|Volume 12, Number 23||5 November 2010|
Welcome to the 292nd edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We kick off this issue with a preview of Panasonic's delightfully diminutive mirrorless GF2. Then Andrew takes a look at Sigma's image stabilized 70-200mm zoom. And we reveal a trick for printing envelopes. Don't forget to set your camera clock back an hour Saturday night.
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By SHAWN BARNETT(Excerpted from the full preview posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCGF2/DMCGF2A.HTM on the Web site.)
An aggressive drive toward smaller interchangeable-lens digital cameras intensifies with Panasonic's announcement of the Lumix DMC-GF2. Though the drive toward smaller cameras was begun by Olympus and Panasonic, Sony's very small NEX series of SLD (Single Lens Direct-view) or mirrorless cameras has forced Panasonic to respond. As a result, the Panasonic GF2 is closer to the size of the LX5 than it is the GF1 and also closer to the diminutive size of the Sony NEX-5. It's even smaller than two of the high-end digital cameras that it competes with, the Nikon P7000 and Canon G12.
Discussion of size is important in this space because, in addition to image quality, this is where the battle lines are drawn. These cameras are designed to deliver the best image quality in the smallest space.
Technically, the Lumix GF2 is similar to its predecessor, with the same 12.1-megapixel sensor, but Panasonic says its Venus Engine FHD processor will improve noise performance across the ISO range, which is important when going up against APS-C sensors. What they've achieved in this important area will have to wait until we receive a full version, as all we've seen is a working prototype.
Size isn't the only component to the story, what's also interesting is what they had to do to achieve this size reduction, which includes moving many of the features that had a dial to the new touchscreen. Many of the G2's touchscreen features have been brought to the GF2 and many new ones were created to replace features like the Mode dial. At the same time, Panasonic added higher resolution video to the GF2, up to 1920x1080 at 60i in AVCHD compression.
The Panasonic GF2 is packed with both trade-offs and benefits. Because we saw an unfinished prototype camera, we have to be careful in our early evaluation of the Panasonic GF2, but it's easy to see what the final package will be overall.
LOOK & FEEL
The Panasonic Lumix GF2 is smaller than the company's previous GF1 model, with an approximate 19 percent reduction in body volume, accompanied by a 7 percent drop in body-only weight.
The change brings the Panasonic GF2 into much closer contention with Sony's popular NEX-series camera in terms of overall size and weight. Compared to the Sony NEX-3, both cameras have similar body thickness. The Panasonic GF2 is a little less than a quarter inch taller and the Sony NEX-3 is wider by a similar margin.
Compared to the more aggressively styled Sony NEX-5, though, the comparison still falls more clearly in Sony's favor. Both cameras have similar width and the NEX-5 gives away a little less than a quarter inch in thickness to the Panasonic GF2, but is almost a third of an inch less tall than the Panasonic.
Both Sony cameras have a more deeply sculpted handgrip, where Panasonic's new offering has only a very slight protrusion offering purchase for your fingertips. In other words, its body thickness is similar across most of the camera's width, whereas much of the bulk in the NEX cameras is found in their handgrips. Note also that the GF2 is only one-tenth of an inch larger than the Panasonic LX5 in width and height.
To achieve the smaller, lighter body vs. that of its predecessor, Panasonic has made quite a few changes in the Lumix GF2's layout and user interface.
I'm pretty enthusiastic about this new category of digital camera, so I was keen to check out Panasonic's latest entry. Panasonic made many changes to their small mirrorless model, shrinking it by only millimeters.
The result is what you'd expect to see if you reduced the size of the outer body of the GF1 in a computer CAD program, then noted and removed the components that no longer fit inside the new skin without completely redesigning the other internal components.
As a result, the Mode and Drive mode dials are supplanted by the stereo microphones, which had to move from under the hot shoe in order to reduce the overall height of the GF2. The power switch also moved to a better position to make room for the iA (Intelligent Auto) button.
Though our sample was a prototype, it seems pretty close to final. The body is solid and hefty, with no creaks or twisting. A hard, rubber-tethered door conceals the ports on the right side and a plastic, springloaded door covers the battery and memory card on the bottom right.
