|Volume 12, Number 25||3 December 2010|
Welcome to the 294th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We take the Canon G12 to the World Series and put the Canon MG8120 through its paces. Both products are leaders in their class and worthy of longer features than usual. Have a look!
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(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G12/G12A.HTM on the Web site.)
When we last looked at Canon's G Series PowerShot, things were a lot simpler. The G10's competition was Panasonic's LX3 and Nikon's P6000.
This time around, it's the Panasonic LX5 and the Nikon P7000 fighting it out with the Canon G12 as each company's flagship digicam. But there's a lot more competition for your camera dollar. Even from Canon, whose much more compact S95 may make you wonder which model is the flagship PowerShot.
And beyond that, there are the mirrorless cameras from Sony, Panasonic, Olympus and Samsung that are more compact than a dSLR if larger than a digicam, but offer better image quality than a digicam.
The real debate this year isn't Canon, Nikon or Panasonic. It's more a question of how small you want the box to be and how large you need the sensor to be.
On those counts, the Canon G12 would seem to be disadvantaged with a big body and a small sensor. The S95, like the LX5, has a very desirable small body but a small sensor and the mirrorless cameras are bigger both in form and sensor.
It seemed to us we couldn't take a bad shot with the Canon G12. We particularly liked how well it held shadow and highlight detail with a smooth distribution of midtones, not to mention natural color. Even reds held up well, to our surprise.
And the range of the lens from macro to wide-angle at 28mm was encouraging. We were a bit worried about exceeding optical telephoto but we let it fly after we saw the first results. There was pretty good detail (exceeding what we could see with our eyes) and the color held up well, too.
So we took the Canon G12 everywhere with us for a couple of weeks, as our Gallery shots show (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G12/G12GALLERY.HTM).
Vehicles. We shot a number of vehicles for some reason, all of them instructive.
The dark interior shots on a rainy day really show off the tonal range of the Canon G12's captures. The seat shot has a very shallow depth of field, but we were actually interested in the seat back, not the raindrops. At 1/32 second we really didn't have much room to negotiate a smaller aperture unless we kicked up the ISO.
The dark dashboard shot was taken in Manual mode because we were still hunting around for the EV control. At least there was a Manual mode there so we could get the shot. But again, what we saw in the car was that lovely gradation of tone and it's there in the shot, too.
The red of the Rumbolino looks pretty good, too. Compare to the metallic red of the flower vase in bright afternoon sunlight, which was also well captured.
The Toyota pickup was a study in fall colors, let's say. We were glad the Canon G12 didn't bump up the ISO despite the overcast sky just as it kept it to ISO 80 on the rainy day. The Canon G12 has an option in Auto ISO to limit how high the ISO is allowed to go, but also to slow or accelerate its rate of change, which leans the bias toward slower shutter speeds and wider apertures to keep the ISO low or else allows it to change more quickly. Settings are Slow, Standard and Fast.
Effects. The first shot of the bus was really just a setup for the Fisheye effect shot that follows it. It's a fun effect that still gives you a full frame, unlike a real fisheye lens.
The white JFK rose shows how well highlight detail is captured. There's just the very slightest red blooming on the edges of the largest petals where they meet the dark green background. You really have to pixel-peep to see it.
For some reason it's more fun shooting monochrome than desaturating a color image at the computer. The Canon G12 lets you shoot black and white (and even sepia), showing you the effect as you compose with the LCD. It's right on the Function menu, too.
We shot our logs on Twin Peaks in both color and black and white. Somehow the black and white shot always looks more interesting. And the Canon G12 held onto the highlights very nicely, even though the wood has been bleached by the sun for months.
The shot of the parking lot shows the Miniature effect, which defocuses the top and bottom of the image to make the subject appear toy-like.
Low Light. The dolls in near darkness show what the Canon G12 can do in low light using HDR, Low Light mode and a range of ISO settings in Program. HDR was the first shot (it seems to always record as ISO 800), not very successful, because as we mentioned HDR mode requires a tripod.
Color is pretty consistent from ISO 400 to ISO 2500. ISO 400 at 1/4 second suffers camera motion blur, despite Canon's optical image stabilization, which was on for all of these shots. At ISO 2500, detail is still sharp on the small doll, although not the best we've seen. Still, none of the other shots were as sharp.
Dynamic Range. We took a series of shots of a fire hydrant in the rain to test i-Contrast, Canon's dynamic range optimization. Settings were Off, Auto, 200 percent and 400 percent. We were particularly concerned in this series with holding highlight detail without using EV to underexpose.
First, we'll point out that the red blooming we saw just a hint of on the rose is a little more evident here at the edges of the hydrant.
Second, we'll point out that it's hard to attribute any real difference to any of these even with the bright sticker on the top of the hydrant as our highlight test. They're all well exposed with very good color (that red curb is very natural) and excellent detail.
More revealing of dynamic range are all the shots taken together. We shot with i-Contrast set to Auto for the most part and none of the images show blown-out highlights.
The row of logs on Twin Peaks is a good example. The bleached logs still have detail and you can see rocks in the dark shadows they cast. That's really a pretty good job with that scene.
Unfortunately, there isn't an Exif tag to reveal the i-Contrast setting. But fortunately, you can change the i-Contrast setting in Playback. You can select between Auto, Low, Medium or High.
There is a second set of i-Contrast images of a fig tree at the bottom of the gallery that we did label with the setting. The first (DR0) has i-Contrast turned off. The second is Auto, the third (DR1) is 100 percent and the last (DR2) is 200 percent. That's the full range.
We think it's a good idea to set it on Auto and enjoy the feature.
Street Shooting. Even though the Canon G12 isn't a compact digicam, it's a lot smaller than even a small dSLR and even more compact than most mirrorless cameras. So when the World Series came to San Francisco, we put the Canon G12 in our pocket for a walk around the stadium before Game One.
It was already crowded hours before the game so having a small camera was a decided advantage. And having a large battery capacity was another advantage we appreciated. In that sense it was a lot like having a dSLR rather than a little camera with a thin wafer of a battery. We left the camera on, protecting the lens as we navigated the crowd.
Because it's a 28mm-equivalent wide-angle, we zoomed all the way back and composed our shots casually, sometimes just taking a flying leap of faith by pointing the camera in the general direction of the subject.
This was another situation where having dials and buttons beat the pants off navigating menus. If we needed to adjust exposure, the EV dial was right there, no fooling around with the LCD. That made a big difference.
So did the Front dial when we slipped into Aperture Priority mode to isolate a statue against the busy background. In this case, we were looking at the LCD to compose the image anyway, but the Front dial made it easy to find the widest aperture.
Some things are just impossible to judge on an LCD. The shot through the fence looked as if the players beyond the fence were sharp, but that isn't the case. Having taken that shot more than once, we knew it required manual focus, but street shooting wasn't going to provide the opportunity. It was really a point-and-shoot event.
Still, the overall effect of the 40 shots we took around the stadium was just what we were looking for. Though misfits and discards individually, they were, like the Giants themselves, winners as a group.
Hiking. Another ticket the Canon G12 filled was as a hiking companion. We took a few hikes with the Canon G12 (in fact, we rarely left the house without it).
One hike along Glen Canyon has always been a challenge photographically. The scenes are dramatic but the pictures tend to be rather bland. But with the Canon G12 we were able to capture the hillside in the Fall light framed by the evergreens along the road. Hard to believe that's in the middle of San Francisco, but there you go.
Our usual hike up Twin Peaks for the zoom series of shots was on a particularly brilliant and clear day.
At the full telephoto focal length, we took a shot straight down Market St. You can just about make out the time on the Ferry Building (it may help to know it was 12:37). That's not something you can see with the naked eye.
The shot of the Golden Gate Bridge used digital zoom but you can see how well it held detail by examining the thin vertical cables holding up the roadway.
As the zoom series shows, the Canon G12 has a sufficient reach at 20x with digital zoom, although the 5x optical zoom is a little short for distant landscapes. Digital zoom held up very well, though, in both color and detail, so we didn't hesitate to use it.
Aspect Ratios. But the Canon G12 really shined at wide-angle with 16:9 aspect ratio. We shot mostly 4:3 aspect ratio to the largest file sizes, but we preferred 16:9. The Canon G12 also offers 3:2 and even 1:1 aspect ratios. There's a nice macro shot at 1:1 in the gallery.
But the wide-angle shots of the roadway trailing off into the sky on Twin Peaks are dramatic. As is the row of logs and the staircase. They draw you into the shot. And that's partly the wide-angle lens and partly the aspect ratio. On the Canon G12, you get both to play with.
HDR. The last two shots in the gallery were both taken with the HDR Scene mode. In HDR, the Canon G12 takes three shots at different exposures (we heard different shutter speeds for our still life images), compositing them in the camera.
At 1/4 second (more or less, considering there are three shots), camera blur becomes a problem. And the two HDR shots certainly show that. But we had such great results using Sony's Handheld Twilight mode under the same circumstances, we had to try it. Sony clearly wins this round, thanks to their micro-alignment feature, something the Canon G12 lacks. So as we've said, a tripod is necessary.
Before we packed up the Canon G12, we popped it on a tripod and took a series of garden furniture shots. We thought the shadows and bleached wood would profit from multiple exposures and, with the color options, clearly show the alternate renderings.
The PowerShot G12 manages to improve on the G11 without taking any backward steps. It represents more a refinement than a revision, but that only reflects what a solid camera the G11 was.
Despite that, the G12 is getting squeezed on one side by its own slimmer and nearly-as-capable PowerShot 95 stablemate. And on the other side, it's getting pushed by a handful of small mirrorless cameras that aren't quite as small, but pack larger sensors. It's simply a different landscape in 2010.
We often picked up the Canon G12 rather than the Olympus E-PL1 next to it simply because it was slightly smaller and its image quality was always pleasing. We might just have easily picked up an S95 or a Panasonic LX5 if one of those had been sitting on the table, though.
What used to be the top of the mountain, the flagship among digicams, is now something of a compromise. A pleasant compromise, we hasten to add, but not the slam dunk of years past.
On the other hand, compromise is an art and Canon has delivered such an artful one that it easily merits a Dave's Pick. For the best image quality across the ISO range, the trophy clearly goes to the Canon G12. It's the best G-series PowerShot we've had our hands on.
(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/MG8120/MG8120.HTM on the Web site.)
The Pixma MG8120 is the flagship of Canon's recently revamped lineup of multifunction devices. Like the previously reviewed MG5220 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/MG5220/MG5220.HTM), it's dressed in a shiny piano black finish with a single silver accent on the front lid.
But where the MG5220 kept things pretty simple on the control panel, the MG8120 introduces the company's Intelligent Touch System of back-lit touch-sensitive buttons and Light Guidance, which illuminates only the active buttons. It's quite a step up from what we saw on the MG5220.
Like the MG5220, the MG8120 includes Canon's new Movie frame printing function built into Easy-PhotoPrint. The new tool makes it easy to find a Canon-captured movie frame to print, automatically enhancing the image for printing as a still.
The MG8120 also features a transparency unit for scanning strips of 35mm negatives and slides. Which can immediately be printed as photos in as little as 20 seconds for a 4x6 print.
The six-color ink system with individual cartridges for each color includes five dye-based inks including a dedicated gray ink tank for black and white photos. The pigment black is used for text.
The WiFi MG8120 can also print iPhone and Android images wirelessly using a free Canon app. Other connections include built-in Ethernet, a memory card reader, Hi-Speed USB port and a PictBridge port that can, with an optional adapter, communicate via Bluetooth.
And, of course, you get Canon's built-in duplex printing (except with borderless pages), auto-document fix and auto scan mode.
The duplex feature is just one of the several ways the MG8120 represents Canon's Generation Green program. Other ways the MG8120 goes green include being able to print as many as four pages on one side, individual ink tanks (and cartridge recycling), the white LED that requires no warm-up time, the energy efficient Quick Start feature, the restricted use of hazardous materials, Canon's hardware recycling program plus its own refurbishing program.
The control panel features Canon's Intelligent Touch System of back-lit touch-sensitive buttons and Light Guidance. Together they make using the MG8120 much easier to use than previous Canon multifunction devices and most competing products, too.
If we were less than impressed by the MG5220's control panel, we were suitably appreciative of the innovations of the MG8120's.
The entire lid functions as the control panel. At the back is the large LCD that is released from its lower, locked position by a simple press of the wide bar behind it. It's an elegant touch.
In front of the LCD are three soft buttons whose functions are labeled at the bottom of the LCD. That beats the two function buttons of older MP all-in-ones, allowing a redesign of the menu system.
Along the front edge of the lid is a row of controls that light up as necessary. When they aren't lit, you can't see them at all, much like the burners on an electric range. You just admire the shiny piano black finish of the lid.
So if the buttons aren't physical devices themselves with springs and detents, how do you "press" them?
They actually sense your finger on them. On dry days this can be amusing. You barely have to touch a button to trip it. So we never found them to be insensitive. And on the whole we liked the touch.
Stand-alone copying is one of the simpler tests but more frequent uses of a multifunction device. The MG8120 passed with flying colors, its new user interface making the experience particularly pleasant. The Light Guidance feature helps keep the task as simple as possible, even when you start navigating extensive options.
Documents. It's almost too simple to copy a document in either color or black and white on the MG8120. Just place the original on the glass, press the Copy function button and then either the Color or Black Start button.
We challenged the MG8120 with some newspaper clippings. The brown newsprint and the show-through often make this a tough subject. But the MG8120 did very well, keeping the paper bright without picking up any show-through. There is an optional setting to reduce show-through but we didn't need it for the newspaper clipping.
And the color reproduction from the newspaper was also well done, with accurate color.
The MG8120 has several handy copying options, by the way, including double-sided copying, 2-in-1 copying and 4-in-1 copying. The latter two print multiple originals on one side of the paper by reducing each image. And you can use them with the two-sided option to copy as many eight originals on just one sheet of paper. We found it a little confusing the first time through, but a little time spent with the on-screen manual clarified things.
You don't have to print your copies, of course. In the Scanning section below, we discuss other options.
Photos. Copying photos is one of the thrills of owning a multifunction device. Whether you've got just one copy of an old black and white you want to share or you want to run off a few copies of a fun photo for friends, the MG8120 is up to the task.
You might think this involves the Copy or Scan command, but you'd be thinking too hard. Canon has a special option for just this sort of thing: Reprint Photo.
We tried both color and black and white photos and both were reproduced very well. We almost preferred the copy of the baby photo to the original, something we've never said before.
Film. Yes, the MG8120 can make a print directly from a color negative with no computer involved. And it's pretty simple, too.
Like reprinting a photo, you tap the Reprint Photo option but select the From Film option. Instructions are provided on the LCD for loading the film carrier but it's easy enough to figure out.
There are a couple of big holes for your fingers to squeeze the top piece, releasing it from the carrier. Observe the R-in-a-box icon to orient the film in the carrier. Then snap the top back down.
The only complaint we have about the carrier is that film curl makes it difficult to position the negative strip in the open carrier. It's a small help to clip one end of the film strip into the fingers in the end of the holder. Then just take your time, aligning as you snap the top back down. And make sure you have the frames aligned to the white marks on the holder so the MG8120 knows where the images are.
Once you've loaded the carrier, you place it on the glass, pinning one end to the slot with a pin in it.
The holder also accommodates four mounted slides when you take out the negative insert.
You then tell the MG8120 what the original is (color negative, slide, etc.) and it scans the strip, showing you each frame. You can crop (resizing with the Plus and Minus keys and using the arrow keys to move your crop around the image) and print (just press the Color button).
Results were very pleasing. We didn't have to tell the MG8120 what kind of film we had and we were able to make grain-free enlargements with only a crop of the frame. The images really looked like they were fresh off a camera.
Part of that was thanks to the MG8120's Autofix feature. It can brighten faces, restore faded colors and more. But for difficult images, you can also disable it, activating the individual features separately. The LCD is not a great editing monitor, though, so you're flying blind, but you can make your own adjustments. And you can do that very easily from the menu as you work on each image.
In fact, the workflow for reprinting was remarkably convenient. Canon has really figured out the decision tree for making reprints.
Considering what a bonus it is to be able to easily print images from your shoebox of negatives, it's hard to imagine why you wouldn't want film scanning in your multifunction device.
We're always tempted to refer to multifunction devices as printers because that's what they do mostly: print. The MG8120 prints quickly with great color. It was really a pleasure to see sheets roll out of the printer.
From the Card Reader. Unlike some multifunction devices (well, most actually), the MG8120 includes a card reader that can handle almost any card format.
Those include SD/SDHC, MultiMediaCard, MultiMediaCard Plus, miniSD, miniSDHC, microSD, microSDHC, RS-MMC, USB flash memory, CompactFlash Card, Microdrive, Memory Stick/PRO/Duo,/PRO Duo/Micro, xD-Picture Card and xD-Picture Card (Type M or H).
Of particular note for photographers in that list is CompactFlash, which is rarely supported on multifunction card readers these days.
Bluetooth. We were able to copy a photo from our vintage Motorola Razr to the MG8120 via Bluetooth, which printed it nicely on a sheet of 4x6 photo paper. No problem.
We did have to attach a Bluetooth adapter to the PictBridge port of the MG8120. As always, we relied on our D-Link DBT-120.
For iPhones and Android devices, Canon has an app to enable WiFi printing to the MG8120, too.
From Easy-PhotoPrint. As with the MG5220, the MG8120 includes Canon's Easy-PhotoPrint. It makes it simple to print more than one image on a sheet of photo paper and also lets you edit the images before printing, optimizing both the image and the use of paper.
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.
The results are generally pleasing. We find the images a bit too vivid still (pretty brilliant denim, for example) but the blacks are rich and skin tones natural. Easy-PhotoPrint generates the printer data before sending the data to the printer so all of your images are rendered before the first is printed. That rendering ties up your computer a while but the printing itself goes fast.
Because these are dye inks on swellable paper, don't let them stack up as they print but remove them one at a time to air dry.
We've tested dry prints by running water over them to see how well they would hold up. After a few hours, when they have dried again, there is no noticeable effect.
Templates. Built into the MG8120 are a set of templates for common ruled formats like 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. These are all available from the Special Print main menu option.
A number of these options are best printed two-sided and the MG8120 will do that. Unfortunately, the menu display is a little confusing. We thought we had set two-sided printing because the LCD said two-sided, but it meant the option rather than the setting. We had to scroll down to it and change it from one-sided, the default, to two-sided.
Because we set up the MG8120 as a network printer, connected to our WiFi router, we were able to scan wirelessly to any computer on which we'd installed the Canon software suite. MP Navigator handled the details, receiving the scan and storing it on the hard disk of the computer we targeted from the MG8120.
You can also scan directly to a thumbdrive or memory card, too. And you can email a scan as well.
Documents. While we were glad to see you can scan directly to a thumbdrive or memory card from the glass platen, we were a bit miffed that the PDF scan of a text document is only an image. So things like links to Web sites are not active in the PDF.
MP Navigator does provide OCR capability, however. It's under the One-click option as OCR. But OCR won't create a PDF document with linkable text, just a text version of the document. And the PDF option, though it will create a text-based PDF if you enable the Keyword Search option, won't create links.
But it was very convenient to be able to scan directly to a thumb drive or flash card rather than print a copy. Canon gives you great output flexibility.
Images. We scanned our Maserati Kodachrome slide several different ways:
In our CanoScan reviews, we've praised ScanGear as our favorite OEM scanning tool. We like it's interface and, if you dig, you can find almost any option you need to turn out a sparkling scan.
- Directly from the MG8120 at 1250 dpi
- Using Image Capture at 1250 dpi
- Using ScanGear, where we could tap into the full 4800-dpi capability of the scanner, although for this review we limited ourselves to 2400 dpi
Kodachrome is a tough scan, but the MG8120 did very well, holding detail in the highlights and shadows and delivering a credible red.
As we observed in our CanoScan 9000F review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/CS9000/9000F.HTM#add), LED illumination seems to do very well with a generic profile rather than a custom one. For difficult originals like slides, we still prefer to use VueScan or SilverFast for its multiexposure function (and we were able to run VueScan with the MG8120).
But the results we got from the MG8120 using ScanGear were certainly suitable for 4x6 prints and screen display. And, who knows, we might easily have taken them farther.
Movie Frames. This is a hot new feature but you need an Intel processor to use it.
With more and more digicams and dSLRs capturing HD-quality movies, clever family photographers have figured out that Movie mode beats trying to anticipate the shot. At 30 frames per second, Movie mode has a better chance of capturing the moment than you do in Auto still mode.
The problem with this approach in the past has been the low resolution of movie frames. And with SD video (640x480 pixels) you pretty much had to work at small print sizes to deliver an image that looked like a photo. We did a series of 2x3-inch frames once, in fact, that came out very well.
HD video ups the resolution significantly to either 1280x720 or 1920x1080. 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.
The trick becomes finding the frame.
Easy-PhotoPrint is your ticket for this. There are a few caveats, though. Macs must have an Intel processor but OS 10.4.11 is still supported. ImageBrowser 6.5 or later must be installed (it's included with Canon cameras that record MOV format video). And video color tone isn't necessarily matched by the still.
The Movie Print window in Easy-PhotoPrint is accessed by the Movie Print icon. Or you can go directly to it from Solution Menu. Once you've browsed to a folder with compatible MOV files, you'll find a large preview area above a captured frames area, both of which sit to the right of a settings/operations area.
In the Settings area, a Print button does the deed. You can, of course, change media type and page size to match your paper and print settings, too. An Auto Frame Capture Settings option lets you capture multiple stills by time. You tell it when in the video to start and how long to go and it reports how many frames it will capture for printing.
You can hunt manually in the Preview window using the Play/Pause, Frame Back/Frame Forward buttons or the Playback Slider.
Selected frames are displayed in the Captured Frames panel where you can click on the Correct Captured Frames icon to color correct them. Corrections, displayed in the Operations panel to the left, include Noise Reduction and Enhance Resolution (to smooth jaggies). You can compare Before and After renderings, too.
We didn't mistake the print from our Canon PowerShot G12 movie frame for a print from a still captured by the same digicam. Color was certainly very nice but resolution looked more like a cellphone camera, much softer than a typical digicam 4x6 print.
And then there's the problem of the aspect ratio. A 4x6 print (with its 2:3 aspect ratio) isn't the same shape as a 16:9 HD movie frame. So to get a borderless print, the sides of the image are cropped out. Severely.
But we found the process very simple, even painless, which is saying something. It was easy to find a good frame to print and there was no image editing required to make the movie frame printable.
The only thing the MG8120 can't do is print on a CD. We can live without that. Although if you aren't in the U.S., your MG8120 will print on a CD.
The ChromaLife100 five-color inking system with a dye-based gray in addition to the cyan, magenta and yellow dyes plus 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.
It did very well scanning color negative film, black and white film and slides (including Kodachrome). The addition of a transparency unit for film scanning is a real treat if you have any shoeboxes stuffed with old photos.
We also found the new and improved user interface to really be new and improved. It was easy to navigate the menu system and we never fumbled around trying to find the function we needed. It was always right in front of us on the function buttons.
Unique functions like HD Movie print only matter if you have Canon movies to print from, but that too was well implemented and easy to use.
All of that adds up to a glowing review for the latest flagship multifunction device from Canon. Very highly recommended.
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:
- First Shots: Olympus E-5 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/E5/E5A.HTM). This has been a year for major updates to flagship dSLRs and we've just posted our first test shots from the new Olympus flagship. The E-5 has slightly more resolution (12.3 megapixels) than previous models but uses a lower-strength optical low-pass filter and advanced processing for moire and false-color removal to give what Olympus claims is better detail rendition than other models with a similar megapixel count. How does it do? See the results for yourself!
- Reviewed: Nikon Coolpix P7000 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/P7000/P7000A.HTM). The P7000 is Nikon's enthusiast-grade digicam competitor to Canon's G12. With a very similar body design, how does the Nikon's image quality and handling stack up? Check our P7000 review then compare with the Canon PowerShot G12 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/G12/G12A.HTM) and the Panasonic DSC-LX5 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/LX5/LX5A.HTM), which we reviewed in September.
- Reviewed: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX5 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/WX5/WX5A.HTM)
- Lens Review: Nikon 55-300mm f4.5-5.6-GB VR ED AF-S DX (http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/1359/cat/13)
- Lens Review: Sigma 100-300mm f4 EX DG HSM APO (http://www.slrgear.com/reviews/showproduct.php/product/336/cat/31)
- Just Arrived: Pentax 645D (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/645D/645DA.HTM). We've just posted sample shots from the Pentax 645D and a very sharp Pentax 75mm lens. Initial results are pretty unbelievable (we're calling it the tele-microscope). It's like looking at the targets with a loupe, only the camera was shooting from 5-6 feet away. With individual JPEGs being 18-MB, you may need to be patient on downloads (oh, our aching bandwidth), but we've been surprised at how much more detail the 645 shows than even 25-Mp full-frame dSLRs.
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 NEX-5 discussion at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eeb022b
Visit the Digital Cameras Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2a8
Gerald asks about MPEG4 Software for the Mac at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.ee9cd2f/0
Read about Tamron lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=7
Visit the Scanners Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2ae
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RE: Lens Adaptors
I'd like to use some of my fast Leica and Pentax mount lenses on a digital platform. What camera body would you suggest as the most usable with adaptors?
-- Kurt Ingham(The Sony NEX platform is your best option. The short flange-sensor distance means there's plenty of room for an adapter, while still keeping the lens flange at the right distance from the sensor plane. Image quality is very good and Sony has a stated policy of working with third-party manufacturers to share engineering details of the mount.... Any Micro Four Thirds camera will also have a very short flange-sensor distance and some of them produce very nice images. The Olympus E-PL1 is a cost-effective option with decent image quality and, from what we've seen so far, the new Panasonic DMC-GF2 looks encouraging as well. Sony wins, though, for their policy of openly sharing engineering details with third parties to encourage adapter development. -- Dave)
I need to scan and modify documents that I receive via email from others. Very little is said about OCR in these reviews. Yes, I do want to also scan a closet full of old fotos, but after having done that, my main work will be document editing. After-market OCR seems to cost more than $100. Where can I read about relative performances? What can I expect from the OCR included? Is is upgradable to better performance?
-- David Mello(While this company's focus is on image scanning, your editor has a long background in document scanning and sometimes mentions it in a review. These days the included software is pretty competent with a wide variety of fonts, sometimes even creating URLs in PDF output. Image quality (in particular, resolution) is where the line is drawn. No OCR software we've used has ever been able to reliably convert faxed documents. A 300-dpi resolution seems to be the cutoff for any image you want to convert to text. Hope that helps. -- Editor)
RE: Largan Driver
Do you have any idea where I can find a Windows XP driver for a Largan Lmini 350 digital camera?
-- Robert McKinnie(We list all known sources in our Driver Project (http://www.imaging-resource.com/ARTS/DRV/DRV.HTM), Robert. Largan isn't there, unfortunately, but there are links to commercial utilities that may help. -- Editor)
RE: Microtek F1
I recently bought a Microtek F1 with Silverfast Ai Studio, as I was advised that this was the best. However, I know nothing about all the technical terms and options the program uses and offers and cannot find anyone to explain them to me. The manual is 500 bloody pages long and the whole thing is most user unfriendly. I don't know what a densitometer is or does. I have a lot of negatives from long ago and am just learning digital photography and Photoshop. Is there a good site or online course you can recommend or should I go back and buy a simple scanner for my negs and try to clean and fix them in Photoshop? The main thing I need is dust and scratch removal.
-- John Jekyll(The F1 has dust and scratch removal. It won't work on Kodachrome or black and white negatives, however. That's just the nature of dust and scratch removal.... Scanning, unfortunately, isn't simple no matter which box you buy. To get a head start, look over my Short Course on Scanning (http://www.imaging-resource.com/SCAN/V600/V600.HTM#sho). To get a better handle on SilverFast, watch the QuickTime movies included with SilverFast and read Taz Tally's book "SilverFast: The Official Guide." -- Editor)
Our Photo of the Day Contest (http://www.dailydigitalphoto.com/potd-images/ir_potd_enter.htm) has been obliged to restrict prizes to U.S. residents. In the past, we've awarded cash prizes from our own budget to international winners but restrictions placed by the U.S. government on foreign wire transfers have, regrettably, made this unworkable.
Phase One (http://www.phaseone.com) has released Capture One 6 [MW], its Raw conversion and image editing software. The new 64-bit, OpenCL version will support an upcoming iOS app called Capture Pilot with wireless viewing, zooming and panning of high resolution Raw, JPEG and TIFF images.
Adobe (http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/834/cpsid_83497.html) has released its free Adobe Color Printer Utility [MW] to print a TIFF color chart to any printer without color management to facilitate making your own printer profiles.
The company also released its free World Without Photoshop (http://bit.ly/d2pV7w), an iPad app that features the work of 12 digital artists, including Maggie Taylor, Bert Monroy and Russell Brown, showing how they take their Photoshop images from the original shot to the final version.
DxO (http://www.dxo.com) has released DxO Optics Pro v6.5.1 with support for the Nikon D7000 and Sony A390.
The company also revamped DxOMark (http://www.DxOMark.com) with several new features, new reviews and even more summaries of its Raw-based image quality performance data for lenses and digital cameras.
SanDisk, Nikon and Sony are jointly developing a new CompactFlash card specification to increase throughput from 167-MB/sec. to 500-MB/sec. The new specification would also offer a theoretical maximum capacity of 2-TB for recording HD video. Current CompactFlash card capacity is typically 4-GB to 16-GB, although the recently released CompactFlash 6.0 specification allows for a maximum capacity of 128-GB.
iPhoto Buddy 1.3.5 [M] (http://www.iphotobuddy.com) adds compatibility with iPhoto '11 libraries and fixes a problem that prevented Events, Faces and Places from appearing in the Info Panel List.
Iridient Digital (http://www.iridientdigital.com) has released RAW Developer 1.8.11 [M] with support for 31 new cameras, improved image preview quality and bug fixes.
JAlbum 8.13 [LMW] (http://jalbum.net) improves album backup/restore by including high-resolution versions of your images in your album upload.
The Plugin Site (http://thepluginsite.com) has released its $69.95 FocalBlade 2 [MW] sharpening plug-in with full scripting support, new color noise reduction and grain features, improvements for edge mask options, zoom up to 3200 percent, support for Lab and CMYK image modes and more.
Fat Cat Software (http://www.fatcatsoftware.com) has released its $19.95 iPhoto Library Manager 3.6 with support for copying albums and events, merging libraries and rebuilding a library in iPhoto '11.
Lemkesoft (http://www.lemkesoft.com) has released its $39.95 GraphicConverter 7.0.2 [M] with Office Document Imaging grayscale TIFF support, PDF import with alpha channel and more.
Rocky Nook has published its $44.95 The Art of Photography: An Approach to Personal Expression by Bruce Barnbaum with techniques for both traditional and digital approaches and discussion of the philosophical, expressive and creative aspects of the art. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933952687/?tag=theimagingres-20).
onOne Software (http://www.ononesoftware.com) has released Perfect Photo Suite 5.5, which includes Perfect Resize 7, the next generation of Genuine Fractals and updated content in PhotoTools and PhotoFrame. Many of the products within the suite will now be available directly in Lightroom and Aperture, without requiring a separate host application.
PictoColor (http://www.pictocolor.com) has released iCorrect EditLab Pro 6.0 [W] with global adjustments and controls using PictoColor's SmartColor technology and 64-bit support.
HP has announced an agreement between LIFE.com and Snapfish by HP, which will now allow you to use over half a million LIFE magazine images in personal photo projects or for ready-made LIFE photo-themed gifts at http://www.snapfish.com/snapfish/storepage/storePageId=storelife.
Martin Kimeldorf has published two ebooks: Risking A Better Pose (http://www.powells.com/biblio/91-9780974065588-0) for both photographers and people who want to look better in front of the lens and Green Screen Magic With Hot Shoe Flashes (http://www.powells.com/biblio/91-9780974065595-0) on lighting green screen for stills.
Atlantic Light Works and Reindeer Graphics (http://www.georgedewolfe.com/perceptool.html) have released their $150 64-bit PercepTool 2 [MW], a Photoshop add-on suite for High Dynamic Range, Tone Mapping and Perceptual Effect operations.
Michael Tapes Design (http://www.mtdhelp.com) has announced its $79.95 LensAlign MkII, expected to ship around Dec 15. With a 10.5-inch ruler (and optional 24-inch ruler) fixed at a 20 degree angle, the new design can be quickly disassembled.
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