The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 11, Number 13 19 June 2009

Copyright 2009, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 256th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Love is in the air. We print big with the new Canon Pro9000 Mark II. Then Shawn falls hard for the Olympus E-P1. Finally, we take a look at Joe McNally's latest book on lighting it up with strobes. Have fun!


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:
Panasonic
http://www.panasonic.com

Awarded "2008 Camera of the Year" by Popular Photography, the Panasonic Lumix G1 incorporates the ground-breaking Micro Four Thirds System, which combines the exceptional image quality and interchangeable lenses of a dSLR camera with the smaller size and full-time live view of a compact digital camera.

The result? We're part of a completely new class of camera that is redefining the world of photography.

Learn more about Panasonic Lumix technology and find the right Lumix for you at http://www.panasonic.com/lumix.

Datacolor
http://www.datacolor.com

SpyderCube -- Control color by balancing light

Way more than just another gray card, SpyderCube gives you spectrally neutral white balance data from multiple light sources in a single image.

Spydercube makes your camera more intelligent! It captures in a single shot a wide range of color and exposure data. You simply use the cube in one of a series of images, adjust accordingly, save as a preset, and apply to an entire series of images to color correct in seconds.

Every SLR photographer needs a SpyderCube in their camera bag!

Learn more at http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?dcs and "Let the world debate your vision, not your color!"

Readers Like YOU
http://www.imaging-resource.com/SUBSCRIBE.HTM

The economic slowdown has hit IR's ad and shopping revenue hard, so we need your help! Would you consider donating or "subscribing" to help support this newsletter and our site? Join the hundreds who've already donated and help keep the newsletters (and reviews) coming!

Donate at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SUBSCRIBE.HTM

You can use an existing PayPal account or you can donate via credit card with no PayPal account required.

Thank you for your support! You're what makes our whole company possible.


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

Feature: Canon Pro9000 Mark II Refines a Classic

(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/CP9KII/PRO9K2.HTM on the Web site.)

Canon introduced two Mark II printers in March. The $850 Pro9500 Mark II uses 10 pigment inks and the $500 Pro9000 Mark II uses eight dye inks. Both make 13x19-inch prints.

When we reviewed the original Pro9000 we applauded its "vibrant color, fast printing and versatile media handling that challenges not just the i9900 but pigment-based 13x19 printers."

And now it's three times faster, printing a bordered 13x19 color image in 1:23, according to Canon. Canon's FINE print head technology and large 6,144-nozzle print head using ink droplets of two-picoliters are harnessed to an enhanced double encoder system for media control to make quality prints at that level of performance.

We'll look at the specs before discussing what a big printer can do for you. And then do it!

FEATURES

Highlights of the Pro9000 Mark II's features include:

Less persuasive perhaps are these features:

These latter features seem particularly misplaced in a high-end printer. Ambient Light Correction is only available under one supported operating system but also shouldn't interest anyone intent on selling their prints (where the lighting, after all, should be secondary to the image). Auto Photo Fix is something the average user of a $500 printer can not only live without but should certainly mistrust. And PictBridge printing may be convenient but it, too, is not the sort of unoptimized printing we expect users to do on this kind of printer.

The effect of these last features is almost to give the impression this is a low-end unit designed for people who have no idea what they're doing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The more you know about printing, the more you're going to like the Canon Pro9000 Mark II.

INSTALLATION

Our Installation Gallery (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/CP9KII/gal-unbox/index.html) and our Software Setup Gallery (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/CP9KII/gal-software/index.html) show you how to unbox the printer, set it up and install the software. You can use the View menu to see the images as a slide show or walk through them in gallery mode.

We were surprised, on opening the box, not to find an installation poster. But Canon has provided an installation booklet instead. That has the advantage of focusing your attention on fewer steps at a time.

You might be tempted to skip the book and just rip off the packing materials and the orange tape, install the print head and pop in the cartridges, but there were points along the way where the booklet came in handy.

The printer manages to align the print head by printing two sheets of letter-size paper. You don't have to evaluate anything because the printer checks each line as it is printed, rolling the paper back into the printer just a bit.