The grip is more comfortable than the one on the GF1, allowing my fingers to curve around it and still get good purchase on the rear thumbgrip and find easy placement on the shutter button. I found it easy to shoot one-handed with the 14mm lens, but longer lenses will likely require two hands; naturally zooms are mechanical, so you'll need that second hand anyway.
The simplified pop-up flash is very similar to the design in the Olympus E-PL1, except that it doesn't stay pointed straight ahead. It always pops up into the right position, but can be moved to point slightly upward. Since this is the one point that seems a little rough on this prototype, I'll chalk that up to its early status. I'm glad they simplified it compared to the GF1, because that one, while elegant and more firm than the GF2's, was very finicky about how you moved it to press it back down.
As for power, this tiny flash has very little, barely lighting objects just six feet away. It's also not equal to the 28mm lens that shipped with the GF2, only lighting up the center of the frame, leaving most of the left and right dark.
I slipped the Olympus FL-14 flash into the hot shoe to good effect. It worked just fine, overexposing a bit for my taste, but I was able to adjust it to my satisfaction. It's so close to the lens that I had a little problem with red-eye. Panasonic makes several flashes that will work with the G-series, including the small FL220, which should have less of a problem with red-eye, though it is larger.
The vibrant LCD is a pleasure to use, with 460,000 pixels and a fast refresh rate. We didn't have the optional $199 EVF, called the LVF1, but that accessory attaches to the Lumix GF2, slipping into the hot shoe and accessory port just like it does on the GF1 and LX5. I prefer to keep the camera smaller, so I wouldn't have used it anyway. The higher-resolution LCD is great for framing and focusing manually, offering better discrimination than is available on Olympus PENs and the touch interface offers a fast way to pick a focus point -- and even fire the shutter -- with a simple touch on the screen.
But before I get into using the touch screen, I should mention the main aspect that made the Panasonic GF2 such fun to use: its autofocus is very responsive. I detected very little delay from when I half-pressed the shutter button to hearing and seeing focus confirmation with the 14mm f2.5 lens. Almost none.
According to the lab, the full-autofocus shutter lag is 0.38 to 0.41 second. That includes the shutter mechanism delay, which on mirrorless cameras is fairly long, because the shutter has to first close before opening for the exposure. That's about as fast as the GF1 was with the 20mm f1.7 lens, so it's not a noticeable net gain over its predecessor, it's just fast for the category.
Fast autofocus means not only getting closer to the moment you want, but also quicker followup shots so you can capture multiple moments without thinking about it. I took a fun sequence of my boys being silly and I didn't have to think about the camera at all, just the changing expressions and poses.
I also attached the Olympus 14-150mm f4-5.6 lens for some of the focus tracking shots, since focusing a 28mm lens isn't quite as challenging as focusing a longer zoom. I had trouble getting the Panasonic GF2's tracking AF point to stay on a panning subject, but got much better luck when that subject (a child on a bike) was coming straight toward me. It only lost focus lock as the subject got within 10 feet or so. Not bad. This lens is one of Olympus's better lenses, with a more advanced autofocus motor, but we will need to test the GF2 with a Panasonic lens before passing judgment on the AF system's tracking performance.
Much of the control simplification comes thanks to the addition of a touchscreen on the GF2. Though it's not quite the same as the touchscreen implementation on the Panasonic G2, I find that I generally like it, despite my distaste for touchscreen digital cameras in general. There's no question that it speeds some operations, like autofocus point selection, but it's made switching modes more cumbersome.
First, picking an AF point can be as easy as touching the screen where you want the camera to focus. That's especially good if you're shooting on a tripod, but also useful handheld. One thing I always find difficult, though, is re-centering the AF point after shooting, but the GF2 has a solution for that too, if you set the Quick Menu/Function button to re-centering (there's an onscreen button for the Quick Menu, so the button is better assigned to another function).
The Panasonic GF2 will also focus and fire with one touch of the screen if you have the Touch-shutter feature enabled. A few translucent touch icons appear left and right of the screen for quickly activating or deactivating of these features. The icons tend to clutter the screen, unfortunately and they also limit the area you can select for autofocus. An optional histogram can be moved around the screen with a touch, but unfortunately it's not translucent, so it blocks a good percentage of the view.
Another feature I like is the ability to change the size of the autofocus point using either the rear command dial or a scroll bar on the touchscreen itself.
After training me to use the touch controls instead of the four-way navigator, the Panasonic GF2 insists I return to the navigator once I've pressed the last screen control telling it which kind of menu I want. From there it's the usual tabs and line items that you move through with the navigator. I'm OK with it, because I don't think there's anything wrong with using the four-way navigator most of the time and thankfully, you can navigate the touch-based menu items with the four-way as well. I'm sure there are some who would wish for the ability to turn off the touchscreen altogether, but alas, that would require a mode dial.
The Quick menu is a useful tool, but now that it's designed for touch, it's not quite as compact and versatile as the old pull-down Quick menu. As such there are many items that require you to scroll left and right to see all the available options, which can be a pain. There's also no animation to the movement of the touch icons, so if you're not paying close attention you might miss that your touch has registered and you've changed the icons. Of all the features of the Panasonic GF2 prototype camera we saw, the touchscreen system seemed the least complete, so it's likely that they'll have remedied many of the concerns I had when they finally ship the camera.
There are now three Continuous drive modes and two of them address a problem that all mirrorless cameras have had since their inception: You can't follow a subject once you've started shooting. That's because most mirrorless cameras only have the time to capture the image and show you the last one captured, rather than returning you to Live view. SLRs don't have this problem when you're looking through the optical viewfinder, because the mirror goes down between each shot, giving you a real-time view so you can follow your subject.
The Panasonic GF2's fastest mode still behaves like other mirrorless designs, but Medium and Low speed modes return you to a live view between each shot so you can better track your subject. There's some electronic delay, I'm sure, but I found it considerably easier to track my kids on their bike in these modes than in the fastest mode, where I just had to point and pray.
Intelligent Auto seems to be designed as a quick way to go fully automatic if you find yourself in the wrong mode and you want to just take a picture, letting the camera decide what Intelligent Scene mode to apply. Those who would leave it on all the time might be annoyed by the button's bright blue glow when activated and oddly, you have to reactivate iAuto every time you turn the camera on.
You can do many things to make the Panasonic GF2 your own, like turning off a few of the touch icons and adding that moveable histogram and there are quite a few Scene modes to explore if that's your thing. But having the three Custom modes is important to me, where I can create something like a black and white, a vivid and a mode meant more for Movies than for stills.
Why would I want that? Well, there's a menu item called Record area, that lets you select between the aspect ratio you've set for your movies -- which would usually be 16:9 -- and the aspect ratio I'd usually want for stills, either 3:2 or 4:3. This little setting is fairly stubborn, in that it completely blackens the undesired area, rather than just masking it out as we've seen on other cameras. So though you can start recording a movie while shooting stills in 4:3, you won't know precisely where it'll cut off when recording starts in 16:9 ratio. The Custom modes at least allow you a way around that.
We weren't able to post all the shots we took in the lab at full resolution and we didn't take very many, but Panasonic did allow us to show them and the gallery shots at half linear resolution or 1/4 size. They also allowed us to show the ISO 100 shots at full resolution.
They look pretty good. One is shot with the 14mm f2.5 lens and the other with the Olympus 50mm f2 Macro, an amazingly sharp lens, both at ISO 100. The good news is that the 14mm looks extremely sharp as well.
Both shots are very sharp with good resolution. Color is muted. The Zuiko, which is an extremely sharp Four Thirds lens, shows excellent detail center to corner. The Lumix 14mm also shows excellent detail. The images are skewed slightly by both the difference between a 50mm and a 14mm and the very different angle of attack and proximity we needed to frame the image the same from different distances. The 14mm is impressively sharp considering.
You can find our Test Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCGF2/DMCGF2THMB.HTM and the Gallery Shots at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCGF2/DMCGF2GALLERY.HTM.
Overall, we had a great time with the little Panasonic GF2. It's extremely nimble and compact; still a little too large to slip into a pair of slacks without looking like you have a camera in your pocket (I did get looks), but the design has never been more sportcoat or jacket-friendly. With the 14mm mounted, I'd say it's about the same profile as the Sony NEX-5 in a pocket, just a slightly different shape. With the 14-42mm lens, shown at right, all that changes, but it's still amazing what a few millimeters can do to make a camera more portable.
Panasonic's excellent lenses, fast autofocus and smooth focusing are what you want when shooting action or video. I'm hoping that we'll see good high-ISO performance and good color rendition when the final units ship in January 2011. Watch for pricing and actual ship date 30 days prior to shipment.
By ANDREW ALEXANDER(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1328/cat/31 on the Web site.)
Announced at PMA 2010, the Sigma APO 70-200 F2.8 EX DG OS HSM is the fourth iteration of its telephoto zoom competitor, the chief innovation being the addition of Sigma's OS (Optical Stabilization) feature. To accommodate this, the optical structure of the lens has been redesigned, adding four new lens elements in two groups; as well, the lens is slightly longer (1/2 inch) and heavier (2 ounces).
The lens features a constant f2.8 aperture and was designed to fit film or full-frame imaging sensors. On a sub-frame digital camera body, the lens will provide an equivalent field of view of 112-320mm (Canon) or 105-300mm (Nikon and others).
The lens ships with a petal-shaped lens hood and tripod mount, takes 77mm filters and is available now for around $1,700.
The Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 OS provides exceptionally sharp results, even with a very wide aperture setting, between 70-135mm. At 200mm, it's not as sharp.
When mounted on the sub-frame 7D, the lens returned very sharp results at 70mm and f2.8 -- just under 1.5 blur units in the center and just over 1.5 blur units in the corners. Stopping down to f4 offers some improvement to central sharpness, where it reaches 1.0 blur unit, but still 1.5 blur units in the corners. At f5.6, it's tack-sharp at 1.0 blur unit across the frame. This sharpness is maintained until f11, where diffraction limiting begins to set in, but edge-to-edge sharpness results of under 1.5 blur units are noted. We note just under 2.0 blur units across the frame at f16 and just over 2.0 blur units at f22.
These results are essentially repeated at focal lengths up to 135mm but at 200mm, there's a marked difference. At 200mm and f2.8, there is a very small central spot of sharpness (about 1.5 blur units) but corners reach the level of 3.0 blur units. Stopping down does help, showing at f4 what other focal lengths show at f2.8 to 1.5 blur units in the center and in this case, just over 2.0 blur units in the corners. Sharpness results stay at 1.5 blur units at f5.6 and f8 and then degrade at f11 and smaller.
Mounted on the full-frame 1Ds Mark III, sharpness results follow essentially the same trend as noted on the sub-frame 7D, with notably softer corners. Instead of f5.6, the sharpest results are obtained at f8, but with the exception of 100mm, we never see "tack-sharp" results from corner to corner.
For the most part, chromatic aberration is kept nicely under control with the lens mounted on the 7D. With the lens set at f5.6 and smaller at 200mm, CA becomes somewhat noticeable in areas of high contrast. With the lens mounted on the full-frame 1Ds Mark III and set to 70mm and f2.8, CA is slightly more prominent in the corners when compared to the 7D.
With the 70-200mm f2.8 OS mounted on the 7D, corner shading isn't really a factor. On the full-frame 1Ds Mark III however, corner shading is noticeable. At f2.8 the corners are around 2/3 EV darker than the center. At f4, the corners are around 1/3 EV darker. At f5.6, the corners are 1/4 EV darker or less, as the aperture is stopped down.
Distortion is well-controlled by the Sigma 70-200mm OS. On the 7D, distortion isn't much of a factor, with some barrel distortion at 70mm (just under +0.2 percent in the corners) and turning into pincushion distortion at 200mm (around -0.2 percent). There is a point of parity (neither barrel nor pincushion around 90mm).
On the full-frame 1Ds Mark III, it's the same general trend, but distortion is slightly more exaggerated. On this body we note +0.5 percent barrel distortion in the corners at 70mm and -0.6 percent pincushion distortion at 200mm. Again, there's negligible distortion at around 90mm.
Using Sigma's HSM autofocusing technology, autofocus results are quick and near-silent, taking just over one second to go from close-focus to infinity. Point to point focusing happens very quickly and the front element does not rotate during autofocus operations. Autofocus results can be overridden at any time by simply turning the focusing ring.
With just 0.13x magnification, the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 OS does not offer exceptional macro performance. Minimum close-focusing distance is about 4 and a half feet.
BUILD QUALITY & HANDLING
The lens is a fairly complex design with 22 elements in 18 groups, including three super low-dispersion and two elements of Sigma's latest technology, "FLD". It wouldn't appear that these elements are not actually composed of fluorite because Sigma indicates that the elements offer performance "equal to fluorite glass." It's solid -- just over three pounds of lens, coated with a textured finish which makes it very easy to handle. The diaphragm consists of nine rounded aperture blades. The body mount is metal and the filter mount is plastic.
The lens has two switches to speak of, including one for disabling autofocus and another for selecting the optical stabilization mode. Stabilization can be set to vertical and horizontal or vertical only, to allow for panning shots. Optical Stabilization can also be disabled with this switch. A windowed distance scale shows distance information in feet and meters; there is no infrared index marker, but there are depth-of-field markings on the lens. This is something of a rarity on zoom lenses, as the depth-of-field will change based on the zoom setting; in this case there are depth-of-field markings for f5.6, f11, f16 and f22 at the 70mm ("W") setting and a single marking of f22 at the 200mm ("T") setting.
Sigma has redesigned the zoom and focusing rings on this lens, with quite a departure from the previous three iterations in the 70-200mm series. The position of the rings is reversed and the focusing ring is much smaller than in the previous models.
The zoom ring, located at the fore of the lens, is the wider of the two at 1-1/2" wide. The ring is composed of rubber, with large raised ribs. It takes a twist of around ninety degrees to go from 70mm to 200mm and the ring is nicely smooth to turn. There is no evidence of zoom creep.
The focusing ring is integrated into the middle of the lens and is just 3/8" wide. The texture is similar to the zoom ring -- rubber, with raised ribs. The ring turns quite smoothly and ends in soft stops on either side of the focusing spectrum (ie., you can keep turning the ring, but an increase in pressure lets you know you won't continue focusing). There are about 120 degrees of turning fidelity, making it fairly easy to manually focus the lens. Attached 77mm filters won't rotate during focus operations.
The lens hood for this lens features a new design, as well. It's a standard petal-shaped lens hood and is fairly long, adding four inches in length to the lens when attached. The novel design is that Sigma has included an adapter that extends the depth for use with sub-frame (APS-C bodies), which adds an extra inch to the overall length of the hood. With our without the adapter attached, the lens hood reverses and attaches onto the front of the lens for storage.
For image stabilization performance, please visit the full review (http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1328/cat/31) and check the tab above marked 'IS Test.' To summarize, the lens lives up to its manufacturers' claims, offering 4 stops of image stabilization at 70mm and 2-2.5 stops at 200mm.
The Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 OS is offered in several different mounts: Sigma, Canon, Nikon, Sony and Pentax. Since Sony and Pentax cameras have image stabilization incorporated into the body, users of those cameras may not feel a strong attraction to the stabilization feature of this lens.
- Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 II EX DG Macro HSM APO. We haven't tested the previous iteration of the Sigma 70-200mm f2.8 lens, but our tests of a version previous to that showed it as being on par with anything that the other major manufacturers had to offer. The build quality isn't quite at the same level -- Sigma doesn't offer weather sealing, for example -- but if you have no need for image stabilization, you will save a lot of money. ~$800
- Canon EF 70-200mm f2.8L IS II USM. The Canon 70-200mm f2.8 is just that little bit better than the Sigma in every category -- sharper, especially at 200mm and image stabilization results at 200mm are significantly better as well. You'll pay significantly more for the Canon than the Sigma, but it's probably worth it for the increase in performance. ~$2,300
- Nikon 70-200mm f2.8-GB AF-S ED VR II. Similarly to the Canon, the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 is sharper than the Sigma, also offering better results for CA and corner shading. Distortion is better at 70mm, but the Nikon is slightly more distorted at 200mm, choosing to optimize distortion results at the wider end. We haven't yet done an IS test for this lens. ~$2,250
- Sony 70-200mm f2.8-GB SAL-70200-GB. Performance between the Sony and Sigma lenses is comparable, but the Sigma is slightly sharper at f2.8 (our sample of the Sony didn't offer exceptionally sharp images at f2.8). Results in other test categories are comparable, except the Sony may offer slightly better results for distortion. ~$1,800
- Pentax 50-135mm f2.8 ED AL IF SDM SMC DA*. Pentax no longer offers a directly comparable lens, but the closest would be this one, offering an equivalent 75-202mm field of view. We haven't yet tested this lens. ~$800
Sigma has figured out that to compete with the major manufacturers, it has to offer optical stabilization and it makes excellent sense to implement it into this particular category of lens. Our sample of the lens offered very good performance at f2.8 -- unfortunately the one area it could really do better would be at 200mm, where I'm sure the lens would be used extensively. The results of our image stabilization testing show that Sigma has invested a lot of time in this new process; four stops at 70mm and 2-2.5 stops at 200mm. There's still room for improvement, as there is some wandering in the viewfinder, but I'm sure the feature will be widely appreciated.
The real question in the end will be the price. Sigma's previous versions of this lens sold for under $1,000; new FLD lens elements, optical stabilization and a complete exterior redesign has increased the price tag by $700. For a few hundred dollars more, Nikon and Canon shooters can have brand-loyal versions of the lens; Sony and Pentax users probably won't be awed by the addition of optical stabilization, as every lens they shoot with is effectively image stabilized with their cameras' body-based stabilization.
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:
- Previewed: Panasonic GF2 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCGF2/DMCGF2A.HTM). Mirrorless cameras have been slow to catch on in the U.S. (very popular elsewhere around the globe, though), but Sony shook up the market with their NEX line earlier this year. Now, Panasonic is responding with a very appealing tweak to their GF1 model. While only a prototype, the ISO 100 images looked so good that we convinced Panasonic to let us show you a couple of them full-size. Read our preview of the new Panasonic GF2 for all the details. To check out its competition, see the Sony NEX-5 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/NEX5/NEX5A.HTM), Sony NEX-3 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/NEX3/NEX3A.HTM), Olympus E-P2 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EP2/EP2A.HTM) and Olympus E-PL1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EPL1/EPL1A.HTM).
- Reviewed: Sony A33 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/AA33/AA33A.HTM). An SLR with a translucent mirror for super-fast, live autofocus during movie recording, and an excellent electronic viewfinder. Lower-priced companion to the revolutionary and amazingly fast Sony A55 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/AA55/AA55A.HTM).
- Reviewed: Samsung HZ35W (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/HZ35W/HZ35WA.HTM)
- First Shots: Nikon D7000: (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D7000/D7000A.HTM). Nikon's new flagship consumer dSLR, replacing the highly popular D90. How's it look? Pretty darned good, check out our test shots! A full review will be coming in a few weeks, but the D7000 seems a very worthy successor to the D90, upping resolution to 16 megapixels from the D90's 12, improving both autofocus and exposure metering, adding weather sealing from Nikon's pro line, and expanding video capabilities.
- Reviewed: Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/OST8010/OST8010A.HTM)
- Reviewed: Canon EOS-1D Mark IV (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E1DMK4/E1DMK4A.HTM). Canon's definitive sports SLR, also with exceptional video capabilities.
- Reviewed: Nikon AF-S 85mm f/1.4G (http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1357/cat/12). Nikon's new portrait leader? Some aspects much improved from its predecessor, some not.
We still have nightmares about printing envelopes from our days as a small press operator. Window envelopes to send billings, Number 10 envelopes for correspondence, reply envelopes for payments. They all dance around us like demons every now and then when we turn the lights out.
The problem is that they just don't stack flat. So when you load a press with them, you can't consistently float the top one to the air suckers that grab it and move it into the feed rollers. Misfeeds are the name of the game.
Our resident print shop wizard devised a solution with a 2x4 he mounted vertically behind the envelopes, which were fed with the short side leading in. Every few inches, he had hammered in a long nail to prop up the back end of short handfuls of envelopes, flattening the small stack. It looked medieval and we never got the hang of it, preferring to expand our salty vocabulary instead.
When we found ourselves hosting a party recently and having to therefore send out some formal invitations (in addition to email teasers and reminders), we remembered that old 2x4 with fondness.
Printing envelopes on an inkjet remains an adventure.
All we needed was to print our return address on the flap. But when we loaded them flap up in the rear tray of a new Canon MG8120, the first envelope only got partway in before the printer gave up on it.
Same problem with a Canon Pro9500 Mark II. But a different error message. It told us the envelope was too small.
It wasn't really too small, exceeding the minimum dimensions of both devices. But because we had loaded them with the flap on top and leading into the printer, the MG8120 couldn't get a good grip on it, creasing the flap. The Pro9500 didn't crease it but it couldn't pass it through either.
We were about to give up and resort to a fountain pen when we came to our senses. We hadn't worn a blue smock and inhaled ink solvent all those years for nothing.
We opened the flap, turned the envelope over and fed the bottom edge in first.
To make that work with our software, we created a custom page size twice as deep as the invitation envelope size. Then we moved our text down past the fold of the envelope's top edge.
Piece of cake. We ran off a couple dozen and wondered what to do the rest of the day.
A nap came immediately to mind. We'd been up all night with envelope feeding nightmares.
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 comments in the Olympus E-PL1 Discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eeb0512/0
Visit the Digital Cameras Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2a8
A reader asks about Nikon D7000 samples at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eeb1a4c/0
Read about Sigma lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=8
Visit the General &A Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee718ec
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RE: Finding a Quick Release Plate
As part of my cleaning up and generally becoming more responsible, I am sorting out my cameras and equipment. But, in doing so, I have discovered some problems and have tried to contact some suppliers. I have had problems getting responses from some of them and not others.
I have not had any response from the supplier of Sunpak Tripods and Vivitar. I have just sent another note to Sunpak (aka ToCAD) about getting another quick release plate for its Platinum Plus 6600DX tripod and will shortly send another note to Vivitar on another matter.
-- Dick Swenson(Your best bet is actually to call their tech support 800 number. Quick release plates aren't just replacement parts. Some folks like to put one on every camera they own. B&H, in fact, lists them on the same page as the 6600DX (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=706855&Q=&is=REG&A=details) for $8.95. -- Editor)
Well, everything went smoothly. And your recommendations were spot on.
My problem seems to be I expect Web sites to be complete and the forms on those sites to be well monitored. I did write to ToCad before this current exchange using their Web form and received nothing in reply. The forms also don't allow attachments or provide a means to save a copy. Often I forget to copy the mail I send and so haven't any record, albeit a mock copy, of the email.
Calling the company is almost always the correct thing to do, but I somehow continue to expect I can deal with an organization (such as yours) via the means that the organization has set up -- Web sites and email. Perhaps my success in corresponding with IR Newsletter has just warped my expectations to too high a level.
-- Dick Swenson(Well, we're the exception <g>. Glad it worked out! -- Editor)
RE: Nik Software Code
Hi, I tried to use the Niksoftware code in Dave's Deals to purchase the HDR Efex program but on checkout it said "not a valid code."
-- B. Mitchum(Sorry for the hassle. We've contacted Nik, they've acknowledged the problem (the code expired without telling anyone) and they're working on it. We'll send the new code to you -- and anyone else interested in getting the discount -- as soon as we get it. Meanwhile, we've got a copy of HDR Efex Pro here and we'll report on it shortly. -- Editor)
Adobe (http://www.labs.adobe.com) has announced Lightroom 3.3 and Camera Raw 6.3 Release Candidates plus a new Adobe Lens Profile Downloader are available on Adobe Labs. The Release Candidates bring Raw file support to the Nikon D7000 and Canon Powershot S95 and G12 (among others), as well as lens profiles for 21 new Nikon lenses and four new Canon lenses. The Lens Profile Downloader 1.0, a free companion application to Lightroom 3, Photoshop CS5 and Camera Raw 6, allows you to search, download, rate and comment on over 300 lens correction profiles provided by other photographers.
Epson (http://www.epson.com) has introduced its $24.95 Signature Worthy sample paper pack with two letter-sized sheets each of Hot Press Bright and Hot Press Natural, Cold Press Bright and Cold Press Natural, Velvet Fine Art Paper, Exhibition Fiber Paper and Ultra Premium Photo Paper Luster. We have a pack here and it's gorgeous stuff.
Benro (http://www.benro.com) has announced new Travel Angel Tripod Kits and Transfunctional Travel Angel Tripod Kits featuring the same compact design in which the legs can be inverted and folded back for packing and carrying, plus an improved leg locking system, better dust resistant technology and an enhanced double protective finish.
WD (http://www.wdc.com) has released its free WD Photos for the Android platform to access photos stored in the Shared Pictures folder on a WD network drive from any Internet connection. We reviewed the iPhone version (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SOFT/WDP/WDP.HTM) in April.
The company also announced its $199.99 WD TV Live Hub media center with a 1-TB hard drive, WiFi, two USB ports plus HDMI 1.4, composite video and component video output.
Eye-Fi (http://www.eye.fi) has launched Eye-Fi View for X2 card owners, a new way to access their photos and videos from virtually any computer or mobile device. The company also introduced a new email-sharing feature for all Eye-Fi owners, providing direct, private sharing of full-resolution images without clogging inboxes or requiring viewers to login.
Boinx Software (http://www.boinx.com) has released its free PhotoBox iPad application. Designed for photographers on-the-go, PhotoBox analyzes the exposure, focus, color and overall look and composition of photos imported from a camera to an iPad via the iPad Camera Connection Kit.
Phanfare (http://www.phanfare.com) has announced its free Phanfare iOS app to wirelessly synchronize your Phanfare collection to your mobile Apple device. You can search, edit and play full screen slide shows with music and bulk import photos and videos on any 4.x iOS device.
Pictocolor (http://www.pictocolor.com) has released its $2.99 iCorrect iPhone App 2.0 using the same technology as its Photoshop plug-in to color correct images. The new version adds sliders to adjust white balance via color temperature or tint and to set black and white points.
onOneSoftware (http://www.ononesoftware.com) has released its DSLR Camera Remote HD remote release app with the ability to start and stop video on Canon and Nikon dSLRs from the iPad.
X-Rite (http://www.xritephoto.com) has announced its i1Photo Pro Professional Color Management Solution for professional photographers with the new i1Profiler software, an i1Pro spectrophotometer, ColorChecker Proof target, ColorChecker camera calibration system including a mini ColorChecker Classic target and ColorChecker Passport camera calibration software and more.
The company also said customers who purchase a new X-Rite i1Display 2, i1Display LT or ColorMunki Photo from any authorized dealer in the U.S. or Canada and register their product will receive a free pocket-sized mini ColorChecker Classic (a $62 value) by mail along with a link to download the latest version of the ColorChecker Camera Profiling Software.
Tenba (http://www.tenba.com) has announced its Mini Photo/Laptop Bag and Small Camera Bag, which incorporate the soft, body-hugging and retro-discreet styling of the company's courier-style messenger bag in compact sizes for smaller camera systems.
Rocky Nook has published Darrell Young's Mastering the Nikon D300/D300S. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952644/?tag=theimagingres-20).
GiiNii (http://www.giinii.com) has announced its 8-Inch True Multimedia Digital Picture Frame capable of H.264/MPEG-4 video playback and GiiNii's EZ Navigation System. No computer is required, a remote is included as well as a second mat. Expected street price: $89.99 to $109.99. We have a review unit, so let us know if you have any questions.
We ran across an interesting story published in the Kleper Report (http://www.printerport.com/dmm/issues/v2n4.html#feature) describing how Bruno DeLean wrote Live Picture.
Joe McNally, who claims he even invented some, came up with a list of common mistakes beginners make with their cameras (http://www.joemcnally.com/blog/2010/11/02/mistakes-2/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+joemcnally+%28Joe+McNally%27s+Blog%29).
Early Innovations (http://www.earlyinnovations.com) has released its $49.95 PhotoLinker 2.2.6 [M] to annotate and geotag photos with support for iPhoto '11, improved performance when saving and Exif headers for photos without them.
Akvis (http://akvis.com) has introduced its $129 Magnifier 4.0 plug-in or standalone version [MW] supporting enlargements up to 30,000 x 30,000 pixels with complete control over sharpness and edges. The new version improves sharpness by enhancing color contrast and features a new algorithm for reducing images.
See an entire city -- Toledo, Spain -- painted at night with light (http://www.caborian.com/20101022/pintando-con-luz-toda-una-ciudad).
Take a look at Cincinnati on Sunday, Sept. 24, 1848, courtesy of a daguerreotype taken by Charles Fontayne and William Porter, who composed the photo on the other side of the Ohio River (http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2010/09/20/129990964/once-in-a-lifetime-river-tour-starts-here-unfortunately-everybody-s-dead).
An even older photo from 1838 taken by Louis Daguerre of the Boulevard du Temple in Paris may be the first photograph of a human being (http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2010/10/22/130754296/first-photo-of-a-human-being-ever?ft=1&f=1007&sc=YahooNews).
Hamrick Software (http://www.hamrick.com) has released VueScan 8.6.66 with improved Photoshop Import Filters supporting 32- and 64-bit Photoshop.
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