|Volume 11, Number 15||17 July 2009|
Welcome to the 258th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Enjoy our condensed version of the site's Fun in the Sun special focus. Shawn describes the top digicams that aren't afraid of the water before sizing them up according to several important criteria. Dave offers a few tips on care and shooting with these fun little compacts. Then find out how to get reimbursed if you were skinned by N.Y. photo scammers. The news section is bursting with interesting tidbits, too!
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By SHAWN BARNETT(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FIS/FITSA1.HTM on the Web site.)
Today's point-and-shoot digicams are easier to use than ever, with face detection, smart exposure modes and image-stabilized optics. But get caught in the rain or take them on a water-bound adventure and you either need to stash them in a jacket pocket or buy a dry bag just to take them along.
All seven of the digicams in this roundup are competent cameras that will capture usable images, bringing back memories other cameras would miss. They each have one crucial virtue that makes them valuable: their ability to play in the water right along with you.
They're all easy to use, defaulting to full Auto modes that make sure you get the shot more often than not. They all shoot movies with sound, as well as stills and they all have internal optics, meaning their lenses are concealed inside the camera body so you don't have to worry about them breaking off.
You'll find sealed doors you have to learn how to care for and they all use lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, so bring the charger. None of these waterproof cameras has an optical viewfinder, so how the LCD performs in direct sunlight is also worth consideration. If action is your thing, pay attention to the shutter lag numbers, as well as whether the cameras helped or hindered getting the shot.
The three more expensive models are the best performers. As you move down the price scale, you encounter more compromises.
At Imaging Resource, we don't compromise on image quality. We take hundreds of pictures with most of the cameras we review to carefully evaluate whether they're worth your money.
But in the waterproof camera category, the main tradeoff is image quality. One of the reasons is the extra optical glass protecting the lens from the elements. We've tested these cameras as thoroughly as we do other pocket cameras so you'll be able to compare the cameras against their land-based counterparts to decide whether the tradeoff is worth it.
Here's a checklist to review when looking for a Fun in the Sun camera. It's not complete, but these are just a few bullet points to think about as you read through our brief write-ups on each camera.
Your Intended Use:
Your Expected Output Size:
- Does it include diving or just occasional splashing and dunking? If diving or snorkeling is your thing, be sure to check the camera's maximum depth rating.
- Will the kids be using it? If so, consider size, ease of use, cost and responsiveness of the shutter, as well as impact resistance if they drop it.
- Will it live in a pack, hang from a carabiner, sit in the bottom of the boat? Again, ruggedness factors like crushability and impact resistance will steer you toward certain models.
- Is snow among the adventures you'll pursue? Only a few models are freeze-proof or even cold resistant.
- Do you ever make larger than a 4x6-inch print? Do you ever crop your images? If not, you're going to be more interested in how the camera handles white balance in given situations than its resolution performance.
- Do you hope to take beautiful landscape shots on your adventures with this camera, ones you'll enlarge and hang on your office wall? Then you might want to look more carefully at our corner sharpness crops, distortion numbers and noise suppression crops. You might also consider a waterproof housing for a different camera and a few of these cameras also work with waterproof housings for greater depth capability. For the best image quality, you'll want to remove these cameras from the housing, again to eliminate the influence of that front cover glass.
Read the full story (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FIS/FITSA1.HTM) to see how they do on the above criteria, then follow the link to each camera's full review with example crops to show image quality, as well as printed test results and timing data.
- Will this be your only camera? If so, you'll want to see how each does in our indoor and low-light tests, as well as shutter lag. It's one thing to put up with compromised image quality in rugged conditions, but things can get much worse indoors where light levels are significantly lower than in broad daylight.
PENTAX OPTIO W60
One of the old guard in waterproof digicams, the Pentax Optio W60 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/W60/W60A.HTM) has a lot of development history behind it. After several generations, it's still light, simple and flat. Significantly upgraded from the last generation, the W60 meets many of the market's recent trends, with a wide-angle 5x optical zoom, ranging from 28-140mm. A slightly larger sensor helps keep image quality up despite the 10-megapixel resolution and a 2.5-inch LCD has higher resolution than its predecessor, with 230,000 pixels, always helpful when checking focus or viewing images after capture.
