|Volume 11, Number 25||4 December 2009|
Welcome to the 268th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We finally got our hands on a Kodak ESP all-in-one device so we threw everything we could find at it. Then Shawn considers the PowerShot G11, the latest in Canon's much-beloved G-series. Finally we retell an old holiday story to warm these cold days. Cheers!
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(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/K5250/K5250.HTM on the Web site.)
We first reviewed Kodak's pigment-based all-in-one devices in December 2007 after touring the Canal Pond facility in Rochester, N.Y. where the ink and cartridge system was developed. We found the ink system revolutionary, delivering long-lasting prints at inexpensive prices.
The printer, however, was another story. We actually tested two of the 5000 series printers and found both to be seriously flawed, suffering immature firmware that crippled the devices for anything but straight printing and scanning.
We didn't get our hands on the second generation Kodak devices, but after a briefing with Kodak's Tom Bentz, the third has arrived at the bunker in the form of the $160 ESP 5250. We've been using it to print everything for a couple of weeks now.
Is the third time the charm? Let's find out.
The main reason to consider a Kodak device continues to be the ink system. Using Kodak's three grades of coded paper and its pigmented four-color inking system, you can make inexpensive but long lasting prints. The ink savings are impressive but so are the permanence ratings.
What's special about the ESP 5250 model is its wireless connectivity and large 2.4-inch LCD, especially appreciated in stand-alone mode.
Like the $130 ESP 3250 (with a smaller LCD and no WiFi), it includes an SD card reader. Kodak claims only one percent of the market uses CompactFlash cards so there isn't a CompactFlash slot. Also missing is a USB port in front (for, say, a PictBridge connection or a Bluetooth adapter).
Oddly enough for a company that is responsible for so many color negatives in the world, the 5250 also does not include a transparency unit. So no film scanning.
And while you might expect to, you can't scan to a memory card in the card reader.
Nor do the ESP printers print on both sides of the sheet. Two-sided printing is a manual operation, only.
But they are Energy Star certified, unlike the 5000 series, using less than one watt in sleep mode (which displays ink levels and signal strength) and just 4.6 watts in standby.
Ink options are straightforward:
Paper, on the other hand, is a far more complicated proposition. Kodak has three grades of paper (you'll notice the difference in thickness) that range from Ultra Premium Photo Paper to Premium Photo Paper to Photo Paper. These are all coded on the back side so the printer knows without being told what it's printing on.
- Color Ink Cartridge: $14.99
- Black Ink Cartridge: $9.99
In addition to the grade, the papers come in a variety of finishes. Ultra comes in High Gloss, Studio Gloss or Semi Gloss; Premium in Gloss or Matte; and Photo Paper in Gloss or Matte.
Sizes are either 4x6 or 8.5x11. Quantities vary from packs of 20 sheets to 25, 50, 60 and 100 sheet packs. Paper pack prices range from $3.99 to $36.99.
A Premium Photo Value Pack includes 135 sheets of Premium Photo Paper and one Color Ink Cartridge for $19.99.
The 5250 can handle plain paper from 20 to 24 lb., photo paper up to 12 mil and 100 lb. card stock. To print transparencies, use the inkjet variety with a white stripe. You should also use inkjet varieties of adhesive labels and iron-on transfers. Most standard envelopes are compatible, too.
Henry Wilhelm has tested the 5250 and released a Print Permanence Ratings report (http://www.wilhelm-research.com/kodak/WIR_Kodak_ESP5250_2009_09_02.pdf) that estimates print permanence at over 300 years for each of the papers except Ultra Premium in the Studio Gloss finish (which is greater than 264 years) when framed with a UV filter. When framed under glass the shortest rating is 120 years (Premium in Gloss) and longest 259 years (Ultra Premium in Semi Gloss).
Quality Logic has reported the Cost of Ink Per Page (http://www.qualitylogic.com/Contents/Library/Test-Reports/CPP-A.aspx) with the first generation 5000 series and second generation ESP Kodak printers that use the same technology as the 5250. Using ISO Yield Standards (for printed pages not photos), the report shows Kodak printers at $0.069 and $0.068 a page. The next closest competitor is Canon (MP520) at $0.089. The closest HP is the Photosmart C6280 at $0.097.
