The IMAGING RESOURCE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY
NEWSLETTER


Volume 12, Number 19 10 September 2010

Copyright 2010, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 288th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We kick off this issue with some insights gained at an Eye-Fi anniversary event before the gang gets their hands on the Nikon P7000 flagship digicam. Canon Expo offers a peek at the future and Shawn and Dave are there to tell us about it. Finally, there are a lot of new contests in the news section. Win one for the Gipper.


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Feature: Eye-Fi Celebrates Five Years of Innovation

On Tuesday evening, Eye-Fi (http://www.eye.fi) held a press event at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco. The small gathering provided an opportunity to chat one-on-one with several of the founders about the company that has been bringing WiFi to cameras via the Trojan horse of an SD card, as one of them put it.

In fact, the company announced over 100 million images and video have been transmitted since the cards began shipping three years ago. From the very beginning, the innovative cards were able to transmit an image directly from any SD-based camera to several online sharing services. Today seven camera manufacturers partner with Eye-Fi to enhance the WiFi experience on their gear and the Eye-Fi SD card can deliver stills and video to 45 online services.

In over two hours of conversation, we covered quite a bit of ground from the first experiments on a dining room table five years ago to getting permission to use a technology from the company one of the founders had just left to designing their own chips to the derivation of the name to working hand-in-hand with the major camera manufacturers to that day's announcement of the release of a developer's program to expand the Eye-Fi platform.

And along the way, we discussed SD card speed, the professional market, CompactFlash and even noise problems. Here's what we learned.

ABOUT THE PRODUCT

We first covered the Eye-Fi not long after its debut when we saw it at PMA in February 2008. Our PMA coverage (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS08/MRP/pma-thu.htm#eye) wondered how fast the $99 2-GB SD card was and if you could transmit an image to a printer, two questions that came up Tuesday night, too. It could transmit images (but not video) to 20 online services through your router. And there was considerable interest in a CompactFlash version, another topic we dove into. Despite the questions, we were impressed enough to give the device two Envy awards (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/PMAS08/MRP/pma-envy.htm#acc).

In our Feb. 29, 2008 issue (http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html), we reviewed a unit we'd purchased -- and which we brought along to the event, to the surprise of a couple of the founders, pulling it out of review unit digicam we were using it in. As we said then, while the hardware itself is fascinating -- a WiFi radio packed into a 2-GB SD card -- the real story is the software that grabs the images off the card and speeds it along to your online sharing site automatically.

We covered the expansion in May 2008 of the Eye-Fi product line into three cards: the basic Home version (uploads to your computer), the Share version (uploads to your computer or 20 services) and the Explore version (adds geotagging based on the location of the router used to transfer the images).

And in our Sept. 2008 miniphotokina review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ACCS/EYE/FI.HTM), we reported on three new developments: faster wireless uploads and the ability to add services from the other cards, distribution expansion to Japan and Canada and more Eye-Fi-aware dSLRs.

The current batch of X2 Eye-Fi cards are SDHC (faster than the original SD cards) and Wireless N rather than Wireless G, allowing them to capture and transmit larger files (even Raw and video) much quicker. But it's still that ecosystem that makes the Eye-Fi compelling.

In fact, earlier in the day visitors to our bunker tried out the review camera with the old Eye-Fi in it without realizing that as they shot with the camera, it was delivering the images to our computer. It's not only automatic but effortless.

Today's cards can send both images and video, optionally geotagging them, through any of up to 32 networks you identify to up to 45 online services, including your own FTP server. And they don't have to travel through Eye-Fi's servers, either, if you choose to upload to just your computer (and no sharing sites) and you turn the Relayed Uploads option off.

And because the card's firmware can confirm that images were successfully uploaded -- either directly to your computer or to a sharing site -- it can actually manage card space, deleting the oldest transmitted images so you never run out of space on the card. You can even set how much of the card to leave full (from 10 to 90 percent) so you can shoot an event without running out of space. Eye-Fi calls this Endless Memory (http://www.eye.fi/how-it-works/features/endless-memory).

The $150 Eye-Fi Pro X2 with 8-GB storage can additionally transfer directly to your laptop (Ad Hoc mode) without the need for a router. It can also transfer Raw files, offers lifetime online sharing and geotagging and includes a year of hotspot access.

Where did that name come from? Not from WiFi, actually. And not from any of the founders, either. They had Eye-Film in mind, in fact, before the current name was suggested to them.

PARTICIPANTS

Of the four founders, only Eugene Feinberg, hardware architect, was unable to attend. But President and CEO Jef Holove, formerly with Logitech, accompanied the other three founders, including:

NOISE

When we cornered Berend, the firmware developer, we asked him if the company had had any problems with the cards adding noise to still images.

He told us they had indeed had trouble with noise, but not in still images. The problem can be heard in the audio of some video, he said. It's caused by a marginal power supply.

All Eye-Fi cards meet the power requirement specifications for an SD device but some low-end digicams use power supplies that don't quite deliver what they should, so you get spikes in the audio. It isn't a widespread problem and they've worked with manufacturers to avoid it, Berend said.

We later learned the Olympus E-P1 and the Leica M9 do suffer data corruption. The E-P1, we were told, can't use the previous generation Eye-Fi but works well with X2 cards.

COMPACT FLASH

We asked about the possibility of a CompactFlash version. Berend conceded that the company had built prototypes but decided they weren't going to be able to provide the performance a professional photographer would require.

And with SD slots appearing in enthusiast dSLRs now, the market for a CompactFlash Eye-Fi was eroding. So it wasn't a priority.

But, he told us, the guy we really should talk to about this is Ziv. So we grabbed Ziv and he let out a sigh before explaining the situation.

We asked Ziv why a CompactFlash adapter for an SD Eye-Fi isn't a solution. First, he explained, there's a metal cover on them which you have to remove to get a good signal. You can't really tell people to do something like that, he acknowledged.

But there's a bigger problem. All adapters have a KTC chip in them that can randomly corrupt data, though it's hard to detect. To confirm files are changed by the adapter, Ziv shot Raw+JPEG to a CompactFlash card in a Nikon D300, locking the files in the camera. Viewing the files on a computer, both the Raw and JPEG versions remained locked, as expected. But when any CompactFlash adapter was used with any SD card to shoot locked Raw+JPEG images, only the Raw files were locked on the computer.

He repeated what Berend had said about the eroding market, suggesting there were maybe 100,000 (very vocal) pros that might be interested in it.

But in pursuing the subject Berend said the technology really wasn't wedded to WiFi. A 4G Eye-Fi card or a Bluetooth Eye-Fi card were technically feasible. It's really just a question of what the market is for these protocols.

SD CARD SPEED

What about the speed of the SD cards? The originals were SD, capable of recording but not transferring video. The current X2 cards are all SDHC delivering 12 megabytes per second, faster than Class 6 but slower than Class 10, about a Class 8.5 equivalent if there were such a thing.

As an event photographer himself, he found that was fast enough. The fastest CompactFlash cards on the market, Ziv said, run up to 90-MBps but no dSLR can handle 90-MBps write speeds. The Nikon D300s can sustain about 32-MBps and the Canon 5d Mark II about 50-MBps, for example. The fastest SDHC cards can sustain 30-MBps. The X2 Eye-Fi cards can sustain 12-MBps, just short of half that.

As Rob Galbraith notes in his definitive CF.SD Performance Database (http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=6007), "the time it takes for photos to transfer to the computer is often a bigger bottleneck that in-camera write speed."

To keep up with a 90-MBps card, you'd need a very fast card reader writing to very fast SSD drives. Typical throughput, however, is closer to 15-MBps, Ziv said.

Ziv had been shooting the event with a D300s equipped with an Eye-Fi Pro X2. To prove the Eye-Fi is fast enough, he held the camera up, held down the shutter button and fired continuously until the buffer filled. The card kept up with the camera.

When a fellow journalist listening in bemoaned the fragility of SD cards compared to CompactFlash cards, Ziv explained that SD cards are half hollow with the electronics at the end with the contacts (which also explains how SanDisk can build a card that folds in half). Eye-Fi cards have a radio and full circuit board in the SD case. But what really makes them reliable, he said, is that they never have to come out of the camera.

EYE-FI AWARE CAMERAS

One big change from the early days is how much more integrated the Eye-Fi card has become in today's digicams and dSLRs. In fact, the Berend told us he had just returned from meetings in Japan with major manufacturers to discuss future product development.

The company has agreements with Canon, Casio, JVC, Nikon, Pentax, Sanyo and Sony to include more advanced Eye-Fi features in camera firmware.

At the simplest level those features include power management so the cameras don't shut down while the card is transmitting data. That feature can be enabled or disabled and should persist between sessions, although we know of one Pentax model that had trouble with that. When we asked about it, Berend told us it had subsequently been resolved with a firmware fix by Pentax.

But even more advanced capability is available with some models allowing you to enter the SSID of any network you want to access and the WEP or WPA keys, too. Some models also display an on-screen activity monitor so you can tell from the camera that the Eye-Fi card is actively transmitting images. On-screen activity on some models even includes a thumbnail of each image as it's being transmitted. And transmitted images on Canon models show a watermark of the Eye-Fi logo.

A sampling of current cameras featuring advanced Eye-Fi features is on Eye-Fi's camera compatibility page (http://www.eye.fi/how-it-works/camera-compatibility?postTabs=1).

DEVELOPER PROGRAM

Eye-Fi has just created a developer program (http://www.eye.fi/developers) so application developers can access its Web services and further extend the Eye-Fi experience by:

The developer program may be where innovations like transmitting directly to a WiFi-capable printer or a WiFi HDTV take root.

CONCLUSION

Whether we were hearing the story of the breadboard prototype on the dining room table transmitting the first image or how early cards were fashioned from epoxy because the company had no manufacturing capability, the enthusiasm of the founder telling the story lit up the room.

And when Berend told us about his nieces chasing snow in Texas on a rare occasion that was instantly shared with grandparents many states away, it was clear these guys were proud of what they had achieved in just five years.

And what was that? Well, many of us talk about it, but few actually realize it as well as these guys have done. And that, simply, is to make the world a better place.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Nikon Coolpix P7000 Hands-On Preview

By MIKE TOMKINS and SHAWN BARNETT
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/P7000/P7000A.HTM on the Web site.)

Finally entering the high-quality pocket digital camera market with a vengeance, the Nikon P7000 aims its finder squarely at the Canon G11, with the same size sensor, a similar shape and thickness and a longer zoom lens. Well-established targets are easier to hit and the Nikon P7000 seems to hit right at the core of what makes the G11 popular, adding a few intriguing features along the way.

LOOK & FEEL

Built to look like a rangefinder of yesteryear, the P7000 has an optical viewfinder and a non-interchangeable zoom lens that retracts to make a fairly flat design suitable for a jacket pocket or purse but a little large for a pair of slacks. Weighing 10.9 ounces, the P7000 seemed a little lighter and slimmer than the Canon G11 but still feels solid, with its mostly metal body.

The front view reveals a small rubber grip, with an infrared port right next to the right microphone hole. Above that is the AF-assist lamp. A small function button appears to the lower left of the lens and to the right of that is the accessory lens release button. A metal ring surrounds the lens, which is removed before attaching a converter lens.

The grip is small, but sufficient. The zoom toggle is just right. The power button is flush and the translucent ring surrounding it lights up when the camera is on.

SENSOR

On the inside, the P7000 has a 10.1-megapixel, 1/1.7-inch CCD image sensor, suggesting this camera is aimed at photographers. Rolling back the pixel count favors improved noise characteristics, especially in low light. Maximum image resolution is 3648x2736 pixels.

The sensor isn't nearly as large as competing dSLR and SLD sensors, but it is larger than the average digicam's sensor and about the same size as its main competition, the Panasonic LX5 and Canon G11.

LENS

The 7.1x optically stabilized zoom lens ranges from 6.0mm to 42.6mm, equating to a range of 28 to 200mm on a 35mm camera, a useful wide-angle to a good telephoto. Maximum aperture ranges from f2.8 at wide-angle, to f5.6 at telephoto. Despite the extra telephoto reach, that compares pretty favorably to the P6000, whose 4x zoom ranged from f2.7 wide-angle, to a rather dim f7.7 telephoto.

The lens carries Nikkor ED branding, indicating that the design includes extra-low dispersion glass elements. The design also includes a built-in neutral density filter, just like the competition. Macro focusing is possible to just 0.8 inches. For photographers needing additional wide-angle reach, an optional WC-E75A Wide-angle Converter can be attached via a UR-E22 adapter ring, yielding a generous 21mm-equivalent wide-angle.

Prime Emulation. One of the more unusual functions is the P7000's Zoom Memory function, which allows several specific focal lengths to be registered for quick recall, effectively simulating the shooting experience of using several interchangeable prime lenses. For photographers used to this shooting style, it may be a helpful function that allows them to retain their shooting mindset when switching between their compact and dSLR cameras.

Vibration Reduction. The P7000 has what Nikon terms 5-Way VR. This encompasses optical image stabilization, which moves elements in the lens's optical path to counteract camera shake, thus reducing blur. It also includes electronic VR, otherwise known as software deblurring or deconvolution, which attempts to determine the effects of camera shake in captured photos and then mathematically corrects for them. The other three pieces of the 5-Way VR pie are a motion-detection function, which can automatically raise ISO sensitivity (and hence, shutter speeds and noise levels) to freeze motion, an expanded ISO range up to ISO 6400 equivalent and a Best Shot Selector function. This last works by automatically capturing as many as 10 sequential shots while the shutter button is held down and then discarding all but the sharpest shot.

PROCESSOR

Sensor output is handled by an EXPEED C2 image processor, the C designation indicating the Coolpix variant of the EXPEED processor, as opposed to those used in the Nikon's dSLRs.

The EXPEED C2 processor enables the P7000's useful ISO sensitivity range of 100 to 3200 equivalents at full resolution, plus an expanded, full-res Hi 1 position equivalent to ISO 6400. In "Low-Noise Night Mode," which uses pixel-binning techniques, this range is further expanded to ISO 12,800 equivalent at 3-Mp resolution. When using the Auto ISO function, sensitivities range from 100 to 800 and this range can further be limited to a maximum of ISO 400 if desired. The P7000 also includes a Noise Reduction Filter function, which has both Low and Normal positions, allowing subject detail to be prioritized over noise levels if desired.

The EXPEED C2 image processor also helps boost speed across the board, as compared to the P7000's predecessor. Full resolution burst shooting is possible at 1.3 frames per second, up to a maximum burst depth of 45 frames, a healthy increase over the P6000's 0.84 fps for just six frames. The P7000 slashes startup time to just 0.9 seconds from around 3.0 seconds in the P6000. Shutter lag is said to be around 0.31 seconds.

Where the P6000 was limited to standard-def VGA movie capture, the EXPEED C2 processor in the Nikon P7000 also allows 720p high-def video capture.

VIEWFINDER/LCD

Befitting its flagship compact status, the Nikon P7000 sports not only an LCD panel, but also a true optical viewfinder with diopter correction dial.

The 3.0-inch LCD has a resolution of 921,000 dots, roughly equal to a 640x480 pixel array, with adjacent red, green and blue dots per pixel. It has an anti-glare coating and a wide viewing angle, as well.

EXPOSURE MODES

The P7000 includes Program, Shutter-priority, Aperture-priority and Manual exposure modes. There's also 18 scene modes, plus a Scene Auto Selector mode which can choose between a subset of these. Like almost all compact cameras, the P7000 relies on contrast-detection autofocus. Nikon's implementation includes both subject tracking capability and a face-detection function (dubbed Enhanced Face-Priority AF) capable of simultaneously locating up to 12 faces in the scene and then taking their positions into account when determining focus and exposure variables.

AUTOFOCUS

The face-detection AF is one part of Nikon's Smart Portrait System, with other face-detection-related functionality comprising an In-Camera Red-Eye Fix function, Skin Softening tool, a Smile Timer function which only captures an image when your subject is smiling and a Blink Warning function that lets you know if your subject's eyes weren't open. Another enthusiast-friendly feature is the interval timer. We don't currently have any details on the maximum number of shots in a sequence, nor the interval size range, but this function would be useful for time-lapse sequences of flowers blooming and storm clouds rolling by.

BRACKETING

As Nikon's flagship compact camera, the P7000 has a wide range of bracketing functions. This includes not only autoexposure bracketing (either three or five shots in 0.3, 0.7 or 1.0 EV steps), but also an ISO sensitivity bracketing function that allows the shutter speed and aperture to be fixed and then the exposure varied with the ISO sensitivity. The P7000 can also bracket white balance, saving either three, five or seven images with a white balance shift of 1, 2, 3, 5, 10 or 15 mireds between shots.

HORIZON INDICATOR

Another feature clearly aimed at the enthusiast photographer hoping to get the best possible shot straight out of the camera is the Virtual Horizon Indicator. This works in both portrait and landscape-orientation shooting and allows confirmation that photographs are shot with a level horizon, negating the need to rotate and crop images in post-processing.

TONE LEVELS

A Tone Level Information display provides not only a histogram for judging exposure but also a window you move around the image, restricting the histogram to levels inside the window. A blinking highlights function allows visual confirmation of areas in the image where overexposure has caused clipped highlights.

MOVIE MODE

The P7000 includes a high-definition movie mode, enabled thanks to its EXPEED C2 image processor. High-def movies can be recorded at resolutions up to 720p (1280x720 pixels, progressive scan) at a rate of 24 fps. Movies are saved using H.264 compression, in a .MOV container and include stereo audio, either captured using the Nikon P7000's internal stereo microphone or an external mic using the camera's built-in stereo microphone jack. Movie audio is recorded as 16-bit, 48KHz AAC, with an average bitrate of 28Kbps.

STORAGE & BATTERY

The P7000 stores data on SD cards, including SDXC types. Still images are saved in either JPEG compressed or .NRW raw formats, with the latter able to be processed on both Windows and Macintosh platforms using the supplied ViewNX 2 software or the optionally available Capture NX 2 package.

Power comes from a proprietary EN-EL14 lithium-ion battery pack. Battery life is rated at around 350 shots per a charge.

CONNECTIVITY

For viewing images and movies on the latest high-def displays, the P7000 includes HDMI high-definition video output, plus a Standard AV/USB output port and a stereo microphone jack. There's also an infrared receiver front and back, compatible with Nikon's optionally available, one-button ML-L3 wireless remote control.

ANALYSIS

Just a few years ago, the market for feature-rich, fixed-lens compact digital cameras was busy and hard-fought. With the advent of truly affordable dSLRs, that market has largely disappeared but Nikon is one of a handful of makers still producing compacts designed for the enthusiast photographer.

Their previous such model, the P6000, was greeted with mixed reviews. Its sturdy, magnesium body offered full manual control, a stabilized 4x optical zoom lens with ED elements, as well as unusual features like built-in GPS and Ethernet connectivity. Unfortunately the combination of mixed image quality and a general sluggishness made the P6000 unpopular compared to competitors from Panasonic and Canon.

The Nikon Coolpix P7000 aims to address these issues and more, featuring an entirely new design inside and out. One look at its angular body is enough to tell you that this is a camera aimed at enthusiasts -- the front, top and rear panels are replete with external controls. They might take a little while to learn, but once you're familiar with the camera, they'll mean a lot less time spent browsing the menu system. Overall fit in the hand is great and the controls are easy to see and use.

Compared to the Canon G11, the Nikon P7000 lacks a swivel screen, but has a longer zoom and a few features the G11 lacks, like the rear-facing IR port. While the Nikon P7000 is larger than the Panasonic LX5, it also has a built-in optical viewfinder and its 7x zoom is considerably longer than the LX5's 3.8x zoom. All three of these cameras have a similar 10-Mp sensor, with the promise of lower noise in low-light situations. We'll be getting the Nikon P7000 into the lab for testing as soon as we can, so stay tuned.

The P7000 ships in the U.S. market from late September for $499.95.

Return to Topics.

Feature: Canon Expo 2010 Highlights

By SHAWN BARNETT with DAVE ETCHELLS
(Excerpted from the illustrated report posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1283720266.html on the Web site.)

NEW YORK -- From Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, Canon representatives converged on New York City for the regional Canon Expo 2010. Held every five years, Canon Expo New York is one of three expos that will be held this year. The next two regional Canon Expos in 2010 will be held in Paris and Tokyo, covering Europe and Asia.

Canon's product line is broad, including far more than the photographic technology for which they're best known, including medical imaging and more. The company has also integrated a very large format printer company called Oce, which neatly fills in much of their product line, allowing them to produce a wide array of printed products, offering capabilities that they demonstrated at Canon Expo 2010.

For all that it was intended as a showcase for Canon's advanced technology and capabilities, Canon was fairly non-specific when it came to details of what was on display, at least concerning the kind of photographic technology we cover. It wasn't hard to read between the lines a little, though, to see at least a few likely near-term products.

CROSS MEDIA STATION

One new concept on display was the Cross Media Station, a tabletop box designed to both download images and charge cameras by just placing them on the deck of the Cross Media Station.

Images can be uploaded to a server or sent to another Cross Media Station. According to Canon, you can "easily view photographs and video on an HDTV whenever you wish. The Cross Media Station simplifies sharing your precious memories and printing them with ease and you can quickly locate old photos and video."

The basic idea consists of several cameras sitting on the top of the device. Cameras were current models with plates attached to their bottom that enabled communication and charging, but future products might integrate this connectivity into their design.

MULTIPURPOSE CAMERA

The most complete concept we saw on display was the Multipurpose Camera, which Canon also called a 4K camera. The futuristic design includes an integrated 7-140mm (24-480mm equivalent), 20x optical zoom lens with maximum apertures of f1.8 to f3.8. The lens drive system is a new design that is electronically controlled.

The Canon Multipurpose Camera's 2/3-inch, 8-megapixel CMOS sensor shoots video at more than 60 frames per second at a resolution that's four times greater than HD. That's 4,000 lines of resolution or 4,096 pixels wide.

With such speed and resolution, you'd be able to draw an 8-Mp still image from the camera, choosing from more than 60 frames per second. The resolution on the LCD and on the large-screen LCD nearby showed astonishing detail.

Composed of bio-based plastic, the exterior parts of the Canon Multipurpose Camera contain no petroleum-based plastic.

Canon was also separately showing sample video via two REALiS WUX10 Mark II projectors that used blending hardware and software to allow seamless viewing. The final resolution of the blended images was 3712x2088 pixels.

MULTI-BAND CAMERA

Canon showed what it called "the World's First Single-shot Multi-band Camera." Using a 50-million-pixel CMOS sensor, Canon was able to use a six-color filter that "enables color distinction that can be realized neither by the human eye nor by RGB (3-color) camera systems."

The new design allows the Multi-band Camera to capture a wider range of colors and by using multi-point shooting techniques, reflective objects can be reproduced with greater fidelity.

ULTRA HIGH-SENSITIVITY CMOS SENSOR CAMERA

Also of interest was the 300mm wafer-size CMOS sensor with 600um pixels, which is able to capture a 1-Mp image. Though not terribly high resolution, its extreme sensitivity allows the sensor to capture clear human facial expressions in light measuring only one lux, a light level where the naked eye would only see faint movement of shadows, according to Canon. The Ultra High-sensitivity CMOS sensor is currently used in a telescope in Japan.

ULTRA HIGH-RES PANORAMA CAMERA

The Ultra High-Resolution Panorama Camera's 120-Mp sensor is roughly the size of Canon's current APS-H chip, as used in the EOS-1D Mark IV. This is the maximum size for single-shot exposure by Canon's semiconductor lithography systems, so chips of this size are more efficient to produce.

Oddly, while it was billed as an "ultra resolution panorama camera," the sensor looked like it was a standard 3:2 aspect ratio design.

Canon was noncommittal about if or when this camera or sensor might appear as a commercial product, but the vibe we picked up was that this might be also appear in the relatively near term. Whether "near" could mean months or years is an entirely open question.

Canon also claims the 120-Mp sensor is comparable to the number of optic nerves in the human eye, which is about 130 million. The sensor can output 1.4 fps with a 2.52 Gbps data rate. It can also output Full HD video at 60 fps from a designated area on the sensor.

Canon had several very large touchscreen displays to demonstrate the extremely high resolution of the sensor's output.

ULTRA HD 8-MP 30-INCH LCD

Canon showed prototype LCD monitors with an 8-Mp display or roughly 4x HD. The 30-inch displays appeared to use a 16:9 aspect ratio. Close examination revealed no visible RGB patterns and even close-up macro shots were inconclusive.

The displays are designed for use by designers, CGI artists, Printers, Video producers and in other professional applications.

A shot of the LCD with the Canon logo at the bottom gave an idea of the extremely high resolution of the display, with the highest detail around the subject's eye. The full-resolution shot is about 2-MB.

NEW PRO PRINTER

While Canon Expo personnel were pretty coy about mentioning any specific products, they did have a bit to say about a brand-new, high-end professional photo printer, right down to the date it will be announced (Jan. 15, 2011), creating anticipation via a large red LED countdown clock.

They still declined to give us many specifics about the printer, but we did manage to wring a few details from them. The coming product sounds like it will be tailor-made for many professional photographers (and graphic designers, as Canon was quick to point out), who need high-quality photo printing on a regular basis.

The new printer will utilize an all-new ink set, with 12 colors of pigmented ink in new high-capacity ink tanks. This 12-color capability promises to expand the gamut and improve tonality beyond Canon's current Pro 9500 model, which uses 10 pigment-based inks. The new inkset will be delivered to the paper by a new, higher-performance print-head design, which will have a wider nozzle array as well as higher droplet frequencies, to give noticeably faster throughput. And no, Canon wouldn't characterize the print speeds beyond saying that it'd be faster than the current 9500 model.

Consistent with Canon's current drive to expand paper compatibility with their current printer models, they claimed that the new model would support a very wide range of third-party papers, with a large library of ICC profiles available right from the initial ship date.

There was a lot of speculation among the press who saw the mysterious black box and countdown timer as to whether the new model would be able to handle 17-inch paper. We didn't have a tape measure with us, but did manage to get a pretty good estimate of the carriage size. The unit in the box pretty clearly had a 13-inch carriage. Whether what we saw will be representative of the final design is unknown.

As you might imagine, Canon didn't give the slightest idea of what the price of the new model might be, but did note that it would represent a new high-end on their Pro printer series, coming in above the current Pro 9000 and Pro 9500, both of which will remain in the lineup.

This looks like a very intriguing printer, likely to come in at a lower price than the bottom end of Canon's current Image ProGraf line, but with higher performance than their current Pixma Pro models -- and apparently with higher image quality than any other Canon printer. It could indeed fill niches in both professional photographers and in graphic design agencies, where it could crank out very high-quality comps and proofs at relatively low cost.

CONCLUSION

Overall, the show was a good one, with lots of impressive technology to see. An entire area was dedicated to futuristic product mockups and new interface possibilities, but the imaginative touch and 3D virtual image-management technology shown was based on technology we've seen in current and future products from other companies. We did appreciate a few of those design concepts, particularly the Navi Cam.

While it wasn't included in any announced product, a number of the exhibits were based on a 50-Mp full-frame CMOS sensor chip. Given how often this chip was mentioned, we'd guess that a 50-Mp full-frame dSLR can be expected to appear in the not-too-distant future. No mention was made of what the chip's base ISO might be, but we learned that the one on display has a 3.2-micron pixel pitch. That's pretty small for a full-frame sensor, but is actually quite close to the pixel size of Canon's current 18-Mp subframe chip found in the EOS 7D, T2i and 60D. It seems reasonable that the ISO capabilities and noise levels of this 50-Mp sensor would be similar to those current models.

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New on the Site

At http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEW1.HTM you can keep track of what's new on our main site. Among the highlights since the last issue:

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In the Forums

Visit the Imaging Resource discussion forums at http://www.photo-forums.com to find out what people are saying about the latest digicams, hard-to-find accessories, friendly suppliers, clever techniques, you name it! Recent hot topics include:

Read the Sony Alpha SLT-55V discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eeb0fa4/0

Visit the Digital Cameras Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2a8

Read about the Ultimate Light Box System at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eea5393/0

Read about Tamron lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=7

Visit the General Q&A Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee718ec

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Dave's Deals

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We Have Mail

You can email us at editor@imaging-resource.com. You can read our Letters policy at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS in the FAQ.

RE: Mysterious Bluetooth Adapter

I enjoyed your review on the Cannon MP640 printer. Because of your article, I purchased the printer. However I have one question. Can you tell me what model D-Link Bluetooth adapter you used for the test? I've read about many Bluetooth dongles that don't work. I don't want to buy the wrong one. Can you please help?

-- David

(The one we always use (and always works) is the D-Link Bluetooth Adapter DBT-120: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00006B7DB/?tag=theimagingres-20 -- Editor)

RE: Renumbering

What is a good renumbering program? I frequently shoot pictures from two or more cameras and want to merge them together and renumber them to put on a DVD and play them on the TV. I have used ACDSee's Select, Batch Rename but it wants to number according to each camera instead of one big merged file.

-- Kathi Heriford

(The first trick is to make sure the times are in sync. We'd use Phil Harvey's Exiftool (http://www.sno.phy.queensu.ca/~phil/exiftool/) to make any adjustment necessary. You should then be able to rename them sequentially (regardless of the camera model), based on the time (not the file time but the Exif header capture time). Any recent photo software ought to be able to do that. Photo Mechanic (http://www.camerabits.com), for example. -- Editor)

RE: A Blurb Book

As per usual, I really enjoy your newsletter every other week and often get tips I can use. Thank you.

I have just returned to south Florida after six weeks in upstate New York. I am winding down an exhibit of 97 of my images from around the world at the Arnot Art Museum in Elmira, N.Y. (http://www.arnotartmuseum.org). I printed a book of the pictures using Blurb, which you mentioned. Here is the link: http://www.blurb.com/books/1424554

-- Burt Hesselson

(Nice work, Burt! Flipping through the online book, we felt like we'd been around the world and made a few new friends. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

The SD Association (http://www.sdcard.org) has announced a dual-row pin memory card design for bus interface speeds of up to 300-MB per second for SDXC and SDHC devices and memory cards. Fully backwards compatible, new high speed interface signals will be assigned on the second row of pins of SDXC and SDHC cards offering the new speed. The option will be available in both full-size and micro form factors and does not change the physical size or shape of the cards. The design will be part of the forthcoming SD 4.0 specification, expected in early 2011.


Canon (http://www.usa.canon.com/nfl) has announced its sixth annual Why Do You Love Football? photo challenge. Two winners will attend Super Bowl XLV in North Texas and receive a trip to the 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Celebration. The winning photos will be displayed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for one year. Deadline for entries is Dec. 1.


Adobe (http://www.adobe.com) has released Lightroom 3.2 and Camera Raw 6.2, extending Raw file support to 16 new cameras and improving several lens correction profiles provided in the Lightroom 3.0 release. These latest updates also add over 120 new lens profiles.


Lloyd Chambers has published his Making Sharp Images (http://makingsharpimages.com) to show how to make a critically sharp image in-camera. The publication is available to subscribers for $44.95 a year.


What's the most efficient Photoshop hardware? Adam Jerugim answered just that question at Photoshop World recently. John Nack took notes: http://blogs.adobe.com/jnack/2010/09/how-to-set-up-a-great-photoshop-machine.html


Think Tank Photo (http://thinktankphoto.com) has announced a Sling-O-Matic sling bag that can quickly be shifted to either shoulder. Available in early October, the Sling-O-Matic comes in four sizes from $129 to $189, all featuring top access.

To celebrate its fifth anniversary, the company has also launched its first photo contest (http://www.facebook.com/thinktankphoto?v=app_95936962634) in four categories. There is no entry fee, a $5,000 grand prize and four other prizes. Contest ends Nov. 30.


Tamron (http://www.tamron-usa.com) has released lens profile support for the latest Adobe software for its Di series and the Di II series lenses to correct distortion, chromatic aberration and peripheral brightness.

To celebrate its 60th anniversary, Tamron has announced "an unprecedented promotional program." Through Oct. 30, when you sign up to receive Tamron news by email (http://www.tamron-usa.com) you are automatically entered to win one of 60 new 60th Anniversary Tamron SP 70-300mm Di VC USD zoom lenses or four other prizes given away each day.

Wait, there's more. The company has also announced its End of Summer Super Rebate program for select lenses (http://www.tamron-usa.com/lenses/rebates.asp) through Oct. 10.


Extensis (http://www.extensis.com) has released its $6,416 Portfolio Server 9.5 [MW], an enterprise digital asset management solution for photos, graphics, documents and videos. Features include an augmented Web client, enhanced previewing, simplified setup, SWF and DNG file format support, new Web templates and new operating system support for Windows Server 2008 R2 and Apple XSAN.


Kekus Digital (http://www.kekus.com) has released its $39 Calico Panorama 1.8 [M], a multi-row image stitcher for panoramas, with support for grayscale images.


MOApp has rewritten its $24.95 myPhotoEdit 2.0 [M] image editor based on Core Image, Open GL and ColorSync. The new release features a simplified interface, unlimited undo, unlimited history, new image enhancement tools and more.


Photoshelter (http://www.photoshelter.com/mkt/research/) has released a number of free handbooks for photographers covering social media, blogs and even the secrets of SEO.


Arthur Bleich and Adrian Coakley will conduct the 10th Annual Digital Photo Workshop Cruise (http://www.dpcorner.com/cruise) sailing from Tahiti on April 16, 2011. Twenty attendees will photograph travel, nature and documentary images to be published in a fine arts book.


Rob Galbraith details using an Eye-Fi card (and even modifying a CompactFlash adapter) with an iPad in Wireless Photography With an iPad and ShutterSnitch (http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=7-10055-10851).

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One Liners

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

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

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

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

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Signoff

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

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

Happy snapping!

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

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