Canon's PowerShot D10 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D10/D10A.HTM) marks a return to the waterproof camera space, but it is the company's first waterproof digital camera. The unique design stands out from the pack with a rather bulbous nose that conceals a more traditional lens mechanism. The overall appearance brings to mind a diving bell, with rounded surfaces designed to better resist pressure from all sides. The flat back for the LCD makes that more an impression than a reality, but the D10 is one of the three digicams in this roundup designed for diving photography, rated capable of withstanding the pressure at a depth of 33 feet.
The D10 is also impact-resistant for drops from up to four feet and freeze-proof to 14 degrees F. Its 12.1-Mp sensor sits behind a 35-105mm zoom lens with a fairly bright f2.8 to f4.9 lens.
With the solid good looks of a Panasonic Toughbook rugged computer, the Panasonic Lumix TS1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/TS1/TS1A.HTM) looks like it would be as comfortable mounted on a tool belt as it would dangling from your wrist as you take off on your next outdoor adventure. The Panasonic TS1 is waterproof, dustproof and shockproof, covering most of the major elements you'll be concerned about. Lens coverage is just right for outdoor use, ranging from 28-128mm equivalent or 4.6x and it includes Panasonic's excellent optical image stabilization.
If all you're concerned about is having a camera that can stand up to a little water, Olympus thought of you when they designed the Stylus Water 550WP (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/OS550WP/OS550WPA.HTM). This non-shockproof, non-freeze-proof digicam can handle depths up to 10 feet and that's it. Before their line of anything-proof cameras, that was enough for most of the market. The 550WP's other major feature is its low price, coming in at under $200. Still, it includes a 2.5-inch LCD, face detection and Intelligent Auto mode.
What it lacks is a wide-angle lens, ranging from 38-114mm and there's no optical image stabilization; though the 550WP will raise the ISO to compensate for low light, something Olympus calls "Digital Image Stabilization." Don't pay that much attention.
OLYMPUS TOUGH 6000
Easily the sportiest looking camera in the roundup, the Olympus Stylus Tough 6000 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/OST6000/OST6000A.HTM) has more of the stuff you want when you're looking for a rugged camera. It's waterproof up to 10 feet, withstands a fall from five feet and can handle a freeze down to 14 degrees F. Its 10-Mp sensor sits under a 3.6x image-stabilized lens ranging from 28-102mm equivalent.
OLYMPUS TOUGH 8000
Olympus poured all the good stuff into the Tough 8000 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/OST8000/OST8000A.HTM), a waterproof digicam with a whole lot more. It also behaves better than its brothers. Besting all the others in this roundup in more than one rugged aspect, the Tough 8000 can withstand a drop from 6.6 feet, dive to a depth of 33 feet, shrug off up to 220 pounds of crushing force and work in 14 degrees F.
A 3.6x optical zoom ranges from 28-102mm and is image stabilized, a nice feature to have in a rugged camera. The 12-Mp sensor also matches its main rivals in resolution and the 2.7-inch LCD performs like a dream in the brightest sunlight.
Easily the most endearing camera of the bunch, the Fujifilm Z33WP (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/Z33WP/Z33WPA.HTM) doesn't just look good, it feels great to hold and use. Its skin is smooth and taut like a ripe nectarine. That sounds ridiculous in a camera review, but hold one and you'll want to take a bite. It's the smallest camera in this roundup and I'd say it has the best engineered body of the bunch, at least from a marketing standpoint.
Its 3x zoom, ranging from 35-105mm is quite average, but for the price, don't be too surprised. The maximum aperture of f3.7 does not recommend it as an indoor camera, however, nor does its lack of true mechanical image stabilization. Its 2.7-inch LCD looks great, if a little dim in bright sunlight.
When I started working on this project, I envisioned meandering through the unique features of these waterproof cameras and concluding, "You pick; they're all great in one way or another, because they're waterproof!" Well, as usual, it's not that easy. I know we're each looking for something a little different from a waterproof digicam, so I'm breaking down my recommendations into three categories: Image Quality, Capture Speed and Value.
At the top of the image quality heap, we have the Pentax W60, a camera whose stock, unfortunately, is running thin at Web retailers. Its optics and sensor quality are good, just about good enough for daily carry. Its major flaw is the shutter button, which is difficult to press, though it was likely damaged during our testing. Though the Canon D10 is actually sharper and higher res in the center of the frame, the Pentax is significantly sharper in the corners.
Next I recommend the Panasonic TS1 whose corner sharpness ironically isn't quite as good as the Olympus 550WP (whose downfall is more about noise processing than optical flaw). The center and corner sharpness are good enough for daily use and image processing handles noise well, retaining plenty of detail, even at its 12-Mp resolution. It's also fast, which puts it in the Capture speed category as well.
The Olympus Tough 8000 is also a clear leader in the overall image quality column. On both the Tough 8000 and Tough 6000, there was one corner that was softer than the others, but in general image quality was good. What keeps the Tough 6000 off the top lists is its terribly slow image capture speed.
The Canon D10's image quality is excellent in the center, but corner softness encroaches quite far into the frame. That'll be less important for diving, for which the Canon D10 was built.
The numbers don't lie, so once again the Pentax W60 is first with the lowest shutter lag of the bunch at 0.39, out-focusing the Panasonic TS1 (0.44), Canon D10 (0.47) and Z33WP (0.49), in that order, but only by less than a tenth of a second.
If you pre-focus then shoot, the order changes: TS1 (0.01), Z33WP (0.037), Tough 8000 (0.05), D10 (0.07) and W60 (0.098). That really is splitting hairs, though, so considering the image quality ranking and that AF speed is a greater factor in the overall experience, I choose to weight our results based on the first order above.
Here we have to split the value part up a bit into Durability and Cost.
Durability: In terms of most ruggedness for the dollar, the clear winner for durability is the Olympus Stylus Tough 8000. It has the specs to speak for it, plus the image quality is quite good. Among the three others starting at $399, the Tough 8000 is voted most likely to survive and come back with the images.
After that, the prize goes to the Canon D10, which is freeze-proof, droppable and submersible; and with just a little help will even float.
The Panasonic TS1 and Pentax W60 come in after that, with excellent image quality, metal build and freeze resistance.
Cost: Our low-cost leader is the Fujifilm Z33WP. So long as the images are only for 4x6 printing and Web posting, the Fujifilm Z33WP is an excellent value, serving as a second or third camera in the arsenal just for water fun adventures.
Next is the Olympus Stylus 550WP, handily besting the Z33WP in image quality but with a maddeningly slow shutter response. If you have wiggly kids, you need the Z33WP. For landscapes on a budget, the 550WP is the way to go.
Finally, though I called the Tough 6000 out for poor performance in the autofocus shutter lag departments, if those items don't bother you, the images of the Tough 6000 are pretty good at their lowest ISO settings, especially for $260 online.
By DAVE ETCHELLS
Extreme cameras often compromise image quality somewhat, relative to what the best dry-land digicams can achieve. As a result, photo snobs sometimes turn up their noses at them, saying "it's all about image quality."
That's a sadly uninformed view.
I heartily agree that excellent image quality is better than modest image quality, but what if the choice is modest image quality vs. no photos at all?
My family and I took a trip to Costa Rica in 2004 and brought along a pile of photo equipment, including a dSLR, a couple of point-and-shoots and one "water resistant" camera. In those days, there weren't any truly waterproof models. Given that we were in rain forest much of the time and spent a total of a couple of days in kayaks, the water resistant digicam ended up taking a lot of the photos we brought back with us.
Were they great photos? Frankly, no. A lot of the shots I took with it were in dim lighting and its high-ISO noise levels were pretty wretched. But, without that camera, we would have missed dozens of opportunities to save memories from the trip. Even in a dry bag, there was no way I was going to bring my dSLR along on a kayak, down a storm-swollen river or out on the ocean.
And a good thing, too. A wave dumped us off our sea kayak at one point and a dSLR in a dry bag would have ended up on the sea floor in 40 feet of water.
Today's extreme cameras have come a long way from what I had to work with in 2004. There are noticeable image quality differences among the various extreme models, but all are head and shoulders better than that little camera I brought on our Costa Rica trip.
Image quality is only part of the story. It may pay to trade off some image quality for sheer toughness, if you're going to be in a really camera-hazardous environment. Or it might be worth accepting a less-expensive model that fits your budget for the sake of having at least some photos from the beach, river, lake or wherever that you'd completely miss otherwise.
Don't be a photo snob. Bring back the pictures! And here are a few tips for doing just that.
CARE & FEEDING TIPS
Clean the lens. Most extreme cameras have protective glass covering their internal lens and in many, the cover glass is always exposed. This means it's prone to picking up fingerprints, smudges, pocket lint and other crud.
Bring a microfiber lens cloth with you and get in the habit of checking the cover glass frequently. Beware of grit, though, when you wipe off the glass. Grit on the glass or your cloth could produce scratches if you press too hard.
Check the lens. It's a good idea to give the camera a good shake whenever you first submerge and again right after coming back up for air. When you dunk your camera in the water, it's not uncommon for a bubble or two to lodge around the lens opening. You probably won't notice the blur caused by the bubble until you're back home at the computer when it's too late to do anything about it. A good shake when you first go underwater will usually dislodge any bubbles.
The same holds true when you come back to the surface. Water droplets left on the lens cover glass can blur your photos. Knock the camera gently against your palm to shake any drops loose. Or, blot them dry with a clean cloth. (Beware using a corner of your beach towel for this, you're likely to just trade sand grains for the water.)
Wash it off. After your camera has been in a stream or lake or (especially) the ocean, wash it off in freshwater before opening it or putting it away. If you open it and drop of clean freshwater gets inside, it's not a catastrophe, but saltwater or freshwater high in minerals is another story altogether. Clean freshwater leaves little or no residue when it dries, but saltwater or mineral-laden freshwater leaves behind corrosive and/or conductive residues that can short out your camera's internal circuitry. So never open the camera when it's wet and always give it a freshwater bath after it's been in the ocean.
On the outside of the camera, saltwater will leave salt crystals behind when it dries and water from lakes and streams contains minerals that turn into tough-to-remove water spots when the water evaporates. So it's a good idea to give the camera a freshwater rinse and dry it with a towel before putting it away.
Check the Gaskets. Waterproof cameras rely on soft rubber or plastic gaskets to keep the water out. The seal is made by the gasket pressing against a smooth mating surface. If a piece of dirt, grit or fiber gets between the gasket and the surface it mates with, the seal won't be watertight. It's a good idea to get in the habit of running a (clean) finger over the seal each time you close the compartment door, to make sure there's no dirt on it that could cause a leak. Take care to not scratch any surface the seal presses against, as a scratch can have the same effect as a piece of dirt: your waterproof camera could become a lot less so.
Tough, not Indestructible. Just because a camera carries a "tough" rating doesn't mean it's impervious to harm. A "tough" camera left on a car dashboard in the sun can cook just as quickly as a conventional digicam. Likewise, while some cameras carry anti-crush ratings, they can still be damaged if you bump against something with the camera in your pants pocket. Crush ratings are based on evenly-applied pressure. Even what feels like a gentle bump against the hard corner of a table or chair can still crack the LCD's cover glass if the impact comes in the wrong place.
Cameras Don't Float. Just because a camera is waterproof doesn't mean it will float on top of the water. On the contrary, most waterproof cameras are quite a bit heavier than water (particularly "tough" models, with their extra metal and bracing to withstand abuse), so they'll sink like rocks if dropped overboard. If you're going to be using the camera in or near deep or murky water, it's a really good idea to attach some kind of float to its wrist strap eyelet. Don't think you're safe just because the water is shallow, either. You can easily lose a camera in water only a foot or two deep if it's murky from mud or waves stirring up sand. And before you trust your several hundred dollar camera to any given float, give it a quick test first in your bathtub. (Just ask Shawn. He can speak from painful personal experience on this one!)
Get a Good Strap. Don't rely on the svelte wrist strap provided by your camera's manufacturer. Get something sturdy enough to keep you and the camera together, whatever you might be doing. There are a lot of accessory straps on the market and most will be more sturdy than the one that came with your camera. We particularly like the straps made by Op/Tech (http://www.optechusa.com/category/second/?CATEGORY_ID=11) and they're widely available in camera stores and online.
Beach or Snow: Bump up the Exposure/Use Beach or Snow Mode.
Most metering systems assume they're looking at an "average" scene and set their exposure accordingly. When you look around you, you'll see bright areas and dark areas. Average it all together and an "average" scene comes out to a dull gray. This is the brightness your camera's exposure system aims for. The approach works fine, but if you're someplace where there's a lot more bright stuff than dark stuff (white sand at a beach, white snow in the winter time), the camera's average-aimed exposure will render the scene a lot darker than you remember it being.
The solution is to give the camera a little help, when you know a scene is a lot brighter than the camera might be expecting. Every digicam has an exposure compensation adjustment somewhere on it, accessible directly via a button or indirectly via the menu system. When you're at the beach (or in snow under bright sun), boost the exposure by 2/3 or 1 EV. EV stands for Exposure Value and is the unit used on your camera's exposure compensation scale.
If you'd rather have the camera figure out your exposure for you, but do a better job than full-auto mode, look for a Scene Mode for beach or snow shooting. Most cameras will have a Scene Mode of this sort and in many cases, it will also tweak color balance as well as exposure, to make your photos look their best.
With either exposure compensation or Scene Modes, don't forget to set your camera back to its normal exposure settings when you're done for the day. If you don't, your shots taken later under normal conditions will look washed-out.
Underwater: Underwater or Auto Mode?
We often recommend Scene modes for beginners and even experienced users can benefit from the white balance adjustments made by some camera's Underwater modes. Check to see how photos shot with your camera's Underwater mode look, though. Some Underwater modes work well, toning down the blue-green hues and increasing contrast just enough to give pleasing color, without making the photos look like they were shot on dry land. But others go too far, losing the sense of being under water. It's all a matter of personal preference, so shoot some photos both ways, to see what best suits your personal taste.
A danger with any Scene mode, though, is that it's easy to forget you set your camera that way. So you end up with a lot of subsequent shots badly exposed or with the wrong color. My personal preference for underwater shooting is to leave the camera in Auto mode and then just tweak the color on the computer after the fact. I find that easier than dealing with a large batch of orange-tinted photos when I (inevitably) forget to switch back to Auto or Program mode after an underwater photo session.
On June 25, N.Y. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced that seven New York-based online electronics firms operating over 40 Web sites would pay $665,000 in restitution plus $100,00 to cover the costs of the investigation for systematically scamming consumers "out of hundreds of thousands of dollars."
How did the companies do it?
According to the Attorney General's office, they "would advertise consumer electronics, such as cameras, camcorders, projectors and related accessories online at prices significantly lower than their competitors to induce consumers to place orders via the Internet. Once an order was placed, the companies would call consumers and try to sell them additional or 'upgraded' merchandise at inflated prices.
"If the consumer refused to purchase the additional merchandise, the companies would cancel the sale or claim the item was backordered for months. If the consumer did agree to purchase the additional merchandise, the companies would send them lower quality merchandise than what was promised or merchandise that the consumer never ordered in the first place.
"When customers tried to return the items, they would either be denied or be slammed with undisclosed fees. All of the companies further limited customers' ability to return merchandise by requiring them to speak to a live customer representative during limited business hours and then refusing to answer those telephone calls."
The companies and Web sites are listed in the Attorney General's press release (http://hdguru.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/list-of-bait-and-switch-e-tailers.pdf). If you were a victim of the fraud, you can submit a claim to the N.Y. State Better Business Bureau (http://newyork.bbb.org) through December.
The seven firms, two of which will close as a result of the settlement, scammed a lot of customers but not Imaging Resource site visitors who used our PriceGrabber pages to comparison shop.
That's because, as Dave explained it recently, "We actually de-listed a number of these stores from IR's comparison-shopping pages some while back, after getting reader complaints on them."
De-listing simply prevents the company's price data from appearing in the comparison shopping pages we generate. We report the suspect operator to PriceGrabber and they filter them out of our price searches and product feeds.
That makes our comparison shopping pages (http://ir.pricegrabber.com) a safer place for you to shop. It's like an invisible hand shielding you from bad actors.
