|Volume 11, Number 18||28 August 2009|
Welcome to the 261st edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We take a hike with a tiny GPS device before making our first Dynamic Photo with a Casio H10. Then we take a peek at Peter iNova's latest eBook to learn a little about shooting movies with a dSLR. On with the show!
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(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/IGU/IGOTU.HTM on the Web site.)
No question, this is the worst name we've ever run across. The thought of having to type it repeatedly in a review was nearly enough to discourage us from bothering. But the $70 i-gotU GT-120 GPS Logger from Taiwan-based Mobile Action (http://global.mobileaction.com) was worth the trouble.
The compact, water-resistant device (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001IMJV0E/?tag=theimagingres-20) is actually quite a bargain as GPS devices go. The Macsense Geomet'r (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/GEO/GEO.HTM) was about twice as much and both use the same SiRF Star III 65nm GPS low power chipset.
When we say compact, we mean 0.5 inches thick, 1.0 inch wide and 1.75 inches long. It comes with a blue, soft rubber case to protect it from drops. One corner is exposed so you can attach a wrist strap or lanyard. The bottom of the device has a proprietary USB 1.1 connection that mates with the included USB cable to charge the unit and transfer data from it.
It weighs less than an ounce, too, so you won't even feel it when you put it in your pocket or tie it to your backpack.
The Programmable Ready-Only Memory chip it uses does not support downloadable firmware updates. But it's hard to imagine it would ever need one.
Unfortunately, the software to get the data from the small unit is Windows only. Nothing we tried on the Mac would recognize the i-gotU (and the Geomet'r software wouldn't read the GPS tags the i-gotU software added to our JPEGs, either). Mobile Action suggests you "install the Parallel Desktop or VMWare software, thank you."
USING THE I-GOTU
It takes about four hours to charge the built-in 230 mAh lithium-ion battery the first time you use it. The manual warns you about that, to its credit. Subsequent charges are much quicker, though, at just two hours. To charge it, just connect the USB cable to your computer. But be sure the arrow on the USB connector and the i-gotU itself are both facing up when you connect them.
Once you've got the battery baked, the real trick to using the device is to make sure your camera has the right date and time. The i-gotU will pick up the time and date from the GPS satellites it finds, but you have to sync your camera to that time, so don't rely on the wall clock. Find a reliable source (like http://www.time.gov) for the exact time and set your camera. This is especially true if you haven't set your camera's clock for a while. It's probably running a little fast.
The next trick is to power up the i-gotU. That isn't hard. Just press the big button on the front panel (hold it down for a second) and look for the blue LED to blink behind the white plastic.
But do this when you are outside with nothing between you and the big blue sky because this is when the device looks around for GPS satellites. Mobile Action says it will take up to 35 seconds to sync with the satellites. When it starts logging position, both the red and blue LEDs will blink twice and continue to blink once each time it takes a reading.
You can set the interval between each reading and consequent log entry using the included software. The default is every six seconds, which gives you 10 hours of battery life. You can also record a location just by pressing the button on the device.
Once you've turned it on and synced, you have started your trip. Leave it on until you finish your trip. But then be sure to turn it off (look for the red LED to blink once), or you'll map everywhere else you've gone after. The trip doesn't really have anything to do with your images, but with the tracking data.
With the unit synced and powered on, you're ready to take a hike and shoot some pictures.
We installed the software -- @trip PC -- on Windows XP and then immediately upgraded to the latest version. The software is supplied on a mini-CD, but it's also available as a download if you have a slot-loading drive that can't read small CDs. In addition to XP, Windows 2000 and Vista are also supported.
The software install went smoothly, installing a device driver, the application and, if necessary, Windows .NET framework 2.0 (but the current version is 3.5, if you've been dutifully updating).
With the software installed, you're ready to attach the i-gotU to read in a log and write GPS data to the photos you took at the same time.
Attaching the i-gotU can be trickier than it should be. Sure, you can plug it into a USB port and it will start charging, but getting @trip PC to recognize it is the tricky part.
We were only able to get the software to see the device when we started @trip PC first, then plugged the i-gotU into a free USB port and waited for @trip PC to find the i-gotU.
