|Volume 11, Number 21||9 October 2009|
Welcome to the 264th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. With VueScan now supporting the Epson V600, we reconsider the $250 photo scanner and try to put the task of digitizing your film archive in context. Then we review the long zoom we liked most of the five we tried this summer. Finally, we tell an uninspiring customer support story to inspire your nomination for our Ersatz Nobel Prize for Extraordinary Customer Service in Digital Imaging.
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(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/V600/V600.HTM on the Web site.)
The saga continues. If you remember our last installment, the damsel in distress was the Epson Perfection V600 photo scanner, already in stock at a few online vendors. We'd gotten our hands on a pre-release model and wondered how a device that could do so well with slides could have so much trouble with color negatives.
We suspected it was a software issue. Epson Scan, which ships with the scanner, has two shortcomings. It can't profile the V600 using IT8 targets and it doesn't know anything about color negative emulsions. We had hoped that LaserSoft or VueScan would soon support the scanner because both of them can create a scanner profile and know all about color negatives.
On Monday, when Hamrick Software released a version of VueScan with support for the V600, we downloaded it and got back to work.
The first thing we did was simply scan a print. And that went well, so we knew VueScan and the V600 were getting along.
The second thing we did was to profile the scanner using VueScan and a 35mm IT8 target.
Let's take a second to explain this.
Profiling describes how the scanner sees a range of colors and tones that have actually been measured.
The target image whose values have been measured is an IT8 target. It was created on a certain date and is accompanied by a text file that contains readings for all the values in the pattern. We used a slide to calibrate the transmitted light source but you would use a printed IT8 target for the reflective light source.
The scanner comes up with readings, too. That's what scanners do. They scan. But how are the scanner's readings different from the measured readings in the text file? You know, the actual values?
The ICC profile created by this calibration process is the answer to that question. Without that profile, you just don't know the answer.
Now there is one hedge here. You could argue that manufacturing standards are so well controlled that every V600 off the line scans those values almost exactly the same, so Epson Scan would know the color gamut of any V600. But we wouldn't rely on that.
Using VueScan to create a transmissive scanning profile for the V600 is simple. You set VueScan to Profile the Scanner, preview the slide, align the IT8 guide to the preview and select the Profile the Scanner option from the Scanner menu. VueScan Help has the details, but it goes quickly.
VueScan writes an ICC profile (by default called scanner.icc but you can make up your own name) in a location you can designate and uses that profile to get the best possible results from the scanner.
Our big problem with the V600 wasn't slides, but the profile is for film scanning in general (rather than reflective scanning). With our profile loaded, we were ready to try our problem Kodak Gold 400 negatives again.
Epson Scan doesn't care what kind of film you are scanning. It just wants to know if it's positive or negative, color or black and white.
Unfortunately, there's a whole lot more to scanning film than that. If you want a scan you don't have to edit, that is.
We used Epson Scan in both Full Auto and Professional modes to scan what turned out to be some difficult color negatives. And we weren't happy with the results. We weren't happy with the scans a Canon MP980 (also an LED light source) did, either.
So to tell if the problem was the scanner or the software, we switched software.
Unlike Epson Scan, VueScan knows about film emulsions. You tell it what kind of film you are scanning and it will optimize the scan conversion curve for that particular emulsion. There are dozens of choices, organized by manufacturer. So it was easy to find Kodak and Gold 400. There were a few generations of that emulsion, which the film doesn't reveal, so we just picked an early one.
We didn't crank out a 48-bit, high resolution scan. Instead we kept things simple with a 24-bit scan suitable for printing. But we did experiment with color restoration, fading correction and various white balance settings. And we also tried scanning with multiple passes (something else Epson Scan doesn't offer), which can dramatically extend the dynamic range of your image.
Our Epson Scan results for the kayaker and for the cliffs both had color casts we found unacceptable. The color cast was warm in Auto mode and cool in Professional mode, but it was always there, as our thumbnails show.
In VueScan, we finally got a result that looked like the well-preserved print. For the first time, we were pleased with a color negative scan from the V600.
But VueScan doesn't simply give you a credible scan. It gives you control over the image much like an image editor so you can optimize the scan. You can actually manipulate the conversion curve after you've scanned the image, although the control is a little less responsive than what you might have become used to in Photoshop or Lightroom or some other recent image editing package.
We didn't need to use VueScan's color modifications of restoration, fade correction or an altered white balance. So the film wasn't in quite as bad shape as we had thought it was.
To recap, VueScan offered us two advantages over Epson Scan. First, it let us profile the scanner, creating an ICC profile for it, so the color gamut it sees was known to our image editing software. And second, it let us specify the particular negative film emulsion we were scanning to optimize the conversion curve for it.
WHAT TO SCAN
As we mentioned in the first part of this review, we don't recommend you buy a scanner like this to digitize decades of film strips and slides. That solicited a few interesting emails from Newsletter subscribers who read the review.
Mark Alan Wilson wrote, "Have you reviewed any of the services that scan film? I think this would be a great article; I found some other 'reviews' online, but I like many others have come to trust your site over the years and would like to hear your opinion on this topic."
In fact, we do recommend finding a lab to digitize your collection. For almost everyone, that works out better than pretending you will live long enough to get through your images at 36 frames an hour.
One exception is worth noting, though. With the right lens (nope, not the kit lens) and a reliable setup (you need more than a tripod), you can use a dSLR to digitize your slides. You need a bit more help to digitize color negatives, but it's possible if not exactly feasible (converting negative is not simple). The trick with this approach (which is faster than using a scanner) is building the rig, which not all of us can do. In our July 17 issue, we pointed you to Derrick Story's Canon setup. It probably cost more than the V600, though.
So back to the lab.
There are two criteria to score: the equipment and the personnel. You don't want to use a lab that relies on the same equipment you might use because you'll be paying too much for labor. High-end scanning equipment (like the gear used to create Kodak PhotoCDs) can quickly create high resolution scans. But the lab has to invest in that gear. As for personnel, start with the pro labs in your area first. You know, the places you'd want to work if you were working at the other labs.
We recommend you look for a local lab because these are your one-and-onlys. You don't have copies of this stuff. So you don't want to risk sending them through any delivery service. And to minimize the risk, do it in batches. Whatever fits on a DVD, say.
But if there's no local lab, you may find Mitch Goldstone's ScanMyPhotos.com (http://www.scanmyphotos.com) and (maybe) ScanCafe (http://www.scancafe.com) worthwhile. ScanCafe, apparently, sends your originals to India for scanning, which is a delivery that really makes us nervous.
Reader Richard Sroda wrote, "What do you recommend for someone who has a 50-plus year career in film and wants to scan some edits from old negs (35mm, primarily black and white) for prints for several shows. I don't want to scan every frame I ever shot."
Now that approach makes sense. Have your collection digitized or not but there will always be a few images you want to tinker with yourself. After all, for some of us, scanning these old treasures and twisting every little bit of beauty out of them is a pleasure.
And that's exactly what the V600 is for at about half the price of the V700/V750. But if you have to buy SilverFast or VueScan to get the V600 to deliver good scans, why not just get the V750, which comes with SilverFast?
Even with competent scanning software, the interface you have to deal with is confused and complex. SilverFast relies on several windows with lots of little icons you need a palm reader to explain -- and still basic settings like the color mode is hidden away. VueScan, with characteristic candor, organizes your options in tabs that reveal long, long lists of settings.
But the good news for Richard is that the V600 does black and white film very well. It has the resolution at 6,400 dpi and the density range (barely) to handle film. We'd still want to profile it but our scan of a rose shot on 120 film sure looked nice.
To sum up, have a serious chat with yourself if you plan to scan a large film collection with a flatbed scanner. Consider using a local lab for the collection and investing in a high-end scanner with good software to tweak special images.
The V600 is a valiant attempt to deliver the goods at half the price of the flagship V700/V750 but Epson Scan won't let you profile the scanner and couldn't deliver reliable results from a variety of Kodak color negatives we tried. The V600 itself did much better when run from VueScan, but if you have to buy software to use the scanner, it puts the flagship scanner back in the picture.
But if you can live with an unprofiled device and primarily want to scan black and white images or slides, the V600 did well enough to make prints to hang at home.
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/HX1/HX1A.HTM on the Web site.)
We had more fun than usual this summer as we shot with several super long zooms, the 24x Kodak Z980, the 20x Canon SX1 IS, the Pentax X70, the Panasonic FX35 and the 20x HX1. They each have their virtues and vices but as the sun set in the Pacific, one stood out: The Sony HX1.
The problems any long zoom has to address are not trivial:
It isn't easy to test this when you're in the store, but problems in any of these areas are immediately apparent in the field. Sometimes we thought even the birds knew which cameras couldn't track them and mocked them by hopping around more than usual.
- A sharp electronic viewfinder to see what's going on in bright sun and at long focal lengths
- A responsive shutter at long focal lengths where autofocus tends to fumble around badly
- Good handling so you can actually track a distant object with one of these lightweight bridge cameras
And yet this summer's super long zooms seem to have a better handle on all three of those issues than any of the 18x zooms of the past.
But still the HX1 stood out. We took it to more events, shot more images, captured more movies, played it all back on more devices and had more fun with the HX1.
One reason we had so much fun was because we really liked shooting with two of its unique features: the sweep panorama mode and the 10 frames per second release mode. But there were a lot of others.
The HX1 does not have a Vario-Tessar lens like most Sony cameras. Instead, it has a G lens. Sony explains that "G lenses are used in top of the line digital single lens reflex cameras and advanced pro-sumer HD Camcorders" because they are "optimized to perfectly complement the advanced image sensors and image processing technology in Sony's cameras."
The HX1's G lens has a six-blade aperture designed to produce superior bokeh (defocused backgrounds) and its aspherical lens elements are made of ED glass to minimize chromatic aberration.
Its 20x zoom range starts at a wide 28mm (in 35mm equivalent) and reaches optically to 560mm for stills. The video equivalent is a bit different, ranging from 31-620mm for 16:9 and 38-760 for 4:3.
The lens zooms in discrete steps at slow speed if you gently press the Zoom control and faster if you press the control all the way. So you do have some control over your composition, although it isn't quite as fine as we'd like.
Aperture ranges from f2.8 to f8.0 at wide-angle. At telephoto it's f5.2 to f8.0. Shutter speeds range from two minutes to 1/4000 second in Auto and as much as 30 minutes and 1/4000 second in Manual and Shutter priority modes. Aperture priority mode is restricted, if you can call it that, to eight minutes and 1/2000 second).
With 2x digital zoom, the HX1 can reach 1,250mm at 40x with what the company calls Precision Zoom, but Sony also provides a Smart Zoom option that restricts zoom (and maintains image quality) to the file size. With a 5-megapixel image size, total zoom is 26x, at 3-Mp it's 33x and at VGA it's 108x.
The HX1 also enjoys (and requires) Sony's SteadyShot optical image stabilization technology. It can be deployed when the shutter is pressed or full time and it can be disabled.
Sony uses Exmor CMOS sensors is both its digital cameras and camcorders. And on the digital camera side of things, you'll find it in Sony's Alpha dSLRs and digicams like the HX1.
Key to the technology is its noise reduction and analog-to-digital conversion -- both of which occur on the sensor itself. Noise reduction is applied to the raw sensor data both before and after the on-chip column analog-to-digital conversion resulting in a cleaner digital signal, according to Sony.
Because noise is suppressed on the sensor, which delivers digital data rather than analog data that must be converted, the Bionz processor has less work to do and can keep up with the demands of HD video recording. It also performs Raw data noise reduction, image processing and data compression.
There seem to be more modes on the HX1 than any camera we remember. And every one of them is handy. But a few are special:
- Handheld Twilight mode captures up to six images with one press of the Shutter button, combining them into one optimized image with 50 percent less noise than otherwise.
- Anti-Motion Blur mode uses the speed of the Exmor CMOS sensor's high ISO and the power of the Bionz image processor to detect subject movement and camera shake to set the ISO to avoid blur from subject movement or camera shake. As in Handheld Twilight mode, up to six images are taken and composited to create an optimized image with 50 percent less noise.
- Sweep Panorama mode creates a panoramic image in the camera of up to 224 degrees with a single press of the Shutter button and either a horizontal or vertical sweep of the lens across the scene.
Escaping the summer fog, we headed south for Coyote Point and a little sunshine. There was no chance to read the manual to see what was special about the HX1. We were just going to take some ordinary photographs.
At Coyote Point airplanes fly overhead on their approach to SFO every few ticks of the clock. They're big and slow enough to track, perfect for a long zoom. All we had to do was find them in the sky.
Had we been more familiar with the camera, we would have used a smarter approach than just point-and-shoot. But that approach worked. We had fun finding the planes and taking shots that ranged from long zoom to full digital zoom.
The one thing that was clearly not a problem was shutter lag. The sensitive Shutter button responded quickly to our press and we got the shot we had framed. But the lightness of the camera body itself often meant the image wasn't quite aligned the way we hoped. It can be hard to frame the subject in the middle of the frame at long focal lengths but pressing the Shutter button often caused the subject to jump to the top of the frame.
The HX1 has a nice workaround for this with its 10 fps Release mode. If you hold down the Shutter button, the HX1 will capture full resolution images at 10 fps for up to 10 frames. That gives you time to recover from the button press and reframe the image.
The other issue with long focal length shooting is autofocus. We always half-press the Shutter button to see what we're framing anyway, so the lens wasn't searching interminably for focus. But it's much easier to just set the lens on infinity in Manual focus mode by pressing the Focus button behind the Shutter button.
As soon as we got home, we dug up the HDMI adapter, plugged it into the camera, yanked the cable out of the Apple TV and stuck it on the adapter, set the HDTV to look at the port the cable was attached to and pressed the Playback button on the HX1. We picked one of the several slide show presentations with special effects and musical accompaniment and sat back to watch the stills and video.
Sony makes it very easy to immediately enjoy your images on your HDTV. If you shot 16:9 aspect ratio images, they'll fill the screen in landscape mode. And HD movies will, too. They looked and sounded great, especially when presented by the onboard slide show software.
Even in those first shots, it was remarkable that the HX1 fixated on ISO 125. In bright sun, you get shutter speeds in four digits with an aperture that is a stop or two from fully closed down (or open, for that matter). That keeps the subject still, certainly.
We weren't happy with either color or detail at ISO 3200, but we can't really complain about it either. It's remarkable to be able to shoot at ISO 3200. The real issue is what happens at ISO 800. Our test results can't be argued with but our experience may prove illuminating.
In trying out the Handheld Twilight mode, we shot some jasmine by a bench at night. Not much illumination. We shot it three ways: with HT mode, in Programmed Auto with Auto ISO and in Programmed Auto at ISO 800. HT mode took its six shots at ISO 1250, with no fear of high ISO noise because it had six shots of data for every pixel in the final. Auto ISO dared to slip up to ISO 400 from that sticky ISO 125 the HX1 prefers. So in near darkness, the HX1 only dares to go as high as ISO 400. Our ISO 800 shot was not obviously worse as far as noise went, if a little sharper. None of the shutter speeds were reasonable (1/8, 1/3 and 1/5 second).
The HT shot had noticeably less noise. And it was surprisingly sharp considering its multiple shots were taken hand held.
The next trick was a very dark shot of a water faucet. The HT shot used ISO 3200 (again unafraid of the noise) and put together the set of images in a much sharper final than the Programmed Auto shot (at a brave ISO 500 with a one second exposure), which blurred from camera shake.
HT works. And we're going to miss it on other digicams. Very much.
Our second outing was a walk around Noe Valley in San Francisco. From Castro and 24th, you can peer up at Twin Peaks. And with Precision digital zoom, you can practically stand on Twin Peaks. It's quite a range.
We did get one bird on that walk and some bougainvillea. But what strikes us about the images is the color. It's quite natural, faithful to the original. There is one shot of architectural detail (see YDSC00056.JPGat left) that illustrates that very well. The blue doesn't radiate. It's subtle. And the white banister is not blown out.
In fact, Sony continues to do an excellent job with dynamic range. Since the first Bionz image processors and Dynamic Range Optimization, we've been impressed with how Sony digicams handle dynamic range. It's common to see highlights simply blown out and shadow detail submerged. But not with DRO.
To illustrate that we took three shots of Andy Goldsworthy's Spire in the Presidio.
The three shots were taken with the sun directly behind the stand of felled trees, so contrast was very high. We find that while you pick up a lot of detail in the shadows with the DRO+ image, the sky starts to lose color. With no DRO (like any digicam), there's a nice sky but no detail in the shadows, which is the entire Spire. The best results were clearly the DRO image, which maintained the blue sky while holding onto some detail in the Spire.
And that's really the trick. Extending the dynamic range of the image. DRO does that better than any competing technology we've used (i-Contrast on Canon's or D-Lighting on the Nikons).
Sweep Panoramas are fun, no question. You just set the Mode dial to Panorama, line up the starting edge of your composition, press the Shutter button (hold it) and sweep in the direction of the on-screen arrow in a full, tight arc. Image size (aspect ratio) and sweep direction can be changed by pressing the Menu button.
The trouble we had with this mode was getting from one end of the pano to the other. You only have a certain amount of time and the camera only records a certain arc, which turned out to be more than we wanted most of the time. If you take too long, you get a gray bar on the unfinished end. If you quit too early, a black one. Or something like that. Keep sweeping until the shot finishes. That's our advice.
We found the stitch is, predictably, not always (or even usually) perfect. But it's a lot of fun anyway. One reason is that in Playback mode, you can fill the screen with the height of the image and have it scroll the width of the image (for a landscape pano). That's a kick, especially if you're watching it on an HDTV.
We had a ball with the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1. Right out of the box you can get great results with the 20x optical zoom Sony G lens coupled to an Exmor CMOS sensor with sensitivity to ISO 3200 using Programmed Auto, intelligent Auto or Easy mode. But you can also get cute with Aperture and Shutter priority modes and Manual mode before you tap into some unique shooting capabilities.
They aren't just unique, though. They're useful. The 10 frame-per-second continuous shooting mode helps reframe long focal length images. The Handheld Twilight mode gets shots other cameras can't by combining multiple high-ISO images taken at hand-holdable speeds and combining them into a single image. Ingenious. The Sweep Panorama mode makes panoramic shooting child's play (and just as fun), letting you sweep across the scene with a button press and showing your the stitched image on the LCD right after.
Overall image quality is good from the 9.1-Mp sensor. Noise suppression does some damage to fine detail, but if you print at sizes below 11x14 inches, you really won't notice at the lowest ISO. And even ISO 800 shots look good at 8x10.
Long zooms have always been tantalizing but somewhat awkward. The HX1 is the first to exhibit anything that could pass for gracefulness and it has plenty of it. So the HX1 should be able to handle the weight of being a Dave's Pick with no trouble at all.
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 Cyber-shot DSC-TX1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DSCTX1/DSCTX1A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon Rebel T1i (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/T1I/T1IA.HTM)
- Reviewed: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FZ35/FZ35A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Sony Cyber-shot HX1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/HX1/HX1A.HTM)
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 the Nikon 'Friends of the 8800' discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee9b16a
Visit the Sony Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6f789
Read about Sigma lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=8
A user asks about moving up to a dSLR at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.eeaeb34/0
Visit the Printers Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/[email protected]@.ee6b2b8
OK, that Swedish Academy finally figured out digital imaging is worth a prize. This year they split the Nobel Prize for Physics between two guys who came up with the CCD sensor and another guy who figured out how to make fiber optics fly (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1254939139.html).
But does physics matter?
Isn't the real intellectual challenge of our day the quest for exemplary customer service? Is there a black hole darker than the current state of customer service? Ever been swallowed up by a service issue never to be heard from again? Ever suspect any trace of your existence was being obliterated for all eternity while, say, you were waiting on hold? Ever heard this spiel before?
Well, you have if you've subscribed for more than a year. Because as long-time subscribers know, this annual appeal is one of the very few obligations of your free subscription. Every year at this time, we ask you for your nomination for our Ersatz Nobel Prize for Extraordinary Customer Service in Digital Imaging.
Years ago, when we first thought up this Ersatz Nobel, we thought it would be a dynamite idea. And every year since, we've gotten a bang out of it. You can never, after all, have too much Extraordinary Customer Service.
In fact, you might just be wondering what Extraordinary Customer Service actually is (if you've never seen it). While we hope it isn't that rare, we'll endeavor to describe just Plain Old Customer Service to inspire you.
Seven years ago (or so), we reviewed a terrific little tripod built by Velbon based on a description by Popular Photography's Herbert Kepler. It had to be "all metal, weight under two pounds, folded size under 20 inches [so it can be stored easily in airline carry-on luggage], eye-level height, quick extending and folding via flip locks, rubber tips and spiked points on independently adjustable legs that can level the tripod on irregular surfaces," he wrote.
And Velbon made it real with the MAXi series (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/VEL/VEL.HTM).
The other day we took out the MAXi we bought for ourselves at the time of the review only to find the rubber handle didn't want to let our hand go. It was very sticky, having deteriorated beyond what any rubber rejuvenator could, uh, handle.
Fortunately, the Velbon came with a lifetime warranty. And since neither we nor the tripod were yet deceased, we googled Velbon to see about a replacement. The date: July 15.
We found the Hakuba site (the manufacturer of the Velbon) and emailed [email protected] to politely ask for help.
A month later (Aug. 14), we realized we had never heard from Velbon. So we went back online to look for an alternative contact.
We found a page on the Hakuba site (http://www.hakubausa.com/csite/c_service.asp) that explains the company's policy. Send your tripod in for major repairs, but replacement parts may just be shipped directly. Email the company with the date of purchase.
Yeah, well, we had already tried that. So we used the Comments form to send a second copy of our original email, with the purchase date.
But as we poked around the Hakuba site, we found a news release dated Feb. 3, 2003 announcing that ToCAD America has acquired the company (http://www.hakubausa.com/csite/c_company.asp). That explained things.
We visited the ToCAD site (http://www.sunpak.com) and sent them the same thing on their Contact Us page.
Meanwhile, we taped up the old handle so we could use the tripod. Then we forgot all about it again, except to make a note to buy some grip tape next time we were at the sporting goods store.
Suddenly it's Oct. 5 and the mail arrives with a manila envelope containing a new Velbon MAXi handle.
The packing slip was interesting. It noted the request was made Sept. 18 (you'll note that does not refer to our two attempts). Item number: TP-6D handle. Description: PHD-31Q Panhandle-Ultra MAXI L. The new address for ToCAD: 53 Green Pond Road, Suite 5; Rockaway, N.J. 07866; phone: (9733) 627-9600; fax: (973) 664-2438.
We unscrewed the taped handle, moved the washer to the new handle and screwed in the new handle. Perfect.
We never did get an email reply from these guys, but they honored the warranty. In seven weeks.
You can beat that story, can't you?
Well, this is the time (right now) to tell us about it. In return, fame, fortune and health -- well, no promises. We'll just remind you that what goes around, tends to come around.
To submit your entry, simply email us at [email protected] with the Subject line "Ersatz Nobel Prize." Please.
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RE: Printer Region Codes
I just want to tell you about my latest experience with a HP printer (C5180). I have recently moved from Europe where I used number 363 cartridges to Australia where you use number 02 cartridges. The 02 cartridges fit in the C5180 printer but the printer doesn't accept them due to a software code in the printer. Just like the DVD regions, HP has locked their printers to accept only cartridges from the local area where the printer is bought.
I have read that you can unlock this by contacting HP, but I am sure that I will never buy an HP product ever again because of this. I might be over reacting but this is just how I think about it.
-- Maarten Beldman(You're right, there's a region code in the printer set when you first install cartridges. You can change it about five times. To change it in Windows, you access the Hardware tab of My Computer and find the printer. Right click to get to the Properties tab and you should see the Region tab. On the Mac, try the Printer Setup application to do the same thing under Preferences for the printer. Better yet, contact HP for help. The procedure doesn't always work and you can brick your printer. [BTW, in researching this case, our HP contact offered to contact Maarten directly to work this out but he had already solved the problem on his own.] -- Editor)
RE: Panorama Program
Hi, can you recommend an easy panorama program?
-- Kathi Heriford(When we've done these with a camera that does not itself do the stitching, we tend to stick with the manufacturer's software (Canon, in particular, provides PhotoStitch, their own application). But we've also had very good results using Photoshop and Photoshop Elements (recent vintages). They do very well with the alignment, although nothing really helps if you shot the sequence in Auto and the sky varies from shot-to-shot. ArcSoft's Panorama Maker 4 gets high marks from others, but we haven't tried it. It can do a 360-degree layout. There are some free apps, too, but we're not sure we'd call them easy. PTGui (http://www.ptgui.com) helps by putting a friendly face on the free Panorama Tools (http://panotools.sourceforge.net/). -- Editor)
RE: Photoshop Elements 8
Being a Mac user myself, I would like to know how the Mac version of Photoshop Elements 8 stacks up against the editing capabilities of Aperture 2.0. Can you provide any information concerning this?