The real questions about the Kodak inkjets become those of print quality (especially compared to printers using more colors) and device functionality (particularly the firmware).
Firmware has been the problem with Kodak inkjets. The 5000 series was abysmal in that regard with options that simply didn't work. In the next generation inkjets, Kodak just removed some of the problem functions and introduced an LCD menu system. A few functions were moved to the Home Center software (for Windows anyway) but they were mostly omitted.
And that trend seems to continue with this generation. Why can't you, for example, scan to a memory card? Other multifunction devices manage. It just hasn't been implemented on the 5250.
And where did PictBridge and Bluetooth (with an optional adapter on the PictBridge USB port, say) go? Not to mention negative scanning and CompactFlash compatibility.
Well, Kodak is quick to drop features its research shows are little used. It saves a few bucks. And that apparently matters at the point of purchase.
While that does cut the cost of the device itself, what you end up with after a few rounds of this is a less capable device for a bit more money than the competition. Comparing this to the Canon MP980 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/MP980/MP980.HTM), for example, is no contest. The MP980 can do much more.
With the reduced functionality of the 5250, we didn't run into deal-breaker firmware problems.
The 5250's control panel is really one of the better interfaces on a multifunction device that we've seen.
The best interface we've seen is HP's touch screens. Not only are they touch screens, which avoids the nuisance of looking for the right button, but they also handle more tasks (like scanning to a memory card) than the 5250. Despite that, you never get lost.
Having the next best interface isn't like losing the Super Bowl, however. It's an excellent interface (providing you can find the task you need to do in it).
Kodak spent some time minimizing the buttons and working on the layout to make it easy to use. And they've succeeded.
The four-way navigator with an OK button in the middle will be familiar to anyone who has used a digicam. Back and Home get you out of any jam. The Zoom and Rotate buttons are convenient. And the Cancel and Start buttons are self-explanatory.
USING THE 5250
We used the 5250 for everything for a couple of weeks. Here's a report of our experience.
Copy a Photo. Our favorite test photo is an infant wearing pink on a red sofa. No copy has ever exactly duplicated the original print, captured with a digicam and printed on a Canon i9900 printer with high fidelity inks. But no all-in-one we've tried has ever done a poor job of it, either.
The closest match was probably the Canon MP980 but it enlarged the image a bit too much to make sure it would bleed. The 5250 makes the warm print a bit cooler throughout and lightens the darkest parts of the pictures (like the hair). It's not unpleasant but it suffers in comparison.
Considering that there's no negative printing, photo copying is pretty important on the 5250. We would have liked to see it spot-on accurate instead of perfectly adequate.
Printing from Photoshop. The installer does not install any ICC profiles for the 5250. So where you might expect to tell Photoshop to manage color and select an ICC profile for the ink set and paper you are using, as you would with any other printer, high end or not, in this case you do it differently.
That's no doubt because Kodak has barcoded the back of each sheet of its photo paper so the printer knows 1) the ink and 2) the paper. You really don't need a profile in that case. And if you're using an application that doesn't let you select a profile (Apple's Pages comes to mind), this approach is an advantage. You simply let the printer manage color.
We printed quite a few images on both matte and glossy sheets with generally excellent results, although we had issues with the matte prints.
First Prints. Our first prints were from Photoshop. We'd just taken some natural light shots of a flower arrangement with a D300 and opened the DNG file into an uncompressed 34.9-MB image which we recklessly threw at the 5250.
It choked, printing a good part of the darkest parts of the image as a dithered monotone. Reducing the resolution (to a lavish 300 dpi solved that problem).
When we discussed this with Kodak, we were told the issue only occurs on PowerPC Macs running OS 10.4.11 and printing to a paper that is not Premium glossy or a third party photo paper with a matte finish. That was us, printing on two Kodak matte papers.
The workaround is to select Other Photo Paper - Matte in the printer driver under Media Type. A new printer driver resolves the issue but it hasn't been released yet.
Our first prints of the image were on lettersized Photo Paper matte and were pleasing. We later printed the same image on 4x6 Ultra Premium in High Gloss and were also delighted with the rich color rendition, accurately rendering what we had concocted on screen in Adobe Camera Raw. Pretty impressive for just four color inks.
Print from the Card Reader. The 2.5-inch LCD makes it easy to see what you're doing but it can't represent the color accurately. Our prints from an SD card populated with images from an EasyShare One digicam were not bad at 4x6 sizes. But the blue sky was striated on an 8x10 printed on Kodak matte paper. Every 1/8 inch exactly there was a fainter line of blue sky.
Again we turned to Kodak for an explanation. This time we were told to clean the print head. Considering it was a new print head, we didn't expect that to help but it did. A bit. We continued to get lines at 1/8 and at 1/4 inch intervals throughout 8x10 prints on Kodak matte papers.
We printed the same image (11.4-MB when uncompressed) from Photoshop on Premium Photo Paper in Gloss and did not see the lines. So we tried it from Photoshop with the Premium Photo Paper matte in black and white and again saw them in the sky.
We never completely got rid of them, unfortunately.
Black and White Printing. We used Premium Photo Paper in Matte to print some images in black and white. Again we used Photoshop to create the black and white image from color captures with both the built-in Black and White command and iCorrect EditLab.
Results were disappointing in two respects. Even on this premium sheet, the sky area was striated. And the tonal range seemed abbreviated, given almost a posterized effect in some areas of the image. Quite contrary to the effect we were looking for.
Document Printing. We printed a 20-page InDesign document in black only. Despite the simplicity, we were printing two-up so there was a good deal of processing going on. We consequently didn't see anything like 30 pages per minute coming out of the 5250, but as each page printed, we noticed the printer stopping and starting several times per page.
While you can probably achieve 30 ppm in black and white with the page image resident in the printer (the same page 30 times), in real life, expect a good deal less. It took several minutes to print our 20-page document on 10 sheets of paper.
Book Printing. We reprinted our Pages book which we bound with the Unibind Photobook Creator (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/UNI/UNIBIND.HTM). We hadn't been happy with the color because Pages provides no color management itself. The workaround is to export your project as a PDF and print the PDF in an application that does have color management.
But wouldn't it be a lot easier, we thought, to print to the 5250, which can manage color all by itself with its barcoded paper? Sure.
And, in fact, it was not only easier, but the color was much better. The only catch was that all the Kodak paper has yellow diagonal bars on the back, which is not particularly attractive in a book.
Address Labels. Once we stumbled across the bright idea of setting up our document for the 5250 using Page Setup, we were able to accurately print our mailing labels on Avery 5161 labels. The 5161s are designed for laser printers but they work fine in an inkjet, too, where fuser heat isn't an issue.
We tried to smear the ink on the labels with a wet finger, but we couldn't do it.
Wireless Scanning. We scanned a black and white document, a small 3x2 photo and some prints, all wirelessly using Photoshop CS3. We accessed the Home Center dialog from the Import command.
Our black and white document came out fine. There's no option to compress the file for wireless transmission (as there is on the Canon MP980) but it arrived quickly and intact on our computer. Very large color scans, however, take a long time to arrive.
The small photo, however, exhibited a strange pattern, almost as if it had been printed on one of those linen-textured papers. It hadn't. It was printed on a 204-dpi dye sub, with no visible dot pattern at all.
We asked Kodak about it and tech support's analysis made sense. "Your original dye sub print was 200 dpi. Since this is lower than your scanning resolution of 300 dpi, you are seeing an aliasing effect every three scan rows. If you were to scan at a very high resolution (1200), you might be able to zoom in and get a hint at what your print pixels really look like but at 300 dpi, you're just getting a larger pattern effect."
From the introduction of Kodak's pigment-based inkjets, we've been impressed with the concept. The finely ground pigments matched to the extensive paper grades and finishes all barcoded for identification by the printer promised a level of quality and repeatability not usually experienced in the multifunction market.
The first generation hit the shelves with immature firmware that made many of its features nonfunctional. The second generation removed many of those features. And the third generation, of which the 5250 is the flagship, follows suit, lowering the cost of the device.
So if you want negative scanning, PictBridge, Bluetooth, the ability to scan to an SD card or thumbdrive or need a CompactFlash card reader, you'll have to look elsewhere.
What Kodak offers is savings on consumables and the simplicity of printing to a pre-profiled device, let's call it. That really helps with an application like Pages. And it doesn't really hurt if you print from Photoshop.
And WiFi setup was among the easiest we've ever experienced. That's no small thing when you have to configure several computers.
We did run into a number of problems testing the printer, but almost all of them were resolved to our satisfaction. The third time around may not quite be the charm for Kodak, but its inkjets are finally housebroken.
By SHAWN BARNETT(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G11/G11A.HTM on the Web site.)
The much-beloved Canon G-series has been around for a very long time in digital camera years. The first model, the Canon G1, had a 3.3-megapixel sensor -- a big deal back in 2000. It also had a 3x zoom, a 1.8-inch swiveling LCD, a maximum aperture of f2.0, a max shutter speed of 1/1000 second and a high ISO setting of 400.
Fast forward nine years and eight models later to the Canon G11 with a 10-Mp sensor and the triumphal return of the swivel screen, whose LCD now measures 2.8 inches. Both of those measurements are down from the G10's 14-Mp sensor and 3.0-inch LCD, but it's the emphasis on quality and utility that has returned. The maximum aperture is the one unfortunate omission in this return to the G-series roots, as it remains at f2.8 rather than the severely missed f2.0 optic that reigned up through the Canon G6. Shutter speed and ISO have increased, though, to 1/4000 second and 3200 thanks to the continuing advance of sensor and image processing technology.
LOOK & FEEL
When I look at the Canon G11, words like burly, gnarly, rugged and even ugly come to mind. It's a kind of ugly that's beautiful, though: Ugly like you want your body guard to be, because he has a job to do and that's scare bad guys away. Well, the Canon G11 has a job to do, too and that's to get a good shot quickly, but fit into a reasonably small space so that you're more likely to bring it along.
Though it is a good chunk of camera, it's a little smaller than the Olympus E-P1 and larger than the Panasonic LX3. Its swiveling LCD adds some functionality, though, something neither of these rivals offers. Weight is 14.1 ounces (400g) with an SD card and the Canon G11's lithium-ion battery.
Slim and sturdy, the articulating screen works like most Canon screens of this type: very well. I can't tell for sure whether the LCD's shell is metal like the rest of the body, partially because magnesium alloys feel too like plastic at certain densities. The feel is pretty sturdy, though.
I also like how the Control dial works. It seems to take each click of the dial into account, which is more than most Canon control dials do. The dial also rocks in four directions, to serve as buttons, activating Manual Focus, Flash, Drive and Macro modes. The screen is a little close to the dial to scroll as easily as you could with the G10's dial, which often slows my progress until I get my thumb in just the right position.
I'm thankful Canon has for the first time reduced the resolution of a camera line, not following the pack into a world of ever-shrinking pixel sizes that gather fewer and fewer photons per pixel as resolutions rise. Higher pixel density also has the effect of revealing what once seemed to be minor flaws in a camera's optics, making lens design more difficult and therefore expensive.
One reason that cameras like the Canon G11 are smaller than a dSLR is that their sensors are smaller and the lens can be smaller while still achieving the same relative magnification as a much longer lens on a dSLR. Though many people think a camera like the G11 should easily rival a dSLR's image quality, it's a considerable challenge to match the light-gathering capability of a Micro Four Thirds, APS-C or full-frame camera in a small body. But the 1/1.7 sensor in the G11 can gather more light than the typical digital camera, whose sensor is only 1/2.5.
So the Canon G11 is generally better than most small cameras with 1/2.5 sensors when it comes to low-noise image output, but not quite as good as Micro Four Thirds or larger cameras, which each have considerably bigger buckets. But the sensor isn't the only factor to consider.
The Canon G11's 28-140mm lens is the same as the G10's, a 5x zoom that really does perform well. Corner softness is almost absurdly low at both tele and wide-angle. Chromatic aberration is more noticeable at wide-angle, but still quite minor compared to most smaller cameras. Higher lens quality is another reason to buy a larger camera like the Canon G11 and it's borne out in our test results. Also, match this lens to the 10-Mp sensor and you'll see even fewer flaws than we saw on the 14-Mp G10.
Barrel distortion is a about average at wide-angle, but it's noticeable if you take any shots of buildings or other objects with straight lines in them.
Canon autofocus is usually excellent, but the G11 gave me some trouble. I'm more of a center-point AF kind of guy, rather than letting the camera pick what's important to focus on. The Canon G11 failed to focus too often for my taste. I had the same problem with the Canon S90. Low-contrast objects almost always give cameras trouble, but the G11 and S90 do it more often than I'm used to.
The Canon G11 has something that's been with the G-series for a long time, which Canon calls Flexizone AF. You get a single autofocus box in the middle of the screen and when you press the AF selection point button, you can use the arrows or Control dial to move the box around the screen. It's especially useful when you're working on a tripod and intend to focus on a particular spot repeatedly or when working with a model on a portrait where the eye will be in the same area shot after shot.
When it's working, the Canon G11's autofocus system is about average for the class, acquiring focus and capturing an image in 0.54 second at wide-angle and 0.75 second at telephoto. It can also focus down to 1/8 footcandle unassisted by its AF-assist lamp when trained on a high-contrast subject and can focus in total darkness with the AF-assist lamp enabled.
Movie mode is probably the least impressive feature on the Canon G11. With dSLRs able to turn out HD video, and even many pocket cameras, it's something of a disappointment to be limited to Standard Definition. Well, it would be to most folks; I'm still plenty happy with VGA resolution for most videos I shoot, but the competition (Panasonic LX3, for example) is shooting 720p HD. Neither the LX3 nor the G11 can zoom optically once recording has started, another disappointment. But at least the Canon G11 can focus while recording, which is something that most dSLRs can't do. So video's still a mixed bag in this category, with few players offering everything in one camera.
The Canon G11's movie resolutions include 640x480 and 320x240, both at 30 frames per second. An 8-GB card will give you one hour and four minutes of video recording depending on your subject, but the camera will stop recording when the file size reaches 4-GB or one hour in length, whichever comes first. They also spec a Class 4 SDHC card for these numbers or else the recording might start earlier.
Whether to take the Canon G11 out for a walk is a tough call. That's the way it is with 'tweener cameras. You either need big pockets, a pack or a tolerance for a camera strap around your neck. Bottom line, though, if you want good pictures from a medium-size camera, the Canon G11 will deliver, so you'll want to bring it along now and then.
Despite my misgivings about the Canon G11's image quality (based on our first shots out of the lab), I really enjoyed my first outing with the camera. It's made with the involved photographer in mind. While digital controls are useful for many things and considerably cheaper to program, physical controls are still better for certain functions; and big dials are great for visual thinkers -- like photographers. No, it's not a big deal to have ISO and EV compensation on a dial, but it helps with the fun factor and adds a sense of immediacy to your actions. I also know that two clicks counter clockwise will dim the shot by -0.67 stop without even looking at the dial, let alone the LCD screen, so I can concentrate on my subject, rather than try to finesse some button or dial while watching characters on the LCD.
That optical viewfinder is really way too tight and doesn't show much of the frame. It's not unexpected, though and is at least a decent pointing device to get the camera somewhat on target.
The Canon G11's LCD is quite good, though and great in sunlight, so I used it most of the time. I didn't use the articulating LCD much, but it was nice to have when I needed it. As I mentioned, the colors are a little more pumped than they'll look on a calibrated monitor, but just keep that in mind when you're shooting.
Since I shoot mostly vertically, one problem I had with the Canon G11 was accidentally pressing the AE/FE Lock button, the AF-point Selector button or the Metering mode selection button. Sometimes I pressed the Manual Focus button too. The only way around it is to control the camera more with my left hand and just use the right hand to stabilize and emphasize my pressure on the shutter button only. I tend to tilt most often to the right, so it's still a problem for me when shooting the recent G-series cameras.
My biggest problems with the Canon G11, though, are its autofocus and shot-to-shot speeds. Compared to others in this class, it's about average in all of these areas, but its performance is closer to that of my SD1000, not my SLR. First, the screen stays blacked out for a long time after you press the shutter. That cuts my contact with my subject, which is not good. It also takes too long to return control to the shooter as it tries to playback the image. I turned image playback off in my photojournalist mode and was much happier, but I still think the G11 takes too long to get the follow-up shot. In our tests it scored 2.29 seconds between shots in JPEG mode and 2.80 seconds between shots in Raw. That rises to 2.88 seconds in Raw+JPEG mode. A lot can happen in 2.88 seconds, my journalistic friends.
Put the Canon G11 into Continuous drive mode and you'll get 1.11 JPEGs per second, but only 0.84 frames per second in Raw mode. Nobody ever said this was a camera for action, though; it's more for the thinking, storytelling photographer who has time to think about his shots and anticipate them. Once you learn the Canon G11's moment of capture, you'll do just fine. If you're not the type to ever learn that, though, consider a camera with shorter shutter lag, like an SLR.
Zoom is also slow to start, taking what seems like half a second before it starts to move after I've pulled the toggle all the way to the end.
Making adjustments in the various exposure modes is easier in some than in others. In Program mode, it's fairly easy to enter Program shift, by pressing the AE-L button, then turning the Control dial. In Shutter and Aperture priority modes, you're only controlling the one aspect, so you just turn the dial. Manual mode, though, gets a little weird. You have to press the Metering mode button. What's weird about it is that it doesn't just switch between shutter and aperture controls, but goes from aperture to Metering mode. It all happens onscreen, so it's not hard to follow, but strange to encounter at first and just a little annoying. SLRs like the Rebel use the EV Compensation button to shift the Command dial for aperture adjustment, but since there's a cool EV Compensation dial on the G11 no such button is available.
Some things are missing from the Canon G11, including the ability to capture images remotely from a computer, a little-used feature that was included for nearly all PowerShots for a few years, but now seems to have disappeared. Though the software actually installs on my Mac, I can't access it at all and the manuals don't mention it either. I endeavored to install it on my netbook as well and that required an update to the .Net Framework 3.0 (which of course required another update to 3.5), yet the Remote Capture Task seemed to do nothing.
Also missing from the Canon G11 is a depth-of-field preview, which is a shame.
Camera enthusiasts get more of what they expect from the Canon G-series with the Canon G11: High image quality, good lens quality and a swiveling LCD screen. We still don't have the f2.0 lens back, but instead we have a 5x zoom that starts at a useful wide-angle of 28mm equivalent and has a still-respectable f2.8 maximum aperture.
Shooting with the Canon G11 is very enjoyable. Though they are few, the dials add a tactile sense back into your photography, especially the EV compensation dial. What I like most is the machine-like feel of the G11: it doesn't try to be beautiful. Instead it seems designed and built to get the job done.
Ultimately, the Canon PowerShot G11 is the G10 done better, with better low-light performance, better control over noise, an articulating screen, great battery life and the same great lens. It's a sure Dave's Pick.
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:
- Updated: Driver Project (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/DRV/DRV.HTM) with the release of Windows 7, we've updated our Driver Project page with Microsoft's Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor and a couple of applications that will check your current setup for any required updates.
- Reviewed: Kodak ESP 5250 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/K5250/K5250.HTM)
- First Test Shots: Nikon D3S (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D3S/D3SA.HTM)
- First Test Shots: Sony A550 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/AA550/AA550A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Nikon Coolpix P90 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CPP90/CPP90A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot G11 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G11/G11A.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 about Camera Accessories at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2e5
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Read the Nikon 'Friends of the 8800' discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee9b16a
Read about Nikon lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=5
Visit the Printers Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b8
"Advance on losses at a decent pace," advises the poet Marie Ponsot. "Hope," she explains in her poem Old Jokes Appreciate, "takes time." A Christmas card for 2009, we think unhallmarkedly.
We've grown used to the off-key timpani of the cash register bells in the symphony of the season. But this year they seem to be ringing in desperation and not to the music of Handel's Messiah. We're beginning to worry.
Here at the bunker where time passes imperceptibly but, strangely, no one comes by with free drinks, we have our own silent little ritual to recalibrate our season spirits. It's an old Good Housekeeping magazine from December 1982.
