The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 11, Number 22 23 October 2009

Copyright 2009, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 265th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Our inside peek at Lightroom 3 Beta highlights the new features. You'll need a recent vintage computer to run it (note the system requirements) but you won't need a Lightroom license. Then we test drive Lensbaby's two new optics, an inexpensive fisheye and a soft focus addition to the Optic Swap System. Finally, we award the 2009 Ersatz Nobel for Extraordinary Customer Service. Unlike past years, though, this year one nominee did not share the award. We have standards, after all.


TOPICS

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N I K O N

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Feature: Inside Adobe's Lightroom 3 Beta

(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/LR3/LR3B.HTM on the Web site.)

As Lightroom Product Manager Tom Hogarty stepped through his brief demo of the Lightroom 3 beta being released this week (http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom3), he let slip that this was the seventeenth release of the product in under four years. We gasped.

In January 2006, Adobe surprised not only Apple (hard at work on Aperture) but the rest of us when Shadowland came into the light as Lightroom and was made available to anyone as part of public beta program. The company found the feedback invaluable and has continued to release major revisions to Lightroom as public betas.

And with Lightroom 3, you once again won't need a license number to use the beta.

That, we suspect, is because this beta is, as Hogarty put it, a "very early beta" with no final features set. It won't read your Lightroom 2 catalogs and you really shouldn't work with anything but copies of your images with it, he cautioned. It's a beta release that's been cooked a bit past raw but not quite medium rare, he added.

In contrast, the Lightroom 2 beta was ready for a knife and fork while the original Lightroom 1 beta, which dragged on for over a year, was barely raw, lacking even a crop tool. The current application supports 250 camera models, testifying to the company's commitment to support new hardware.

With Lightroom 3 just entering the public beta phase, Hogarty wasn't ready to set a release schedule. But he did say he expects the product to ship in 2010.

NEW FEATURES

But the state of the beta doesn't relate to the effort put into it. Hogarty highlighted a few new features, which he divided into three basic Lightroom functions: Manage, Edit and Present.

New Manage features include:

New Edit features include:

New Present features include:

You'll note that support for video files is not in the list. When asked about that, Hogarty acknowledged video is an important "industry trend" but support for video files is not in the beta.

MADNESS & METHOD

But behind the laundry list is Adobe's appreciation of Lightroom users as photographers -- either "demanding pro" or "passionate amateur," as Hogarty characterized them -- who 1) do not compromise on image quality, 2) inspire others with their images and 3) need professional presentations.

For them, the company focused their efforts on improving image quality with "best of breed" solutions and ramping up performance so the quality improvements don't slow processing to a crawl.

We were curious how the Lightroom crew approached the performance issue after seeing how the CS4 engineers tapped into OpenCL programming and GPU processing. But the new system requirements, if not a surprise, suggest they haven't gone there yet.

On the Mac, an Intel-based processor running Leopard (OS X 10.5) or Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) is now required. On Windows, an Intel Pentium 4 class CPU running Windows 7/Vista/XP. Both platforms support 64-bit processing, as does Lightroom 2.

While the application will run in 1-GB of RAM, Hogarty said feedback from photographers using the application convinced them to set 2-GB as the requirement. Performance was significantly improved with 2-GB available.

You need 1-GB of disk space for the application and a 1024x768-pixel display minimum. Two monitors are supported as well.

UNDER THE HOOD

The details are in the demo. So we followed Hogarty along as he stepped through a few of the more compelling features in each module.

Library Module. The first of which was the redesigned Import function. Lightroom 2 presents a disorienting interface to new users and the new approach tries to minimize the confusion. It does that by laying out the Source and Destination panels in a left-to-right orientation so you can visualize what's going to happen.

Source (your card) is on the left while Destination (your hard disk) is on the right. In between, you see your images, which you can select for import.

Beyond that clarity, Import now has Presets so you can save your import settings for reuse. And the actual file import is faster, he added.

Develop Module. Hogarty showed us half a dozen new tricks in the Develop module where the serious image tweaking gets done.

The first was improvements to noise reduction. The team's goal to provide "best-of-breed" features to the workflow infrastructure Lightroom is famous for has some established and capable competition in the noise reduction arena.

Hogarty showed us three samples from a larger image of Michel Cluizel chocolate boxes in a dimly lit store. The first was Lightroom 2's default rendering, which showed just how noisy the original image was. The second was Lightroom 2 with NR applied and the third was Lightroom 3 with NR. At first glance, the difference between the NR images wasn't apparent, especially next to the noisy camera image. But in reducing the chrominance noise of the dark box, Lightroom 2 had also softened the type. Lightroom 3 had not.

The beta will let you play with the improved algorithm for eliminating chrominance noise, color variation in a flat, usually dark field. But luminance noise, tonal variation, has been disabled.

Hogarty did the same thing to demonstrate Lightroom 3's improved sharpening algorithm, showing a sample outdoor image with no sharpening, Lightroom 2 sharpening and Lightroom 3 sharpening. The difference between the two sharpened images was that Lightroom 3 appeared more natural with small branches clearly discernible but without the "crunchy" look to everything in the Lightroom 2 image (and which is pretty much what you want to see when you go to print).

These new algorithms led the team to version the processing code, which Adobe has never done before, Hogarty observed. This simply tracks which version of the Camera Raw or Lightroom code was used to process an image. A warning icon alerts you to images processed with code prior to Lightroom 3. From the Settings menu, you can select Version 2 or Version 1 code to process any image, although by default Lightroom 3 will apply Version 1 processing to older images so they look the way you thought they did.

Improving the old isn't all that's going on in the Develop module, though.

Hogarty showed new options for post-crop vignetting and the new grain filter. Post-crop vignetting, which appeared in Lightroom 2, gets a little more "photographic," Hogarty said. It still offers amount, midpoint, roundness and feather options but adds a new contrast option. Two style settings will be available to play with in the beta but the team wants to release only the most popular one. Grain control provides amount, size and roughness sliders to simulate film grain texture.

Finally, you don't have to sneak back to the Library Module to navigate your collection any more. Lightroom 3 includes the Collections panel in the Develop Module.

Slideshow Module. Along with presets for various video output formats (including iPOD, 1080p HD video, etc.), the Slideshow Module can now embed music. And it can stretch the show to end with the sound track or just fade the audio after the last image.

Although there are third-party plug-ins that can get the job done, we'd like to see the slideshow option veer toward the narrated audio presentations of still images we're seeing more and more of lately. Music is fine for wedding photographers, but sometimes you have to tell a story, not just set a mood. And if the game is to be best-of-breed, Adobe has some breeding to do here.

Print Module. In the Print Module, the big news is being able to build your own layout, which joins the traditional contact sheet and picture package layout options.

This takes no more effort than dragging and dropping images onto the sheet and arranging them (Send to Back/Backwards, Send to Front/Forwards, Rotate, Delete, Match Aspect Ratio, Anchor). And you can have more than one page in the custom layout, too.

In another small but welcome touch, you can now change the background color of a contact sheet from white to black.

Web Module. The new Watermarking Editor expands the Add Copyright Watermark checkbox in Lightroom 2 into a small side business. In addition to entering custom text, the Text Options include color, alignment and font settings while the Watermark Effects include an opacity setting and rotation buttons. You can also use an image. No blending mode options are available. You can save these as Presets for recall later from the Output Settings panel and is available with printed and exported images as well.

Adobe has expanded the concept of a Collection to include photo sharing sites. So you will be able to transmit your images to a wide variety of online photo sharing sites just by dragging them to the Collection for that site. For the beta, Adobe wrote a Flickr prototype Collection plug-in based on the familiar Export plug-in. Developers at other sharing sites can simply use that model to build a plug-in for their own service.

For the photographer, the Lightroom Publishing Manager collects all the information needed to connect to an account at a service as well as any preferred behavior, then adds the account to the Publish Services panel on the right side of the Lightroom window in the Library Module so it can easily be added to like any Collection. An option will even load the site in your browser, addressed to your new upload.

But Lightroom 3 will also track metadata like comments from the Web. If someone comments on an image you've posted on Flickr, for example, Lightroom 3 can report the comment and let you reply, even updating an image or maintaining an album with a Smart Collection.

Hogarty said Lightroom is "making an important step forward" with this beta, engaging not just what's stored on your desktop but also in the cloud.

CONCLUSION

One reason Adobe isn't resting on Lightroom's laurels is because Lightroom is developed by avid photographers who happen to be in the driver's seat of the workflow application they most prefer. They use the thing themselves.

Another reason, though, is that development of major releases is driven by a large community of photographers who participate in the public betas to make their preferred imaging solution even better. They get a vote.

The combination has developed one of the few applications you ignore at your peril (because your competition may be using it) -- and done it in less than three years. Take advantage of the opportunity to try it now.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Lensbaby Adds Two to Optic Swap System

(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/LFS/FESF.HTM on the Web site.)

Stand in line for the cigars. Lensbaby (http://www.lensbaby.com) has expanded its Optic Swap system with two new additions. While they aren't identical twins, the Fisheye optic and Soft Focus optic will change the perspective of anyone who adopts them.

The company made a name for itself with its selective focus lens designs, now in their third generation with the Composer. The two new optics both extend focus evenly over the frame, unlike their siblings, but still slip into the Composer lens housing like any of the others. With an adapter you can pop the Fisheye into the Muse, too. And Soft Focus is compatible with both the Muse and the Control Freak.

The additions expand the Optic Swap System into new areas, offering two creative effects not easily achieved with your dSLR manufacturer's lens system. There's no doubt a fisheye option in that lens list, but not as affordable as this one. And while there are plenty of tricks for achieving soft focus (like stretching some pantyhose over the lens or smearing a filter with grease), they all take more effort than using the Soft Focus optic.

Lensbaby offered us the chance to babysit the new brood for a couple of weeks before they made their debut at PhotoPlus Expo. We had a ball.

CHANGING PERSPECTIVE

While the temptation is strong to buy an 18-200mm zoom lens for your dSLR and be done with it, the real fun of using a camera that can function with different lenses is, well, to change the optics.

It's refreshing to swap out that all-purpose zoom for a 35mm prime or even a 50mm prime with a 2x extender on it. Or just put a reversing ring on that 50mm to shoot some macro shots.

You quickly begin to see things differently and are forced to compose your shots with your feet instead of the zoom ring.

The Lensbaby Optic Swap System takes that to a new dimension with what has just become a range of six specialty lenses. The selective focus line featuring Double Glass, Single Glass and Plastic optics offers various qualities of blur while the new Fisheye and Soft Focus optics join the Pinhole/Zone optic to provide even more effects.

The interchangeable optics can be swapped in and out of the Muse, Composer and Control Freak. The selective focus optics have a curved field of focus to vary depth of field by creating a movable sweet spot of sharp focus surrounded by charming blur. The Fisheye, Soft Focus and Pinhole/Zone plate optics feature a flat field of focus to create their distinctive rendering of the scene.

All of them are housed in a single lens body. In our case, we shot with the Composer. The Composer was designed to make it easy to both swivel the optic to move the sharper area of the selective focus optics around the frame and to freeze the focus spot.

It takes some care to align the Composer for either the Fisheye or the Soft Focus optic. The flexibility that makes it easy to use the soft focus optics off-center doesn't easily center itself when you put the two new optics in the Composer. They're designed to be centered, not swiveled. The Fisheye should have even borders. And Soft Focus can be confusing if the center isn't in focus.

You have to align by eye in the viewfinder (rather than align the lens so it looks straight on the body). Of course, you can crop later, but take a few minutes to set the Composer, test it by downloading an image or two and lock the position before you rely on it.

FISHEYE

The $149.95 six element multi-coated Fisheye optic is a lot of fun. Lensbaby told us it offers approximately a 160 degree view of the world. That's not quite the 180 degrees of those fabulously expensive optics your camera manufacturer may offer, but it does have the advantage of sitting behind a piece of optical glass to protect it.

It does not, however, accept a lens cap. And that was a problem for us when we wanted to toss the camera in a bag and take a trip across the bay to shoot some fisheye shots of Berkeley. We really didn't have time to think of a way to protect the front element before we had to leave. So the opportunity was lost.

One solution is to just leave the Fisheye in its case and take a selective focus optic along, then swap them out when you're ready to shoot. And no doubt, you can fashion your own lens cap for it, too.

Like the Double Glass, Single Glass, and Plastic optics in the system, the Fisheye is designed to be used in Manual or Aperture Priority mode. Almost everything we shot was in Aperture Priority mode so we could focus on composition.

And also like the other elements, the Fisheye comes with a set of aperture discs to control the amount of light getting to the sensor. With a focal length as wide as 12mm, they really didn't seem to have any effect on depth of field. But if you are shooting close-ups, stopping down can't hurt. Discs ranging from f4 to f22 are provided.

To change apertures, you unscrew the top element of the Fisheye optic itself from its body (it's a two-piece element) and drop or place the aperture disc into the well. The disc holder has a simple tool to make it easy to place or remove a disc. Strong magnets grab it before it falls through, aligning it perfectly. Then screw the lens back in. It seemed to sit a bit further out, coming in contact, we suspect, with the back of the lens (although not touching any glass). But that had no affect on performance.

Our first shots were wide open but then we dropped in an f11 aperture disc and used that.

Shooting with the Fisheye was a blast. It's a gregarious lens, embracing the whole world so you hardly have to aim your camera. That makes it less helpful for narrowing in on faraway scenes but unbeatable for seeing the big picture.

We took it to the top of world -- and looked down. The center of the image showed a geological marker at the top of Twin Peaks while the edges of the images showed everything from the Pacific Ocean to downtown San Francisco. Try that with your 18-200mm zoom.

The winding roads on the hills were also a good subject, the fisheye distorting them dramatically so they seemed to funnel you away forever very quickly. We shot a guardrail up close and it took on a different personality, coming intimately into the frame for a second before dashing away into infinity.

We liked shooting both close-ups and middle distance subjects with the lens. We noticed the corners, usually black with a fisheye, took on the highlight color or the some images thanks to the optic's lens flare. On a full-frame camera, the image will form a full circle inside the frame, as with other fisheye lenses, but on our subframe camera, only the corners had no image.

When we got back to the bunker, we thought we might like to unbend these shots with DxO Optics, Fisheye-Hemi or some other fisheye-aware software and print panoramas, but we didn't. We liked them the way we had captured them.

We used a Nikon D200 for the images accompanying this review. Nikon alternatives to the $150 Lensbaby Fisheye (not counting the Composer itself) are Nikon's $610 10.5mm f2.8 DX Fisheye or its $850 16mm f2.8 FX Fisheye, both with a 180 degree view and autofocus.

SOFT FOCUS

Shooting with the $89.95 multi-coated optical glass Soft Focus lens renders any scene in a dreamy, diffused light. The center of the image is a bit sharper than the edges so centering the Composer rather than bending it is a good idea. We found it disorienting to move the sharp center around the frame simply because it wasn't dramatically sharper than the rest of the frame.

Apertures from f2 to f22 are provided along with three special aperture discs whose outer edge is perforated with small holes. The pattern creates a double image of a sharp underlying image with a soft overlay. You can stack a standard aperture disk on these special discs to vary the amount and the appearance of the softness. The special discs can also create out-of-focus highlights with the shape of the aperture holes. No one will be able to figure out how you did it.

The Soft Focus doublet does accept the standard Lensbaby lens cap as well as the macro accessory lenses. We shot a few images with the +10 macro lens attached with no problem.

The real value of the Soft Focus optic, for us, was in shooting faces. All we had to do was show the subject the first image and they were happy to pose for us, reversing a trend. They realized the image wasn't going to resemble Google Maps but would make them look more like Betty Davis ready for her close-up. Dreamy indeed.

You do need a bright viewfinder to focus with this optic. It can be challenging to focus manually when the image doesn't snap sharply into focus. But no real harm done if you aren't pinpoint accurate. It is a soft focus image, after all.

While we had no problem shooting all afternoon with the Fisheye, the Soft Focus optic seemed more extreme. At a birthday party, we took a few shots and switched to a prime lens. We missed the sharpness after a few glamor shots.

CONCLUSION

These two new additions to the Optic Swap System expand the Lenbaby family in exciting new ways. If you've already invested in a Composer, either of these optics makes your decision look even brighter. And if you've yet to enjoy this innovative system, there are two more compelling reasons to try it.

Return to Topics.

New on the Site

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

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In the Forums

Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:

Read about Canon dSLRs at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee92fbe

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

Read about Tamron lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=7

A Canon user asks an interesting question at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eeaece9/0

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

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Just for Fun: The 2009 Nobel for Customer Support

We haven't had this many nominations for our Ersatz Noble for Extraordinary Customer Service in a long time. Business must be so slow that companies are actually finding time for their customers. Although, from the stories you told us, these companies march to a much livelier tune than that.

Herewith your nominations:

Johnny Boyd nominated Tokina whose 80-200mm f2.8 zoom he bought in the mid 1990s to use with his Nikon 8008s. You might think he had a problem with it, but no, nothing like that. It was only when he bought a Nikon D100 and tried the lens on it that he discovered the Tokina would not autofocus.

"I called Tokina and learned it needed to be chipped and was quoted the chipping price," he wrote. Seven weeks later UPS returned the lens.

"I eagerly opened the box and discovered a letter from Tokina. It claimed they had found an issue with the AF (even though I had never experienced an AF issue) and replaced the lens with a brand new lens."

No charge. "I only paid for the shipping to Tokina," he told us. And it still works flawlessly with his D200 and D300.

Chris Inoue, confusing us with Honorable Nobel Judges, nominated Nikon Service. And not just for one repair. Chris had a D60 in the shop for hot pixel mapping and more recently went through two D5000 recalls.

"In both cases Nikon responded efficiently, performing the required service and returning the camera bodies within about two weeks at no charge," he reported. But that wasn't all. He also had a 16-85mm zoom repaired under warranty. "For whatever reason, the zoom mechanism had jammed. Once again, after contacting Nikon and getting the appropriate service documents, then shipping the lens to them, I received the repaired lens in about two weeks at no charge."

Bottom line? "I'm very grateful that Nikon is honoring their products with dedication to service," he said.

And LuAnn Hunt nominated B&H Photo for somehow making a rebate appear. She bought two 4-GB SanDisk Extreme SD cards when B&H offered the $65 cards with a $50 rebate. That, according to our fingers and toes, works out to $15 or, as LuAnn put it, "A deal almost too good to be true, but it was true." She even read the fine print. And kept copies of everything she sent in, too.

"I waited patiently for 6 weeks for my rebate of $100 to arrive. Finally, two postcards that actually were real checks, showed up in the mail for $25 each." That would be about half what she was expecting, so she called B&H. But B&H told her to call SanDisk because they handle their own rebates.

When she talked to SanDisk the company told her the rebates were for just $25 each and B&H's rebate information was not correct. They apologized but there was nothing they could do.

"I wasn't too happy as you can imagine, so I decided to give B&H another call and let then know how I felt. I was quite firm about the situation and told them that if they were going to post rebates they better be sure they're accurate.

"The customer service rep on the phone was pleasant and asked me to fax them a copy of my paperwork and he would see what he could do. So, I faxed it and waited. About two weeks later I had pretty much given up all hope for getting the additional $50 in rebates, but low and behold, two more check postcards from the SanDisk company showed up in the mail for $25 each! Eureka!"

So who gets the nomination by the lady from Lynchburg? "B&H is back in my good graces and I will continue to be a happy and satisfied customer. Oh, the SanDisks are great too!"

The North Face was nominated by C. Fischer for three decades of backpack repair. It all started when "my sister gave me a gift certificate at a local sporting goods store as a high school graduation present." A Cordura backpack large enough to carry a camera (not to mention college reading material of various weights) was just the ticket.

"Within a few years some of the seams started to fray and the bag looked to be falling apart. I stopped in at a store and asked them for some advice on what could be done. They said they would send it in to North Face and see what they could do. A few weeks later, I got a call from the store saying they had my pack back. When I got there I was a bit surprised to see that it was a brand new pack."

About 20 years later, "the zipper had started to fail and I could see that the straps were also fraying. But I recalled how great they had been so many years before, so I tracked down a contact number and called their customer service directly. They were very nice and apologized for the problem but told me that they could not replace that pack because they had gotten out of that market quite a few years before that."

But wait! "The person on the other end then said that if I wanted to send it in to them they would see what they could do." So in it went.

"Well a month later, I got my pack returned in the mail with a completely new zipper and with the straps re-sewn in a manner that made the whole thing look new again. Now, 10 years later, I still have that pack and although I don't use it very much anymore, it still looks pretty good and can and does haul small things when I need a quick daypack."

You know the funny thing about this story is that as part of our rigorous editorial process, we visited the North Face site, looked up their policy and was amazed to see this:

"Q1: My zipper is broken. What should I do?

"If you are having problems with the zipper on your product by The North Face, please send it in, so that we may repair it."

Indeed! But no other product gets quite the same treatment as zippers, we observed.

If you're already familiar with our Nobel Prize award process, you know we always split the award just like the big boys do. We hate to discourage anyone from practicing extraordinary customer service.

But not this year. While we are happy to award the Ersatz Nobel to all the aforementioned nominees, there was one nominee who we simply could not give the award to, despite Janet Kukec's persuasive, elegant and charming story. As a consolation prize, we quote it in full:

"My nomination is not for the customer service at a particular retail store -- there just aren't that many retail stores that specialize in digital cameras and the big chains that happen to sell digital cameras rarely have anyone at the counter that can answer any real questions.

"And my nomination isn't for an online store's customer service department because as your 'sample' story about sticky rubber handles points out ... very few online contacts lead to helpful (if any), replies.

"I came across an organization a few years back that actually has helped me with my digital camera problems. I've contacted them about three times in the last four or five years and each time they have been extraordinarily knowledgeable about my product; offered me some suggestions on how I might get the problem fixed more easily and less-expensively. In one case, when I was trying to decide to repair or just buy a new camera, they were honest with me and said a new camera was probably not worth the price just yet and I should wait a little while longer! Wow, honest, helpful advice! Now that's rare.

"Every time I have contacted them, it has been through email. And each time, their response back was within 24 to 48 hours. Helpful, knowledgeable and timely.

"The other great thing about this place is that during the times that I don't need help with a particular problem, they still email me once in a while with a newsletter that tells me all about new products and where I can get some great deals. They also tell me about problems other people have had -- and how those problems are best solved. And there's just about always some cute little story thrown in there that makes me smile.

"As I'm sure you've figured out by now, I nominate you, Imaging Resource, because you guys are awesome and I think you deserve the Ersatz Nobel!

"Thanks for a lot of years!"

Talk about cute little stories that make you smile!

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We Have Mail

You can email us at editor@imaging-resource.com. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.

RE: ACDSee Pro

I have been an ardent supporter of ACDSee Pro imaging software for years, but the most recent version Pro 3 has me stunned and stumped. It is so different from previous versions as to be a completely new system. After a week I still could not even find the familiar Browser! And the Levels-type adjustments for JPEGs now look more like adjustment sliders used for Raw. I played with them for a while, but it's a whole new software system to learn. When I buy an upgrade I don't want to have to learn a whole new program. I'm sticking with Pro 2.5 and I advise others not to waste their money on this upgrade to Pro 3.

-- Ron Light

(We haven't seen v3, Ron. Our 2007 review complained about the interface and the lack of metadata editing, issues v3 seems to have addressed. It seems v3 is an attempt to provide the best of two worlds: pixel and metadata editing. Metadata editing confuses people at first (where are the edits being applied?) and perhaps having both options is even more confusing. -- Editor)

RE: Pano Software

In reading the latest newsletter, I see that the subject of panorama software came up. I have personally tried many and have always come back to AutoStitch. It was freeware from the University of British Columbia and can still be found on this Web site: http://people.cs.ubc.ca/~mbrown/autostitch/autostitch.html

This is a demo version, but it can be reloaded if needed.

-- Tony Reynolds

(Thanks, Tony! AutoStitch is Windows only but there is a $1.99 iPhone version. And the technology is available in several commercial products which support the Mac. See the link for all the details. According to the site, Industrial Light & Magic uses it to create film production panoramas, too. Nice company to be in! -- Editor)

RE: Epson V600 Scanner

Thank you very much for your excellent review about the Epson V600 scanner.

I'm looking for a scanner which can scan 6x6 negatives entirely. I mean that I would like to scan the entire negative and not only the exposed image, so that I get a thin black border around the image.

It's not possible with the Epson 1660 I own. When fitted in the holder, you only scan the image, not the border of the negative. Is it possible with the V600?

-- JLM

(We just gave it a whirl with VueScan. It works, but you can't use the 120 film holder because it masks out the edges of the film, of course. When you lay the film on the glass bed, you will probably have focus and alignment problems. Any film curl will throw off focus, for example. You might want to build a holder of some kind or tape down the film to scan the full frame. But it does work. -- Editor)

RE: Not Dazzled

When I got my computer repaired my copy of Dazzle OnDVD was removed. I have been trying all day to reinstall it back on my laptop. It only goes as far as asking if I accept the license agreement. But the customer information does not come up so I can't put my serial number in. It then completes the installation complete but I know all the components are not downloaded.

When I run OnDVD an error message says there was a problem and the program has to close. I have looked all over the Internet for new drivers/upgraded software and have come up with nothing.

I got this last year for Christmas so it is not even a year old. I do a lot with pictures and I need a program to work with Photos.

-- Char

(Try downloading the full installer for OnDVD 2.5 from the Pinnacle site (108-MB): http://www.pinnaclesys.com/docsupport1.asp?division_id=1&langue_id=10&product_id=1470&product_name=&page_id=69 And then try the install again. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

If you believe in trickle down technology, you probably can't wait for ISO 102,400 to migrate from the 16.1-Mp Canon EOS-1D Mark IV (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E1DMK4/E1DMK4A.HTM) or the 12.1-Mp Nikon D3S (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D3S/D3SA.HTM), both of which are about $5,000 (the Nikon D3S lists at $5,200 actually). The Nikon adds 720p HD video at 24 fps to its FX lineup for the first time while Canon brings 1080p HD video at 24/30 fps and 720p at 50/60 fps to Canon's 1.3 crop-factor 1-series.


Think those $5,000 Nikon and Canon dSLRs are pricey? Mamiya (http://www.mamiya.com) has partnered with Schneider, Phase One and Leaf to produce its new Mamiya DM56 professional digital camera with a 56-megapixel sensor, matched Schneider-Kreuznach optics and user-selectable leaf or focal plane shutter systems -- for $32,490.

For just $9,995, Mamiya also introduced its DM22, a 22-Mp, digital camera expected to ship in November with a 48x36mm sensor, 5356x4056 pixels and an ISO range of 25-400. Along with its $14,990 DM28, the new cameras can use Hasselblad lenses with an adapter.

There's one more, the $5,990 645DF with a selectable dual shutter system, flash sync speeds of up to 1/1600 and compatibility with digital backs from Leaf, Mamiya, Phase One, and Sinar.

The company also introduced four new Mamiya DM digital backs, available in resolutions of 22, 28, 33 and 56 megapixels with 16 bit/channel image capture and recording, both in tethered and untethered modes, as well as the open-standard HDR-type Mosaic file format.


Adobe's Lightroom 3 Beta release wasn't the only news the company made this week. The company also announced its Photoshop.com Mobile iPhone app has been downloaded over one million times from Apple's App Store in less than one week. Additionally, the app held the No. 1 position for all Top Free apps as well as the Top Free app in Photography for at least 10 consecutive days.

The company has posted a FAQ covering Support for Windows 7 for Create Suite 4 editions (http://www.adobe.com/products/creativesuite/faq/). According to the FAQ, after testing on Windows 7 Ultimate, Adobe is "confident the CS4 products and components will perform as expected." Just reinstall CS4 after upgrading. The same page covers Snow Leopard support, 64-bit operating system support and more.


Nik Software (http://www.niksoftware.com) has announced its $199.95 Viveza 2 [MW] plug-in will be available in December with new global image controls (including Levels and Curves) added to its U Point selecting editing. Fine detail structure enhancements, improved color rendering and more precision selections have also been added.


Cotton Carrier (http://www.cottoncarrier.com) sent their $139 camera carrying system to us for evaluation. It's a Denier chest harness with a unique quick release system on the breast plate and a second one on a holster. The first day we put it on and napped on the couch without any discomfort. The second day, we mountain biked up Twin Peaks with a long zoom hanging like landing gear from our chest. It's remarkably comfortable, surprisingly secure and functions like a third hand, keeping your gear right in front of you. Stay tuned for the review.


Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com) has introduced customizable photo gifts, including mugs, coasters, puzzles, playing cards, canvas prints, mouse pads, keepsake boxes and desk organizers. The company also introduced Twitter integration so you can automatically tweet your phanfare albums.


Michael Tapes (http://www.lensalign.com/support.html) has posted The LensAlign User Guide, which he plans to expand over the next months. He has also posted a LensAlignDistance Tool (http://www.lensalign.com/ldt/index.html) to display the recommended LensAlign-to-Camera distance AF Adjust Distance along with the expected Depth of Field for the test parameters (camera, lens, aperture) you enter.


Panasonic (http://panasonic.jp/support/global/cs/dsc/download/LX3/index.html) has reissued its LX3 firmware update with a number of enhancements, including improved white balance performance (plus bracketing), a square aspect ratio and faster autofocusing.


Photo District News and Kodak have announced Best Friends: The Ultimate Animal Photo Contest (http://www.bestfriendsphotocontest.com), which celebrates the art of pet and animal photography while raising money to help endangered and mistreated animals. A portion of each $12 entry fee will be donated to the contestant's choice of one of three non-profit animal welfare groups: The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Best Friends Animal Society and Kids Saving the Rainforest. Deadline for entries is Dec. 22.


Athentech (http://www.athentech.com) has announced the release of a Windows version of a Photoshop plug-in of its patented Perfectly Clear image correction technology.


VSO Software (http://www.vso-software.fr) has released its $24.99 PhotoDVD 3.0.9.6 [W] wizard-based slide show maker.


Kubota Image Tools (http://www.kubotaimagetools.com) has announced its $349 Kubota RPG SpeedKeys 2.0 for Lightroom 2, a wireless 48-key pad with three functions per key that can be customized to perform Lightroom functions and apply Kubota Lightroom Presets. The new version is available as a free update to purchasers of the earlier version. We've been testing that earlier version ourselves and hope to have a review of the new unit as soon as it's available. Key customization was the one feature we missed on the earlier version, so we can't wait to see the new one. It is (at that price) intended for production environments (where someone is paying you to sit there, that is). But it really does boost productivity.


Calumet Photographic (http://www.calumetphoto.com) is hosting an exhibit of the work of Ted Kawalerski at its retail space in New York City through Dec. 31. "Experiencing life from the inside of his car, house, studio, airplanes and client board rooms, Kawalerski has created a body of work that reminds us of how often we become isolated from the world around us," the company noted.


Instead of pinning your prints on the wall, pin them on the wall in a $28 Pin-Up Frame (http://www.mollaspace.com/product_info.php?products_id=312) from MollaSpace. The elegant white, black or clear frames come with four pins in the same color. But you can use tape instead if you just hate pin holes.


Disk Doctors Labs (http://www.diskdoctors.net) has updated its $69 Photo Recovery for Mac OS X with recovery of Real Media player files and improved accuracy and speed.


View a selection of the work of Vivian Maier (http://vivianmaier.blogspot.com/), a street photographer working from the 1950s to 1970s who passed away April 21. According to the site, Vivian's work was discovered at an auction in Chicago where the French native lived for 50 years. Her body of work includes over 40,000 mostly medium format negatives.


Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 8.5.36 [LMW] with support for new Canon scanners, a fix for ADF scanning on HP 5300/7400 scanners, a fix for a zoom problem when cropping and more.

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One Liners

For just $150 per insertion you can list your URL or 800 number here (up to a maximum of 70 text characters).

Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com

PhotoRescue: http://imaging-resource.com/SOFT/PHR/PHR.HTM

Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc

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Signoff

That's it for now, but between issues visit our site for the latest news, reviews, or to have your questions answered in our free discussion forum. Here are the links to our most popular pages:

Daily News: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS.HTM
New on Site: http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM
Digicam index: http://www.imaging-resource.com/DIGCAM01.HTM
Q&A Forum: http://www.imaging-resource.com/FORUM.HTM
Tips: http://www.imaging-resource.com/TIPS.HTM

Happy snapping!

Mike Pasini, Editor
editor@imaging-resource.com
Dave Etchells, Publisher
web@imaging-resource.com

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