The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 11, Number 23 6 November 2009

Copyright 2009, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 266th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We test an innovative way to carry two cameras securely before Shawn previews Olympus's new Micro Four Thirds E-P2. Then we reveal a simple trick for improving shots with your popup flash. And, if you're like us and took a few dozen shots before realizing you didn't change the time on your digicam, you'll appreciate our one-line fix. No turkeys in this issue.


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Feature: Cotton Carrier -- The Invisible Assistant

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

Every time we grab a camera to take a little hike with us, the same conundrum stops us dead. How are we going to carry it?

You would think that would be easy to answer.

But it's only an easy question when the camera is ultracompact and slips into one of our empty pockets. As soon as we get into the G11 or long zoom digicam size, we're in trouble.

Manufacturers supply either a shoulder strap or a wrist strap, of course. We prefer wrist straps because they offer protection against drops and are not obtrusive. Shoulder straps tend to get in the way or suddenly lose interest in their assigned task. Even the sure-grip UPstrap, while secure, is heavy and can pull the strap down your back instead of sit on your shoulder when you shift positions.

So we tend to holster a camera with a wrist strap. But we also use the UPstrap, swinging the camera off our hip until it's time to shoot.

There's one word for all of these approaches: awkward.

THE COTTON

So we were intrigued the other day when we received an email from Cotton Carrier (http://www.cottoncarrier.com) introducing us to their camera harness. "The Cotton Carrier holds one or two cameras of any size and lens combination comfortably and securely," the company told us, "alleviating all of the pain and discomfort created by traditional neck strap systems."

They've sold over 2,000 units since they started selling the product in June "and the feedback from photographers at all levels has been phenomenal."

We took a look at the Web site, which includes links to a couple of quite helpful videos demonstrating how to fit and use the product, and decided to give it a shot. We had just been corresponding with a few newsletter subscribers about ways to carry a camera on horseback and thought this might be a terrific solution. If it worked.

The $139 unit, which includes a one-year warranty, arrived a few days later from Western Canada with an instruction sheet (http://www.cottoncarrier.com/images/cotton/CottonCarrierInstructions.jpg) printed on both sides.

DESIGN

There are two kinds of camera accessories. Some are designed by people sitting in Herman Miller chairs running CAD programs all day. They produce things that sound like great ideas but end up in the drawer before the credit card bill shows up.

The other kind are designed by photographers who are trying to solve a problem that vexes them. Sometimes the photographer has an expertise that extends beyond duct tape and a really useful solution finds its way to the rest of us.

Although we had our doubts about the Cotton Carrier concept, we very quickly found out this was the second kind of solution built by a guy who is way beyond duct tape.

It arrived in a lightweight mesh bag that keeps the octopus-like harness tidy if you want to travel with it.

Along with the instruction sheet, the mesh bag contained the harness itself and a holster plus two camera inserts. There are business cards with the inserts and in the harness, too.

The harness is composed of a chest plate covered in 1650 Denier fabric with 20 oz. webbing straps and heavy-duty nylon buckles, the same stuff you see in heavy duty camera backpacks. Cotton recommends hand washing it in regular laundry detergent and hanging it up to dry, which it does quickly. The company warns against machine washing and drying.

The harness's secret weapon is the Lexan receptacle in the breast plate.

The receptacle is a three-inch hook that snags the round camera inserts machined from hard anodized, powder coated aluminum with stainless steel screws and a rubber gasket for mounting in the tripod socket of your camera.

Every camera has a tripod socket, after all, and it's usually unoccupied. If you're using a quick release plate, it may even be compatible with the insert. But more about that later.

The insert itself has an arrow engraved on it to indicate the release direction. You align the arrow so when the insert is tightened against the camera body it points in the direction you will slide the camera. That can be holding the grip up or holding the grip low with the lens pointing left, either way.

We gave the insert about a quarter turn with a coin inserted in the slot to tighten it against the body. The last thing you want is a loose insert because that defeats the release system.

The release system actually locks the camera into the mating receptacle on the harness or the holster. You slide the camera into the receptacle and twist it 45 degrees to lock it. To release it, you twist the camera 45 degrees back and slide it up. You can do it blind-folded. And quickly.

In the video, Cotton recommends lubricating new systems with, well, anything. We didn't find that necessary but if we had, we would have used a silicon spray on a rag to wipe the mating surfaces down.

The trouble with that, of course, is that lubricants of any kind attract dirt. And you won't typically be wearing the Cotton Carrier in a clean room. You'll be out in the woods. So we skipped that recommendation and lived to tell about it.

FITTING

We had a difficult time fitting the harness to our athletic build. We had a harder time fitting it on a couple of friends, too.

It's time well spent, of course, because once you've fitted it, you're in business. You won't really want to share the harness.

The trouble we had involved getting the lower belt snug. There are three possible adjustments: one on the buckle, one in the back to the right of the mesh back and another to the left of the mesh back.

This is the critical adjustment because, as the Cotton video demonstrates, the two shoulder straps really don't bear any weight. You can detach them and the camera will still sit there right in front of you. We suspect that's also why women are able to wear the Cotton Carrier comfortably (we found a few volunteers to confirm). The chest plate doesn't have to press tightly against your chest.

But you do have to get a snug fit with the bottom belt on your rib cage. And eventually we did. But it wasn't easy.

We had a little more trouble with the shoulder straps. They are attached to the harness in the back by Velcro. A Velcro bed grabs the ends of the straps under a mesh covering. That lets you lengthen or shorten the straps a bit, but we barely got them short enough. The shoulder straps merely stabilize the harness, so it wasn't a big deal, but would have been inclined to make them tighter.

So we felt as if we had a harness that was a little big for us, but we eventually got a good fit on the bottom belt and a comfortable one with the shoulder straps.

It was subsequently a snap to get in and out of, though. Just duck into the gap between the shoulder straps, bring the belt around and snap it in. Done.

With a correct fit, we found the harness was quite comfortable. We wore it all day the first day as we worked around the studio and even took a nap in it. It's very light, doesn't cover a lot and is really only stiff in front with the chest plate.

CAMERA INSERT FITTING

We attached the camera insert to half a dozen cameras ranging from long zoom digicams to small dSLRs to pro-level dSLRs with horizontal grips. We also screwed it into a wrist strap insert that was already occupying the tripod socket. Our particular quick release system isn't compatible with the camera insert, so we didn't give that a try.

Cotton told us Arca-Swiss systems (Really Right Stuff, Kirk, etc.) work well with the inserts. And while Cotton sells a tripod quick release clamp from Kirk, Kirk plans to provide a "Cotton Carrier" logo version shortly.

At first, we just hand tightened the insert. But that really wasn't sufficient to keep it tightened after slipping it in and out of the receptacle a few times. So we resorted to a casino token we keep handy for unlocking and locking scanners. A quarter works well, too. A quarter turn did the trick except on the wrist strap.

But that one failure was really the fault of our wrist strap, which does not have a rubber gasket to compress it tightly to the camera body like the insert itself has. We suspect an application of a thread locker would have done the trick. Cotton recommends LocTite 425 because it is non-permanent and non-corrosive to plastics and polycarbonites.

It's a remarkably well-made insert, we have to say. The black metal housing is round with a flange to press the rubber gasket against the camera body or grip and another flange with the arrow indicator. Between the flanges of the same metal piece is a slot whose round interior has two sides shaved straight so the insert can slide into the receptacle. You have to look closely to notice. The stainless steel bolt turns independently of the black metal housing and has a slot for casino tokens, quarters and other leverage.

The one time we could not remove the camera by twisting it (because our grip bolt had come loose), we could not just turn the black housing to unscrew the insert. It spins freely. We had to rotate the camera to release it from both bolts and then slide the insert out.

So you really want a tight fit. Don't be shy.

HOLSTER

A holster with the same Lexan receptacle is included in the $139 package and available separately for $59 (the harness is also available separately for $99).

The holster has two flaps on the back that lock around a belt or the lower belt of the harness. The flaps are not reinforced in any way (like, for example, the Think Tank Photo accessories) but that didn't seem to matter.

Among the people we asked to try the arrangement, only one person preferred the holster. He happened to be someone who wears a tool belt all day and that felt familiar to him.

But everyone else preferred the harness mount because it was unobtrusive and weightless.

CARRYING

So what exactly can you carry with the harness and the holster?

Cotton says it has tested the unit with a 5.8 lb. Canon Mark III 1Ds with an 11.7 lb. Canon EF 400mm f2.8 IS lens (17.5 lbs. total). We put a D200 with a horizontal grip and an 18-200mm Nikkor lens on it. We also mounted a Nikon P90 long zoom, a Sony long zoom, a Canon Rebel XTi, a Nikon D300 and a few smaller digicams.

The bigger the camera/lens combo, the more you'll want it on the chest receptacle, which does not flop around like the holster. The holster, as Cotton demonstrates in one of its videos, tends to swing the camera. Your arm tends to swing, too, so a large protrusion from your hip or side can be an obstacle.

But mounted to your chest, you hardly feel the weight. It's a remarkably comfortable location, almost as if the camera were floating in front of you, cared for by an invisible assistant who was able to hand it to you instantly whenever you wanted.

The only caveat to add to that glowing description is that we didn't feel nearly as comfortable with the full grip/camera/long lens rig as we did with a camera/long lens. The grip really pushed the camera out from our body quite a bit. It wasn't less secure, but it felt more, um, awkward.

And awkward is just not how we usually felt with the Cotton Carrier.

In fact, it was almost fun to carry two cameras with it. We mounted a D300 on the harness and with the holster attached to the side of the harness carried a long zoom digicam. Either camera was instantly available with just a twist. Very nice.

And nothing like it.

Cotton recommends that you continue to use your shoulder strap along with the harness until you're confident the system is secure. It's an excellent tip and the harness even has a few loops on the shoulder straps to attach a strap or cord to prevent your camera from falling to the ground should you drop it.

STYLE

Despite being safely behind the lens most of the time, you may be wondering if wearing the harness makes you look like a dork or makes you look cool.

Depends where you wear it, actually.

The second day we had it, we mountain biked up Twin Peaks with a long zoom hanging like landing gear from our chest. The harness worked wonderfully, securing the camera to us without preventing us from using it. We simply pulled up, twisted the camera out, took a shot, twisted it back into the harness and rode on.

Compared to carrying a camera in a backpack, this was a different world.

And as we biked up the hill or came screaming back down, we had no worries about losing the camera. It was locked to our chest.

On the other hand, it wasn't something we felt comfortable with walking through the neighborhood or the village or using on public transportation. Any place where you want to remain inconspicuous, that is.

It's hard to miss and by its nature, not something you cover up, although you can wear an open jacket over it.

CONCLUSION

Everyone who tried it loved how weightless the Cotton Carrier harness made their camera seem. They all found it easy to mount or unlock the camera from the harness. It was one of those products everyone liked the minute they tried it.

The holster is a welcome addition but not quite the same thrill as the harness. You do feel the weight, although it is just as simple to attach the camera and remove it.

But the two together provide the simplest, most secure way of using two cameras that we've found.

While not inconspicuous, if you don't mind drawing attention to yourself (as, say, the wedding photographer) or are out in the woods where no one would notice you anyway, there's no better way to carry a camera. Outright prolonged applause.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Olympus E-P2 Preview

By SHAWN BARNETT
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EP2/EP2A.HTM on the Web site.)

Just a few short months after introducing the E-P1 "Digital Pen," Olympus has launched another version of the small, interchangeable lens SLD digital camera. Most of the guts are the same, as are the body features. Much of what was added came from very early feedback from reviewers, including the black body, requested mostly by males, according to an Olympus representative. Others insisted on an electronic viewfinder.

The E-P2 user experience is the same as the E-P1, except for the addition of the VF-2 electronic viewfinder, which really does change the experience quite a bit.

LOOK & FEEL

The new black body still has some chrome accents and for now the 17mm lens is still silver. Both silver and black 14-42mm lenses are available for the E-P1, with silver shipping on the white camera and black shipping with the silver camera. Both kits include the large electronic viewfinder, which adds to the camera's bulk. The good news is you forget about the extra bulk when you put the viewfinder up to your eye and take in the big, bright 800x600 image.

One major feature I prefer over the Panasonic GF1 is the larger grip area the E-P2 and E-P1 offer. The large rubber pad also helps get a better purchase on the camera and the thumbgrip on the back also makes a more secure hold.

The camera strap loops still unfortunately require annoying D-rings to work with most strap systems. These have become more of a burden thanks to the E-P2's movie mode, as every motion of the D-rings is recorded as the sound travels dutifully down the camera's lovely metal skin, quickly arriving at the microphone openings.

Perhaps you can sense my irritation with this unnecessary metal-to-metal connection when cloth-to-metal is mostly standard on modern digital cameras and even camcorders. Since I don't like camera straps, I'll likely keep the camera strapless and ringless and perhaps add a digicam wrist strap with a toggle lock for security.

The new accessory port can also be used for an External Microphone Jack, into which you can plug a microphone like the Olympus ME51S, ME31 or many other third party microphones, a feature missing from the E-P1.

COMPOSING THE SHOT

The 3-inch LCD is big but low-resolution at 230K pixels with a viewing angle of 176 degrees. Thankfully it's not the only way to frame images, thanks to the VF-2 electronic viewfinder, which has SVGA resolution.

The E-P2 has many display screens, which you select by pressing the Info button, but I'm afraid none of them meets my needs all on one screen. Though I like the leveling feature, that screen doesn't tell you what aperture or shutter speed you have set, which is pretty important on a camera like the E-P2. If you want the histogram or exposure info, you have to lose the leveling feature. I found myself hitting the Info button way too often when using the E-P2.

And if you shoot in the Art Filters mode and have the center-AF point screen up, you can't zoom in to focus, because the Set button both zooms and changes the Art Filter; guess which wins?

Optical viewfinder. The $99 VF-1 optical viewfinder does not come with the E-P2's 17mm f2.8 kit, as it does with the E-P1's 17mm kit. Mine has a faint silver frame inside, but neither this line nor the viewfinder itself represents the actual image captured by the 17mm lens, which is noticeably wider. There's also a significant parallax error between this viewfinder lens and the capture lens.

For some reason I accidentally touch the front or rear optic too often and I lament that the back of the viewfinder has no rubber guard to protect my glasses. Of course, with this big, square, nostalgic novelty mounted, we begin to approach the size and shape limitations found in the smaller SLRs and the one place to mount a flash is occupied. The advantage, though, is you get a third point of contact with your body (your face), offering inherently greater stability.

Electronic viewfinder. The new VF-2 electronic viewfinder is noticeably larger than the one available for the Panasonic GF1 and it's also higher resolution. It attaches the same way, though, via the new Accessory port on the back beneath the hot shoe, which means that it won't work on the E-P1. It's a friction fit, unfortunately, which means that you can accidentally nudge it off if you're not careful. There's a springloaded pin that slips into the hot shoe's locking hole for some security, but it still manages to loosen a bit in a bag if I'm not careful. I'd prefer a more positive locking mechanism.

Functionally, though, it's really nice. The rubber ring around the viewfinder optic protects your glasses, unlike the back of the VF-1 with its hard plastic. Better yet, it's the diopter adjustment mechanism, which you can turn to focus the viewfinder. It manages to accommodate my -3 vision just fine.

The view is really large, showing a 100 percent of the scene, with 1.15x magnification. I can't tell you how many times I brought the E-P1 up to my eye before remembering there's no optical viewfinder built in. It just feels like an SLR. Now if you need to, you can use the E-P2 like it is one.

The only drawback is how much bigger it makes the E-P2, which is why I generally leave the VF-1 off the E-P1. At least the VF-2 is more versatile, able to show the true image even with a zoom lens. It's also a little better for manual focusing, given the higher resolution.

LENSES

The kit lens is the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6, equivalent to a 28-84mm zoom. When you twist it from its resting position, it pops out to its full operating length.

Though I appreciated the effort Olympus made to keep this lens from being a gigantic nuisance, making this small camera a lot larger, it took me some time to like this lens; and in the end, I don't like it at all.

My favorite is the 17mm f2.8, the only other Olympus lens currently made specifically for Micro Four Thirds. Its low barrel distortion made shooting with this pancake design a sincere pleasure and its faster autofocus made me return to it again and again. Chromatic aberration is a little high, unfortunately, but that can be dealt with.

We also tested the E-P2 with the rather elite lenses that came with our Panasonic GH1, the second Micro Four Thirds digital camera. They both fit and worked well. Most impressive was Panasonic's 7-14mm on such a small body.

The Lumix Four Thirds lens adapter also allowed us to use some of the more interesting Four Thirds lenses in house, including the 150mm f2.0 monster lens. Olympus's equivalent is the MMF-1, a silver Four Thirds adapter. Focusing is a lot slower with this adapter for most of the lenses we tried, so though it's possible, it's not entirely desirable to use Four Thirds lenses with the E-P2.

Sweetening the deal for OM-system lens owners is the MF-2 OM Adapter. Focusing is a little more difficult to do on the E-P2 than on the OM-1, because you have to press the Info button to navigate to the MF screen, then the OK button to zoom in on the scene and if you're hand-holding the E-P2, the zoomed view can be shaky.

The Micro Four Thirds lens system is getting larger thanks to Panasonic's recent introduction of two prime lenses, the 20mm f1.7 and the 45mm Macro f2.8; and the available adapters also broaden the possibilities.

MOVIE MODES

The E-P2 records AVI movies at 1280x720 and 640x480 both at 30 frames per second. Maximum file size is 2-GB and the maximum recording time is 7 minutes in HD mode or 14 minutes in Standard Def. You can also use the ART filters to limited effect. Some of the filters slow the frame rate so much that I doubt most would want to use them. These include the Pinhole and Grainy Film modes.

New to the E-P2 is complete Manual control over exposure while recording, while the E-P1 only offered Program or Aperture priority control modes. Shutter speed ranges from 1/30 to 1/4000 second.

A new autofocus mode also applies to Movie mode, called C-AF+TR, which means continuous AF and tracking. Lock the autofocus system on the main subject and the autofocus target will follow the subject as it moves around the frame.

HDMI plus CEC. The HDMI port is not new to the E-P2, CEC control is. That's where you can remote control the camera through your television remote control, provided it offers CEC control. Usually there are four colored buttons on the bottom of the remote.

AUDIO

Olympus is also touting the audio technology of the E-P2's Movie mode, which it says is as good as its best audio recorders. It's described as Wave Format Base Stereo PCM/ 16-bit at 44.1kHz. Unfortunately, that's only for movie recording or for attaching audio to a photograph; there is no audio-only recording mode, as we've seen on some other cameras. That's a shame, because I'd love to take advantage of that kind of high-end audio capability. As with the E-P1, the only way to record audio with the E-P2 is with the stereo mic on the front of the camera, just left and right of the Olympus logo. That is, unless you purchase the new external microphone jack mentioned above and a microphone.

Also built into the E-P2 are five ambient tunes to use with slide shows and videos, created by Daishi Dance, a famous Japanese musician.

EXPOSURE MODES

The E-P2 includes the four standard modes, Program, Aperture, Shutter and Manual exposure modes, but also includes an Intelligent Auto mode that analyses the scene and chooses among Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Sport and Macro modes. Movie mode is of course for movies and Scene mode avails you of 19 Scene modes, including Portrait, e-Portrait, Landscape, Landscape + Portrait, Sport, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Children, High Key, Low Key, DIS Mode, Macro, Nature Macro, Candle, Sunset, Documents, Panorama, Fireworks and Beach & Snow.

iEnhance. A new picture mode called iEnhance picks out a dominant color in a scene and enhances that one color so it stands out more. It should enhance scenes like sunsets, fall foliage, etc.

ANALYSIS

Olympus has once again produced a nice little SLD (Single Lens Direct-view) digital camera, one with personality and pretty darn good image quality. It's impressive that Olympus was able to respond so quickly to the desires of the press and its early users, adding a few key features that make a difference to the user experience and the E-P2's utility. To me the most important of those features is the new Accessory port, which allows attachment of the EVF and the external mic jack. The addition of full Manual exposure control to the Movie mode is also great for aspiring movie makers who don't want a stray flashlight beam to upset their exposure while making an X-Files fan film.

It looks like the E-P2 will only be available in bundles with a lens and the VF-2 electronic viewfinder, making its $1,100 price a little high for those who've already purchased an E-P1 and want the extra functionality. Hopefully they'll release at least one more body-only package soon. Despite the EVF's excellent quality, I'm not sure it's a must-have accessory; and anything Olympus can do to help existing owners upgrade their system with an additional body is probably a good idea going into the holiday shopping season.

Stay tuned for our full review once we get a shootable sample or else the final firmware. If the image quality stays as good as we see now, the Olympus E-P2 will be another great choice for stills and video in a small, stylish package.

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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Beginners Flash: Salvation for Popup Flash

We were sitting down to a lovely lunch with a big cheese from Nameless Camera Co. a few weeks ago when our reverie was disturbed. "Mike! Yo, Mike!" he was trying to get our attention. "Yes?" we pretended to have been listening all along.

"What does Nameless need to do to be in business five years from now?" he asked.

We considered a bit whether or not to tell him, but in the end we demurred. "If I knew that," we humbly dodged, "would I not be taking you to lunch?"

He was not to be put off so easily, though. And we hadn't ordered drinks.

"Get rid of the flash," we suggested. No flash, no red-eye, high ISO with no noise, work on it. No unreal shots, no shots only a camera sees.

Just a thought.

We hate flash with a passion usually reserved for our sister-in-law's alma mater. We are infinitely amused by Joe McNally's guilty use of it in dark corners. But waving just one single strobe around in the daylight can ruin everything. It is evil incarnate. It ain't getting to Purgatory, bet your soul.

But, you know, we're not unreasonable.

A couple of years ago when we reviewed Rick Sammon's Rebel DVD, we were impressed by a weird looking, unidentified diffuser he put on the Rebel's popup flash. It looked to us like a small white plastic shower cap. Just a ball of white plastic big enough for a cat's wig with an elastic opening to fit over the popup flash.

He had it on the external flash he was using at first. But it fit right over the popup flash on his assistant's camera. She really didn't want to give it back after she saw how nicely it softened the shadows of the flash shot she took.

Shadows, he explained, are the problem with flash photography. They're too harsh. Too hard. By diffusing the light, you soften them, make them more natural. And the bigger the diffuser, the softer they are.

There is at least one commercial solution designed for a popup flash: Gary Fong's $20 Puffer (http://store.garyfonginc.com/puf-01.html). But that's not very large and it won't work on an external flash.

You might be tempted to argue that the white shower cap for cats is a commercial solution, too (try to find one). But it wasn't for me because we got ours from Alice. After two years of hunting around drugstores for a white one and finding only clear ones, I caught Alice with a spare. She couldn't believe we'd never seen one. She gets them at the drugstore, two in a pack.

"What's the big deal, Mike?"

We showed her. We grabbed her digicam, popped up the flash and took her picture. Not very flattering, we pointed out. She took a swing at us. The picture, Alice, we explained, not you. Red-eye. Big, black shadows. Looked like it should have been on a driver's license, frankly.

Then we put the shower cap on the flash and fired again. Soft shadows, very flattering. Gorgeous, we pointed out. She started to give us a hug we thought but, no, she just wanted it back.

It was that big a difference.

The advice we gave Nameless was no doubt (and rightly) discarded. What we should have said was acquire a small shower cap company. It will save the popup flash at least.

Return to Topics.

Advanced Mode: Time Shifting

We woke up groggy Sunday morning. The Halloween revelers on Main St. who did not give up until well into All Souls Day kept waking us up. Incantations, spells, lousy grammar. It was a nightmare.

So when we did roll out of bed a few hours later and scrambled down the hall to biscuits and gravy at the Charming Old Bed and Breakfast, changing the clock on our digicam was not on our mind. It wasn't until we got home and were downloading our images to folders named for the date of the shoot that we realized we'd forgotten to fall forward.

In November 1999 when we first addressed this problem, there were no tools to help. We had devised an ingenious solution that somehow failed to win any international awards but, we later came to realize, it was not something you would want to do on 130 12-Mp images.

What to do, what to do.

Well, in this century, there are a lot of solutions. The very first place to look is probably in the catalog program you use. It's something you're familiar with and all your images are sitting right there already.

Lightroom, for example, can do this easily. Edit Capture Time in the Library module's Metadata menu gives you a few options. With a selection of images, the smart money is on "Shift by a set number of hours" (that would be "minus one" in this case).

But the tool we prefer is a free utility with a lot of smarts. It's Phil Harvey's ExifTool (http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/). We use it on the Web site to build the Exif pages for all our test shots, in fact. Phil is constantly updating it to handle new cameras, new tags and new technologies.

Time, of course, is an old technology.

But camera manufacturers record it in the Exif header of their image files in several places. The DateTimeOriginal, CreateDate and ModifyDate tags all record it, for example. The trick is to reset all three on a new image.

ExifTool can do that with one simple command. There's a Windows version and a Mac version. The simplest way to use the utility is from the command line (Terminal on the Mac).

We navigated to our directory of incorrectly time-stamped images first but that's optional. Then we just told ExifTool to fall back an hour on all the images:

exiftool -AllDates-=1 *

Here the program is invoked with the -AllDates switch set to subtract one hour. The asterisk simply means in this directory.

A few ticks of the clock later, all the images were copied with the correct time of exposure in the DateTimeOriginal, CreateDate and ModifyDate tags.

If you need this in the Spring to spring forward, you'd just enter:

exiftool -AllDates+=1 *

You can get fancier by filtering which files are affected by adding another argument:

exiftool -AllDates-=1 -if '$model eq "COOLPIX P90"' *

would restrict the change to images taken with a P90 (if, say, you dumped your images in with your punctual friend's images). Or:

exiftool -AllDates-=1 -if '$DateTimeOriginal ge "2009:11:01"' *

would just adjust only images taken on or after Nov. 1. Be sure to preface the tag name with a dollar sign.

This works for Raw files, too, but our Raw files were generated by a camera that was smarter than us. It had reset the time automatically before we took our first shot Sunday.

Now if only all this time shifting could get us back to those biscuits and gravy!

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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:

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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: Lightroom 3 Beta

I'm confused by Tom Hogarty's admonition that "you really shouldn't work with anything but copies of your images with it, he cautioned."

I had the impression that Lightroom never touches my originals. Does the statement above infer that has changed?

-- Ken Schuster

(We wondered about that too, Ken. We think Tom was just waving a general precaution around: work on copies with a beta. When editing an image, Lightroom does not alter the original -- that hasn't changed. But the Import process can optionally copy and move images. Better to have the beta copy and move duplicates. -- Editor)

RE: Comparing Photoshop Elements 8 to Capture NX 2

Do you have a comparison review of Elements 8 vs. Capture NX 2 photo editing software? Which is easier to use, better, compatible with JPEG images, pros and cons, etc.

-- Martin David

(We don't have a review that compares the two products, Martin. We did recently describe Photoshop Elements 8 in the newsletter (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html). And we've also covered NX 2 here, too. Both products handle JPEG images well. Some people feel there is some advantage to NX 2 for Nikon Raw capture conversions to JPEG, although we're not in that club. Either program can get there.... Elements is unquestionable easier to use than NX 2, although NX 2 does employ Nik Software's innovative U Points for local tone and color correction. Otherwise you really have to know what you're doing in NX 2.... Adobe is very active as a software developer whereas Nikon is not very active. So, for example, when a new version of your operating system is released, you can expect Adobe products to run on it well before Nikon products do. The recent release of Snow Leopard is a good case study. Hope that helps. -- Editor)

RE: Grip Repair

I searched the Imaging Resource Web site and could not find anything on "rubber grip repair." Both my D2x's and my Garmin eTrex Vista HCx GPS unit's rubber grips have come loose (probably something to do with two weeks strait of +107F shooting this past summer).

I researched a bunch on the Web and could not find much except for a mention of some special scotch double stick tape that I could not find.

On the D2x I used Super Glue as it was in a spot that the rubber does not need to come back off for working on the camera (memory card cover), but the GPS is another story and the wrap around finger grip on the D2x is starting to loosen up.

Suggestions?

BTW, just purchased a Epson V700 (based on your recent reviews) as Epson had a deal on it for $373 last week.

-- Jeff Wolford

(We've got a few glues we trust but glues are a complex topic these days. Seems like you have to have a degree in chemical engineering to know how to mate synthetic materials. We asked Nikon to comment and they said, "The process of making the new rubber grip material stick better requires thoroughly cleaning the metal surface underneath the old rubber grip and then using a special metal-to-rubber adhesive to make it last. Best to send it in."-- Editor)

RE: Printer Calibration

Another question. A friend of mine has the V750 and he has not had any luck in using the IT8 targets to create a printer profile. He says the calibration is fine for the scanner, but he believes the 8-bit color channels are causing problems. The scanner profile is based on 8-bit values that then are applied to the 8-bit values the scanner is reading off the printer, i.e. a sample of a sample.

Can you provide any pointers on the inside scoop on how this is done?

-- Jeff Wolford

(You don't say what software he's using, but Ed Hamrick has a simple explanation of the process (http://www.hamrick.com/vuescan/html/vuesc17.htm). As Ed points out, each profile is unique to the paper and setup options -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

We note the passing of Roy DeCarava at 89 who became one of the most important photographers of his generation by celebrating the Harlem others ignored. Photography offered him an independence from the professional limitations he found imposed on him in printmaking and painting. "It doesn't have to be pretty to be true. But if it's true, it's beautiful," he told Dread Scott in 2001. "Truth is beautiful."


Ever notice how managers get frustrated when the carrots and sticks that work with interns and lab rats backfire with creatives like photographers? Make a friend for life by pointing them to Israeli conductor Itay Talgam's TED talk explaining how to lead like the great conductors (http://www.ted.com/talks/itay_talgam_lead_like_the_great_conductors.html). He's one guy who knows how to work with creatives.


Roger Cicala at Lensrentals.com (http://www.lensrentals.com) has posted Lens Repair Data 3.5, detailing the repair rate of the lenses the company rents. Nine copies of the lens must have circulated at least six months to be eligible for the report.


Photo District News' Dan Havlik (who has contributed cameras reviews here in the past) asked a few camera manufacturers a simple question before Photo Plus East, "What's so hard about putting a big sensor in a small camera?" See http://www.pdngearguide.com/gearguide/content_display/news/e3i7a4f853fe57e4c0bb6c152ef9ae206eb?pn=1) for the answers.


Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com) has released an EOS 7D firmware update to correct ghost images in continuous release mode.


Karelia (http://www.karelia.com) has updated its free iMedia Browser 1.2.1 [M] with Snow Leopard compatibility, Aperture library parser enhancements, improved stability and more.


Human Software (http://www.humansoftware.com) has released its $299.95 Edit for Aperture 1.8 [M] with text and text effects on a path, lens correction to correct perspective, spherical corrections for 180 and 360 degree lenses and more.


Derrick Story tests three third-party scanning services in a recent Macworld article (http://www.macworld.com/article/143504/2009/10/outsourcescanning.html). He sent prints, negatives and slides to ScanDigital.com, DigMyPics and ScanCafe.


DxO Labs (http://www.dxo.com) has released DxO Optics Pro version 6 [W] with improved conversions from extreme ISO shots, extended optical fault correction, plus increased accessibility and productivity. The Mac version is scheduled for release "in early 2010." A 33 percent introductory discount is available though Dec. 31.


Akvis (http://akvis.com) has released its $49 Noise Buster 7.0 [MW] with Snow Leopard support, an improved noise reduction algorithm, improved automatic filtration, 64-bit support, Photoshop Elements 8 compatibility, a new interface and updated documentation.


Catapult (http://brushedpixel.com) [M] is a $49 Aperture plug-in that allows you to use Adobe Camera Raw or Nikon Capture to perform Raw conversions with images from your Aperture library. Catapult stacks the converted images with your Raw masters in Aperture and archives the settings used to produce the converted image.


Think Tank Photo (http://www.thinktankphoto.com) continues to update its line of unique camera bags with the Urban Disguise 70 Pro, which can carry up to a 70-200mm f2.8 lens attached to any camera body. Like other models in the line, it's designed so it doesn't look like a camera bag.


Google (http://picasa.google.com/mac) has released its free Picasa for Mac 3.5.2 (Intel only) with expanded Raw support, imporoved downloading stability and more.


Celebrating its 30th anniversary next year, the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International has redesigned its convention and trade show Web site (http://www.wppionline.com/storage/lasvegas/home.html).


WnSoft (http://www.wnsoft.com) has released its $75 PicturesToExe Deluxe 6.0 [W] with 3D effects and the capability to create executables for Mac OS X.

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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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