|Volume 12, Number 15||16 July 2010|
Welcome to the 284th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Two new strobe attachments win us over with their design and execution. Then David shows you why Samsung is glad nobody else thought of putting an LCD on the front of a digicam. Finally, we point you to a Web site with a photographic perspective rare in its vision. Enjoy!
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Let's face it. Sometimes you just need new toys.
We were lucky to find a couple in the stack of mail that awaited us when we returned from our recent trip. Small toys you can get through the mail were just the ticket.
But it wasn't just the affordability and convenience we appreciated. It was the legs. These are two toys we can play with for a long time.
What are we talking about?
We won't make you guess. After all, it's summer and school is out. We'll just come right out and tell you. We're talking about two new products to shape strobe output from two well-known accessory companies: ExpoImaging's Rogue FlashBenders and Harbor Digital Design's Quick Spots.
ExpoImaging (http://www.expoimaging.com) made its name with the ExpoDisc white balance tool and has since developed the ExpoCap, Ray Flash ring flash adapter and ExpoAperture depth-of-field guides, among other innovative products.
Harbor Digital Design (http://www.harbordigitaldesign.com) is known for its Ultimate Light Box system (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/ULB/ULB.HTM) that can turn your strobe into a versatile softbox.
Both accessories share one notable design trait in common. Neither requires you to modify your strobe. No Velcro, no tape, not even a hair scrunchie.
They're also compatible with a wide range of strobes.
But they do quite different things to the light coming out of your strobe. Let's take a look.
There are three FlashBenders in the Rogue line from ExpoImaging. While they are different sizes, they also distinguish themselves from each other in small details.
But first, what are they?
They're fabric panels that strap around your strobe securely without leaving a trace, similar to David Honl's Speed Gobos and Speed Snoots (http://www.honlphoto.com). The black Cordura shells of various sizes frame a neutral white synthetic fabric that reflects 86 percent of the strobe light and can be wiped clean. The white surface bounces the light from your strobe to your subject, softening the shadows more the larger the panel.
Unlike the Honl products, however, each of the panels is also positionable. Using from one to three rods sewn into the Cordura to hold position, the panels are easily wrapped into snoots, flattened into bounce cards, curled to graduate the light or even barn-doored to block it.
In, short, they're remarkably flexible light benders that do what they're told.
They're well-designed, but they're also, we saw immediately, very well made. We couldn't find a weak point. Everything, including the Velcro contact points (to shape a snoot, for example), are sewn in.
But what really impressed us was how they attach to the strobe. They use a rubberized band on the inside of the wrap which locks with a Velcro strap slightly narrower than the band itself. Why bother, we wondered. Well, because the strap is elastic, ensuring a snug fit. There's a nice rubber Rogue tab on the end of the strap to help you pull the elastic a bit, too.
You might be tempted to align the panel along the long end of your flash lens but the attachment strap doesn't care. If you want to bounce or flag the light from the short end, just strap it on that way.
It doesn't hurt that the white reflective panels are washable, either. But even more impressive is how lightweight the panels are. You'd never know there was a rod in them.
That's what they have in common. Here's how they differ:
So how did they perform?
- Bounce Card with Flag: Weighing about two ounces, the 5x9-inch panel has one rod right up the middle to bend the panel along its spine. Four small Velcro tabs in the corners attach to a black flag. $29.95
- Small Reflector: Weighing just three ounces, the 7x10-inch panel has two rods fanning out to the corners from the bottom center. No separate flag is included. $34.95
- Large Reflector: At six ounces, the 10x11-inch panel has three rods fanning out from the bottom center to the top corners and center. No separate flag is included. $39.95
We took a few test shots using a Nikon D300 and Nikon SB-800 strobe to get comfortable with them. The subject was a small wooden sculpture a few inches from the wall so we could examine both the cast shadow on the wall and the modeling of the sculptural form.
Usually, we diffuse our strobe light through a Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce (http://www.stofen.com). We took a shot like that and one bounced directly off the ceiling as well. We also took a shot using the SB-800's built-in bounce card (which is quite small). Shadows were softest with the ceiling bounce, darker with the diffuser and still slightly darker with the built-in bounce.
First, mounting the three panels to the SB-800 was easier than, well, putting on our own pants. We centered the panel to the strobe lens, folded the inside strap across the front of the strobe and pulled the outside strap across, stretched it and secured it. No adjustment required (and never mind how we put on our pants).
Second, positioning the panels was a breeze. It seemed as if we only had to think about it to get the panel to melt into the shape we wanted. There was no push back or give. They simply moved where we shaped them and stayed there.
So they were very easy to work with.
The larger one, shaped as a snoot, was a bit heavy to hold position aimed straight at the subject. But we had only mounted the SB-800 on its stand, not screwed it into a light stand. Otherwise, no restrictions.
Bouncing the Large Panel as a snoot directly off the ceiling gave softer shadows than the unmodified ceiling bounce. That makes sense because we'd reduced the volume of light to the circumference of the snoot.
It also delivered softer shadows than either the diffuser or the built-in bounce card when used as a bounce card. That makes sense, too, because it's a lot larger than the built-in card.
Even the Bounce Card was large enough to give softer shadows than either the diffuser or the built-in bounce card. In fact, it blew away the small built-in bounce card.
The Small Panel (which is larger than the Bounce Card) also managed softer shadows than the diffuser and built-in card, but we were able to shape it to match that effect, too. It was a versatility we, frankly, aren't used to.
The results didn't suffer for it but we should note that the white surface does not really flatten out. It's wrinkled and bumpy even when flat. That, however, probably only helps diffuse the light.
We didn't travel with them, but having just returned from a cross-country trip, we observed with great pleasure how easily they store flat for easy packing in a camera bag or computer case.
One size pretty much fits all. ExpoImaging cites compatibility with strobes from Canon, Konica, Metz, Minolta, Nikon, Nissin, Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, Quantum, Sigma, Sony and Vivitar.
You can pick up all three as a set for a slight discount. B&H (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/?BI=771&KBID=1047) carries them and the National Association of Photoshop Professionals has a deal for members as well.
The FlashBenders were a hard act to follow but the Quick Spots from Harbor Digital Design managed to do it. In fact, we took our most dramatic shots with them.
Quick Spots are honeycomb grids that snap onto Harbor Digital Design's strobe adapter to turn your strobe into a spotlight. The grid creates a circular, tight beam of light to throw on your subject.
Two sizes are available: a 1/4-inch honeycomb and a 1/8-inch honeycomb. A black plastic frame 1-1/8-inch deep holds the removable honeycomb filter, which itself is an inch deep. You can buy them with or without an adapter. And you can add a Gel Filter Pack, which includes six Lee color filters (Primary Red, Primary Green, Dark Blue, Medium Yellow, Moroccan Pink and 1/2 CT Orange (Sunlight) in a clear vinyl pouch) cut to fit inside the Quick Spot housing in front of the honeycomb grid. Which explains why it's removable.
The frame snaps onto the adapter easily. It's a bit harder to remove, but you can just push it off from inside if you take the adapter off your strobe. Alternately, four small tabs on the corner make it a little easier to pull it off from the outside.
Quick Spots, adapters and Gel Packs are available in a variety of combinations directly from Digital Harbor Design. The base price for one Quick Spot with an adapter is $34.95 (a $10 discount). Subtract $12 if you don't need an adapter. Add $12 if you want both the adapter and a Gel Pack. Add $28.95 to get both sizes with adapters or $39.95 to get both sizes with adapters plus a Gel Pack.
The adapter is what fits between the Quick Spot and your strobe, so you need a compatible adapter. Adapters are available for specific strobe models from Canon, Metz, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Promaster, Sony, Sunpack and Vivitar.
We tested both sizes with a Gel Pack on our old Ultimate Light Box adapter.
The most direct comparison to be made was with the Rogue FlashBender large panel formed into a snoot, which directed the strobe's light directly to the subject. The snoot did not obstruct the light from the strobe where the Quick Spot does. So while the background was nicely spotlit, the subject had a bit less light on it in the Quick Spot images, regardless of the size honeycomb. Slightly less contrast, that is.
That really didn't bother us, but it was the one observable difference.
Between the two honeycomb sizes we noticed that the 1/4-inch version focused the light much more narrowly. And we were shooting at close quarters, just three feet from our subject with the flash about two feet from the camera.
We liked the effect quite a bit, though, so we dropped the Orange filter into the 1/4-inch honeycomb (it fit perfectly) and took another shot. Wow. The sunset drama added by the filter made that shot our favorite.
There's a certain frame of mind that likes to roll its own strobe accessories from orphaned items rolling around in drawers and toolboxes. We have a lot of sympathy for that approach, but we don't have a lot of time. And without the right parts, we often don't do very well. More often than we like to admit, frankly.
These two light modifiers are both well designed and well built. They work right out of the box and do exactly what you expect. No complaints.
There are other solutions, but these rank among the best we've seen. Highly recommended (even if you don't need new toys).
By DAVID ELRICH(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/TL225/TL225A.HTM on the Web site.)
Samsung broke out of the pack in 2009 when it introduced the DualView digicams at a jammed press conference in New York City. The DualView models were the first cameras with two LCD screens: a small one on the front, a much larger one on the back. Now people could properly frame themselves as they captured self portraits of their smiling faces with arms outstretched, checking out their visages on the small screen. The screen also acts as a "watch the birdie" trick as animations appear to hopefully captivate young children. As one exec said at the time, "Why didn't we think of this before?" That little screen created a blockbuster and the Samsung TL225 (and less expensive TL220) are the best-selling cameras Samsung has ever introduced, according to the company.
Besides the unique front 1.5-inch LCD, the $350 Samsung TL225 has a 3.5-inch, 1,152K-dot touch screen that's your main interface, as there's a minimal number of physical keys, just like the recently reviewed Sony TX5 and Canon SD3500. The touch screen GUI isn't quite as slick as the other two but overall the Samsung TL225 is surprisingly sophisticated for what basically looks like an point-and-shoot digicam. How sophisticated -- and more importantly -- how good a camera is the DualView TL225? That's what you came here to find out.
LOOK & FEEL
The Samsung DualView TL225 is a very attractive digicam. Our review sample had a gloss-black finish with a cool purple accent running along the left edge, top and right side of the camera. If purple's not to your taste, it's also available in black with a red accent. The ring surrounding the lens has a silver metallic finish. Also here is the flash and AF Assist/self-timer lamp. The front 1.5-inch LCD screen blends in to the background when off so it's nicely camouflaged. You just tap it if you want to take a self-portrait but more on this later.
Since this is a touch-screen camera, there are only four hardware controls -- Power on/off, Shutter, Zoom lever and Playback button. The zoom is small and may not be for everyone. Since the Samsung TL225 is 3.9 inches wide, it just make sense that there's nothing on the rear other than the 3.5-inch screen and surrounding bezels. Overall the Samsung TL225 measures 3.9x2.4x0.7 inches and weighs 5.78 ounces with battery and card. The unobtrusive pinhole mic is on the top while the speaker is on the left side. Bottom line? The compact Samsung DualView TL225 just looks slick.
The Samsung TL225 has a 4.6x Schneider-Kreuznach zoom with a nice wide-angle of 27mm and 124mm the maximum telephoto setting. This is a good range, especially on the wide side, for landscapes, while still allowing for portraits and reasonable telephoto shots. Maximum apertures are f3.5 at wide-angle and f5.9 at telephoto.
We found soft corners at wide-angle with slight barrel distortion, but it wasn't too bad. Telephoto was softest in the lower right corner but again not terrible and there was slight pincushion distortion.
The Samsung TL225 is a point-and-shoot, so auto functions are the order of the day. If aperture and shutter speed adjustments are on your must-have list this is not the camera for you. However, the Samsung TL225 lets you change these settings in the Night Scene mode (f3.5 or f9.1 with speeds ranging from 1-16 seconds); though at those speeds, you'll need to use a tripod or place the camera on a flat surface.
Similar in a fashion to the Sony/Canon systems, when you power up, icons appear on the left and right sides of the Samsung TL225's main viewing area. You simply tap them to make adjustments. For the main shooting operations, press the camera icon on the left and you have access to Smart Auto, Auto, Program, Scene, Dual Image Stabilization and Movie. Press the one you want and the camera is ready to go.
In Smart Auto, the camera guesses the scene and a relevant icon appears. The options include Macro, Landscape, Sunsets, Close-ups of colorful subjects (i.e. flowers) and so on for a total of 16. This is a nice assortment and the camera did a good job choosing the appropriate subjects. Auto is simply that and the Samsung TL225 will not make anything but basic adjustments. I don't know why manufacturers have Smart Auto and Auto especially for mainstream buyers who probably wouldn't know the difference between one or the other, but that's just me. Program allows for a bit of control, but not much that would excite serious shutterbugs. You can adjust exposure compensation, white balance, ISO, Face Detection and sharpness, but not the aperture or shutter speed.
Scene is exactly what it says, offering 13 options including the standard Landscape, Night, Portrait and the not-so-typical Beauty to adjust skin tones and cover blemishes. The Children mode puts the 1.5-inch front LCD to work, showing an animation that will hopefully catch your kiddies' attention so they'll look at the camera.
Movie mode lets you choose resolution and frame rate. 1280x720 HQ is your best option, available at 30 or 15 frames per second. A higher compression (lower quality) 720p mode is also offered at 30 or 15 fps. 640x480 at 30 or 15 fps and 320x160 at 60, 30 or 15 fps are also available. Clips with mono sound up to 20 minutes can be recorded in the MPEG-4 part 10 AVC H.264 format.
The Dual OIS setting provides two kinds of image stabilization: optical and electronic for shooting in very low light. Optical image stabilization can be engaged in all other modes including Movie, but sound from the IS system may be picked up while recording. Optical zoom is also supported during movies, though audio recording is muted while zooming.
You'll live or die using the touch screen. It's not nearly as sophisticated as those from Sony and Canon. And there are some functions that are simply bizarre.
Icons flank the main view screen. You tap on the camera icon on the top left which gives access to the main mode options as detailed above. Once you make your choice there's an "up" arrow on the lower level of the screen. Tap this and a submenu appears, showing the options for that mode.
In Smart Auto you can only change resolution from one megapixel to 12 megapixels. Go into Program mode, though and your options include everything from ISO to exposure compensation.
If the camera is on a tripod, it can be harder to tap the right spot on the screen. If that's the case, tap the menu icon on the bottom center of the screen and you get an expanded version of the adjustments available along the bottom row. You can swipe up and down through the lists to get to the function you want in order to make adjustments very quickly.
Icons also appear on the left to change focus type (normal/macro), engage the self timer and so on.
Then you enter bizarro-land. Press the arrow on the right of the screen and a shaky camera icon appears. While holding this with your thumb, you tip the camera forward and icons show that if you do that, you'll engage the Movie mode. Tip it back toward you again and you're in Program. Move it counterclockwise and you're in Smart Auto. In Playback mode, touching the "shaky" icon puts the camera in Slide Show mode or lets you select a favorite or protect a photo.
This is one of the weirdest interfaces I've used. Why did they do this? Your guess is as good as mine. Whatever, it's a flop.
That on the table, if you stick to the basic adjustments, the DualView touch screen system is straightforward and you'll be up and running in short order.
STORAGE & BATTERY
The Samsung TL225 comes with a 3.7V 720 mAh lithium-ion battery rated for a below-average 180 shots (per Samsung's measurements). Purchasing a spare battery makes sense given the drain from the two LCD screens. The Samsung TL225 uses an in-camera method of charging rather than a separate plug-in device. The supplied cable connects to a proprietary jack on the bottom of the camera then to a supplied AC adaptor. Take the adaptor off and use the same cable to connect via USB to your computer.
Samsung only supplies an RCA A/V cable, no HDMI cable for connecting to an HDTV. Given Samsung is the largest maker of HDTVs in the world, you would think they'd want their consumers to enjoy a camera/HDTV experience. But like Sony, they need to squeeze a few extra bucks from shoppers for this key accessory. To make matters worse, there's no mini HDMI jack on the Samsung TL225; you need a special adaptor that plugs into the bottom of the camera. Terrific.
Another disappointment is Samsung's use of microSD or microSDHC cards (according to the user manual, Samsung only guarantees compatibility up to 4-GB). Most photographers have little experience with microSD cards unless they have them in their cell phones. They are very small, hard to handle and you'll typically use an adaptor to plug it into your card reader. It's not a total deal breaker but Samsung should be more consumer-friendly in its media choices.
I had the opportunity to use the DualView over a period of weeks. Fortunately, spring had finally arrived so there were plenty of colorful blooms to attract me, like bees to flowers, if you'll forgive the seasonal metaphor. Stills were shot at full 12.2-Mp resolution with best compression levels. Videos were also shot at maximum resolution and frame rate. Smart Auto was used often, as was Program. I delved into the menu options where appropriate, but remember this is a point-and-shoot with hardly any manual adjustments (focus, shutter speed, aperture) other than in one Scene mode. If those tweaks are on your list, definitely look elsewhere.
Since the raison d'etre of the Samsung TL225 is its DualView system, I had to take some shots of me and my wife while visiting a local botanical garden. The system worked fine. You simply tap the front screen to turn it on, aim it toward yourself and frame your shot. With Face and Smile Detection enabled, the camera clicks when you show your pearly whites -- no need to press the shutter. It's a little slow to detect and act on your smile, slower than the Sonys we've used, but overall this is a fun feature and we can easily understand why social networkers love it. All that's missing is built-in WiFi for quick uploads.
I attended a family Christening and had the chance to try out the built-in animations in the Children scene mode. The clown animation fascinated several youngsters and kept them focused on the camera -- exactly what it was intended to do. Note that the clown does not rotate in vertical mode, but that'll probably just make it more fun for the kids. It did not work on my two cats who merely seemed annoyed that I disturbed their naps.
The Samsung TL225's interface is a bit quirky. When you're in Smart Auto you can't turn on the front screen via the touch menu -- you have to tap the front. When you're in Program by tapping the set-up icon on the lower left you can turn on the front LCD and for some reason it shows one of the icons (Flash) there. I couldn't figure out the reason for that one. Also sometimes tapping the front screen got it to work quickly while at other times I had to tap it repeatedly to make it come to life.
Although my Samsung TL225 review sample worked well for the most part, another camera sent to the IR labs didn't fare so well. It didn't turn on with a light tap and a harder tap cracked the front cover. Luke, our lab tech, had difficulty turning the front screen off using taps and had problems accessing icons while the camera was on a tripod. Ouch! I did not use a tripod so that was not an issue for me.
Overall I found the Samsung TL225 quite responsive. The AF system grabbed focus quickly. Shutter lag performance was impressive but a little slower at tele (0.47 second) than at wide (0.36), which is normal. Pre-focus is 0.126 -- a decent, but not stellar figure. Startup takes 1.9 seconds, not bad.
With all of the flowers and trees in bloom, we gave the Samsung TL225's Macro mode quite a workout. Images looked good with reasonably close focusing and close view. Samsung states 5cm in macro, 3cm in Super Macro are as close as you can get. Results from our lab were pretty sharp across most of the sensor. The flash didn't throttle back well but we're talking pretty close in our usual tests. Colors of tulip rows were pumped pretty dramatically, but other scenes seemed fine.
Flash exposure is a little uneven at wide-angle, according to our tests. ISO is raised to 480 for grainy, soft results. It's more even at telephoto but ISO rises to 640. With my ISO test subject I found digital noise under control up to 200 with 400 getting too soft for my tastes. Also noticeable was the difference between the optical image stabilization system of the Samsung TL225 and competing Sony/Canon set-ups. Let's put it this way, Samsung has some work to do in order to catch up. In addition, Auto White Balance was pretty yellow in incandescent light while manual looked all right, but somewhat cool and underexposed. Outdoors with plenty of sunshine there were no problems. Like most point-and-shoots, sunshine and a flash are the order of the day for quality output.
To watch movies on your HDTV, you'll need to spend around $40 for an HDMI accessory kit available from Samsung or other retailers. We also used a microSD card adaptor to play the clips on our PCs using Windows XP Pro and Vista Premium (older desktop, newer laptop). Video quality is about right for a pocket camera: not perfect, but usable. What's nice is that you can zoom optically while recording, both in and out and if you move the cameras slowly enough, the image stabilization makes for a decent image. Note that you'll likely need a more modern computer with at least a dual core or equivalent processor to play most HD files, as it takes a little more horsepower.
Press the playback button and there's a variety of ways to review and edit your shots. You can shake the camera to start a slide show, if that floats your boat.
On the left of the screen are a series of icon for more choices. Tap the face icon and you'll see every show with a face which is a fast way to find a portrait. You can rotate or resize images plus you can change the Photo Style and add Special Effects. Style options include soft, vivid, forest, retro, cool, calm, classic (sepia), negative and custom RGB. With the Special Effects you can adjust the background, make them Elegant (change brightness and softness), even adjust brightness, contrast and saturation. One of my favorites was Noise so if you're not happy with the graininess you get from shooting at high ISOs, you can add some more!
I can easily understand why the Samsung DualView TL225 and its less expensive sibling, the TL220, are big sellers. The second screen separates it from the dozens of other digicams introduced every year and actually does help get quality self-portraits with ease. The fact we're in a world of people who like taking self portraits with their friends adds fuel to the sales fire. We have a few minor issues with the camera's interface and its uneven photo/video quality, but for people who want to document their lives 24x7 populating their Facebook, YouTube and Twitter pages with portraits, the Samsung DualView TL225 is tailor made for the job and earns a Dave's Pick.
At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:
- Reviewed: Samsung TL225 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/TL225/TL225A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Fujifilm FinePix HS10 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/HS10/HS10A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Sony Alpha NEX-3 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/NEX3/NEX3A.HTM)
Among our daily Web visits, we almost always end up at Michael Johnston's The Online Photographer (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com). Mike, former editor of Photo Techniques magazine, calls TOP a daily news Web site in a blog format but we don't go there for the news or any blogging.
We go there to relax.
Each day there's an item or three discussing a topic or two, fleshed out with some of the more thoughtful comments we've seen on the Web. There are gear items every now and then, but what we most enjoy are the other topics. In fact, we enjoy TOP for its focus on photography, not cameras.
Mike, not surprisingly, put it best: "Our mission: to help connect today's photo enthusiasts to photography's culture: its tradition, history, industries, best practices, accomplishments, literature, theory, legal issues and current events."
And in November he'll have been doing it for five years, supported by advertising, voluntary subscriptions and affiliate relationships.
Some topics take on a life of their own. A recent example is "Mike's Darkroom" (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/mikes-darkroom/), a blow-by-blow (hammer-wise anyway) account of Mike's quest to build a darkroom in his leaky basement. He's got a lot of pent-up negatives.
But he's also got a big crush on art prints. He collects them (as well as fine art photography books) and even arranges the occasional print offer (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/print-offers) of other people's work. One of which was a dye transfer print offer from Ctein (http://ctein.com), a crack photographic printer with a weekly column on the site.
Ctein's column this week asks if the iPad is "the best display that had ever been put into a portable device." To answer the question, he configures one as a secondary display for working on images when traveling. And likes it.
Mike doesn't just buy photography books, he writes about them, too. His appreciation of Judith Fox's I Still Do: Loving and Living with Alzheimer's featuring photographs of her afflicted husband was particularly moving. "And the pictures are a quiet triumph, it seems to me. They make a song with no note out of place, economical, quiet, but extraordinary. Definitely in a minor key. Sad. The story is one of trouble and decline, confusion and anguish, and the tragedy that in the end belongs to us all. But it's also suffused with acceptance, affection, and real devotion," he writes.
That sort of thoughtfulness gets noticed. In this case, by the book's author, who wrote to him to thank him for "the beautiful and thoughtful review, as well as for helping to spread the word about a horrific disease that impacts individuals, families and communities."
Art appreciation also makes an appearance. In the piece entitled "We Hear from the Photographer" (http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2010/07/we-hear-from-the-photographer.html), he quotes Ken Tanaka's reading of a portrait Mike recently acquired by Patricia Dalzell. And that leads to Ms. Dalzell's appreciation of Ken's observations in which she reveals a bit more about the composition of the image. In the end, you can't help learning something.
Which is why it's on our daily list of sites to visit. And a great way to end the day, too.
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:
Follow the Sony Alpha NEX-5 discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eeb022b
Visit the Panasonic Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.eea297f
Read (a lot) about the CanoScan 9000F scanner at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eeb0378
Read about Nikon lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=5
Visit the General Q&A Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee718ec
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Thanks for the article on the Coloramas in Grand Central. My father was head of marketing for Kodak and responsible for that project. Back then Kodak had a very close relationship with Life magazine and there was a lot of cross-promotion of the images.
Millions saw every picture as it was installed and every new one was eagerly awaited. Eventually some preservationists felt the images spoiled the magnificent interior of Grand Central. But the pictures remained popular with the public right until the end.
Behind the Colorama Kodak built a small VIP suite. I always felt I was entering a secret space when I visited there.
Anyway, thanks for the memories.
-- Van Messner(The pleasure was ours, Van -- and thanks for writing. We have to say we were a little disappointed not to see at least one 18x60 Colorama at the exhibit, but we really did enjoy the images that were hung on the walls. It must have been quite a show at Grand Central. -- Editor)
Yes, they were something. I think the most popular one was a group of babies sitting in a field. People liked it so much, my dad had the same kids shot in the same positions years later so everyone could see how they'd grown.
-- Van(Bet the curator at Eastman House would love a copy of the follow-up shot! -- Editor)
I have three Ceiva frames, one at home, one at my office (in Lake Bluff, Ill., a suburb north of Chicago) and one at my daughter's apartment in New York City. I must be the Ceiva poster boy, but I enjoy keeping them updated. And the ability to remotely restock images makes it possible to keep my Manhattan school-teacher daughter up to date and in the family loop. (It's much more fun than clearing tables and doing dishes!!!) My only problem is that with eight grandchildren, their 50 photo capacity is insufficient. Deciding which photos to retire can be difficult and will get more difficult in a few days.
(No question, being able to update frames remotely (with nothing more than an email in some cases) is a great way to keep them fresh. Keeping them fresh is the problem. -- Editor)
-- Mike Greenfield
Thanks for the article: The Frame That Told a Story. You made me tear up!!
I will remember this and use the idea as well. Thank you!!!
-- LuAnn Hunt(Thanks, LuAnn! -- Editor)
What a great story and wonderful idea. Many thanks for the suggestion.
-- Stan(Thanks, Stan. Probably should suggest a frame size (not too small), too. Our frame was 10-inches, which was just about right for the room. -- Editor)
I've been receiving your Digital Photo Newsletter for a couple of years now and read (some times scan) through each one. This newsletter has been both educational and emotional. Educational and very interesting regarding the history and technology of Coloramas, I thoroughly enjoyed this.
The emotional was the story of your beloved mother-in-law. It touched me especially as our family very recently lost our father and then five months later we lost two uncles on the same day, one in Texas and the other in Oregon. Although we did not use the digital frame, the funeral director took all the pictures we brought them and played them on the TV in the room, guess you could say it was like a large digital frame.
-- Vickie Buckwalter(First, our condolences for your losses, Vickie.... In addition to the photo frame, we had three photo boards at the funeral home. But three large screen TVs would have been a great idea. That funeral director deserves a prize! -- Editor)
RE: Accessory Lenses
[Translated from the Spanish]
I have a Panasonic Lumix FZ35 and want to acquire both a macro lens and a zoom lens for this model. Where can I complete the set? This camera is spectacular -- I am very pleased to have acquired such an excellent product.
I am located in Bogota, Colombia. For me it is important to purchase these lenses because I have not been able to take some photos of very small subjects.
-- Juan Manuel Gonzalez(There's nothing more to buy, Juan. It's all built-in. See http://panasonic.net/avc/lumix/compact/fz35_fz38/af.html#soft_focus for the details. -- Editor)
RE: WiFi to Printer
When I perform consultations on patients for oculo-facial plastic surgery I need to obtain photo documentation for insurance purposes. I had previously used the Polaroid professional instant camera which had several focal lengths to choose from allowing me to get good up close photos macros of eyelids. The ability to get the instant 4x6 photos was useful and saved me from having to download from the compact flash card to a computer then to go through the motion of printing at a later date.
I have wondered if there is a way to WiFi to a printer a few feet away that would print out the specific photos I need. Can you suggest a system with 6- to 7-megapixel resolution and a compact portable printer that only needs to print out 4x6 or less prints that can be carried from office to office and only needs to print out 20 to 30 prints in a day? Speed is not a priority, but portability is.
I purchased extra Polaroid film last year and stalked up on the film but are running out of film and need to solve this dilemma.
-- Frank Christensen(WiFi printing directly from a camera never really took off. Kodak did implement a system (the EasyShare One with a WiFi doc that printed dye-sub 4x6 prints, both using WiFi SD cards to communicate) but the WEP security it used is not long for this world. The all-in-one photo WiFi photo printers expect data from your computer, not a camera. You can't, for example, send a photo from an Eye-Fi WiFi SD card to the printer directly. You could, however, set up a watched folder on your computer that would print whatever was written to it (and have the Eye-Fi card write to that folder). Bluetooth is available on many printers and can added to any PictBridge printer with a small $40 USB dongle. There was only one Bluetooth camera I recall reviewing (again by Kodak) but it's common technology on cell phones. If you've got a camera that meets your needs on your cellphone, you can snap the shot, transmit the photo via Bluetooth to the printer and get your print. But that's a big if. As we reported in March, the Impossible Project (http://www.the-impossible-project.com) has begun selling black and white PX 100 Silver Shade Instant film for the SX-70 and 600 series cameras at $21 a pack. -- Editor)
RE: Classes? In Summer?
Thank you for the newsletter. I was wondering if you knew of any classes in digital photography (preferably beginner-intermediate). I have been taking photos for 15-plus years with point-and-shoot cameras and recently got a Canon Rebel XSi with an extra lens. I want to learn everything about this camera. Do you have any suggestions?
-- Antoinette(Good question, Antoinette. You probably have enough background with your point-and-shoot experience to really profit from one of Peter iNova's ebooks ( http://www.imaging-resource.com/cgi-bin/nl/pl.cgi?dgn). For a full course, you might look at your local community college. We ran an item in a recent newsletter (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html) on Canon's free seminars in several National Parks this summer http://OhRanger.com/Canon). Those are always fun. Just a few ideas to get you started. -- Editor)
Kate Labs (http://www.katelabs.com) has released Frame 1.5 [MW] for testing digital cameras and lenses. Analysis of exposure, color, resolution, vignetting, and noise (signal-to-noise ratio, dynamic range, tonal range, and color sensitivity) is performed using a variety of test charts, including the Kodak Q-13, Q-14 and Q-60. Frame is $299 but a free Frame Lite version is also available.
X-Rite (http://www.xrite.com) has released ColorChecker Passport software 1.0.2 with full support for Lightroom 3, improved color extraction for better profile accuracy and improved patch detection (eliminates errors in cases where the luminance of light-colored patches meets or exceeds the luminance of the white patch).
Mamiya (http://www.mamiya.com) has released Leaf Capture Remote 2.0, remote viewing software for the DM-series and RZ33 digital cameras and backs with newly-enhanced resolution capabilities for the iPad and iPhone 4, Pause/Play, flip-through image browsing and improved 1:1 image quality.
The company also announced a trade-in program for its new Mamiya RZ33 digital camera kit. From July until Sept. 30, photographers who purchase a new Mamiya RZ33 digital camera kit can trade in their existing RZ67 or RB67 camera body for a credit of $1,000 towards the purchase of the Mamiya RZ33. There is a limit of one trade-in per RZ33 purchased.
HP (http://www.hp.com/go/designjet) announced its free Large Format Photo Negative application will be released at Photokina in September. Using the software on an HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printer with the correct transparent substrate, you will be able to produce large photo negatives, which can be used to produce high-quality fine art prints in a wide range of classic, alternative photographic processes.
Camera Bits (http://www.camerabits.com/) has released Photo Mechanic 4.6.5 [MW] as a free update with lots of little fixes.
The free JAlbum 8.9.2 [LMW] (http://jalbum.net) updates its embedded text editor with a tabbed interface, antialiased text, multi-document search/replace; adds context-sensitive help; and includes an enhanced Notification API.
Journalism professor Yumi Wilson decided to spend her summer reporting from Vietnam (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/wilson/detail?entry_id=67615). "To prepare for my upcoming trip to Vietnam, I have purchased a dSLR camera, a MacBook Pro, an Xi8 camera and an external hard drive," she blogs. After a day practicing with the gear, she advises, "Get out of autofocus. Play around with the powerful tool in your hands. Get to know what it can do. Let it become the means in which you express your art." Can't remember if she mentioned subscribing to this newsletter, too.
Lensbaby (http://www.lensbaby.com/kubotacontest) has announced The Kubota Contest. Submit two photos taken with any Lensbaby lens by August 6 for a chance to win Lensbaby and Kubota Bucks as well as your own copy of the new Kubota Creative Tools, The Lensbaby Pak, available in September.
Want to know what a panorama would look like from inside a flower. Just visit http://www.flong.com/blog/2010/rectified-flowers to see a few rectified flowers.
Hamrick (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 8.6.44 [LMW] with fixes for SCSI, USB and network scanners.
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