The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 12, Number 10 7 May 2010

Copyright 2010, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 279th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We explain what a NAS can do for your photos, especially if you have an iPhone, before Shawn takes a look at the Panasonic G2. And, just for fun, we try to take a shot of DiMaggio's grave at sunset (which beat going to Target).

Just a note of thanks to those of you who participated in our book survey. If you left an email address, you'll be hearing from us shortly.


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Feature: WD Photos -- Sharing in the 21st Century

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

Whether you're a harried homemaker whose photos are crying to be let out of the camera or a pressed pro who pines for a digital proof book, the Cavalry has arrived. Several products we've toyed with the past few weeks make it easier than ever to share thousands of images wherever you are.

In fact, it's so easy and so powerful, the word "sharing" seems almost misleading. It's more like publishing. Targeted publishing, but publishing.

The first solution we'll look at is WD Photos from Western Digital (http://www.wdc.com), the hard drive company in San Jose, Calif. It's an iPhone app that runs just as well on the larger-screen iPad. And it's free.

REQUIREMENTS

WD Photos v1.0 was released April 13, requires 1.0-MB storage on your iDevice and runs in English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean and Spanish.

It requires iPhone OS 3.0 or later and is compatible with the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. There isn't a special version for the iPad, though, so images are as small on the iPad as on the other two devices.

Simple requirements but there is one rather hefty prerequisite. You have to have a network-attached storage device to use it. Yes, WD makes NAS devices.

NAS

Network-attached storage is just an external hard drive, usually of rather large capacity, that plugs into your router rather than into a computer.

To get it to fly, it comes with NAS software installed that you access from any computer on your network using a browser. That's how you control and configure the NAS server, but the beauty of it is that it isn't captive. Any computer on your network can use it.

It's just a big password-protected hard drive. Enter the password and the parts of the drive accessed by that password are available to you.

You may already be used to using an external drive from one computer for backup. A NAS is much like that, except it accommodates any user on your network.

And that includes users who log in from outside your local area network, over the Web, say. Which could be you.

You might, for example, be in some hotel room far from home and want to hear some album you have on your NAS at home. You can log into the NAS and play the music just as if you were at home.

Same goes for photos. And with WD Photos, you can do the logging in and playing from an iDevice.

MY BOOK

WD sent us a $160 My Book World Edition with a single 1-TB drive. It comes in a white plastic case shaped something like a language dictionary with a 2.5-inch window on the spine through which a number of status LEDs communicate with the curious.

The business end of the box has a power port, a USB port (for additional storage and copying) and an Ethernet port (for connecting to your network). There's a Reset button but no Power button. A NAS is designed to stay on 24/7. The My Book lineup of various capacities includes WD GreenPower technology for efficient cooling and power saving.

And they're very, very quiet, too. We prefer to work in utter silence, actually. But we dared to set the MyBook up right next to our keyboard (so we could keep an eye on it, frankly). It didn't bother us at all. Sort of like having a quiet parakeet around, who only hopes from perch to perch and sometimes sharpens its beak to dig around in the seeds.

It includes some pretty sophisticated software because, let's face, we want to do a lot of things with a NAS these days. We want to stream our video collection and play our iTunes albums and see all of our photos. We want to store those things on one big old NAS (plus a couple of backups, let us hasten to caution you) and not on every computer in the building.

SOFTWARE

There are three levels of software in the My Book. Sounds intimidating, but taken step by step, it makes sense. The documentation is very good, regardless of which operating system you are using.

You can immediately mount the NAS from your local operating system, but you'll want to configure it beyond the default setup, which includes a Public folder (with your shared video, music and photo collections) and a Downloads folder (where you can direct long downloads when you want to shut down your computer).

Basic Setup. The first level of software is the built-in configuration tool that runs from your browser. After loading the log-in page (we used Bonjour to find the drive at http://mybookworld.local./), simply log in with the default username and password to access one of the tools. Your choices are the Network Storage Manager, Downloader and Copy Manager.

The Network Storage Manager lets you set up various users, add new folders, check the system status and more. None of it is really required for WD Photos but this is where you configure your NAS.

WD Backup Anywhere. Also not required for WD Photos, but a very handy utility (at least for systems without Time Machine) is WD Backup Anywhere, a backup utility that runs in the background to copy changed files to the NAS as they change. The initial backup takes a while and is limited to files in your home directory, but once you've populated the NAS with your data, it refreshes it automatically as long as the volume is mounted.

And, as a bonus, WD Backup Anywhere can keep your backup updated from anywhere. You just need Web access to shuffle the new files to the NAS on your home network.

As a background process, WD Backup Anywhere communicates to you via Growl, a small utility that unobtrusively pops up status messages. It's optional, if you prefer not to be interrupted.

And you can install WD Backup Anywhere on any computer you want to be backed up to the NAS.

MioNet. The key software for WD Photos is the third of these levels. MioNet (http://www.mionet.com) is a Web service that allows for remote yet secure access to the Public folder on your NAS.

To enable the feature, you set up a free account at MioNet, which establishes a username, password and volume name for your NAS. The service is available for a fee for other NAS hardware, but WD includes it with the My Book World NAS.

This is the service that WD Photos will log into when you install it on your iDevice.

INSTALLATION

So to recap, the essential installation steps for WD Photos are:

  1. Install your NAS (WD Photos has a special offer on its Help screen if you don't already have a NAS).

  2. Create an account at MioNet to link to your NAS by name with a username and password for secure access to the Public folder.

  3. Copy some JPEG photos into the Shared Pictures folder of the Public folder of your NAS. They are simultaneously if clandestinely thumbnailed in a hidden folder on the NAS.

  4. Find WD Photos at the Apple Store, then download and install it on your iDevice.

WD PHOTOS IN ACTION

WD Photos is very simple to use. Tap it to launch it and the log-in screen appears. You'll have to enter the username and password you set up at MioNet before you see the name you gave your NAS there (which doesn't have to be the volume name itself). Subsequent accesses will log you in automatically.

There is a Help screen and a built-in FAQ in case you have a problem.

We didn't have a problem. After entering our username and password, we were taken to a My Resources page which listed our NAS by name. The first time we tapped it, a progress bar reporting "First Time Setup" appeared briefly. Then we saw our folders.

We had put two folders of rather small images up. Tapping on either one took us to the folders inside, which at the file level listed square thumbnails in a 3x4 grid with four icons below them: View, Filter, Search and Help.

View. Tapping the View icon cycles through three options: Folder view, Album view and Image view.

What you're viewing are the optimized thumbnails created in the hidden folder on the NAS. "We did this to prevent the user from accidentally deleting the thumbnails and optimized photos," WD told us. "This file is small and uses a very small area of the 1-TB drive."

That's one of the secrets that makes this work. You don't have to download high resolution images from your NAS and then thumbnail them on your iDevice. You just download the thumbnails sized for the iPhone screen.

Even that, we found, can take a while if your folders have a lot of images. We found a slight delay on first access for folders with a dozen images or so. We also stress tested WD Photos by downloading a folder with 2,994 iPhone images. That worked but was sluggish. We hit the View icon to refresh the list, watching it grow bit by bit for several minutes, although some thumbnails were available quickly.

So expect some initial delay but once you have the thumbnails on the iPhone, it's as if the images themselves are there.

Except for one little thing. You can't zoom them.

We asked WD about that. "In version 1.0 of WD Photos you cannot zoom on a photo," WD said. "We chose to do this because it increases speed for initially accessing photos." And WD, claims, it does that faster than its competition.

We found we could add an image to our camera roll and then zoom it, but we were only enlarging the pixels. There's no more data to see.

And that initial delay while the thumbnails are downloading is something WD is working on. WD told us, "In version 1.1 we have implemented a solution to automatically start downloading the thumbnails instead of waiting for the user to scroll to them first." With more image data being transferred for zooming, that should help.

On the View Image screen, a Share icon brings up a Share menu with the following options: Email Photo, Assign to Contact, Add to Camera Roll and Slideshow Settings. Slideshow settings include Duration (from 3 to 60 seconds) and an Auto-Lock toggle (to allow the iPhone's Auto-Lock during a slideshow).

Filter. Being able to filter the large collection of images on your NAS is essential. Filtering in v1.0 is by date. You can enter a range of dates, a specific month or a year. The main menu will show a glowing Filter option if a filter is active. Tap the Search icon in the Filter menu to either activate or deactivate a filter.

Search. The Search function prompts for a search phrase. We used filenames. Below the prompt, a list of finds appears as you type. You can tap any of them to select it. The search is not case sensitive.

ISSUES

There isn't a lot missing in v1.0, although we imagine some folks would love to have an audio track for the slideshow and some fancy transitions. But we didn't miss either.

We were sometimes confused about the thumbnail download state. Did we have them all, were they still downloading? Refreshing the View helped to update the status, but updates weren't live. A few hours with the app would probably give us a sense of what was going on when, but at first it was a little disorienting.

Security, however, wasn't an issue. It's a public folder, yes, but it's password protected. We suspect it might be a little awkward to set up for multiple clients. You wouldn't want Citibank seeing a Chase folder in your Public folder, for example. But MioNet provides ways around that we didn't explore.

And we'd love an iPad version with larger images -- but we have to admit in the same breath we wouldn't want to wait for the larger thumbnails to download.

CONCLUSION

While WD Photos 1.0 may sound rather rudimentary, the experience of using it was anything but. It was liberating.

The concept itself is, well, cool. Access all the photos stored on your WD NAS drive from your iPhone, no matter where you are. As our volunteer tester observed, "Sounds cool!! Two-exclamation-point cool."

And in practice it did not disappoint. We logged into the NAS without a problem. We could find the folders we copied to the Shared Pictures folder of the Public folder. And we could see them on the iPhone screen full frame.

After a short initial delay to download the images over a 3G network connection, we were able to scroll through them as if they were on the phone itself. Which, in fact, they were. At least until we left the app.

So in very short order, we were able to access our photo collection from an iPhone without monopolizing the iPhone's storage. We'd put our collection on our own personal cloud. And we could gaze up at it any time we wanted.

Outright prolonged applause!! Yes, with two exclamation points.

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Feature: Panasonic G2 -- A Touchscreen SLD

By SHAWN BARNETT
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCG2/DMCG2A.HTM on the Web site.)

Taking the Panasonic G2 for a stroll is a pleasure, not unlike taking the Samsung NX10 or Olympus Pen series out for a shoot. I was quickly reminded, though, of the luxuries available with the G2 that are not found on the others. First, there's the buttery-smooth swivel LCD that made shooting down low or high and vertical quite a bit easier. I'm a fan of left-hinged displays, because they offer more angles overall than tilting designs and those that swivel from the top or bottom.

You can choose to leave the LCD off and the EVF will only come on when you bring the LCD to your eye or you can use the LCD panel as a status display. Just cycle through the modes with the Display button. A very smart, energy-saving design.

TOUCH-SCREEN LCOS EVF

It bears repeating that the EVF is smooth and clear thanks to the Liquid Crystal On Silicon display. It has a 60 frame-per-second refresh rate, so it's a lot closer to reality than most displays. The peculiar thing about LCOS is that unlike every other color liquid crystal display you've seen, there's no grid between pixels with LCOS and you can't see individual red, green or blue pixels. It's just smooth image. Well, there are jaggies, but the pattern is a very clean one.

I still notice distortion in the viewfinder. With my glasses on there's some chromatic aberration and it's hard to get the whole picture in without smashing my glasses between my eye and the eyecup, so I don't use it as much as I'd like. I still prefer a true optical view for some things. If I was doing some tripod work, I'd consider taking off my glasses to better see this view, as the diopter corrects from -4 to +4, the most impressive range I've seen since the G1.

But I was surprised when I brought the Panasonic G2 up to compose a shot and found that its AF point was high and to the right of the frame, not where I remembered it last. I furrowed my brow and brought the Panasonic G2 up to where I could figure out how to re-adjust the AF-point position. I tried a few combinations common to other cameras, to no avail. Then I remembered: touch screen. I tapped in the center of the LCD and the AF point jumped to the center. That's better. I started to compose the image again and decided I wanted the autofocus high and to the left, rather than the right and tapped again. The focus point moved instantly and I was able to get my shot. Easier than ever. Wow.

Of course, the problem was that sometimes an accidental touch on the screen as I walked around would put the AF point yet somewhere else I didn't intend. Thankfully, you can either turn off this feature or just tap again to select your AF point.

The other thing I like about Panasonic's implementation of its Touch Panel is that it's not for everything. Many companies have tried to eliminate all buttons to make their cameras small, yet with a big LCD. On the Panasonic G2, touch is used for the AF point, for moving the histogram around, for flicking through pictures in Playback mode, for zooming in on pictures (just tap) and for making selections from the Quick Menu. You can also use it as a shutter release.

Though it's not for everything, the Touch Panel is still used to enhance quite a few functions, autofocus in particular. In AF Tracking focus mode, you can tap on your subject to have the Panasonic G2 track it. It's pretty impressive to watch the yellow target icon follow your subject around. When Face Recognition is active, you can touch to override this mode's AF component. The camera will still recognize and set exposure based on faces, but focus will be confined to the area you select. Note also that you can enlarge or constrict the focus size with the Rear dial while the AF point is yellow.

Not cool enough for you? Put the Panasonic G2 into 23-Area-Focusing mode and with a touch you can confine the camera to just a few available AF points. Nine "plus" symbols appear on the screen, each marking a cluster of four, five or six AF points. The real power here is in the touch screen, because it allows changes so quickly, it truly makes multi-AF capability useful. I'm more likely to shoot with the center point, but I might grow to love the touchscreen AF-point selection. The AF system covers the bases so thoroughly, it's safe to say Panasonic has the most comprehensive and accessible contrast-detect autofocus system on the market.

Touch also works in Playback mode. A swipe slides from one image to the next and a tap zooms in on an image. If you want to zoom back out, tap on the zoom out button. Simple.

FOCUS SPEED

The Panasonic G2's autofocus remains quite snappy and in video mode it's more like a camcorder than other small digital cameras. It also performs better than any dSLR I've seen to date. And that's not with the special HD lens that shipped with the GH1, that's with the new kit lens.

Shutter lag numbers are quite good for the category, with the Panasonic G2 focusing and capturing a shot in 0.42 second with the kit lens. Continuous AF performance is a bit faster, at 0.40 second. pre-focus lag times hover around a very snappy 0.12 second. That's not as fast as some digicams, nor as fast as some SLRs, but it's plenty fast for the category.

The reason it's a little slower is its open-shutter design. SLR shutters, when used traditionally, are always closed, with the first curtain poised and ready to snap open as soon as you trip the shutter. Single Lens Direct-view cameras and dSLRs in Live View mode have the shutter open to draw the live image and display it on the LCD, so they have to close the first curtain before making the exposure. That takes time, which is reflected in that longer pre-focus exposure time. The Nikon D5000, for comparison, has a pre-focus shutter lag of 0.085 second in standard mode, but gets even slower in Live View mode, increasing to 0.54 second. So by comparison, the Panasonic G2 is doing pretty well. Note that modern dSLRs are still faster at full autofocus shutter lag, with the Canon T2i testing at 0.25 second to acquire focus and capture an image.

STABILIZATION

Panasonic's Mega O.I.S. just continues to impress. I find fewer smudged shots than usual with the company's lenses and the new 14-42mm lens is no exception. Heartbeats do not affect the image as I hold the camera, which can be somewhat surreal: watching your hand and camera move while the onscreen image stays steady.

DEPTH-OF-TIME PREVIEW

The Panasonic G2 has a depth-of-field preview button, right below the five-button navigator on the back, which stops down the lens aperture to your current setting. But the G2 also has a unique mode called Shutter Speed Preview. First press the Preview button to activate the depth-of-field preview, then press the Display button. The camera will then leave the aperture stopped down and essentially expose the sensor at the selected shutter speed, refreshing the display at the intervals set.

For example, if you want to capture a waterfall at f8 to get most of the picture in focus and you want the water to appear as a soft cascade, you can set the camera to the aperture you want and see the live effect onscreen. If it's too bright or dark, you can make the necessary adjustments to ISO, aperture and shutter speed and work out just how you want the photo to look without taking a bunch of test shots.

MOVIE MODE

The Panasonic G2's Movie mode is improved over its predecessor and its revised lens, though not an HD optic, did surprisingly well. AF Tracking was better than competing models with live AF and obviously way ahead of those camera that simply lack AF tracking during video recording. It hunts only a little as it seeks focus.

Despite what it seems to say in the manual, the Panasonic G2 is Program only, no aperture or shutter priority exposure control is available. Still, Peripheral Defocus mode is available, giving some depth-of-field control and Flicker Reduction offers four shutter speed choices, from 1/50 to 1/120 second.

Having the ability to set the AF point with a touch on the LCD while recording video is nothing short of amazing. Shifting focus from one subject to another -- a great storytelling feature -- is as easy as touching the screen.

I like that AVCHD Lite and Motion JPEG are both supported with the Panasonic G2, something rare on other cameras. Sound quality from the built-in microphone is good and also sensitive. I do notice a slight bit of background hiss, however. As it's not something I've really looked at before, it's hard to say how important that might be.

Though the Panasonic G2 has a microphone jack, it's a non-standard 2.5mm size, so you'll need an adapter for most microphones. As with most digital cameras, there's no manual level control for audio.

I found very few compression artifacts in video in either AVCHD or Motion JPEG, but a big nuisance was how long it takes to activate recording. The Panasonic G2 doesn't start recording until about a second after you've pressed the Record button. Worse is that it cuts off recording about 0.5 to 0.7 second before you press the Record button to stop recording.

Dave's done a very thorough writeup (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCG2/DMCG2VIDEO.HTM) of on the Panasonic G2's video capability.

LENSES & ADAPTORS

The list of available Micro Four Thirds lenses continues to grow and the available adapters make the possibilities too vast to list here. But among actual Micro Four Thirds lenses available from Panasonic and Olympus, there are some real gems.

I haven't seen them all, but two of my favorites are the Olympus 17mm f2.8, the Panasonic 20mm f1.7, both pancake designs that turn out great images in all kinds of light with good focus across most of the frame. The 20mm has the edge in both sharpness and light sensitivity, but the 17 does quite well. Among the mid-range zooms, the Panasonic 14-45 stands out as the most capable in terms of optical performance and image stabilization. According to my tests, it seems sharper than the 14-42mm that ships with the G2.

Wide-angle superstars are the Panasonic 7-14mm and the Olympus 9-18mm, each delivering impressive images for landscape photographers. The 7-14mm is particularly stunning, but quite a bit more daunting to bring along than the diminutive 9-18mm. I have not yet seen the Olympus 14-150mm, but the Panasonic 14-140mm, while large, really turns out impressive images regardless of focal length and it's preferred for movies thanks to its faster AF and silent, stepless aperture.

CONCLUSION

Its predecessor set new benchmarks for EVF quality and also established a whole new category of mirrorless, interchangeable-lens digital cameras, so its natural that I'd expect a lot from the Panasonic G2. In many ways, the Panasonic G2 delivers, with the same high-resolution electronic viewfinder and the wide, articulating LCD, now enhanced with the magic of touch to set things like focus and simple Quick Menu selections.

Minor interface tweaks also make the Panasonic G2's operation a little more obvious, like making the Front dial into a Rear dial. Controls that are seen are more likely to be used and this one was lost out on the front of the grip. I also like how they placed the Record button on the top deck, matching the GF1. What I don't like is how they slowed down video activation time, taking a second to start up and chopping more than a half second off the end of videos. Overall, though, the video performance of the Panasonic G2 has indeed improved, with good image quality, better subject tracking and quite competent focus performance.

Autofocus is fast, still faster than most of the SLD competition, with much less wobbling as it seeks for focus than I see in the Olympus Pen cameras (though their performance has recently been improved with a firmware upgrade).

Where I have a little trouble is one of the areas Olympus didn't upgrade significantly: the sensor. From what I can tell, this is the same sensor used in the Olympus and Panasonic cameras, save for the GH1 and it's starting to show its age, especially at higher ISOs. When I first looked at the G1, it was the first and only example of high ISO quality in a Micro Four Thirds sensor. Then came the Olympus E-P1, which did noticeably better at high ISO and at color rendition. The G2 still has the same high ISO problem that plagues its brethren starting at ISO 1600 and it also inherits something from the Panasonic line in general: trouble with yellows. Indeed, yellows look green and oranges look brown -- very unflattering.

Still, printed performance is great and if you shoot in Raw and develop in a program like Adobe Lightroom, you won't need to worry as much about the colors.

Optical quality went down just a bit from the original 14-45mm kit lens that shipped with the original G1 and the GF1. It's still pretty good, though, especially after its tweaked a bit by software post-capture. The lens is light and simple and small, hiding in almost any pocket, which is the beauty of the system over a dSLR.

Aspiring videographers should probably look into a GH1 while they're still around. They cost a pretty penny, but perform pretty well for video. Overall, the Panasonic G2 is a big improvement on the G1, offering a refreshing new way to interact with the camera. It will serve the needs of the enthusiast photographer and the consumer shooter looking for a high quality, yet light weight digital photography solution, whose accessories and lenses will fit in the smallest of camera bags. It's a Dave's Pick.

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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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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 the Nikon 'Friends of the 8800' discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee9b16a

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

John asks about the high used prices for the A720 IS at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eeb0143/1

Read about Nikon lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=5

Visit the Beginners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b2

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Just for Fun: At DiMaggio's Grave

It started innocently enough. After dinner, Joyce suggested we go to Target. She needed a few things. And we agreed, just to get out of the house for a change.

Nice as it was to go for a spin, the idea of ending up at Target became more and more disturbing the closer we got. We prefer small stores. And we never buy anything anyway.

So when we got to the parking lot we volunteered to return in an hour. We'd go to the cemetery, we thought. We have lots of friends there and they don't mind when we just drop in.

But was it still open?

It turns out that the gates aren't locked until sunset. And sunset in the spring is around 8 p.m. We had plenty of time.

We briefly visited the old boys, pruning their headstones and promising next time we'd bring them a little something special. Those old guys are more fun dead than most of the people we know who are still alive. Just remembering some of the times we had always brings on at least a smile. We may be the only person in the cemetery with a smile on their face.

We'd brought along a Canon A3100 so we took a few shots of the geese honking around the grounds and a movie of the flags in the military section of the cemetery. Then we got in the car and started back to Target before anybody had a chance to close the gates early.

That's when it occurred to us to stop by DiMaggio's tomb.

It's easy to find if you know where it is. There's even a parking place right in front of it. A short black stone tomb with a plaque that concludes with the phrase, "Grace, dignity and elegance personified."

There's always a bucket of baseballs and a couple of bats at the front of the tomb. Tributes from modern day players to one of the greatest who ever played the game.

The first thing that caught our eye, though, was the long shadow the short tomb had cast over the grass. The black roof of the tomb was a glaring white and the sun was a distant disc behind it. We lined up the shot using a 16:9 portrait orientation and fired (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A3100/YIMG_0166.HTM).

Any digicam is going to blow those highlights, we realized, disappointed in our capture. But we'd done no worse than made a sketch to remind us to return with more firepower.

We would have liked to have made a Raw capture to salvage more of the highlights and preserve the detail of the black tomb. But, frankly, no Raw capture would have been able to recover those highlights. We were shooting directly into the sun.

No, what we really needed was a tripod to shoot a sequence of bracketed shots, exposing for the highlights all by themselves and the tomb all by itself. Later we could composite them as an HDR image with enough color in the sky to see the disc of the sun.

And even better, a few clouds in the sky to give it a little more drama and a little more color, bringing the highlights down. Maybe even a little later in the day, with the sun lower.

That thought, though, reminded us that the gates are locked at sunset. So we hopped back in the car and made our way quietly past the honking geese to the exit.

That's when it dawned on us that DiMaggio's tomb points toward the setting sun only in spring at the start of another baseball season. It's as if the Yankee Clipper has belted another one out of the park. Not to score any runs for those of us still on the field but to underscore a point.

It's how you play the game.

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RE: Duplex Copying

I have just bought an MP640 and have read your review with great interest. Actually, I read your review before buying because I had to replace my earlier MP500 with a shot print head.

Your review in part reads, "Duplex Printing. We had a 14-page manuscript laying around, so we fed it to the MP640 using automatic duplex printing. The option is enabled in the printer when you set plain paper from the casette as the media type and source."

My question is: was this manuscript printed from a computer having been pre-scanned each page one at a time or did you load the manuscript in either tray and duplex print without the use of a computer. If the latter, how did you do this?

-- Hunter

(Good question, Hunter. This was a Pages (word processing) document printed from the computer. Page size was 8.5x11. We used the printer driver to specify duplex printing. The on-screen manual has instructions for two-sided copying (as it calls it) in the Advanced Guide. That would be duplex printing from the printer (not the computer). -- Editor)

RE: Wonderful Site

This short email is just to tell you how much I have appreciated your site. As I believe that feedback is an essential nutrient -- as often underestimated by users -- here is one by a non-professional-but-educated one.

I'm a naval officer engineer (as said, not a professional photographer) in my fifties -- not yet, actually ;-) I've enjoyed amateur photography since I was a teenager and used to develop my B&W shots at home with my Dad's semi-professional gear. (BTW, I still own his beautiful Rolleiflex Automat 3.5 Tessar. WOW!)

But after the Naval Academy, I got married and then got kids. I slowly, but inexorably, put aside my early passion for photography. It was a pleasant surprise when our 15 year-old daughter showed interest in photography and proved to have some skills (even with the low budget 2004 Minolta she currently uses). So I decided to give her a better camera. Recalling when I was an avid reader of photography magazines for unbiased tests and reviews, I looked for something similar on the Internet. And thus I bumped into Imaging Resource, which was unknown to me until a couple of days ago -- and I got fascinated by it.

You have a beautiful and very interesting site, indeed. The way you present your tests and reviews is very professional and accurate, thorough and comprehensive. It's easy to understand and interpret even by non-professional users. I was particularly impressed by how carefully you have designed your photo tests and test sets and by the depth and fairness of your reports.

Even if the Web site's overall design is not one of the fanciest around (which somehow misled my attention, at first), I believe that the contents are by far the best that I have yet found. Especially for those, like me, who are seeking for evaluations and comparisons based on factual data, rather than emotional impressions. Well done!!! (Or, if you were in the Navy: BRAVO ZULU!)

-- Daniele Romano

(Thank you for the feedback, it is indeed valuable. Reader interaction is incredibly important, lest we lose sight of our reason for working as hard as we do.... Like you, I put aside photography when maintaining a darkroom became too difficult, choosing instead to pursue computers and technology. Great was the day when computers became powerful enough to handle photographs and my hobby could meld with my profession. I've heard that same story from many of us who work at Imaging Resource.... We're interested in and enjoy collecting data about cameras, using them and sharing what we think about them with readers. As photography is a rapidly growing industry, we continue to branch out into other aspects to help our readers in ways that only we can. A case in point is our other site which you may not have discovered yet: SLRgear.com (http://www.slrgear.com). There we both test lenses, and offer a forum for readers to add their own take on lenses they own or have used. As you and your daughter's interest grows to include additional optics, you might find that site useful as well.... Thanks again for writing, and thanks for your service to our country. Bravo Zulu indeed! -- Shawn)
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Editor's Notes

Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) shipped Creative Suite 5 ahead of schedule and Adobe Labs scrambled to release the Lens Correction software for it. Both Camera Raw and Lightroom 3 will offer automatic lens correction, expanding access to the correction modules from Photoshop itself. Meanwhile we're still waiting for Configurator 2.0 to be released.


Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com) has announced its $250 CanoScan 9000F flatbed film scanner with 9600x9600-dpi optical film resolution (4800x4800-dpi for reflective material), FARE 3 and seven EZ buttons.


Apple (http://support.apple.com/kb/TS2518) has released Aperture 3.0.3 [M], a 69.4-MB update to improve overall stability and fix a number of problems.

The company has also released Epson Printer Drivers v2.3.1 for Mac OS X v10.6 (http://support.apple.com/kb/DL900).


Extensis (http://www.extensis.com) has announced a free update to Portfolio 8.5.5, its single-user digital asset management software. The update provides expanded Raw file filter support, full DNG workflow support plus a series of performance and stability improvements.


Epson (http://www.epson.com) has announced the $Epson Perfection V33 and V330 flatbed scanners with 4800x9600-dpi optical resolution and four buttons. The V33 provides impressive image quality and color restoration capabilities for $89, while the Epson Perfection V330 Photo scanner offers both reflective and transparency scanning capabilities for film, photos, 3D objects and oversized documents for $119.


X-Rite (http://www.x-rite.com) has announced the Grand Prize winner and six monthly winners in its Show Us Your Munki video contest. Tony Pernice from New Jersey is the $2,500 Grand Prize winner for "Messin' With Color Munki" (http://www.showusyourmunki.com/winners.html).


Nikon (http://www.nikonusa.com) has announced its AF-S Nikkor 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II lens with Vibration Reduction II, Nano Crystal Coat and optimized autofocus (AF) modes suitable for both FX and DX-format photographers.


Nova media (http://www.novamedia.de) has unveiled its $14.95 FrameLoader to synchronize most digital picture frames with Mac OS X. FrameLoader features a one click sync of iPhoto albums, iTunes playlists and custom media files, converting pictures, music and videos into a format which can be displayed by the frame.


Imgur's Stages of a Photographer (http://i.imgur.com/b2feF.png) plot Knowledge, Quality of photos and How good you think you are. Made me laugh.


Ortery Technologies (http://www.ortery.com) has released its $3,100 PhotoCapture 360M, a software-controlled turntable for 360-degree product photography featuring a motorized USB turntable and control software [W] that when used with a compatible digital camera integrates and simplifies product animations.


The $200 compact MicroFlip flash bracket is the latest invention of Conrad Sloop, former owner and designer of Stroboframe Flash Brackets. The Micro-Flip features several innovations including a flush-mount stainless steel upright arm so thin it disappears into the dSLR grip yet maintains the rigidity necessary to support large flashes.


Clayton Cubitt (http://twitter.com/claytoncubitt/status/10862263814 ) tweets his three-set guide to photography: Be interesting, Find interesting people, Find interesting places. Interesting.


Andrey Tverdokhleb (http://www.raw-photo-processor.com) has released his free Raw Photo Processor 4.1.3 [M] with simulation profiles for various color and black and white films, plus support for the Panasonic G2, Samsung NX10, Canon 550D/T2i and Canon S90. The new version also supports the Panasonic DMC-LX3 1:1 format and CIE Lab 16-bit output TIFF format in all color managed modes.


Ubermind (http://www.ubermind.com) has released its $39.95 Maperture Pro 1.2.8 [M], an enhanced version of its Aperture edit plug-in for geotagging photos. The Pro version adds import of tracklog data from a variety of GPS devices, altitude tagging, reverse geocoding, customizable keywords, and copy/paste of geotag data.


LQ Graphics (http://www.lqgraphics.com) has released its $49.95 Photo to Movie 4.5.2 [MW] with a Cut transition, Apple TV rendering, better media browser responsiveness, a keyboard shortcut for Add Key Frame and bug fixes.


"Laptopograms (http://laptopogram.tumblr.com) are images made by pressing photosensitive paper onto a laptop screen and flashing an image in a manner not unlike contact printing or photograms," according to Aditya Mandayam.


Photoshelter is distributing its free Photography Blog Handbook (http://www.photoshelter.com/mkt/research/photography-blog-handbook) in return for your email address.


Thom Hogan has posted his rules for using image stabilization (http://www.bythom.com/nikon-vr.htm). We'll get you started: "Never turn VR on unless it's actually needed."


Terry White has reviewed the iPad Camera Connection Kit (http://terrywhite.com/techblog/archives/5214). But don't stop there. Hogan has a few more details in his May 4 commentary (http://www.bythom.com).


Calf Trail Software (http://calftrail.com) has released Geotagalog 2.0 beta [M] to automatically combine digital photos with location data from a tracklog, showing a live preview as you adjust camera time settings.


In 1909 Albert Kahn decided to use the new autochrome process to create a color photographic record of "the peoples of the world" (http://www.albertkahn.co.uk/photos.html) and promote cross-cultural peace and understanding. Which takes a while, apparently.


Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 8.6.29 [LMW] with cropping improvements and a fix for Canon scanners on Mac OS X.

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One Liners

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

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

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

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

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Signoff

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

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

Happy snapping!

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

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