Software installation was a breeze. Just pop in the CD and select the Easy Install option. We did manage to screw it up, though. We accidentally skipped the alignment segment entirely because we automatically clicked the lower right button (which is usually OK but in this case was Next). Easy to remedy, as our gallery shows.

CONSUMABLES

The ChromaLife100 eight-color dye-based ink system in the Pro9000 Mark II features Photo Cyan, Photo Magenta, Green and Red inks in addition to the standard Black, Cyan, Magenta, Yellow. Each cartridge is $14.99 with an eight-color set bundled for $104.99 ($119.92 otherwise). A four-pack of just Black, Cyan, Yellow and Magenta is available for $52.99.

Usage depends on your images, of course, but don't be alarmed to find yourself replacing the Green and Red cartridges less frequently than the others. And expect the Photo Cyan and Photo Magenta to run out more frequently, as well.

We were a bit surprised by how long the Canon cartridges lasted. Our screen shot of the ink supply status shows how things stood after printing eleven 13x19s, one of them predominately magenta. And in the shot, you can see that just Photo Magenta shows any use.

We were so surprised, in fact, that we took the cartridges out to confirm their ink levels. And indeed they were still nearly full, except for Photo Magenta.

That's pretty impressive, considering we were printing on some pretty porous sheets (like Museum Etching). It's even more impressive when you compare that performance to HP's $300 13x19 printer, the B8550. After just one 13x19 and a few 8x10s, we'd exhausted those cartridges.

Canon supplied us with the $49.99 DAP-101 Digital Art Paper Variety Pack of 13x19 paper. That includes five sheets each of textured Museum Etching, Hahnlemuhle Photo Rag (100 percent acid-free cotton rag), smooth Premium Matte and velvet-textured Photo Paper Plus Semi-gloss. Printing on thicker art papers is one of the joys of using a big printer and Canon supplies a variety of art papers to try.

Packs of 20 sheets of these 13x19 papers are available for Museum Etching at $99.99, Hahnlemuhle Photo Rag at $69.99, smooth Premium Matte at $54.99 and velvet-textured Photo Paper Plus Semi-gloss at $42.99.

And, of course, the full range of Canon papers at small sizes is also available.

ART PRINTS

But before you ever click the Print button, there's some work to do. We won't go into the process of optimizing your images. There's not much special about that process for printing 13x19s except to note your sharpening may be a bit different because you're not going to be rubbing your nose into the print like you would a 4x6.

One other thing worth noting is that you can send a 16-bit channel image to the Pro9000 Mark II for printing. The main advantage of this would be to maintain your tone and color options if you don't like what you see in the print. Typically, you would reduce 16-bit channels to 8-bit before printing.

That does send a lot more data to the printer, which takes longer, but the printing didn't seem to take much longer. The only way we could slow the printer down was by printing monochrome. Our magenta flowers or a black and white image did print somewhat slower than full color, although the black and white (using the Grayscale option rather than full color) printed much faster than on the original Pro9000.

While you can print glossy and semi-glossy sheets with a full bleed at 13x19, the art papers require a border. Canon provides a paper size with a border for its art papers, which you should be sure to select when using Printer Setup to set the printer and sheet size.

Once you're ready to print, you should do your output sharpening. We use Nik Sharpener Pro, which lets us specify the kind of printer (inkjet), the paper (fine art) and the resolution (4800x2400). Our images don't require any local (or creative, as Nik puts it) sharpening but if you're doing portraits, it's a nice feature.

At the print dialog box, make sure you indicate that the application has control of color, not the printer. Then select the correct ICC printer profile from the popup list. Look for the Pro9000 Mark II and the paper (SG1 for semi-gloss in our screen shot) both.

After dismissing the print dialog box, check the printer driver dialog boxes for quality and color options.

Quality should show the correct paper in the media type field and you might want to confirm the print quality setting as well (which tends to be Standard more often than High).

Color options should be set so the Color Correction field is None. You want the color to be controlled by the application, not the printer.

Using those settings, we printed a variety of images from close-ups to landscapes in natural and artificial light. While JPEG images printed very well (you can't tell them from the prints that started life as a Raw image), we had a lot more fun manipulating the Raw images. Nothing we did to them was beyond the printer.

We especially liked printing on the non-glossy, matte papers. They were ideal for the baby pictures we printed, giving the image a softness a glossy sheet would not have been able to deliver. We wanted to reach out and touch those baby prints. Likewise the close-up prints of flowers. We really thought we could smell them, the illusion was so compelling.

And the crispness of our landscapes just astonished us. Trees lining a sidewalk showed every leaf, every blade of grass. Nik had a lot to do with that. Raw images are notably softer than their JPEG equivalents, which can be confusing to novices used to images sharpened by the camera. But that's part of the fun of working with Raw files.

The Pro9000 Mark II's resolution is so fine that even under a loupe we couldn't detect a dot pattern on any of the papers we used.

CONCLUSION

The Canon Pro9000 Mark II is a faster Pro9000. Its dyes deliver a brilliant range of color that, under proper storage, will outlive you (which is all that counts). And yet the printer is capable of subtle variations in tone and color that, printed on a variety of fine art media, simply astonished us.

While you can certainly print smaller size images on the Pro9000 Mark II, the real thrill is dawdling over an image to print at 13x19. The printer's grainless resolution, quickness and fidelity (using the ICC profiles provided with the paper) make printing as rewarding an experience as pressing the Shutter button. That makes the Canon Pro9000 Mark II our favorite printer.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Olympus E-P1 User Report

By SHAWN BARNETT
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EP1/EP1GALLERY.HTM on the Web site.)

I'm in love. I can't tell you just yet whether I'm in love with the Olympus E-P1 or the idea of the E-P1. Seems like that's how it goes sometimes. Only time will tell whether we're meant for each other, but my brief interlude with the E-P1 revived feelings I haven't had for 30 years.

She sits on my desk and stares at me, her 17mm lens glistening in the light of the desk lamp. What is it about form that pulls at us? When is the last time I saw a form like this? It would have to be my first dance with the OM-1 as a teen back in the 1970s. I'm too young and too American to have experienced the Pen F, the half-frame film camera whose size and lines the E-P1 are modeled after. Not many Olympus PEN cameras made it stateside because Kodak refused to support the half-frame SLR; but they were big in Europe and Asia thanks to support from Agfa and Japanese film makers.

But there's a little of the OM-1 in that top deck. Even the 14-42mm kit lens has the sliver ring around its base like so many OM Zuiko lenses from the past. I flash back to the days of the wired rotary dial phone; when the microwave, if you had one, was called a radar range; and my Dad activated the television remote control by saying, "Shawn, get up and change the channel."

Seeing a camera like this on my desk, I can only think of dropping it into a bag with a change of clothes, then jumping into a friend's VW Bus bound for Joshua Tree National Monument for the weekend to hike and photograph one of God's greatest playgrounds.

It's still not perfect, but the E-P1 is the closest we've seen to the high-quality take-anywhere digital camera that so many of us keep waiting for. It has a larger sensor, the Micro Four Thirds sensor (which is actually the same size as the original Four Thirds sensor) and the option of choosing the lens type and quality you want for the price you want to pay. You can even use old OM lenses with the optional OM adapter.

LOOK & FEEL

In person, the look of the E-P1 is quite a bit more retro than it seems in pictures. Silver and black on the version we received, white and tan with chrome accents on the white version. From the front, the E-P1 is quite simple: a lens lock release on the body, a soft, leather-texture grip, a lamp for the self-timer and stereo speaker holes left and right of the Olympus logo. The sensor is very close to the lens mount, which makes for easier cleaning, but also underscores the extra care required when changing lenses.

On the back, the mode dial peeks out from its port-hole on the top deck and is set via the knurl. The focal plane indicator is stamped between that and the flash hot shoe, which has its plastic cover in place. Note that there is no built-in on-camera flash on the E-P1 (the FL-14 flash, available for $199.99, comes with a $99.99 instant rebate through Sept. 9 but the E-P1 prerelease sample did quite well at high ISO). The 3-inch LCD is unfortunately limited to 230,000 pixels, though it is large and vibrant thanks to its HyperCrystal technology. The lower resolution makes Manual focus a little more difficult than it was on the just-reviewed Panasonic GH1, even with the 7x or 10x zoom option.

