|Volume 12, Number 17||13 August 2010|
Welcome to the 286th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We put Canon's new MG5220 multifunction device through its paces before Greg plays with Casio's high-speed FH100 and its HD video. Then we introduce a six-year old to photography while his mother isn't looking. Enjoy!
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(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/MG5220/MG5220.HTM on the Web site.)
Canon has revamped its multifunction device lineup and the Pixma MG5220 is the first product to show off the new look.
Gone is the black and silver scheme of the previous models, replaced by a shiny piano black finish that's become all the rage. It's an attractive look right out of the box but if Canon was trying to get us to dust more, it succeeded.
Canon devoted some energy to revising its user interface, the one weak spot of previous models. But it ruled out a touch screen on the $149.99 MG5220. Instead, it has developed what it calls an Intelligent Touch System, which uses back-lit touch-sensitive buttons, for some MG models (but not the MG5220) and Light Guidance, in which some buttons light up only when they are real options. The menu system has also been revamped.
On the software side, Canon has included a Movie frame printing function to pick out an HD movie frame, optimize the image automatically and print it or save it as a JPEG. It only works on Canon MOV files and only on Intel processors, though.
There is no transparency adapter on this unit, nor can it print CDs and the ChromaLife100 ink set has four colors, relying on microscopic droplet sizes rather than light magenta and light cyan inks for smoother highlights. If you require negative/slide scanning, CD printing or high fidelity printing, the MG5220 isn't the model for you.
Canon shipped a review unit to us and we used it as our main printer and scanner for a couple of weeks before writing this review.
Designed to be equally at home in the college dorm or home office, the WiFi MG5220 offers a quick photo-quality printer (including a versatile card reader), a competent reflective scanner that can handle originals up to about an inch thick and common copier functions with a nice enlargement/reduction range.
The auto duplex printer offers fast, high-resolution, four-color printing plus a pigment black used for text. Each color is in a separate cartridge in the MG line so you only have to replace the color that runs out. To protect the print head, the printer will not function with an empty cartridge.
The scanner can handle 2400-dpi reflective scans with gutter shadow correction for book scanning with 48-bit scans that are converted to 24-bit color images.
The copier functions include auto exposure, 25 to 400 percent resizing and photo print copying, among others.
The MG5220 also includes a card reader that can handle more formats than most of its competitors. It's rare to see a low-cost multifunction device that can accept CompactFlash and xD-Picture Cards, but the MG5220 does.
Typical of Canon, the MG5220 features many conveniences, some hidden away in the bundled software. HD Movie Print, a new one, makes it easy to print frames from your Canon HD movies. Auto Scan mode can set the scanner automatically for the kind of document you're scanning and Auto Document Fix can analyze the image and optimize the scan. Auto duplex printing makes it effortless to use both sides of the paper. And Easy-WebPrint EX lets you layout Web pages for more efficient printing or PDF creation.
And those conveniences extend to the MG5220's connectivity with built-in wireless printing and scanning, smart phone printing from iPhone and Android devices with the free iEPP Photo Printing app, built-in PictBridge, Bluetooth printing with an optional USB Bluetooth adapter and that built-in memory card reader.
The four ChromaLife100 CLI-226 color ink cartridges are $13.99 each. The larger PGI-225 black pigment cartridge for text is $15.99. Canon sells combo packs of the color inks for $55.99 and double packs of the pigment black for $29.99 or a four pack for $51.99.
All of Canon's photo papers are available for the MG5220 with the exception of the heavy-weight art papers. Fifty sheets of 4x6 glossy Photo Paper Plus costs $12.99. Twenty sheets of 8x10 in the same surface costs $13.99. We found 100 sheets of 4x6 Photo Paper Plus Glossy II at Office Depot for $19.49.
These consumables are dye inks intended for printing on swellable papers. You should not use these inks on instant-dry porous papers because you will compromise their longevity (quite severely). Prints on swellable paper take a while to dry. Canon warns against stacking the prints without letting them set for 15 minutes and the company suggests letting them dry for 24 hours.