-- Bill Saunders(They really offer two different approaches, with some interesting side effects. Aperture, which is designed for professionals, doesn't offer a lot of hand-holding when it comes to things like using Levels. And the plug-in architecture brings some pretty sophisticated tools into the Aperture environment. Elements, on the other hand, doesn't presume any expertise. Elements provides some powerful editing but with a simple interface. And some unique things like context-aware scaling and Adobe Camera Raw updates with Bridge in the Mac version. But for ordinary image tweaking, Elements doesn't race by Aperture. -- Editor)
I enjoy your newsletter every Saturday morning and it keeps me motivated and challenged to grow my photo skills.
Please provide suggestions or at least options for a 1-2 day course on Elements for a user who hasn't quite got into Layers, etc.
-- Robert Zimmerman(We think if the guys at Adobe heard you wanted a two-day course on Elements, they'd feel they had failed in their main mission. Which is something like, "To make serious image editing simple." But we appreciate your point of view. Just launching the program is intimidating to us. We can recommend Richard Lynch's Hidden Power books on Elements for further study (http://hiddenelements.com). He focuses on the fundamentals so you can build your expertise from the ground up. He also teaches an online course on Elements. -- Editor)
RE: Katz Eye Optics
Just noticing your positive comments about using the Katz Eye screen for help in manual focusing and wanted to mention one specific negative. Those considering it should be aware that it eliminates spot metering ... why I personally gave up on it. In addition I was using it on an E510 Olympus which with a smaller viewfinder rendered it not as effective (at least that was my experience). May be more effective in a larger viewfinder but the loss of spot metering was too much of a trade-off for me.
-- Arnold Grant(Good point, Arnold. Katz Eye would say it varies by model (and lens), of course, and that to judge exposure, you should evaluate the histogram. But they admit light metering is affected by the screen and the narrower the metering, the more so. -- Editor)
RE: Used Epson 2200
Just purchased a replacement Epson 2200 from private party. Its super clean and has great print pattern from all inks except yellow and dark magenta. I've cleaned the nozzles several times and cannot get anything but a slight ghost of a black looking pattern where magenta and yellow should be. The bottom of the ink cartridge looks wet not dried up.
What can I do? The seller told me it works good and I paid $125.
-- Joanne West(If new yellow and magenta cartridges do not restore printing, we'd try cleaning the print head. The pigment inks used by the 2200 have rather large particles (much more so than a dye-based ink) and if the printer hasn't been used recently, the pigments can dry in the head. See http://www.fixyourownprinter.com/kits/epson/K70 for the solvent (although some people claim isopropyl alcohol works). You might also look through http://slayo.com/epson-printer-unclogging-print-heads.html#more-3221 for instructions for checking the ink purge tube. We're betting that isn't it, though. It just sounds like the printer was retired with ink in it and, clean as it is, the head is clogged. -- Editor)
RE: Horseback Camera
I used to carry, very infrequently, my Canon D40 in a holster type harness. It can be done, but I would not recommend it if you are going for long rides. I now have an E-P1 with the 14-42mm kit lens; I carry it in a fairly small holster that I can tie around my neck and my back. It is so light that I don't feel it, no matter how long I am out. The only thing is that you have to be careful when you dismount not to squeeze it between your body and the saddle. And, of course, it takes fabulous pictures. So, your advice to Marcia in the last issue was right on.
-- Pierre Fournier(Thanks, Pierre! Maybe we should ride off into the sunset while we're ahead. -- Editor)
We note the passing of Irving Penn, famous for his "blend of classical elegance and cool minimalism," at the age of 92 (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/arts/design/08penn.html). Most of his important images were acquired by the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian in 1990. His archives and 130 prints were donated to the Chicago Art Institute in 1996 and the Getty Museum is showing "Irving Penn: Small Trades" through Jan. 10, 2010 (http://www.getty.edu/art/exhibitions/penn/).
DigitalFusion (http://www.digitalfusion.net) has announced that nearly 100 years after famed Swiss psychologist C. G. Jung began to draw, paint and write about his personal thoughts and dreams, The Red Book will be published for the first time. DigitalFusion provided digital capture and pre-press services for the journal on location in Switzerland. The volume had previously been stored in a vault, protected by the Jung family and seen by less than two dozen people.
The Epson Red Sea World of Underwater Images 2009 (http://eilatredsea.com) will be held Nov. 9 to 14 in Eilat, Israel. Open to all underwater photographers, the competition consists of two main categories. The first is Images of the World, in which participants are invited to submit images that were shot anytime and anywhere around the world, without even attending the competition. The second is the Eilat Shoot-Out, in which participants submit only images that are taken during the three days of this competition in Eilat.
Extensis (http://www.extensis.com) has announced its free Digital Asset Management Forum will be held on Oct. 14 in Seattle.
O'Reilly (http://www.oreilly.com) has published its $44.99 Photoshop Elements 8 for Windows: The Missing Manual by Barbara Brundage, available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0596803478/?tag=theimagingres-20").
ACD Systems (http://www.acdsee.com) has released its $169.99 ACDSee Pro 3 photo manager [W] with "new advanced speed capabilities in the editing and online stages." Process mode, for example, now integrates nondestructive image editing with precise pixel-level editing. And the new online mode can store and share images online without leaving the application.
X-Rite has launched a Show Us Your Munki contest (http://www.ShowUsYourMunki.com). To enter the contest, which runs Oct. 1 to March 31, 2010, make "a side-splitting video with ColorMunki as a prominent 'character,' and submit it on the X-Rite YouTube channel." Every month, $50, $150 and $500 prizes will be awarded to videos with the most views. Monthly winners are eligible for the grand prize of $2,500, awarded at the end of the contest in March.
Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com) has announced its free Photon iPhone app can now print any photo in a hosted collection to networked HP printers, including inkjets on a local WiFi network.
Rocky Nook (http://www.rockynook.com) has published its $34.95 Mastering Digital Panoramic Photography by Harald Woeste, available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952458/?tag=theimagingres-20").
Adobe recommends Lightroom 2.5 users on PowerPC hardware revert to v2.4 and Camera Raw 5.4 to avoid a bug that "affects Raw files from Sony, Olympus, Panasonic and various medium format digital camera backs." The bug creates artifacts in the highlights when using the highlight recovery tool.
Houdah Software (http://www.houdah.com) has released its $30 HoudahGeo 2.3.3 [M] with the ability to read direction information and latitude/longitude on images tagged with variations of WGS-84, improved metadata loading and more.
JAlbum 8.5 [LMW] (http://jalbum.net) includes the ability to change target location in the Quick Publishing dialog, new support classes to manage component states for skins, a mouseover effect when selecting album projects and more.
Lemkesoft (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released its $34.95 GraphicConverter 6.5.2 [M] with a Snow Leopard Services menu, single and batch alpha channel inversion, an option to open the browser in the flat view, expanded use of Quartz, better animated GIF performance, MPO import and more.
Mac diddy (http://macdiddy.com/archives/148) posts a fix for using the Canon Lido 80 scanner under Snow Leopard.
Intriguing Development (http://www.macscrapbook.com) has released its $35 iRemember 2.5 scrapbooking application [M] with direct rotation, grouping, PDF export, resolution readout when scaling and more.
HP (http://www.hp.com) has announced the opening of Joel Meyerowitz's Legacy: The Preservation of Wilderness in New York City Parks at the Museum of the City of New York. Capturing the parks throughout the five boroughs, the exhibition runs from Oct. 7 through March 7, 2010.
Iridient Digital (http://www.iridientdigital.com) has released its $125 RAW Developer 1.8.6 [M] with support for the latest Nikon, Canon, Sony and Leica cameras and several other improvements.
Hamrick Software (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released VueScan 8.5.34 with support for the Epson Perfection V600/GT-X820, wireless Canon and HP scanners, plus the UMAX Mirage II; improved autofocus on the Nikon CoolScan 8000/9000; and improvements for skew correction.
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher