|Volume 12, Number 6||12 March 2010|
Welcome to the 275th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We report on two GPS implementations before describing a keypad designed to make you more productive in Lightroom. Then we look at a very nicely done book on portrait photography. We also point you to a Web site worth a click and finally reveal who won the Oscar for monitors. Oh, one more thing. Spring forward means check the clock in your digicam, too!
This issue is sponsored in part by the following companies. Please show your appreciation by visiting their links below. And now a word from our sponsors:
I R S H O P P I N G S E R V I C E S
Are you in the digital photo business? This newsletter is read by approximately 55,000 combined direct and pass-along subscribers, all with a passion for digital photography. For information on how you can reach them, contact us at email@example.com.
Digicams are finally catching up to those cellphones that record the location a photo was captured using the Global Positioning System.
Sure, you could take an external GPS device like the i-gotU (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/IGU/IGOTU.HTM) around with you while you shoot photos and later merge the device's log (hopefully updated at sufficiently regular intervals) to each photo's timestamp to see where the camera was when the shutter snapped. But your camera's clock had better have the same time as the GPS device.
And some dSLRs even accommodate GPS devices like the Geomt'r (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/GEO/GEO.HTM) that write location tags to each image as it's taken. More convenient and more accurate.
But your cellphone, with its own built-in GPS device, does that without all the cables and switches. So effortlessly, in fact, that you may not have even known it's doing it.
Well, now digicams are getting smart. We've just had a long look at two very similar compact digicams with GPS receivers in them: the Sony HX5V and the Panasonic ZS7. Like your cellphone, they record location tags with each image -- when you turn on GPS recording.
But each camera implements GPS a little bit differently. Let's take a closer look.
The Global Positioning System was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense as a satellite-based navigation system. There are at least 24 medium-Earth-orbit satellites that can tell a GPS receiver where on Earth it is using microwave signals.
Those GPS satellites circle the earth twice each day on very precise orbits. A GPS receiver compares the time a signal was transmitted by a satellite with the time it was received to tell how far away the satellite is. By comparing multiple signals, the receiver can calculate its exact location. The trick is called triangulation -- and it works great for straightening Christmas trees, too.
In 1982, President Ronald Reagan ordered the system be made available for civilian use at no charge. So all you have to buy is a receiver to sync with the satellites to find out where you are.
What location information does GPS provide? Primarily it reports longitude and latitude. With more satellites it can also report altitude but not very accurately. Heading information is often but not always recorded, too, either by calculating the change in position over time or by using a GPS compass (with two antennas).
GPS location recording is so unobtrusive (you pay no penalty for using it other than slightly reduced battery life) that you may be inclined to turn it on and use it all the time. But if you post your pictures publicly, think this strategy over carefully. Do you really want to reveal the location of, say, your private residence or the home of some child whose party you attended?
WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH IT
Once you have GPS tags and data recorded in the Exif header of your images, you can map the location of the images. Some external devices include software that maps not only the location but the route you took (Windows only). And some image editing software (like Lightroom) can locate the image on Google Maps. Finally, some cameras put it to use right in the camera, as we'll see with the Panasonic ZS7.
In short, having the location lets you use the image in new ways.
The $350 Sony HX5V includes a built-in GPS receiver. Somewhere. All GPS devices take a few beats (minutes, actually) to lock into the available satellites. While just three can give pretty accurate readings, the more the merrier. And it may take a while to find more, particularly if there's cloud cover.
And, yes, we're talking about synching to the satellites when you are outdoors. Trying to find the satellites when you're indoors may work if you're near a window or on the top floor of a building, but you'll be more successful if you lock onto the signal outdoors before coming inside.
All GPS receivers have quite an appetite for battery power but, while it's noticeable, it isn't debilitating. You don't have to recharge your digicam as often as a cellphone, but you should make sure to start out with a full charge each time.
And, in fact, the GPS radio in the Sony HX5V also drains the camera's battery, but it didn't severely impact recording time, which Sony estimates at 310 images or 155 minutes. Don't know how they managed that, but hurray.
The bigger puzzle, though, is how the camera can sync to the GPS satellites. Or when it syncs. And when it doesn't. A small icon on the LCD indicates you have enabled GPS but it doesn't change state to reveal when the satellites are synched.
There's no LED on the Sony HX5V to indicate sync either, as there is on the external units we've used.
So you have no way of knowing if the camera has synched or not. And if it hasn't -- typically when you've just turned it on and fired off a quick shot -- no GPS data is recorded.
We found that out the hard way when a couple of our first shots after powering on didn't have GPS data even though we'd enabled the feature.
The Sony HX5V also has a built-in compass.
Another icon right next to the GPS icon on the LCD, in the form of a compass, shows the camera's orientation. You do have to orient the compass in the Setup menu by waving the camera in a figure eight pattern until it beeps (which happens quickly). But a red arrow in the icon will then indicate North.
Together they give you the longitude, latitude, altitude (such as GPS can) and heading of the camera for any particular image.
Finally, Sony taps into the time information provided by GPS to optionally allow you to set the camera's clock. Very nice. Particularly this weekend (spring forward!).
The GPS tags and typical values reported by the Sony HX5V are:
- GPSVersionID: 22.214.171.124
- GPSLatitudeRef: North
- GPSLongitudeRef: West
- GPSAltitudeRef: Above Sea Level
- GPSTimeStamp: 22:43:49.45
- GPSStatus: Measurement Active
- GPSMeasureMode: 3-Dimensional Measurement
- GPSSpeedRef: km/h
- GPSSpeed: 0.3
- GPSTrackRef: True North
- GPSTrack: 185.1
- GPSImgDirectionRef: Magnetic North
- GPSImgDirection: 6.25
- GPSMapDatum: WGS-84
- GPSDateStamp: 2010:02:22
- GPSDifferential: No Correction
Playback mode on the Sony HX5V didn't reveal GPS coordinates in any of the display options. We were a little handicapped by not having any documentation for the camera, so though we didn't find any built-in use of the data, we can't swear there isn't any.
- GPSAltitude: 263.7 m Above Sea Level
- GPSDateTime: 2010:02:22 22:44:10.144Z
- GPSLatitude: 37 deg 45' 16.59" N
- GPSLongitude: 122 deg 26' 46.43" W
- GPSPosition: 37 deg 45' 16.59" N, 122 deg 26' 46.43" W
We were able to bring the images into Lightroom and click on the button next to the GPS data to instantly show the location in Google Maps.
We did have full documentation for the $400 Panasonic ZS7, including the Advanced Guide on the software CD. But we didn't really need it. Operations were a bit more transparent on the Panasonic ZS7 than they were, in general, on the Sony HX5V.
That started with the small bump on the top panel of the camera, indicating exactly where the GPS radio is.
Just as on the Sony HX5V, you have to specifically enable GPS recording in the Setup menu. We think of that as a feature, really, because it maintains privacy when you want it.
But unlike the Sony HX5V, the Panasonic ZS7 has an elaborate Info screen that tells you the time, how many satellites it has synched with, the longitude and latitude and how many minutes ago that information was obtained.
In addition, an Update command will refresh the information. Once you enable GPS on the Panasonic ZS7, it sets the camera's clock to the GPS local time. And it stays on even when you power the camera off, Panasonic warns, so you have to disable the function when traveling in an airplane.
When enabled and the camera is in Record more the information is refreshed every minute. When power is off, it's refreshed every 15 minutes, saving power. Why does it remain powered when the camera is off? To make sure you can record GPS data when you power the camera on again. Nice.
The Panasonic ZS7's LCD displays a GPS icon that clearly shows if the feature is enabled and if has synched with any satellites. That's nice, too.
The company estimates you lose only the battery power required to take 10 shots from using GPS for an hour during which the unit checks location once every minute.
GPS fields and typical data include:
- GPSVersionID: 126.96.36.199
- GPSLatitudeRef: North
- GPSLongitudeRef: West
- GPSTimeStamp: 22:58:50
- GPSSatellites: 5
- GPSStatus: Measurement Active
- GPSMeasureMode: 2-Dimensional Measurement
- GPSDOP: 1.6
- GPSMapDatum: WGS-84
- GPSProcessingMethod: GPS
- GPSDateStamp: 2010:03:02
No heading information or altitude is given but, unlike the Sony, the Panasonic ZS7 does report how many satellites it used to triangulate position.
- GPSLatitude: 37 deg 45' 15.97" N
- GPSLongitude: 122 deg 26' 46.60" W
- GPSPosition: 37 deg 45' 15.97" N, 122 deg 26' 46.60" W
That covers capturing GPS data but Panasonic actually has some built-in uses for it, too. You don't have to copy your images to a computer to enjoy GPS information on the Panasonic ZS7.
Panasonic sees the Panasonic ZS7's GPS feature as a part of a larger travel package. And no doubt, the 12x zoom, compact Panasonic ZS7 was certainly designed to travel.
Built into the Panasonic ZS7 are the names and locations of 173 countries or regions and over 500,000 landmarks. They're used by a special GPS Playback mode called GPS Area Play to limit display to any particular Country/Region, State/Province/Count, City/Town or Landmark. After selecting one of those options, the Panasonic ZS7 scans the stored images, shows an alphabetical index along the top of the screen and the first landmark with a thumbnail. We tried Landmark because every shot on the card was taken in San Francisco.
Our thumbnail was of a gallery located many miles from the landmark, so we weren't too impressed at first. But as we scrolled through the alphabet, the Panasonic ZS7 did a lot better. It identified as landmarks Beach Chalet-Golden Gate Park, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Lincoln Park and Sutro Heights. Selecting one landmark showed us all the images we'd taken in that location.
You can also just see the location information as a caption during regular Playback, too.
This works for movies, too. But it does not work in China. We didn't have a chance to confirm that it doesn't work in China, but that's what Panasonic says.
GPS on a digital camera is still a rare feature. But two new models -- the Sony HX5V and the Panasonic ZS7 -- both include GPS radios. And the Sony includes a compass to add heading information to the GPS tags.
But Panasonic takes GPS a little further in Record mode, providing synching information and a GPS icon on the LCD that indicates status. And it takes it a lot further in Playback mode with location captioning and image selection based on GPS data.
Two cameras, two different approaches to GPS. Competition's a wonderful thing no matter where you are.
The most striking thing about the Plymouth we drove to school as a sophomore wasn't the fins that rocked the world in 1957 but the push-button transmission.
We never had to explain the attraction to our buddies or our dates. They got it. They just couldn't believe it.
"Is that the transmission?" they would say when we'd punch the R key to back up.
So we got the idea early on that you could make a living punching keys. And sure enough we found ourselves at the keyboard of an IBM MT/ST tape-driven typesetting system not much longer after that, learning peculiar codes to direct its companion output machine.
Codes, though, are not user-friendly. So the phototypesetting machines that eclipsed the tape-driven systems expanded the keyboard with special purpose keys to handle frequent commands like setting the line length. Even early word processing systems (like WPS from Digital Equipment Corp.) had special keys for things like Select and Bold.
The utility of special keys survives even today in the row of function keys you find on your computer keyboard.
But a funny thing happened to this evolution. The mice got into the kitchen.
Pointing devices like mice and trackballs coupled with graphical user interfaces make it even easier to get something done. If you could see it, you could do it. So the learning curve flattened out. Find the style list on your screen, select one and start typing. No codes to master, no function keys to learn.
And when computers evolved to be able to handle images, pointing devices were just the ticket for the less specific sort of editing required. Mice, trackballs and tablets could all work on screen representations of the image much more efficiently than some guy in a dark room.
But we're starting to hear the familiar clickety clack of dedicated functions keys returning to the keyboard.
There have always been key chords to call up menu items and perform special functions so touch typists wouldn't have to leave the keyboard and find the mouse to do something. But they're pretty tapped out. Take a look at what Photoshop has had to do to provide new keyboard control (like the spring-loaded keys to temporarily shift between tools) and you marvel at the innovation.
But applications like Lightroom, while still providing shortcut keys, as they're called, are primarily designed to function with a pointing device in the age of carpal tunnel syndrome.
They don't call them "shortcut" keys for nothing, though. They are more efficient. If you can learn them -- which is where most of us fall short. There are just too many procedures we use to remember keyboard shortcuts for enough of them to use the keyboard to do our work. We mouse around.
We may mouse around some custom scripts or actions, but we mouse around.
That's where Kubota and RPG keys enter the story.
RPG Keys (http://www.rpgkeys.com) has developed special keyboards for photo editing in Photoshop, Bridge and Lightroom. The 18-key model for Lightroom using a numeric keypad is $349 and the 58-key model that does it all is $999. And there are options in between, too.
And Kevin Kubota of Kubota Imaging Tools (http://www.kubotaimagetools.com) has come up with a limited-release Lightroom keyboard based on the RPG 18-key model. Unfortunately it's still $349. Kubota's version includes his Lightroom presets.
Is it worth it?
The keyboard, which comes with a USB RF receiver, is a numeric pad with five rows of keys in four columns, including two double keys in the bottom corners. On the bottom was a label with a URL to Flash support videos on the Kubota Web site.
We had a few problems with the installation and while none were fatal, they did lead us to some important documentation.
The nearly 12-minute online video (http://www.kubotaimagetools.com/tutorial_videos/speedkeys_support.html) provided everything we needed. Start there.
If you have problems, check the RPG FAQ (http://www.rpgkeys.com/FAQS.php).
THE KEYPAD & ITS KEYS
Our right hand is already occupied with a pointing device of some kind, so we tried the keyboard with our left hand. Unfortunately, like all numeric pads, it's designed to be used by your right hand.
Look at your right hand. The thumb points easily at a right angle to the little finger. Look at the keypad. The double horizontal key on the bottom left is aligned like your thumb and the double vertical key on the bottom right is aligned like your little finger. These double keys function like shift keys, so they are awkward to use with your left hand.
We did settle on something of a solution. We moved the keypad to the right of our tablet so we could switch from our normal input device to the keypad. You really don't use them simultaneously anyway. And because it's wireless, you can put the keypad anywhere.
If the keypad doesn't flash a little red light when you press a key (and you do have batteries installed and the dongle connected), you may have to pair the keypad to the dongle.
Windows users with numeric keypads will find their numeric keypad function suspended when the wireless keyboard is active. You can suspend SpeedKeys and get the numeric keypad back temporarily if you want, though.
Now that you know what two of the keys do, you are probably dying to know about the other 16.
Each of the other keys does three things predetermined by the software. You don't, in other words, get to assign any functions.
To select which of the three things a key does, you press either the vertical double key for the second thing or the horizontal double key for the third thing. They key label is color coded purple for the second thing (Opt 2 from now on) and magenta for the third thing (Opt 3).
The 16 keys are laid out in three rows of four keys, one row of three keys and one row of just a single key between the two double keys.
The top row: Undo/Exp+/Exp-, Blk+/Blk-/Warmr, Fill+/Fill-/Cooler and Brt+/Brt-/AtoWB.
The second row refers to presets: *FillBr/*BrnBr/*SknBr, Vig1/Vig2/NoVig, VitK/Snap1/Snap2 and OldFM1/60sFM/OldWm.
So does the third row: SknBrt/SnDys1/*BwClr, SpDrgn/Vivdzr1/Vivdzr2, 4[B]/Hwyn1/ClrWrld and BWXXX/PtraSft/BluByu.
And so does the fourth row: BWwm1/BWwm2/Sepia, BWHlyw/BWinfr1/BWinfr2 and Mocha/Latte/Choco.
Finally the one-key fifth row offers Next/Pick/Reject. You'll notice there is no Previous but you can accomplish the same thing using Undo.
So of the 16 function keys, only five are devoted to Lightroom while the other 11 set one or another Kubota preset.
The four key functions whose labels begin with an asterisk work in the Develop module rather than the Library module but will switch automatically. Brush settings are populated as well.
Version 3.0 of Kubota's Lightroom Presets is included. There are about 80 of them.
Eleven times three is just 33, so you don't have access to all of them from the keyboard. And, as we pointed out earlier, the keyboard only gives you access to them at all in the Library module, not the Develop module. In fact, you'll find them in the Develop Presets folder or your Lightroom installation.
Having 33 presets at your fingertips makes it as simple as pressing a key to change from one to another. You can easily experiment, returning to the original anytime you want. The Kubota presets offer a wide range of battle-tested treatments, too. So you're experimenting with good ideas.
BACK TO LIGHTROOM
Plug in the RF receiver, start SpeedKeys (we kept it in the Dock to keep it handy) and then launch Lightroom.
A little comparison can be handy before we get started. Timothy Riley from RPG demonstrates the 58-key model in a typical pro workflow using Lightroom (http://www.rpgkeys.com/videoRPGLRdemo.php), claiming at least a 50 percent improvement in productivity (and more typically 80 percent) from using keys instead of mousing around the screen.
Watching the video can be harmful to your enthusiasm, though. With 58 keys instead of just 18, Riley gets to have more fun. The Paste Last key, in particular, left us salivating. But there are plenty more, including Saturation, Sharpness, Contrast, Vibrancy and Clarity that just aren't available with the Kubota keypad. Note also that he's using the 58-key model with his right hand (even though it doesn't have double keys).
Like Riley, we should also note that we have Enable Filters checked and Filter by Flag set to Flagged and Unflagged Photos. Both options are in the Library menu item of Lightroom. That simply removes any Rejected image from the Library display.
On the Mac, confirm that the Quick Develop panel on the right has every option expanded or Lightroom will ignore the keyboard.
OK, now we're ready to get to work.
We imported a library of recent shots in which we had warmed up the white balance about halfway through. It was a subtle change on a gray day but we thought it was enough of a difference that 1) we could see it and 2) we'd want to apply it judiciously to other shots that day. So we had enough editing to try the keypad out.
We adjusted the thumbnail display to show three across for comparison with six images at a time, then we went to work by:
Once we had established a workflow with the keypad, we used it to go through a birthday party shoot, picking the images we wanted and brightening up some of the darker shots. We had about 64 images and ended up with about half in the gallery, half of which needed some tweaking.
- Flagging the image as rejected (which made it disappear) or picked (which added a flag to it).
- Making tonal corrections as we go by watching the histogram as we used the exposure keys (Exp, Blk, Fill, Brt, Warmer/Cooler) to optimize the thumbnail.
- For really problematic images, Auto White Balance and the Vitamin K preset were handy.
Using the keypad to do everything worked very well. And we were done with the job much more quickly than we usually are just using the Lightroom interface. It was a noticeable difference on the first job.
We concluded our testing of the keypad with mixed feelings. We liked the idea but were disappointed so few keys were devoted to Lightroom commands.
It does improve your productivity in Lightroom. Assuming, that is, what you do has a key associated with it. Which is why we really wish the product offered some customization. We're told Kubota is working on exactly that.
We'd put the old Plymouth in neutral and wait them out.
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/ZS7/ZS7A.HTM)
- First Shots: Olympus E-PL1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EPL1/EPL1A.HTM)
"Portrait photography is not about you," begins this engaging treatise on the genre by two docs at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, Calif. Glenn Rand and Tim Meyer present a 187-page reference work on shooting the portrait that draws heavily on history and skirts no technology (including film) while introducing a lighting concept they call Light Dynamics.
Were you in the bookstore with us, a quick flip through the book would draw you in with its variety of stunning portraits. But as it is, you'll have to settle for a rundown of the chapter subjects. That, at least, will impress you with just how comprehensively the two authors have covered the subject.
After wandering through A Very Brief History of Photographic Portraiture, they introduce their key concept of Light Dynamics and the Portrait. The chapter considers specular or diffuse lighting, plus its intensity, direction and color. Taken together, they describe the light dynamics of a portrait. Light Dynamics describes the transition between light and shadow areas of the subject.
With some idea of how to evaluate the light that falls on a subject, they next take us through Lighting Sources and Equipment, considering ways to create light (including continuous light), ambient light, window light, strobes -- and not neglecting power requirements, which can quickly blow a fuse or two.
Once arrived on the set with all that gear, they consider how to refine it with Light Modification. That includes a discussion of modification optics, basic reflectors and domes, soft light modifiers, hard light modifiers and modifying intensity.
But modifying it can be frustrating without Exposure and Metering. The two cover basic daylight exposure, unmetered electronic flash exposure, light meters and basic metering, substitution metering, tonal placement, testing for exposure, speed testing negative film, speed testing sequence and speed testing digital photography.
By now you're ready to have some fun with Lighting Ratios. It's a short chapter covering Fit and Ratios themselves but essential. Fit considers how the illuminated tones map to both the capture and output, a sort of insurance against disappointment that isn't much discussed.
In Lighting Patterns on the Human Face, the authors consider planes of the face, approach, lighting direction, on axis lighting, 3/4 or 45-45 lighting, split or 90-degree lighting and lighting patterns.
That leads to a discussion of Lighting Setups that includes one light, two lights, three lights, four lights, clamshells, form fill, walking the light (to refine the effect), specular accent as fill and glamour lighting.
Backgrounds are the next topic, covering seamless backgrounds, painted backgrounds, constructed indoor and outdoor settings and found backgrounds.
In the chapter titled Mixed Ambient and Electronic Flash Lighting and Exposure you'll recognize some popular techniques (almost as if Joe McNally shot the chapter). Topics include outdoor lighting and exposure, backlight outdoor situations, expanded range situations, indoor ambient situations and indoor/outdoor situations.
Then the authors take on Posing, covering the basics, discussing physical posing as well as head placement and rotation.
That leads to a discussion of Portrait Compositional Basics involving balance, lines, shape, similarity, juxtaposition, color, texture and pattern, volume, size and symbolism, content and meaning.
In an interesting chapter titled Facial Analysis, the authors analyze the face itself, discussing how to flatter differently shaped faces and deal with expressions.
Saving the best for last, they take on the critical topic of Relating to the Subject by talking about confidence, comfort and fulfillment (delivering the prints and continuing the relationship).
In this clear, concise and well-organized course on portrait photography, Rand and Meyer leave no stone unturned. If you shoot portraits (or just want to), it's hard to believe this helpful companion won't put a smile on your face.
The Portrait: Understanding Portrait Photography by Glenn Rand and Tim Meyer, published by Rocky Nook and Brooks Institute Press, 187 pages, $34.95 (or $23.07 at http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952466/?tag=theimagingres-20).
It's been a while since we've written a Web Cite column, but Crash Taylor's site (http://www.thestillimagewithcrashtaylor.com) created to "inspire, motivate, education and encourage your creative imaging-making process" caught our eye recently.
We'll warn you right off the bat that the black background and white type running the width of your browser window makes it a difficult read. But you won't have to spend a lot of time there to profit from a visit.
That's because Taylor has invited different photographers to explain a bit about an image they have created. Along with a large rendering of the image itself, each entry includes location, camera/lens, lighting, creative process and post production notes.
The genres range from wedding photography (Taylor's profession) to fashion to portraits to fine art.
If the images themselves are inspiring, the notes by the photographers are even more so. A paragraph on the process and another on post strike just the right balance to the heavily gear-weighted approach of many photography sites.
Photography is still a craft, after all, and it's refreshing to find a place where the craft is celebrated above the gadgetry.
Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:
Read the Nikon D300S discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eeaf851
Visit the Olympus dSLRs Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eea6bcb
Pietro asks about sharing photos at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eeaee92/0
Read about Sigma lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=8
Visit the Beginners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b2
Members of the Ersatz Academy of Sliding Picture Arts and Sciences have at last submitted their nominations for the Missing Oscar, this year awarded to the best monitor, display, screen or whatever you call that thing you're looking at right now.
The virtual envelope please....
Oh, not so fast. We detected an unusual reluctance to name names for this particular category and we wondered why. After at least eight minutes of sustained head scratching, we concluded monitors just don't persuade anyone of their outstanding qualities.
Why not? Well, few of us get to do any side-by-side testing (we certainly don't and the long-awaited monitor comparisons from the lab are, well, even longer awaited but we're not going in there to find out why). We buy what we can afford that looks good and we live with it.
And very few of us would nominate someone we live with for any sort of prestigious award, it occurs to us with no head scratching at all.
We also suspect there is no indisputable way of measuring monitor performance available to most of us. We take the specs the manufacturer gives us and try to decipher them to compare one model against another. But we have no confidence in any of these yardsticks.
Even worse, though, is that failing to profile our monitors, we tend to get wildly inconsistent results from the inkjet printer in the room and the book printer online and the online photofinisher, too. We are, perhaps, content to be satisfied with one out of three of those.
In his recent piece titled "Why Your Photos Look Lousy ... or Simple Truths About Color Management" (http://pixsylated.com/2008/05/why-your-photos-look-lousy/), Syl Arena draws a picture for you to explain the difference between the colors you see, the colors you capture, the colors your monitor shows and the colors you can print. It really takes a picture to make all this clear and his gamut charts do the job brilliantly.
But even if you love your monitor, you may not feel as if you can say why. They're complicated. Do you know what kind of a panel your LCD has? Do you know if it's a wide gamut monitor, showing 95 percent or so of the Adobe RGB color space? Do you know if it is LED backlit or uses fluorescent lighting? Any idea what size it is now that the box has been recycled?
Finally, there's almost no sense mentioning the model number because these things rarely survive in the market 12 months. Just as you finish your research and settle on one particular model, you learn it is being discontinued in favor of one with a slightly different model number. And you have to start all over again.
So it's a difficult category and our winner can rest on its stand if not its laurels before it's discontinued.
Now about that envelope....
In the wide-gamut category preferred for those who work with prints and dutifully profile their monitors, Eizo (http://www.eizo.com) and NEC (http://www.necdisplay.com) share the award.
Eizo's 30-inch ColorEdge CG303W is an IPS LCD with 2560x1600 pixels in a 16:10 aspect ratio showing 98 percent of Adobe RGB while its $1,500 22-inch ColorEdge CG223W is a VA panel with 1680x105 pixels and 16:10 showing 95 percent of Adobe RGB. ColorEdge monitors also provide hardware calibration.
That distinguishes them from the $879 22-inch Flexscan S2243W VA panel with 1680x1050 pixels showing 95 percent of Adobe RGB, a much more affordable option.
NEC's $2,449 30-inch MultiSync LCD3090W-BK-SV has 2560x1600 pixels while its $1,199 26-inch MultiSync LCD2690WUXi2-BK has 1920x1200 pixels showing 97.8 percent of Adobe RGB. At $1,079, its MultiSync PA241W has 1920x1200 pixels that shows 99.32 percent of Adobe RGB.
In the budget category, the winner is the Dell (http://www.dell.com) UltrSharp series.
The 24-inch Dell UltraSharp 2408WFP is a VA panel with 1920x1200 pixels and the 22-inch Dell UltraSharp 2209WA is an IPS panel with 1680x1050 pixels.
Those are the monitors that got the votes. Read the article "The Monitor Game" in the March 27, 2009 issue of the newsletter for a little more background on the specs like panel type and warnings about wide-gamut capabilities.
Or you can do what we do: close your eyes and dream.
Looking for special prices on featured products? Because of their time-limited nature, we only publish them in the email version of this newsletter. The good news is that you can subscribe for free on our Subscriber Services page:
Subscribe for Great Deals!
We deliver -- just
Support this Publication!
Support this Publication!
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.
I've long been a fan of panoramas and used a Rollei TLR with the pano tripod attachment, Widelux and RoundShot in the old days. Digital has obviously made things much easier.
I've been showing a friend how to use her Sony DSC W350 and am very impressed by the Sweep Panoramic function -- lining up segments with other cameras isn't always easy with the light behind you and poorly defined objects at the join. However, the files seem small (2-MB approx.). Are there other Sony models that create "larger" (file size) panoramas?
-- Kurt Ingham(We've just drafted a review of the Sony HX5V and the gallery has a couple of larger panorama shots in it. The previous newsletter has a link to the draft gallery (a sneak peek, in short) in the lead Photoshop story. YDSC00142.JPG, for example, sweeps from the top of Twin Peaks. The 3.2-MB file is 7152x180,a 22.1-MB file when opened. A panorama is likely to have a lot of sky area, which will compress quite a bit, so the stored file size may be misleading. The lack of sharpness would also lead to more compression (the more detail, the larger the JPEG). And these are pretty big images when mapped at 150 dpi. But you raise an interesting issue with these Sweep panos that's been bugging us for a while. We'll keep thinking about it. -- Editor)
I always enjoy reading the IR Newsletters and congratulate you on being able to find interesting material to publish in each issue!
One topic that I have not seen covered is a discussion about the seemingly inevitable convergence of digital still cameras with camcorders. HD appears to be accelerating this convergence with more and more dSLRs and bridge cameras being marketed with constantly-improving specifications for HD video. Now, camcorders appear to be "fighting back" by improving their still image specifications! The latest example of this is the new Panasonic 700 series with 1080p video, 14-Mp still image resolution, a 12/18x zoom lens with f1.5 to f2.8 aperture, improved OIS and various other specification enhancements. I can hardly wait to read the reviews!
I am sure that your readers would be very interested to hear your views on this rapidly evolving situation.
-- Robert Wellbeloved(It is a good topic, no question. We've confined our thoughts on it to hardware reviews (digicams and a couple of newsletter-only Kodak camcorders), arguing for HD capability over broadcast quality for a couple of years already. And we've followed introduction of HD recording in the dSLR market, too, where we've found Peter iNova's work particularly interesting despite finding the current hardware itself somewhat lacking. Issues: 1) audio has always been a second citizen, but good audio really separates the video men from the boys; 2) no or poor autofocus in still cameras; 3) and while no video should go unedited, who has the time? So the field itself strikes us as, like our own thoughts, somewhat unformed still. But our first camera was a Bolex Super 8, so the subject is dear to us. -- Editor)
RE: Super Zoom Build Quality
I am interested in finding a super-zoom camera that has many virtues, and has a very good build. I am old fashioned in liking more metal than plastic. I have a Panasonic DMC something-30 12x zoom. It must be about three or four years old. It feels solid to hold and I enjoy working with it. These days the choices of magnification range much higher to 20x and 30x. Is there a camera that has a good build that's out now that you like considering what I have mentioned.
I really appreciate your website, and the quality that you furnish.
-- Stan Weisenberg(Among last year's models, Canon and Nikon both impressed me with their built quality, but in general, that feature has been sacrificed. We haven't seen this year's longer super zooms yet, but this is one of those things that really does require a good review or a trip to the camera store. It's very much something we look for, though, especially in cameras of this class. -- Editor)
RE: Work of Art
Where is this reflective piece? Are you gonna show us?
-- Mark Lough(Since you asked: http://mikepasini.com/phog/?p=90 -- Editor)
Once again I love your writing! I've written you a few times over the years suggesting you write a book. You're a very talented writer (and you have a very active mind!!). But I was thinking today, maybe you could even publish a collection of your musings from the newsletter?
-- Jamie(That's an interesting question. We suppose the only way to gauge interest in such a thing would be to ask. We can tell you it would take something like a series of at least three titles to get through the Beginner, Advanced and Fun columns of the last 10 years. It would also be interesting to know what format would be preferred. We've put up a little questionnaire at http://mikepasini.com/survey/q2010.php for anyone interested in the project to vote for it. Please drop by. -- Editor)
ApplicationGap (http://www.applicationgap.com/apps/easyrelease) has released Easy Release, an iPhone app for creating model releases in the field. The releases, which can include a photo of the model or property, can be signed on the iPhone and emailed to you.
Apple has released its 32.29-MB ProKit 5.1 (http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1008) for Leopard and Snow Leopard to fix "issues with user interface software resources that are shared by Apple's professional applications."
Nikon has teamed up with yfrog and top bloggers at the South by Southwest Festival (http://sxsw.com) to produce a photo and video gallery (http://www.yfrog.com/Nikon) highlighting in one place "the parties, panels, premiers and happenings."
Mamiya (http://www.mamiya.com) has announced the DM40 40-Mp large-sensor dSLR with a peak capture rate of 0.8 seconds per frame and a sustained capture rate of 60 frames per minute using two user-selectable shutter systems: leaf or focal plane. A DM40 dSLR kit with a Mamiya 80mm f.2.8 D lens will be available in the U.S. this month for $21,990.
Tamron (http://www.tamron.com) has announced development a 70-300mm f4-5.6 zoom lens featuring image stabilization and an ultrasonic auto-focus drive as its 60th anniversary model. The lens will be produced first in a Nikon mount with Canon and Sony mounts to follow.
Zenfolio (http://www.zenfolio.com) announced it has partnered with Triple Scoop Music (http://www.triplescoopmusic.com) to add professional soundtracks to its photo presentations.
Rocky Nook (http://rockynook.com) has published Mastering Canon EOS Flash Photography by N.K. Guy. The $44.95 title is available for $29.67 via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/193395244X/?tag=theimagingres-20).
Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com) has introduced Pro Selling, allowing Phanfare Pro customers ($99.99/year) to set their own prices, keeping 85 percent of the markup on Phanfare's photo merchandise, which includes books, cards, prints and gifts.
Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has announced that third-party application developers now have access to the Photoshop.com Mobile for Android 1.1 editor, allowing them to incorporate image editing in their applications. In addition, Photoshop.com Mobile for Android 1.1 is available, providing users of the Google Mobile operating system with photo-editing and sharing capabilities.
The Robert Tat Gallery in San Francisco (http://www.roberttat.com) presents a rare look at 21 photographs by Imogen Cunningham, Walker Evans, William Dassonville and others in a show titled Overlooked through April 24.
Blue Room Software (http://blueroomsoftware.com) has released its $9.95 ImageArchiver for Lightroom 1.0 [MW], a plug-in to create disk images and compressed archives of Lightroom image collections. Aperture and iPhoto versions are also available.
Andrey Tverdokhleb (http://www.raw-photo-processor.com) has released his free Raw Photo Processor 4.1.2 [M] with support for the Panasonic DMC-GF1 square format, Rotate Left/Right commands, new handling of overexposed channels, a Destination field in the History window and more.
Neat Image (http://www.neatimage.com) has released its $69.90 Neat Image Pro 6.2 for Aperture to provide 64-bit compatibility with Aperture 3, improved Snow Leopard compatibility, better metadata compatibility with the Nikon dSLRs, new image viewer modes, interface improvements and performance optimizations.
JAlbum (http://jalbum.net) has released its free JAlbum 8.7 [LMW] with a new default skin, style-specific hints for skins, API improvements for skin developers, improved interaction with Mac OS X Finder and localizations for image tools.
Iridient Digital (http://www.iridientdigital.com) has released RAW Developer 1.8.9 [M] with support for new cameras and several other improvements.
Lemke Software (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released its $24.95 GraphicConverter 6.7 [M] with scrap file import, HMR import, multiple find/replace for IPTC data, gamma-aware scaling, HD Photo import for grayscale images, support for up to 200 layers in export of PSD files and more.
We note the passing of portrait photographer Fabian Bachrach at the age of 92 (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/02/arts/design/02bachrach.html?hpw). His iconic portrait of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was done in a 10-minute session during which six images were taken. "I had to work fast," he recalled. "He doesn't sit still very long."
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
Curtin Short Courses: http://imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?bdc
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
Mike Pasini, Editor
Dave Etchells, Publisher