|Volume 13, Number 1||14 January 2011|
Welcome to the 297th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. We had a printer problem that spread to all our printers before we resolved it -- and only after that did we actually learn what happened. Then Shawn wonders if the Olympus XZ-1 can play in the same league as the Panasonic LX5 and Canon S95. Onward!
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"If ever the story of any private man's adventures in the world were worth making public," Daniel Defoe begins the story of Robinson Crusoe, "and were acceptable when published, the editor of this account thinks this will be so."
Despite presenting Crusoe's diary as "a just history of fact" with no "fiction in it," Defoe only imagined his Crusoe. In fact, your editor is more Crusoe than Robinson having cobbled together a printer network more sophisticated than any irrigation system the fictional Crusoe imagined.
But like him, our story starts with a shipwreck. And only gets more interesting from there -- especially when you know ours is a true story.
Several months ago, we acquired a modern computer. The last time we performed an upgrade like this, it took us six months to migrate our work environment to the new platform. This time we had to contend with a new processor architecture, new operating system and a refresh of all our software, voluntarily leaving behind anything that would have run under emulation on the new box.
Besides commercial applications, our software included utilities we'd written and even Web applications we rely on to run our day-to-day affairs, although the Web applications were up and running almost without revision.
We didn't abandon our old box, though. We merely moved it to a quieter corner of the bunker and cut the cord on a few peripherals that it had grown attached to. So we had one foot left on land, so to speak, as we set sail on the new raft.
And a good thing, because the first machine we brought home had to be returned with a dead Bluetooth radio. We only lost an hour doing that, though, because the technician who checked it out moved our hard disk over to the new machine, which we thought was very civilized of him.
Disaster being in our genes, we already had a backup, of course. The new machine was writing new files every hour to a networked WD drive, almost without our noticing. That sure beat our previous method of backing up critical files during our afternoon nap and the whole shebang every week to an external drive while we read the classics (like Don Quixote).
There are some things about Progress that are just delightful.
We don't print much paper but we had a special occasion that required us to print all sorts of the stuff, including barcoded Avery labels, envelopes, invitations on card stock, posters, you name it. So we were anxious to harness the new box to our existing printers.
When we updated some Excel spreadsheets to a new application with fancier formatting, we thought the time had come. So we gave the old Print command and waited. Forever. "Unable to open raster stream -- : No such file or directory" was the error, a new one on us.
We had an older version of the new software on our old box, so we moved the files over and, yes, they printed just fine. So we rolled up our pants cuffs and waded back into the murky raster stream of the new environment to figure it out.
And that's where our story begins.
There are three wireless all-in-one devices installed at the bunker, easily accessible from either the new or the old box. There are also a couple of older AppleTalk printers attached to an Ethernet hub via a Dayna EtherPrint box. One's an antique inkjet (just waiting for a casting call from the Antiques Roadshow) and the other is our beloved LaserJet 4. Then there's an assortment of USB and WiFi dye-subs and three FireWire and USB 13x19 Canon printers we rotate in and out of service. That's the whole stable.
Our raster stream error was reported by the Canon MG8120, a new wireless multifunction device we'd had no trouble printing to from the old box.
Having no idea if we'd survive this adventure, we kept a journal (like Crusoe, but ours is a real one). Here it is:
JOURNAL OF A MAD PRINTER
Oct. 18. When I try to print the new spreadsheets, the Canon chokes. Can't find the raster file. I find and download new drivers from the Canon Web site for both the printer and the scanner but they don't help.
Oct. 19. I work on the spreadsheets a bit more. I copy the spreadsheets to the old computer (the Sallee Rover) and print them from there with no problem. Hmm. I try reinstalling the printer on the new computer (the Snark) and get one to mostly print. But the image fizzles out into garbage. Frustrating.
Oct. 20. I repair permissions on the Snark, something I should have done when I installed the Canon printer software. Installers often leave permissions in need of repair. Maybe the raster file, which must be the image the printer needs rather than generic printer commands, is failing to be written to a directory with the wrong permissions. Nice theory but it doesn't help.
Oct. 22. I get in touch with my Canon contacts about the problem, after failing to find anything helpful on the Web. All I learn is that the raster stream error is a Common UNIX Printing System (http://www.cups.org) error.