See for yourself by comparing the pricegrabber.com listing against the ir.pricegrabber.com listing for any product. The companies not listed on our cobranded page are the ones that Imaging Resource has de-listed.
In fact, consumer protection is a long-standing policy at Imaging Resource. In 2001, when the Internet was new and shopping on it a bit scary, Imaging Resource introduced a handful of preferred vendors -- and stood behind them. If you had a problem with one of them, Dave promised to "personally go to bat for you and help mediate an agreeable solution with the vendor."
Of course, he knew those preferred vendors didn't engage in the practices Attorney General Cuomo discovered in New York.
"These companies engaged in the worst kinds of consumer fraud, from classic bait-and-switch schemes to blatant lies and bullying sales tactics," Cuomo said. "Today's agreements will protect consumers nationwide from these types of predatory online merchants, as well as deliver much-needed restitution to hundreds of individuals who fell victim to these illegal practices. Let this be a message to online merchants everywhere: such abuse of consumers and violation of the law will not be tolerated."
It never has been at Imaging Resource.
Time for another of my thank-you notes and further suggestions of ways you can help Imaging Resource, SLRgear.com and this newsletter during the current economic downturn.
First of all, thanks again for all of you have made donations via our "subscription" page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SUBSCRIBE.HTM). I'm way behind on my thank-you emails, but know that we all really appreciate everyone who's donated. Your generosity has really made a difference! And if you haven't donated, what are you waiting for? We'll appreciate your donation every bit as much as the hundreds we've already received! :-)
Elsewhere in this issue, Editor Mike Pasini reports on fines recently levied against online scammers, noting that none of the companies charged appear on our comparison-shopping pages, thanks to the policing we've done over the years to make sure our pages are safe place to shop.
Which brings me to my next suggestion/request. One of the most painless ways you can support IR is one of the least-used, but also one of the most effective. Every time you comparison-shop for a product on the Internet or buy anything from Amazon or B&H Photo, you could be supporting Imaging Resource!
Just bookmark our Buy Now page (http://www.imaging-resource.com/buynow.htm) and use the links on it whenever you're going to comparison-shop or buy from the retailers listed there. Those links carry affiliate codes, so we get credited for the sale and receive a small amount (generally between one and three percent) of the purchase as a commission. Three percent may not sound like much, but on a thousand-dollar dSLR or lens, it comes to $30, a very worthwhile help for our bottom line.
And not just photo gear. Anything you buy from Amazon or B&H earns us credit. We ourselves use Amazon for all manner of things (did you know that they have great prices on computer parts?) and we've long used B&H as our go-to supplier for all things photographic. Their prices are very good and their service is unparalleled.
Finally, as noted, we've worked hard to make sure our comparison-shopping pages are a safe place to shop. Shop for anything on them and IR will collect a few cents (that quickly add up) for every merchant link you click on.
So bookmark our Buy Now page and take just a moment to pass through its links the next time you visit Amazon or B&H. Just a moment of your time to use one of our buying links can make a real difference in keeping your favorite newsletter and review sites on the air!
-- Dave Etchells
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:
- Fun in the Sun Special (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FIS/FITSA1.HTM)
- Image Stabilization Test: Olympus E-520 Body (http://www.slrgear.com/articles/is_olympuse520/IS_Test_Olympus_E-520_SLR_Body.htm) Is in-body image stabilization as effective as lens-based IS?
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot SX200 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SX200IS/SX200ISA.HTM)
- Test Shots: Pentax K-7 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/K7/K7A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Nikon D5000 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D5000/D5000A.HTM)
- Updating: Velbon MAXi tripod review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/VEL/VEL.HTM) The rubber handle of the PH-237Q panhead has deteriorated so we emailed Hakuba for a replacement under the lifetime warranty. Will we get it? Stay tuned!
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 image stabilization testing at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showtopic=395
Visit the Sony Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f789
Read ongoing comments about Tokina lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=9
A user asks about lenses for the Pentax K-7 at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.eead1e8/0
Visit the Scanners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2ae
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RE: Stuck Filters
A hair dryer is a good way to warm the filter. Spraying some canned cleaning duster air on the filter is an easy way to cool it. Even though you said it was a desperate technique, I hope no one does what you said in the second sentence, i.e., to dip just the filter into recently boiled water (remember, the lens is still attached).
Unfortunately, plastic filter wrenches are not very strong and can break. I found that a conical rubber jar lid opener works very well. The one I (very seldom) use fits filters from 30mm to 90 mm and can be bought for a dollar or less.
-- Gene Thomson(Thanks, Gene! Yes, we hope nobody has to resort to any desperate measures, too. To that end, we should have mentioned rubber shelf liners often favored for fine crystal or china. They're ribbed and resilient, so save what you trim and use it to grab your filter. -- Editor)
RE: Old Scanner Woes
I just read your reply to someone's inquiry about the "Unknown Error" showing up at the launch of Dimage Scan Utility on the Mac platform. I get this often when I have some applications already running on my Mac (OS X 10.5.6, PowerPC processor, G5 workstation). Simple restart of the computer and launch Dimage Utility before any other application (no matter what kind of software that may be) to cure the problem. Dimage starts up and you can proceed with scanning. I don't know whether or not this is true for the Photoshop plug-in, since I use Dimage scanning software as a stand-alone application.
-- Robert Dlutek(Thanks, Robert! As you point out, your G5 has a PowerPC processor. But Art's new iMac uses an Intel processor, so he'll be better off migrating to software written for that processor. -- Editor)
I had been running my Nikon scanner on a Dell computer with XP and CS3. Just upgraded to a HP Pavilion with Vista and CS4 and am trying to install it there.
When I try to run the scanning program I first receive the message, "Nikon Scan was unable to find any active devices." When that message is closed the following message appears, "Twain_32. Could not open the Twain source. Make sure there is a valid source for your scanner in the Twain directory found in the Windows directory". Nikon files do appear in Twain_32 and I did not receive error messages during the process.
I could not find the scanner in the Device Manager so I ran Add Hardware. At the appropriate spot in the process I input "Nikon ls4000ed." Now when I go to Device Manager I find Nikon ls4000ed listed under Imaging Devices.
When I did try "Control Panel\Scanners and Cameras" and clicked the "Have Disk" button I could browse the files in an attempt to find the right one to open. But it will not accept any of the Nikon files listed above. It is looking for an "inf" file.
-- bkgui(Your clue is the "missing" inf file. Sounds like you're trying to use the 32-bit drivers on a 64-bit Windows Vista install. There does seem to be a reliable workaround, however. You can create the missing .inf file with Notepad. Here's a walk-through of the process: http://www.earthboundlight.com/phototips/coolscan-vista-64.html. Let us know if that works for you.-- Editor)
RE: Shoulder Straps
I'm trying to find the most comfortable strap for use in a tropical/jungle setting with a D300, MB-D10 vertical grip battery pack and a long lens hanging from the ends. Something that maybe breathes a bit, something that doesn't cause sweat to pool under it. Any suggestions?
-- Lee Olson(Op/Tech's Envy strap (http://www.optechusa.com/product/detail/?PRODUCT_ID=81&PRODUCT_SUB_ID=) uses an antimicrobial material to let moisture evaporate. It was designed for work in hot climates. -- Editor)
"To the Moon, Alice," Ralph Kramden was wont to say in the days before men actually visited the place on July 16, 1969. The Boston Globe (http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/07/remembering_apollo_11.html ) celebrates the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 summer trip with forty big pictures.
Modernist photographer Julius Shulman, who elevated architectural photography into an art form, passed away this week at the age of 98. One-shot Shulman never used a light meter and rarely had to take more than one shot. His most famous shot, Koenig's Case Study House #22 (http://www-users.rwth-aachen.de/Ivan.Gemov/3.jpg), was a 7.5 minute exposure of the city at night capped by a flash exposure of the building's interior using a 4x5 camera. After selling his archive of 260,000 images to the Getty Center in 1995 (http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/shulman/), he and collaborator Juergen Nogai started another.
Citing a lack of funds to purchase fall inventory and continue operation, Ritz Camera Centers (http://www.ritzcamera.com) will auction its remaining 400 stores by the end of the month, according to company filings in the District of Delaware bankruptcy court. In April, the company closed 400 photo stores and 130 Boater's World stores.
Light Crafts (http://www.lightcrafts.com/aurora) has announced several updates to Aurora, its $19.95 photo editing, organizing, sharing and storing software, including the addition of two photo editing tools and the availability of Aurora for Mac users.
Creative Light (http://www.creativelight.com) has begun offering reasonably priced light shaping tools, including recessed and flat-front soft boxes, softgrids, speedrings, umbrellas in white, silver, translucent and "softbox" styles, reflectors, reflector holders, light stands, light sheds and light stands. The company is also posting how-to videos on all of their light-shaping tools.
Nik Software has announced its Summer 2009 Webinar schedule (http://www.niksoftware.com/webinar) covering topics like weddings, wildlife, portraits, landscapes and fine art with basic information, insights and tips on using Nik Software products. The company also offers over 70 short online videos covering its products (http://www.niksoftware.com/lessons).
CHROMiX (http://www.colorwiki.com/wiki/Eizo_S2242W_Review) has tested the new $899 Eizo FlexScan S2242W LCD monitor. In addition to other calibration products, they tested the S2242W with Eizo's new EasyPIX calibration software bundled with Eizo's new EX-1 calibration instrument for $189. Their results? "Wow!"
Registration has opened for Photo District News' PhotoPlus Expo 2009 (http://www.photoplusexpo.com/ppe/5300/attendee/register.jsp) at the Jacob Javits Convention Center from October 22-24.
The Plugin Site (http://www.thepluginsite.com) has updated Plugin Galaxy for Mac OS X for creating special effects and enhancing images with over 160 basic effects rendered twice as fast as the previous version.
Disk Doctors Labs (http://www.diskdoctors.net) has released its $69 Photo Recovery for Mac OS X with an enhanced algorithm used to recover lost or deleted Photoshop .psd files.
Iridient Digital (http://www.iridientdigital.com) has released its $125 RAW Developer 1.8.4 [M] with support for new cameras, support for DNG format files from scanners and file conversions, higher quality preview rendering and more.
Derrick Story reveals his home setup for copying slides using a dSLR (http://thedigitalstory.com/2009/07/canon_5d_35mm_slide.html). "I'm using a Canon 5D, Sunpak 444D flash and a 1980s slide copier. That's all you really need," he writes.
Nikon will provide free repair of "an electronic component related to power control in some Nikon D5000 digital SLR cameras," according to a serive advisory (http://nikonusa.com/Service-And-Support/Service-Advisories/D5000-Service-Advisory.page) issued by the company.
HDRsoft (http://www.hdrsoft.com) has released its $99 Photomatix Pro 3.2 [MW] with multi-threading for Tone Compressor and parts of Details Enhancer, improvements in Details Enhancer settings, keyword tagging for saved images, presets for Details Enhancer, improvements for the "by matching features" alignment method and more.
Nick Kelsh (http://www.howtophotographyourbaby.com) has published How to Photograph Your Baby, a $24.95 DVD covering common photography mistakes and offering "simple, fun and effective ways to instantly improve results with a few quick tips."
Adobe documentation team has launched Phosphors (http://blogs.adobe.com/phosphors), a new blog focused on help and tutorials for Photoshop, Camera Raw, Lightroom and Bridge. The team needs a little help from beginners using Elements for making scrapbooks and Photoshop for working with black and white photography.
Human Software (http://www.humansoftware.com) has released its $299.95 Edit for Aperture 1.78 [M] with new Crop and Align functions in a single tool, which is included free with the full bundle of 17 modules or with individual modules.
Rumors are rife that Apple is thinking about offering an option for matte antiglare displays throughout its MacBook Pro laptop lineup. You can prod them toward the light at MacMatte (http://macmatte.wordpress.com) with a comment.
Anthropics (http://www.portraitprofessional.com) has released its $149.99 Portrait Professional 9.0 [MW] with new technology for more realistic skin texturing, support for profile pictures of faces and multi-processor support for much faster performance.
YB2Normal (http://www.yb2normal.com/DIYsteadicam.html) built a stabilizer from $10 work of nuts, bolts and PVC pipe.
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
Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher