|Volume 12, Number 16||30 July 2010|
Welcome to the 285th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. Ah, variety. We talk about the art of photography and visit a site that makes it a game while revealing the new technology in Panasonic's successor to its beloved LX3. David even does some stunt shooting with the rugged Panasonic TS2. Something for everyone!
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For 75 years the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has been diligently bringing the best work of recent (including living) artists to an audience hungry for art of their own time. To celebrate, the museum has displayed some 400 works plus some amusing documentation from its archives in an Anniversary Show (http://www.sfmoma.org/exhibitions/401).
We dropped by to blow out a few candles.
The Anniversary Show is just one of three current exhibits at the museum. The top two floors are inhabited by selected works from the Fisher Collection. And just below them is a large show of photographs of man-altered landscapes. There's so much going on it seems ridiculous to just buy a ticket. You feel like paying rent so you can live with these exhibits for a month.
We took in all three shows plus the sculpture garden and a rehearsal of the Merola Opera Program's Schwabacher Summer Concert at Yerba Buena Gardens (http://merolaopera.com) across the street. Talk about hunger.
But two black and white photographs we saw really provided us enough to chew on for several days.
The first was right at the beginning of the Anniversary Show. It was a smallish gelatin silver print of a cabbage leaf (http://artsearch.nga.gov.au/Detail-LRG.cfm?IRN=111392&View=LRG) made in 1931 by Edward Weston.
Weston once described (http://www.jnevins.com/westonreading.htm) his method this way: "I start out with my mind as free from an image as the silver film on which I am to record, and I hope as sensitive."
Against a very dark background, the spine of the leaf curves up and away from you, its edges fluttering like a sting ray skimming the bottom of the sea. It charms you immediately.
But it's a common enough object that we had to wonder what it was doing in the show. How, that is, did it end up being art?
Sure, you can appreciate the technical merits of capturing the leaf full-frame and in focus, with the soft light highlighting every vein against the indecipherable background. It is, in short, a beautiful picture.
But it's a cabbage leaf. With a few cracks in it, in fact.
And yet, if it was just a cabbage leaf, why did it strike us so powerfully? Why did it inspire us? Why did it matter?
We had a long time to think about that as we wound through more familiar works we'd seen over the years. Then we ran into a Minor White black and white taken 20 years after Weston's cabbage leaf. White was shooting at Point Lobos (http://www.sfmoma.org/artwork/103074).
He'd spent the day at the beach, photographing sea foam. He didn't know why, just got caught up in it. Afterwards he wondered where the inspiration had come from. The sea foam or himself?
It's a strange picture, the subject not immediately recognizable. The print is very dark. A crashing wave in the distance echoes the white of the sea foam in the foreground.
It's from a series -- a sequence, he would say -- of images that are esthetically related, a "cinema of stills." Shot with a 4x5 view camera at f45 on Super Panchro-Press film and developed in D-23, we understand. Unfortunately, there's no Exif header to confirm that.
And, really, it's the sequence, not just this one shot, that struck us. That swept us away, we should say, more accurately.
Away from, well, the crowded room where, to our surprise, the guards stopped no one from photographing the works. That hasn't been our experience at SFMOMA but everything on display in the museum, this time, is owned by the museum. So photography is permitted.
Plenty of cellphones sure, and lots of digicams of course. But we were amused to see no end of Canon Rebels and Nikon dSLRs. Oddly enough, many of the shots included a fellow traveler posing with a George Segal sculpture or in front of a luminous Mark Rothko painting.
No, those wouldn't have been the same sort of photograph Weston and White were interested in.
What they were interested in Alfred Stieglitz has described this way: "I have the desire to photograph. I go out with my camera. I come across something that excites me emotionally, spiritually, aesthetically. I see the photograph in my mind's eye and I compose and expose the negative. I give you the print as the equivalent of what I saw and felt."
This "equivalent" was very much what struck us about the cabbage leaf.
Minor White explained (http://www.jnevins.com/whitereading.htm) the trick, "The secret, the catch and the power lies in being able to use the forms and shapes of objects in front of the camera for their expressive-evocative qualities." If the photographer manages that, "he has as much freedom of expression as any of the arts."
That reminded us of a piece about the American Conservatory Theater up the street on Geary, which had just put on The Tosca Project, a collaboration between ACT artistic director Cary Perloff and San Francisco Ballet choreographer Val Caniparoli. Jean Schiffman interviewed them recently for the San Francisco Arts Monthly, recording this observation about meaning in the arts:
"To put dancers and actors together was a challenge. For dancers, movement comes first and making sense of it comes later, explains Caniparoli; actors on the other hand memorize lines, develop a character. As Perloff puts it, actors say, 'Why am I here, what do I want?' whereas dancers back into the process. Given steps, actors ask, 'Why am I doing this?' and dancers simply do the steps and find the emotion within them."
The mechanics of photography bias us to expect photographers to approach their work more like actors than dancers. But we can see from Weston and White that even these superb technicians knew how to dance.
We left the museum making a promise to ourselves. We'd take a look around the house, find some object as mundane as a cabbage leaf and just look at it a while. See if, that is, it couldn't excite us "emotionally, spiritually, aesthetically." And if so, we'd dance that dance we do with the camera and see if the meaning comes later.
Because we already know why we're doing this. We love it.
By DAVE ETCHELLS(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/LX5/LX5A.HTM on the Web site.)
The Lumix LX3 has been a huge success both in the enthusiast camera market in general and with Imaging Resource readers in particular. The reasons aren't hard to understand. It combined a sleek, compact form factor with a well-executed wide-aperture lens, excellent image quality (thanks to both a larger than average sensor chip and a significant advancement in Panasonic's image processing prowess) and exposure control options ranging from intelligent Auto to full Manual. In short, it was a nearly ideal pocket camera for the enthusiast.
In the nearly two years since the LX3 was announced, though, the rest of the high-end digicam field has managed to catch up and in some areas surpass it. The time had clearly come for Panasonic to step up their game and that's what they've emphatically done with the new LX5. The Panasonic LX5 sports enhancements in almost every specification (resolution happily stays the same, at 10.1 megapixels) and the improvements promise to make the LX5 even more popular than its predecessor.
Three areas of improvement particularly stand out in the LX5, to the extent that we felt something more than our typical digicam Preview treatment was warranted.
In photography, everything starts with the lens and the LX5's optics sport a number of enhancements over the LX3, which itself was an excellent piece of engineering. The most persistent complaint about the LX3 was its limited zoom range. At equivalent focal lengths ranging from a very wide 24mm to a only slightly telephoto 60mm, many users found the LX3's zoom range restrictive. The new 3.8x optical zoom lens extends the telephoto end to 90mm (a 50 percent increase), while maintaining the previous model's excellent 24mm wide-angle capability and the wonderful f2.0 maximum aperture.
Too little is made of maximum lens aperture. Besides offering better ability to blur backgrounds through shallow depth of field, a larger maximum aperture is every bit as important as high ISO capability for low-light photography. The f2.0 maximum aperture of the LX5's lens lets in twice as much light as a lens with an f2.8 aperture and four times as much as one limited to f4.0. Moving from f2.8 to f2.0 is the same as stepping from up from ISO 800 to ISO 1600 minus the increased image noise. As is generally the case, maximum aperture decreases as the lens is zoomed, but in the case of the LX5, it drops to only f3.3 at maximum telephoto.
It's not all just about aperture or zoom, though. A lens needs to deliver sharp images as well, which is difficult to do with wider apertures and a longer zoom ratio. Panasonic engineers devoted a lot of effort to the LX5 lens design and manufacturing. As it turns out, they not only increased the zoom range, but also managed to minimize aberration and increase corner-to-corner sharpness by 30 percent as well.
Besides its optical design, the LX5's lens also implements Panasonic's new Sonic Speed autofocus. Autofocus speed has always been a stumbling block for digicams, although recent efforts by a number of manufacturers has finally been bringing relief. Sonic Speed AF in the LX5 involves a doubling in sensor readout speed, a faster-acting focus motor in the lens and overlapping aperture adjustment and focus operation. Panasonic says the combination should reduce the total AF cycle to a mere 0.3 second -- fast by any standard.
Image stabilization has also been improved in the LX5. Panasonic claims its new Power OIS is up to twice as effective as the Mega OIS in the previous model.
The LX5's sensor is another area of significant improvement from the prior generation. The new sensor has the same physical size (1/1.63 inch), resolution (10.1 megapixels) and cell size (2.05 microns) but the chip and microlens design are both improved.
Engineers made three essential improvements over the LX3's design. The feature that most stands out, though, is one which is actually carried over from the LX3. There are actually two layers of microlenses. Panasonic isn't alone in this practice -- we recently reported on another dual-layer microlens from Sony -- but to our knowledge it's still a relatively uncommon design. Relative to its predecessor, the LX5's sensor increases the size of both layers of microlenses, decreasing the gap between lenses for adjacent pixels and increasing light-gathering area.
Enhancements in the sensor design itself are oriented toward increasing the noise level and dynamic range of the sensor. Specifically, the photo diode has been made deeper, enabling it to store more charge, providing a larger maximum signal and also reducing the effect of surface leakage. This translates into a greater ability to handle strong highlights without saturating and losing detail. The vertical CCD that reads image data off the array is also expanded, again permitting it to handle a larger signal. The net result, says Panasonic, is noticeably greater dynamic range and cleaner images at high ISO.
A digicam's image starts at the lens, makes its way through the sensor, but is ultimately made by the camera's image processor. Image processing in the LX5 also takes advantage of the last two years' worth of advancements in chip technology, this latest version incorporating three processing cores and bearing the name Venus Full HD, a nod to its HDTV processing prowess.
The increased power of the Venus Full HD image engine enables more sophisticated image processing, which should bear fruit in the form of better noise suppression, with less loss of underlying subject detail.
Camera noise reduction systems often have trouble with color edges, the boundaries between colored objects with similar brightness. An example of this is the red-on-red fabric swatch in our still-life test image, shot with most any digicam at high ISO. The problem is that many noise reduction systems have difficulty separating subtle differences in tone and color from image noise. Wrongly mistaking valid subject detail for noise, they flatten it out into an undifferentiated blur. They do kill the noise, but take the subject detail along with it.
With the LX5's processor, though, Panasonic's engineers finally have enough computing horsepower to look at luminance noise and chrominance noise both separately and together. They found that chroma or luminance variations that corresponded to legitimate subject detail tend to be correlated with each other. Color and tone change simultaneously. Pure noise shows little correlation. By looking for this correlation, they could clean up the noise without also killing important subject detail.
The ultimate verdict here as with Panasonic's other claims will depend on how a production-level sample of the LX5 performs in our lab tests. But image samples from Panasonic comparing the LX5's output with that of the LX3 and current models from the competition were very impressive.
Changes to the lens, sensor and processor are the standout changes in the LX5's design, but they're not the only ones.
Perhaps most notably for fans of viewfinder shooting, the LX5 is now compatible with the very same DMW-LVF1 external electronic viewfinder used on the Micro Four Thirds GF1. The 3.0-inch LCD with 460,000-dot resolution and 3:2 aspect ratio is similar to the LX3, but it displays a wider color gamut and has an anti-reflective coating. The grip has more of a bulge to make it significantly more comfortable, while a dedicated Movie button has been placed on the top panel where Panasonic's research suggests the least handling noise is caused when starting or stopping movie recording. On the rear panel, the LX3's joystick has been replaced by an easier-to-use jog dial and the Record/Playback mode slider replaced by a Playback button.
Current technologies seen on other recent Panasonic cameras have been added, including both Face Recognition and Intelligent Resolution. The LX5 now allows ISO sensitivity to be adjusted more finely in 1/3 EV steps. There's also a new Step Zoom function which allows the zoom to be quickly switched between preset focal lengths and the aspect ratio switch adds a new 1:1 option. Startup time has been improved to the region of one second, while the LCD should now exhibit less lag than previously.
HD movies are now recorded in the more space-efficient AVCHD Lite format by default, rather than the older MPEG format, with a choice of 17-Mbps, 13-Mbps or 9-Mbps bit rates. It is now possible to use the optical zoom, My Color function and even full manual exposure during movie recording. Maximum resolution for movie recording is still 1280x720 pixels at 60p/50p field rates, the former being applicable to NTSC cameras and the latter to PAL models. Low-light movie capture has also been improved to record movies in as little as three lux.
Gone is the component high definition connectivity from the LX3, replaced with the more common HDMI output. The LX5 also retains USB 2.0 Hi-Speed connectivity. Built-in memory has been reduced just slightly from the LX3's 50-MB to 40-MB but the LX5 adds compatibility with the SDXC cards. Battery life has been improved from 380 shots in the LX3 to 400 shots in the LX5, according to CIPA testing standards.
The Panasonic Lumix LX5 will ship to the U.S. in late August with a list price of $500, the same price at which the LX3 shipped two years earlier. Body color choices are either black or white.
Two years ago, the LX3 marked a new level of performance and image quality for Panasonic and set a new standard for enthusiast digicams. The LX5 promises to do the same in 2010. Stay tuned, we'll post a full test report as soon as we can get our hands on a sample with final production firmware.
By DAVID ELRICH(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/TS2/TS2A.HTM on the Web site.)
Ever go to the beach and wish you had your camera? Since you're a sensible person you wouldn't dare bring your digicam near the sand and surf, but fortunately, a class of cameras exists that lets you do just that.
The 14.1-megapixel Panasonic TS2 is one of them. It not only takes a beating, but appears to be a solid camera with a wide-angle 4.6x zoom and Optical Image Stabilization -- plus it takes AVCHD Lite HD videos.
LOOK & FEEL
If one of the Transformers or a Special Forces soldier needed a camera as a companion, the TS2 would be a perfect fit.
The front of the silver-bodied review sample (also available in orange, blue and yellow) had a nice brushed-metal appearance dotted with typical raised logos and decals. Like most other rugged cameras, the TS2 has a folding optical zoom that doesn't extend from the body. A raised metal frame surrounds the lens for added protection and accents the tough-guy appearance. Also on the front are a flash and small LED light to add illumination to scenes above and underwater. The LED also acts as an AF Assist lamp/self-timer indicator.
The rear continues the Transformer feel with its four corner bolts and brushed metal finish. A 2.7-inch LCD is the key feature but it's only 230K dots. A $399 camera should have 460K. In the Auto Power LCD mode, the screen is usable even in direct sunlight and underwater but it tends to smear in low light. Other controls are digicam classics: a Mode dial, Movie (with a red dot), Playback, a four-way controller with center Menu/Set key, Display and Q (Quick) Menu. The compass points on the controller give access to exposure compensation, macro, self-timer and flash options.
On the top is a pinhole mic, speaker, on/off button and zoom toggle switch. The shutter has a knurled surface which is a good thing since it's parallel to the zoom and very close. The different feel between the two helps ensure you don't hit the wrong one. That said, it's a strange, puzzling set-up.
On the right side is an eyelet for the wrist strap, which you should religiously attach every time to pick up the camera. No sense letting the digicam fall to the bottom of the ocean, pool or the patio for that matter. Our senior editor lost the Panasonic TS1 to the Atlantic ocean last year because its weight exceeded the flotation of the float he'd attached.
There is a water-tight compartment for the mini-HDMI and proprietary A/V-USB ports. This door and the similar one for the battery/card on the bottom are indicative of the build quality. There are large rubber sealing gaskets and a locking system with a red indicator that lets you know if you've closed it properly. There's also a secondary lock option to prevent accidental opening of these doors while you're using the camera. Good thinking on that score.
Panasonic supplies a USB and a conventional A/V cable. Do yourself a favor and purchase a mini-HDMI cable so you can enjoy stills and videos in high-def on your HDTV.
You'll find a plastic tripod mount on the bottom and another secure compartment for the battery and SD/SDHC/SDXC card. This Made-in-Japan camera weighs 6.7 ounces with battery and card. Overall it feels substantial and sturdy -- as a rough-and-ready digicam should.
Like all digicams, the TS2 is designed to be point-and-shoot simple. The Mode dial offers Intelligent Auto, Normal Picture, Sports, Snow, Beach, Scene and Clipboard. There is no Movie mode on the dial because you simply press the red Movie button on the back to start recording. Intelligent Auto is photography at its easiest. The camera decides what is in front of it and adjusts accordingly. The TS2 chooses between seven scenes (i-Portrait, i-Scenery, i-Macro, i-Night portrait, i-Night Scenery, i-Sunset, i-Baby).
Normal Picture is comparable to Program AE in other cameras. In Normal, when you press Q. Menu button you can change key parameters like metering, white balance, ISO, resolution, movie quality, LED light (on, off, auto) and Auto Power LCD to quickly brighten the screen. Hit the Menu key and more options are available such as Face Recognition on/off, AF mode, Color Mode (standard, natural, vivid and so on). There are no options for changing the aperture or shutter speed.
The TS2 is one of the few digicams using the AVCHD Lite format in addition to MPEG (most others use only MPEG 720p). When set to SH, you can record 1280x720 pixel videos at 30 fps with a bit rate of 17 Mbps. You can also choose 13 or 9 Mbps. The AVCHD Lite codec lets you record approximately twice as much footage compared to MPEGs, so 4-GB cards hold 30 minutes of HD video instead of 15 minutes.
Liberating. That's the first word that comes to mind when taking the TS2 into the elements. I was standing next to my pool and simply chucked it in -- to the shallow end at first, making sure all the camera doors were closed properly beforehand. Jumping in afterwards, I picked it up and then shot stills and videos. It was fun.
I also had the camera with me on visits to big, bad New York City and resisted the urge to drop the camera into a sewer or onto the subway tracks to scatter the ubiquitous rats. The TS2 may be tough but it's not Superman! But it's nice to know the camera could take this sort of beating.
I had really no problem with the LCD, especially shooting with the sun hitting it directly. I had no issues with the screen underwater as well. Panasonic's Auto Power LCD mode adjusts brightness appropriately. It worked well but I do wish the screen didn't smear as much in low light.
Controls, for the most part, were logically placed. The parallel zoom and shutter buttons were initially annoying but I got used to them. They're not a deal breaker, but a more traditional design would take the issue off the table. The onscreen menus won't win any awards, but you'll be up and running after a brief review of the supplied basic manual.
I did most of my shooting at the 4320x3240 pixel Fine JPEG level, starting in Auto then trying the various mode dial options including the Underwater scene mode. Videos were shot in AVCHD Lite and Motion JPEG. Everything was downloaded to a PC, I made full-bleed 8x10 prints with no post processing and viewed videos on a 50-inch plasma HDTV via HDMI. Images were also closely examined at 100 percent-plus on my monitor.
Since it was about a billion degrees out, I had no problems jumping in the pool to retrieve the TS2. Unfortunately there were no coral reefs or colorful angel fish to shoot, just typical items such as a Polaris pool sweeper; the underwater Scene setting was used. The TS2 did a nice job capturing it and the color of the liner. Although there was some haze this was more an issue of the water itself rather than the camera. It was a lot of fun paddling around, camera in hand, shooting underwater and the results were more than acceptable. The camera was none the worse for wear although some lines appeared in the LCD screen. They were temporary effects and disappeared after a short time. Beachgoers will appreciate the brush Panasonic supplies to wipe away any sand or dirt before you open the compartment doors. Washing it off with clean water and letting it stand upright to drain as a matter of course would be a good plan.
I took many photos walking through Manhattan, as there's always something good to shoot. Near the Empire State Building I used the camera's entire focal length. As a big fan of wide-angle lenses, the 28mm setting let me capture a cavern of buildings, then zoom to the building's antenna tower. It was with these images (and others) that I noticed some issues. The wide-angle end of the zoom was sharp at the center and only slightly soft in the corners. What little corner softness there is doesn't extend very far into the frame. You'll be happy with these photos. At the telephoto end, however, the lens suffers from a loss of contrast and flare across the frame. This was rather surprising -- and disappointing.
I shot many blooms close-up in iA and the camera automatically switched to Macro mode. The camera captures a sharp image across much of the frame, although there was some moderate blurring in the corners. Colors were quite good as well but didn't have the pop of Canon point-and-shoots. I liked the realistic results, but you can move from the Standard color mode to Vivid, if that's more your taste.
Since the TS2 uses a 14-Mp CCD, noise at higher ISO settings is a given. It's just a matter of how bad and pervasive the effects. Given the initial handicap, the results were quite good -- especially for prints. On the monitor, my test subject showed noise appearing at ISO 200, increasing at the highest level (1600). The lab showed similar results with fine detail almost completely obliterated by strong noise reduction at ISO 1600. Fortunately an Intelligent ISO option in Normal mode limits it to 400, 800 or 1600; make sure it's set to 400, if the subject matter permits. On a more positive note, the OIS system worked well as I was able to handhold the camera at low shutter speeds with a minimal amount of blur.
The camera is also very responsive. Full autofocus shutter lag is excellent, at 0.28 second at wide-angle and telephoto. Pre-focus shutter lag is 0.010 second, which is actually a terrific number. While the TS2 can deliver 1.8 fps, it stops to take a breather after three frames when you're at maximum resolution/best compression. Kids or fish on the run you won't get with this one, unless you can live with the 3-Mp images from the 10fps high-speed burst mode.
This camera may use AVCHD Lite but it in no way compares to a true AVCHD camcorder with 1920x1080 resolution vs. 1280x720 of the TS2. But the clips recorded are quite good for 720p with a minimal amount of digital blocking. Subjects above and underwater look fluid (no groans, please). As an added plus, optical zooming is available while recording.
I saved the worst tests for last -- just in case the camera died. When you read the fine print, you'll discover the drop test is not onto cement but a two meter fall onto plywood. With that in mind, I held the camera at arm's length then first dropped it on a rug, a lawn and finally just three feet onto asphalt. The TS2 took them all without a problem. It's not going to survive a fall into a crevasse but underwater, into sand/dirt or simply falling out of your pocket, you should be just fine.
To minimize damage from impact on hard surfaces like concrete, the TS2 also includes a translucent silicone jacket that you can wrap around the camera between battery changes. It's a nice addition that further ruggedizes the already tough Panasonic TS2.
If you're heading to the wilds -- even Disneyland or a State Fair -- seriously consider the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 as a traveling companion. It can take a beating, moves easily from the pool to the patio and takes quality photographs and better-than-average videos. The camera is definitely more expensive than your basic digicam, but you're paying for its ability to go practically everywhere, even 33 feet underwater (just make sure the wrist strap is securely fastened). There are some drawbacks since the perfect digicam has yet to be invented. But if you're looking for a tough camera that takes quality photos and decent videos, the Panasonic TS2 is hard to beat and 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: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/TS2/TS2A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Nikon Coolpix S8000 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/CPS8000/CPS8000A.HTM)
- Expanded: Canon CanoSCan 9000F (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/CS9000/9000F.HTM#add) Scanning With SilverFast & VueScan
It had been a while since we'd heard from Harald Johnson, whose Mastering Digital Printing is still on our classics bookshelf. But as Phoozlomo-in-Chief, he's been busy lately.
Phoozl (http://www.phoozl.com) is what he's been up to, in fact. The name is a hint. The 'Ph' comes from Photo and Phun. The 'oo' from cool, the Tarot fool card in which our hero is about to walk off the edge of a cliff, egg, ovum, beginning. The 'z' is taken from the Z in puzzle. And the 'l' is borrowed from the L in learning. That's the name of the place.
But the place? It's "a place to have fun with photos and photography," he explained. And the site's tag line -- Photo Games & More -- suggests there's more than just games going on. There's some education you're in danger of acquiring if you visit the site, but mainly it's a game site with puzzles, contests and all sorts of ordinary mischief having to do with photos.
If that intrigues you, consider yourself a Phoozleer. That's what Harald calls "photo enthusiasts of all types, whether amateurs or pros, artists, gamers or daydreamers. Or just plain creative and phun-loving people of all ages."
Being of all ages ourselves, we wandered over there to see what kind of trouble we could get into.
While the site went live around Easter, as Harald calculates, it's still under development. Games are like that, apparently.
Five tabs navigate the ad-free beta site: About, Games, Community, Photo Tips and PhoozNews.
As a newshound, we tried PhoozNews first.
PhoozNews is more of a blog about Phoozl than a headline service. But that's how we learned that Phoozl and the iPad are not a match made in heaven. Turns out the games on Phoozl are all coded in Flash (how could it be otherwise, really). For a Phoozlomo-in-Chief that just means the iPad-ready version (or the iPad Flash simulator) is still in development.
On the Photo Tips tab, we found a lot of education material. But it was unmistakably fun, too. There was a piece on digital printing, which should surprise no one, and six tips for nature shooting in one article. Then there was a piece on controlling depth of field (which everyone wants to do) and another on eliminating camera shake. The authors are all pros themselves, but they condense their advice into simple suggestions that are easy to remember.
The Community tab is still a work in progress. The site's almost too new to have one, really.
OK, what about the games, you ask.
Games is what Phoozl is all about. And under that tab is a submenu packed with the kinds of games you can play: Puzzles, Finding, Action-Skill, Photo IQ, The Ws, Olio, Missions and All Games (for the intrepid phoozleer).
So, uh, what's a game to the Phoozlomo-in-Chief? He told us to look it up (http://www.phoozl.com/article-5-Easter-Eggs-and-Phoozl.html). We did. In short, a game has seven characteristics, which Harald illustrates with references to an Easter Egg Hunt.
First, its a challenge or has an objective or a call to action like "find as many eggs as you can." Second, it has obstacles, hazards, pressures and perils like the finite number of hidden eggs with the pressure of finding them before the other kids do. Third, there's a reward like getting to eat the eggs. Fourth, there are penalties, like getting spanked if you watch the eggs being hidden. Fifth, there's a conclusion ending the game like when all the eggs have been found. Sixth, there's replayability like next year's Easter Egg Hunt. And Seventh, there's the fun factor like all those kids running around and getting dirty in their best clothes.
"Easter may only be once a year," Harald explains, "but we carry the spirit of the Egg Hunt in our hearts always. You should too."
Of course, the whole thing also bears a striking resemblance to the quest for getting a decent print out of your photo printer.
We could itemize all the games on the site but that would take some of the fun out of your visit. So we'll just mention two.
The first is Get the Shot!, a game whose development Harald describes in a blog entry (http://www.phoozl.com/article-6-Game-Phocus-Get-the-Shot.html). You get photo assignments of what to shoot, then wander through various scenes taking shots with your virtual camera. Sort of an arcade game. But it has a Photo Tips article on getting the shot in nature that turns it into an entertainment-learning experience.
The second we did play. We confess to absolutely hating games. They bring out the throat-cutting competitor in our sweet sister-in-law. So we find them kind of dangerous. Even life threatening. But no one was around so we gave one of them a try.
We played Photo IQ to see if we know what we're talking about.
It takes a minute for the questions to load, then you can read the Intro, learn How to Play, look up High Scores (after you play) or read the Credits. Or just Play!
When we hit the Play button, we were asked what level we wanted to play: Easy (for photo enthusiasts) or Hard (for serious photographers). We clicked on Hard. then Photo IQ wanted to know how fast we wanted to play: Normal (20 seconds to answer) or Blazing (10 seconds to answer). We went for Blazing. If we don't know something in 10 seconds we aren't going to figure it out in 20.
We were asked a variety of questions. And when we answered, Photo IQ gave us immediate feedback: the right answer and an explanation.
What were the questions? Oh, you'll have to play for yourself. We won't spoil it for you!
So how did we do? Do we know what we're talking about? Turns out, we do. We answered every multiple choice question correctly.
Did that get us a 100 percent score? Nope. The game takes into account how long you take to answer. Knowing Harald, we read each question twice and carefully considered our answer before clicking. That cost us dearly.
Lest you think there are only a few games on the site, we hasten to report that there are eight puzzles alone. And five finding games. And four action-skill games. And even more on the other submenu items to explore.
Good thing school is still out.
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RE: WiFi Printing
In the 16 July 2010 issue, your answer to Frank Christensen's question about replacing his Polaroid camera left out the obvious: Most printers now have built-in card readers with LCD screens and controls to allow selection of which images to print. Completely eliminates the computer. Admittedly that still entails the step of removing the card from the camera, but that's not difficult.
-- Lee Bornholdt(Well, we did consider that. While it isn't difficult, as you said, it isn't convenient either. Imagine you're the doctor hovering over the patient. You just want to worry about taking a good series of shots. The printing should be automatic. A good Bluetooth cellphone camera is about the best you can do these days. -- Editor)
Thanks for providing one of the best resources for photographers about.
I have a question, not for myself but a friend has just asked me if I could recommend a good compact camera with a viewfinder and decent zoom lens. I have to say the only one I can think of is one of the Canon Powershots, the A1100 IS, though I feel the zoom range is quite limited. Could you possibly suggest anything else that I might have missed, as the only onther I can think of comes in the Bridge classification and beyond.
I look forward to any suggestions you might have.
-- Geoff Howard(Decent zooms aren't a problem any more. In fact, we'd be happy restricting our search to compacts with a 10x range. Optical viewfinders are another matter. They're practically extinct, except as you point out on some PowerShots (which don't have 10x zooms) and bridge cameras (which need an electronic viewfinder to see what their 20+x zooms are seeing). Reconsider the viewfinder requirement. Really. Optical viewfinders are always inaccurate. And these days you can indeed find an LCD you can see in sunlight and that doesn't smudge. They're out there. -- Editor)(Like the Panasonic ZS5, ZS7, Sony HX5V and Canon SX210. -- Shawn)
RE: HDR Software
Got a question for you. Will you be doing a comparison article on HDR software in the near future? Sure Adobe CS5 has upped the ante in this arena. But there is also Photomatix and Unified Color doing the same thing, I think. I'm sure I'm not the only person with this question.
-- Charlie Young(Good idea, Charlie. We'll keep it in mind and may just do something in the newsletter if not on the site. -- Editor)
A few years ago Rick Norsigian (http://ricknorsigian.com) bought 65 glass plates for $45 at a garage sale. He now believes they are the work of Ansel Adams (http://www.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/07/27/ansel.adams.discovery). Presumed destroyed in a 1937 darkroom fire which took 5,000 of his plates, art dealer David Streets has estimated the collection's value (which Nosigian talked down at the garage sale from $70) to be $200 million.
But hold on. Didn't Adams compare his negatives to musical scores and his prints to performances? The prints have always held the real value.
Even worse, Bill Turnage, managing director of the Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust called the Norsigian's claim "an unfortunate fraud." He claims to have been hounded by Norsigian "for a decade" (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/07/28/BAMM1EKOOJ.DTL).
And just to top it off, Oakland resident Mariam Walton thought there was something awfully familiar about one of the images she saw. It looked just like one taken by her uncle Earl Brooks in 1923 (http://www.ktvu.com/news/24432262/detail.html). "I keep thinking that perhaps that box of negatives belongs to Uncle Earl," Walton said. And she's not alone. Scott Nichols of the Nichols Gallery in San Francisco confirmed her impression.
Antiques Roadshow, you've been warned.
Boinx (http://www.boinx.com) has released its $1.99 You Gotta See This!, a clever iPhone 4 app that uses data from the phone's gyroscope technology to stitch a free-flowing sweep panorama into a single image in various styles.
Young Photographers Alliance (http://www.YoungPhotographersAlliance.org) has paired college students and recent graduates with photographers from the U.S., Canada and England to collaborate on a photo essay around a compelling social theme. Photo essays for this year's theme, Answering Adversity, will be published online in August and exhibited in New York City Oct. 13-14 before traveling.
PSKiss (http://pskiss.com) is a set of easy-to-use Photoshop filters that provide hard-to-get effects at a reasonable price ($2 to $4 each), according to CEO Tal Ninio.
LQ Graphics (http://www.lqgraphics.com) has released Photo to Movie 4.6 [MW] with YouTube uploads, iDVD integration, graphic objects, title linking, photo labels, title editing, title alignment and title backgrounds.
O'Reilly (http://www.oreilly.com) has published Adobe Photoshop CS5 One-on-One by Deke McClelland with step-by-step tutorials, hours of DVD-video demonstrations and hands-on projects. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 37 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/059680797X/?tag=theimagingres-20).
It may only be a concept camera, but the digital Holga D (http://www.saikatbiswas.com/web/Projects/Holga_D.htm) by Saikat Biswas gets a lot of things right, including a reversible orientation for lefties. Not only is it gorgeous but the accessories (viewfinder, hotshoe, mini-flash) are elegant.
Are full frame sensors too expensive to produce? Thom Hogan considers the implications in his July 26 commentary (http://www.bythom.com).
Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com) has released Phanfare for the iPad to edit, organize and display your Phanfare photos and videos on the iPad.
The IPTC-PLUS Photo Metadata Toolkit for Adobe CS (http://www.iptc.org/cms/site/single.html?channel=CH0099&document=CMS1279131209658) includes panels for Adobe Bridge plus comprehensive user guidelines. The panels for Bridge include the granular metadata fields of the IPTC Photo Metadata and also a set of fields for the communication of image rights metadata, based on industry standard developed by the PLUS Coalition.
David Hobby at the Strobist has a review of the Rogue LightBenders (http://strobist.blogspot.com/2010/07/going-rogue-with-flashbenders.html) we mentioned in the last issue.
Ben Long has updated his free Automator Actions for Photoshop (http://www.completedigitalphotography.com/?p=339) with CS5 compatibility. A $20 Pro bundle is also available with 95 actions.
The International Museum of Women and the San Francisco Arts Commission are exhibiting Picturing Power and Potential (http://www.imow.org/economica/picturingpowerandpotential), 50 photographs on women and the global economy. The exhibit runs through Aug. 27 at San Francisco City Hall.
Thinking about shooting your first wedding? Read Lens Rentals President Roger Cicala's hilarious FWIGTEW and Other First Wedding Acronyms first (http://www.lensrentals.com/news/2010.07.25/fwigtew-and-other-first-wedding-acronymss).
Remember that Kodak Pulse digital photo frame we fell in love with? Well, one little hitch. When it was time to send it back, we found there was no way to copy the images off it. Can't even download them from the Pulse cloud. Some silver lining.
Leonard Nimoy's Secret Selves (http://www.massmoca.org/event_details.php?id=548) will explore "the lost or hidden self" in 26 color photographs at Mass MoCA when it opens Aug. 1.
Adobe has launched a contest (http://www.nextphotoshopevangelist.com) to find its next Photoshop Evangelist, who will receive a copy of CS5 Design Standard and a trip to Photoshop World in 2011.
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