I tell them which systems I'm using and report the different results. I also list the driver versions and the applications. I get the problem printing PDFs, too. After reporting the exact error message, I note that in some cases, three-quarters of a page will print correctly before the rest of the page stutters through a repetitive pattern I like to think of as garbage.
Oct. 27. I get an early phone call from a guy named Joe at Canon who has never heard of anything like this before. But he promises to look into it.
After some Web research, Joe thinks it may be related to a case-sensitive file system. He suggests reformatting the hard drive. He sends me a couple of links I've already visited.
"I also checked with our call center to see if they are getting any calls on this issue and so far they have not received any," he notes. But it's a new printer and not likely to get many calls yet.
Oct. 28. I tell Joe that my file system is, in fact, case insensitive (the default format for this operating system), so that isn't the problem. And, no, reformatting the drive isn't something I'd call a solution.
Oct. 29. Joe keeps in touch, trying to "duplicate your issue. If needed, I may have to escalate this issue to CINC for help. I will update you on the progress." Very nice of him. Internal company acronyms are always comforting.
Nov 1. I devote a good deal of time to the Canon driver problem. I'm able to print some things when I turn the landscape spreadsheet files into portrait-oriented files.
Joe writes that he was able to get a trial version of the software I'm using, created a four-page file and printed wirelessly to the MG8120 with no problem: "Can you provide the exact steps that are needed to duplicate this error or can you provide a sample file that you are trying to print and I will try to print on my end."
I reply confirming his setup is pretty much what I am using but ask him to confirm that the Canon driver is the CUPS driver 10.36.2.0. The error, I tell him, is a CUPS error.
I also tell him about a few more tests I ran to try to isolate the issue:
I was able to print the Test Sheet from the driver utility. I was able to print two small documents that use only the font Snell Roundhand. One was a letter-size document, the other an envelope. I was able to print an image from Photoshop CS5. I was able to print a PDF of an otherwise unprintable spreadsheet by dragging it into a browser and printing it from there. The native document would not print from the application and the PDF would not print from a PDF reader.
But the problem document did not print to the Pro9500 Mark II, reporting the same error as the MG8120 driver about the raster image.
A file with landscape orientation prints correctly to 8.5 inches across before printing garbage. Redesigning the sheet to print at portrait orientation produced no errors.
Joe confirms he's using the latest CUPS driver before the day is done.
Nov. 2. I send Joe a sample page (a template) that won't print. I discover it will print if I change the page size to borderless.
Joe replies that he was able to print the sample file successfully. "I noticed the bordered line was truncated since it extends beyond the printable area. No wording was truncated."
I suggest he try printing just the first page using a Paper Size of U.S. Letter to trip the "Unable to open raster stream" error.
He says it printed fine with the U.S. Letter setting. No truncation.
Nov. 4. Joe wants my system profile, so I send it along. Huge file.
Nov. 5. I reinstalled the applications I'm printing from but find no change in the behavior.
Nov. 9. I again dabble with the MG8120 print problems. I set up an external drive to boot from and install a clean operating system on it. That takes 45 minutes. Then I transfer everything but my applications to it. That takes another 45 minutes. Then I add a few essential utilities. The printer was already installed.
And guess what? It prints. Every problem file, portrait and landscape. I tell Joe about it.
So I run the combo updater on the Snark but that doesn't solve the problem. Grumble. It's not an operating system issue.
I use the CUPS interface to look for a solution, but nothing there either.
This is beginning to look like some sort of a configuration problem here, not a Canon driver problem.
Nov. 10. I fiddle a bit more with the printing issue. I get one spreadsheet to print out if I remove most of the tables. I wonder if there isn't something unprintable in the troublesome files.
Joe's delighted I can print.
Nov. 11. I desperately reset the printers on the Snark again but that doesn't help.
Nov. 17. On to the Kodak ESP 7250 review (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRINT/K7250/K7250.HTM). Took me a while to unbox this second unit and I'm surprised it works with the Sallee Rover. I update its firmware and everything seems fine. But on the Snark it behaves the same as the Canon.
So I research the problem again on the Web and find a suggestion to install and uninstall Ghostwriter. I try that and while it doesn't work, it does change the game. With Ghostwriter installed, data is sent to the printer (or so it says). The printer doesn't do anything but I don't get that error message.
This feels like a victory. A moral one, maybe, with no points scored, but a victory. I let Joe know.
Nov. 18. I experiment with the printing problem using a printer service utility that tells me my CUPS configuration file is not compatible with this version of CUPS (because it is stripped of all comments, apparently). So I redeploy the backup. Not that it helps.