USING THE SOFTWARE
The @trip PC software application must have looked great on the developer's whiteboard. It functions as promised and it promises a lot -- but we struggled with its interface. Rather than presenting a menu, it relies on buttons whose icons are just not quite as expressive as the plain "Import..." or "Map" command of a menu bar might be. We were consequently constantly hovering over the buttons for a little help deciphering what they do.
The first thing you want to do is import the tracking log or logs stored in the i-gotU. The program uses an Import Wizard (a series of dialog boxes) to guide you through the process. In short, you select the i-gotU as the source, enter a track name and watch the program import the data.
The tracks are the logs of locations for each session you had the device on. Turn it on to start a track, off to end one. But crossing a day boundary will start a new track as will acquiring more than 6,000 locations (or waypoints), the mapping of which can overpower your computer.
Once the tracking log is in the computer, you can select a template to display the trip and the images. Templates show a map on the right side with thumbnails on the left, in various styles. You can also name the trip and give it a description, handy for sharing the trip on the Web.
To get photos onto the map and optionally write GPS data to their Exif headers, you Add them to the trip. That happens pretty quickly, although not all images get GPS data, usually because the time can't be parsed or is out of range.
Once that's done, you'll see the map with icons indicating where your images were taken. Click on an icon and the image will pop up. The images are also thumbnailed on the left side, so you can click on them to see where they were taken.
Your route, more or less, is also indicated on the map. Don't expect the path to follow roads precisely because the i-gotU is not a navigation device placing a location on known coordinates. Instead, it's a tracking device that just records locations. And its locations are mapped to Google Map, which is not as detailed as GPS maps, Mobile Action explained. The time between readings can also affect how the route was drawn as it moves from one location to another.
But we actually found the route to be pretty accurate. We were on sidewalks for the most part, though.
SHARING THE TRIP
Once you've got the map layout the way you want it with all your images placed, you can share the trip in any of several ways.
You can use the @trip server after registering with it. The Share Wizard in @trip PC will step you through the process of uploading your trip to the server.
You can also export your trip content in i-gotU's MHT format or Google Earth's Keyhold Markup Language files (KML or the zipped KMZ). And you can back them up to a local folder or a Picasa or Flickr Web album.
You can export the tracking log as either a Comma Separated Values file (the old *.csv format you can import into a spreadsheet) or a GPS eXchange Format (also known as GPX) file for use with any software that reads GPS device logs. You can also save the track in GPK format, which is the @trip native format.
The CSV file reports date, time, latitude, longitude, altitude, speed, course, type, distance and essential fields.
GPX is an XML format that, in this case, reports the latitude, longitude, elevation, time and speed of any tracking point.
EXIF GPS DATA
The actual GPS data written to your JPEG images includes the following tags in the Exif section of the Exif header:
And in the Composite section:
- GPSVersionID: 126.96.36.199
- GPSLatitudeRef: North
- GPSLongitudeRef: West
- GPSAltitude: 57.799998 m
- GPSSpeed: 2.142
GPSLatitudeRef appears as either North or South. We're in the northern hemisphere (above the equator), so North would be right. Likewise GPSLongitudeRef can be either East or West. We're west of the Greenwhich meridian, so that makes sense, too.
- GPSLatitude: 37 degrees 52' 5.03" N
- GPSLongitude: 122 degrees 16' 5.45" W
- GPSPosition: 37 degrees 52' 5.03" N, 122 degrees 16' 5.45" W
The tags GPSLatitude and GPSLongitude report our actual position.
GPSAltitude measures our height above sea level.
The altitude accuracy of GPS devices is often compromised by the device's view of the sky. Without a clear and unobstructed view, the altitude can be off significantly because it limits the number of satellites that can inform the calculation. It's generally less precise than position data but even under the best of circumstances it can be off by as much as 50 feet 95 percent of the time.
The number of satellites, which can be helpful in diagnosing problems, is not recorded.
The software provides a number of configuration options. The Tracking Interval mentioned above is just one.
You can set the device to power itself on and off according to a schedule you set, rather than respond to the button.
You can optimize the waypoint logging interval to the battery life you need or set the tracking interval. You can also enable Smart Tracking mode, which varies the interval depending on the speed you are traveling (calculated by the device).