Isaac Bashevis Singer (who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1978) has a story in that issue, but it's Fran Bradbury's we reread. Fran, the mother of our Aunt Ruth, wrote a little piece called The One Christmas I'll Never Forget. It prominently features Ruthie and her little sister Donna.
It also prominently features the Depression. Fran tells her daughters how happy Santa is that they've taken such good care of their dolls because it means he can bring dolls "to other little girls who have none." Santa, it seems, was himself reduced to rationing during the Depression.
Advancing on losses at a decent pace, Ruthie immediately came up with a bright alternative: new clothes for the dolls. Even Mom liked that because, as the family tailor, she realized she could sew them from her scraps of material.
Meanwhile the girls had pored over the Sears Roebuck catalog, the Engadget of its day, each time falling in love with the teddy bears. Ruthie (who had just learned to write) sends Santa a letter asking for the bears, but fearing they would get nothing by appearing greedy, scales back their hopes in a second letter to Santa to just the "doll cloz."
Ken, their father, was out of work but not idle. He had shoveled snow for a neighbor to buy candies and fruit for the girls' Christmas stockings. And from scraps in the woodshed, he built little wardrobes "complete with shelves, swinging doors and drawers" for the doll clothes. But the bears were out of reach.
Out of reach but not out of sight. Dick Randall's general store featured a pair of "big honey-colored teddy bears," the top prizes in the Christmas punch-board game.
But hope takes time. The time it took for Mr. Gerber, the girls' neighbor to hear them tell at the letterbox why they were so gloomy at Christmas time. And more time for Ken to try his luck at Mr. Randall's punch-board. Time even for Mr. Randall to match the winning number to Ken's ticket.
But thanks to the generous Mr. Gerber and the clever Mr. Randall, both of whom knew how to advance on hope, the girls found not just stockings stuffed with candy and fruit and "cloz" in doll wardrobes for Christmas, but (as you may have guessed) those big teddy bears, too.
"The Christmas we'd expected to be meager and sad turned out to be far richer in spirit than any we could have imagined," Fran wrote. "None of us ever forgot it."
In fact, Auntie is probably telling the story again this year to one of her 11 grandchildren, just as she told it to her five children. And at least one nephew who never forget how simple it can be to make someone happy.
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RE: Epson V600 Problem
Thank you for this very detailed review! It made me buy the V600 and also get a copy of VueScan. It is a very nice combo.
Unfortunately there seems to be a severe glitch with the V600 when it comes to scanning Negative 6x6 film! The left side of the frame is brighter than the right side. This effect becomes more apparent on darker parts in the image. If the image is underexposed it becomes pretty much useless.
You can see examples in the Flickr Epson V600 User Group: http://www.flickr.com/groups/1269720@N20/discuss/72157622753647845/
This effect appears when using the Epson software as well as VueScan! So it seems less of a software and more of a hardware problem.
One user has found a workaround by scanning the negative film as "Positive" and converting it in Photoshop to negative.
This effect has not been visible in 35mm negatives, B&W and slide film for MF. Anyone else having this problem or knows if Epson is aware of this and working on a fix?
-- Marco L(We can't confirm that behavior, Marco. Our 120mm scans were fine. So we asked VueScan author Ed Hamrick if he noticed anything like that himself. He thought it was most likely a scanner calibration issue. "Sometimes people put larger films into their scanner in a way that has the film blocking the small rectangular calibration area," he elaborated. "If something blocks the calibration area, this will result in a problem like he's seeing." That makes perfect sense to us. -- Editor)
RE: Snow Leopard Compatibility
Is there a list of programs that will not work with Snow Leopard?
I have a G5 Quad/IBM with Leopard and universal programs and a 15" Mack Book Pro/Intel with Leopard use the same universal programs.
I am about to upgrade to Snow Leopard/Mac Book Pro but heard rumors of bugs and other problems. Aperture and other programs are no longer compatible with Snow Leopard? Will iLife, Elements and CS4 be compatible with Snow Leopard? Please share your thoughts on this confusing matter.
I love the IR Newsletter and would appreciate your comments.
-- Al Bognacki(Our favorite source for third-party Snow Leopard compatibility is at Ric Ford's macintouch (http://www.macintouch.com/specialreports/snowleopard/slcompat.html). Apple's discussion groups (http://discussions.apple.com/index.jspa?categoryID=1) are a good source for specific Apple applications like Aperture. Aperture (like iLife) has not been rewritten as a 64-bit application, although all the system applications included with Snow Leopard have been. Running Snow Leopard in 32-bit mode maximizes compatibility. Our own foray into Snow Leopard has been delayed. So we're following these sources ourselves to see when the dust has settled. Hope that helps. -- Editor)
RE: Scanning Artwork
Thanks for your informative article about the Epson V700.
I'm needing a good quality scanner for artwork -- not film or slides -- but actual watercolor paintings and ink washes no larger than 8.5x11.
Can this scanner replicate the light tones and shadings of a hand painted watercolor drawing?
-- Mark Krause(Even a much less expensive scanner would be able to capture the full density range of a reflected piece, Mark. Take a look in the Newsletter archive (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html) for the Advanced Mode piece titled 'A Short Course on Scanning' where we discuss density range. You'll see reflected art has a range of about 2.0 while slides, the most demanding material, can reach 4.0. -- Editor)
There's only one manuscript of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol and it happens to reside at the Morgan Library and Museum, where it is opened to one page each holiday season. But this year, the New York Times has digitally imaged the entire 66-page handwritten manuscript and put it online (http://documents.nytimes.com/looking-over-the-shoulder-of-charles-dickens-the-man-who-wrote-of-a-christmas-carol#p=1).
Apple (http://www.apple.com) has released iPhoto 8.1.1 [M] to address "issues affecting face recognition performance and accuracy. It also fixes minor issues in the areas of book ordering and iPod touch support."
John Nack has posted a Lightroom plug-in for Quick Batch Resizing for print output (http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2009/11/lightroom_tip_quick_batch_resizing_for_print.html).
Parker Plaisted has launched BelowRP.com (http://www.belowrp.com), a free service posting discounts from recognized brands on digital cameras, photography equipment, photography accessories, photo prints and photo gifts.
Nir Dremer has announced the release of the $9.99 LrSaver (http://www.lrsaver.com) [MW], a screen saver application that uses Lightroom to select images to display.
DxO Labs (http://www.dxo.com) has released DxO Optics Pro v5.3.6 for Mac bringing full compatibility with Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard and adding Raw support for 15 new cameras.
Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has released Photoshop.com Mobile for Android and iPhone. Follow @photoshopdotcom on Twitter for the latest developments.
The New York Times waded through 2,000 camera apps costing as much as $2.99 to come up with 15 recommendations (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/26/technology/personaltech/26basics.html?em).
Still looking for a white shower cap to drop over your popup flash? We haven't tried it but Sally Beauty's Chiffon Bath Mate White Shower Cap looks tempting at $4.79 (http://www.sallybeauty.com/Bath-Mate-Shower-Cap/SBS-260511,default,pd.html).
The New York Institute of Photography has published its top 10 holiday gift ideas (http://www.nyip.com/studentcenter/giftguide09.html) for photographers.
STOIK Imaging (http://www.stoik.com/PanoramaMaker_Mac) has released a beta test version of PanoramaMaker for Mac, the first OS X release of its panorama creation tool.
Christine Berrie has produced a poster of 28 Camera Drawings (http://www.20x200.com/art/2009/12/28-camera-drawings.html) featuring flea market classics at a very reasonable price.
As we noted in our Driver Project update (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/DRV/DRV.HTM), "Windows users can take advantage of a new class of utility software that scans your system for drivers and reports which devices require an update with links to any new driver. Two examples are Alex Ross's $34.95 DriveFinder (http://driverfinderpro.com) and the free Device Doctor (http://www.devicedoctor.com), both of which are Windows 7 savvy.
Well, it made us laugh: http://myparentswereawesome.tumblr.com
We note the passing at 95 of Charis Wilson, Edward Weston's model, wife and muse. Mimi Luebbermann conducted a 1982 Smithsonian interview with her (http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/oralhistories/transcripts/wilson82.htm).
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Digital Photography Tutorials for Beginners: http://www.photoxels.com
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Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher