The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 12, Number 4 12 February 2010

Copyright 2010, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 273rd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Hmm, Aperture 3 for Valentine's Day? Or maybe the Canon T2i? Free automatic backups? Well, we can dream, can't we? And dreams are the stuff of romance. Just close your eyes. After you read this issue!


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Feature: Apple Goes Multimedia with Aperture 3

Apple has released Aperture 3 (http://www.apple.com/aperture), its professional grade photo editing and management software, with over 200 new features that address the entire workflow from import through output. But the big news is support for audio and video files that includes serviceable if limited video editing.

Other new features include iPhoto's Faces and Places and, apparently inspired by Lightroom, local editing capability with the Brushes feature and Adjustment Presets to change the look of an image with just a click. Photo libraries can be organized more flexibly and a new slide show capability lets you share your work by weaving together photos, audio, text and HD video. Facebook and Flickr sharing is also included.

The interface has also been refined with larger type and streamlined buttons and sliders that look more like iPhoto. iPhoto users can even import their libraries directly into Aperture 3, which recognizes existing Events, Faces and Places.

At the same time, Apple released Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.0 for Mac OS 10.5.8 or later. The update adds support for Canon's reduced-resolution sRAW and mRAW formats as well as the PowerShot S90, plus Leica's D-LUX 4 and three models from Panasonic. Support has been added for Canon PowerShot S90, sRAW and mRAW; Leica D-LUX 4; and Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1, DMC-GH1 and DMC-LX3.

And shortly after announcing Aperture 3, Apple released Aperture SlideShow Support Update 1.0 to address an issue with the program's integration of video clips in slide shows.

Aperture 3, which requires an Intel Mac, runs as a 64-bit application on Snow Leopard and is available from the Apple store as a 30-day free demo, $199 retail package or $99 update for existing Aperture users.

FEATURES

Details of the new features in Aperture 3 include:

Import Refinement. Choose to have Aperture import Raw and JPEG images joined as pairs or as separate images. Or just the Raw image or only the JPEGs. If you import only the JPEGs of Raw+JPEG images, you can select the imported JPEGs and have Aperture import the matching Raw image.

Audio recorded with an image can be imported and combined with the original image and you can import audio-only files as well. And unlike Lightroom, video clips can be imported into a library, too.

You can preview images and play video before import and images can be adjusted during import, which can be initiated with a simple drag-and-drop. Thumbnails load faster during import, too. And an AppleScript script can be set to run automatically after import.

You can also import metadata from XMP sidecar files.

Library Organization. Aperture 3 can organize large photo libraries with more flexibility using Projects and the new Faces and Places.

Faces uses face detection and recognition to find and organize photos by the people in them. You can view faces across your entire photo library or view just the faces that appear in selected projects. In a new view that speeds up the organization process, Aperture 3 displays faces that have been detected but haven't yet been named.

Places lets you explore your photos based on where they were taken, and like iPhoto, Places automatically reverse geocodes GPS data into user-friendly locations. In Aperture 3, you can assign locations by dragging-and-dropping photos onto a map or by using location information from GPS enabled cameras, tracking devices or your iPhone photos.

Library Handling. You can now merge multiple Aperture library files into one, so you can work with a small library to handle your current shoot and later merge it to your larger collection. Aperture 3 can also sync libraries so you can work on a subset of your master collection and later sync the changes back to the larger library.

Full-Screen Browsing. The full-screen browser hides Apeture's controls so you can scan your entire library (including video) without distraction, zooming from 25 to 1000 percent. The Library Path Navigator, which resembles bread crumbs in a browser, instantly moves between projects without leaving full-screen browsing.

Brushes. Aperture 3 includes 15 Quick Brushes that perform the more common retouching tasks like Dodge, Burn, Polarize and Blur, without requiring layers or masks. Brushes can automatically detect edges in your images to let you apply or remove effects with precision.

Presets. Aperture 3 includes dozens of Adjustment Presets that apply a specific style or look to the entire image with just a click. You can create your own custom presets -- even combinations of other adjustments -- or explore the techniques of other photographers by importing theirs. The presets can be exported and shared with other users.

Slide shows. The new slide show engine has been lifted from iPhoto but the controls have been revealed. You can define slide duration, transitions, add text and borders, define multilayered soundtracks and add video.

To quickly create a slide show, you can select any of six Apple-designed themes or choose your own transitions, background, borders and titles, before adding your own soundtrack. You can render slide shows as video to send directly to iTunes to export to an iPhone or iPod touch.

And you can use the slide show module for video editing, too.

"The video tools," Photographer Derrick Story observed, "are extremely basic. What you can do, however, is useful." That includes managing dSLR clips in the library, build a presentation with selected clips, trim the clips and export them using any of five presets or a custom setting.

Sharing. You can also share photographs as prints, create custom-designed hardcover books and publish to online photo sharing sites like Facebook and Flickr, just as you can in iPhoto. And custom print layouts no longer need to be book pages.

Print Dialog. The Print dialog box has been overhauled, simplifying the layout and clarifying functions with presets and adjustment tools. Overlays of metadata, logos and watermarks are easy to add as well.

For the full list of 200 changes, see the Apple page (http://www.apple.com/aperture/features/) devoted to Aperture 3's new features.

NOTES

Backups of large master libraries, like any large file, are still problematic. Even a small update to the library with a new shoot requires the entire library to be backed up. That behavior has persuaded many Aperture users to simply exclude their libraries from Time Machine's backup, relying entirely on Aperture vaults. Backing up just your projects is another strategy.

You will also need a substantial amount of free space, much more than the usual 10 percent free, on your Aperture Library volume to migrate from an Aperture 2 library to Aperture 3.

PERSPECTIVE

In 2006, there was widespread concern that Apple had disbanded the Aperture group and the program would languish a slow, quiet death. Mac OS support for new Raw formats was slow in coming and updates to the application itself were non-existent.

Meanwhile iPhoto was enhanced with some sparkling new features and Adobe announced new public betas for its frequently updated Lightroom.

Apple subsequently released an update to Aperture, dropped the price and, while updates to Raw compatibility and the application itself were still slow in coming, developed version 3 with 200 new features.

Aperture 3 seems to have caught up to the advances iPhoto introduced and to have culled some of the finer features of Lightroom 2. Meanwhile it's exceeded both in video and audio support, standing alone among photo workflow applications with its multimedia authoring tool. And it's likely to stay that way. Adobe has made it clear video support is not in the cards for Lightroom.

The advances, in both capability and performance, are due in no small part to Apple's move to the Intel platform and a 64-bit operating system that takes advantage of the hardware.

But there are still architectural issues like the slow support for new Raw formats and the secret black box in which Apple development takes place.

Nevertheless it's been another good day for photographers.

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Feature: Canon Rebel T2i 550D Preview

By SHAWN BARNETT and MIKE TOMKINS
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/T2I/T2IA.HTM on the Web site.)

Calling it a "Mini 7D," Canon introduced the Rebel T2i, the highest resolution consumer dSLR and the highest resolution dSLR under $900, period. The 7D association comes primarily from Canon's use of an 18-megapixel sensor that it says is essentially the same spec as the sensor in the 7D, the only difference being that the readout speed has been cut in half. From there, the Canon T2i shares more with the Rebel T1i than with the 7D. The major exception to that is Movie mode, which now supports 1080p at 24, 25 and 30 frames per second, while the T1i only had 1080p at 20 fps.

WALKAROUND

From the front the silhouette of the Canon T2i is very similar to the T1i, but there are a few unusual differences.

Immediate differences from the front include a new knurl on the Canon T2i's Mode dial, even more rubber grip area, slight nudges of the IR remote window and Self-timer lamp and the combining of the nameplates into one, rather than two separate badges on the right side. New is the strangely contoured panel on the lower right front, perhaps to reinforce and soften the area where your palm rests when you're controlling the Canon T2i's lens.

Most of the retooling and rethinking can be found on the back. Though its subtle, Canon's switch from a 4:3 screen to a 3:2 screen has a dramatic effect on where some of the controls land and may contribute to the one millimeter reduction in the Canon T2i's height.

Button design has changed quite a bit, moving from primarily circular buttons with nothing printed on them to larger shaped buttons, some with words and icons printed on them. It does make the labels clearer, especially with reduced real estate for labels next to buttons because of the wide-aspect LCD.

Live View/Record start has a new button in prime position for easy thumb activation, just right of the optical viewfinder. In its old place is the new Quick Menu button, an innovation added on the Canon 7D. This allows easy adjustment to the Canon T2i's settings via the Status display, which transforms into a Quick Menu screen with a press of this button.

All other buttons are in the same positions as on the T1i. The speaker holes on the rear, though, go from four holes to nine holes, presumably for better sound transmission.

FEATURES

Sensor and processor. The Canon EOS T2i's design is based on a DIGIC 4 image processor and a newly-developed CMOS image sensor that's very closely related to the chip previously seen in the EOS 7D. As with that camera, effective resolution is 18.0 megapixels, a modest upgrade from the 15-Mp imager of the T1i. Maximum image size is 5184x3456 pixels. Pixel pitch is 4.3 microns and gapless microlenses help boost light gathering capability.

Where the two imagers differ is in their readout method and hence their speed. The EOS 7D's sensor has eight channel readout, key to that camera's eight frames per second burst shooting. The Canon T2i's sensor has four channel readout, which means a more modest 3.7 frames per second burst shooting -- but it's still a slight upgrade in speed from the 3.4 frames per second of the T1i. Unfortunately, the increased throughput caused by the faster burst speed and higher sensor resolution together conspire to greatly reduce the burst shooting depth as compared to the T1i. The Canon T2i can capture six Raw or 34 large/fine JPEG frames in a burst, where the T1i was capable of nine Raw or 170 large/fine JPEG frames before shooting slowed.

14-bit A/D conversion. Just like the XSi and T1i, the Canon T2i uses 14-bit Analog-to-Digital conversion when creating JPEGs, for smoother color transitions, and Raw files are saved as 14-bit files. Converting from 14-bits worth of data means the saved images are theoretically formed from four times the color information than was available to the Canon XTi, which was only able to generate 4,096 colors per channel. The Canon T2i can recognize 16,384 colors per channel, which should mean smoother tones and more accurate color overall. Though JPEGs will still be saved as 8-bit color, Raw images will benefit more fully from the 14-bit depth, making for more accurate 16-bit images in programs like Photoshop.

Peripheral illumination correction. Brought over from the 50D, the Canon T2i's Peripheral illumination correction compensates for vignetting in the corners of a lens. The amount of correction changes depending on which lens is mounted. Selecting this menu item brings up a screen where you can see which lens the camera has detected and either enable or disable this function.

Autofocus and metering. Another feature inherited from the EOS 7D is the Canon T2i's new metering sensor. Where the T1i used a 35-zone metering sensor, the Canon T2i now includes a 63-zone iFCL sensor, which stands for Intelligent Focus Color Luminosity metering.

The name hints at how the sensor works. The iFCL chip has a dual-layer design with each layer sensitive to different wavelengths of light, allowing subject color to be taken into account when determining exposure. Information on focusing points is also taken into account in metering calculations and it is in this area that the Canon T2i's iFCL chip differs from that of the EOS 7D, accounting for fewer focus points in the consumer Rebel camera than its prosumer sibling.

Like the T1i before it, the Canon T2i offers nine-point focusing with a central cross-type f2.8 focus point, rather than the 19-point AF of the 7D. The focusing screen, likewise, is of the etched variety and not the fancy LCD overlay on the Canon 7D.

ISO Expansion. The Canon T2i has the same expanded sensitivity range as that of the T1i and 7D, from a minimum of ISO 100 to a maximum of ISO 12,800. A very useful change inherited from the EOS 7D -- particularly for fans of HDR shooting -- is the T2i's expanded exposure compensation range. Where the T1i offered compensation from -2.0 to +2.0 EV, the T2i has a much wider +/-5.0EV exposure compensation range.

Creative Auto mode. First introduced on the Canon 50D, Canon's Creative Auto mode is also included in the Canon T2i. Marked with a "CA" on the Mode dial, this mode is a cross between the Auto and Program modes. When set to CA mode, the Canon T2i allows the user to adjust the Flash, resolution, drive mode and Picture Style. Setting aperture and exposure are converted to easier concepts of background blur (blurred or sharp) and exposure level (darker or brighter) with a slider that's adjusted with the Quick Control dial. The more complex exposure decisions remain under the Canon T2i's control in CA mode. The exposure slider is the more useful, standing in as a more comprehensible EV adjustment.

Copyright info. Like the Canon 7D, you can input Copyright information right on the Canon T2i, as well as delete it at will. It was a first for Canon's prosumer line and now it's on the consumer line as well.

LCD. The Canon T2i also features a new LCD panel, which now offers a 3:2 aspect ratio which matches that of the image sensor, rather than the 4:3 aspect ratio panel which was used on the T1i. The new panel still has a 3.0-inch diagonal, but increases the total pixel count slightly from somewhere in the region of 640x480 pixels to a roughly a 720x480-pixel array. Each pixel still consists of three separate colored dots (red, green and blue), for a total count of just under 1.04 million dots. The Canon T2i's 160-degree LCD viewing angle isn't quite as wide as that of the 170 angle possible on the T1i, although the reduction likely won't be terribly noticeable in use.

Improved Movie mode. Another area where the Canon T2i has received significant upgrades from the 7D is in its high definition video capabilities. The T1i offered a maximum resolution of 1080p (1920x1080 pixels), but with a non-standard (and rather low) rate of 20 frames per second. Lower-resolution options of 720p (1280x720 pixels) and VGA (640x480) pixels had a more useful 30 frames per second rate, but all video modes were also hindered somewhat by offering only automatic exposure and monaural audio from a built-in microphone.

The Canon T2i corrects every one of these issues, with a new stereo microphone input jack, manual control of video exposure available and a wide range of standard video frame rates on offer. At 1080p resolution, the user can select between 24, 25 and 30 fps. For 720p and VGA shooting, both 50 and 60 fps modes are available. Users can also edit movies in camera, including the ability to chop off beginning or ends of movies, but only in one-second increments.

One feature of the Canon T2i's video mode isn't available in the 7D or for that matter any other Canon dSLR to date. Dubbed "Movie Crop" mode, this is available only when shooting at standard-definition VGA resolution and works by simply cropping and recording the center-most 640x480 pixels from the sensor. This yields an effective 7x fixed zoom without interpolating the video. Of course, simply cropping the center of the image means that everything (including image noise) will be recorded at 1:1, so video will likely have noticeably higher quality with the crop disabled. Still, for consumers who may well not be able to afford expensive telephoto lenses and only need standard-def output, it could be an interesting feature.

HDMI output. The Canon T2i also upgrades the HDMI high-definition video output connectivity of the T1i, adding Consumer Electronics Control (HDMI-CEC) compatibility. This allows you to use your compatible high-def display's remote control to operate certain camera functions via the same cable through which the video signal is passed. Functions that can be controlled from the TV remote include single image playback, index display, shooting info display, image rotation, slide show and movie playback.

Kit lens. The Canon T2i comes with the same kit lens that shipped with the XSi and T1i: the image-stabilized 18-55mm EF-S lens that so impressed us at its debut. Equivalent to a 29-88mm lens on a full-frame 35mm camera, this is a good mid-range zoom lens that is quite light. Optical image stabilization technology delivers sharper shots even in low light. Canon claims you can shoot at up to four stops slower than normal and still get a stable shot. That means that if you can normally get a stable shot at 1/60 second, you should be able to squeeze off a 1/4 second shot and have it come out sharp. If you're a fairly steady shooter, it seems to be true. Your results may vary and remember that image stabilization compensates for camera movement, not for subject movement, so when shooting in low light tell your subject to hold very still or shoot with a faster shutter speed at a higher ISO.

Storage and battery. The Canon T2i uses SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards. This latter standard should allow card sizes up to two terabytes, while SDHC is limited to 32-GB.

Direct support for Eye-Fi wireless cards has found its way into the Canon T2i, complete with a dedicated status display that only appears if the card is installed. The new display shows when a card is connecting, is connected, is transmitting and when a card has a problem connecting.

The Canon T2i uses a new battery, the LP-E8, a 7.2V, 1120 mAh lithium-ion battery with concealed electrical contacts. Expected battery life is 550 shots at 72F and 470 shots at 32F. The new battery requires a new grip, the BG-E8, with its own shutter release and control wheel, as well as AE lock and focus point buttons. A new optional infrared remote, the RC-6 is also available for the Canon T2i, said to combine the features of the older RC-1 and RC-5 wireless remotes.

ANALYSIS

Once again, Canon raises the bar at the consumer level, in both still-image resolution and video resolution and frame rate. Though it comes at a noticeably lower price, the Canon T2i now handily trumps the competition from Nikon and others and offers some timely features worth noticing. The Eye-Fi status display stands out as a great idea that seems rather obvious in hindsight, but technical achievements like the iFCL metering, which helps autofocus accuracy by detecting the type of light, is where the Canon T2i should really impress. If the image quality comes as close to the 7D's as the T1i's did to the 50D's, the Canon T2i should turn out some excellent quality pictures.

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Feature: CrashPlan -- Multiple Automatic Backups

When owners of Apple Time Capsules suffered widespread failures of the device after a year and a half of use, the company replaced the out-of-warranty machines for owners with an AppleCare contract covering their Mac. A faulty power supply rendered the hard disk inaccessible.

But the solution didn't recover the data, just replaced the Time Capsule, proving that your Plan B disaster recovery strategy is only as good as your Plan C.

CrashPlan (http://crashplan.com) offers you a Plan B like any other online backup service, but it also offers a Plan C, Plan D and more through its free backup software. We chatted about the service with Elvin Loomis recently to learn just how it works.

ABOUT CRASHPLAN

As Code 42 Software, the company has been in the enterprise backup business for about 12 years, Loomis told us, providing secure backups to companies like Apple and Target. During the last year, the company has expanded into the personal backup arena, primarily to stress test their systems for large customers.

To do that, it is giving away its Java-based backup software. You can download it from http://crashplan.com/download for Mac, Windows, Linux or Solaris systems. Any machine built within the last four years should be able to run it, Loomis said, although it requires 500-MB of free RAM to run quickly in the background. The code also includes a software daemon that runs in the background.

While you can use the software locally without charge, there is an annual service plan available for backups to the company's cloud of servers. The servers are safely lodged in an underground vault, which is growing at 100 terrabytes a week at the moment, Loomis disclosed.

The plans include the unlimited Individual Plan for $54 to backup unlimited data from one computer for a year and the unlimited Family Plan for $100 a year to backup every computer in your household. The company also provides a CrashPlan Pro solution for corporate enterprises and builds backup appliances (high-capacity RAID servers, that is) for onsite deployment.

In short, this isn't beta software from a startup. It's a mature application from guys who know this business inside out.

STRATEGY

What most interested us about the free CrashPlan backup strategy is that you aren't restricted to backing up your critical files to one location.

You can use the software to automatically backup to an external drive, a network attached server, a friend's computer or anything else you can see on your desktop. That's Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and so on.

SOFTWARE

The software itself is particularly straight-forward for a backup utility. Backup utilities tend to be so technical and confusing that you feel you should take a few college courses in the subject before setting any preferences.

But the CrashPlan software is nicely arranged in Backup, Restore, Settings, History, Friends and Destinations panels.

Backup asks for your destinations and which files you want to copy there. You can indeed backup everything (although the program is designed for file backups, not bare metal system backups). Typically, Loomis said, users just backup their data files.

If you have over 100-GB to protect, CrashPlan will send you a 1-TB hard drive for $125 (or $145 with two-day delivery) so you can expedite the first, long backup.

That huge RAM allotment is used to intelligently parse and encrypt changed data using a 448-bit Blowfish cipher so it can be immediately and automatically backed up. Loomis explained that the program does not backup the entire revised file but only the parts of it that have actually changed. That's unlike most backup programs which note the file was modified and backup the whole file.

While the program does a lot work, it also can get out of the way quickly, Loomis said. The Settings panel lets you decided how quickly, letting you set CPU usage when "user is away" or "present," bandwidth limits and what priority it has over your connection. Being able to throttle CrashPlan's performance is better than crippling your backup strategy, which is the only option with most software.

Restore options include the ability to immediately overwrite current files which, Loomis noted, saves him a reboot when he changes a code library for the worse. He simply restores the library and gets back to work.

The FAQ (http://support.crashplan.com/doku.php/faq) explains everything from the program's color scheme to the type of encryption used and even includes advice on backing up Aperture files.

A SHORT TEST

We downloaded the 14.4-MB program and installed it for a brief test. It impressed us, from the start, as well built and attractive (although it does display a couple of small ads unobtrusively).

On startup, we were prompted to create a free account (our password strength was reported in a small but effective graph) which includes a 30-day free trial to the company's online backup service.

After creating an account, we were taken immediately to the Backup panel where our home directory was scanned. Destinations included CrashPlan Central (free for 30 days), Friend (free), Another Computer (free) and Folder (free to an external drive). The Backup Sources option lets you invite friends to backup to you, generating a backup code automatically.

The program does access CrashPlan's servers to find your destinations, otherwise a local connection is straight-forward. Scanning our home directory took a while, but no longer than our usual backup process takes.

CONCLUSION

The automatic aspect of the program is one of its more compelling features. As the FAQ puts it, "The problem with traditional, manual backup is that it is, well ... manual. That means people forget to do it and inevitably lose data." This is backup you don't have to think about.

CrashPlan isn't the only automatic backup program, of course. Western Digital also ships automatic backup software with its latest generation of hard drives.

But CrashPlan's automatic multiple destinations is special. We may have qualms about connecting to the server to manage destination addresses, but otherwise we were impressed by the program's design and robustness. Not to mention the company's expertise.

In short, CrashPlan sounds like a Plan. More than one.

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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: Catching the Kids

Catching a child's expression is one of the rewarding moments of being behind the lens. But it can be all too rare a reward.

If you're using an older digicam, it's probably more of a mythical reward. The delay between when you see what you want and when the shutter opens is much too long on older digicams.

But even on a new dSLR, which is about as fast as it gets, it's all too easy to miss the moment.

Are kids that fast? Or, ahem, are our reflexes getting that much slower?

It really doesn't matter what the reason is if you aren't capturing those A moments (for adorable). But there's a trick or two to help.

Anticipating the moment is the one we used to rely on with a slow digicam. You'd guess, fire the shutter without waiting for anything to happen and hope you snagged something.

The trouble with that is that it doesn't often work. And when you're checking to see if it did, you miss the moment you were hoping to capture.

Still, it's ingrained. We love to track our subject with a finger poised to try to catch the smile or the glance or the surprised look.

But there's a feature on your digicam called Release Mode that can greatly increase the odds of capturing that moment. Setting it to Continuous will let you sit on the Shutter button and snap at least three frames a second on most cameras and quite a few more per second on higher-end cameras.

That's a little like shooting a movie to get the one frame you really want.

And some special digicams (especially a couple from Casio) can capture even more frames than a movie per second by exposing different sections of the sensor in sequence. That really increases your odds.

Another release mode that's helpful is Pre-capture mode, which you can find on some Casio, Olympus and Panasonic models at least. It actually "captures" a few frames before you press the Shutter button by "remembering" what's in the capture buffer. Clever.

A few digicams (notably Canon PowerShots) have a Kids&Pets mode that can be helpful, too.

But there is a more generic trick that tends to greatly improve your chances. Just use Sports mode.

Camera manufacturers don't often reveal what's behind their mode settings but the general approach to Sports mode is to increase the ISO (to 400 or so) and open the aperture to provide the fastest shutter speed under the conditions.

Continuous shutter release may be activated automatically in Sports mode, too, but do that manually just to be sure.

However you do it, take a second to set your camera up to catch kids and you'll even surprise them.

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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 Panasonic cameras at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eea297f

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

Nancy asks for assistance choosing a scanner for photos at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eeaf4a1/0

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

Visit the Printers Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b8

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Just for Fun: Time for Your 2010 Oscar Nominations!

One highly-prized bonus of being a subscriber to this image-free publication is that it includes free membership in the Ersatz Academy of Sliding Picture Arts and Sciences.

And just as members of other exclusive clubs enjoy the "obligation" of playing on their manicured golf courses or dining in their four-star facilities, members of the Academy (namely, you) excuse themselves from polite company each year to submit their nominations for the Academy's Missing Oscar.

You may recall the Missing Oscar as the one stolen Oscar of several years ago that was never retrieved. Every year we try to give it away on the theory that you can't lose what you don't have.

Past awards honored Best Slide Show Software, Best Photo Web Site, Best Shareware, Best Input Device, Best Digital Photography Book, Best Photo Gadget, Best Camera Bag, Best 4x6 Jumbo Print, Best Inkjet Printer and Best Online Photo Sharing Service. With only one missing Oscar, we change the category each time we present the award to make the rounds of exciting innovation in this industry.

This year the award will honor the best monitor. Well, the one you tell us is the best, that is.

There are quite a few options out there including flat panels from Apple, Dell, Eizo, HP, and NEC just to drop a few names. And they come with LED backlighting in addition to more traditional fluorescent illumination, too. Not to mention sizes.

It's quite a list, really. And that's where you come in. Narrow it down!

Remember, the more words you use, the less hard we have to work the week we announce the winner. Tell us why you love your monitor and don't be shy about using terms like gamut, resolution, connections or anything else you can find printed on the spec sheet. After all the light your monitor has shed on you, now you can return the favor by nominating it for the Oscar!

The winner will enjoy the Public Notoriety of the Ersatz Academy's Missing Oscar. Without the need to dress expensively (or at all). And, in further defiance of the regular Oscars, acceptance speeches will not be interrupted by live music at our virtual awards ceremony. Or any other kind of music.

To submit your nomination, email your testimonial with the subject "Oscar Nomination" to editor@imaging-resource.com before our next issue.

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Dave's Deals

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We Have Mail

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RE: Epson Artisan 810

We purchased one of these units and couldn't be happier. It cost only $129 on sale at Office Depot after a $50 credit for turning in a recycled HP 990 printer. The 810 produces really fine color prints which are a snap using either Photoshop Elements 8 or Paint Shop Pro X2.

The printed photo image resolution is very, very good, confirmed by using a loupe to see the detail on some of our images -- belt buckles with etched letters and leather glove stitching from several horse and rider images. Color balance, color accuracy is right on the mark. No fuss and no sweat to set it up in a Windows 7 environment. User interface is terrific and easy understand.

BTW, image output and detail is way better than the Canon Pixma MP990 we had returned a few weeks earlier after comparing its output to our now retired 7-ink HP Photosmart 8450.

As long as you are not a production print company that will hammer the printer all day long, I think any reasonable buyer will be more than happy with the Artisan 810

Regards and thanks for the wonderful newsletter.

-- Bob Spector

(Thanks for the real-world feedback, Bob! -- Editor)

RE: Slides to CD

Dozens of slide trays need to be converted to CD for easy viewing. I've looked at several possibilities, but am not sure I would like to get an expensive machine since once its all done, its done. Suggestion or recommendation?

-- Dan Kam

(Two alternate ideas, Dan: 1) Use a lab for high volume, high quality, quick turnaround as we explained in http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/V600/V600.HTM#wha and 2) Rig up dSLR with a macro lens and artificial light to quickly capture them at high quality like Derrick Story's setup described in our July 17, 2009 issue (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html). Not to discourage anyone from scanning film of precious memories, which can be a rewarding way to spend a few hours. But a desktop scanner isn't the way to handle a large volume job. A lab will have the autofeeding, fast pro scanner to get the job done quickly and with quality. -- Editor)

RE: Portrait Pro & Tats

I'm thinking of buying Portrait Pro. I have not seen anything about touching up any other parts of the body other than the face. Can you use this program on the whole body? I have a lot of subjects that have tummy stretch marks or tattoos that they do not want to be seen in their good pictures. Please Help!!!

-- Bob Swisher

(The value of Portrait Pro, Bob, is that it goes beyond textural retouching to facial geometry. If you don't need the facial geometry, you don't need Portrait Pro. To remove tats and stretch marks, you need a sophisticated tool like Photoshop's Healing tool, which maintains texture. You can do a lot even with the less-sophisticated Clone tool, as well, using common retouching techniques. No need for the heavy artillery of Portrait Pro. -- Editor)

RE: Software Reviews?

As far as I know, every digital camera comes with some version of photo manipulation software. And now I have also just received an email from Adobe offering Photoshop at a very low price.

Are there any reviews of the immense number of software products available? Is there any advice like, "If all you want to do is crop your pictures, use...?"

-- Dick Swenson

(Sure, Dick, this newsletter covers every major development in image editing. Not those cute, tidy "reviews" so much as the concept and design that distinguishes one application from another. So we didn't review Elements, for example, but we discussed what the latest revision brought to the table. And we sat down with Adobe for several days to get a handle on CS4, even creating a couple of custom palettes with Adobe Configurator to speed up our own work. But we go deeper. Our readers learned years ago why 16-bit channels are important and which applications can handle them. And they also learned how to escape the overhead of applications that edit pixels for the more efficient approach of metadata editing. Nothing like the newsletter, Dick, to put all this in perspective. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Must be something in the air. A number of companies announced new digicams recently, all covered on our News page. Our links take you to the related announcement.


Apple (http://www.apple.com) has released Aperture 3 with over 200 new features, as detailed in our lead story.


Creaceed (http://www.creaceed.com) has updated Hydra 2.1.4, its Aperture HDR plug-in for Aperture 3 compatibility. The company said it's the first Aperture HDR plug-in supporting 64 bits.


Peter iNova has announced "a new Web site dedicated to exploring the growing world of cameras, accessories, tech and software HDSLR shooters" (http://www.hdslrreview.com). Camera and lens reviews are written by iNova, Uwe Steinmueller and guest reviewers on an invitational basis.


Nikon (http://www.nikonusa.com) has announced two new lenses, the $1259.95 24mm f/1.4G ED lens with a dramatic depth of field and versatile focal length, plus the $2199.95 16-35mm f/4 VR, Nikon's widest angle FX zoom lens.


Rob Galbraith analyzes sports autofocus performance of the Canon EOS-1D (http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=7-10048-10484) while making a few comparisons with the Nikon D3S.


O'Reilly (http://www.oreilly.com) has published Joe Kissell's Take Control of Easy Mac Backups, a $10 ebook that discusses versioned backups, a bootable duplicate and offsite backups.


Yazsoft (http://yazsoft.com) has released its $15 Playback 1.2.5 to stream content from your Mac to any PS3 or XBox. The new release integrates iPhoto Faces, improves networked shared folders handling and improves performance.


Quick quiz. What breakthrough "relied on understanding how the technology that guides the precision of laser printing could be combined with the image-detecting charge-coupled devices, or CCDs, used in digital cameras and powerful image processing software?" Right, the Laser Mosquito Zapper (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/using-lasers-to-zap-mosquitoes/?hp).


Nik Software (http://niksoftware.com) has announced its $199.95 Viveza 2 plug-in for precise selective color and light control. New features include global image adjustments, levels and curves, shadow and fine detail structure enhancements and 64-bit support in the Windows version. Improvements have been made to the color control points and the interface.


Boinx (http://www.boinx.com) has released Fotomagico 3.1 [M] with user interface refinements and new slide show features.


Houdah (http://www.houdah.com) has announced its $30 HoudahGeo 2.4 [M] with geocoding by matching iPhone reference photos, support for compass and speed readings, address lookup, an improved Google Earth interface and more.


Andrey Tverdokhleb (http://www.raw-photo-processor.com) has published his free Raw Photo Processor 4.1 [M] with improved preview color accuracy. Users who make a donation also get a camera profiler to create custom profiles for specific cameras and lenses.


onOne Software (http://www.ononesoftware.com) has released its dSLR Camera Remote 1.3 iPhone app with support for Nikon D3s, Canon EOS 7D, Canon EOS 1D MK IV; Canon EOS Rebel T1i and Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard compatibility improvements; simplified simultaneous multiple option usage; and improved logging to aid in networking troubleshooting.


The Online Photographer (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com) has published Peter Turnley's 50-picture photo essay Haiti: Between Death and Life.


Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 8.6.08 with fixes for Canon and HP scanners on Snow Leopard plus improved cropping of medium format film and strips of 35mm film.

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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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