As a GPS device, we liked the small, unobtrusive i-gotU. It seemed to sync quickly and record our locations accurately. It was a little hard to read the LEDs in bright sunlight, but you don't really have to pay much attention to them either.
The software was another story. The user interface put us off to start with and, despite the helpful wizards, it made a chore out of creating a map of our trip. On the plus side, it did seem to have a solution for every problem we ran into, allowing us to locate our unmatched photos from the trip, for example. It wasn't easy but we got better at it.
While the device itself is platform agnostic and its GPX files can be used on either OS X or Windows, the software and the device driver are Windows only. If that shoe fits you, the i-gotU won't disappoint.
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EXH10/EXH10A.HTM on the Web site.)
The afternoon the Casio H10 arrived, we popped the battery in and took a Dynamic Photo (hang on, we'll explain) right away, having read about this unique feature on Casio's site. We showed it to our brother, who was visiting with his two pet chimpanzees and he was just amazed.
Then we went to dinner and, while we were waiting for the burritos, the chimpanzees showed us their photos from the Monterey Bay Aquarium. On an iPhone.
The battle lines are clear.
On the one hand, you have a phone that is trying to do everything. Phoners are aware that their gadgets are masters of none of the tricks they perform (yes, they even drop calls, unlike a land line). But they can't get an apology in before people rave about the images they see on a screen that's larger than a digital camera's and, fortunately for them, also smaller than a monitor.
On the other hand, you have the Casio H10, a pocket camera that takes better pictures. But who would know on that small screen that isn't hip to gestures? On the small screen, everything's just a phone shot.
So Casio has come up with the Dynamic Photo, among other tricks (like super slow-mo on some models and Make-Up mode on the H10). Find a blank wall, put someone in front of it and tell them to jump around, then take the shot. When you play back the 20-frame sequence on the H10, the moving part of the image will have been extracted so you can overlay it on any other shot you took, which serves as the background image.
Cool, everyone said. Then we forgot about it and flipped through the shots from Monterey of sharks, seahorses, eels and more, enlarging with two fingers and rotating for a better display.
Or did we forget about it?
A Dynamic Photo is an image in which something moves. It isn't like a movie, where everything in the frame can move, but more like an animated GIF, where just a part of the image moves. And, like an animated GIF, there aren't a lot of frames in the sequence. Just 20, which can making looping a little loopy.
We made a Dynamic Photo with the H10 on our first try, after visiting Casio's Dynamic Photo Special Site (http://www.exilim.com/dp/en_intl/) to learn about the process. The H10 itself included no documentation, although the camera does help you with timely prompts for part of the process.
But we wouldn't call capturing a Dynamic Photo on the H10 easy.
The first problem we had was finding a suitable background to shoot the moving image. In this case, we enticed one of the chimps to stand in front of a bare spot on the wall and move his hand. But finding a bare spot can be tricky. You want a uniform background to make it easy for the H10 to crop it out. If you happen to have a lampshade in there, you have to make sure the lampshade stays in the exact same spot of the image (or else it appears to be moving). Shadows have the same problem, so move your subject away from the wall. And you also want to make sure the bare spot doesn't share a color with your subject or there will be holes in your moving image where the color was the same as the background.
The second problem we had was framing the movement. We had zoomed in to make the hand fill most of the frame (chimps are not known for their reserve) and his hand quickly went out of the frame. We couldn't see that, though, because to take 20 quick shots, the LCD doesn't update. You don't know until it's too late. And even then, you'd be moving the camera which could easily make the background a moving object.
The third problem was taking the reference shot of the background. We couldn't get the chimp to get his hand out of the scene. We begged. We cajoled. We bribed. Fortunately ice cream was invented long ago and our chimp took off at the mere mention of it. Then, still holding the H10 where we'd shot the moving segment, we took the reference shot.
Then it got easy.
The H10 took a few seconds to crop out the background and display the moving hand to us. That was pretty cool. Just like that, we had this disembodied hand flying around on a gray background. We passed the camera around. Everyone was impressed. The H10 did that? Yep.
To actually assemble a Dynamic Photo, you have to go into the Playback mode and get into the menu system to indicate you want to see a Dynamic Photo in action. Otherwise, you just get one of the 20 640x480 moving segments (with a file extension of .JPE).
When you select Dynamic Photo, you have a little work to do. The H10 prompts you for a background image, then for the sequence. Your background image apparently has to be in a 4:3 aspect ratio (3:2 and 16:9 didn't work). Because our background image was resized down to 1600x1200 and the sequence images are 640x480, we had to then position the moving image on the background. Once you do that, it plays the composited image for you, which is actually a set of 1600x1200 composited JPEGs (with the usual .JPG file extension).
Now that really was cool.
Not to mention a bit of a surprise when we transferred the first of the images from the card to a computer and found we had a lot more than we thought. Each sequence was 20 images and each dynamic photo was another 20. So there were 40 images for every dynamic photo we took.
Do you need a tripod to hold the H10 still? Well, it makes it easier, but this isn't a magic trick that requires expensive props. It's a gag. And you can do it pretty well if you just have a blank background and hold the camera in the same position for both the sequence and the reference shot.
And what do you do with those 20 or 40 JPEGs after they've left the H10? You upload them to Dynamic Studio (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EXH10/EXH10A.HTM), Casio's free service for building and converting Dynamic Photos into FLV, MPEG1/MP4, MOV, GIF or 3GPP/3GPP2 files.
If you upload the JPE images, you can overlay them on a pastel background. If you upload the composited JPG images, you can build the movie you saw in Playback mode.
You can convert the composited images yourself, of course (and even add audio, something the service doesn't offer). Adobe Flash Player (at least version 9) is required to upload images or view movies. You can also download the converted movies, which is a good idea because the movies are only stored on the server for 30 days.
We used the default shooting settings on our first Dynamic Photo, but you have options. Press the Set button to select between a 20 fps one-second sequence, a 10 fps two second sequence, a 5 fps four-second sequence or a still subject. You only get 20 frames for any of the moving options, but they can be spaced out over more time. It is a nice option, though to have the still subject, too.
Casio has also provided some moving clip art (http://www.exilim.com/dp/en_intl/download/) you can composite with a background of your own. The collection includes a party popper, bouquet, heart, dinosaur, Teddy bear, witch, stars and fireball. These are libraries of 20 JPE images you'll have to unzip on your computer after download and then copy to an SD card. The card should have been formatted in the H10 so you can copy the 100SOZAI folder into the DCIM folder on the card.
Another thing your cellphone can't do that the Casio H10 can is get into mirror mode and let you touch up your makeup. Even the sunvisor in the passenger seat of your car can do that, though. So why not your H10?
Instead of putting a mirror finish on the LCD, the H10 offers a Make-Up mode that starts by recognizing the faces in the image, but doesn't stop there. It does a little retouching, too, making "adjustments to smooth skin in images and soften facial shadows caused by sunlight, creating beautiful photographs of people's faces. The photographer can choose from one of twelve levels of skin beauty using different strengths of image processing and can shoot after viewing the results in the LCD monitor."
Casio clearly thinks this is as important as the ISO setting or EV compensation, so the H10 has a button dedicated to it, suitably encased in chrome and embossed with little stars or sparkles. The Make-up button will enable a little post-processing that we found did in fact smooth even our leathery skin (as if we'd taken the trouble every night all these long years to plaster our face with cold cream) and eliminate the dark bags under our eyes (from writing this stuff on tight deadlines).
And, yes, the retouched us was still recognizable.
Living through yet another summer full of fog, we found the H10's Landscape button (also chrome) intriguing because it offered two modes: Vivid mode and Mist Removal mode, both in two levels (+1 or +2, accessible when you enable the feature with the chrome button and then hit Set to adjust it).
You might think Vivid mode just boosts saturation like most Landscape Scene modes. But Casio says the H10 actually does high-speed image analysis to enhance only "the hues of an image registered by the human brain." That's supposed to give you a more "striking" image, although our brain registers plenty of hues, especially before breakfast.
Mist Removal takes advantage of the same high-speed processing to fiddle with contrast. It's a far cry from using a polarizing filter (you won't see what you see from behind your Oakleys) but it helps. More cameras should offer it.
Samples of both are on the Casio site (http://www.exilim.com/intl/ex_h10/features.html) as well as the gallery.
There are a couple of other features we found worth noting, like Auto Best Shot and Handheld Night Scene mode. They're worth highlighting because Casio has given them non-standard names so you just might miss them, especially when comparing cameras.
Auto Best Shot, for example, usually goes by the name of intelligent Scene mode. But Casio calls Scenes by the name Best Shot (and has a Best Shot button instead of a Scene mode to make it clear). In fact, Casio has 38 Scene modes (or Best Shot options), so the H10 is no slouch when it comes to Scene modes. Auto Best Shot can figure out if you're shooting a Portrait, Scenery (Landscape), Night Scene, Night Scene Portrait, Flower (Macro) or Sports scene and automatically set the camera as if you'd selected that Scene mode from the Best Shot menu.
The real question with intelligent Auto modes is how fast they recognize the situation. Do they, in other words, slow you down? Are they, ahem, worse than shutter lag?
It was hard to tell with the H10, frankly, because sometimes it would report what it had set up and sometimes not. But Auto Best Mode didn't get in the way -- and it was nice to have for Macro shots. Except it limits your shooting options to Image Size, Flash and Self-Timer settings.
There's also a Multi-motion Image Scene mode that looked intriguing but in the brief time we had to play with the H10, we weren't able to get it to fly. The concept is interesting, though. You stabilize the H10 and press the Shutter button as a moving subject crosses the frame. Instead of taking one exposure of the scene, the H10 opens the shutter several times, catching what would be a stop-motion image in video but compositing it into one still frame. So your subject would appear several times, crossing the frame. You've probably seen this done with flash against a dark background. A dancer or a basketball shot.
We tried it two ways. The first was just traffic at an intersection. The H10 complained that it couldn't register the image. Apparently the background has to be simple (like a sky). The second was at the ballpark where we thought we might catch a 95 mph fastball with it. Nope. The H10 didn't complain, but, like the batter, it didn't see the ball either. We looked in vain for a seagull circling overhead, but the sky was full of interesting clouds that day.
Compact enough to take anywhere with a wide-ranging zoom and HD video capture, the Casio H10 really doesn't need any gimmicks to stand out from the crowd. But it has them. Dynamic Photo was fun but not something that will lead to a career, Landscape mode could go back to the drawing board, Make-up mode will endear you to your aging relatives and there are Best Shot scene modes for just about any situation.
Image quality for this 12.1-megapixel camera was very good in general with accurate color and good contrast. Digitally zoomed shots were the one disappointment, which is also not a surprise. Lens quality is pretty good, with reasonable corner sharpness for the focal length range. Auto White Balance does a decent job with tungsten lighting and autofocus speed is average for the long-zoom category. Time between shots is a bit slow, as is flash recycle time. Printed results are impressive up to ISO 400, where they degrade rather abruptly. This, too, is about average performance, with a high grade at the lower ISO settings.
Casio is famous for some clever photo tricks and the Casio H10 has at least one new trick, but we'd have given it a Dave's Pick anyway for its good optical and image quality.
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:
- Reviewed: Sony Alpha DSLR-A850 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/AA850/AA850A.HTM). How close is the new $2,000 full-frame Sony A850 to the $2,700 A900? Sony claims the body, sensor and electronics are identical to the A900 -- and our tests bear that out.
- Reviewed: i-gotU GPS device (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/IGU/IGOTU.HTM)
- Reviewed: Pentax K-7 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/K7/K7A.HTM)
By PETER INOVA(Excerpted from the "HdSLR Nikon D90" eBook by Peter iNova with Uwe Steinmueller. Subscribers save on shipping when visiting http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?dgn to order.)
Nikon's D90 is exceptional in its assembly of inherited and innovative features. It brings numerous improvements over its older brother, the D80 and it introduces features unique to its price range. It's fair to say that the D90 contains most of Nikon's outstanding D300, minus some features while adding others.
With care and understanding, it can take you deeply into high quality photographic results and its D-Movie mode will let you explore the next Big Thing in dSLRs: digital cinematography. This isn't a variant on digital video, as you will eventually appreciate, but a whole new realm of motion image capture.
YOUR FIRST D-MOVIE SHOTS
D-Movie mode allows you to instantly shoot movies, but you have to be in Live View mode to start. Press the OK button in the center of the Multi Selector and a red dot will appear at the top of the image, signifying that you are rolling video.
Video scenes taken at the 720p setting are far clearer than standard video shot in NTSC or PAL formats and the image is the 16:9 aspect of High Definition Video. The smaller frame sizes are 3:2 aspect. Movie files are in a format that you can edit using QuickTime Pro (Apple, $30 for PCs or Macs), which is highly recommended and can also be used to string sequences of still images together into moving shots.
- Images may be shot 1280x720 at 24p frame rate (a high definition video standard) or 640x424 (a letterboxed standard definition video digital format) or 320x212 pixels, also as 24p images -- useful for YouTube or perhaps emails. Shooting Menu, Movie Settings, Quality sets the size.
- Rules of thumb: D-Movie HD shots eat about 165-MB per rolling minute of screen time, worst case. Often one-minute shots eat only about 155-MB. HD takes are limited to 5 minutes, maximum.
The way that D-Movie adjusts exposure is by altering the effective shutter speed, ISO sensitivity or both. Every image is captured at apertures of f8 or wider and that is determined at the instant the Live View button is pressed (exception: manual f-stop lenses). Each frame is scanned off the image chip sequentially from top to bottom in about 1/24th second. These technical realities produce specific effects in every shot.
Issues: Attributes of D-Movie mode that must be dealt with:
- Using Manual or Aperture Priority exposure modes, you can influence lens aperture by setting it, taking a still, then rolling the D-Movie scene, but you can't set it to absolute f-stops higher than f8. You can, however, influence it to more open settings. We find that in practice, setting the lens to wider apertures like f4, f2.8 and even f1.4 creates more cinematic results.
- Many of the head shots you've seen in movies are made with lenses 100mm or longer at f4 or wider. A quick study of the circular bokeh of unfocused background highlights reveals that many of them are captured as perfect circles, either shot at maximum (and completely circular) aperture or with rare "waterhouse stops" which are circular holes in thin metal blades inserted mid-lens to force perfectly round, but higher f-number, apertures that lower the transmission of light.
While the DOF constraints will cause you to shoot movie scenes differently from shots made with a video or HD camcorder, the result on your HDTV will be strikingly different. They'll tend to look like shots from a dramatic movie with typical headshots sharp against very blurred backgrounds. Cinematographers use this technique to bring a three-dimensional look to close-ups and so can you.
- Depth of field of the scene can be quite narrow, isolating any moderately tele subject against a soft, blurred background. At tele settings, even the maximum f8 aperture won't provide much DOF. This also causes the effective shutter speed for every scan line to be very high in bright light. Typically, moving subject matter in bright sun will look frozen from frame to frame and movie shots made with the D90 will look more like the DOF you see from 35mm motion picture cameras.
- D-Movie mode changes auto exposure in discrete jumps. Instead of changing in infinitely smooth increments (as with most video cameras), scenes that are near the edge of an exposure adjustment will jump up or down to the next auto exposure point. In many types of shot, this is disruptive for the viewer.
- Scanning of the frame from top to bottom causes objects to distort as they move through the frame quickly. In cases of fast horizontal panning, vertical lines will appear to be slanted. At long tele settings, any wiggling of the lens -- say, due to the extreme focal length being upset by hand vibration -- can produce an artifact that turns the image into an Earthquake of Jello momentarily.
The scanning effect from the sequentially rolling shutter can be avoided by panning slowly, using the most solid tripod and taking your hands off the camera during a scene with 50mm or higher zoom settings are being used. We recommend that you look for a movie/video fluid panhead for D-Movie work, to help control camera upset as much as possible.
- Note that the VR function of the kit lens -- and all VR lenses -- is applied all the time that Live View or movie scenes are in progress. Control of camera stability is far more important for cine work. When the camera moves, the audience moves. That's why the gadgets you see under video and movie cameras look so heavy and solid. They move the viewer smoothly.
- The D90 can achieve solid tripod mounting better without an added MB-D80 battery base which introduces a bit of play between camera body and support. But for hand-held shots with lenses 50mm or wider, the extra mass of an MB-D80 may actually help stabilize the shot.
- For the ultimate in hand-held camera stability, various shoulder mounts and even Steadicam Merlin options may be employed.
D-MOVIE'S BIGGEST SECRET
While D-Movie doesn't inherit Active D-Lighting adjustments through the Picture Control menu settings, movie scenes can be influenced by the other Picture Control menu items. When shooting D-Movie clips, the image nearly universally benefits from lower Contrast and higher levels of Sharpening.
- Our favorite setting is to lower contrast to the minimum, -3, then elevate Sharpening to 7. This is saved as a new Picture Control setting through the Camera Menu. The lowered contrast can be brought back to normal through correction adjustments in most edit programs. For contrasty outdoor scenes, lowered contrast helps to define shadow detail.
- You may find this too low in contrast for general shooting. Experiment with other lowered contrast settings to find your favorite look.
Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:
Read about Canon dSLRs at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee92fbe
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RE: Unibind PhotoBook Creator
Love your newsletter and Web site. I just noticed I could have gone through your site to order through Amazon -- hope I remember next time.
Just purchased the Unibind PhotoBook Creator, but I haven't gotten it yet. I did find covers of many sizes, cover cutouts and materials at good prices at http://www.mybinding.com/.sc/ms/ch/sbook. The covers are in packets of 10 and a $75 minimum order is required. Free postage and no sales tax (don't mention that to our Governator here in California).
Keep up the good work. I pass on articles to, at least, five other people.
I have been doing photography since 1953 (high school) and darkroom work until about 10 years ago (good computer software came along). Earned money in college and photography helped a lot with an experimental physics career.
Thanks for doing what you do.
-- David Groce(Thanks for the kind words and encouragement, David! And thanks for the covers source, too. We see they have a low-price guarantee. The 10-pack makes the minimum order (and we'd go through them, we're sure). We may just have to part with some cash! -- Editor)
I was very interested to read your experience with the PhotoBook Creator. I have just recently started looking into doing it myself as well.
I was particularly fascinated that you use Pages for the layout. It is a program I know and like. I was wondering about how you go about controlling its color profiling for printing.
How does that work? Or is there a link you can send that explains it please?
-- Terry Constanti(Pages itself doesn't offer any color printing management as, say, Photoshop does. The Print dialog takes you right to the printer driver. So the printer has to manage color. You'll find your options for that in one of the menus of your printer driver dialog, which pops up when you give the Print command. Every printer is different but you don't want "None" for the Color option. 'Driver Matching' and 'ColorSync' are two to try. If that's still not enough to get good color, print the Pages document as a PDF and open the PDF in a color-managed application (like Photoshop) and use what works for you there with your printer. -- Editor)
RE: Poster Prints
I was curious about how the plethora of online and in-store companies out there accomplish their feat of creating poster size pictures from any photo. We poor digital slugs are relegated to what our pixel dimensions are, while these processes seem to defy physics. How do they do that?
-- Kevin(You don't need a very large file size for a poster. One outfit recommends 1600x2000 pixels for a 16x20 and 2400x3600 for a 24x36 poster -- that's 100 dots per inch resolution. And while many photographers think they have to send 300 dpi to the printer, that's overkill. We're happy with 150 and rarely exceed 250. Note, too, that a poster's size requires the viewer to step back a bit to enjoy it. The distance resolves the imperfections, much as a billboard's very crude halftone screen is imperceptible from the freeway. So with enough resolution (at least 100 dpi) and viewing distance, a poster can deliver sufficient image quality. -- Editor)
RE: Manual Shutter Release
I have been subscribed to your Newsletter for the last few years and it has guided me when making buying decisions, due to your excellent and exhaustive reviews and articles.
In the last number, I read a letter mentioning a manual shutter release. It seemed like a nice gadget so I bought it using Pay Pal. It has been 10 days since I sent payment and I have not received notification of the shipment or anything related to the transaction.
To buy it, I had to register on the site and the only email I received from them was one acknowledging my registration. The link to their site in their email does not work and I have to log in manually, which I have done several times, every time reading that my order is paid for but not yet shipped. They also do not respond to my emails enquiring about the state of the order or the day of shipment.
The site seems dead except if you want to buy something or register. When I read your note I thought your newsletter was endorsing the site as well as the item. Since they do not answer I do not know what to do and I would really appreciate your advice in this matter.
-- Fernando Arjona(Sorry to hear about your experience, Fernando. It could be the firm is simply unable to keep up with orders, but if you're not satisfied, you can open a dispute with Paypal to try to get your money back. While we're glad to pass along the happy discoveries of our subscribers, those suggestions are neither recommendations nor reviews. -- Editor)
Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) announced Creative Suite 4 compatibility with Apple's Mac OS Snow Leopard and confirmed it has tested Photoshop CS3 under the new operating system as well.
Adobe Labs (http://labs.adobe.com) has Camera Raw 5.5 plug-in and DNG Converter 5.5 Release Candidates with support for the Nikon D300s/D3000, Olympus E-P1 and Panasonic DMC-FZ35, plus a correction to the demosaic algorithms in the Raw conversion process for Bayer sensor cameras with unequal green response.
The company's Photoshop.com service (http://www.photoshop.com) now has Group Albums and video support. Upload 200-MB videos through your browser or 2-GB through the Adobe AIR Uploader. Group Albums lets you share an album with drag-and drop ease, make edits to each other's photos and post comments.
Ideum (http://www.ideum.com) has released its MT-50 table with multi-touch and multi-user support. It has a bright 50" diagonal surface with a high-resolution 1280x800 display. The first two MT-50s will be installed at the Vancouver Aquarium in Vancouver next month.
Apple (http://www.apple.com) has released iPhoto 8.1 [M] with new printing options, including extra-large hardcover books (13x10), three new book themes (Tropical, Asian, Old World) and new holiday greeting card themes. The 161-MB update is available through Software Update.
The company also released Aperture 2.1.4 [M], which "addresses general compatibility, improves overall stability and fixes a number of issues involving import, Web publishing and the creation and ordering of books."
Apple has also released OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. We'll be following Lloyd Chambers (http://diglloyd.com) as he kicks the new release's photographic tires and checking in with Photoshop Product Manager John Nack (http://blogs.adobe.com) for compatibility issues.
Surf's (always) up and Clark Little (http://www.clarklittlephotography.com) is sometimes in it. "You gotta keep the lens clear, the front of the case. You can use Rain-X or you can spit on it," he advises in an interesting interview on Gizmodo about shooting waves with a camera (http://gizmodo.com/5340167/ask-a-pro-clark-little-on-photographing-waves).
ACD Systems (http://www.acdsee.com) has released ACDSee Pro for Mac Beta 1.1.
Nikon (http://support.nikontech.com) has released Capture NX 2 v2.2.2 and Camera Control v2.6.
Imagenomic (http://www.imagenomic.com) has announced the release of its $199.95 Portraiture 2 for Adobe Lightroom [MW] with native 32- and 64-bit support for Windows Vista and support for the latest Macintosh Intel platforms and OS X releases.
Datacolor (http://www.datacolor.com) has announced its $599 Spyder3Studio Strip Reader workflow solution with the SpyderCube Raw calibration device, Spyder3Elite monitor calibration tool and the new Spyder3Print Strip Reader, which offers significant advances in creating ICC printer profiles.
Iridient Digital (http://www.iridientdigital.com) has released Raw Developer 1.8.5 [M] with support for the Nikon D3000, Panasonic DMC-FZ35 (and FZ38) and Ricoh GR Digital III.
Zenfolio (http://www.zenfolio.com) can now send photos on Zenfolio to Facebook, Flickr and Twitter using the new Export feature, which can select destination albums/photosets, set privacy settings and apply a watermark. The new version also supports drag-and-drop photo sorting in Edit view, among other enhancements.
Rocky Nook has published Alan Briot's $44.95 Mastering Photographic Composition, Creativity and Personal Style. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952229/?tag=theimagingres-20) at a 34 percent discount.
Obann Software (http://www.touchupstudio.com) has released TouchUp Studio 1.0 [M] for non-destructive image editing with persistent history with re-editing of previous steps, zone selection, dust and noise removal, preservation of Multiple Crops for a single image (select one at export time), rating and classification and other features.
Lemke Software (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released its $34.95 GraphicConverter 6.5 with improved preview creation in the browser, batch multi-scale and batch skew, PAM and PFM import, 32-bit channel TIFF imports and more.
Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com) has announced a referral program and the return of unlimited storage for new customers.
Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 8.5.24 [LMW] with support for the HP PhotoSmart C4600/C4700 and Plustek OpticFilm 7600, plus fixes for various Nikon film scanners.
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher