|Volume 12, Number 13||18 June 2010|
Welcome to the 282nd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We review an ingenious box that connects up to five devices to the Internet over Sprint's 4G cellular network. Then David applauds Nikon's 2010 long zoom before we go back nearly 100 years to remember what photography used to be like. Smile!
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We find ourselves sending this issue of the newsletter from Rochester, N.Y. after a red-eye out of San Francisco twice delayed and a medical emergency out of Chicago that forced a landing at the nearest airport. Which turned out to be Rochester.
Sometimes things just work out.
We'd packed our survival kit, including a small WiFi router but we weren't staying in a hotel. It's a bit much to reconfigure a host's household when they don't themselves have wireless, but an enterprising nephew provided a tempting solution.
Nephew brought over Sprint's Overdrive 3G/4G mobile hotspot by Sierra Wireless. This small box connects to Sprint's cellular network, providing Internet access to up to five wireless devices. And at speeds up to 4G.
He pulled the shiny black device out of its attractive matching shiny black box and gave us the two minute briefing. Press the Power button down for a second or so (it flashes every second when the device is powered on). Check the network it has found (3G or 4G) on the 1.4-inch LCD and note the five digit password.
With WiFi enabled on the laptop, you just select the Overdrive network and enter the password you just recorded. And you're good to go.
There's a USB port to attach a cable to either a wall plug or a computer for charging the 1830 mAh battery, which drains in three hours. There's also a microSD card slot for up to 16-GB of shared network storage and GPS.
We asked Nephew what the small silver button on the side was for. "It's a mute," he said, "for the warning sounds." That was the only mystery.
"Thanks," we said. "See you later!"
It really was as simple as he said. We took the Overdrive out of the box and gave it a little charge while we ate dinner. It's just 3.14x3.14x0.61 inches and 4.51 ounces. Pocketable.
Then we disconnected it and turned it on. That may sound a bit funny, but it was very handy. You can put the Overdrive anywhere because it doesn't need a cable for anything.
When we first booted it up, we were in the middle of the basement of a two-story home built into the side of a hill. It found Sprint's 3G network.
But wait, we said. We're in Rochester where Sprint has a 4G network cooking. Sprint claims 4G downloads over 10 Mbps and uploads up to 4 Mbps with average downloads of 3-6 Mbps. That's about twice as fast as 3G speeds.
So we shut it off and took it to the window where we turned it on again. And sure enough, we connected to Sprint's 4G network. A weak 4G signal at 20 percent, according to the meter displayed on the LCD. It didn't matter where in the room we put it because we got the strongest possible WiFi signal from our laptop.
Lucky us. Sprint has invested in a lot of bandwidth for 4G but coverage is another story. If you've got it, rejoice. But if you don't have it where you are, you can still connect to the 3G network.
Performance was surprisingly spry for cellular traffic. Our Web surfing was equivalent to lower-tier DSL or cable modem networks. But our upload times were swifter than our basic cable connection.
On the Time-Warner Road Runner cable network our download speeds were 0.73 Mbps (731 kbps or 91.4 KB/sec transfer rate) and uploads were just 0.12 Mbps (119 kbps 14.9 KB/sec transfer rate).
But using Sprints' 4G service we clocked download speeds as high as 5.69 Mbps (5694 kbps or 711.8 KB/sec transfer rate) and upload speeds of 0.79 Mbps (791 kbps or 98.9 KB/sec transfer rate).
The one caveat was battery life, which Sprint estimates at about three hours of continuous usage. That's longer than we can sit at the keyboard, actually, without yearning to take ballet classes. But it can be a problem.
Still, that's long enough to survive a Steve Jobs keynote on, say, the newest iPhone without being obliged to jump off the WiFi network for the sake of a demo. And to certain journalists that's a very valuable attribute.
And after an hour of use, we still had 70 percent battery life without using GPS.
For photographers, the image uploading speed is the real benefit. One of the slowest tasks we regularly perform is uploading digicam gallery shots to the Imaging Resource server from our laptop in San Francisco. Especially when they're 14-Mp images.
Our Rochester trip interrupted our review of the Nikon Coolpix S8000. So just before we left, we made sure to upload a dozen or so images for evaluation. We didn't want to wait for a cable modem upload in the evening when everybody on the network was gaming.
But with the Overdrive, we dared to upload a handful of new shots. And they went up about as fast as they do in the bunker with a higher tier DSL connection. It wasn't an inconvenience at all.
Of course, the nice thing about a cellular router is that you can use it anywhere. You don't have to be near a WiFi connection. Just slip it into your pocket, press a button to turn it on, log onto it with your favorite device and you have a high-speed Internet connection over the cellular network.
In fact, Sprint has designed an iPad case to hold the Overdrive too (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndjvWzHQMOc) so you can use a WiFi iPad to tap into the 4G cellular network. And because the Overdrive brings GPS to the party, you won't miss GPS on the WiFi iPad either.
Like any good router, the Overdrive has a number of settings you can configure when you access it from your router (http://overdrive). Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE are all supported. The default password is "password."
From the default status page, you can log in to go through the options on four tabs: Device, WAN, WiFi and Router. GPS options on the WAN tab, for example, let you select the mapping service from Google Maps, Mapquest, Bing and Yahoo. You do have to sign on to the GPS agreement on privacy first, however. WiFi options provide the usual security options.
The Overdrive HTML page also provides a status page that looks like the Overdrive's LCD. And you can open a small-windowed version of it to keep on your desktop, too.
Unlike many HTML management systems we've used, we found the Sprint Overdrive package well designed, easy to use and with plenty of help.
Our unit was a demo so we weren't paying the meter. That runs $60 month with $100 up front for unlimited data. And the Overdrive itself at Amazon is another $49.99 (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0032JTPMK/?tag=theimagingres-20) with a two-year contract.
But from a strictly functional point of view, this beat the daylights out of bringing a WiFi router along not just when you're a guest but even to the hotel (where you are still often charged for Internet access). And it even embarrasses a few home and office setups, too.
Now if Sprint can just expand coverage, we may be able to bring our network along as easily as our laptop and digicam. Who knows, things may just work out.
By DAVID ELRICH(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CP100/CP100A.HTM on the Web site.)
Summertime and the shooting is easy. No offense to Gershwin, but the warm weather really means it's time to get outdoors and capture memories. Among the most versatile tools for doing so is a mega-zoom digicam that lets you take everything from macro close-ups to super-zoomed telephotos -- and in the case of the Nikon P100, that means a whopping range of 26-678mm (26x). The new 10.3-megapixel Coolpix P100, a major upgrade to last's year's 24x P90, has some additional tricks in its black case, such as the ability to shoot 10 frames-per-second at full resolution and record 1920x1080 Full HD videos. By comparison, the P90 grabbed a decidedly low-def 640x480 at 30 fps. Now we'll put the new camera through its paces to see if it's worth almost $400.
LOOK & FEEL
The P100 is an attractive camera with good balance and a comfortable grip. Like all mega-zooms it has a distinct dSLR look. Although you can't change lenses, its 26x range should be more than enough for most users. Like dSLRs, the lens dominates the front, leaving little room for anything else. You'll also see an AF-Assist lamp and a grip with a nice, textured finish. I found it a good fit. And just like a dSLR, the P100 has a lens cap you must manually remove/attach. Like other mega-zooms, a string is supplied to connect it to the strap. I'm not a big fan of "flapping lens caps" and prefer putting them in a pocket when shooting, but that's just me.
The key feature on the rear is the P100's tilting 3-inch LCD monitor, rated a solid 460K dots. I used it in very bright Las Vegas sunshine and had few difficulties framing shots. The screen pulls out to face up or down, but does not tilt side to side, limiting its usefulness to overhead or low-angle shots. Like all mega-zooms, the P100 has an Electronic Viewfinder: a 0.24-inch screen with 230K dots. A diopter control on the side lets you adjust for your eyesight. Other controls on the rear include a key to switch between the rear LCD and the EVF and the Display button adjusts the amount of icon clutter on screen. Surprisingly, grid lines are only available in PASM modes. Auto shooters should have all the help they can get, so I'm not sure why they omitted grid lines from Auto modes.
Next to Display is the Movie Record start button with a toggle that lets you choose between High Definition and High Speed movie options. At the top right corner of the P100's rear panel is a jog wheel that fits neatly under your thumb for making menu adjustments.
Beneath the rubbery, textured thumb rest are Playback, Menu and Delete buttons surrounding the classic four-way controller with center OK button. The compass points give access to flash, exposure compensation, macro and self-timer options.
On the top of the P100 is a pop-up flash, stereo mics and a raised mode dial that has a nice reassuring click as you change options. The dial covers all the bases, which I'll detail shortly. Next to it is an on/off button with the shutter button angled on the grip. A zoom toggle surrounds the shutter. Two eyelets for the shoulder strap border each edge.
On the left side of the P100 is a speaker and a compartment for mini HDMI and USB outputs. The flexible plastic door seems a bit flimsy, requiring a light touch to avoid snapping it off. Moving closer to the front of the lens is a button to open the flash and a declaration of the camera's 26x lens and Full HD capability.
You find a metal tripod mount on the bottom and a compartment that holds the battery and SD/SDHC card; the Made In Indonesia camera does not accept the newer SDXC card format, nor is it compatible with MultiMedia Cards. The camera measures 4.5x3.3x3.9 and weighs 17.1 ounces with battery and card. Overall the P100 feels substantial but won't wear you down as you carry it around all day.
Clearly the 26x Nikkor optical zoom lens is the defining feature of the P100. It has a range of 26-678mm so you can capture nice wide-angle landscapes and family portraits as well as zoom in on specific trees on mountain tops, if that's your taste. The lens has an aperture range of f2.8 to f5.0 with 14 elements in 11 groups. Macro gets as close as 0.4 inches.
With such a long telephoto setting, every potential jitter is the photographer's enemy. The P100 has 5-way Vibration Reduction including mechanical image stabilization. New this year is a new hybrid VR image-stabilization system that combines sensor-shift and electronic stabilization. Last year's 12.1-Mp P90 didn't have this, but it could bump up sensitivity to ISO 6400; this year's 10.3-Mp P100 only hits 3200. This should mean less noise, but more on this shortly.
The main controls of the P100 are logically placed and well-identified. Even newbies will have no problems picking this camera up and shooting right away in Auto. Since this is a mega-zoom, you'll be moving between wide-angle and telephoto at a furious clip. The toggle switch surrounding the shutter button is a little slow to respond, but once the zoom starts moving, it moves quickly. It's also a two-stage control, move it only a little and it zooms slowly; move the toggle further and zoom is much faster. This variability makes adjusting the zoom accurately quite a bit easier than many competing designs.
I found most of the major controls easy to access, but unlike a dSLR you have to dig into the menu system to access ISO and white balance. It's not a deal-breaker, but is another example of why this type of camera is designed primarily for the point-and-shoot crowd.
Even though the P100 can be used as an aim-and-forget digicam, it offers a variety of modes for the more adventurous. The solid-feeling mode dial offers Auto, Program AE, Aperture and Shutter-Priority as well as Manual. Additional options include U for User designated mode, Sport Continuous, Scene, Scene Auto Selector, Smart Portrait and Subject Tracking. Sport Continuous takes a burst of 60 or 120 frames per second with shutter speeds as high as 1/8000s, but resolution drops to 2 or 1 megapixels, respectively. With Scene you have access to 16 options including Backlit Scene HDR and Night Landscape, both made possible by the backside-illuminated CMOS chip (backside-illuminated chips are said to be more sensitive to light than traditional designs).
The other Scene modes include the usual Portrait, Beach/Snow and so on. Scene Auto is similar to intelligent auto found on other digicams. Here the P100 guesses the scene in front of it and makes the appropriate adjustments; it chooses among seven options. Smart Portrait is similar to Smile Shutter/Detection where the camera snaps the shutter when it detects pearly whites (a smile). It also optimizes exposure for faces and smooths the skin -- who needs plastic surgery? Subject Tracking lets you designate a key subject such as child and the focus area moves along with that person or thing when you keep it in the frame.
Another benefit of the CMOS sensor is much higher movie clip quality. While the P100 doesn't have a movie icon on the mode dial, it does have a dedicated video button on the back. With the toggle set to HD you can record up to 1920x1080 videos at 30 fps; it uses the MPEG-4 AVC H.264 codec (MOV format). This is not the best available for a digicam -- select Sonys shoot AVCHD 1080i at 60 fps. Still, it's miles ahead of the 640x480 offered by last year's P90.
Having used the latest touchscreens from Canon and Sony, I must say the P100's menus seem rather quaint. Not that they're inscrutable or illogically designed, but the straight-ahead linearity seems from a different world in this iPad/iPhone age. It would be nice if Nikon refreshed them with its 2011 models, but it's not really necessary.
When you hit the Menu key -- depending on the mode you're in -- you'll have access to up to four tabs of adjustable parameters. You press the right arrow key to select a tab then use the up and down arrows to step through the choices. In Auto, for example, you only get compression and resolution adjustments. Move to Program and there are 14 options to tweak including noise reduction, bracketing, ISO, metering, burst mode and so on. It's a good selection and if you feel like spreading your photographic wings, the P100 lets you do just that.
STORAGE & BATTERY
The P100 uses SD and SDHC cards but not the newer SDXC format. Since Full HD video is an important feature, at least a Class 6 high-speed card should be used. I filled a 1-GB card rather quickly so consider 4-GB or 8-GB before heading on your journeys.
The P100 is supplied with an EN-EL5 lithium-ion battery. Per CIPA standards it lasts for 250 shots in still mode at full resolution and Normal compression. Given many will shoot at Fine resolution, use the flash, burst mode and shoot videos, a spare makes good sense for anyone planning to spend a long day in the field.
Unlike most any other camera on the market, the P100 can charge the camera battery via the included USB cable. Very nice. As these are built into just about every battery-bearing computer peripheral on the market, it's a wonder why more cameras don't do this helpful trick. The included EH-68P AC adapter and USB cable can be used to charge the battery in-camera without a computer or an optional MH-61 battery charger can be purchased for charging the battery separately.
I took the Nikon P100 along with me on a trip to Las Vegas. I wasn't there to partake in a remake of "The Hangover," just playing more sedate tourists. And there are very few places on Earth that entice photographers more than this crazy town with its bright lights, radical architecture and, yes, natural beauty just a few minutes from Las Vegas Boulevard.
Before getting into the results, let's just say that the P100 is a fun camera, thanks to the 26x zoom which let me capture the top of the Eiffel Tower, stacks of colorful slot machines and the bust of Julius Caesar (not many places where you can pull that off!). It's light, has a good feel and --unlike a dSLR -- won't have you swapping out lenses at inconvenient times or bumming a shoulder massage after carrying one around all day. I had no issues with the quality of the LCD, rarely using the EVF. The menus, while a bit cumbersome at first, are easily mastered so you have access to the photographic tweaks you find appealing. I did most of my shooting at the 3648x2736 pixel Fine setting, kicking off in Auto, then moving through the Mode dial options. Note: Unlike some competing mega-zooms, the P100 does not have a Raw option, so if that is a key consideration, look elsewhere.
I had the camera with me walking The Strip, exploring hotels and casinos. When tired of that I took a scenic drive out to Red Rock Canyon National Park. All in all, it was a good cross section of indoor/outdoor/people shots captured as stills and movies. Once back home I downloaded everything to a PC, made full-bleed 8x10 prints with no post processing and even viewed the videos on a 50-inch plasma HDTV via the P100's HDMI-out port.
Overall I was quite impressed with still-image quality. Colors were very accurate in bright sunshine as well as indoors. Quality images are to be expected in Las Vegas during daytime and the P100 delivered in spades. Blue skies were spot-on to my taste as were the flower sculptures in the Bellagio hotel. The camera was less successful with bright greens and yellows, which were a bit muted. Critically important is Nikon's VR stabilization system and this worked very well at extreme telephoto in almost all cases. It's not perfect, as one of my super-zoomed shots of neon-lit restaurant sign was a bit fuzzy. Given the distance, however, it was still a keeper.
In the lab, wide-angle and telephoto zoom settings produced somewhat soft images overall, even at the center of the frame (telephoto much more so than wide-angle). It was less noticeable on my 8x10-inch prints. Another plus: There was very slight barrel distortion and only a trace of pincushion distortion, thanks to the P100's optional Distortion Control feature. Not surprisingly, distortion was higher than average with it off. Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is actually quite low, with only a hint of coloration on the side of the target lines. Telephoto, however, exhibits a large number of bright bluish pixels, which extend far into the black target areas.
I took some macro images of desert flowers and liked the printed results. This was borne out at the lab where it was determined macro mode captured sharp details at the center of the frame, though blurring is fairly strong in the corners and around the edges. Minimum coverage area is 0.99x0.75 inches, much better than average.
Noise wasn't a major issue for my prints. I shot my test subject at ISO 160 to 3200 and found noise under control up to ISO 800 with it becoming more of an issue at 1600 and 3200. As with any point-and-shoot, try to keep ISO from going above 400/800 for best results. In the lab detail is already soft at ISO 160, becoming increasingly smudged from there on out. Chroma noise is in check to about ISO 1600 and luminance noise pixels become a problem at 3200. The main issue here is loss of detail definition from noise suppression.
The P100 is very responsive and thanks to the back-side-illuminated CMOS sensor, you can grab 10 frames per second at full resolution and 60 or 120 frames per second at reduced resolutions. Continuous High shooting mode captures six Normal compression, 10-Mp shots at 10 fps. Sport Continuous mode captures 60 1-Mp images at 120 fps at 1280x960 or 25 2-Mp images at 60 fps at 1600x1200. The Pre-shooting cache records images at up to 15 fps before you press the Shutter button.
Full autofocus shutter lag is exceptionally good, at 0.17 second at wide-angle and 0.24 second at telephoto. Pre-focus shutter lag is 0.31 second, however, which is actually a little sluggish and slower than full-autofocus shutter lag! Quite unusual.
The 10.3-Mp BSI CMOS sensor performs some additional tricks I used a great deal during my time with the P100. A favorite is Backlit Scene HDR that takes six images and combines them for a more natural, even exposure. This worked tremendously well shooting colored glass sculptures set against a glass ceiling. The difference between the shots using the feature and not were astonishing. Also good is Night Landscape (Handheld Twilight in other cameras using this sensor). Here the camera combines several available-light shots to eliminate noise. Results were good but not as dramatic as Backlit Scene HDR.
As a camcorder tester, it's hard for me to get really excited about digital camera videos. Focus and jelly effect issues make it hard to embrace the camera as a substitute for a camcorder for saving family memories.
The P100's special video modes include high-speed modes with captures up to 240 frames per second that play back in slow motion. Other options are 120, 60, and 15 fps. The 15 fps option actually plays back at 30, so action is sped up rather than slowed down. Shooting in High-speed mode is convoluted and quality isn't great, especially indoors. It looks rather dim and lower res than the regular-speed recording. There's also the fact of having a dual-speed recording: first normal speed with audio, then slow-motion with no audio.
The P100 handles photos quite well, but it's less successful with movies. Yes the 1920x1080 videos are far superior to 640x480 and 720p HD, but they just don't have the color pop and accuracy of a quality AVCHD model shooting at 24 megabits per second. A wind cut filter is available to reduce noise from wind blowing over the dual microphones. Yet I can't expect a $400 camera to perform as well as a $999 camcorder. It would be nice, but so would a visit from Santa Claus or a balanced Federal budget.
In summary, the P100 is quite good at getting decent quality stills from a wildly wide zoom range and it's as fast as some of today's fastest dSLRs in both shutter lag and frame rate, so how can you squint at that?
I have no problems recommending the Nikon Coolpix P100 as a traveling companion for your next vacation, for sports shooting or if you just want a versatile digicam. Photos, even though "only" 10.3-megapixels, are quite good indoors and out. Maximum print size is limited to 11x14 inches, but that covers most needs and even ISO 3200 shots look quite good as 4x6 prints. The P100 can be as easy or complex as you like and it has some nice features that set it apart from the competition. Though not without its share of foibles, the Nikon Coolpix P100 earns a Dave's Pick as one of the more capable megazooms on the market today.
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: Nikon Coolpix P100 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CP100/CP100A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot A3100 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/A3100/A3100A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot SD3500 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SD3500IS/SD3500ISA.HTM)
Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:
Read about Camera Accessories at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2e5
Visit the Pentax Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eea2980
Read about the Canon PIXMA Pro9000 Mark II printer at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eeacf6a/0
Read about Canon lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=4
Visit the Scanners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2ae
It's camera review season around here again and the bubble wrap (if not the champagne cork) is popping. It's always a thrill to see how the new gear has changed the process of taking a photograph. What new kinds of shots you can make, how easy is it to capture difficult subjects, what works, what doesn't.
As we flip through the new camera manuals, we inevitably start sneezing and, eventually, even get a bit dizzy. We put the things down, flip back a few pages and take another run at it. It isn't always clear what's going on.
But the other day, we were dusting the shelves here at the bunker and picked up our grandfather's old camera, a No. 1A Autographic Kodak Junior. What if, just for a laugh, we reviewed that? Might put things in perspective, we thought.
Gramp would have been a tot when the $13 Autographic was introduced in 1914 (about $275 in 2009 dollars) but it would have been just the ticket a few years later when he was in high school. We don't recall seeing any Autographic prints in the old family albums, but the handwritten captioning (pretty ingenious in itself) was optional anyway.
It's in remarkably good condition. The bellows is light-proof and the seal skin unblemished. It begs to be unfolded, to have its shutter cocked, to fire away. Apparently you can load it with 120 film but we're not even tempted, no matter how much it begs.
We found the manual and, before we started sneezing, flipped through the instructions.
The manual notes the Junior could be outfitted with one of two lenses. Gramp's is the Double Lens known as the Rapid Rectilinear with more aperture settings than the Single Lens alternative. Just like him, we smiled, to go for the deluxe model.
If you've seen one manual, you've seen one manual. They're all different and in the details lies the distraction. But the Junior's manual stopped us dead in our tracks when it talked about the difference between old-fashioned Time exposures and the newfangled Instantaneous exposures the Junior can capture.
Of course, no one called them Instantaneous exposures. By the time you get to the second section of the manual, Kodak has nicknamed them Snap Shots.
Were we writing for Sunny Sixteen Resource in 1914, we'd certainly wouldn't have to explain the advantage of an Instantaneous exposure. But these days it takes a little historical perspective to appreciate the innovation.
It's enough to realize that what we can capture today in 1/250 second took the earliest photographers minutes, usually timed by keeping an eye on their watch. And when we say minutes, we mean a lot of them. In 1839, it took between 15 and 30 minutes. By 1842, it still took between 10 and 60 seconds. That's a long time for a subject to hold still.
Apart from the speed of the film (the Junior was designed to use only one emulsion), the different exposure types depended on the shutter. "Perfect familiarity with the shutter is essential to successful picture-taking with any camera," the text admonishes. A bit less true today, perhaps, with some digicams keeping that information entirely to themselves.
There's a little lever on a dial above the lens to set the shutter speed. It has markings for T, B, 25, 500 and 100. But they are arranged in a graphically delightful 25 B 50 T 100 sequence with the letters standing much taller than the numerals. Compare that to today's silkscreened but unreadably dark icons on a black body.
For an instantaneous exposure, all you have to do is set the lever at 25 or 50. That represents the shutter speed in fractions of a second (1/25 and 1/50). The 100 setting should only be used "when taking moving objects in bright sunshine." And if you use a 1/100 shutter speed, you must remember to change the "iris diaphragm" (aperture), too. No intelligent auto mode here.
The aperture, which is controlled by a lever at the bottom of the lens, can be set to actual f-stop markings on the fancy lens. The simpler lens uses four numbered settings for the Uniform System rather than the f-stop system, all of which is explained in great detail. Available settings include f7.7, f11, f16, f22, f32 and f45. Not very fast glass, even for a digicam, today.
Kodak apparently felt that simplifying the markings would make the camera easier to use. Like the 50 for 1/50 second, f8 becomes just 8 in the manual. So when it says, "No. 8 is the proper opening for ordinary instantaneous exposures," it means f8, which is not marked on the dial.
"When the sunlight is unusually strong and there are not heavy shadows, such as in views on the seashore or on the water, use diaphragm No. 16," the manual advises. "With light clouds or slightly smoky atmosphere use No. 5 at 50 or No. 8 at 25." And with heavy clouds, "do not attempt instantaneous exposures." Yes, in italics.
The A-116 film it used was pretty slow. ISO 1600 was not an option.
To actually fire the shutter you have two choices: the push-pin or release C. The push-pin is a cable release. Release C is what we call a shutter button.
So once you're all set, you only have to press the push-pin or push down on release C "with a firm quick movement, at the same time be sure to hold the Kodak rigid, as a slight jarring will cause a blurred negative." Some things never change.
"To take instantaneous pictures the objects much be in the broad, open sunlight, but the subject should not. The sun should be behind the back or over the shoulder of the operator." Still good advice.
Time exposures were leisurely affairs. But they still needed explanation.
Set the shutter to T (for Time). Set the aperture to, well, there's a lot to digest here. Wide open for "all ordinary instantaneous exposures." Stopped down to f8 "when the sun shines." Use f16, as above (strong sunlight with no heavy shadows). Use f32 and f64 "for interiors. Never for instantaneous exposures." You need a one to five second exposure at f128 on cloudy days.
And finally, "Absolute failure will be the result if you use the smallest stop for instantaneous exposures." Absolute, no kidding.
Then press the push-pin to open the shutter. "Time exposure by a watch." And press the push-pin to close the shutter.
Alternately, you could set the shutter to B (for Bulb), recommended for very short time exposures.
"As a general rule," the manual concludes, "make exposures with the cable release instead of with the release C, as the cable release is less likely to jar the camera."
We won't belabor the rest of the capture process, but we do have to point out that focusing wasn't automatic. You had to set the lens to an index plate of distances screwed alongside the lens rail.
"The index plate is marked for 6, 8, 10, 15, 25 and 100 feet. Everything beyond 100 feet is in the 100-feet focus. Nothing nearer than 6 feet can be focused without using a portrait attachment." Super Macro mode wasn't invented yet.
You could frame either a landscape or portrait shot with the Junior. As you would today, you just have to turn the camera on its side. Kodak provided tripod sockets for both orientations, though. Film speeds made them serious about tripods back then.
After the shot, of course, you had to worry about advancing the film to the next frame. But since we spared you the instructions for loading film, we won't bother you with film advance. It involved a key, that's all we'll say.
Portrait advice is freely given in the manual:
"Place the sitter in a chair partly facing the Kodak (which should be located slightly higher than an ordinary table) and turn the face slightly towards the instrument, having the eyes centered on an object at the same level with the lens. Center the image in the finder. For a three-quarter figure the Kodak should be from 6 to 8 feet from the figure; and for a full figure from 8 to 10 feet. The background should form a contrast with the sitter."
The portrait attachment slipped over the "regular lens" to capture "large head and shoulder portraits." The subject could be placed as close as three feet from the lens.
Section IV details using Eastman Flash Sheets ("Pin to a Card and Touch with a Match, That's all there is to using Eastman Flash Sheets") to take photos at night with flash. You'd be well advised to pick up the Kodak Flash Sheet Holder as well, although a piece of cardboard, a pin and a match will do in a pinch.
The manual goes on (as the job did) to discuss camera maintenance (including dusting), film developing, negative printing (this was all black and white) and mounting prints -- all made easier with Kodak products, of course.
And if you needed a little more instruction, there was the Kodak Correspondence College with a tuition of two dollars (the manual was 10 cents), "which includes a handsome cloth bound copy, library edition, of the School Text Book, 'How to Make Good Pictures'." An application form for membership was also included. Hmm, now there's a thought.
You can probably hear the echoes there of today's digicam ecosystem, no doubt. Constants in the education of a photographer, perhaps.
Our short reading of the Junior manual really did make us appreciate the effort Gramp had put into the images he captured and mounted in the photo books we still have today. Every shot must have been a keeper.
No wonder we treasure them still.
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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.
RE: Threading Camera Straps
A small hemostat or surgical needle holder makes threading camera straps simple. Every time I do it I wonder how anyone could possibly accomplish the task without one of these tools. I find them an indispensable camera bag accessory. As a surgeon I have a pile of the disposable ones used in emergency kits, but anyone can find them for about $2 at most flea markets.
-- Randolph Knight, M.D.(That's a great idea we would never have come up with. Thanks! -- Editor)
RE: Hard-to-Read Icons
I just read your article on the Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS. The camera takes good photos but I agree that the icons are difficult to read on the black model. I put some silver permanent stickers on the icons so that I can read them.
Do you have any other ideas on what to do about it?
-- Patricia Tobin(No, Patricia, we have no real fix for that. We suspect over time, you'll memorize what they do and won't need to read the icons. If it's still a problem, you might try copying or printing the black and white illustration from the manual and slipping it into a luggage tag you can slip onto the wrist strap. That's sort of what all those high-paid NFL quarterbacks do <g>. -- Editor)
Thank you for your answer on this camera. I took the camera back to the store today. I'm going to try the silver model on this camera and see what happens.
-- Patricia Tobin(That's an even better idea! -- Editor)
RE: Scanner Speed
I was fascinated by your reviews of Epson V600 and CanoScan 8800F. In conclusion you felt the latter was superior because of its software. In looking at the specs for each, I saw that at 1200 dpi, the Epson took 21ms/line, where the Canoscan only required 12.1ms/line. Wouldn't that indicate that the Canoscan was almost twice as fast in scanning the same item? What am I missing?
I am currently using an Epson V500, but I think it just died and am thinking about a replacement.
-- Arn Jensen(While we did prefer scanning with the Canon over the Epson, we wouldn't call it superior. Especially since we were able to get very good results from the Epson using VueScan.... We don't find scan times themselves to be significant (you know, noticeable). The last three scanners we've reviewed all scan quickly but even more importantly they don't need a warmup time (which can really slow things down). So yes, one might time faster than another, but it's not noticeable. -- Editor)
RE: Medium Format Negatives
What's the most economical scanner to scan medium format negatives 2.25 by 2.25 inches? I want to convert them to a diskette for use on a portfolio.
-- Silvia(You're in luck. For less than $250 you have some nice choices for scanning medium format film. See our sample scans of the CanoScan 8800F, 9000F and Epson V600 at http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN1.HTM -- Editor)
After 600,000 downloads of the beta, Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has released its $299 Lightroom 3 [MW] with a completely redesigned performance architecture to better handle growing image libraries and with a new Raw processing engine with improved noise reduction and sharpening tools for better image quality. The 64-bit capable Lightroom 3 optimizes workflows and allows images to be shared in creative ways, including support for dSLR video files and tethered shooting on select cameras.
Adobe Labs (http://labs.adobe.com) has updated Lens Profile Creator for Photoshop CS5, Camera Raw and Lightroom 3.
LaserSoft Imaging (http://www.silverfast.com) has announced SilverFast at a 25 percent discount through August for the CanoScan 9000F, bringing its NegFix color negative conversion, iSRD defect removal, automatic IT8 calibration and reduced scan times using multi-core code to Canon's 9600-dpi scanner.
Blurb has launched Blurb for Good (http://www.blurbforgood.com) "to create and use books as a means to generate awareness, goodwill and monies for social causes." Blurb for Good authors can set up a page in the Blurb Bookstore to promote their cause and apply to receive a contribution from Blurb for every book sold.
ExpoImaging (http://www.expoimaging.com) has introduced Rogue FlashBenders, a new system of positionable modifiers for shoe mount flash. A $29.95 bounce card/flag, $34.95 small reflector and $39.95 large reflector are available individually or as a $104.85 set. The reflectors can also be rolled into snoots or used as flags.
FlashFoto (http://www.flashfotoinc.com) has released its Face and Hair Compositing Library, software that makes inserting people into scenes "so easy it is practically automatic." See the YouTube demo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpMxXrQXFwI
onOne Software (http://www.ononesoftware.com) has announced that PhotoFrame 4.5.1 Free Edition and PhotoTools 2.5.3 Free Edition now include support for Photoshop CS5.
GroupSmarts (http://www.memoryminer.com) has released its $40 Memory Miner 2.1 [M] with a new HTML5-based Web viewer, Ken Burns-style pan and zoom, a first launch window for new users, improved FTP uploads including secure transfers and more.
JetPhoto (http://www.jetphotosoft.com) has released its free JetPhoto Studio 4.8 [MW] with an enhanced map view to organize geotagged photos, an enhanced Global Search tool for geotagged photos and updates for WebSync and Website Manager to work with JetPhoto Server 1.5 and Pro 2.5.
What's the difference between the photos locals take and the ones tourists take? This Locals and Tourists Flickr set tells all: http://www.flickr.com/photos/walkingsf/sets/72157624209158632/detail/
Web Lite (http://solutions.weblite.ca/pdfocrx) has released PDF OCR X 1.8 [M] to converts PDFs into text. PDF OCR X is free for one-page PDFs and $29.99 for PDFs of any size.
The free JAlbum 8.9 (http://jalbum.net) [LMW] has hooks for a future photo book service, a new notification panel, improvements for developers, a fix for a problem that caused images to be scaled one pixel too small, support for color models other than RGB in the Blur and Sharpen filters and more.
Think Tank Photo has published a free Multimedia dSLR Buyers Guide online (ttp://www.thinktankphoto.com/BG/buyersguide.html).
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