how to best measure image stabilization performance and have developed a protocol that we believe generates fair, accurate and repeatable numbers describing IS performance.

IS performance is such a complex phenomena that there's really no practical way to characterize system performance for all possible combinations of camera, lens, shooter and shutter speed. What we do instead is try to measure and describe performance for conditions that should simulate the experience of most of our readers. We test system performance when being used by a rather steady and a rather shaky shooter and in the case of zoom lenses or cameras with body-based stabilization, we test at both shorter and longer focal lengths.

TOP-LEVEL SUMMARY

We make the basic numbers available at the very top of each IS review page, in the form of tables showing the performance our "steady" and "shaky" testers measured.

Because the performance of IS systems can vary quite a bit depending on how steadily a person can hold the camera, we always show results for both "steady" and "shaky" shooters.

The IS Off and IS On numbers in these tables show the slowest shutter speed that each tester could shoot at, while getting an average shake-produced blur of 0.5 blur units. The difference between the lowest usable shutter speeds with IS On vs. IS Off is the improvement, which we translate into stops of improvement in the last column.

You can get an idea of what you might be able to expect from an IS system by comparing the slowest speed you can hand-hold a lens of the same focal length with the slowest speeds each of our testers was able to use with the IS turned off. If your hand-holding experience matches that of our Shaky tester, then your results with the IS stem in question will probably parallel his. Likewise if your performance matches our Steady tester.

For reference, the 1/FL column shows what the "one divided by the focal length" rule of thumb shutter speed is for the lens and camera in question (calculated based on the effective focal length of the lens on the body being tested). For example, if our "shaky" shooter's IS-off results followed the 1/FL rule pretty closely, our "steady" shooter might turn in a performance quite a bit better than the benchmark. As seems to frequently be the case, the IS system in the lens therefore didn't help the Steady shooter quite as much, but he was nonetheless able to shoot at dramatically lower shutter speeds with IS enabled than he was without it.

These tables give a good idea of what to expect from a system, based on how steady you can hold a camera.

THE SUMMARY GRAPH

For those wanting a little more detail, the graphs in the reviews reveal more of our findings -- including data points for each individual shot captured during our testing.

The summary graph is the one we use to summarize our test results over the photographically relevant range of shake-induced blur. The two curves show the average increase in blur that resulted from camera shake, plotted as a function of shutter speed. This isn't lens sharpness, just the increase in blur due to camera shake.

The red curve shows the blur we found with IS turned off, the blue curve shows the blur with the IS system turned on. The dashed vertical line marks the shutter speed that corresponds to one divided by the effective focal length of the lens being tested, the common rule of thumb for the slowest hand-held shutter speed.

The two green arrows show how much the IS system improved the blur results, depending on how much blur you can tolerate for your application.

The upper blur threshold of one blur unit would apply if you're only making relatively small prints from your pictures, 5x7 inches or so. The lower threshold of 0.5 blur unit is a more generally-acceptable standard, resulting in images useful for making larger output. When comparing systems to each other, we use the more stringent criteria, requiring that shake-induced blur be less than 0.5 blur unit.

SHARP & BLURRY GRAPH

The sharp and blurry graph, of which there are several, shows average blur performance. Shooting at moderately slow shutter speeds, some shots are blurry while others are relatively sharp. What IS does is shift this balance in your favor, resulting in a better percentage of sharp shots than you'd get without it.

To help you anticipate what to expect in your own shooting, we show you how many of our own test shots were sharp or blurry. If you roll your cursor over the summary graphs in our reviews, you'll see a number of points appear, against a colored background.

Each point on this colored graph represents a single test shot. The left/right position shows the shutter speed and the height shows how sharp or soft the test image was. Low dots correspond to sharp images, high dots to blurry ones. To help you interpret the results, the shaded background shows levels of blur that are generally acceptable (green), marginal (yellow) or unacceptable (red).

This view makes clear how much variation there is from shot-to-shot. Our tester might have managed to get some very sharp images with the IS system turned off, even at a shutter speed as slow as 1/60 second. (The red dot that's almost on the baseline, just before the 1/50 second mark.) At the same time, even with the IS system engaged, he might still get one or two relatively soft shots at shutter speeds as high as 1/120 second. (The blue dots that just edge into the yellow area, just to the left of the 1/100 second shot.)

It's easy to see, though, that the IS system was a considerable help. The majority of shots from 1/200 down to about 1/30 second were acceptably sharp when it was engaged with only two or three sharp shots in that range when the IS system was turned off.

THE 'ALL SHOTS' GRAPH

Those graphs display our results with IS On and IS Off across a range of sharpness that's photographically useful. If you want to see all the data we captured, we provide links to larger graphs that show the full range of our experimental results.

In those graphs, there's no offset between the plotted curves and the data points and the data values extend to much higher levels of blur. The data at high blur values isn't too relevant to day-to-day photography, since the images there are so blurred. In the interest of full disclosure, though, we provide links to these graphs for people who may be interested in how the IS systems handle very long exposure times. In our IS reviews, we offer these graphs as links only, so they won't clutter the pages for the average reader.

WHAT WE LEARNED

The following points sum up our findings.

IS performance is a very statistical phenomena: Expect a wide range of results from shot-to-shot

Many photographers assume IS systems will produce sharp images up to some arbitrary exposure length and blurry ones past that point. In truth, whether you're using IS or not, you'll find at least some shots with shake-induced blur at surprisingly high shutter speeds and an occasional sharp image even at very slow shutter speeds. What IS does is shift the range of generally sharp images toward slower shutter speeds. Don't expect 100 percent of your hand-held shots to suddenly turn out sharp, though.

Performance of different systems varies widely

We expected to find a range of performance among IS systems, but were a little surprised at just how wide that range is. We measured IS performance ranging from zero stops (no detectable improvement at all) to about 3.5 stops. The conclusion: Just seeing the label "IS" (or VR, OS, VC, etc.) on a lens or camera body says little about how much it will improve your percentage of sharp shots. Objective testing of IS performance is clearly needed!

Different shooters will often obtain very different results

We surmised that systems might perform differently for relatively shaky shooters than for ones who could already hold the camera very steady and in fact found that to be true. What was interesting, though, was that sometimes the shaky shooter saw more benefit, while other times the more steady shooter saw the biggest improvement. So we present results from both steady and shaky shooters and provide a guideline to let each reader judge where their own camera-holding ability falls relative to our two testers. While our IS performance numbers provide a solid foundation for making relative comparisons between competing IS systems, it's clear that performance can vary as much between users as it can between systems.

Your mileage may vary

Our IS performance numbers are very self-consistent, based on the people we have doing the testing. But it's important to note there is no internationally-accepted standard for characterizing IS performance. From our work, it's clear that performance can vary as much between users as it can between systems. It's thus entirely possible that you may experience results with any of these systems that are either better or worse than what we publish here.

Manufacturers claims need to be taken with an appropriate grain of salt

Camera and lens manufacturers have their own internal methods for evaluating IS performance, resulting in claims of (for instance) "up to four stops of improvement." However, no standard for these claims applies between manufacturers, so there's no way the numbers claimed by one company can be compared with those claimed by another. It's also not clear how performance "up to" a given level would play out in actual, real-world usage. Based as they are on measured shake-reduction performance as actually experienced by two very different photographers (representing something close to the two ends of the spectrum of camera-holding ability), we believe our tests provide the basis for comparison that's been so badly needed.

Almost all IS systems produce at least some benefit

Almost every stabilization system we've tested (about 25-30 lenses or camera bodies so far) showed at least some benefit relative to un-stabilized shooting. There's been only one lens we found with no benefit from its IS system. All the rest delivered useful levels of improvement in image sharpness for long exposures.

CONCLUSION

For full disclosure of our testing and analysis methodology, read Image Stabilization Testing on SLRgear (http://www.slrgear.com/articles/is_1iswp/iswp.htm).

For an example review, see our review of the Canon 70-200mm f/4L IS (http://www.slrgear.com/articles/is_canon70200f4/IS_Test_Canon_70-400mm_f4L_IS.htm).

We invite you to comment on and ask questions about our IS test methodology in our IS discussion forum thread (http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showtopic=395). I'll monitor this thread for the next few weeks and will try to respond to any and all questions and comments posted there in that time frame.

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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 various Nikon cameras at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f781

Visit the Digital Cameras Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2a8

A reader asks about camera solar/backup power at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eeac55b/0

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

Read comments about SLRgear's Image Stabilization Testing http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showtopic=395

Return to Topics.

Just for Fun: Helen Levitt -- Where Have All the Children Gone?

At 95, you're not a kid any more. And when photographer Helen Levitt passed away recently at that august milestone, she had enough problems to prove it.

Sciatica, in fact, had forced her retirement from the darkroom where she had printed her charming black and white prints. Earlier it had obliged her to switch to a compact Contax from the Leica she had preferred since working with Henri Cartier-Bresson in the 1930s. By then, of course, she had spent what others would consider a lifetime photographing the scene around her.

That started by photographing her mother's friends with a Voigtlander. She'd picked up a little of the craft working in the darkroom of J. Florian Mitchell, a commercial photographer, for six dollars a week. But she continued her education by visiting New York City's museums and art galleries where she studied the works on display for their composition. "Everything I ever saw influenced me," she once explained.

She met Cartier-Bresson and then Walker Evans, whom she helped make prints, and through Evans, the artist Ben Shahn, whose photos of street life influenced her to take her Leica for a walk.

In the 1930s and 1940s, she visited the city's poorer neighborhoods where the streets were full of children watched over by stoops full of adults visiting each other. Walking around unobtrusively with a right-angle viewer attached to her Leica, she developed an instinct for capturing the moment street life blinked and became art.

John Szarkowski, former director of the Museum of Modern Art's photography department, summed it up, "At the peak of Helen's form, there was no one better."

Although she was published in the photo magazines of her day and exhibited at the Modern, she made her living as a film editor (particularly for Luis Bunuel) and director (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1844803/). She claimed to be "a great splicer. Very fast. That was nice work, very satisfying work. It was like eating peanuts or something." She made In the Street, a 14-minute documentary of Spanish Harlem and her screenplay of The Quiet One was nominated for an Oscar before she returned to her Leica in 1959.

But she didn't pick up where she left off. She was among the first established photographers to work in color (http://www.lensculture.com/levitt.html). Much of that work, unfortunately, was lost when her apartment was burglarized in the 1960s. The poor quality of lab prints in the 1990s eventually convinced her to give up color.

Did she prefer color to black and white? "Whatever roll of film I have, that's what I'll shoot," she told New York Times interviewer Sarah Boxer in 2004.

Boxer pressed on, asking about her technique. "You're talking about the past, honey. I've been shooting a long time."

She did confide that she never dated her photographs nor was she ever able to organize them. "I always think I have a way, but it doesn't work." And just to prove it, her apartment was stacked with boxes of prints labeled "Nothing Good" and "Here and There."

In a 2002 interview (http://www.npr.org/programs/atc/features/2002/jan/levitt/020117.levitt.html) with NPR's Melissa Block, she explained why her Greenwich Village apartment didn't have any of her images on the walls. "I know what they look like. I don't want to look at them all the time."

But she wasn't as reticent with her subjects as she was with interviewers. One time, for example, she had taken a shot of a boy laughing at a girl who was crying. She asked the boy why the girl was crying. "I told her she would never get married," the boy confessed.

That was all before air-conditioning and Oprah, Dr. Phil, Judge Judy lured everyone indoors and the chalk that had been commandeered from the schoolroom for sidewalk duty became the markers and spray paint of graffiti. Life on the street disappeared and in another blink of an eye the art Levitt had a knack for capturing vanished with it.

And now it's not just the streets that are quiet. It's the apartment in the Village. But we're talking about the past, honey. And what was wonderful about it.

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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: iNova

There are no Inova books for Canon just some leftovers for old models. Might be good to remove that link referring to Canon as I and others no doubt wasted time in the looking.

-- Neil Fiertel

(We often think Peter shouldn't have named his eBooks after particular camera models because they're just such great books about digital photography. But now that you mention it, we haven't heard from him in a while. [one email later] Ah, no wonder. He's just finishing up the D90 eBook (http://www.digitalsecrets.net/secrets/D90eBook.html) after he "hit a mother lode of interesting things you can do with the Movie mode." He's a former video editor and is stuffing the new book with topics like motion editing, titling and audio sweetening. -- Editor)

RE: Enlarging Tricks

I have a 400x293-pixel piece of artwork, 44K on disk, that I'd like to enlarge for an 11x14-inch frame. I assume that Genuine Fractals could easily do this and wonder if you know of online services that could do it at a reasonable price.

-- Phil Keeler

(Well, if you stand back far enough, any program can do that <g>. From normal viewing distance, nothing will hide the artifacts created from enlarging. In our tests Genuine Fractals did not do better than an incremental resizing of the original image in Photoshop by 10 percent steps with bicubic interpolation. But even then, you're asking a lot. To get 400 pixels to stretch to 14 inches on a 150 dpi printer (which is not really high but sufficient resolution) you need 2,100 pixels (over 500 percent enlargement -- quite a few 10 percent steps). A better bet would be to photograph the image and work with the digital photo. You can do that with a digital camera or a flatbed scanner. Our Dec. 9, 2005 story 'A Perfect Print' (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html) describes how we enlarged a 4x6 halftone print to 13x19 with a scanner. Did it work? Perfectly. -- Editor)

RE: Nikon Repair

Had something happen recently I thought you'd like to hear about. I had an old Nikon 5400 I passed on to a friend who wanted to learn to take digital photos. He recently called to tell me it was taking very bizarre pictures. I went to see, thinking that he'd messed up one setting or another and that it would be an easy fix to get it back to normal.

Sure enough, the monitor showed insane colors, bars and lines and the photos captured to the card were just as crazy as the monitor showed. I fooled around with it for a while, couldn't make it any better, decided that something must be wrong with the sensor.

Went online and looked around, found that model came with a bad sensor and Nikon would replace it for free. This is a several year old camera, right? Contacted Nikon, they said send it in, if it's the sensor we'll fix it for free. Sent it to them, got it back about 10 days later with a new sensor, internals cleaned, new lens cap and a bunch of other minor things done to it, all for free.

In my opinion, that's amazing service for a long outdated camera. I think Nikon should have notified all 5400 owners of the potential defect so they'd know what to do if the camera went nuts, but I am still amazed that they fixed the camera for free once I figured out the problem. Big pat on the back for Nikon.

-- Mike Smith

(Well, we love happy endings <g>. This problem was part of widely-reported issue with Sony-manufactured CCDs a few years ago. Our permanent page on the subject (http://www.imaging-resource.com/badccds.html) lists the cameras affected (which includes the 5400) and notes a Coolpix Service Advisory in the Nikon section. -- Editor)

RE: Raw & Color Spaces

I have recently purchased a Lumix LX3 and have (like your review) tried to fathom Silkypix for Raw processing. Incidentally your review was one that I read and convinced me to buy it -- so thank you, I love the camera.

My question is, would you know what RGB color space the Raw setting is shooting within?

The Silkypix default setting was sRGB with a switch to aRGB. Does the camera shoot Raw in aRGB or does Silkypix convert from sRGB to aRGB at the post photography file Raw processing stage? -- Ray Joyce

(The color space you set in the camera has no effect on the Raw data. You can, in fact, in Camera Raw (or any other Raw processing application) try out any number of color spaces, seeing just how the various color gamuts play out on your image. So while the camera may be set to sRGB, it's really capturing a great deal more color information in the Raw file. The maximum gamut is represented by ProPhoto RGB, which is often associated with Raw captures. -- Editor)

RE: Large Format Printers?

I was under the impression that you had some reviews on such models as the Epson 3800, 1900, 2880; Canon P9000, P9500; and HP B8850, B9180, K8600.

If you don't have them could you point me to any place that has accurate reviews.

-- Bob McCormick

(Your impression is correct: http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT.HTM -- Editor)

RE: Pandigital Support

I have one of your 8" Pandigital frames. I have misplaced the literature on it that explains how to put some more pictures into it. If you have the directions I would appreciate it if you would send them to me.

-- Jayne

(Oh, they're not ours, Jayne. We just review them <g>. Simple solution, though (and not just for Pandigital frames). Just use a USB cable to plug the frame into your computer's USB port to drag and drop images to it. Pandigital has a pretty good support page, incidentally. Here's their support link answering your question: http://www.pandigital.net/support#14)

RE: Saving Namibia

I have just returned from a wonderful three-week vacation in Namibia, a photographer's paradise. Wonderful scenery, animals and -- after the recent rains -- fantastic flora and fauna.

A couple of days ago I carefully downloaded my 400+ photos using Picasa and then saved them to my portable hard drive. Before deleting them from my SanDisk SD card I made doubly sure that they were definitely safe and secure on the Freecom hard drive. I did the deletion via Picasa.

Imagine my distress when yesterday evening I went to view the photos to find that only the final 10 percent still remained. I guess there was some form of corruption on the drive. I was very upset and didn't know what to do.

In the early hours of Sunday morning I suddenly remembered reading in your excellent newsletter about PhotoRescue. I followed the link from the newsletter, read the instructions, downloaded the program, plugged in my card and waited with baited breath.

Imagine my surprise and delight when after 30 minutes my lost photos started to appear. Now all are fully restored, including the video clips. Thanks so very much for bringing this to my attention. May I wish you all future success with your excellent business.

-- Nick Jones

(As good as PhotoRescue is (it recovers whatever can be recovered, unlike many of its competitors, which can be stymied by things as ordinary as an image erased in the camera), the best protection is to make two copies on different media of every image you take. Copy to your eternal disk but also copy to the internal drive. And make DVD backups. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Ritz Camera Centers (http://www.ritzcamera.com) has announced it will close more than 300 stores nationwide as part of a court-supervised bankruptcy reorganization. Approximately 400 Ritz Camera stores will remain open. See http://www.imaging-resource.com/NPICS1/Ritz_Store_Closures3.pdf for the list of closures.


Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com) has introduced Photon 2.0 to purchase prints and enlargements from any iPhone or iPod touch. Phanfare is the first to offer prints-by-mail from the iPhone.


Phase One (http://www.phaseone.com) has released Capture One 4.7 [MW] to make it easier to share adjusted Phase One digital back-generated Raw files and to adjust JPEG and TIFF files. It also adds tethered shooting support for Canon 5D Mark II and Nikon D3x.


Olympus (http://www.olympusamerica.com) has announced the E-450 dSLR for $699.99 with a two-lens kit, featuring a small and portable design, powerful features and ease of use for even first time digital camera users. Art Filters, pioneered with the E-30 and E-620, also make an appearance on the E-450.

The company has also released v1.4 firmware for its E-3 to improve autofocus (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1239305114.html) and v1.1 firmware for its E-30 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1238675958.html).


Nik Software (http://www.niksoftware.com) has announced its $199.95 Silver Efex Pro [MW] black-and-white conversion plug-in is now available for Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. The update is free to current owners of the plug-in. The company said it plans to update all its plug-ins to support Lightroom.


Pentax (http://www.pentax.com) has released v1.03 firmware for its K20D to improve the accuracy of its shake reduction (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1239304880.html).


DxO Labs (http://www.DxOMark.com) has published detailed Raw-based image quality data and DxOMark Sensor rankings for the Olympus E-410 dSLR and the Olympus SP-570 UZ.


Aragon System (http://www.aragonsystem.com) has released NoiseAway [W], a Raw image workflow application. Apart from standard functions, such as resize, crop, apply curves and sharpening, several advanced tools such as advanced Noise Removal and adaptive Contrast Tool are also included.


Two Pilots (http://exifpilot.com) has released a new version of its $39.95 Exif Pilot for viewing, editing and creating Exif and IPTC data.


Andrey Tverdokhleb (http://www.raw-photo-processor.com) has updated his free Raw Photo Processor 3.9.3 [M] with an export plug-in for Lightroom 2, support for DNG files in the Lightroom plug-in, improved JPEG support including better compression quality control, a hand-drag tool and Olympus E-620 support.


Adobe Labs (http://labs.adobe.com) has announced the availability of Pixel Bender Toolkit pre-release 6, version 1.5, with the ability to edit, compile and run Pixel Bender Graphs (supported in Photoshop and After Effects). It also has a number of bug fixes, specifically in areas around PBJ generation.


KepMad (http://www.kepmad.com) has updated its $19 ImageBuddy 4.0 [M] photo printing program with support for Raw and DNG formats using Apple's Core Image rendering engine, plus an improved user interface and Exif reader.

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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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