Getting back to the top deck, the Super Sonic Wave Filter lamp is next, followed by the power switch, whose outer ring glows green when the power is on. The shutter release button is ringed by a smooth bit of metal and is a pleasure to press. The EV adjustment button is last.

On the back you can see the speaker and the unique horizontal scroll wheel, used for zooming and changing menu items. Four buttons run down the right side of the LCD and a Function and Info button flank the navigation disk/wheel. The disk and wheel combination is small, but works surprisingly well. The wheel works better than most manufacturers' designs, a pleasant surprise. I'm not crazy about the layout of the rest of the buttons, though. It might be that the E-P1 is so short that the controls are just harder to reach than I'm used to. In the lower right corner is the card write lamp.

The camera strap loops unfortunately require annoying D-rings to work with most strap systems. These have become more of a burden thanks to the E-P1's movie mode, as every motion of the D-rings is recorded as the sound travels dutifully down the camera's lovely metal skin, eventually arriving at the microphone openings. Perhaps you can sense my irritation with this unnecessary metal-to-metal connection when cloth-to-metal is such an obvious standard on modern digital cameras and even camcorders. Since I don't like camera straps, I'd likely keep the camera like this and perhaps add a wrist strap with a toggle lock for security.

LCD. As I mentioned, the 3-inch LCD is big, but low resolution and its viewing angle is 176 degrees. It's the only way to frame images on the E-P1, unless you opt for the 17mm lens kit, which includes the optical viewfinder that slips into the hot shoe.

Function. The E-P1 includes a new Function menu with two unique dials at its disposal for easy navigation. Press the OK button in the center to bring up a menu matrix identical to the translucent screens on recent Olympus dSLRs.

LENSES

The primary kit lens designed for the E-P1 is the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6. It's a shortened version of the standard kit lens shipped with so many digital cameras, equivalent to a 28-84mm zoom. It does a neat trick when you twist it from its resting position: it pops out to its full operating length.

There's an unlock switch on the left of the barrel, but this actually unlocks the mechanism that keeps the lens from retracting to its stowed position.

Though I appreciate the effort Olympus made to keep this lens from being a gigantic nuisance, I haven't fallen in love with the sample 14-42 I used, which was unbearably slow to focus and a little too big for me. The shipping lens, I've found, does indeed confirm focus more quickly. While it confirms focus to the user, it still continues running rapidly through the entire focus range before returning to the confirmed focus area, which takes a little longer. But it's quite a bit faster than the prototype.

My favorite is the 17mm f2.8, the only other Olympus lens made specifically for Micro Four Thirds as of this writing. Its low barrel distortion made shooting with this pancake design a sincere pleasure and its faster autofocus made me return to it again and again. While out shooting galleries, I had to remind myself a few times to get the 14-42mm lens mounted for a few shots; and after I got too frustrated with the autofocus, I returned to the 17. So you can easily guess which kit arrangement I recommend with the E-P1. Again, though, manual focus via the fly-by-wire focus ring, already difficult, is made more difficult thanks to the LCD's lower resolution. I struggled to notice any change as I turned the focus ring. I'm hoping production versions of the E-P1 perform better.

Lenses & Adapters. We took the liberty of trying the E-P1 with the rather elite lenses that came with our Panasonic GH1, the second Micro Four Thirds digital camera in the world. They both fit and worked well. Most impressive was the 7-14mm on such a small body.

The Lumix Four Thirds lens adapter allowed us to attach some of the more interesting Four Thirds lenses in house, including the 150mm f2.0 monster lens. Olympus's equivalent is the MMF-1, a silver Four Thirds adapter.

Sweetening the deal for OM-system lens owners like me is the MF-2 OM Adapter, which allows attachment of some really fine lenses. I'll report more on this when we get an adapter and a final production version of the E-P1.

MOVIE MODES

HD movie modes are a new dimension to consider in a camera of this size, especially considering the relatively compact lenses available for it. The E-P1 records AVI movies at 1280x720 and 640x480, both at 30 frames per second. Maximum file size is 2-GB and the maximum recording time is 7 minutes in HD mode or 14 minutes in Standard Definition. You can also use the ART filters to limited effect. Some of the filters slow the frame rate so much that I doubt most would want to use them. These include the Pinhole and Grainy Film modes.

Audio Technology. Olympus is also touting the audio technology built into the E-P1's Movie mode, which they say is as good as their best audio recorders. It's described as Wave Format Base Stereo PCM/16-bit at 44.1kHz. Unfortunately, that's only for movie recording or for attaching audio to a photograph; there is no audio-only recording mode, as we've seen on some other cameras.

Also built into the E-P1 are five ambient tunes to use with slide shows and videos, created by Daishi Dance, a famous Japanese musician.

SHOOTING

Thanks to the light weight of the E-P1, I found myself shooting one-handed a lot more than I normally do. That's of course partly because I had no optical viewfinder to use while shooting, so I already had to hold the camera out in front of me to compose images. Since I shoot mostly vertical, it's more comfortable to shoot with one hand. I don't recommend it, but with the 17mm mounted and the body-based image stabilization I had few blurry shots.

I also kept dropping into black and white mode just for the fun of it. It's a mode I've been locking my Rebel into by default, but shooting in live view lets you compose in black and white, which is something we've never been able to do before the advent of live view. Even when I cranked up my ISO to 6400, the image quality from the E-P1 was pretty good in black and white.

I tried the Grainy Film Art filter, too, but it slowed the Live View's refresh and produced more plugged shadows and more grain than even ISO 6400. I'd rather get the benefit of the high ISO and good detail than play with that particular filter.

Olympus menus have a lot of depth, which can be a little crazy-making for me. I don't want to see all that when I'm trying to capture my world; I just want simplicity. You'll want to carry the manual around with you and study it to understand some of the menu items. But sticking with the new Function menu makes using the E-P1 a little more straightforward. The new thumbwheel is also great to use, a novel, well-placed control.

In short, I had a hard time putting the E-P1 down. It was only schedules that kept me from using the camera more and I could see myself spending a lot more of my free time taking pictures with the E-P1. You know, the kind of time you spend with a camera when all you do is explore its many features, re-read the manual and try to get a different shot of some subject whose essence you've tried to capture for years.

ANALYSIS

I see a lot of cameras and many of them are excellent and inspire my creativity. But the E-P1 captured my imagination when it was first announced in wood-block form. Olympus has made a tradition out of creating cameras that defy the trends, even with their E-series of modern dSLRs, a camera system with a digital-specific lens design. But those cameras ended up looking the same as the cameras they intended to turn on their ear, with large lenses and bulky bodies.

What Olympus needed was to find a new niche. I think the Micro Four Thirds E-P1 is that niche. First, the E-P1's image quality won't be held to the standard of bigger, heavier dSLRs; even when it is compared -- which it will be -- people will make allowances for any shortcomings they see; if they see any at all. Second, there are so many advantages to a camera of this size that Olympus can't help but attract new users on that fact alone. Third, there is so much pent up demand for this form factor that Olympus's biggest problem will be meeting that demand and introducing a sufficient number of new lenses to keep up with the inevitable demand for more optics to enhance this promising camera format.

If the shipping versions of the E-P1 can maintain the quality I see in the prototype's images, I think it's going to be enormously popular.

Return to Topics.

Publisher's Note: Thank You(!)

Wow, thank you to everyone who responded to my plea for support last issue. The response was really wonderful and more than we'd dared hope for! The conventional wisdom is that it's impossible to get anyone to donate toward or subscribe to content on the Internet, but IR Newsletter readers are clearly a breed apart. The response to last issue's donation/subscription plea was very heartening, many thanks to all who contributed! (For the rest of you, if you've been sitting on the fence about making your own contribution, get on over to http://www.imaging-resource.com/SUBSCRIBE.HTM, pick an amount that suits your pocketbook and level of passion for the Newsletter and make a contribution. We continue to need your support, and it really does matter.)

As always, it also really helps to demonstrate your interest in our advertisers' messages. The click rates advertisers see on our site do a lot to justify the prices we charge and to keep them coming back for more. When you see a photo-related ad on the IR or SLRgear sites, click on it, and then take a moment to visit one or two other pages on their site -- that shows them you're sincerely interested and didn't just click by accident. (Ditto in spades for the Sponsors of this newsletter, listed above. They're critical to keeping this publication alive and healthy, so show them you appreciate their support of your favorite photography publication!)

Another thing you can do to help is to use our Buy Now page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/buynow.htm) whenever you shop for anything from Amazon.com or B&H Photo. IR receives a small commission on every sale made through the links on that page (you have to pass through one of those links for us to get credit). And you pay the same prices you would anyway, so this is a painless way to help out IR, big time. Check it out!

As I said last time, seeing the way our readers have responded to our plea for help has renewed our confidence that IR will make it through this recession. We've had to really cinch our belts and batten down the hatches, but with readers like you, I'm confident we'll make it safely to the other side. Once again, my very sincere thanks to those of you who have already donated!

-- Dave Etchells

Return to Topics.

New on the Site

At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:

Return to Topics.

Book Bag: The Hot Shoe Diaries

The fog was pressing against the windows like packing peanuts. The heater was huffing and puffing like a big old bad wolf. The roof was rattling in the wind like the loose hood of a '68 Mustang flying down from the Sierras.

So we put our feet on the ottoman and opened Joe McNally's The Hot Shoe Diaries. Where there is darkness, Joe sheds light.

And not just artificial light. Our first encounter with Joe was at PMA a couple of years ago. We were walking around those huge halls in the Las Vegas Convention Center taking pictures of interesting things in boring booths. As we walked by the Nikon booth, there was Joe standing before a packed audience to talk about using Nikon Speedlights.

The first thing he said, as we recall, was about some hot shot who only photographed in "available light." Well, what's available light? Joe wanted to know. Any light that's available! Even a Speedlight.

The real argument for learning to use artificial light -- even if you love natural light photography -- is (as Joe puts it time and again the The Hot Shoe Diaries) to make your photo look different than the one the guy next to you is making. If you learn to paint with light, you can create an image nobody else has seen.

And that, Joe reminds us, starts with the subject. Get your camera position first. Set the scene. Then see what the natural light gives you and augment that with these little lights that communicate with each other and the camera so well.

In fact, Nikon's Creative Lighting System is at the heart of this book. Yes, the principles apply whether you're using an old Konica-Minolta wireless setup or Canon gear, but Nikon's CLS solves so many other problems nothing else can touch it. From the camera's menu system, you can set groups of strobes to behave independently, cranking their output up or down in EVs and monitoring them with i-TTL. A preflash in the line of sight communicates with them milliseconds before the exposure so you don't have to run around setting them manually.

Joe even explains how to get around the line-of-sight issue using a remote commander tethered to the camera's hot shoe by cable. He nods to other solutions like the infrared signaling used by the renowned Pocket Wizard, but never really needs them as he marches from one freelance assignment to another in the diary.

In fact, the book is called a diary because after an initial section of three chapters that discuss gear and how to use it in general, and the appendix that goes through the Speedlight menu systems, the book is all about individual shoots and how Joe lit them.

These individual shoots are not, thankfully, organized chronologically. Instead, the first section bundles 30 of them that were shot using just one Speedlight. The second section has 18 shot with two or more, and the third has 11 shots with more lights than any one human being can actually afford.

If you bought the DVD A Hands-on Guide to Creative Lighting from Nikon School (http://www.nikonmall.com/detail/NIK+11484), you'll recognize a couple of the shoots. But there's also a memorable one involving brain surgery, another of a light bulb being changed on the Empire State Building, one of an outrigger canoe slicing through the ocean, a few office shots, some in the desert, one right in the water -- there's no place this guy won't go to pay the mortgage.

Each shoot is a brief chapter: the image (huge, often a full spread), a page or two of text to tell the story, maybe an inset image or three to show the progression as he solves a lighting problem or just a diagram of the solution on a napkin.

And if you think the prose might put you to sleep, it's so lively we can't quote any of it here. But you know that already if you've read Joe's blog (http://www.joemcnally.com/blog/2009/06/10/new-website-new-blog/). There's so much to digest in each assignment, really, that it took us weeks to get through the book. We could only read a handful of them at a time before we felt like leaping into action down in the bunker where there always seems to be a product shot or two waiting for us.

So we would. We'd leave the fog, the chill and the wind, descending into the bunker to bask in our own sunlight made with nothing more than one little old strobe. And Joe's advice.

The Hot Shoe Diaries by Joe McNally, published by New Riders, 304 pages, $39.99 (or $26.39 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/0321580141/?tag=theimagingres-20).
Return to Topics.

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 Canon cameras at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f773

Visit the Nikon Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f781

Read about Canon lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=4

Read comments about the Datacolor SpyderCube at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eeace05/0

Visit the General Q&A Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee718ec

Return to Topics.

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!

Return to Topics.

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: SpyderCube

Can you tell us how this might do in a mixed lighting situation? Say you were shooting food, inside with incandescent, maybe even some fluorescent as well or color cast walls, and then adding flash or sunlight -- so three types of light?

-- Martin Kimeldorf

(Well, you have two options in that situation: pick one light source to be the natural one and let the others fall where they stumble or enforce one color of light on the whole scene by filtering two of three light sources. The SpyderCube makes it easy to balance any of the three sources but you'd want to shoot the reference shot in the main light. Or buy three, one for each light source in the scene, and make local color adjustments in your software <g>. -- Editor)

I am most interested in the SpyderCube following your recent review. In the review you mentioned one or two other similar products but not the ExpoDisc. I wonder how the latter compares?

-- Nick Kitto

(Good question, Nick. The ExpoDisc is a white, translucent plastic disc that pops onto your lens. It diffuses light arriving at the camera (not necessarily reflected in the scene) so you can set a custom white balance in your camera, much as you might by spot reading a gray card. But it avoids the reflections, unfortunate angles and framing issues of a gray card. It has its own issues, however. Different lens filter sizes require different size ExpoDiscs (there are at least eight sizes available, although you could always just buy the largest). And the light arriving at the lens might not be quite the mix you're shooting.... With the SpyderCube, you don't (and really can't) set a custom white balance in the camera. As the illustrated version of our review shows, it doesn't matter what white balance you shoot with. By including the SpyderCube in a reference shot, you can change the color balance with a click on the light gray triangle. And you can set it in the light you want to balance in a mixed lighting environment.... But you also get the black, white, absolute black and spectral highlight reference points in your reference image. And that can be invaluable in evaluating an exposure and setting exposure, brightness, black level and midtone values. Nobody else offers that. -- Editor)

[Translated from the Italian]

Very nice article and very deep.

I usually say shooting Raw is like a trial motorcycle: it will take you where you want to go if you know where you want to go. If you do not know, take the tram like everyone else.

Your article is the best article based on Raw workflow that I have read: give them a compass and teach them to use it. I believe there isn't a better way to start. Congratulations.

-- Frank Tagliaferro

(Thanks, Frank! Oh, a trial motorcycle doesn't have a seat and isn't designed for speed but to get through an obstacle course, rather like shooting Raw, indeed. -- Editor)

RE: Pandigital Detractors

It's funny how, in forum comments, only the people that have something bad to say about their digital photo frame are the only ones that take the time to write about it. In 2006, Pandigital sold 520,000 frames. If everyone is having the same problem, then you would have 520,000 complaints. Get over it people! And those who are happy with their product like I am, write about it as well. It is a great product, I have them all over my home.

-- R. Revelo

(Ironically, Pandigital makes one of the best frames you can buy, as we said in "Gifting a Digital Photo Frame" (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/GDF/GDF.HTM). Where people tend to have trouble is in loading images the frames (of any brand) can't display. And finding that troublesome image can be hard work. But that isn't the frame's fault. Still, Pandigital's FAQ is about their only customer support, so forums like ours tend to attract people with problems rather than praise. -- Editor)

RE: Donation

I read and recommend your site regularly and would like to make a donation although I am reluctant to use PayPal because of security concerns and periodic spoofing by others. Is there some way that I can send you a check by mail and, if so, to what mailing address?

FWIW, I believe that you guys run one of the best photo sites on the 'net -- solid, objective facts without a lot of hype or fluff -- and I would like to help out. (I used to be a medium format/view camera type who converted to digital about four years ago. I studied a bit with Minor White back at MIT when I was an undergrad/grad student there in the late '60s to early '70s pursuing other studies.)

-- Joe Kashi

(Thanks, Joe! As it happens, to be a well-behaved emailer, we must provide a mailing address with each issue. You'll find it at the very bottom (the very last line): The Imaging Resource, 1025 Wiley Bridge Road, Woodstock, GA 30188-4604. -- Editor)

RE: Mechanical Shutter Release

A long time photographer and reader of your Web site, I just ran across and ordered a digital camera shutter release with bracket (http://www.focalprice.com/detail.aspx?pid=5017) for $12.92 including tax and shipping. I had been looking for a very long time for just this gadget. So many digital cameras don't have any way to trip the shutter except using the self-timer.

-- Eric Gordon

(Seems like it would work for both dSLRs and digicams, too. Let us know how it works out, particularly if it leaves the shutter button unscathed and if you can feel the half-press you need to focus before firing. There are, of course, remote electronic shutter releases and cables for many cameras. Some infrared devices can even be impersonated by a remote control set to the right code. -- Editor)
Return to Topics.

Editor's Notes

Sharp (http://www.sharpusa.com) is taking the High Definition LCD panel beyond RGB with a five-color pixel that adds cyan and yellow to the mix. The additional colors extend the color gamut so the display can display images "identical in appearance to real-world objects," according to Sharp. And it should consume less power having to compensate less for RGB limitations. It's just a prototype now but the company intends to bring it to market.


Light Blue Software (http://www.lightbluesoftware.com) has released Light Blue: Photo 1.2 [MW], a studio management system with instant iCal publication, more Web gallery templates and more.


Eye-Fi (http://www.eye.fi) has introduced its $150 Eye-Fi Pro SDHC card that can transfer Raw images and supports ad-hoc connections directly to your laptop.


Hamrick (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 8.5.16 [LMW] with support for infrared cleaning on some HP scanners, improved support for newer HP scanners and improved support for Lexmark scanners.


The free JAlbum 8.3.5 [LMW] (http://jalbum.net) has been released with faster image scaling, turbo album uploading, instant previews, optional hardware accelerated image scaling, automatic server reconnection and support for IPTC location and sub location camera metadata fields.


Fixamac (http://www.fixamac.net) has released its $29.95 Print Therapy 6.0.5 [M], adding Mac OS X 10.5.7 compatibility, startup checks and bug fixes.


Flexibits (http://www.flexibits.com) has released its $9.95 Cameras 1.0 [M] preference pane to control which application is launched when you connect a digital camera, digital media reader, iPhone/iPod Touch or photo device.


DxO Labs (http://www.dxo.com) has released DxO Optics Pro 5.3.4 [MW] with support for the Canon EOS 500D and Nikon D5000, plus the Fuji S100FS, Pentax K-m/K200 and Sony A200/A300.


DataRescue (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM) has released PhotoRescue 3.1.10 [MW] with support for new Raw file formats and the ability to extract large thumbnails from Raw files.


Fantasea Line (http://www.fantasea.com) has released two new underwater housings specifically designed for the Canon PowerShot A480 and the Nikon Coolpix L19/L20 digicams. The new housings, depth rated to 200 feet, provide access to all camera functions.

The company has also released its new Remora Slave Flash with a guide number of 20 and four pre-flash settings for compatibility with "all compact digital cameras in the market." The flash is designed specifically for Fantasea housings.

And, finally, the company now offers its BigEye Wide Angle lens for large zoom lens compact digicams. The lenses can be installed and removed during the dive.


VJ Workshops and Brooks Institute are offering a tuition-free multimedia workshop (http://www.vjworkshops.org) for college students and professional journalists. The workshop will be held at the Ventura campus of Brooks Institute from July 30 thru Aug. 2.


Sony (http://www.sonystyle.com) has released Playstation 3 firmware update 2.60, adding a Photo Gallery application to organize and view images stored on a PS3. And images can be uploaded to online photo sharing sites from the PS3 or to PSP for photos on the go.


SlideShowPro (http://slideshowpro.net) now includes pan and zoom effects.


It's not too late to sign up for Scott Kelby's Worldwide Photo Walk (http://worldwidephotowalk.com) on July 18. Join other local photographers at one of over 1,000 walks, share your images and win prizes.

Return to Topics.

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

Return to Topics.

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

Go to Imaging Resource Home | News | Tips | Digital Camera Index | Scanner Index