I reset the printers again and even add the Kodak via the Sallee Rover, which does send something along but it doesn't print. Even the Epson Artisan 810 has the same problem.
Nov. 19. I try the combo updater to refresh CUPS but it didn't help. I'm at a loss. Some victory.
Nov. 20. I have the bright idea to recompile the CUPS system and install it but lose heart when I look over all the options. Which are the defaults? No idea.
And maybe it isn't CUPS at all, I wonder, although why would three printers from three different companies all have the same error?
Nov. 22. I install CUPS 1.4.3 on the Snark and get nowhere with it. So in desperation, I reinstall the older operating system from DVD on the Snark, just as I had on the external drive. I know that worked.
When the install finishes, I try to print a spreadsheet on the Kodak ESP 7250 -- and it works!
Convinced the problem really has been resolved (after printing more documents), I use the combo updater to update the operating system, then I install the drivers for the Epson and the Canon (which broke with the combo update). And everything works!
I send Joe an update. Two really. He had asked if I ever installed Ghostscript. I hadn't, but who knows what was installed when? I had installed operating systems updates right away anyway.
Nov. 23. When I resize some photos using a utility I wrote to make it so easy even I could do it, the utility complains that ImageMagick, which does the heavy lifting, isn't installed. Reinstalling the operating system must have wiped it out.
While I hadn't remembered installing Ghostscript, I now see that it was part of the ImageMagick install. I let Joe know I did have Ghostscript installed after all and where it came from. At least Canon now knows what triggers the raster stream error.
But now I have a dilemma. I don't want to reinstall ImageMagick if it means losing all my printers.
There's no simple way to install ImageMagick, apparently. The binary distribution for this operating system does not include PerlMagick, which I need and reinstalling with the shell script I originally used will cause the same problems.
Grief. Inevitable grief.
But when I poke around the root level of the drive to see where to install it, I find two older versions. So all that's really missing is the PerlMagic module. The reinstall must have overwritten the Perl libraries.
I try to recompile just PerlMagic but the system can't find the make utility. Which is strange because I can find and run it. But that must have been broken by the reinstall, too. So I reinstall the developer utilities I use and that solves that problem. But the PerlMagick compile doesn't complete because I didn't compile ImageMagick. One little gotcha after another.
But wait! I have the PerlMagick files I need on my external drive backup. I restore them and I can finally run my resizing utility again without losing my printers.
'MY WEALTH ABOUT ME'
Things turned out well for Crusoe too. "It is impossible to express here," the fictional survivor says, "the flutterings of my very heart when I looked over these letters and especially when I found all my wealth about me." You'd think he'd just connected his printer or something.
Having found the solution to a problem so obscure there was nothing on the Internet about it and nothing known about it at Canon, we dared to expand our network of wireless printers by including the Canon Pro9500 Mark II and that LaserJet.
The LaserJet was connected via AppleTalk but the latest version of our operating system had dropped support for that. And the Pro9500 isn't wireless anyway, with just a single USB port.
Fortunately for us, we had upgraded our router at the same time we bought the new computer. We liked the idea of a dual-band router (slow band for slow drivers, fast lane for media streaming). That it came with a USB port didn't really matter to us.
Until we realized that we could share that port with not only the external USB drive we had attached (more network storage never hurt anyone). We had two USB hubs chained to each other but we only needed one directly linked to our new box (for things like scanners). We could reassign the other to the router, plug in the Pro9500 and have a wireless 13x19 printer.
That worked. So the only trick left was to get the LaserJet on the network. We looked into getting a JetDirect box or an Ethernet card for the thing but they were both pricey and dicey.
We had been sharing the printer through the old box, which worked just fine (and is pretty quick) but that meant keeping another machine awake. It's hard enough keeping the Wizard of Oz here awake.
So the USB hub rode to the rescue again. There's no USB on the LaserJet but it does have a parallel port (which we'd never used). And there is such a beast as a bidirectional USB-to-Parallel cable. Would it work?
We found one for $15 while we were Christmas shopping downtown and yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. It didn't work immediately, we confess. Connected to the USB hub, we got nothing.
But we cabled it directly to the Snark and it found the controller to the cable. It printed, too -- with the right driver, that is. We got an invalid font error with the 4MP driver.
So we plug it back into the hub and change the location to the name of the router. And we change the printer name from the USB cable controller to the printer's name. And that works! We're in business again.
All the printers are available wirelessly either through their own WiFi capability or the USB hub on the wireless router. That's a bit better an arrangement than how we began this adventure, which makes all the grief just a memory -- as in any adventure story.
And for those who like a moral at the end of their adventure stories, you'll note that resetting to a known state by reinstalling the operating system resolved the problem. We first suggested that technique in our Feb. 25, 2000 article "When All Else Fails." Glad we took our own advice.
Now, there's nothing left to do but print (and scan and copy). Which, as Crusoe himself put it, "I may perhaps give a further account of hereafter."
By SHAWN BARNETT(Excerpted from the full review posted at http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/XZ1/XZ1A.HTM on the Web site.)
With the industry's increased focus on low light photography, it seems quite proper Olympus has jumped into the fray with the XZ-1, a high-end pocket camera with a fast f1.8 lens and HD video recording. Designed to compete with the Panasonic LX5, Canon S95 and G12, Nikon P7000 and Samsung TL500, the Olympus XZ-1 is a first for the company, though it harks back to the larger C-2040, Olympus's first digital camera with an f1.8 lens, dating back to 2001.
Olympus is quick to point out that the XZ-1 is the first pocket camera to have a Zuiko-branded optic built in. Officially dubbed Olympus i.Zuiko Digital, the new lens ranges from 6-24mm or 28-112mm equivalent, with a widest aperture range of f1.8, changing to f2.5 when zoomed. The smallest available aperture is f8, with 1/3 stop increments available in-between the largest and smallest apertures. Though early literature dating back to photokina 2010 referred to the lens as "fixed," what they mean is it's not removable. It most certainly does zoom.
Optics aren't the only story with the Olympus XZ-1, however. It also has a 3-inch OLED display with 610,000 dots. Olympus says the OLED "reproduces colors and shades more accurately with deeper black tones," while using less power than an LCD. OLED should also offer a wider viewing angle than most LCDs.
The 10-megapixel CCD sensor is designed for low light, with a larger 1/1.63-inch size and its TruePic V image processor is said to keep colors real while processing out sensor noise. The XZ-1 can also capture 720p HD video at 30 frames per second maximum. Video mode is quickly accessible via the Record button on the back of the camera.
Though the Olympus XZ-1 has iAuto, Art filters and 18 Scene modes, it also sports Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual modes, as well as a Custom setting on the Mode dial -- just what the enthusiast photographer is looking for. The Neutral Density filter can also be turned on and off at will to slow shutter speeds and tolerate brighter light.
Its built-in hot shoe allows the Olympus XZ-1 to use the company's entire line of FL-series flashes and the accessory port supports much of the PEN lineup of hot-shoe-mounted accessories, but not the just-announced PENPAL Bluetooth accessory that allows wireless transfer of files to select smartphones.
ISO ranges from 100 to 6400 and the Olympus XZ-1 includes Dual Image Stabilization (both sensor-shift and Auto ISO).
Art filters and Live Guide modes first introduced in the PEN series are also included in the Olympus XZ-1 and the new camera comes in two colors, black or white. Price is $499.99.
The smart, no-nonsense design seems aimed at both the Panasonic LX5 and Canon S95. It's about as large as the LX5, with a hot shoe and manual pop-up flash, yet it has a programmable control ring around the front lens barrel, with a dial on the back, along with a sleek, relatively featureless, gripless front profile.
Since speed is the name of the game in low-light shooting, Olympus rightly chose the aperture as the primary feature to highlight with a smart silver badge in the lower left corner of the front panel. The XZ-1's f1.8 is about one-third stop faster than the LX5 and S95's f2.0, equal to the Samsung TL500 and 1.3 stops faster than the f2.8 Nikon P7000 and Canon G12.
Curiously, the 4x focal length is equivalent to the same 28-112mm as the Panasonic LX1 and LX2, though the maximum aperture of those lenses started at f2.8.
Though the lens does retract into the body of the Olympus XZ-1, its outer ring still protrudes from the body of the camera, as do the rings of all the XZ-1's competition, making its thickness about 43mm.