THE CONTROL PANEL
Canon's redesigned control panel is an improvement but it's a tough field. We've found the HP touch screens to be the best interface on a multifunction device. Kodak's arrangement, similar to Canon's, is functional if not as fun. But Canon's, despite the redesign, remains confusing if improved. Epson's large touch panel is a bit more elaborate than any of these, something of a breed apart. We liked it but wouldn't rank it among this crowd.
One of the problems with the Canon approach is its reliance on soft buttons, three buttons under the LCD whose function changes as the LCD changes. While you can easily grasp the concept, it's a little like trying to point at something in the mirror. You never quite get where you're aiming.
Then too the Canon control pad has 13 buttons while the Kodak has just eight. Canon ameliorates the confusion a bit with what it calls light guidance: illuminating just the active buttons. Somehow that just didn't fly with us. The room is bright enough we can see the other buttons and, in desperation, try them, lit or not.
In fact, few of them actually light up on the MG5220. The Color and Black buttons light up when you get far enough along to print something. The soft buttons never light up but are almost always active. The Home and Back buttons don't light up either. Nor did the Plus and Minus buttons when we were cropping. While it's a clever concept, it's not much of a feature on this model.
The three soft buttons are a clue to the new menu system. Canon now displays three options at a time, to minimize menu option chasing. Copy, Photo, Scan all appear on the first of three screens. To see the next screen, use the Down arrow key or the Scroll Wheel.
On the whole, we found the new control panel an improvement but not a significant one. Canon still trails HP and Kodak when it comes to the user interface. That can matter if you're an infrequent user of some features, like photo reprinting or template printing.
There are nine items at the top of the Menu System, which displays three at a time. The soft keys select one of them in the set. To get to the subsequent screen displays you use the Down arrow key and the Up key to go back up, or just twirl the Scroll Wheel. The Scroll Wheel is a bit away from the LCD, so controlling the LCD display with it felt a little odd to us.
The Home button takes you to the top of the Menu system.
On the first screen:
On the second screen:
- Copy: Options include changing copy scale or erasing dark frame or the shaded binding when copying a book. You can also copy an original in various layouts.
- Photo: Print photos from a memory card or USB flash drive.
- Scan: Save scanned data to your computer, a memory card or USB flash drive.
And on the third screen:
- Photo Reprint: Reproduce printed photos on photo paper as easily as copying documents.
- Fun Photo Reprint: Print stickers, calenders and other photo items using photos on a memory card or USB flash drive.
- Slide Show: Sequentially preview photos from a memory card or USB flash drive on the LCD. You can also select and print selected photos.
Help screens are plentiful but unobtrusive. You can quickly dismiss them with the OK button or use one of the soft buttons to proceed. But the type is pretty small on the little screen. We had no trouble reading it but Grandmother might.
- Document Print: Print PDF files that were scanned and saved by the MG5220.
- Special Print: Print template forms like notebook paper, graph paper, etc. You can also print photos on a mobile phone using a wireless connection with an optional Bluetooth adapter (although you don't have to be at the machine to do it).
- Setup: Maintain the machine or change its settings. You can also configure a wireless LAN connection.
We didn't get lost in the menu system and easily found some arcane options that turned out to be useful. So we have no complaints about the menu system itself.
USING THE PRINTER
Our online version of this review goes into greater detail about our copying, printing and scanning tests of the MG5220. We'll summarize that here.
Copying. We copied both color and black and white documents on the MG5220. And we copied both color and black and white photos, making duplicates using photo paper.
Our most challenging document copying was of a newspaper article. The brown newsprint and the show-through often make this a tough subject. And more than one recent multifunction device has muddied the background on a black and white copy of newspaper.
The MG5220 did very well, however, with just the default settings. There is an optional setting to reduce show-through but we didn't need it for the newspaper clipping.
Our photo reprints were just as easy. We placed the original back from the edges of the glass platen so we could get a 4x6 borderless print with minimal enlargement. And that worked. The copy was enlarged, but only a little.
Color was vibrant but credible. It wasn't an exact match of the original inkjet photo but it looked good. There was a bit more black, so the infant's hair was darker but the skin tones and the red cushions were both right on.
We also copied a black and white print. But we pressed the Color button to get the richest shadow detail. To our delight, the copy held onto all the detail of the original (which had some tricky reflections in the shadows and ghosted images in the highlights) without showing any color cast.
We tried it again, but this time we used the Black and White button to make the print. The plain black rendering was really quite adequate if not quite as rich as the color print. At first we couldn't tell them apart, even looking at them with a loupe. But when the prints had dried the color print did look slightly richer.
Printing. Our printing tests included printing directly from the card reader, printing from a Bluetooth cellphone and printing a batch of photos from the computer. The MG5220 also includes template printing for notebook paper in three line spacing options, graph paper in two options, check list, musical staff paper in two options, handwriting paper, weekly schedule and a monthly schedule.
Color photo printing directly from the card reader was really quite nice, with rich blacks, vibrant but natural color and excellent detail. Canon has always excelled here and the MG5220 didn't disappoint us.
To get Bluetooth cooking on the MG5220, you have to have a USB Bluetooth adapter. Canon sells one for about $40. But any brand will do. We used our old D-Link adapter. Just plug it into the PictBridge USB port on the front of the printer and you're in business.
Our phone found the MG5220 by name and we simply copied a picture to it. The MG5220 printed a borderless 4x6 without a complaint. Simple.
To do batch printing, we used Canon's Easy-PhotoPrint software so we could select which images we wanted and crop a couple. Easy-PhotoPrint is easy. Real easy. It advises you to point it to a folder of photos, select the photos to print (a single command will set one copy for all of them), pick your paper, select your layout (borderless 4x6 prints or something else) and print. All the steps, in the right order, to get the best results.
We made of point of not enabling things like Vivid printing. We just wanted a straight print. But because we wanted to crop a couple, we used the Layout function's Crop command to do that. Which was also a breeze.
The results were generally pleasing. We found the images a bit too vivid still (pretty brilliant denim, for example) but the blacks were rich and skin tones were natural. Easy-PhotoPrint generates the printer data before sending the data to the printer so all 18 of the images were rendered before the first printed. That rendering tied up our computer a while but the printing itself went fast.
Because these are dye inks on swellable paper, we didn't let them stack up as they printed but removed them one at a time to air dry.
Scanning. We scanned documents to a thumb drive and images to a computer. Scans to the computer were all conducted wirelessly. Any computer you've installed the drivers on will be able to tap into the MG5220 for both printing and scanning.
It was nice to be able to scan directly to a thumb drive or flash card rather than print a copy. And you can alternately scan to your computer, as well, which allows you to convert the image to text using the included OCR software. Canon gives you great output flexibility.
To scan images, we used Canon's ScanGear software, which we praised in our CanoScan reviews, from Photoshop. The MG5220 doesn't strain ScanGear nearly as much because it only scans reflective material.
We scanned a reproduction in the local museum magazine of William-Adolphe Bouguereau's The Birth of Venus. The original four-color halftone measured just shy of 2.5x3.5. We wanted a 4x6 print, so we had two challenges: 1) descreening and 2) enlarging.
The scans at 100 percent were not only delightful but they were quick -- even scanning wirelessly. At 300 percent, they were not as quick, but certainly not slow. There's no warmup time for what we presume to be an LED scanner lamp. And transmission of our 20-MB enlargement was quick.
We printed the image letting Photoshop manage the color. Canon installs ICC profiles for its papers and the MG5220, we were happy to see. The print was a little warmer than the original, but we liked the shift.
With HD video image resolution as high as 1280x720 or 1920x1080 pixels, printing movie frames is nothing to squint at. At 150 dpi for the printer, that translates to roughly a 7x12-inch print for 1080 HD or a 4x8 print for 720 HD. Plenty of resolution. And Easy-PhotoPrint's new Movie Print feature makes it easy to select Canon MOV frames to print before optimizing them for still reproduction.
We get a little dizzy trying to follow Canon's multifunction device lineup. But we can tell you they are all terrific printers and great scanners with mature firmware to do things like read from and write to the card reader and handle WiFi and Bluetooth wireless communication, including WiFi scanning. For $150 that's a bargain.
What the MG5220 won't do is print on a printable CD or scan film (slide or negatives). But that's about it.
The ChromaLife100 four-color inking system with a pigment black delivered very nice photo prints and certainly had no trouble generating color documents. And the scanner had sufficient resolution to faithfully reproduce both prints and ordinary documents.
We appreciated but weren't floored by the improved control panel. And the HD Movie print function itself is welcome if not exciting. But where it counts, the MG5220 impressed us. Highly recommended.
By GREG SCOBLETE(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EXFH100/EXFH100A.HTM on the Web site.)
The Exilim EX-FH100 is a member of Casio's family of high speed Exilims, capable of firing off a maximum of 30 frames in a 3/4 second, 40 frames per second burst. It packs a 10-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor with a 3.0-inch LCD, a 10x optical zoom wide-angle lens, HD video recording and a generous assortment of Best Shot scene modes.
The FH100 is definitely geared toward the enthusiast shooter and not just because of its $349 price tag. You'll find several advanced goodies such as Aperture and Shutter Priority, a Manual mode, DNG Raw file support and manual focusing. But the highlight of the FH100 is undoubtedly the multiple creative opportunities afforded by its high speed capability for both still photos and videos.
The FH100 offers 25 Scene modes (which Casio calls "Best Shot") including Landscape, Portrait, Fireworks, Flower, etc. But the real story is the FH100's Continuous shooting modes. All are anchored around the camera's ability to snap up to 30 images in a single burst. That's 30, 9-Mp images at a clip. Pretty stunning stuff and the camera uses this speed in a variety of settings.
High Speed Continuous Shooting
You have three choices for dealing with the 30 images the FH100 records. Batch Save saves all the images to your memory card. Select and Save will almost immediately play back the 30 frames you've just snapped. If you like one, hit the shutter and save it. Hit the menu button and you can still save all, save the ones you've selected or jump back and start all over again. You can also pause the playback of the 30 images or go back and forth through the images to ensure you've found the first shot. If you're unhappy with everything, hit Cancel Save and delete all the images from the burst.
In high speed, you can tweak several camera settings. You can adjust the frame rate from Auto to 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, 15, 30 or 40 fps. Regardless of what you pick, burst mode will top out at 30 images. You can also adjust exposure, set white balance, ISO and choose an image resolution (either 9-,7-,4-, 2-megapixels or VGA resolution). Something to keep in mind: if you change the image size while in continuous shooting mode, it will stay that way even if you enter into the various Best Shot scene modes. This isn't true for other settings, such as White Balance, which change according to the Best Shot mode. Probably best to keep it at 9-Mp and forget about it.
You can also set a pre-record function, which captures a user-selected number of images before you fully hit the shutter in high speed mode, with the remainder captured after the fact. This tweak is useful, although I found when trying to use the high-speed burst my problem was actually the opposite: I hit the shutter too soon, not too late.
High speed continuous burst is well suited for a number of photo scenarios, particularly sports and some nature photography, but it is not without its limitations. First, while the camera can rapidly snap 30 frames, if you opt to batch save, it takes the FH100 a while to process them and resume shooting. I started shooting with a Class 4 SDHC card (with a minimum read/write speed of 32Mbit/s) and waited for what seemed like an eternity for the FH100 to save the images (it's actually about seven seconds). After swapping out the card for a speedier Class 6 card, I still waited several seconds before the FH100 resumed shooting. I even reduced the resolution from 9-Mp to 2-Mp but didn't see a noticeable increase in processing speed.
So if you miss your moment, you'll have to wait awhile to take a second crack at it. That goes double for the other reviewing options, where you'll spend time reviewing and saving.
While blasting off 30 images can produce some really cool effects (or help you isolate the "perfect" shot), it also leaves you with a lot of images to sort through -- either in the camera or on your computer. This is particularly important to keep in mind if you choose to batch save and sort out your photos on your computer later. Unless you have an abundance of leisure time, the speedy burst mode can slow you down on the back end.
Multi Motion Image
The nice thing about the FH100's high-speed capabilities is they're deployed in a variety of different features, especially in the camera's selection of Best Shot scene modes. If you don't want to shoot the full 30-image burst, Moving Image mode will take a rapid burst of pictures and then create a single composite image that shows the full range of motion recorded by the camera. You should really only use this feature to track motion moving across the frame from right to left or vice versa (say a pitcher throwing a ball or a child kicking a soccer ball). If you try to capture motion moving toward or away from the lens in this mode, the result is a blurred mess (or a trippy effect, your mileage may vary).
As it is, it takes a little playing around with to get the feel for the timing and, like the continuous shooting mode, it will take the camera some time to process the photos it has taken and create the single image, but the effect is worth the wait. You'll have to hold the FH100 quite still for the multi-motion image function to work, otherwise you'll get an error message warning the background has changed or the camera shook too much.
There are several other iterations of Best Shot continuous shooting mode for expression, baby, child, pet, sports, which purport to optimize for the particulars of each scene, but in my experience don't produce major differences.
Night Scene mode
Detail is indeed better in the multi-shot High-speed Night Scene mode, as is color. In this case, exposure is a little better with the ISO 3,200 shot, but results will vary depending on the scene. Just like all multi-shot modes on the FH100, the High-speed Night Scene images are also cropped from the full-size 3648x2736 down to 3456x2592 or 9-megapixels.
The FH100 offers 1280x720p HD video recording at 30 fps. The video quality is quite sharp for a point-and-shoot. You'll notice some noise indoors or in lower light, but outdoors the colors popped and motion was relatively smooth and unpixelated. It's as good as you can ask for in a compact digicam. One issue, however, is how the FH100 handles the display. It has a nice, large 3.0-inch LCD but it's not in a wide-angle aspect ratio. That's a good thing in my view, but to give you a sense of what the camera is actually recording while filming HD videos, the FH100 will faintly block out the top and bottom of the display -- the trouble is, it's a bit too faint. A few times when I wasn't paying close attention, I cropped out some heads. That's a pretty big no-no, especially when the heads concerned belong to family members.
One nice touch on the video side is the inclusion of a stereo microphone for audio recording -- you'll get much richer sound from the FH100 than from digicams sporting a weak mono mic. Another big plus and a rarity on a compact camera, is the ability to set shutter speed and aperture for video shooting.
All that's missing and it's a big drawback, is the ability to zoom while filming. Given how noisy the zoom is, it's probably better it doesn't move lest it swamp the microphone. There is an HDMI output, but the cable is not included. The FH100 also offers a VGA/30fps video mode.
High Speed Video
In addition to HD movies, the FH100 offers several fast frame rate options for slow motion video. The fastest is a 1,000 fps mode, which delivers ultra-slow-motion footage. Don't even bother with 1,000 fps indoors, it's difficult to get the ambient light necessary to bring out any detail. Full sun works best. The video itself is so low resolution, at 224x64 pixels, that it's difficult to justify using it, even if it delivers very smooth slow motion for your Chariots-of-Fire-style finish-line crossings. Once the novelty wears off, however, there's not much use for such super-low-resolution footage.
I liked the 420 fps mode better. Unlike the 1,000 fps mode, 420 fps offers slightly higher resolution of 224x168, plus the video is better exposed. In addition to those two high speed movie modes, the FH100 also offers options for a VGA resolution slow motion movies at 120 fps. Again, the motion isn't as minute as it is at 1,000 fps, but the video quality is actually good enough to discern details. Like the high-speed continuous shooting option, slow motion movies are still rather rare (even among much higher-priced digital camcorders) and afford a nice opportunity for some creative movie making.
YouTube Best Shot mode purports to streamline the process of recording and uploading videos to the popular video site. It works by capping your video recording time to 4:40, though you'll still enjoy high definition 1280x720 at 30fps recording (now supported by YouTube). It will also save these YouTube videos in a distinct folder on the memory card, apart from the rest of the FH100's video files.
YouTube mode works with the included YouTube Uploader desktop software. The software allows you to register your YouTube account and automatically opens whenever it detects new videos on a memory card. You can designate the video title, description, add tags and categories and indicate privacy settings.
Custom Best Shot
Another useful aspect of the Best Shot mode is the ability to create your own customized Scene mode. Actually, make that Scene modes. The FH100 can store a whopping 999 user-created BS modes. Good luck thinking up that many setting combinations. Variety aside, setting up a custom Scene mode is quite straightforward: simply take a photo with your preferred image settings and then choose the Register User Scene option in the BS scene selector -- you'll be able to locate your photo and the camera will save those settings. After that, your custom mode will be represented on the BS selector with a thumbnail of your template image.
Simple enough. But there's no way to actually name your custom Scene modes -- as you add more, Casio simply calls them U1, U2, U3, etc. beneath the representative snapshot. I'd have difficulty remembering 20 of these, let alone 999.
The FH100 is just plain fun to experiment with and you'll need to experiment to really get a feel for its continuous shooting options. With access to so many intriguing iterations of high-speed continuous shooting, its difficult to fall back on auto -- although the auto mode works well for the basics.
You'll view the world through a large 3.0-inch LCD. Unfortunately you can't adjust the display's brightness, but it's viewable even in brighter light. While it boasts a rapid burst, it's not the fastest camera on the block when it comes to start up time, taking 4.3 seconds while it buzzes and whirs. Autofocus is pretty fast for the category, though, measuring 0.37 second at both wide and telephoto. The menu/external controls are well conceived, so you can pop in and out of the camera's settings to make adjustments fairly briskly. I did get tripped up a few times with the resolution setting -- after dropping it down in burst mode, it didn't reset to 10-megapixels as I wandered through the Best Shots. The other trip up, as mentioned before, is the finger over the flash. It won't obscure the entirety of the flash by any means, but it's another thing to keep in mind during the course of use.
Initially, I found the noise of the camera a bit distracting -- it sounds like the inside of a old fashioned watch factory (or what I'd imagine a watch factory to sound like, having never been inside a real one). After a few days, you learn to tune it out. Functionally, the camera handles well once you know how to work around a few of the limitations.
The Casio Exilim EX-FH100 is a solid point-and-shoot and a worthy choice for sports or nature fanatics. Its high speed continuous shooting affords a number of creative opportunities. From super-slow-motion video of children swinging a bat to sequential images of a hummingbird's wings in flight, there are few cameras on the market for $349 that can boast of similar abilities.
The FH100 also holds up well in the video department, with good quality 720p video in addition to a stereo microphone. Several high-speed video capture modes help you slow down time, capturing at 120, 240, 420 and 1,000 fps. On the downside, the inability to zoom while recording inhibits its functionality and the camera's faint letterboxing on the display isn't dark enough to properly frame your videos.
The FH100 is well stocked with Scene modes, plus the Aperture/Shutter Priority and Manual modes most enthusiasts desire (even if manual focusing is a bit of a dud).
Overall, the FH100 is a well-built camera that performs high-speed tricks that few others can, both in still and video modes. With its 10x zoom and the ability to slip into a pocket, it's a compelling choice for those interested in capturing not just a snapshot, but just the right moment -- and that makes it 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: Canon MG5220 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/MG5220/MG5220.HTM)
- Reviewed: Casio FH100 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EXFH100/EXFH100A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/SD4000IS/SD4000ISA.HTM)
Talk about beginners.
The other evening, just before six, we found ourselves sitting in the back seat of a car with a six-year old relative. Or so he claimed.
We were waiting for the tow-away zone to expire before walking a couple of blocks to dinner. His mother, who never found us to be a reliable source, had gotten out of the driver's seat to check the parking regulations on the meter.
"Here," she said to her son as she was evacuating the vehicle. "Hold the camera, please."
Delighted with his newfound responsibility, he grabbed the old Canon Rebel XT and held it in his lap.
But aware that six-year olds are, like other people who don't read much, fond of their opinions, we held our breath and inclined our head his way. It didn't take long.
"I don't like this camera," he announced publicly.
"Why?" we asked, feigning surprise.
"I don't know," he warmed up. "I don't like this thing," he pointed to the grip. "Why is there a big bump right there?"
"Oh, that's where you hold the camera. I'll show you," we volunteered with all the authority of someone who spends all day in an office chair. And we wrapped his right hand around it. "And your other hand goes around the lens like this," we helped him.
"But then how can I take a picture?" he worried, with no hand free to find the shutter button.
"Easy, that's what this little silver button in front is for." We guided his finger to it.
"Oh!" he got it, raising the camera to his eye. "But I can't see anything."
"Ah, we have to turn it on first. Here, I'll help you. It's this little switch." We turned it on. And took off the lens cap without troubling him with an explanation.
"Nope. Still nothing," he said, without looking up.
"Well, you have to look through this little eyepiece on top, not the big screen. The big screen is for seeing your pictures after you take them."
"See anything?" He was looking at the back of the driver's seat.
"It's all brown."
We recommended he point to the passenger seat where his grandmother was catching her breath.
"Now just twist the lens until you close in on her, then press the little button to take the picture," we suggested. Merrily.
"Wait!" we laughed. "Ask her to turn her head around first."
"OK.... Grandma! Turn around!"
"What?" his grandmother said, half turning to see who had addressed her.
He snapped the shutter again. But too late. She'd turned back away. We didn't say it would be easy.
"Where's the flash?" he wanted to know out of the blue.
"Right on top. Here I'll pop it up for you." Pop.
"Cool!" It's the only thing on the camera he could find that does anything.
Suddenly, he put the camera back in his lap with no little determination and something of a sigh. "It's heavy."
Just in time. Mom poked her head back in the car to tell us it was safe to leave the car there. We smiled but didn't say a word.
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RE: Of Cabbages & Sea Foam
Your commentary on the art of photography is easily the best I've read in a very long time. You managed to convey the essence of what lies behind both the Weston and White images -- not an easy task -- without once lapsing into art-fartism or succumbing to cliche.
Thanks for the good read!
-- Dennis Ecklund(Thanks very much, Dennis! Once in a while it's nice to write about something you can't buy <g>. -- Editor)
Wow... I could tell when your Number 16 newsletter hit: my Web stats had a big spike when I checked Saturday morning!
Thanks very much for the piece. It was great and I also liked Cabbages and Sea Foam!
Maybe I'll eventually change you around from being a game-hater ;-)
-- Harald Johnson(Hmmm, what are the odds of that happening? -- Editor)
RE: Aspect Ratio Rationalization
Can you explain why digital camera makers offer multiple aspect ratios? For example, the Panasonic GF-1 has a 12-megapixel image at 4:3. But if you change to 3:2 ratio, the image drops over 10 percent to 10.7-Mp. At 16:9, the image drops 25 percent to 9-Mp. And at 1:1 you're down over 25 percent to 8.95-Mp.
I can understand the 16:9 for showing on a TV screen, but the rest? I can crop any 12-megapixel image to any of these aspect ratios. Yes, I lose pixels, but isn't that what is happening when you choose to shoot at 3:2 or worse, 1:1?
I hope you tell me it's because you're "seeing" the image at the other aspects and making better photo choices. Or is there some sinister plot to throw away perfectly good pixels?
-- Wayne Howard(Good question, Wayne. No sinister plot. Just math. Sinister math, but just math. The different aspect ratios are just differently shaped images. To keep the math simple let's say you have a 20x15 xipel sensor, a 4:3 aspect ratio. Say you want to shoot a 1:1 aspect ratio image. Well, you can't go 20x20 because you've only got 15 xipels to play with in that one dimension. So you go 15x15 to get 1:1. You lose xipels, but there's no way around it.... What good are all those aspect ratios? As you note, 16:9 is the letterbox format your HDTV uses. And 4:3 is the traditional sensor dimension. That drove people nuts in the early days because 35mm cameras used 3:2, which scales perfectly to 4x6 prints. Some subjects just demand one or another shape. When we shoot up Market St. from Twin Peaks, we just have to slip into 16:9. But a lot of macro shots just seem more intimate at 4:3. And if we know we're going to be framing a 4x6, we like to use 3:2. Switching helps compose the image, which makes it a lot more fun for us. -- Editor)(Panasonic aspect ratios all cleverly avoid the very corners of the sensors, where the lenses are prone to flare, coma distortion, chromatic aberration and general softness. Our Panasonic ZS7 review diagrams this innovative optimization (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/ZS7/ZS7A.HTM). -- Dave)
RE: Those Negatives
Thought I would pass this along in case you hadn't seen it.
This is from an interview on July 29 with Matthew Adams, Ansel's grandson and president of the Ansel Adams Gallery. They plan to post a video soon showing the details listed in this article.
-- Steve Cutter(Thanks, Steve. Yes, the video is now up (just click on the first photo). -- Editor)
Want to swap your tired platter for a solid state disk drive but choke on the price tag? Seagate is now shipping its Momentus XT line (http://www.seagate.com/www/en-us/products/laptops/laptop-hdd) of hybrid HDD/SDD drives. Available in capacities of 250/320/500-GB, each 7200-RPM model includes 4-GB of SLC NAND solid state memory used to read frequently accessed files.
Anand Lal Shimpi tested the drive with Photoshop and Lightroom (http://www.anandtech.com/show/3734/seagates-momentus-xt-review-finally-a-good-hybrid-hdd), concluding, "Seagate's Momentus XT should become the standard hard drive in any notebook shipped."
While the Momentus XT can't quite keep up with an SSD, it outperforms even very fast hard drives. It offers the capacity of an HDD but with significantly improved performance at a reasonable price. The 500-GB model, for example, is $140, about $50 more than Seagate's non-hybrid version.
Adobe has posted the Lightroom 3.2 and Camera Raw 6.2 Release Candidates on Adobe Labs (http://labs.adobe.com). The updates extend Raw file support to 12 new camera models, improve on several lens correction profiles and add over 50 new lens profiles. Visit Lightroom Journal (http://blogs.adobe.com/lightroomjournal) for the details.
The company also announced the release of Photoshop Express for iPad and iPhone (http://mobile.photoshop.com) with photo-editing features like Crop, Rotate and Flip plus effects like Vibrant, Pop, Border and Vignette combined with one-touch adjustments to exposure, saturation, tint and black & white. In addition, the iPad version can change screen orientation and edit multiple images in sequence, then simultaneously upload each photo to Photoshop.com and Facebook.
Apple (http://support.apple.com/kb/DL1072) has released Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 3.3. The 15.68-MB update adds Raw support for the Canon PowerShot SX1 IS, Olympus E-PL1, Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 and Lumix DMC-G10, Samsung NX10 and Sony Alpha DSLR-A390/NEX-3.NEX-5.
Tamron (http://www.tamron.com) has announced its anniversary model SP 70-300mm zoom lens with Vibration Compensation image stabilization and Ultrasonic Silent Drive autofocusing. The SP 70-300mm F/4-5.6 Di VC USD (Model A005) will be available for the Nikon mount Aug. 26, with mounts for Canon and Sony to follow.
onOne Software (http://www.ononesoftware.com/webinars) has released its schedule of upcoming Pro Series Webinars. The free, live Webinars are hosted by professional photographers and Photoshop experts who provide inspiration, information and tips on using onOne Software plug-ins in their workflow.
Rocky Nook (http://rockynook.com) has published the second edition of Practical HDRI by Jack Howard, covering the HDR process from image capture through post-processing for Web and print using Photoshop CS5, Photomatix Pro, FDRTools, Dynamic Photo HDR and HDR PhotoStudio. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952636/?tag=theimagingres-20).
X-Rite (http://xritephoto.com) has announced its upcoming schedule of Webinars addressing color management topics for both professional and serious amateur photographers.
Wedding & Portrait Photographers International (http://www.wppionline.com) has announced its second annual WPPI Road Trip begins Aug. 23. The $149 (plus $75 for a guest) Road Trip will visit 10 major U.S. cities this August and September. Cities include Irvine, Calif.; Sacramento, Calif.; Seattle; Dallas; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Atlanta; Orlando, Fla.; New Brunswick, N.J.; and Detroit, Mich.
HindSight (http://HSLtd.us) has released METAmachine 2 [M], a metadata editor, with PLUS Manager to embed licensing terms, Keyword Manager (with simultaneous entries in English, Spanish, German and French) and a 5x speed boost for Macintosh computers with Intel processors. For a limited time, the $49 METAmachine 2 is available at an introductory price of just $25.
Akvis (http://akvis.com) has released its $87 Retoucher 4.0 [MW] with the ability to remove large objects from photos, Linear Retouch and Patch tools, two new interface modes, compatibility with Photoshop CS5 and 64-bit support.
MOApp (http://myownapp.com) has released its $19.95 myPhotoEdit 1.5.1 [M] with an option to set a background image, improved selection and crop tools, better white point correction and better noise reduction.
Hamrick (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 8.5.50 [LMW] with reduced batch scanning memory requirements, improved infrared cleaning and several fixes.
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