The back of the Olympus XZ-1 is clean and simple. A slide releases the flash to pop up from the top deck on the far left and the accessory port peeks out from beneath the hot shoe (the XZ-1 includes a hot shoe/port cover). As mentioned, the XZ-1's accessory port doesn't support the new PENPAL Bluetooth transceiver as it is not Version 2 compliant, but it does support most PEN-series accessories including the VF-2 external electronic viewfinder, SEMA-1 external microphone adapter and the new MAL-1 macro arm light. A soft rubber grip serves as a thumbrest and a reasonably large ridge rises to protect the red Record button. Beneath that are the Playback button, Control wheel and rocker cluster, plus the Menu and Info buttons.
Top right you'll find the Olympus XZ-1's knurled Mode dial, which like the Mode dial on the LX5, turns too easily, often changing in a pocket or bag. Its position out at the edge makes this more likely and it changed on me frequently. This might get better in the shipping version and at least it has a quality feel.
The Zoom lever, Shutter button and Power button also look and feel high quality, worthy of a $500 digital camera.
When powered on, the lens quickly protrudes from the camera with enough force to easily push off the large friction-fitting lens cap that attaches with a tether. Although you have to worry about them coming off in a camera bag, I think this lens cap is a good design choice that also looks good on the camera.
All design accents are executed very well on the XZ-1, giving the impression of a fine photographic instrument. Though it's the first of a new line for Olympus, it seems a very mature offering, reserved in the right ways, aggressive where it counts.
The Olympus XZ-1 functions more like a PEN than one of the company's pocket digicams. The Function menu comes up with a press on the OK button, allowing you to access most of the features that are important while you're shooting. Items like ISO, resolution and color mode are easily adjusted and even the ND filter can be switched off and on from here.
The regular menu is a little odd looking, with a rather more squashed font than we're used to seeing (most fonts on Japanese cameras are taller, rather than wider), but this really looks like pre-release firmware, not worthy of extensive comment. At present, when looking at an image in Playback mode, as another example, an image captured at 4:3 becomes vertically shortened into a 16:9 format, effectively squashing the image. That can't be final firmware.
Because the screen is fairly high resolution, fonts and icons are smaller and more difficult to read. And though we've been waiting for some time to see more OLED screens appear in products, I'm still not quite satisfied with them when they do show up. This one is the best I've seen, with good, balanced color that's more true to the scene than was on the Samsung NX10, but I still find some of its colors -- as well as bright white icons -- seem out of focus when compared to the surrounding background image area.
I think part of the problem is that OLEDs are different from the LCDs we're accustomed to using. According to what I've read about OLEDs, the latest designs are shipping with brighter blue emitters specifically because that color dims faster than the others the panel ages. As a result, you can end up with oversaturated colors among colors that contain blue when the display is new.
Our eyes also have less resolution at blue wavelengths, which might add to the difficulty I have with some colors on OLED displays, mainly saturated icons and words. Mind you, it's not a real problem, more a curiosity that hasn't negatively affected my shooting with the Olympus XZ-1.
OLYMPUS XZ-1 VS. CANON S95
Since we have only the one competitor in the office, we can only compare the Olympus XZ-1 with the Canon S95. Both are 10-megapixel designs with zooms that start at 28mm (the Panasonic LX5 starts at 24mm). Though the XZ-1 is larger, it also includes a hot shoe. The i.Zuiko lens is f1.8 while the S95's is f2. The XZ-1 has a large lens cap, while the S95 uses integrated doors.
The LCDs are different aspect ratios, but both measure 3.0 inches diagonally. Controls are remarkably similar, with a control wheel in the front and back. Both have a pop-up flash, but the Olympus XZ-1's is deployed manually while a small electronic motor drives the S95's flash up out of its silo. The XZ-1 also has a physical movie Record button and can zoom while recording video, while the S95 requires a change of the Mode dial to access Movie mode and can only zoom in digitally while recording video.
While the Canon S95 is more portable, the Olympus XZ-1 can be used in more photographic situations, with a built-in hot shoe and accessory port. I'm sure as I did with the Panasonic LX5, I could use the Olympus XZ-1 with my studio lights in a portrait situation. Also note that the S95 lies flat on its back, while the XZ-1 tilts up thanks to the hot-shoe cover and accessory port.
Since it's a pre-release camera, we're not able to comment on image quality yet, but the Olympus XZ-1 was a pleasure to use most of the time. The lens comes out quietly, not unlike the LX5's zoom and focusing is quiet as well. One can zoom in or out optically while recording video, unlike the Canon S95. Video is cropped noticeably in video, though, with a very pronounced effort at making everything appear perfectly smooth.
It's a different kind of image stabilization first seen in camcorders, where the image is cropped and digitally stabilized in the final view that goes to the LCD and the digital file. This is smoother than I've ever seen, with an artificially smooth panning that continues to pan even after you've stopped, slowly halting your movement in that direction to improve your video. It also resumes motion slowly and resists following your up or down motion until it's convinced you really want to move in that direction. The result is a little spooky, but should indeed produce better, smoother videos -- so long as you don't get freaked out and drop the camera.
Because its sensor is similar to the sensor in the Panasonic Lumix LX5, which also has a 10-Mp CCD sensor with a 1/1.63-inch size, we expect its noise characteristics to be similar. Still, both companies have come up with different results in their Micro Four Thirds designs, especially in the areas of noise suppression and color rendition, so we'll otherwise reserve judgment. Its size and shape are also similar, so we suspect the same manufacturer is at work, Panasonic's newly acquired Sanyo Electronics. All that means is that the Olympus XZ-1 is likely to be an excellent camera that will give its two main rivals a run for their money.
Though it's great that the Olympus XZ-1 has an f1.8 lens, I haven't noticed significantly better low-light images than I got with the Panasonic LX5 or the Canon S95. One-third stop isn't really that significant but it doesn't hurt, either. And the optical quality I'm seeing at the lowest ISO settings is quite good.
I look forward to getting a shipping sample in for testing, as the Olympus XZ-1 appears to have what it takes to entice the avid enthusiast photographer.
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:
Our 2011 Consumer Electronics Show Coverage (http://www.imaging-resource.com/EVENTS/ICES11/ICES11.HTML) includes interviews with:
Also new on the site:
- John Carlson, Pentax Imaging (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1294684183.html). Pentax had a good 2010 with the introduction of several popular cameras, including the K-5, K-r and the even more impressive and long-awaited 645D.
- David Lee, Nikon (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1294696074.html), discusses Nikon's views on dSLRs, mirrorless digital cameras and how the pocket camera will continue to survive with competition from cell phones and SLRs, among other things.
- Michael Rubin, Casio (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1294806068.html). Casio's always had a different approach to the digital camera market, so it was interesting to hear about their new products for 2011. Topics covered include the new TRYX camera, Casio's new multi-image capture strategies and how pocket cameras will compete with camera phones in the future.
- Mark Weir, Sony (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1294806676.html), talks about Sony's latest and future products, including the promise of 3D capture across several of its products and the company's intention to produce the long-awaited follow-up to the Sony Alpha A700.
- Peter Ewen, Katie Roseman, and Sally Smith-Clemens, Olympus (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1294942091.html). The interview covers what Olympus sees coming for 2011, how a PEN camera was used in a feature film, as well as how new products are being received in both the Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds lines.
- Darin Pepple, Panasonic USA (http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1294947411.html). Darin had some interesting things to say about Micro Four Thirds cameras, the impact of cell phone cameras, as well as about the remarkable loyalty of Panasonic customers across many segments of their digital camera lineup.
- First Shots: Pentax K-r (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/KR/KRA.HTM). The K-r includes a couple of firsts for Pentax's digital SLR lineup, as well as a number of important features that set it above the K-x.
- Hands-on Preview: Olympus XZ-1 (http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/XZ1/XZ1A.HTM). After firing the opening salvos in the war of mirrorless cameras vs. both SLRs and high-quality pocket zoom cameras, its no surprise to see Olympus take on their last unjoined front with the pocketable XZ-1, the first of the company's compact cameras to sport a Zuiko-branded lens.
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 notes and tributes to Dale Unruh, a long-time forum participant who passed away in December, at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?50@@.ee92fbe/14919
Visit the Canon Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6f773
Marco asks for help choosing a dSLR at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?13@@.eeb284e/0
Read about Canon lenses at http://forums.slrgear.com/index.php?showforum=4
Visit the Printers Forum at http://www.photo-forums.com/WebX?14@@.ee6b2b8
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RE: Panasonic's Optical Zoom
Can you settle a point for me regarding Panasoncs FZ-38 bridge camera? Panasonic claims it has "optical zoom" to 949mm (http://panasonic.net/avc/lumix/compact/fz35_fz38/af.html). I am in disagreement with a friend over this as I claim it is a digital facility while my friend says, "I know about these things," and sticks with Panasonic's claim.
My reasoning is that, as the pixel count is reduced it has to be a digital function, in much the same way as the "digital zoom" function in my Olympus WZ-5060, which after getting the switch repaired, soldiers as a great back up to my E-1/E-P2 setup.
-- Geoff Howard(Panasonic (like Sony) makes a distinction between the common digital zoom function you find on a digicam that simulates a full resolution image from a subsection of the sensor and one that simply records the cropped section of the sensor. The former is disparaged for its quality but the latter doesn't add pixels to the image. In fact, it profits from better metering of just that part of the image. But it doesn't have the resolution of a full-resolution image (which is why we didn't post any Extended Optical Zoom shots in our gallery for the FZ35). So while no pixels have been invented, you're essentially shooting with a 3-megapixel camera rather than a 12-Mp camera in that mode, reaching 949mm. Which we always thought was a really bright idea when you've got 12 megapixels to fool around with.) -- Editor)
RE: Micro Four-Thirds Adapters
I wonder if you could advise as to the suitability of the adapters that are available to use OM (and other brands) of lenses from the film era with these Sony cameras.
It would be great to use these lenses which are lying in a drawer, if they will produce good images on these digital cameras.
-- John Wilkinson(Dave has observed about Sony NEX cameras, "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." There's an interesting piece (http://www.biofos.com/cornucop/omz_ep1.html) on using OM lenses on an Olympus m4/3 camera. We've used Nikon glass on an E-PL1 with a Lensbaby adapter and Derrick Story has used OM lenses on his PEN camera. No problems. Fortunately an OM adapter for the NEX is affordable, so it's definitely worth a try. -- Editor)(Many prior-generation lenses will show their age when moving from film to digital sensors with microscopic pixels. But there's a lot of both fun and utility in adapting older lenses to these new, shallow-flange digital models, and a whole sub-culture is growing up around the NEX line to do just that. Our Senior Lab Tech Luke Smith has an NEX-3 that he uses with several brands of high-end manual-focus lenses. -- Dave)
RE: Pros Prefer?
Gentlemen, my unscientific survey suggests that most pro photographers shoot Canon, not Nikon. True or not? Whether or not, what's the best empirical method to evaluate the two?
-- Tom Fuerst(Well, Tom, we don't ever recall seeing any data on that. But it's not a simple thing to survey. There are many kinds of professional photographers. Wedding photographers, studio photographers, sports photographers. And even more puzzling, they don't always stick with the gear they've been using. There was a time wedding photographers used Hasselblad, for example. But we haven't been to a wedding in a long time where we've seen anybody with a Hasselblad. Similarly with sports photographers. There was a real move to Canon gear a few years ago that was overrun by a return to Nikon gear when the D3 came out. The explanation for all this would be pretty simple. Pros use whatever gets them the shot. -- Editor)(As to evaluating the two, it all comes down to the sort of photography you do and what your personal preferences are. For image quality and basic performance of the cameras, I obviously suggest our carefully-shot comparison images and performance measurements. If you're seriously on the fence between two systems, the thing to do would be to put your hands on one of each for a week and see how they work for your photography. LensRentals.com (http://lensrentals.com) has a wide range of both bodies and lenses from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony and even Hasselblad. If you're considering making a major commitment to one platform or another, it might be worthwhile to invest in the rental of a body and decent lens, to see how you like them. It won't be a cheap undertaking -- figure on the order of $200 for a week's rental of a body and good lens, including shipping -- but it might be a worthwhile expenditure if you're planning a major investment in a platform. -- Dave)
RE: Color Profiles Option
The User Guide for the Epson V600 (as well as experience with my Perfection 2400) mentions a color ICM selection menu where you can change the active profile for the scanner. However you are correct in that you have to use other software to create this profile. I also found this on my CanoScan 9000F.
Thanks for the wonderful reviews.
-- George R. Dorf(The idea with this affordable generation of scanners, George, is to make scanning as easy as possible by providing 1) a light source that's pretty stable over the life of the lamp and 2) a generic profile. That works pretty well for the V600 and 9000F (and 8800F), actually. Third-party software does make it easy to profile these scanners, if you prefer, though. So you aren't left up the creek without a paddle. -- Editor)
RE: Research Tip
At the time you may have run an article on the Panasonic DMC FZ100, I was not interested in adding this type of camera to my collection. I have since purchased one and was wondering if there was ever an article written about it. I seem to remember that there is an archive of your digest. If there is information about the camera, how would I go about retrieving it?
-- Jerry Block(The FZ100 was reviewed on our site, Jerry. Here's the link: http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/FZ100/FZ100A.HTM. To find our camera reviews, visit the Manufacturer's List at http://www.imaging-resource.com/MFR1.HTM and hunt them down. We don't publish every review in the newsletter, but we do have a newsletter archive at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-arch.html and an index of every story at http://www.imaging-resource.com/IRNEWS/index-indx.html with a full text search, too. That would have revealed the link, too, because we do publish a list of every new review in our New on the Site column. -- Editor)
Apple's latest Snow Leopard update (v10.6.6) includes App Store, a new option for Mac software purchasing. Among the notable offerings is Aperture 3 priced at $79.99, a savings of $119 from the usual channels.
Kubota Image Tools (http://www.kubotaimagetools.com) has released its $349 Kubota RPG SpeedKeys 2.0 for Lightroom, a wireless USB keypad that can be configured with up to 48 different Lightroom Presets. The Kubota Lightroom Presets Workflow Collection, a set of more than 100 custom-created Presets, is included.
PocketWizard (http://www.pocketwizard.com) has announced its $200 MiniTT1 transmitter and $230 FlexTT5 transceiver for Nikon dSLRs will be available this month. Canon versions of the smallest PocketWizard radio are already shipping.
LPA Design (http://www.lpadesign.com), manufacturer of the PocketWizard, has filed a complaint for patent infringement in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont against Phottix (HK) Ltd. and Eternal Fortune (HK) Ltd., alleging that the Phottix Atlas wireless flash trigger produced in China infringes upon two patents held by LPA Design. Sites offering the Phottix Atlas have subsequently noted it is not for sale in the U.S.
Atlantic Light Works and Reindeer Graphics (http://www.georgedewolfe.com/perceptool.html) have announced the release of FreeHDRTM [MW], a free 32- and 64-bit Photoshop add-on for High Dynamic Range alignment and blending of digital photographs.
Marc Rochkind (http://imageingester.com) has released a beta of his $40 ImageIngester v3.5.01 [MW] to get images from devices like iPads that connect using PTP instead of as mass storage class devices. Marc also announced WidePhotoViewer, an iOS app, to download your album from Flickr or SmugMug for offline viewing with captions and Exif data, too.
Eye-Fi (http://www.eye.fi) has announced Direct Mode to wirelessly connect a camera with an Eye-Fi card to a smartphone or tablet to browse, edit, save and share the images. Direct Mode will be a free upgrade to all Eye-Fi X2 cards later in 2011.
LQ Graphics (http://www.lqgraphics.com) has released its $49.95 Photo to Movie 4.7.1 [MW] with support for adding video clips to the timeline, resizing track heights in the timeline, a fix for exporting to non-QuickTime files and a fix for motion blur problems with transparent titles or photos.
Scott Schumann (http://thesartorialist.blogspot.com) is profiled in The Sartorialist (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5NgG5koPZU&feature=player_embedded), an Intel Smart Film.
Dress your iPhone up with a $6 Polaroid iPhone Decal from Photojojo (http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/polaroid-iphone-decal). "It transforms your iPhone's plain old back into the Rainbow OneStep Polaroid Land camera (voted the sweetest looking camera for 20 consecutive years!!)."
Pixel Genius (http://www.pixelgenius.com) has released its $99 PhotoKit Sharpener 2.0 [MW] with a preview of selected sharpening effects, updated sharpening effects, multiple layer effects consolidation and new options for masking and batch operations.
Joe McNally's LIFE Digital Photo Guide for iPad is now available on the iTunes App Store (http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/life-digital-photo-guide/id409182961?mt=8) for $9.99. "Through a half-dozen videos and 27 audio clips, as well as the rollicking text, you come to know Joe -- and know how to shoot like the pros."
Adobe's Russell Brown has posed a tutorial on creating "natural toned" HDR images (http://av.adobe.com/russellbrown/NaturalHDRToning_SM.mov). You can download the free detailing action he mentions here: http://www.russellbrown.com/images/tips_downloads/Russell_Browns_Detailing_Actions.atn.zip
The breath-taking Henri Cartier-Bresson retrospective at SFMOMA (http://www.sfmoma.org/exhibitions/409) closes Jan. 30. Not to be missed.
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